By Gerry Barker
October 23, 2018
Analysis and Opinion
First, congratulations to the seven incumbent councillors who were re-elected to represent the citizens for the next four years. Also, congratulations, to Mayor Guthrie who doubled the result over his opponent, Aggie Mlyarz 22K to 11K.
Impressive wins that left this observer, well, flummoxed.
But let’s examine how it occurred.
Here are important numbers and factors leading to the election result.
The first is the refusal by these same progressive councillors to allow online voting in 2018.
In 2018, there are 90,786 eligible voters in The City of Guelph. This would be greater than 2014 as the population grew, according to Stats Canada, by some 10,000 newcomers to the city in four years.
43 percent of eligible electors voted
Advance poll walk-ins – 2,985
Online voters – 12,767
Total – 15,752
37.16 per cent of eligible electors voted
Advance poll walk-ins – 5,400
Online voters – 0
Comparing the numbers, apples to apples, there is a huge number of eligible voters, some 10,352 who voted using Online voting in 2014 did not vote in 2018.
Council’s decision to disallow Online voting has deliberately skewed the outcome.
Consider, more residents were eligible to vote in 2018 but the percentage dropped dramatically. Where did those 10,352 eligible voters go?
In my opinion this was a deliberate action by the progressive majority on council all of who, except one, were re-elected by substantial margins. It is beyond belief that the performance record over the past four years of these incumbents warranted re-election.
The intrusion of the Ontario New Democratic Party to support the majority of progressive councillors contributed to the election win. Candidate’s financial statements must include the cost of support by the Ontario NDP, either in cash or in kind.
They voted to suppress the number of voters by denying Online voting. And it worked.
For the next four years nothing will change to permit Online voting in Guelph. The new council, I predict, will vote to ban it.
One of the factors involved see a return of the progressive majority of seven councillors, this is what I call the ‘Schreiner effect.” The MPP built a strong core of supporters to sweep the June 7 provincial election, gaining 29,000 votes.
If just half of those votes consorted to support the progressive civic incumbents, it gives them another advantage over challengers.
I don’t know about you but I cannot tell the difference between the Green Party, the NDP or Liberals. To me, their agenda’s are similar. In Guelph, a progressive majority on council has dominated and from 2007 to 2022.
The effect of this is negative. It discourages good candidates to run for office. The pay for ward councillors is another reason to discourage good candidates who want to contribute to their community. The progressive majority of the new council reveals only one of the seven progressives has a full-time job. Yet they are considered to be part-timers being paid $40,000 a year.
The system is dated and flawed and reform is needed.
The progressives are able to keep control of city council due to the ward system. It is relatively inexpensive for a ward candidate to seek election. Yet the majority of the 12 part-time councillors control the council agenda, particularly when they share the beliefs of the progressive movement. Velia! Because some 57,054 eligible Guelph voters failed to participate by voting in this election, it sets the stage for manipulation of the system including preventing people from voting Online.
On Ontario, some 191 municipalities allowed Online voting this year, but not in Guelph.
Now you know why.
The last check on the outcome lies when all candidates submit their election financial statements that must concur with the new regulation of the Municipal Elections Act. These are public statement; available from the City Clerk’s office sometime next month.
Unfortunately, there is faint hope that there will be reform enacted by a majority of city council who cling to their failed concepts that have already wasted millions on projects such as the new city hall, the Organic Waste Processing Facility, Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc., Downtown parking, bicycle lanes and shrinking pf vehicle lanes, downtown Fire Department Headquarters, Clair Road police /fire station.
The list goes on and we still don’t have a modern main branch library; a South End Recreation Centre because of money being spent on environmental and fails energy efficiency projects and multi-million dollars plus the renovation of the Baker Street parking lot and preparing a plan for the 10070-acre Reformatory lands, owned by the province.
But some 57,054 eligible voters did not turn up Monday, would it be true that Online voting may have changed the outcome?
It was not a great day for Guelph.