Ontario 'democracy index' ranks Windsor in 3rd last place

A new report from an advocacy group ranks Windsor, Ont., near the bottom when it comes to the health of our democracy.

Democratic reform group ranked cities on factors such as diversity, voter turnout

Vehicles move across the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., as viewed from the Michigan city March 16, 2020. Windsor ranks near the bottom in the Ontario 2021 Municipal Democracy Index, by Unlock Democracy Canada and Armstrong Strategy Group. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A new report from an advocacy group ranks Windsor, Ont., near the bottom when it comes to the health of our democracy.

The rankings come from the group Unlock Democracy Canada and Armstrong Strategy Group.

The Ontario 2021 Municipal Democracy Index ranked the municipalities on voter turnout, gender balance on council, racial diversity and "user design experience," which refers to inclusivity in municipal democracy.

Dave Meslin, creative chair for the democratic reform group, says Windsor was third from the bottom on its list of 32 Ontario municipalities.

"Windsor ranked really low overall on democratic health. I mean, to be fair, all the cities ranked pretty low," he said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Wednesday.

Windsor was pretty average on voter turnout, but lost points on gender balance on city council, Meslin said.

Checking the health of local democracy

3 months ago
Duration 0:32
Dave Meslin, creative chair for Unlock Democracy, the democratic reform group, says Windsor was third from the bottom on its list of 32 Ontario municipalities. 0:32

Windsor was tied for the second-lowest ratio of men to women on council among all the cities. Only one out of 10 city councillors, Jo-Anne Gignac, is female.

Rather than interpreting the results as simply bad news, Meslin said its an invitation for city council and citizens to look at ways to improve the situation.

"If you went to the doctor tomorrow and got a bad diagnosis, you wouldn't just shrug your shoulders and say, 'oh well, that sucks.' You would say, 'OK, doctor, what do I need to do — is there medication I need, is there a treatment I need?'" he said.

"So Windsor is about to go into democratic cardiac arrest, and I think they should be looking at remedies right away."

Chatham-Kent scored the seventh highest thanks in part to relatively high voter turnout, while London was the top city in southwestern Ontario, in fourth place.

Peterborough, Whitby and Clarington were the top three cities on the list overall.

More from CBC Windsor

With files from Windsor Morning


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