Changes to Municipal Act called undemocratic and Torontocentric

One size fits all edicts will come back to bite them in the end

To the Expositor:

I note in the minutes of a recent council meeting of a Manitoulin municipality’s almost gleeful acceptance of yet another undemocratic “Torontocentric” move by the Government of Ontario to jump on command to the whims of the Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO). But they did themselves no favours, it will come back to bite them! I’ve had various discussions with Ted McMeekin, former Municipal Affairs Minister (and now trouble-shooter at large for Premier Wynne), on improvements to municipal law in the past, and we have both heaved deep sighs at the end of them!

So, what is the change? In the Municipal Elections Act, they slipped in a change to the Nominations and Eligibility requirements that all candidates must “submit the signatures of 25 voters supporting the nomination. The individuals providing the signatures will each have to sign a declaration stating that they were eligible to vote in the municipality on the day that they signed the endorsement.”

Why am I so peeved by this? Because incumbents, with their name recognition, should have no problem asking 25 voters, especially ones they have personally helped through council, to sign to satisfy this. For the rest of us, especially those who think major change of faces and effectiveness on councils is in order, will have to, in effect, run two election campaigns, and well before the campaign officially starts, publicize what they stand for and what changes they would like to be part of enacting.

Why I condemn this as being “Torontocentric” (and I have had this argument at the party level with the current deputy premier long ago on this) for the size of municipalities we typically have on this Island, 25 voters would be at least 20 percent of the votes the last councillor on the list who just “makes the cut” needs! Queen’s Park lawmakers should scale these arbitrary decisions to the size of the municipality—not issue a one size fits all edict.

The reason it will bite them? All candidates, but especially non-incumbent ones, can now in effect run a mini-campaign, with the inadvertent blessing of Queens Park, prior to the official campaign season, to improve their visibility. Thank you Premier Wynne and former Minister McMeekin!

Paul Darlaston