Democracy won in court challenge ( my email to new Clerk for City of Cambridge)

By  | January 5, 2014 | 13 Comments | Filed under: 2014 Municipal Election

Attention  Clerk, city of Cambridge

I recently came upon this article and I think they are right.. Thomas and I should be a part of a “Voter to Vote Task Force” during the upcoming 2014 Election.

Now I can’t speak for Thomas, but I certainly would love to be a part of the process. I look forward to being a part of any Task Force that is formed during the upcoming 2014 campaign.. Could you please contact me and let me know how I would go about volunteering..

Yours truly

Debbie Vitez




Jun 08, 2011

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


13 Responses to Democracy won in court challenge ( my email to new Clerk for City of Cambridge)

  1. Debbie Duff Vitez January 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Not sure how many pay attention to the Cambridge Municipal elections.. but during the 2010 election, voter suppression was at an all time high.. As a result Thomas Vann and I challenged the election in Court.. We were like keystone cops, no lawyer, we had to file all the applications, affidavits etc.. it was quite a learning experience for us.. but we felt compelled to expose what we felt was wrong.. The KW record did acknowledge our fight.. but now.. Cambridge has voted in ” internet and telephone voting ” and I worry that not enough people even know this fact.. I have asked to be a part of a voter task force to ensure no more missteps in the upcoming election. Our democratic right to an unencumbered vote is vital..

  2. Debbie Duff Vitez February 12, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    From: Debbie Vitez []
    Sent: February-12-14 11:39 PM
    To: ‘Michael Di Lullo’
    Subject: RE: upcoming 2014 Municipal Election
    Importance: High

    Hi Michael,

    Just a quick note to ask you what are you doing regarding the internet and telephone voting for this upcoming election?

    I read that it was Voted in last October…. I have seen nothing about it in the local press .. Actually the new Editor from the Times insisted that it had not passed.
    I had to show him where it ran in the Times prior to his being hired..
    So for some reason it’s been kept pretty quiet..

    The voting public has the right to know what is going on at their City Hall.. I hope you would agree.. No more surprises on Election Day.

    How are you preparing to educate the public as to how it works or what to expect?

    Will you be cutting as many polling stations as in the 2010 Election.
    I’m sure you know they cut the polls from 248 to 50 without much notice to the voting public.
    Missed 14000 voter registration cards..
    Changed voting locations and wrong information given to the public who called the city looking for directions etc..
    Tabulators breaking down , manned by City Workers ( whom to this day, we are not privy to their names)
    I would think with you being new, that you would be all over this..
    Because at the end of the day it is your role as Clerk, in accordance with Section 11 of Municipal Elections Act to assure it’s run properly..

    Michael, I am not trying to make an enemy out of you with my inquiries.. It’s just that I want my ballot to count this election.
    I want Cambridge’s ballots to count….more than they have counted in the past .
    I don’t want anyone messing with my democratic right to an unencumbered ballot..

    Yours truly
    Debbie Vitez

    L. M. Spencer February 13, 2014 at 10:20 am

    good for you Debbie — I was not aware of any of this.

  4. Debbie Duff Vitez February 13, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Thanx LM..
    I only wish more in Cambridge would wake up..

    They even suggested that they were going to cut polls again.
    So how do the seniors, physically challenged get to vote?? ..

    It’s our tax dollar and if we want those polls open they should be..
    Look at how they blow our money on things to impress Craigs friends
    and they’re adding another library..

    WHY?.. we have one around the corner.. I say put the money to good use..
    give us a Normal Election ( if that’s even possible in Cambridge these days) with polling stations, hand count ballots, make sure those ballots make it to city hall in less than 3 hours as used to be the case, until Craig ran…LET US HAVE A FAIR VOTE MR CRAIG

    Debbie Duff Vitez February 19, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    To Michael Di Lullo
    Today at 4:01 PM
    Hi Michael,
    I have not had a response from you.
    Does this mean you have no intention of responding?
    Or that you are trying to find the answers to my questions?
    I hope you can appreciate as a citizen of this country, the importance of a legal and unencumbered vote.. It’s simply our Democratic Right..
    I just want those rights to be transparent, no closed door meetings over how we vote in 2014.

    So once again, could you please respond to me and let me know what has been decided regarding how we vote this year..
    Silly question when you consider where we live (CANADA)..
    But because of where we live, CAMBRIDGE.. That is exactly the question we need answered…

    Debbie Vitez

    I am going to be sending this as part of a Letter to the Editor at the Cambridge Times.. this needs to be made more public.. ..No need for this rude behaviour..

    You know I recently met a professional and his first words to me were, once I told him I was a Realtor.. Your city hall has some of the rudest people I have ever encountered.. I told him, I hear that all the time..I assured him, this wasn’t always the case.. It’s only been since this current mayor TOOK office..

    I guess the late Mr Mitchell was right when he said..” I was just doing my job”
    God Bless him, at least now he’s at peace…

    Larry Kanters February 19, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Good for you Debbie. I don’t really know if the City of Cambridge Times will print your letter. Ray Martin never seems to say anything against City Hall or the officials either. Maybe they are all joined at the hip. Who was Mitchell?

  7. Debbie Duff Vitez February 20, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Well it’s not Ray Martins call… it’s…. Mr. Vivians… he is the Editor and hopefully no one is pulling his strings.. ( altho I have a funny feeling, City Hall will have final approval on this letter..
    We already know where Martins loyalty lay..

    Margaret February 21, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Well,’re wrong. It IS Ray Martin’s call. The editor assigns the reporter to report here or there BUT has no say -so in ‘what’ or ‘how’ the reporter chooses to report about the event/circumstances. I well remember many moons ago when Ray and I were both working at the Times and he gave me some ‘advice’ about how I should not be so ‘hard’ on city council in my columns; because sooner or later councillors would stop responding to me. Obviously, I did not take his advice and obviously he was wrong. However, everyone has their ‘style’ and Ray is entitled to his.

    Margaret February 21, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Clarification: Ray’s call how he reports
    Up to the editor to decide which letters and columns are published.

    Gerald Atkinson February 21, 2014 at 9:43 am

    The Cambridge Times is becoming less and less of a must read for Citizens of this city,like it or not this type of site will become the way many people get their opions heard and the news. I can see a few more of this style coming on line in the next few years and then we can put the Times. Where it belongs.

  11. Debbie Duff Vitez February 21, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Margaret, was that your way of saying..
    I WAS RIGHT.!!
    if I really loved you, I would remove that entire comment,

    Margaret February 21, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    No. It wasn’t my way of saying you’re right. I was responding (and agreeing with) Larry, who said Ray was soft on council. You responded to Larry that “it’s not Ray Martin’s call.” Though, I didn’t think you meant it that way, your comment did suggest that it wasn’t Ray’s call to be ‘soft’ on council. I said it is entirely Ray’s call to do so. Then I ‘clarified’ to avoid confusion on who is responsible for what.

    No need to take down my comments…I stand behind them, as always.

    Debbie Duff Vitez February 21, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    aw.. ok, I get it… see I read it differently than you..

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