To the Mayor and Toronto Councillors that Aren’t Voting Yes on Ranked Ballots Yet

Democracy Desperately Needs Your Backing. Please.

Mayor Tory, Councillors Ford, Holyday, Grimes, Nunziata, Pasternak, Perruzza, Colle, Bailão, Fletcher, Minnan-Wong, Filion, Crawford, Thompson, Lai, McKelvie

There are many arguments for ranked ballots and the wonderful volunteers at the Toronto Ranked Ballot Initiative do a much better job than me at laying them all out. I’m here with one reason that I’m asking you to support this change to how our democracy works: we desperately need to protect and grow confidence in democracy. In public power.

I don’t know if you can feel how scared people are right now, on top of how scared many of us have been for a long time. Our public institutions are not holding up their end of the deal on a number of levels. This has led to something beyond apathy for some of us, it feels much more like collapse. We need people to come fight for our public institutions in the face of multiple connected crises. We need them to come and fight for cities to have more power and more responsibility. And part of convincing them to do that is access to power.

Your offices and our local system is the most accessible form of government we have in this country. I once heard a journalist that used to cover city hall say that she never wanted to work at any other level of government because the politics of the city happen in real-time. There can be change on the floor of Council, there can be real debate and democracy, it’s not the pre-decided theatre that we see at the other levels of government.

We want more people involved in our city’s politics. That includes the idea of more people running for election. The way things stand right now for people that want to do that — or have done it — is like staring at the most improbable task. Immense credit and respect to all that have or will take this on. But it shouldn’t have to feel that way. The power of your incumbency is incredible. And the power you have to offer the opportunity to do the amazing work many of you do is right there on the table. Offer it up. Sharing power is a necessary thing in this time. No one knows how this may impact future elections but at this point, with the decline we’re in, there is no reason not to try this. And anything else we can do.

I used to argue against ranked ballots and did so pretty hard. But given my political experiences in this city I have changed my mind. Those experiences are all about the people that live here. The people you answer to, and as a resident of this democracy, the people I answer to too. Democracy as a system was never meant to stay set in stone, it needs to be adaptive and evolve. Like we as people have to change when, despite our beliefs and efforts, the methods we’re using aren’t working.

We are running out of time to reverse the rational and informed cynicism people have for electoral politics. I hope you might consider supporting ranked ballots so you won’t look back at this moment in time in our democracy and have to wonder if you could have done more to strengthen it when it needed you so badly.

Thank you Councillors Carroll, Perks, Cressy, Layton, Bradford, Ainslie, Matlow, and Wong-Tam for your commitment to a yes vote tomorrow.

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“Don R. (West Don R.), looking north across Yonge St. bridge” by Toronto Public Library Special Collections is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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