by Michael Jiggins, Executive Assistant to Steve Clark, MPP, Leeds-Grenville; written October 21, 2013
(QUEEN’S PARK) – Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark is renewing his call for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to immediately introduce legislation to amend the Municipal Elections Act.
Clark says the amendments required include eliminating the excessively punitive penalty for the late filing of election expenses by municipal candidates. Currently, being even one day late in submitting this expense report means you automatically lose your council seat and can’t run in the next municipal election.
The “lame duck” period between election day at the end of October and the date new councils officially take office on Dec. 1 must also be shortened, said Clark .
“Time is running out to amend the act in time for the changes to take effect for next year’s municipal votes,” said Clark . “Every Municipal Affairs and Housing minister since the last municipal elections in 2010 has assured me something would be done, yet here we are three years later and absolutely nothing has happened. This inaction is totally unacceptable.”
Clark wrote to the current minister, Linda Jeffery, today to remind her there are just 27 sitting days left on the 2013 Legislative Calendar. Amendments must be passed by Jan. 1, 2014 to be in place for next year’s local government elections on October 27, 2014.
“The clock is ticking and we need to see some action from the government now to pass these amendments that municipalities across the province, including in my riding of Leeds-Grenville, have demanded,” stressed Clark .
The MPP pointed out the urgency to reform the Municipal Elections Act is spelled out clearly in Minister Jeffrey’s own briefing notes.
Clark obtained a copy of Jeffrey’s ministerial briefing book through an Access to Information request. A note dated January 31, 2013 advises the minister to answer any question on the status of Municipal Elections Act reforms with the following: “The government reviews the Municipal Elections Act after every municipal election. I am aware that municipalities would like the review completed with plenty of time before the 2014 municipal election cycle begins. This is our goal as well.”
“I’m not sure how the minister defines ‘plenty of time,’ but I would suggest we’re long past that date,” said Clark . “I’ve written letters, had meetings and asked an Order Paper Question on this issue over the past three years and I’m tired of the empty promises I keep getting back. It’s time for action.”