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LETTER: Reader calls for plebiscites on heated issues

'If consumer survey and public opinion websites can successfully access the mood of the people, I’m pretty sure all the political parties can do it also,' says letter writer
In this file photo, Premier Doug Ford talks with the media during a visit to Barrie.

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). 
Let’s do some basic arithmetic. In the 2022 Ontario provincial election, there were approximately 10.7 million registered voters. Only 43.53 per cent voted — 4,683,796 total votes cast. That means at least 6,064,204 did not vote.

Also, 1,912,651 voted for the Progressive Conservative Party, which represents 40.8 per cent of those who voted, but only 17.88 per cent of eligible voters. That means 82.12 per cent of the province did not vote for the PCs.

This says a couple of things.

First of all: Mr. Ford, you do not have a clear majority mandate to rule this province. You only have support of less than 18 per cent of the electorate. With those numbers, and considering the occasions where you have chosen to reverse your course or back down on some decisions, it behooves you to tread more cautiously in terms of proposed legislation as well as the actions of you and some ministers.

Perhaps it’s time to let that 82 per cent have more input into those decisions.

Specifically, you need to listen to the conversation of those affected by your choices before you decide. You were not voted in to run roughshod over the rest of us by only considering the views and inputs of those select few who put you in power. That’s a little too myopic … even for an elected premier. Especially for an elected premier whose approval rating is hovering around 40 per cent.

What about having a good old plebiscite or referendum on some of these more contentious issues; especially where local residents are concerned. Even someone in Thunder Bay may not be too worried about the Bradford Bypass debate in and of itself, unless it takes money out of programs in the Thunder Bay area. In the electronic age we now live in, it shouldn’t be too difficult to set up some form of voter platform. If consumer survey and public opinion websites can successfully access the mood of the people, I’m pretty sure all the political parties can do it also.

Now, on behalf of many of those other 6,064,204 eligible voters of Ontario, I implore you to listen to their concerns, as well as ours, especially with regards to Bill 23/the Greenbelt, the Bradford Bypass/Highway 413 and the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, to name just a few.

You are not expected to necessarily revoke them, but perhaps a balance may be struck. Because that’s something else politicians are supposed to do — seek compromise in an effort to best serve the constituents, not yourselves. Don’t deflect the situation by blaming previous governments. That was in the past, and none of them appear to be any better or worse than yours. Your job is to deal with present matters in such a way that the population at large can at least grant you a congratulatory handshake (or fist bump) for a good and honest effort.

There is a huge kettle starting to boil as teacher unions build their case for a collective agreement. Let’s not run them into the ground, nor use the students as collateral, nor put the parents on notice. It’s about time for you to consider what that other 82 per cent might have to say.

Secondly, to the 57.5 per cent who did not vote, I’m pretty sure most of you have some sort of political leaning to one party or another. By choosing to not vote, you may have put the province in a tenuous position by allowing one of the parties to rule with an unclear minority and possibly contrary to your political viewpoints. Granted, some of you have legitimate reasons to not vote.

And granted the alternative parties may not fare any better if they were in power. But, if a majority of the registered voters cast ballots, one of the parties may be elected based on your decisions with a more defined majority, giving it the right to say it has a ‘clear mandate’. And maybe, just maybe, we will get a party in power that works for most of us. What a concept.

Alastair MacLeod