Saturday, February 24, 2007

Council Blocks Citizen Input and Comment

Many members of this council have flogged democracy as the reason why they are voting to uphold the referendum result to change to the general vote.

This, despite the fact that council failed to provide any public information, a rationale for raising the issue, or background on the issue to the public catching voters “cold” in the voting booth where they were considering the question for the first time. Voters were also confronted by a council gerrymandered question that was continually revised so that voters had to vote “NO” to preserve the ward system that had been used in Oshawa for over 20 years. The information that the Council failed to provide is a basic necessity of an informed electorate which is the very foundation of a democracy.

If democracy is so important to this council, I would ask why they have policies and practices to block any public input and comment on important issues coming before council.

At the Council Meeting of February 5th, council considered a staff report that suggested that council could change to a general vote without fear of appeal to the OMB for a sober second thought as long as they retained the present ward boundaries.

Council adapted this position simply to avoid appeal to the OMB.

This was an important issue that deserved public comment and input. To be heard at Council, it was required that delegations that wanted to express opinions to council on the issue would have had to request to speak on the issue prior to City Hall offices closing by Wednesday, January 31. No one knew that this issue was going to come before Council however until the agenda was made public after City Hall offices closed on Friday, February 2.

How can a council that holds up Democracy as a virtue then have policies that absolutely thwart public input so voters cannot express their opposition to council at their meetings?

With Council’s practice of stifling public opposition to their self-serving attempts to return to the devastation of a general vote in Oshawa, I fear that the public meeting to be held to consider the bylaw to return Oshawa to the general vote will be a sham meeting. How can it be otherwise to a Council that has already made up its mind on this matter?

The public meeting will be an exercise in futility on the part of concerned citizens.

Democracy is only a word for Oshawa Council; it is not a practice!

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