Bob Jonkman's thoughts on politics

Response to the Ontario Government’s Municipal Elections Act Review

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 27th July 2015



As requested by Fair Vote Waterloo, I have responded to the Ontario government’s consultation on the Municipal Elections Act Review. As a member of Fair Vote the issue of ranked ballots was most important to me, but I also answered some of the other questions.

Ranked Ballots

What are your thoughts on using ranked ballots for Ontario municipal elections? Ranked ballots are a much fairer method of electing our representatives. A single run-off vote for a one-office position is acceptable, but where there are multiple similar offices (councillors) the election should always be multi-member. Single-member wards do not give the voters a full spectrum of elected candidates. Only one view is represented in any one ward; a plurality view tends to be replicated in every ward, so minority views are not represented at all. Multi-member elections will allow a wide range views to be represented by different elected members.
Should municipalities be able to use ranked ballots for certain offices and not others? For example, only for mayor? All offices should be elected by ranked ballots, with similar offices (councillors) always represented in multi-member ridings.
Should public consultation by a municipality be required before implementing ranked ballots or before changing from ranked ballots back to the current system? In a democracy, the citizens should make the decisions in how they’re governed. There should be a referendum, province-wide, that has a well-worded explanation of the proposed ranked ballot system, including multi-member elections for council positions. However, all municipalities should use the same voting system. There is no fairness in the electoral system if the citizens of one municipality are to be better represented in a multi-member riding than other other citizens in a different municipality with single-member wards.
What form should that consultation take? There should be a province-wide referendum at the next municipal election, with the voting system and a clear referendum question chosen by a citizens’ assembly composed of at least one citizen from each municipality. It will be difficult for such a citizens’ assembly to come to an agreement, but democracy was never designed to be fast and easy.
Unlike the current system, ranked ballots can involve multiple rounds of counting before all the seats to be elected have been won.
How much information would you want about election results? For example, where there have been multiple rounds of counting would you want to see the results of each round of counting or just the final results? All the results, including intermediate rounds of ballot counts, should be published. Complete voting data should be made available as government Open Data, curated by the province instead of each individual municipality.
There are a number of other important decisions that the province will need to consider when determining how ranked ballots could work in Ontario. Throughout this review we will be consulting with Ontarians, municipalities and experts on ranked ballots to help us make these decisions.
Are there other ideas you wish to share on ranked ballots that you would like us to consider? Don’t rely only on appointed experts when evaluating a new voting system. This is an opportunity for participatory democracy, where citizens themselves can determine how they wish to be governed. The citizens of Ontario are well-educated, and can make the best decision for their own governance.

Please do not provide any additional personal or identifying information such as opinions about individuals or names and addresses as part of your response.

To help us make the most effective use of your comments, please consider identifying your municipality or, if you prefer, your geographic region of the province (for example, Southwestern Ontario) or whether you live in a rural or urban area.

If you are providing comments on behalf of an organization, please provide its name. If you are providing comments on behalf of a municipality, please provide its name and indicate whether the submission has been endorsed by a council resolution.

Name of municipality/region/organization: (optional): resident of Woolwich Township, Waterloo Region.
Your responses may be used for the purposes of the ministry’s consultation process. Please note the ministry may summarize and share them, including with other ministries and the public. Names of organizations and persons who indicate an affiliation may also be shared.

Overview of the Municipal Elections Act

From your experience, what parts of municipal elections in Ontario currently work well? In my municipality the ballots are OMRX (optical marks) sheets, so that the ballots can be counted electronically, but remain available for verification by hand-counting. This is a good system, far preferable to a purely electronic voting system.
From your perspective, what parts of municipal elections in Ontario should be changed? Municipal elections seem to be run well in my municipality.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about your experience with municipal elections? Nothing else…


Have you experienced accessibility challenges or barriers related to voting or running for office? If so, what were those challenges and what would help overcome those barriers? In my municipality, there have been no physical obstacles to voting.


In light of recent events in Woolwich Township, the secion on Enforcement was particualry relevant:

Do you feel that municipal election rules are effectively enforced? Why? Why not? Municipal elections rules are not effectively enforced. In my municipality, Woolwich Township, there have been irregularities in elected members’ finances. The Elections Act seems to be clear that such elected members are to be immediately suspended or removed from office, yet the municipality chose to ignore that and allowed the members to continue to sit on Council and govern. The Act is clear; and so municipalities should have no discretion when it comes to enforcement.


Trillium by Laurel L. Russwurm is used under a TrilliumCC BY 2.0 license.

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Cooperate for Canada Benefit Concert, 27 January 2013 at 8 PM

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 12th January 2013

James Gordon with a guitar

James Gordon

Anita Nickerson writes on the Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region mailing list:

Hello Fair Vote Canada KW supporters! I am writing to invite each of you to an evening of wonderful music and great company in support the our local Cooperate for Canada campaign (this is not a Fair Vote Canada event). We are so lucky to have the fabulous singer/songer writer and activist James Gordon who has offered to donate 100% of the ticket sales to Citizens for Cross Party Cooperation KW.


As you probably know, one of the main goals of Cooperate for Canada is to achieve proportional representation. James is a big supporter of PR, and was at the recent founding of the Fair Vote Canada team in Guelph.


Please, purchase a ticket (you can pay now via the paypal button on the web page or at the door), share this invitation with a friend, post the webpage…


Concert details and to buy tickets now:


Citizens for Cross-Party Cooperation


I hope to see you on the 27th.



When: January 27, 2013, 8 PM

Where: The Button Factory, 25 Regina St. S, Waterloo (map)

Tickets: $18 regular, $12 student/unwaged

You can buy tickets at the door or buy your seat with PayPal at the Citizens for Cross-Party Cooperation web site.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, contact Anita Nickerson at anitann88@gmail.com or (519)-568-7655

Anita Nickerson is the Action Coordinator on the National Council of Fair Vote Canada, and the former Co-Chair of the Fair Vote Waterloo Region Chapter

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Fair Vote Waterloo presents “Robocalls: The Story So Far”, 16 January 2013

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 9th January 2013

Robocall protestor


The Waterloo Region Chapter of Fair Vote Canada is presenting “Robocalls: The Story So Far“.

From the announcement on the mailing list:

FVC-Waterloo Region would like to invite you to a great evening planned for Wednesday, January 16th to take an in depth look at the robocall scandal with Jim Harris & Simon Rowland.


Many of you may know Jim Harris, he is the former leader of the Green Party of Canada and a popular Huffington Post blogger. Jim has been writing about the robocall scandal for the Huffington Post since the beginning and he will be joined by Simon Rowland who is the President and CEO of Direct Leap Technologies, a direct marketing firm that does robocalling. Jim & Simon will address the political and technical aspects of the robocall scandal. I have heard them give this talk and it is an excellent analysis of the robocall scandal and its significance for Canadian democracy.


Mark your calendar for January 16, 7-9 pm in the Solarium at the Duke of Wellington Pub, 33 Erb Street East in Waterloo, Waterloo (map). The event is free as always so bring a friend! A poster is attached & it would be terrific if you could put it up anywhere in your neighbourhood that has a community bulletin board. We would like to get as many people as possible out to hear Jim & Simon particularly as they are coming from Toronto to speak with us.


Many thanks & hope to see you on the 16th!


Best wishes for 2013,



Add this event to your calendar

Sharon Sommerville is Co-Chair of the Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter.

The quote from the mailing list announcement has been updated with the new location information.

Robocall Protestor by JMacPherson is used under a CC-BY-2.0 license.

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Democracy Week 2012

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 15th September 2012

15 September marks International Day of Democracy, and kicks off Democracy Week in Canada. It’s about time I post the week’s events taking place in Waterloo Region. Up-to-date info will be on the Fair Vote Waterloo Region page.

Cooperate for Canada Event

I’ve just returned from a panel discussion on Cooperate for Canada. It was very interesting indeed, and I’ve learned a lot. More on Cooperation in another blog post, soon.

Exploring Why and How the Liberal, NDP and Green Parties Should Work Together to Replace the Harper Conservatives with a Majority Government that Reflects the Shared Vision of the Majority of Canadians, with an Immediate Commitment to Electoral Reform

Speakers to be followed by Q+A and Town Hall Style Discussion.

Liberal – David Merner, prospective Liberal Party of Canada cooperation leadership candidate, former President of the B.C. Liberal Party

NDP – James Gordon, past provincial Guelph NDP candidate, well known singer-songwriter, entrepreneur and community activist

Green – Cathy Maclellan, Energy Critic for the Green Party of Canada, past Green Party federal candidate for Kitchener-Waterloo

Democracy Fair on the Square

Fair Vote Waterloo is hosting a Democracy Fair on Waterloo Square on Sunday afternoon. Community groups, political parties and local businesses with an interest in democratic, sustainable communities are invited to participate with an information booth or table.
When: Sunday, 16 September from 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Where: Waterloo Square, Waterloo, Ontario (map)

Electoral Reform 101

Wondering what the talk of electoral reform is all about? Why do we need it? What does proportional representation mean? Come learn the basics with this presentation and bring your questions!
When: Monday, 17 September 2012 at 7:00pm
Where: Rm 108, Hallman School of Social Work, 120 Duke St W, Kitchener, Ontario (map)
Hosted by: Fair Vote Waterloo Region
More info: Anita Nickerson lanickerson@b2b2c.ca

Inaugural Pub Night

Come have a drink and talk about electoral reform and democracy!
When: Tuesday, 18 September 2012 starting at 7:00pm
Where: Huether Hotel, 59 King Street North, Waterloo, Ontario (map)
Hosted by: Fair Vote Waterloo Region
More info: Sharon Sommerville sharonsommerville@gmail.com

Screening: “The Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story”

A 2008 documentary about the Bush campaign tactics that changed election campaigns forever.
When: Thursdday, September 20 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Waterloo Public Library, Harper Branch, 500 Fischer Hallman Blvd. Waterloo, Ontario (map)
Hosted by: Kitchener-Waterloo Federal Liberal Association
More info: Sharon Sommerville sharonsommerville@gmail.com

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