Sunday, July 14, 2013

Doug Holyday, Perversion of Democracy and Hubris

Toronto Star Queen’s Park columnist Martin Regg Cohn is into it with Conservative by-election candidate Doug Holyday.

Long time municipal politician Holyday was unsuccessful nine years ago in getting Toronto Council to adopt sanctions against municipal politicians who chose not to complete their terms.

If Holyday wins the provincial by-election on August 1st, he will be such a politician. 

Holyday seems to remember only some details of his motion.
Read Regg Cohn’s column and the motion (which I’ve copied below) and you’ll see why the columnist has accused Holyday of hubris.

Oh, I’ve highlighted (by underlining) a few of my favourite sections of the motion.

J(10) Request to Amend The Municipal Elections Act to Allow a Municipality to Place Restrictions on the Terms under which their Members may Stand for a Higher Office

Moved by: Councillor Holyday
Seconded by: Councillor Ootes

WHEREAS in an open and accountable free society, an oath of office calls for a total commitment to fulfill the duties and responsibilities that voters expect and deserve during a term of office; and
WHEREAS our democratic institutions are not a business, nor are the votes a
commodity to be purchased and then ignored at will; and
WHEREAS it is incumbent upon individuals when standing for office to recognize that the public fully expects that winning candidates will honour their selection with conscientious dedication for the full period of the mandate;


WHEREAS any disruption in a term of office can cause a new election to be held with considerable cost to the taxpayers; and

WHEREAS should the Council decide upon an appointment in place of an election, the democratic rights of citizens to elect their representatives is denied and perversion of the system ensues; and

WHEREAS the financial difficulties endured by Council to balance the budget and maintain services make it imperative that no unnecessary expenses be incurred; and

WHEREAS citizens standing for office should be aware of both the remuneration and demands of office and understand that the public expects that they, once elected, honour that trust and complete their term; and

WHEREAS any time a Councillor is absent (with or without pay) from Council
deliberations, the ward involved remains unrepresented on many key issues; and

WHEREAS it has never been more important to have a strong Council unaligned with political party interests to best effect negotiations with other levels of government; and

WHEREAS it is manifestly unfair that some councillors use their candidacy for higher office to buttress the evaluation of their local incumbency by voters; and

WHEREAS a councillor’s role in governing Toronto affairs should not be used like a Las Vegas poker table where you ‘fold a hand’ and play another later without risk, penalty or moral censure; and

WHEREAS the public, according to published surveys, perceives the democratic process to be so fundamentally flawed and controlled by opportunists, that voter turnout is at an all-time low;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT this Council recognize the electoral abuse that takes place when a Ward remains unrepresented for weeks at a time and enact appropriate safeguards to prevent voluntary absenteeism in the pursuit of another office;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT candidates for Council should swear
upon filing their nomination papers that, if elected, they will serve at least half the term of their mandate before seeking another office, or as a result of such a decision, trigger automatic dismissal;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Toronto Council request the Government of Ontario to amend The Municipal Elections Act to allow a municipality to place restrictions on the terms under which their members may stand for a higher office.”

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