London out $566K as province scraps ranked ballot elections
LONDON, ONT -- A last ditch effort to allow London to continue using ranked ballots in upcoming municipal elections has failed.
On Monday, Bill 218 Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act received third reading at Queens Park, despite objections from the opposition parties.
New Democrat MPP London-Fanshawe Teresa Armstrong tweeting afterwards, “@FordNation and @DrFullartonMPP and the PCs should be ashamed of turning their backs on democratic processes.”
In 2018, London was the first municipality in Ontario to elect its council using ranked ballots following a change in the Municipal Elections Act.
Bill 218 revokes the previous option to use ranked ballots.
The decision means London taxpayers wasted $515,000 to switch electoral systems in 2018, plus and estimated $51,000 to return to first-past-the-post in 2022.
The provincial government has argued that scrapping ranked ballots will ensure “consistency” across Ontario, and prevent municipalities from incurring the cost of switching.
Last month, council asked Mayor Ed Holder to seek an exemption from the provincial government.
On Nov. 4, Holder was the only delegation granted time to speak to the province’s Standing Committee on Justice Policy.
“It would have been logical to me, as the municipality most directly affected, that we would have been consulted,” Holder told the provincial committee.
Ranked ballots allow voters to rank their first, second, and third choices from the list of candidates.
Proponents argue ranked ballots better reflect voters sentiment, encourage greater diversity among candidates, and make it easier to defeat incumbents.
Almost 70 per cent of London voters chose to rank more than one candidate in 2018.
Non-binding referendums held in Kingston and Cambridge supported switching to ranked ballots in the next election.