London Chamber of Commerce: do your homework

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Today's London Free Press contains a very unusual op-ed from the London Chamber of Commerce.  The piece urges City Council not to proceed with ranked ballots and offers some strange arguments against reform.  Here are some of the most interesting quotes from the piece, penned by Gerry Macartney - Chief Executive and General Manager:

"Will it really cost us about $3.5 million to ramp up the election machinery to accommodate a ranked ballot system? Is that a one-time cost or the same increase every election going forward? And isn’t $3.5 million about a 1.5 per cent hike to my property taxes?"

Umm.. what?  According to London City staff, "It is estimated that a ranked ballot election would cost at least an additional $322,500.  This results in an additional cost of $1.24 per eligible elector".  Macartney seems to have taken the cost estimates from London staff.. and randomly multiplied it by TEN.  I have a hunch that Londoners will one day recover from this tragic $1.24 economic burden.

"The pro side claims it reduces negative campaigning, elects more minorities and more women. Again they may be right, but I have yet to see definitive proof."

Well, clearly he didn't look very far.  There are academic reports written about the increase in campaign civility (like this one), and reports about the impact on diverse representation (like this one).  Shoudn't he have looked for these reports before writing the op-ed, rather than writing about how he didn't bother to look?

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"I am the furthest thing from an expert on this subject, but I do know I don’t have a clear understanding of the benefits or risks of ranked balloting from any reputable, scientifically studied source."

I'm not sure I've ever seen an op-ed begin with the author pointing out that they don't know anything about the topic.  There;s an enormous amount of data and academic reports about the effects of ranked ballots.  For some unclear reason, Macartney chose not to read them, which raises an important question: If you openly admit that you "don't have a clear understanding" of the topic... why are you writing an op-ed about it?

 

"I honestly don’t know who is leading the charge for change".

Again, it wouldn't take much research to find out that City Councillor Josh Morgan has been publicly supporting ranked ballots for years. In fact, a large contingent of the current London City Council included ranked ballots in their 2014 platform. More recently, we've seen loud and vocal support from groups like the Urban League of London and Women in Politics.  All Macartney needed to do was Google "ranked ballots" and "London, Ontario".

"I would first like to see empirical evidence that ranked balloting works and, more importantly, makes any difference."

No problem. Here you go.  But... why didn't you ask for evidence before you wrote the op-ed? 




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For a more informed op-ed, here's a great piece co-authored by Sameer Vasta of the Urban League of London and Shawna Lewkowitz of Women & Politics.

 

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