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Lecture 4

BIOL 1050 Lecture 4: POLS 3270 WEEK 4

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University of Guelph
BIOL 1050
Lori Jones

WEEK 4 - PUBLIC PARTICIPATION LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT COMPARED – ELECTIONS - Women have better luck in politics at local level, massive amount of diversity in city does not lead to better visible minority, local candidate can swing vote at 10% based on personality, the leader of the national party is what has the most impact, like how when the orange crush happened in Quebec and so many young stupid NDP’s got elected, local level no party affiliation to latch on to LOCAL ELECTIONS & VOTING Municipal elections were designed to protect property owners Councillors elected at-large or by ward Elections held on fixed dates Ontario – 2nd Monday in November Post-2010 – 4th Monday in October All provinces now have municipal elections every four years - Exam – municipal elections were designed to protect rights of property owners, didn’t own property couldn’t vote in local election, if you own property in property in other places you can vote there, mayors always elected by at large system, Vancouver still uses at large election for city council, most people carve up municipalities into wards - Fixed election dates, now has been changed to fourth Monday in October, all provinces call municipal elections every four years - Whether at large or by ward by city LOCAL ELECTIONS & VOTING Two views on appropriate features of system: - Representation Role - Administrative Role: board of directors, looking for efficacy - Elect people by ward because people you elect are from your city, representational role shorter term of office would be preferred (better to select people and see how they perform rather than every four years) Administrative, need to give people enough time to manage, elections take so much time away from office, indirect election of council head LOCAL ELECTORAL SYSTEMS 4 BASIC ELECTORAL SYSTEMS - Single-member ward system – electing one person for each ward Multi-member ward system – same principal, carve out territory but you elect two or three depending on how large council is, Guelph (6 wards, 2 people form each plus Mayor) At-large or general vote system – no city in Ontario with more than population of 100,000 elects council at large, no fixed requirement Mixed system – council elected in combination, some at large, some by ward, say Toronto has 44 wards, 44 people elected, add 10 high-profile people that are elected by everyone, this can create imbalance of powers because these elected councillors feel entitled because they were elected by large like the mayor instead of by ward like everyone else .Toronto 44 Wards, Mayor is elected across city, John Tory only member of council who has support from everyone across city LOCAL ELECTORAL SYSTEMS Council decision to choose its electoral system Guelph 1879-1909 – Ward system 3 councillors per ward 1909-1991 – At-large system 1991-present – Ward system 2 councillors per ward 2006 Municipal Election Inclusion of referendum question on the electoral system 83% voted to retain wards - When Mau ran in 1991, it was really competitive, he was running with 5 other people (like profs) ward 5 is the University ward and that’s usually the ward profs and high profile Guelph people are running in, Municipal elections Act says you can put clear concise neutral question on ballet that can be answered yes or no (if you want to ask about electoral reform) Guelph 6 wards carved up in logical way like geographical lines. Pros and Cons of Ward System ADVANTAGES Make elections less complex Every area has representation Less costly Enhanced accountability Higher voter turnout - Guelph Civic League, Kate former mayor of Guelph got elected on very partisan ties, 2006 election sent out mock voter card with everyone registered and told people who “progressive” people would be voting for, they also weighed into debate of ward system and they didn’t want it changed, published 29 reason document to keep ward system, they were really the same five arguments for wards, (13. Election debates are unworkably in at large systems) – this is why it’s broadcasted on cable. Identified 19. At large system means larger ballot with more candidates (ward systems ultimately serve to make things less complex) some things they listed weren’t even advantages, ex. at large systems only work in small homogenous communities. Some weren’t even disadvantages Council elected at large can be more easily influenced by out of the area interest groups, they could very influenced by territorial interest groups which is a key disadvantage - Ward systems sought to make elections less complex. Toronto 44 people are elected and we only focus on few people, even mayor we focused on 3 last election there was like 20 people running. Carving things into wards make things less complicated for electors. At large usually to many candidates for people to know (there can be more than 100 people on ballet) Guelph would have 58 names on ballet in at large election. Sometimes wards can be huge, Mississauga had 20 people campaigning in one word last election - In addition to already being elected to council, people in top half of alphabet to better - Pro is that there is equal representation from every ward, instead of many people coming from wealthy area in community - Ward systems benefit ethnic communities, and low income people who are in specific areas, get better representation, ethnic diversity probably biggest problem for councils - Less costly, time and money to secure seat in ward system, helps to remove barriers to office - Ward systems contribute to enhanced accountability, people know who they should contact for concerns, then people have more informed opinion about people, when you’re elected at large easier to pass the buck - Data suggests municipalities with ward systems have higher voter turnout than at large system, absolute size is better indicator, populations more than 100,000 you get less voter turnout Pros and Cons of Ward System DISADVANTAGES Parochialism Poorer quality of candidates Less fairness Divisiveness - At large elections popular because part of urban reform, more efficient city government, those in favour of at large – city wide elections produce councils that have city wide views, they make decisions on all parts of city, ward systems will only be concerned about their own ward issues or how broad ward issue will affect people in their ward, Guelph – city wanted huge co-op housing, everyone wanted except ward two and everyone voted for zoning change except ward two (they wanted to get re-elected, example of how parochialism affects council) - Ward elections – poor quality candidates, if these people had to run across entire municipality there’s no way they’d get elected, these people wouldn’t be able to rely on narrow ties in ward, getting elected by entire community leads to better candidates - Less fair 2003 Guelph election, ward 5 each person elected with 17,000ish votes, the other two received more votes than the people who got elected, look this up I didn’t understand what he was talking about - Divisiveness – perpetuate divisions within municipality, diversity is important but it comes with costs REPRESENTATION DILEMMA ROLE OF COUNCILLOR Trustee – listen to constituents but make decisions based on own judgement & conscience Delegate – follow wishes of constituents CONFLICTS With local community With agencies, boards, commissions Interests of ABCs versus municipality – e.g., Police Service budget) With upper-tier council Broad interests of upper-tier or delegate of local municipality? - Not distinct to local politics, can see them as trustees or delegates, delegates follow wishes or views of wishes of constitutes in terms of making decisions, privy to information, spend time on issues and we expect them to make a good decision on our behalf - What notion of representation is better? Do you see any issues? What are the advantages and disadvantages to each? What’s the challenge if you view you representative as a delegate? How do you make sense of all voices talking to you about an issue, real issue is how do we determine what are the wishes of constitutes? Everyone participates in online poll? Impossible to know, loudest voices heard, people who come talk to you, people who don’t come and complain nothing will happen (silent majority?) assuming this is what people want? When Paul Martin was PM allowed free vote on same sex marriage rep from Guelph voted against it and claimed it was the opinion of Guelph. You would probably get better outcome following delegate model, following will of constituents shouldn’t be only thing you’re going for. Do you think it’s important people live in the ward they’re representing or even the city? If you own a house in ward 1 you can be elected there even if you live in Cambridge, if you live in ward 4, get elected numerous times and then you move, you can run in ward 4 still, is this okay? From a representational standpoint do you have a problem with this? What’s the purpose of having a ward system then? No right or wrong answer - Conflicts with local community, difficult for councillor to defend opinion because they might not agree with how someone voted on an issue if you see them as a delegate (the co-op housing example, councillors agreed with council members but voted against them for ward) - With ABC’s typically mayoral representation on boards, sometimes another member of council, they wear two caps, elected official and semi-autonomous bodies with own mandates and responsibilities – interests in two tier systems, ABC, if you are indirectly in lower tier council and appointed to upper tier are you going to make interests for the entire city or just your region - Elected by representative democracy, revolution in information technology, everyone could be constantly surveyed now, but local issues are technical (like infrastructure) VOTER TURNOUT Typically less than 40% municipally Factors affecting voter turnout: Size of municipality (large vs. small / at-large vs. ward) Education Homeowners vs. tenants Competition for seats Questions on ballot Voting has little meaning for residents Council lacks power to resolve issues Limited information Lack of concrete issues/themes - Poor voter turnout especially compared to Federal and provincial, which is odd because these issues impact us directly, smaller municipality more likely people are to vote b
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