Voting bylaw changes could make it harder for ‘sore losers’ on Regional Council to reverse decisions impacting Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon

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Published November 4, 2021 at 12:11 pm

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Changes could be coming to how Regional Council counts votes on motions to reconsider, making it harder to rehash matters that have already been decided.

On Thursday, the Policies and Procedures Committee voted in favor to ask Regional Council to amend how votes are tallied on motions that require a two-thirds majority to pass.

If approved by Council, the amendment motioned by Mississauga Councillor Pat Saito would do away with language in the bylaws requiring “at least” a two-thirds majority and change how votes are counted based on the members present at the vote.

Under current rules, votes are rounded up or down depending on the number of members present at a meeting. The amendment would mean any vote with a fraction of .6 or higher would be rounded up to a whole vote.

This means a motion requiring a two-thirds majority at meeting with 16 councillors would require an average of 10.66 affirmative votes to pass rather than 11.

Unlike procedural votes which require a 50 per cent majority, motions to reconsider have a higher threshold to pass.

Caledon Councillor Ian Sinclair said the two-thirds requirement makes it “more difficult for sore losers to reopen questions” which have already been voted on by Council.

But even if a vote requiring a two-thirds majority is passed, Councillors can issue a challenge which still only requires a 50 per cent majority to succeed.

Mississauga Councillor Dipika Damerla said a challenge amounts to a “loophole” if Councillors can “consistently challenge a two-thirds threshold by using a 50 per cent threshold.”

The committee voted 7-11 in favour of the proposed changes and will send the amendments to council for approval.

Caledon Councillor Jennifer Innis, who voted against the motion, said she would rather see votes counted by whole persons and do away with rounding when votes are reduced to fractions.

“It’s not a matter of rounding up or rounding down, it’s equal to or greater than,” Innis said.

The proposed changes stem from a Regional Council meeting last month where Councillor Carolyn Parrish asked council to explore a “parallel method” for selecting a Regional Chair.

Parrish’s proposal resulted in hours of amendments, procedural votes and challenges which ended with council asking staff to organize a public meeting where region residents will be able to address the motion and the draft bylaw.

Regional Chair Nando Iannicca recused himself from Thursday’s committee meeting and declared a conflict of interest “out of an abundance of caution” because the proposed bylaw changes were a result of last month’s debate on how the chair is selected.

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