PC Caucus stands up for democracy



April 11, 2016

“Our democracy belongs to its citizens, and it is the voters of this province that should decide how their representatives should be elected.”

Marie Bountrogianni, Ontario Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal, June 20, 2007

PC Caucus Stands up for democracy

QUEEN’S PARK –Today Ernie Hardeman, MPP for Oxford and PC Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing, said that unless it is amended, the Ontario PC Caucus will not support passage of the Municipal Elections Modernization Act because it would take away people’s democratic right to determine how they elect their municipal representatives.

“This government has put forward a bill that allows municipal politicians to change how they are elected without requiring them to consult with even a single member of the public,” said Hardeman. “But the election doesn’t belong to this government or even the members of the municipal council; it belongs to the people who vote in it.”

Bill 181, the Municipal Elections Modernization Act, currently does not require public consultation or a referendum before proceeding to a ranked ballot electoral system.

When asked about this issue on Twitter the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ted McMeekin responded: “Under Municipal Act any municipality can hold a referendum on any issue. Some may choose this route. So be it.”

“People’s democratic rights need more protection than ‘so be it’,” said Hardeman. “While there are some positive aspects of this bill, this single issue is so important that it will determine whether we can vote to pass this bill. We call for municipal referendums so the general public can decide. Not politicians.”

When Ontario considered electoral reform in 2007, it was put to a referendum that required a vote of 60% support in order to make the change. Minneapolis, Minnesota; Burlington, Vermont; Takoma Park, Maryland; and San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley in California all held a referendum or had a ballot question on the change to a ranked ballot electoral system.

“This bill would make it so the only people who have a say over which electoral system is used are the people who directly benefit from it,” said Hardeman. “That creates a huge conflict of interest for municipal councils.”

Hardeman announced that the Ontario PC Caucus would be putting forward an amendment when the bill goes to committee to require municipalities to hold a referendum before they could change their electoral system to a ranked ballot. The referendum could be held by itself or take place as part of a municipal election.

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For more information, contact:

Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford (416) 325-1239