Democracy won in Court Battle…

Democracy won in Court Battle..{ 2010 Municipal Election}

By  | January 9, 2014 | 7 Comments | Filed under: 2014 Municipal Election, Community

Jun 08, 2011

This ran in the KW Record …………. comments invited below.. RE: the highly questionable 2110 Municipal Election..

Thomas Vann and Debbie Vitez have lost their fight for a new municipal election in Cambridge but they have won the respect of their fellow citizens.

At a time when the meaning of democracy is being fiercely debated around the world, these two individuals stood up for people-power in their own Canadian community. They stuck out their necks, challenged Cambridge city hall and, after failing to win their case, were ordered to pay $2,500 toward the city’s legal costs.

For their risk, their effort and their very real sacrifice in time and money, they deserve applause. Whether they were right or wrong in their assessment of last fall’s vote in Cambridge is actually of secondary importance.

We see no reason to question Monday’s ruling by Justice Jane Milanetti that the election in Cambridge was legitimate and that a second, city-wide vote is unnecessary. Given the high cost of an election and the incredible work candidates and their supporters devote to a campaign, the results of a civic vote should be overturned only when egregious errors have been made that leave the integrity of the entire process open to doubt.

Clearly, Justice Milanetti rejected the argument that such extraordinary circumstances occurred in Cambridge last Oct. 25. On balance, the judge appears to have ruled wisely and reasonably based on the admissible evidence brought before her.

But the health of democracy in Cambridge — indeed in Ontario itself — is stronger because of the civic activism of Vitez and Vann. They observed problems on voting day and heard from other citizens with similar concerns. Many seniors were upset because polling stations that had been in their buildings were moved. Other voters complained bitterly about waits of up to 1 ½ hours at polling stations. Vann and Vitez also claimed the vote counting machines didn’t all work properly.

Most citizens alerted to such problems would do nothing. Vann, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat that day, and Vitez took action. Because of them, the civic election came under close scrutiny. Questions were asked. Complaints were considered. Explanations were heard and improvements could come. Today, Cambridge citizens can have full confidence in the official outcome of the city’s last election even if that election was not perfectly run.

The most regrettable aspect of this outcome is the personal cost to Vann and Vitez. Neither frivolous nor mischievous, their complaints were genuine expressions of serious concerns. They testified that they spent $3,000 of their own money to bring their case to court. Under such circumstances, the judge’s order for them to pay $2,500 of the city’s costs seems harsh. As taxpayers, Vann and Vitez have already paid for the city’s lawyer and its legal response to their challenge. It is arguable they should not have to pay twice.

Society’s interests are not served by discouraging citizens from questioning an election. No, our democracy is stronger when the democratic process is exposed to the light shone by an impartial judge.

Perhaps what is needed is another avenue for concerned citizens to follow other than one that leads to a courtroom. It makes sense that Vann and Vitez would be reluctant to have the City of Cambridge hear their complaints because it is the City of Cambridge they were complaining about. The Ontario government could consider having an impartial official like the provincial ombud who can address future complaints from citizens like Vann and Vitez.

As for Cambridge, it is appropriate that the city has revived its voters’ task force advisory committee to encourage greater participation in the 2014 municipal vote. We can think of no more appropriate candidates for this committee than Vann and Vitez.

http://www.therecord.com/opinion/editorial/article/544348–democracy-won-in-court-challenge

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10 Responses to Democracy won in Court Battle…

  1. mjqsmith@bell.net'
    Maggie Smith February 13, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    This is shameful that two Tax Payers had to spend their own money to fight for the rights of all voters in Cambridge. There were so many things that was wrong in the last two elections but thanks to a judge – got blind-sided. We don’t even think Craig is legally the Mayor. Just had money to buy the right people o fix computers & to hide boxes for few hours. Amazing what money will make people do isn’t it.
    Well I sure hope that Voters in Cambridge wake up & demand voting be done legally in 2018. RANKED VOTING – WE NEED. This story is an outrage & I have read letters from Seniors that were unable to vote because Craig really messed things up to his advantage. Wake up Voters……

  2. lvann_11@sympatico.ca'
    Tom Vann February 14, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Such is the way much of this world seems to be heading. Lawyers, judges, governing bodies and figures of authority most just working for themselves and not for a better world. To the gutter will fall the needy, seniors, and frail in the quest for glory and wealth. For what? For money and simple limited power. The structures we held firm; family, pensions and retirement, a moral compass, and the truth are slowly being gutted. I love the advice given to me by an elder: be happy with what you have and not with what you could have. I have had the pleasure to spend time the past several years with numerous honorable people that have attempted to make life better. Roy T., Fatima P., agm, Tony R., Jan L., just to name a few. My hats off to them.

  3. Debbie Duff Vitez February 14, 2017 at 9:59 am

    EXCUSE ME..lol

    • agmarshall@rogers.com'
      alan marshall February 14, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      You know he did that on purpose just to get a rise out of you Deb.

  4. Debbie Duff Vitez February 14, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    haha.. OH.. I know.. and I’m gonna kick his butt when I see him next..

  5. lvann_11@sympatico.ca'
    Tom Vann February 15, 2017 at 6:40 am

    What? Did I miss someone?
    Yes Maggie, had we greater resources or been a pensioned teacher or cop this town would have had Dickson Streets pants around their ankles. So it was, we move on to telling others what kind of people they are or were. We did the right thing and they have to live with it. I always wondered why wealthy cops and teachers want to be on council? Pass me the brown envelope please. The ones doing the best for this town it seems are regular Joe’s like Nic, Mike D. and Jan. People I can trust that if I dropped my wallet they would return it.

  6. lwhetham@live.ca'
    linda February 15, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Why is he calling you Maggie?

  7. Debbie Duff Vitez February 15, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    He was responding to a comment above..
    He has yet to mention my name..

    My Motto..

    pay backs are tuff.. love debbie duff..

    You listening/reading this vann.. lol

  8. lvann_11@sympatico.ca'
    Tom Vann February 16, 2017 at 7:39 am

    There you go again Deb. That comment is exactly why I didn’t marry you when you asked. It is not about you. Even at home I allow Lucy to do as she wishes and do everything for her. Some days I feel like a slave but for the sake of peace I stay humble and focused. I have no enemy and may soon take on a month of silence as a personal discipline.

  9. Debbie Duff Vitez February 16, 2017 at 11:49 am

    OH Tommy Vann.. you are priceless.. me marry you.???
    I can hardly type I am laughing so hard..

    Lucy would welcome a month of silence, of this I am certain..

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