Cambridge Mayor Kathleen McGarry says she was caught off guard by the province’s move to scrap ranked balloting earlier this week.
“We know there is interest in ranked balloting and I believe it’s important that the province allow municipalities to keep this option on the table as part of the democratic process,” McGarry told Global News in a statement.
“This was an unexpected move by the province and we will learn more when the bill is debated.”
The change by Doug Ford’s government was included in a bill introduced in the Ontario legislature on Tuesday that largely focuses on measures to provide liability protection from COVID-19 exposure to workers, businesses and charities.
Ford described the ranked ballot system as “confusing” on Wednesday despite the fact he was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party using ranked balloting.
“We’ve been voting this way since 1867. We don’t need any more complications on unranked ballots,” he told reporters during a briefing. “And we’re just going to do the same ways we’ve been doing since 1867, first past the post.
“They don’t have to be confusing, very simple.”
In the last municipal election, a majority of Cambridge residents voted in favour of ranked balloting, however, only 33 per cent of the voting population turned out. That fact did not make the vote binding, though staff are still considering the option in the next municipal election.
In London, the 2018 Municipal Election was the first to include ranked balloting while Kingston voters had also voted to switch and Toronto was considering it as well.
McGarry’s response to the move by the Ford government was much more diplomatic than London’s deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer.
“It’s not something that the (Progressive) Conservatives campaigned on,” London’s deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer told 980 CFPL earlier this week.
“I think sometimes the premier forgets he’s the premier of Ontario and he acts like he’s the mayor of Toronto.”
The Progressive Conservatives say pulling the plug on ranked balloting will save municipal resources they believe would be better spent tackling the ongoing pandemic.
— With files from the Canadian Press and 980 CFPL’s Jacquelyn Lebel