Yurek won’t commit to reimbursing taxpayers over move to ditch ranked ballots
LONDON, ONT. -- London’s only representative in the Doug Ford government is making no commitments that local taxpayers will be reimbursed for the province’s decision to ditch ranked ballots.
In the 2018 civic election, the city spent more than half-a-million dollars as the first municipality in Ontario to use the alternative voting system.
In a livestreamed teleconference from London on Friday, Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek would only say that he’s already spoken with London Mayor Ed Holder and Councillor Shawn Lewis, and he’ll be taking their feedback to Steve Clark, the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
"As a representative of Elgin-Middlesex-London I’ll be taking those ideas that they’ve shared with me to Minister Clark for his review and consideration. And it’s something that, you know, we’d be open to having that discussion."
A ranked ballot permits voters to indicate their first, second and third choices for council. Proponents argue it better represents voter sentiment, encourages diverse candidates, and makes it easier to defeat incumbents.
Lewis tells CTV News that he has suggested to the government, through Yurek, that London be given an exemption for the 2022 election, since it has already incurred costs.
He says he also suggested that the province wait until the 2026 election before implementing a hard rule on first-past-the-post.
In 2018 London taxpayers dug in for an extra $515,000 to implement the system - much of it being one-time costs associated with making the switch, according to incoming deputy mayor, Councillor Josh Morgan.
"We would lose the one-time investments that we made that could have been leveraged for future elections, and we would incur additional costs to switch back," he told CTV News on Tuesday.
Specifically, Morgan cited the enhanced public education and audit services that wouldn’t be necessary in 2022. On top of that, London signed a three-year contract with its tabulator service to run ranked ballots.
The province’s move to scrap ranked ballots and force Londoners to revert to a traditional first-past-the-post election was announced earlier this week.
Questions were raised about why London was not consulted prior, given that it was the first to make the move to ranked ballots.
Yurek pointed out on Friday that the results would have been the same either way "...and they wanted to ensure there was consistency throughout the province with regard to how municipalities elect their councils and keep it the same - what’s happening at the provincial and federal level."
- With files from CTV London's Darryl Newcombe