Doug Ford must be a little surprised. In the few short hours since his government introduced a bill to strip Ontario municipalities of their ability to use ranked ballots for their election, opposition and anger have erupted from all sides. Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats, and Greens are all denouncing this attack on local democracy. We’ve also just learned that Councillor Shelley Carroll will be introducing a motion at Toronto City Council requesting that the provincial government cancel this attempted ban. We understand that Kingston City Council is also introducing a similar motion.
Unfortunately, however, the government is doubling down despite this opposition. Not only have they tried to hide what they are doing by tacking it onto the end of an unrelated bill focused on recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also ramming this bill through provincial parliament as quickly as possible. Less than 48 hours after introducing the bill, they’ve already moved it to second reading. They clearly want this bill passed as quickly as possible because they know how unpopular and wrongheaded it is.
In our last newsletter, we asked you to sign a petition against Bill 218 started by the Deputy Mayor of London, Jesse Helmer. Since then, the grassroots campaigning organization LeadNow has started another petition which we are also encouraging you to sign.
But the most important thing you can do right now is to call the Premier’s Office at 416-325-1941 and tell them that you oppose banning ranked ballot elections and want the government to withdraw this part of Bill 218. It doesn’t need to be a long call and you don’t need to say anything else if you don’t want to. We’d also encourage you to contact your MPP and let them know you oppose banning ranked ballots. You can find their contact information here and we’ve included a sample email below that you can use if you’d like.
To: (Find your MPP’s contact information here)
Subject: Please vote to defend ranked ballots
(Your MPP’s name here),
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.
Thank you for your time,
(Your Name and Postal Code)