Minto officials oppose requirement for candidates to obtain signatures

Councillors and staff here are opposed to a requirement for municipal election candidates to obtain 25 signatures in support of their nomination.

The requirement is contained in Bill 68, the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, which received Royal Assent on May 30.

The change means candidates will be required to submit 25 endorsement signatures with their nomination form. Signatories will also have to sign a declaration that they were eligible to vote when they provided the endorsement.

On Sept. 5 deputy clerk Annilene McRobb reported Minto received correspondence from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs indicating the ministry has received feedback from a number of municipalities about the requirement.

The ministry asked councillors if they felt potential candidates would “have any challenges” in fulfilling the requirement, and if a municipal exemption was proposed, what number of electors should be the threshold for the exemption to apply.

McRobb advised council staff does not believe most candidates would have difficulty obtaining 25 signatures.

“In the last election the candidate with the fewest received over 100 votes,” she noted in the report.

However, she noted, “Staff does not see any benefit having the nomination form endorsed. If a candidate wishes to pay the fee, dedicate themselves to being elected and follow the rules set out in the Municipal Elections Act, the fact that they have (or do not have) 25 signatures is not relevant.

“Practically, the process adds unnecessary paperwork for candidates getting signatures, and staff reviewing to make sure the signatory is eligible to vote.”

Deputy mayor Ron Faulkner said, “People work hard to get elected, and you’re just asking them to work harder.”

Mayor George Bridge agreed the signatures were unnecessary.

“What benefit is there, really? To me it just makes work for the staff,” he stated.

McRobb pointed out the measure requires candidates in small rural municipalities to have a much higher percentage of support than candidates in large municipalities.

“If (Toronto mayor) John Tory was to have the same percentage of the electorate as Mayor Bridge sign his nomination form he would need over 4,500 signatures,” she noted.

‘This would be a challenge to achieve with dubious benefit to the election process.”

Faulkner suggested if the requirement is not scrapped, that the threshold for municipal inclusion be set at 10,000 electors. However Bridge pointed out that’s close to the total population of Minto.

Council approved a resolution to advise the ministry the Town of Minto does not support the need for signatures on a nomination form, but that if the proposal goes forward, that it not apply to municipalities with less than 25,000 electors.