Ontario opposition party leaders condemn Ford's move to scrap ranked ballots
Municipalities should not 'experiment' with changes to votes during the pandemic, province says
The leaders of the provincial NDP, Liberal and Green parties are all slamming the provincial government's plan to do away with ranked ballots as an option for local elections in Ontario.
In recent years, London, Ont. has held an election using ranked ballots, and other cities are looking at using them — but on Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford's ruling Progressive Conservatives introduced a COVID-19 recovery bill that also amends the election act to do away with the practice.
In responses to electoral reform advocate Dave Meslin on Twitter, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner all condemned the move.
"Mr. Ford interferes in democratic elections again and again. I'm committed to bringing back the right of municipalities to decide how to hold their own elections — including ranked ballots," Horwath wrote.
"Ranked ballots were originally brought in under an Ontario Liberal government. Not only would I bring back the ability for municipalities to choose to use them, but Ontario Liberals will introduce a Private Members Bill to attempt to restore them in the meantime," Del Duca said.
The [Ontario Greens] fully support giving citizens the ability to improve their local elections with ranked ballots," Schreiner wrote. "I'm appalled that the Ford gov is once again undermining local democracy, and I am especially upset they are putting a price tag on democracy."
The government previously said this measure will keep the electoral process consistent across municipal, provincial and federal elections.
A spokesman for Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark says municipalities should not "experiment" with changes to municipal votes during the pandemic.
The change was part of a bill introduced in the Ontario legislature that largely focuses on measures to provide liability protection from COVID-19 exposure to workers, businesses and charities.
Clark's spokesman, Adam Wilson, said the bill, which must still be passed by the Ford government, would only affect one of the province's 444 municipalities, referring to London.
"Our new proposed changes would bring predictability to municipal elections at a time when Ontarians are focused on their health and safety," he said in a statement Tuesday.
With files from The Canadian Press