The Electorate are Never Wrong

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The Electorate are Never Wrong
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John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin is a Senior lawyer with over 20 years of experience in areas including Tax Law, Corporate/Commercial Law, Litigation, Tort Law, Securities Law and Employment Law. John has appeared before, or worked on files, at all levels of courts in Canada including the Supreme Court of Canada. He was also a Mayoral candidate in the 2014 Oakville Municipal Election receiving 24% of the vote.

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It was both a pleasure – and an honour – to have participated as a Mayoral candidate in the recent 2014 Municipal election process. Although this sentiment is probably shared by all municipal candidates, there is undoubtedly some residual disappointment felt among candidates and their supporters, who were not successful in their quest. However, I do believe in the adage that states “the electorate are never wrong”.

After having read the October 28, 2014 headline in “Oakville News” entitled “Burton, Incumbents Receive Solid Endorsements”, I paused to consider – whether the incumbents really did receive “solid” endorsements as the headline asserted – or perhaps something of a more subtle yet latent “change” was afoot on October 27th – foreshadowing an as yet undiscerned, but positive future for Oakville.

For example, Oakville Ward 1 residents voted for change, and new Town & Regional Councillor Sean O’Meara will be sworn into Office at the inaugural meeting of Council on December 1, 2014, as will new Ward 3 Town Councillor Nick Hutchins. Further, the battle for Town & Regional Councillor in Ward 5 between Ann Mulvale and incumbent Jeff Knoll was ultimately decided only when the last polling station reported – by a razor thin margin of 3,846 to 3,706 votes (less than a 2% difference).

Were these particular results illustrative of the proverbial “canary in the coal mine”, indicating voter displeasure, by proxy or otherwise, with Council’s record? Do they perhaps reveal an underlying desire for change going forward, rather than perhaps a “stronger mandate” as asserted by the Mayor? Similarly, in the Ward 5 race for Town Councillor, the challengers gleaned almost as many total votes as did the successful incumbent Marc Grant. Though opinions vary, I wouldn’t necessarily characterize those results as an endorsement for the “incumbents”, nor would I necessarily agree with the proposition that the Mayor’s election campaign endorsement of sitting incumbents had little “measurable impact” on the election results – as the October 28th article stated. That would be a gross oversimplification of what actually transpired on the part of the electorate and non-electorate, on October 27th.

Again, while I was pleased for Mr. Burton’s success in being re-elected as Mayor of Oakville, as I also indicated to the “Oakville Beaver” on election night, I was both humbled and thrilled to have received almost 10,000 votes (over 24% of the popular vote) that were cast for a “new” Mayor of Oakville. Statistically, that represented a 380% vote growth for my Mayoral candidacy over the 2010 election results, while the Mayor enjoyed only an 11% vote growth over 2010.

Undoubtedly though, the larger story was not that 1 out of 4 voters did not endorse the incumbent Mayor (or that 3 out of 4 did), but that almost 85,000 eligible voter’s didn’t vote at all and thus didn’t endorse anybody, thus depriving us of an opportunity to determine whether the Mayor’s dispatch of a “renewed and stronger mandate” is correct on a latent level. Some may legitimately query whether the non-electorate are ever wrong. Perhaps internet voting should also be explored for Oakville, as it was a huge success in Burlington and an increase in voter turnout is likely a common goal for all residents of Oakville and for democracy.

That is why we have elections … because “the electorate are never wrong”.


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