Municipal Election 2010

Hamilton Civic League Gears Up for Election

From the Hamilton Civic League, we hope there's a record number of voters this fall.

By Meredith Broughton
Published October 07, 2010

It's been a busy year for the Hamilton Civic League. Originally formed after a presentation by the Guelph Civic League last year, the non-partisan group is finding their niche and Hamilton-specific focus with Hamilton's October 25th election coming up fast.

Right now, with citywide turnout ranging from 26 to 43 percent, the Hamilton Civic League believes we can do better - and must do better - in encouraging everyone to vote.

This is especially important among the groups least likely to vote: young people, low-income people, citizens newer to Canada, and renters.

The past year, the fledgling organization has gained focus, beginning the year with a series of monthly forums. As the election drew nearer, focus has shifted to two initiatives - voter awareness and a ward-by-ward survey of voter priorities and values.

I spoke with a grad student at McMaster a few days ago who had no idea he could vote in Hamilton, despite living here for the past four years. Now that he knows he can vote, he's thrilled to make his voice heard come election day.

The Civic League aims to answer those questions - Can I vote? Why vote? Where do I vote? How do I vote? And especially in races like the 20-candidate lineup in Ward 2, it's also important to know who's running, and what information they've put out.

Voter Awareness Campaign

While signs for specific candidates and issues take up a lot of space in the time leading up to the election, awareness of the importance of voting itself can get lost between the mixed messages.

The Civic League received an incredible response from the media in their willingness to promote voter awareness, Play Advertising designed bus and newspaper ads to run in the weeks leading up to the election, and in the next three weeks the following initiatives are running:

HCL election bus ad
HCL election bus ad

We have ads on every HSR bus to promote voting in the next election, and a couple of exterior bus ads have been donated as well.

HCL Poster: Want Change?
HCL Poster: Want Change?

HCL Poster: Urban Sprawl
HCL Poster: Urban Sprawl

Papers such as the Spectator, the Hamilton News (which runs papers such as the Mountain News and Stoney Creek News), the Silhouette (McMaster), and View Magazine are carrying these ads.

On the TV side, Cable 14 has been running weekly election spots to promote informed voting. Each takes the format of a short discussion with two people - one from the Hamilton Civic League and invited representatives from the groups the Civic League is working with to increase voter participation among target groups (young voters, poverty groups, recent immigrants and renters).

Poster Campaign

HCL Poster: Can't Find a Job?
HCL Poster: Can't Find a Job?

Posters on some of the issues that come up repeatedly in city politics have been made into downloadable posters, as well as smaller graphics for use on Facebook. Many more issues could be made into posters.

If there's another slogan you'd like to see, let us know.

Elementary School Primers

Several teachers are interested in offering 1-hour primers at schools of how to vote. This is especially important in encouraging newcomers to Canada to vote, and it helps build a bridge between different age groups while increasing understanding of the voting process. MacNab Street is the first school to take advantage of this opportunity.

From past elections, Youth Vote has many great materials they've provided for this to happen, and we're happy to extend this to as many schools as possible. If you would like a presentation at your school, your child's school, or a school where you teach, contact us.

Voter Survey Results and Candidate Surveys

While they've been a long time coming, all survey results should be online within the week. A ward-by-ward survey on voter values has been administered by volunteers in each ward, gathering enough responses for valid data in multiple areas.

In accordance with the careful design of the study and advice by overseeing statisticians, only wards with a large enough number of surveys (sample size) to be accurate will have results shown.

We endeavour for this to be an accurate look at what voters think on issues, ward-by-ward, so in addition to other features of the survey design, a large enough sample size returned is a prerequisite for the validity of the data.

(Unfortunately, there were not enough volunteers this time around to get that information within all wards. Hopefully next time more volunteer groups will be assured of the nonpartisan nature of the league and less wary of participating in these surveys).

As well, the same surveys have been circulated to all council and mayoral candidates, and physical copies are being returned. As they are returned and processed, they will be up on the website within the week (I just saw a stack of envelopes returned on Monday, and they're being processed as I write this!)

Other resources - a primer on how to vote and candidate information - are also going up on the website, but we've been incredibly thrilled to see the same type of thing going up from many other sources.

Cast Your Vote

On October 25, make your voice heard. Find out what you need to bring, what ward you live in and where to go, and who the candidates are.

On October 25, cast your vote.

From the Hamilton Civic League, we hope there's a record number of voters this fall. At the same time, we know this is a good first run for our organization, but the Civic League can do even better to improve this number in elections to come.

Until there's 100% voter turnout, the Civic League will have a job to do! With better focus, more information, and lots learned from this election, the HCL looks forward to ten times the engagement, effort, and results in the next election!

In the meantime, I hear a provincial election may be coming up soon...

Meredith Broughton is a pastor to students and board member of the Hamilton Civic League. She is completing two graduate programs, one in theology at McMaster Divinity, another in echocardiography at Mohawk. Meredith lives downtown with her husband Jarod and loves showing visitors and newcomers all the good things Hamilton has to offer.

27 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2010 at 14:08:15

Another important piece that I neglected to add is that the Civic League is also running radio ads encouraging people to vote

These ads are currently being played regularly on local radio stations as well as McMaster and Mohawk's radio stations.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2010 at 01:18:33

this is great work!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BeulahAve (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 09:35:34

This is heartening news, thanks for all your efforts. I spent yesterday afternoon canvassing for a candidate and was mostly pleased with the response. Most people seemed to know an election was coming up at least.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 11:17:05

Can I confirm something here.

You need to be a canadian citizen to vote correct? And you need to provide proof of this and of residence within the ward to vote?

I'm hearing rumors that non-canadian citizens are being allowed to vote in this election.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2010 at 11:29:44

I've read a letter or two yesterday (in the Globe and Mail, I think) calling for this to happen, and there was rumours of it last year, but as far as this election goes, it is still the citizen vote only.

You can see the "voter eligibility" line at the top of the city's elections page: http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/C...

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-10-08 10:30:27

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 11:31:07

So what is being done to prevent illegal votes?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2010 at 11:31:36

And I just got the news that K-Lite/Astral will be running the Civic League's radio spot as well!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 11:41:55

Wow, my girlfriend is here on a work visa, but is Ghanian citizen and qualifies to vote!

Voter Identification
You will need a single document from Schedule 1

Schedule 1
Documents that show Name, Qualifying Address and Signature
2. An Ontario Health Card (photo card)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Andrea (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 15:41:43

You have to be a Canadian citizen to vote. Voter Eligibility

A person is entitled to be an elector at an election held in a local municipality if on voting day, Monday, October 25, 2010, he or she: resides in the local municipality or is the owner or tenants of land there, or the spouse of such a person;

  • is a Canadian citizen; and,
  • is at least 18 years old; and,
  • is not prohibited from voting under any law.

The following persons are prohibited from voting:

  • a person who is serving a sentence of imprisonment in a penal or correctional institution
  • a corporation
  • a person acting as an executor or trustee or in any other representative capacity, except as a voting proxy
  • a person who was convicted of the corrupt practice described in subsection 90(3) of the Municipal Elections Act, if voting day in the current election is less than four years after voting day in the election in respect of which he or she was convicted.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By len123 (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 16:39:05

we in ward 3 need too Vote for Paul Tetley he is the only one in the running that knows what the people wish to see done here in the ward. he will not stop working on a problem till it is done and done the way we in ward3 like.host a tea party and find out.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 16:45:45

Andrea - I spoke to someone who was working at a polling station. No proof of citizenship is being requested when people are going to vote. Got a driver's license? Ok. You're good.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2010 at 17:29:38

So in other words, although non-citizens aren't legally allowed to vote, nothing is being done to prevent anyone with a driver's license or other ID+address.

Realistically, nothing can be done to stop non-citizens from voting that wouldn't disenfranchise far larger numbers of citizens.

So basically: please don't vote if you legally shouldn't. We can't stop you, but it seems wrong-ish.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-10-08 16:30:08

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By dirk (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 17:42:05

Sorry to disagree, Pxtl, but It doesn't seem wrong-ish. It's f-ing illegal!!! It's time for people to have to present documentation in order to vote. People have to have lived here for some time and have gone to the trouble to take out citizenship before they should have input in the political process. Otherwise, FOREIGNERS, people whose values and experience are not those of Canadians have influence political decisions which are being made in this country. If you are persuaded residency and the obligation to pay taxes entitle you to a say in the democratic process, I believe you are wrong. Residency IS the benefit of living here. Paying taxes is the price you pay for that benefit. Being a Canadian is what entitles you to vote. C'est tout.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 17:57:17

I'm originally from Ghana. It took me 5 years to get my citizenship for Canada and the right to vote in this country that I now call home. I find this offensive.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jarod (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 18:31:34

I'm conflicted. I think it should be important to want to become a citizen of the place you call your home, and you should like that place enough to make that a priority.

There should be certain benefits for becoming a citizen. I'm not sure voting is one of them though. (It may well be, I just haven't taken the time to really think about it, talk to people on both sides, weigh in and all that stuff).

But if new immigrants are among the lowest turnout for voting during elections, it would seem to me that those who DO choose to vote may be capable of making an informed decision. We're concerned about not enough people voting, and the argument is posed about not letting someone who has lived here for a while (time varies I know) vote and let the government know what they think and what they want. Should we wait for people who are active voters and just move to Hamilton during an election year (no matter their background or ethnicity) and tell them they haven't met some prerequisite to make their vote valid? - I don't know.

But I do disagree heavily with this:

Otherwise, FOREIGNERS, people whose values and experience are not those of Canadians have influence political decisions which are being made in this country. If you are persuaded residency and the obligation to pay taxes entitle you to a say in the democratic process, I believe you are wrong. Residency IS the benefit of living here. Paying taxes is the price you pay for that benefit. Being a Canadian is what entitles you to vote. C'est tout.

Foreigners, as you put it, make up a massive percentage of Canada. In fact there are only too few original Canadians. We all immigrated somewhere along the line. We came here and brought our political agendas, our religion, our ideas and we made this place our home.

Residency is not the benefit of living here. That's like saying eating is the benefit of eating. Canada holds home and holds true the safety of the people, the allowance for differences in religion, thought process, ideologies. The lack of freedom that some people flee from, into the arms of Canada should make every single person proud to live in this country.

Foreigners also have great ideas. Over the past few months we've been talking about bike lanes (as an example), quoting and referencing places abroad that are doing things right. We highlight the great things that are coming out of sound reasoning and good action overseas, and in one encompassing statement you undo the thought that anything or anyone who doesn't have the label Canadian attached to them will do. I'm sorry, I'm Canadian through and through, I'm a habitual Leafs fan, I like the cold. But Canada isn't Canada without immigrants.

If I met someone from another country and moved here and actually wanted to know about the political process, and how they could vote I might have a heart attack. THIS IS WHAT WE WANT. People who care!

I know (and I'll likely get lamb basted) there are certain priviledges a Canadian citizen should be entitled to.

But there in lies the problem. Entitlement. How do we get the sense of loss or that something has been taken away from us? There are millions of people taking Canada for granted everyday. People that were born and raised in Canada. And they vote. Or at least some of them do.

Maybe there should be a cooling off period. Maybe you should live here a year and then be able to vote. Maybe there's another solution. I don't know. But that should apply to everyone. You moved to Hamilton from Alberta and it's an election year, vote in the next election.

I'm sure I'll get tossed around for it. But I think if someone wants to vote, has made up their mind, lives here long enough to have a driver's license, let them vote.

If you're worried about your culture being whisked away as immigrants pool into Canada and vote for things that are important to them there's a gated community somewhere in Utah that would love to have you. (apologies in advance)

Comment edited by Jarod on 2010-10-08 17:51:22

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 18:41:26

I can see what you're saying however, look at it this way.

When you are born in this country, you cannot vote until you are 18. That gives you a time form your own opinion based upon your immersion within society. When you immigrate into this country, it takes 3 years before you can become a citizen. Again, that gives you time to acclimate to the country and society.

Without regulation, any person who arrives in this country and owns/rents a house and pays tax can vote immediately and without even having made an informed decision.

You can't say that I was just as well informed about Canadian politics 5 years ago when I arrived, as I am today.

I've seen this before, a lack of regulation results in abuse. Votes can easily be bought.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2010 at 06:52:47

Once you've factored in an untold number of non-resident votes and added the potential pool from which they're drawn, who's to say you wouldn't be back where you started, or proportionately lower. Admittedly, I have no idea of how many non-residents would qualify, but statistically speaking you'd need to know before you could determine (a) what constitutes a winning majority and (b) what number you're basing your turnout percentages on. No?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2010 at 06:55:39

Also: In the event of a recount, I could imagine undocumented/non-resident votes being discarded. Which would be an interesting experiment... see how fast we can imbue people with the democratic apathy of lifelong Canadians...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 09, 2010 at 07:55:28

How do you discard non resident votes from an anonymous poll?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By dirk (registered) | Posted October 09, 2010 at 12:46:23

Foreigners, as you put it, make up a massive percentage of Canada. In fact there are only too few original Canadians. We all immigrated somewhere along the line. We came here and brought our political agendas, our religion, our ideas and we made this place our home.

But most of us didn't immigrate, our ancestors did. We grew up here and, as another poster mentioned, had 18 years of learning to be a Canadian before we had the right to vote. To take this argument to its logical conclusion, all the ancestors of the FIrst Nations apparently came to what is now Canada some 12 000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age from Asia. That makes them immigrants too!

Foreigners also have great ideas. Over the past few months we've been talking about bike lanes (as an example), quoting and referencing places abroad that are doing things right.

Absolutely. But there's a difference between me going to Holland and seeing all the Dutch on their bikes, then acting politically, back here in Hamilton, to make our city more bicycle friendly and Ruud from Amsterdam, having emigrated 6 months ago, agitating for the same thing. His opinion lacks validity because it lacks context. Maybe he'd like to see more bikes because it reminds him of home (which means, incidentally, the Hamilton isn't yet home for him). Anyway, there are ways for immigrants to have influence in political process when they haven't yet the right to vote, if they feel strongly enough about it.

Residency is not the benefit of living here. That's like saying eating is the benefit of eating. Canada holds home and holds true the safety of the people, the allowance for differences in religion, thought process, ideologies.

But that's the whole point. Just being in Canada IS the benefit of living here rather than someplace where you can't make a decent living or your life is in danger. Very few people emigrate when things are going well for them.

If you're worried about your culture being whisked away as immigrants pool into Canada and vote for things that are important to them there's a gated community somewhere in Utah that would love to have you. (apologies in advance)

But I don't want to live in a foreign country! (Utah's still in the U.S., right?) I just want the franchise to be held be citizens who are committed to living in Canada and who have sufficient experience living as Canadians to be able to make informed decisions about matters which affect us all.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 09, 2010 at 13:56:30

As an immigrant and someone who put the time and effort into becoming a Canadian citizen, I am quite passionate about this subject.

Only a citizen should have the right to vote, regardless of whether someone is residing here or paying taxes, someone who has become a citizen has proven that they have a vested interest in this country and its future.

I could have come to this country with no intention of ever staying. Why should I have any right to vote, a vote that could influence the city for years to come, years after I have left?

Extreme example... Let's say that a Ghanian company wants to build a nuclear power plant in Hamilton and all of the municipal councillors are opposed to it. Shortly before the next election a lot of Ghanians come to Hamilton, rent property, pay taxes and go out and vote in candidates who are pro the nuclear plant and then go back to Ghana, leaving the people of Hamilton with a nuclear power plant being built in the West Harbor (ideal place for it now no one else wants it lol). Is that just?

BTW am proud of my Ghanian heritage. I just didn't want to get jumped on for using another country's people as an example ;-)

Comment edited by EugeneM on 2010-10-09 13:06:01

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Paul (registered) | Posted October 10, 2010 at 22:19:09

ONLY CITIZENS ARE ALLOWED TO VOTE. It says in the regulations. The id is to prove who you are from their list. There is no unspoken conspiracy to allow non-citizens to vote. At the same time I do not see any reason to get outraged as I severely doubt that there is any foreign conspiracy to put any particular candidate into power in Hamilton. Indeed we would be lucky to get 40% of legal voters to bother voting. Hopefully this campaign, the actual reason for this thread, will help do this.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By playnice (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 17:23:39

Paul, I totally agree. We need to concentrate on promoting voter turn out. There are a few too many conspiracy theorists, hijacking a lot of these blog threads!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 10:39:35

Boy, what a flamewar.

Yeah, voting if you're not a citizen is wrong - apparently humour of "wrong-ish" doesn't go over the internet. But either way, my point is that any better ID verification would disenfranchise voters who may not have access to better ID, and whose votes are important to hear... and who represent a larger contingent than whatever number of non-citizen voters exist.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 11:17:47

I think it's time for an open source online voting system. no SIN, no vote, and one vote per SIN

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 11:24:39

As long as temporary SINs are not permitted, then yes. However, online voting again permits for the selling of votes.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 10:23:51

Well my girlfriend voted with her health card and a letter from the bank confirming her address. She's only here on a work visa. Point proven.

Sorry Hamilton when you get councillors in office thanks to bought votes, don't bitch and moan.

I can only hope legitimate voters rise up against this travesty

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds