Last night the City of Toronto held a number of important votes on democratic reform.
It’s a debate that needs to happen at York Region too.
Newmarket-Aurora MPP Chris Ballard has tabled a private members bill at Queen’s Park calling for the Chair of York Region Council to be elected. This is something that the York Region Taxpayers Coalition supports – but we don’t feel Mr. Ballard’s bill goes far enough. We have written to Mr. Ballard’s office asking that his bill also include the accountability measures that the City of Toronto Act now includes; namely that the City of Toronto must employ an Ombudsman, an Auditor General, and an Integrity Commissioner, including a Code of Conduct and a Lobbyist registry. Currently York Region has none of these things. There really is nowhere for a citizen to go to if someone has a complaint about York Region Government. York Region Taxpayers Coalition believes something should be done about this fact.
Mr. Ballard did not respond to our inquiries himself but through his assistant, who advised that he will not be amending his bill. We have asked to be allowed to speak to the Committee reviewing this private members bill so we can suggest much needed improvements.
Last night, the City of Toronto said no to ranked balloting. The York Region Taxpayers Coalition wants to see ranked balloting in place for the election of the York Region Chair. This is to ensure that the largest municipalities do not overwhelm the northern six municipalities, as the first past the post system would. Under ranked balloting, the successful candidate would have to build a consensus across the region in order to achieve at least 50% of the vote.
The City of Toronto also asked the Province to allow permanent residents (not just Canadian citizens) to vote in municipal elections. As a taxpayer’s group, we also support this measure.
Toronto Council voted in favour of asking the province to restrict third party campaign spending, such as the type of advocacy unions, business groups, and even the York Region Taxpayers Coalition would partake in to encourage voters to pay attention to certain issues. While our group disagrees with any measure that discourages stakeholders from participating in legitimate democratic activities, we will be watching the outcome of this request carefully.
If there is a restriction placed on third party spending, York Region Taxpayers Coalition would support a prohibition on materials sent anonymously. There should be heavy fines put in place to discourage Canada Post or other similar companies from distributing anonymous ads. We are calling on all publishers of election related materials to be identifiable, with heavy fines placed for those who do not comply.