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Region against electoral reforms

Councillors call on province to suspend new bill that would give municipalities option to implement ranked balloting

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

The region is the latest entity to call on the province to slow down on proposed electoral reforms.

At the latest meeting of region council, councillors voted in favour of endorsing a motion passed in Clarington’s council chambers, calling on the province to suspend enacting Bill 181, the Municipal Elections Modernization Act.

The act has not yet been passed into law. It was last on the floor of the provincial legislature last month when it passed its second reading. As of last week, it was up for consideration by the standing committee on finance and economic affairs.

One of the more controversial aspects of the bill – and the main reasoning behind Clarington’s call for the law to be suspended – is ranked balloting.

Debi Wilcox, the regional clerk, told councillors that implementing such a system would be complicated.

“We have significant concerns. It’s very difficult to determine, without the regulations, how it’s going to affect us,” she said.

“A ranked ballot election is a very complicated election, where you may be used to getting your results in minutes, but now it would not be available for days. It would require a very detailed algorithm to calculate a ranked ballot.”

Under a ranked ballot, voters would be able to pick their first-, second- and third-choice candidates.

Steve Parish, the mayor of Ajax, spoke out against the measure, saying that it is up to individual municipalities to decide whether they implement these changes, and that it isn’t being forced upon them.

“For years and years and years, municipalities have been saying, we are a separate order of government that is mature and can make its own decisions. And I think we should make our own decisions on these things,” he said.

“Some people don’t want to have that decision-making power because they don’t want to go there, but I think that’s part of being a mature level of government. You make your decisions on how you’re going to govern yourself.”