In support of ranked ballots and term limits

They say that politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed often, and for the same reason.

The only group of people who don’t agree with this sentiment are politicians themselves – they are just fine with the status quo.

At the last meeting of city council, my colleagues chose not to explore ways to make our democratic system more accountable and transparent.

I was shocked to see that Toronto City Council recommended against using ranked ballots for municipal elections. Several councillors who had previously supported ranked ballot voting changed their position and opposed this important democratic tool.

Ranked ballots give voters more choice when deciding whom to support for councillor or mayor. They are used in public elections around the world and here in Canada – every major political party uses ranked ballots to choose their leader.

Despite their widespread use and obvious benefits, many of my colleagues on council think that the public is simply not smart enough to understand how to use a ranked ballot. I disagree.

Another initiative to ensure that political power does not become entrenched in the hands of a few is term limits. This month at council I introduced a motion asking the province to investigate term limits for city councillors and the mayor. Despite wide public support and precedents around the world and here in Canada, my motion for term limits was soundly defeated by councillors who, not surprisingly, aren’t interested in limiting their tenure.

Self-preservation is a natural instinct and politicians who were elected using one set of rules don’t have a lot of desire to change them.

But if we want effective representation and a city government that makes wise decisions, we have to be able to adapt.

If you want to support ranked ballots and let the councillors who changed their votes know you are unhappy, contact the Ranked Ballot Initiative at

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