We know that a lot is going on right now. But later today, the Ontario Provincial Parliament’s Standing Committee on Justice Policy will begin their hearings on Bill 218, the Ford government’s attempt to ban municipalities from using ranked ballots in their elections. These hearings will be one of the last opportunities for the public to make its voice heard on this bill and we need to keep the pressure up.
How can you help? We encourage you to contact the committee by visiting this page and following the steps to make a submission stating your opposition to the ranked ballot ban. As you move through the steps, you will need to know that the bill you are interested in is bill 218, and you would like to submit material in the form of a written submission. While we encourage you to draft your own message, we have drafted a potential submission below that you can use if you would like.
Since we last updated you, RaBIT has been busy resisting this attack on local democracy in other ways as well. We’ve run a social media campaign that has already secured commitments from 12 of Toronto’s MPPs to support ranked ballots and vote against Bill 218. We will continue to seek commitments from Toronto MPPs to vote against the ranked ballot ban. Please amplify our messages on social media and help us hold Toronto MPPs accountable on this issue.
We are also encouraging our supporters to sign a number of petitions asking the Ford government to withdraw their ban on ranked ballots. If you haven’t signed Leadnow’s petition or London Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer’s petition, we encourage you to do so now. And if you haven’t yet signed our petition asking Toronto City Council to adopt ranked ballots yet, please consider doing so as well.
It’s also exciting that many city councils are voicing their opposition. Our friends at Unlock Democracy have compiled a list of 9 city councils that have already passed motions asking the Ford government to withdraw the ranked ballot ban. While a majority of Toronto city council voted in favour of passing such a motion (MM25.11) on 28 October, due a technicality, this motion was not passed and will need to be considered again. Despite this, there was clear majority support on city council for resisting the ranked ballot ban.
Finally, we’d also like to draw your attention to a municipal by-election in Ward 22 (Scarborough-Agincourt) that will be taking place on 15 January, 2021. This by-election will be filling the seat vacated by the removal of Councillor Jim Karygiannis. Karygiannis was a staunch opponent of ranked ballots. We are encouraging ranked ballot supporters to consider running in this by-election to help increase the pro-ranked ballot majority on city council. We will be in touch with more information about the stances of the candidates running in this by-election in future newsletters.
Thank you for your continuing support.
Bill 218 proposes to ban the use of ranked ballots in municipal elections. This is unacceptable. Not only does such a move by the provincial government show a lack of respect for Ontarians and their ability to make responsible choices for how their communities govern themselves, it also blocks these communities from adopting a better voting system.
In the context of a pandemic, we need more effective local democracy, not inexplicable attacks on local democracy. For example, we know that women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour have been harmed the most by the pandemic - exactly the groups of people who have been traditionally marginalized in our society and who are underrepresented on our city councils. Ranked ballots can help to solve this problem by helping women and racialized people get elected at higher rates than under a first-past-the-post system. We need this sort of representation to build back better from this pandemic. So why is the government seeking to ban municipalities from using this superior system?
Now is not the time for the provincial government to meddle in the affairs of municipalities. Now is the time to support municipalities and their ability to improve their democracy. Please vote to provide them with this support and against any bill that would strip municipalities of their ability to improve their democracy.