Democracy won in court challenge June 8th 2011

Jun 8th, 2011 | By | Section: 2010 Municipal Candidates, Community | Edit

This ran in the KW Record …………. comments invited below

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.–democracy-won-in-court-challenge


12 Responses to Democracy won in court challenge June 8th 2011

    Thomas Vann April 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Based on the evidence produced. Ha, ha, ha, ha. What a laugh. No wonder all kinds of the evidence was tossed for no reason. It was a set up scam. Deb, this is old news and trust me kid in this Reunion thing l’m doing and the people l’m meeting of late they knew it as well. Oh well, off to the BB’s for a beer. This is the wonderful Justice system we have folks. Same Justice system that allows Cops that get busted for trafficing to get it dropped and given a $100.00 fine. You or l would be doing time. Then the Sarge that smashed into the horse and buggy was loaded not charged? This has happened more than a couple times. Not getting charged? Corruption is everywhere in the Legal System. You know damn well someone is getting stroked some how or somewhere. So how do we trust any of them? I don’t, and never will. l would not call a cop to solve anything. l will do it myself and bear the BS. When our leaders are caught lying to us over and over one has to wonder; Are people this stupid? Here comes the New World Order Steve, the Pope, the illuminate, all the big, big boys at the top of the food chain. P.S. Don’t forget to all kiss the Popes Ring and kneel or bow. Rant, rant, rant. This is what you pay me the big bucks for Deb.

    agm April 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Ha Thomas: I’ll bet your one of those skeptics who don’t believe that the spanking new multi million dollar , ultra secure downtown Kitchener Courthouse isn’t going to improve Justice here in Waterloo Region.

  3. Debbie Duff Vitez April 4, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Tommy I posted this as a reminder.. I want you on the new voter task force, or whatever they are calling it..
    Let them dare not approve you..

    Thomas Vann April 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Why would they do that? agm. of course it will improve the system. They told us it would be good for us. l just don’t have a million dollars, so there will be no justice in this house. As l’ve said before, and l know from saying this that if l get a j-walking ticket l’m gonna do 8 months but there is few cases that big buck boys don’t win. The system is flawed mate, and not in our favor. l glued a condom to my drivers licence ’cause l know if l’m 5 km over the limit l’m getting @#&*~^ and l want safety 1st.

  5. Debbie Duff Vitez April 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Oh Tommy, you never fail to make my
    A condom on your license plate.. who thinks like that ? lmao

    Robert Ross April 5, 2012 at 11:53 am

    re:Courthouse. I always laugh when they make things like courthouses secure for safety from people who would do harm. They then take away or limit our right to protect ourselves from the VERY SAME people that they feel are dangerous.

    A police officer wears a gun and body armour because of the “nature of the job” ie the bad guys they deal with. These are the same bad guys who just attacked/mugged Joe Public and he/she couldn’t or wasn’t allowed to have the same tools to defend him/herself.
    The courthouse is nice and shiney and state of the art, but unfortunately the results within the walls will not change.

    Fatima Pereira April 10, 2012 at 12:48 am

    As an interpreter, I have spent endless hours in the Courts. One particular incident in one Ontario Provincial Court caused me to re-think where I did my work. As much as is economically feasible, I avoid going into the courts. Far too often, a person who regularly works in these buildings or a visitor to same, is exposed to violent offenders nearly as casually as to common misdemeanor accused.

    From my perspective, the safer the physical buildings are, the safer the people therein–accused, convicted, victims of crime and their families, Administration staff, et al–are.

    Fatima Pereira

    linda Whetham April 10, 2012 at 9:20 am

    To all you Political Junkies:
    General Committee Meeting of April 10, 2012
    Council Policy
    use of corporate Resources for Election Purposes.
    This item on the Agenda for this Evening is very confusing, they are changing a Policy when they
    never had a Policy, this Item is part of the Municipal Act and is clearly stated in the Act, so what happens
    when someone breaks the Law? and why are they making these useless By-laws when they can not do anything about it…..something is not right here.. Has someone broken the Election Act in the Past Election?
    Has someone used their Office for Political Gain?

    Thomas Vann April 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Linda. many of us know the answers to your questions. People in power can not be challenged at all. Period. If anyone wishes further proof you can call me. l even have a file to look at that shows how signed legal affidavites can be tossed out as evidence just because? …but we do have a legal system in Canada l’ve heard. In this country. Why would one fight for the truth when the fox runs the henhouse. Rights are guarenteed in Canada l have heard if you are seeking a claim from another country and require all free legal services and benifits. Just look at all the people charged in the Robo Calls. Count ’em, zero. Gotta love a phoney Democracy. Nuff said.

    agm April 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Thomas: I had eight adult witnesses testify for me at court only to have the idiot Judge put little or no weight on their testimony because as he wrote in his decision, they were swayed by me. WTF. They were all cross-examined by the plaintiff’s lawyer and he couldn’t find any weaknesses or contradictions in their testimony. Prior to this educational battle I had met one or two of the witnesses on a couple of occasions only. This same idiot judge refused to allow affidavits into trial of their interviews with the professional body that has oversight into compalints against teachers. This is not justice it’s a scam that we all pay for.

    Thomas Vann April 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Best legal system money can buy, eh bud. l have known a couple lawyers and a judge l felt were honest but that’s it. My bud told me that it’s all a game. He’s right.

  12. Debbie Duff Vitez November 23, 2016 at 10:01 am

    TOMMY.. we did good.. for all it was worth.. Proud of us my friend..

    Craig is still here, still making our lives hell.. and as you called it, he was only amping up..

    I just re-read a post you had printed..

    “hang on to your wallets folks, it’s only gonna get worse”..

    You were so right my friend..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *