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Letter: We need a referendum on KED

The 2018 municipal election can’t stand in for a referendum

Some say the past 2018 election can stand in for a referendum on whether Greater Sudburians want an expanded casino, whether Greater Sudburians want such a casino beside their community arena, and whether the arena should be moved out of its position as an anchor in the city’s downtown.

An election can't stand in as a referendum.

An election is where tens of candidates faced off against each other across 12 wards and a mayor’s race. There are a wide variety of platforms, planks and nuance to 50 or so candidates during an election.

It can’t be a referendum. A referendum is a clear question with two possible opposite answers. It is not tied to any other platform or person.

All of the candidates were saying that they DON'T WANT the election to be about the KED decision. They said they didn't want that election to represent a referendum.

The winning candidates cannot pop out the other end and say that that election will stand as a referendum.

Plus the major proponent, the mayor, who said he didn't want it to be a referendum on one question, still saw his support almost cut in half.

He went from 46 per cent support in 2014 to 28 per cent  in 2018. That means 72% of voters wanted someone that was NOT Mr. Bigger.

With only half of eligible Greater Sudburians voting, the mayor has the support of 14 per cent, or about 14,000 Greater Sudburians out of 100,000 eligible voters.

He did not have a mandate to proceed with his agenda. Though he was responsible to lead council as mayor, with numbers like that, he was responsible to read the real will of the people. 

That was his time to reconsider his program and decide to really consult the people on major issues. Instead he and other councillors have pressed forward on something that people don’t want, and now with COVID, makes even less sense.

The election was not a referendum, as most candidates begged. If it was a referendum, it was lost. Referendums require at least 50 per cent +1.

And more than this, some KED supporters like to say that all of the yes voting councillors for KED were re-elected.

That is partially true. Councillors Cormier and Signorretti were NOT “yes”es on the KED vote, and they were re-elected.

Only councillors Landry-Altman, Jakubo, Kirwan and Vagnini, four out of twelve, were re-elected, and were “no”s for downtown and “yes”es for KED.

In the middle, councillors McIntosh, Sizer, Lapierre, and even Mayor Bigger voted “yes” to downtown in the first vote, and flipped for the second vote, voting “yes” also to KED.

So contrary to the idea that all the councillors who voted “yes” to KED were re-elected, it is also true that the six council members (five councillors + mayor) who originally voted yes to downtown were also re-elected.

Presently on council, from the 2017 vote, there are only four “no” votes to downtown, six “yes” to downtown votes, one abstention and two replaced councillors who were not the ward councillors in 2017 to vote.

In this interpretation, the “ayes” have it. But they don’t! But they do! It’s difficult to figure out ... because it’s an interpretation of people’s actions before and during an election and not a set question that can give a clear answer.

And that’s why the last election can't be counted as a referendum about whether the Greater Sudbury citizens support having the slots expanded to a casino, having a casino beside the community arena or removing the arena from downtown.

A referendum, a simple yes or no answer on a series of questions like with the Boxing Day by-law, is different from an election.

There still has been no proper public input on the matter of pairing a casino with the city's family-friendly, community arena. What paltry input there was was poorly informed of and therefore, poorly attended. It was describing something different then what it became. and it was decided before anyone outside of council knew what was being discussed.

The way to solve it all is with a referendum, proper public input in good faith.

Stephen MacLean, Greater Sudbury