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Critics say move to scrap ranked balloting undermines municipal democracy

Last Updated Oct 21, 2020 at 2:04 pm EST

Elections Ontario ballot box. CITYNEWS

Critics are accusing the Ontario government of undermining local democracy in light of the province’s proposal to scrap ranked-ballot voting in the next civic election.

Opposition legislators say the proposed change, which was introduced yesterday as part of a broader bill on COVID-19 relief, is just another provincial attempt to meddle in municipal decision-making.

The Progressive Conservatives are defending the move, saying it will save municipal resources that would be better spent tackling the ongoing pandemic.

“We’ve been voting this way since 1867, we don’t need any more complications,” Premier Doug Ford told reporters on Wednesday. “We are just going to do the same way we’ve been doing since 1867, first past the post. They don’t have to be confused it’s very simple and that’s what we are moving forward on.”

Watch: Ford defends government’s move to scrap ranked-ballot voting

Tory legislator Paul Calandra says the government believes now is not the time to invest taxpayers’ money into studying and possibly implementing a new voting system.

The City of London was the first municipality in Ontario to use ranked balloting in the 2018 civic election, but other local governments have also looked into making the switch.

A referendum on the issue in Kingston that same year received support from more than 60 per cent of participating voters.

Toronto has also considered introducing a ranked ballot system for the 2022 municipal election.