When politicians hold a public consultation, the whole thing is usually a pantomime with as pre-determined an outcome as the duel at the end of Hamlet.
They will listen to a variety of views, then cherry-pick the opinions they receive which coincide with their pre-existing plans as "proof" of public support, while discarding or glossing over all the others. It's all a huge waste of public resources and funds so that your political leaders can try to justify lying to you about having "listened to the will of the people."
The only way of genuinely doing a public consultation is to hold a referendum, so that there can then be no dispute about what the voting public really wants.
We had a referendum in Ontario about proportional representation, and the public resoundingly rejected it in favor of our traditional first-past-the post system.
When Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto by a substantial plurality in 2010, there were a lot of very angry people in the media and in downtown, leftist circles who were apoplectic with rage that they were living in a city whose chief magistrate was their polar opposite.
They were so infuriated by the temerity of the unwashed masses who exercised their democratic rights to elect someone they considered so "unprogressive," that they set about trying to change the rules of democracy to prevent such an 'uncouth' person from ever being elected again. The lackluster performance by Ford's successor, John Tory, and the solid base that Rob Ford and his brother Doug have among Toronto's suburban voters, means that such an eventuality is a real possibility.
So with the eager cooperation of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the province commenced the process of changing the Municipal Elections Act to allow cities to have ranked ballots.
That means instead of just choosing one candidate, with the person who gets the most votes being the winner, voters would get to rank their first, second, and third choices with points being allocated on the basis of where they ranked. So very conceivably, a candidate who was not the first choice of a plurality of voters could end up elected.
One of the supposed benefits to ranked ballots that the provincial government is touting is that it would necessitate candidates trying to appeal to their rivals' support bases and thus reduce negative campaigning. In other words, municipal candidates, who as it stands are reluctant to be forthright and honest, will be incentivized to be even more vague and duplicitous about their policies in order to offend the fewest possible voters.
While this type of move is unsurprising, coming from the most corrupt and incompetent provincial government in Canada, it's even less surprising that it has substantial support from Toronto City Council. If there are more than five people in that esteemed body who aren't rotten to the core, I'd be amazed.
The most telling aspect of the changes the provincial government is proposing for municipal elections is the fact that they are not proposing them for the way provincial legislators are elected.
People wishing to participate in the government's survey on changes to the Municipal Election Act have until July 27 to do so at THIS LINK.
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