I am amazed at how naively Oshawa This Week editorialists http://durhamregion.com/dr/voices/column/story/3849322p-4453338c.html (pg 6. January 19, 2007 editorial) accept Oshawa Councilor’s “spin” that they “grudgingly felt obliged to vote to eliminate Oshawa’s Ward System” when most of them stated publicly in Council that they didn’t think it was best for Oshawa but they would vote for it anyway because of the plebiscite result on the question in the recent municipal elections.
This raises the question, “Is the essence of good leadership voting for something you say you don’t support and know to be wrong for Oshawa? Is this the kind of leadership we can expect from this council? I don’t think any Oshawa taxpayer wants this kind of leadership. The Oshawa taxpayer’s expect and deserve politicians who vote for what they know to be right. If they don’t think Oshawa should abandon the ward system, there is only one way to vote on the issue. Politicians who vote for what they know to be wrong deserve neither our respect nor our vote.
The staff report stated that “no clear mandate has been established with respect to changing the current system of election of councilors by ward to general vote” which should have been the dominant input to council decision making. Instead, quite apart from the spin councilors are trying to put on it, they voted purely out of self interest to adapt a system that virtually guarantees them a lifetime seat on council…a system that serves them rather than the citizens of Oshawa. Every step of the strategy toward a return to the general vote has been driven by politicians without a whimper of concern with the present system ever being raised by the taxpayers
Interestingly, at the same council meeting, councilors argued to work to preserve ward voting for the vacant trustee seat on the Durham District School Board because they want to insure Oshawa’s representation as they know that Oshawa’s voice on the school board is not guaranteed without ward voting. Too bad they didn’t apply these same principles to guaranteed representation for all parts of Oshawa as under the general vote, all representation will migrate to a few sections of the city leaving much of the city disenfranchised as happened under Oshawa’s previous general vote councils.
An interesting sidebar to council “In-Camera” discussion leading up to the council vote on wanting to adapt the general vote arose when one councilor asked, “How we divide the council workload in handling taxpayer issues under the general vote?” “That’s easy,” said an obviously more astute councilor, “We’ll simply put all of our names in a hat and draw to see who will be assigned to look after the problems arising in the various wards.”
Fortunately for Oshawa, this issue will be resolved by the OMB and retaining ward voting will be a “slam dunk” for my group. Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to foot the bill as some of our unprincipled politicians work to preserve their own electoral interests. To me, this seems to be the ultimate “conflict of interest”.