We are not proposing nor calling for any particular solution to ward boundaries but simply asking for a fair and necessary review to commence.
By Laura Cattari
Published May 14, 2012
To say the Ward Boundary Reform Work Group was surprised at the numeric result of the City's electoral roll comparison would be an understatement.
Rather than immediately run off and create a new petition, work group members Ken Sills and I decided to speak to Tony Fallis, Manager of Elections and Print and Mail, City Clerk's Office.
The problem, it seemed, was the addresses provided. They were required to be the address at the time of the last election in order to be verified, not the petitioner's current one.
Further, the petition also required the full legal name as it appears on the electoral roll. Mr. Fallis did instruct staff to allow differences between names like "Sandy" and "Sandra" if the address was correct.
The problem is the electoral roll itself. Potentially 50,000 electors are not regularly enrolled due to the voluntary return of MPAC requests for information. But there are further complications.
As per the Elections Manager, the City itself has already set in motion a legal request for changes to the Ontario Municipal Elections Act that requires them to destroy information 120 days after the last election.
In addition, the City has requested the province to change legislation, to allow for an earlier date to begin collection of information for the next election.
How can a petition be verified as per the Municipal Act if those records are not required to be maintained by the City? By the same token, how could the OMB disallow the petition based on inaccurate record keeping provided for by provincial legislation?
It can't, at least not at first glance.
This process has brought to light glaring discrepancies in our legislation. Yet the question remains: do we attempt to recreate the petition based on the new information?
If the aim of the work group was a perfect petition or we saw the need for one at the Ontario Municipal Board, we would be forced to prepare another - but this it is not the case.
Council, at the behest of the petitioners and the Ward Boundary Reform Work Group, has not only called for a GIC but has scheduled a Special General Issues Committee (GIC) meeting on June 25, 2012 to look at the issue, petition complications notwithstanding.
We remain true to our initial purpose, which is the process of ward boundary reform. As per the Supreme Court of Canada's Carter decision, "Relative parity of voting power is a prime condition of effective representation."
This relative parity of voting power is something we continue to see as lacking in Hamilton at present.
The work group and its members will be asking Council to direct staff to prepare a request for proposals (RFP) for a ward boundary review consultant; with thorough preparation of terms of reference including geography, community history, community interests and minority representation, to guide the review process.
Subsequently, that on January 15, 2015, a qualified and experienced consultant will be prepared to commence the ward boundary review process.
We believe this process has begun. Hamiltonians for Ward Boundary Reform continues in work in good faith with the City and Council.
Looking ahead to the GIC, we would like to reiterate to the public and Councillors that we are not proposing nor calling for any particular solution to ward boundaries but simply asking for a fair and necessary review to commence.
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