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Where’s the Talk Regarding ‘Term Limits’ and ‘Rank Ballots’?

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A four-party opposition coalition wins Swedish general elections

Toronto mayoral candidates and candidates running for Toronto council seats have remained mum on term limits and rank ballots.

Practically speaking, a term limit already exists—it’s called voting. However, despite local governments overseeing our daily lives, voter participation has historically been low.

Not-so-fun facts (Toronto voter turnout post-amalgamation):

  • 1997 — 45.6%
  • 2000 — 36.1%
  • 2003 — 38.33%
  • 2006 — 39.3%
  • 2010 — 50.55%
  • 2014 — 54.67%
  • 2018 — 40.9%

It is time to stop looking for institutional solutions to voter deficiencies and apathy. People can remove the mayor or a councillor if they wish. Therefore, I interpret that the 59% of eligible voters who didn’t vote in 2018 were satisfied with their councillor’s performance and John Tory’s leadership. Another way of putting it: 59% of eligible voters weren’t angry enough with John Tory or their councillor to vote them out.

A few months after winning the Ward 19 (Beaches-East York) council seat, Brad Bradford filed a motion to consider term limits. Surprise! Bradford’s motion wasn’t supported by his fellow councillors. Why would councillors vote themselves out of their well-paying position?

Bradford favours a three-term limit, as does Jennifer McKelvie (Ward 25, Scarborough—Rouge Park), who has said she’ll not run for more than three terms. (Note: Bradford and McKelvie are running for a 2nd term. Paul Ainslie, Ward 24, Scarborough—Guildwood, is running for a 5th term. Gary Crawford, Ward 20, Scarborough Southwest, is seeking a 4th term.)

The past March witnessed an event rarely seen in the arena of politics. After two terms, Joe Cressy (Ward 10, Spadina—Fort York) announced he was leaving politics “because it was the right thing to do.”

Several U.S. cities, including New York City, have set term limits for councillors. However, councillors are party affiliated. Therefore, during their second term, a councillor facing a two-term limit would continue to work hard to keep their party’s reputation intact.

In a non-party affiliation system such as ours, I see term limits having both positives and negatives, the foremost being:

POSITIVE:

Instead of seeking re-election from their supporters, councillors, especially in their last term, will have the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what they believe is in the best for their constituents.

NEGATIVE:

The quality of mayoral and council candidates will diminish. It’s difficult to sell an 8-year career break to those with flourishing careers, who most likely can offer relevant experience.

Term limits appeal to me because city hall would have no career politicians. The incentive career politicians have of doing what gets votes at the expense of what is right would be eliminated.

Ranked ballots, widely used worldwide, is another election reform not mentioned by candidates or incumbents. Across Canada, including in Ontario, all political parties use rank ballots to elect their leaders. (Yes, Doug Ford was elected under rank ballots voting.) In the U.S., the self-proclaiming guardian of democracy, over 20 cities across 18 states, from cities as large as New York City to Telluride, Colorado (pop.2,607), use ranked ballots. All mayors throughout the U.K. are elected through ranked ballot voting.

Rank ballots work as follows:

You rank your candidate choices in order of preference—your first choice for mayor or councillor, then your second and third choices. In the first round, the first choices are added up. Anyone who has a majority wins. However, if no candidate has a majority—50% or more—the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Then, their ballots are transferred to the second choice on each ballot until somebody has a majority.

Our “the most votes win” electoral system makes it possible for a candidate to win an election with only 20% of the popular votes, a scenario we’ve seen several times. In ranked balloting, second and third choices count until 50% is reached so that the winner is elected by the majority. Vote splitting is eliminated, which is rank ballots’ greatest appeal for me.

Eliminating the possibility of vote splitting will empower voters to vote with their hearts. Voters no longer need worry about “voting strategically,” fearing their vote will be part of splitting votes in favour of incumbents. With rank ballots, voters can support their favourite candidate as their first choice. Then they can support other candidates who share their interests as second and third choices.

Here’s something to muddle over. In the 2014 Toronto election, out of a field of 67 mayoral candidates, John Tory received 394,775 votes. Doug Ford received 330,610 votes. Oliva Chow received 226,879 votes. If ranked ballots had been used, there’s a high probability Doug Ford would have won the 2014 Toronto election. Hence, Ford wouldn’t have gone on to become the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and then the premier of Ontario. I’m just saying.

I firmly believe rank ballots would significantly increase voter engagement.

How come term limits and/or rank ballots haven’t been implemented? Term limits would introduce much-needed churn and diversity to Toronto’s council. With rank ballots, the forgone conclusion mindset that the incumbent will win would be eradicated, thereby increasing voter turnout. The pushback is neither works in favour of current sitting political officials.

It’s not necessary to be elected to serve your community. Therefore, I believe candidates don’t seek office to serve their communities as much as they claim to. Rather they’re seeking politics as a career, which can be quite financially lucrative. The romantic notion of elected officials wanting to serve their people is just that, a romantic notion. A candidate seeking votes will tell voters what they think they want to hear. Then, once elected, they’ll safeguard their political position.

As I write this, our elections are still first-past-the-post, and there are no term limits. The fact remains, however, that an election is a chance at a rebirth, which can only happen if everyone votes.

____________________________________________

Nick Kossovan, a self-described connoisseur of human psychology, writes about what’s on his mind from Toronto. You can follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram @NKossovan

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Iran protests: Canada sanctioning 'morality police' – CTV News

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Canada will be imposing new sanctions on Iran as a result of a continuing violent crackdown on protesters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.

The sanctions will be levelled on “dozens of individuals and entities, including Iran’s so-called morality police,” the prime minister said.

“We’ve seen Iran disregarding human rights time and time again, and now we see with the death of Mahsa Amini and the crackdown on protests,” Trudeau said, referencing the death of a 22-year-old who was detained for allegedly violating the country’s forced veiling laws. Her death has sparked outrage and has prompted a wave of international demonstrations, seeing some women cut their hair or burn their hijabs in revolt.

“To the women in Iran who are protesting and to those who are supporting you, we stand with you. We join our voices, the voices of all Canadians, to the millions of people around the world demanding that the Iranian government listen to their people, end their repression of freedoms and rights, and let women and all Iranians live their lives and express themselves peacefully,” Trudeau said.

While no official notice of the new sanctions has been published by Global Affairs Canada, the prime minister noted they come in addition to outstanding measures Canada has taken against Iran.

In an email to CTV News, Adrien Blanchard, press secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said that Trudeau “announced Canada’s intention” to issue these sanctions, pledging more details “in due course.” 

Joly, as well as MPs from all parties, have spoken out about the escalating tensions and use of force against civilians in Iran, with the House of Commons unanimously passing a motion last week offering “solidarity to the women of Iran who are fighting for their rights and freedoms.”

With files from CTV News’ Michael Lee 

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Maine power workers cross border without incident to help in Nova Scotia

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OTTAWA — Nova Scotia Power says there were no issues delaying American power crews from crossing the border to help repair the electrical grid from the devastation of hurricane Fiona.

On Sunday, the utility company and Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston had both said an issue related to the controversial ArriveCan app was delaying power crews from crossing into Canada.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said this morning that the order making the app mandatory and requiring that foreign citizens be vaccinated to come to Canada will expire on Friday.

Power crews helping to restore electricity are considered essential workers and are exempt from the border measures.

In a new statement Monday afternoon, Nova Scotia Power spokeswoman Jacqueline Foster says there was some confusion about the app but it is now confirmed there were no problems.

Versant Power says 15 line workers and two mechanics left Bangor, Maine, for Canada early Monday morning without issue, and Central Maine Power reports more than a dozen two-person crews and 10 support workers crossed the border without incident at around 7 a.m. Monday.

“We now know there were not any issues with ArriveCan,” said Foster. “Our contractor crews have made their way over the border and we are grateful to have them as part of our restoration efforts here in Nova Scotia.”

The Canada Border Services Agency reported that it cleared 19 power trucks at the Third Bridge border crossing in St. Stephen, N.B., just after 7 a.m. Monday. The CBSA said the average processing time was between 30 and 60 seconds per vehicle.

The ArriveCan app has been fodder for heated political debates for months and Conservatives have repeatedly demanded that the government shut it down.

During question period on Monday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre cited the allegations that ArriveCan delayed power crews to demand that the app be scrapped ahead of schedule.

He asked, “Will the prime minister suspend the ArriveCan app today, not Saturday, so that no more holdups happen at the border for those who are trying to help those in desperate need?”

Trudeau said he can “confirm that there were no delays at any border because of ArriveCan or otherwise.”

The utility company had said Sunday that crews were physically stuck at the border, but confirmed a few hours after question period on Monday that this had never been the case.

Foster suggested the error was a result of “confusion” after a concern arose Friday — before the storm actually hit — that crews from Maine might not be able to cross the border because of ArriveCan.

No New Brunswick border crossings reported issues over the weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

 

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Former top civil servant, medical association president appointed as senators

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OTTAWA — Ian Shugart, a longtime bureaucrat and the country’s top civil servant during the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been tapped for a seat in the Senate.

Dr. Gigi Osler, a Winnipeg surgeon, University of Manitoba professor and president of the Federation of Medical Women in Canada, is also set to become a senator.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the picks today after the two were recommended to him by the independent advisory board for appointments to the upper chamber.

Shugart, who will represent Ontario, stepped down as the clerk of the Privy Council in early 2021 to undergo cancer treatments and formally retired in May after a long public service career.

Trudeau also appointed him to the King’s Privy Council today, adding his name to a list that includes past and present cabinet ministers and people “honoured for their contributions to Canada,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Osler, who will represent Manitoba, became the first female surgeon and the first racialized woman to hold the presidency at the Canadian Medical Association in 2018.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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