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LETTER: Argument about stats 'does not hold water'

Having '71 people writing to a rural township just days before Christmas is highly significant,' says Oro-Medonte resident
2022-05-17 typing pexels-donatello-trisolino-1375261
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OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a letter regarding byelections and appointments in Oro-Medonte, published Sept. 27.
I think that David Pollock has missed the mark in his letter to the editor.

Over 71 people wrote to council in December of 2019 to forward their personal positions regarding appointments versus byelections. Mr. Pollock postulates that since the population size is roughly 18,014 people in Oro-Medonte, inferences cannot be made regarding the general mood of the entire electorate. This argument does not hold water in the statistical world.

In surveys, polls, and samples, information is often inferred about a population by studying a limited number of individuals from that population. I would submit that 71 people writing to a rural township just days before Christmas is highly significant.

But this is not the point of Mr. Hutcheson’s opinion letter to the editor on Monday, Sept. 25. He simply shone light on the fact that the reasons argued against democratic byelections were weak at best.

Multiple media platforms reported on this matter. Mayor Harry Hughes offered three unverified or unscientific reasons for his tiebreaker vote of Dec. 11, 2019. He suggested that there was voter fatigue.

Was a survey done to sample the population? Did the mayor establish a focus group to review cost-benefit ratios? Did the mayor wait for more residents to participate in the letter-writing program? The public record does not indicate that staff or elected officials relied on any empirical data regarding voter mood and voter fatigue.

The mayor also stated in public that the electorate is weary. He must have a magic ball. I did not submit a letter prior to this meeting, but once I heard that my democratic rights were being challenged, I did send a letter after the holiday season. I was too late.

The mayor further argued that appointments are an integral part of democracy. While this might be a viable argument in some circumstances, council had no business filling these seats by appointments with more than three years in the mandate left to go.

Besides, only one person had the final say in this chess match and that was the mayor. He cast the deciding, tie-breaking vote.

Here’s a stat, Mr. Pollock. Almost 30 per cent of the constituents did not even have representation in council during this vital vote. Remember that two of the seven seats were empty. Using your mathematical logic, over 5,000 constituents were not even represented at the table on this controversial day.

This is not fair by any statistical measure.

Tim Taylor