Fight for justice was still worth it

This ran in the Times………………. comments invited below

Now that the court found our evidence insufficient to order another election in Cambridge, I shall inform the public as to why Debbie Vitez and I challenged the city’s election process. Anyone who suggests sour grapes were involved does so without the facts. Perhaps these people feel it easier to prejudge than to understanding the issue. The issue is democracy.
The City of Cambridge took a giant step backwards in 2010 and failed to follow through with the guarantee made by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – equality during elections.
Our recent election saw polling locations cut from 68 to 42, and the number of voting booths at these locations cut from 238 to a measly 50. Many voters came but left without casting ballot due to frustration and fatigue. This was a direct affront to our seniors and physically challenged, especially when the city supported an $80,000 expenditure on rental fees for tabulators. Tabulators do nothing to enhance voter experience.
This regression on the part of our city was sadly evident, when I, using proper protocol, tried to present the collective voices of all those concerned seniors to council. Cambridge’s disrespectful election process forced a great number of these individuals to endure conditions that so interfered with their right to vote that they were forced to leave without casting ballot.  
Council chose to block my attempt to speak, despite the relevance of my comments to the topic at hand. It was obvious that our council was more focussed on squashing information than following procedure.
As the time frame would have it, an application to the Superior Court of Justice seemed our only alternative. It was done at our expense and our time; not for ourselves, but for our fellow citizens, for our guaranteed rights and for democracy. We found the justice system to be an inhospitable arena, and as average citizens without financial means to hire a lawyer, we struggled. I contemplated remortgaging the house, but after consulting with my dear wife of 30 years, I changed my mind. She suggested it was not an option if I had desired to continue working on year 31.
Despite the judge’s decree, we did an honourable job and held our ground for democracy’s sake. Our efforts will continue in a different direction, first by informing the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that their section 83.(1) is useless. The costs and potential to be penalized are prohibitive to the average voter. We have proven this, haven’t we?
Our experience garnered $2,500 of the city’s legal fees, over and above our own. However, we were saved from imminent poverty by an anonymous donor who offered to pay our legal obligation to the city. To this person we say thank you. I  also thank Gail and Gord Moorhouse and all those who stepped up to help.
Hopefully our effort showed  we must all stand up for our rights; for if we don’t, they will surely erode away from under us… and leave us paying the bill.

http://www.cambridgetimes.ca/opinion/columns/article/1033063–fight-for-justice-was-still-worth-it

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8 Responses to Fight for justice was still worth it

  1. cwalsh@assisting4u.net'
    Jo Smith June 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I am pleased to see the Times step up like this.
    I truly didn’t think this would see the light of day.
    Thank you Times

  2. lvann_11@sympatico.ca'
    Thomas Vann June 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    l as well am thank-ful Jeff. l could have put a full page in but hey, seeing the people come up to me when l’m out and about giving the thumbs up or telling me about their encumbered experience and commenting on Deb and my work made this well worth the effort. Being introduced to people and groups as the guy fighting for the people of Cambridge is nice as well and a humble feeling hits. lt also is a happy moment when my children tell me they are proud of what we did. We showed them Goliath can be defeated (just add money) by telling the truth. T
    he city denied any or few problems and that just makes me chuckle and realize what my dad said once (or twice) that l’m not punishing you for stealing. l’m punishing you for not coming clean.

    We are aware of why and how things took place. We can also sleep well at night knowing we did this for our children, friends, family, the seniors and disabled. l will say it again to those that backstabbed us, hindered us and lied about us have a good nights sleep.

    We both hope huge changes are made in 2014 because they are needed.

    For the life of me l can’t understand why the city hasn’t given me the curtious call if l am being chosen to help direct the voters to vote task fource for 2014.

    Who better than to point out past errors and move on to unimcunbered voting and ensure our charter of rights get followed.

  3. agmarshall@rogers.com'
    agm June 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Hate to tell you Thomas but knowledge and experience are no guarantee to being picked by Municipal Councils .

  4. cwalsh@assisting4u.net'
    Jo Smith June 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Tommy
    I thought you applied for the Voter to Vote Task Force Months ago???
    Isn’t that Ben Tucci and other councillors baby? Isn’t it a conflict of interest for them to even be involved with this committee?

    Funny how all on, got re-elected or elected.. Did I say that out loud.. heehee

  5. lvann_11@sympatico.ca'
    Thomas Vann June 24, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Linda Whetham was told by Alex that she should not be on this task fource because it was a conflict of interest.
    l can see why councillors should not be on this in my opinion.

    Strange thing is that when l spoke to Donna Reid about what did they do for seniors and disabled at these meetings she told me “nothing”. Seniors always vote she said.

    There you have it folks nothing … except cut the locations out of their homes and make them stand in lines at 90 + years of age for up to 21/2 hours.

    This to me shows no respect and this is what l hope to change.

    This is why we only get 20-30 % turnouts.

    Maybe they didn’t want a large turn out for a reason.

    l also want fast lanes for seniors and disabled, more locations returned, find the ghost 1,400 voters the Feds. found months later, and mobile voting for the homes of people that have great difficulty getting out to vote, along with tossing those useless machines.

    Common sense in my world.

    As the Act states we should find the best locations we can.

    l won’t comment on that one.

    GBC location where l grew up and l had my biggest support was a mess for some reason and a great many voters left without voting.

    lt was packed with thousands of people that were meant to vote there . Fill in the blanks here folks.

    Four locations on East Side and an early vote location near where Price lived, two on the West Side on a dead end St., no parking, etc, etc, and not one early voting location.

    l guess a school 2 blocks away with plenty of parking, used by the Feds was no good and not chosen.

    Tait St. school funny enough was chosen, then near election time eliminated.
    l guess we should be happy the West side even had a location.

    Ask Mr. Price how he came into a meeting and said l want my street (that cut into ward 7) in ward 6.

    Nice to have that kind of influence when cutting up wards eh.

    l’m kinda glad l didn’t get elected ’cause l’m sure l wouldn’t be allowing some of the things to happen and yes transparent government would be a must.

    l’d be tossed out of every closed door meeting.

    This election will be remembered for years and that may effect future voting since people will say “l’m not going through that crap again”.

    Accountable representation is what we expect.

    This Drayton issue we warned the public about is showing it’s true colors.

    This is not the Cambridge the good l vollunteered in for 25 + years.

    What is happening?

    Have we taken a “Nazi” attitude here in Cambridge as Nic says?

    l will not be cutting my lawn anymore this year since it’s going through a naturalization process as well.

    l nearly choked from laughing at these comments from council.

    Sit down you new councillors and shut up, we didn’t give you the go ahead to think. Where the heck is Bart Simpson when ya need him?

  6. agmarshall@rogers.com'
    agm June 26, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Hmm! my back lawn really needs cutting. Wonder if the wife would go along with that “naturalization” excuse. Gonna go see.

  7. lvann_11@sympatico.ca'
    Gus Andrade June 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Just imagine if you were a Mayor that knew a Judge Thomas, you could have had that fine you got thrown out. Just a thought. They couldn’t have you win this guys. Good work you pair.

  8. lvann_11@sympatico.ca'
    Thomas Vann June 28, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Gus l’m still chucklin’ about that OJ Simpson got off as well comment. l’m happy that we did our best against a stacked deck. We know the truth and l can live with that, some may be haunted from it for the rest of their lives.

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