Why did city council suppressed citizen’s right to vote Online in the 2018 election?

By Gerry Barker

October 18, 2018


In the spring of 2017, city council killed Online voting in this year’s civic election based on the evidence of a professor from the University of Western Ontario.

He claimed that Online voting was insecure and dangerous in terms of the election outcome. The person behind this was progressive activist, Susan Watson, who invited the professor to tell his story to city council.

Council narrowly voted to ban Online voting for the 2018 civic election based mainly on the professor’s dire warning of the dangers of E-voting.

The progressive majority on council voted against allowing electronic voting for 2018.

The fact that Susan Watson played such a major role in creating this decision should not go unnoticed. It goes back to the 2014 civic election when her close friend, Karen Far bridge, was defeated. The progressive leftists, who had dominated city council for eight years blamed every one but themselves for their leader’s defeat.

This was the beginning of a series of moves by Ms. Watson, and the still progressive domination of city council to seek revenge. The Online vote ignored the success of the voting in 2014 when 12,767 votes were cast Online. There were absolutely no errors, confusion or evidence of misuse of the system as predicted by the Watson surrogate, the professor from London and others.

Here is the difference between 2014 and 2018. In 2014 there were 2.985 walk-in votes taken in the advance poll. This year that number was 5,400 walk-ins to the advance poll.

Voter  suppression at work

So, next Monday it will be interesting to see what happened to those 12.767 votes cast Online. The 2014 election saw a sharp increase in the number of votes cast with 43 per cent of eligible electors.

In my opinion, the Farbridge supporters, including Ms. Watson, were angry and blamed Online voting for the former mayor’s defeat.

After eight years of stumbling and fumbling administering the city, it was a shocker and that remains today. You have to ask yourself, if they believed they were snookered by Online voting, why did they vote collectively to ban it in 2018? Also, why didn’t Karen Farbridge run for mayor this term, as a number of her supporters urged her to do?

In my opinion, this was nothing but an attempt to suppress the right to vote.

Mayor Guthrie is secure that he will win because the progressive left could not recruit an electable candidate to run against him.

Not having a demographic profile on each of the 12,767 Online voters, just how many were disabled, out of town, or handling a catalogue of personal reasons that prevented them to go to their poll and vote.

Before going any further, what else has Susan Watson brought to the attention of council, in the past four years?

This was a campaign that never stopped

The first was Ms. Watson’s complaint to the city committee of election compliance regarding the donation to Ward 6 candidate, Glen Tolhurst, of $400 by GrassRoots Guelph, an incorporated, non-profit citizen’s activist group. Ms. Watson hired a lawyer to present her case that supported her claim.

Based on that lawyer’s presentation, the committee hired a Toronto auditor to investigate if the donation was illegal. Mr. Tolhurst and GrassRoots Guelph were eventually both exonerated by the auditor, William Molson. Ms. Watson, a close personal friend of the former mayor, Karen Farbridge, was not required by the city to pay the audit costs of some $11,000 that she initiated. The taxpayers had to pick-up the tab, including citizens Mr. Tolhurst and Gerry and Barbara Barker, officers of GrassRoots Guelph.

It should be noted that Mr. Tolurst had personal legal expenses regarding his defence.

The second Watson proposal to council was a request to have the city adopt the proportional voting system for the 2018 civic election. Ms.Watson is chairperson of the Fair Vote initiative, supported by the NDP across the country.

What is proportional voting? When you receive your ballot, you are asked to rank the candidates on a 1, 2, 3 basis thereby rating the whole slate. The top three are assigned points that are credited to them when the votes are counted. On the surface, this sounds plausible. The Trudeau government proposed election reform during the election campaign four years ago. Following the Liberal’s landslide victory, the Trudeau government backed off and proportional voting went with it.

The jury is out when it comes to discussing proportional voting. There are a number of municipalities, plus the British Columbia provincial government, who employ it.

Will that be pepperoni our ancovies?

The state of Israel has voted proportionally resulting in what is called the “Pizza Parliament” where none of the 18 political parties achieve a majority. This results in the party leading in the vote is forced to form a government with another party to achieve a majority. This has resulted in a right wing coalition government that has ruled the country for the past eight years.

The Watson proposal was an attempt to capture the election by running several progressive candidates in each of the six wards to maintain dominance of city council. Despite the progressive majority on council, the proposal was defeated.

There you have it. High stakes manipulation by the progressive left to stifle, thwart and defeat the greater majority of independent voters, new comers to the city and the aged and disabled.

It’s time to send their candidates to the minors and elect citizens whose real interest is making our city a successful, productive and efficient community, serving all the people not just those with special interests.

The evidence is clear. The proliferate spending on failed projects by the progressive – dominated council over the previous eight years has cost citizens millions in city support of failed projects and cost overruns on capital spending.

Next Monday Election Day, it’s your turn to change the administration to create a better Guelph Tomorrow.

Change means, affordability, civility, responsibility, honesty, creativity, unity, fairness, participation, competence, industrious, reality, and independence.

Our city has lost its compass and the new council has the opportunity to correct the course by navigating through the shoals of discontent and division.

Important Notice: We incorrectly reported that a Canadian passport was proof of ID when voting next Monday. It is not acceptable because it does not contain your address. The key documents that a voter must present at the polls includes a valid driver’s licence, a utility bill or a mortgage statement, provincial ID card with your photo, name and address. Your Health card may be one of a series that does not have your address on it.

If you have not any of these ID documents, contact the city website, Guelph.com website with a link to voter rights and procedures.

If that does not solve your right to vote, contact the City Clerk’s office for clarication.

First priority: Be sure and vote.


Filed under Between the Lines

12 responses to “Why did city council suppressed citizen’s right to vote Online in the 2018 election?

  1. Glen

    The likely answer to why Farbridge didn’t run in the 2018 civic election is that she would have been tarred & feathered for her $20+ million financial boondoggle related to GMHI & the District Energy fiasco. One must wonder why the social activist Watson doesn’t put her (& hubby’s) money where her mouth is and run for council. Could it be it is easier to snipe away from the sidelines rather than be exposed to the scrutiny of voters?

  2. John McCuaig

    Last year, tired of some of the wastefulness of 1 Carden St., we moved to a wonderful place called Walkerton, where we have already cast our ballots, online, not having to worry about accessibility like we found on more than one occasion in the Royal City. Fast and efficient, I believe that Brockton will not be spending the amount of money,per person,as the Royal City is! Over $500,000-WOW! Not much if you don’t have to pull it out of your own back pocket!!

  3. Robert Coole

    You make a lot of valid points and the left looks like they are in trouble to maintain their numbers on council. The left could not find a credible candidate to run against the incumbent Mayor. The stalwarts on the left side are hoping to hold on to their seats and some are worried. Would the left be blaming the Farbridge loss on on-line voting. It might have something to do with how she ran the city, into the ground. Just a thought.

    • Robert Coole: Thanks Bob. I believe there are at least three progressive incumbent candidates who are in trouble. The daxt ND Ontario entered the civic election supporting those progressive candidates indicate there is trouble in La La Land.

  4. Guido

    I understand Guelph is the only community not having online voting, can this be confirmed ?

  5. Matt Saunders

    If you want to know the real reason online voting was stopped this election, read the report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine:


    The security holes are massive. The attacks are undetectable afterwards. We’re all politically-minded people who care about the integrity of our elections. Why would we want to put that at risk?

    When even the inventors of the Internet are coming forward and saying online voting is a bad idea… maybe we should listen?

    • Matt Saunders: Thanks for your comment. Guelph used Online voting in 2014. Some 12,767 eligible electors used the service. There wasn’t one complaint or security breach reported by the Chief Election Officer. I respect the right of academics to comment. But where is the proof of those “massive security holes” to which you referred? There are many municipalities in Ontario that use Online voting and the evidence supports the effectiveness and accessibility of the system. Good luck with your quest to be elected to city council.

    • We’ve already seen that state-level actors are willing to interfere in the elections of western democracies: https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

      In fact, failed hacking attempts were detected on at least 21 states in the 2016 US election.

      We’ve already seen sophisticated malware designed to target specific infrastructure, capable of harmlessly spreading itself through the internet until it finds the kind of system it’s looking for: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet

      And worst of all, we know that a successful hack would be undetectable, changing the results and then removing all traces of its presence.

      All that for a minor boost in voter turnout? Call me old-fashioned but I think people care more about knowing with certainty that their vote was actually counted.

    • Thanks Matt: Your data appears to be U.S. based. Perhaps you can give us examples of what you describe as massive security holes in Ontario since 2014. As the saying goes, in Guelph the Online voting was a great success, so if it ain’t broke why fix it? This cancelling of Online voting for 2018 was purely political. It was used to suppress the right of people to vote Online. That’s an affront to the 12,767 people who voted Online in 2014.

    • We use the same Internet as the US does. These security flaws are inherent to the Internet itself.

      That’s why, despite billions of dollars spent to secure online banking, identity theft is still a thing. That’s why cities across Ontario are having their websites hacked. Midland and Wasaga Beach have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom to hackers. Online voting isn’t some magical system separate from the broader realities of the Internet.

      You say “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” — but it is broken. Leaving your car door unlocked doesn’t mean you get robbed every time — but you should still lock your door.

    • Matt Saunders: Thanks for you point of view. It’s tough defending a public decision that wasn’t based on Guelph’s experience or outcome. It was pure politics.


    Gerry:Another identification form that is acceptable is your property tax bill.My wife,doesn’t have a drivers licence and used this bill to vote.Let’s get into the 21st century and have online voting in the next election!

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