As expected, City Council last night adopted a motion to switch to a general vote but keep the existing wards. Advice from the city solicitor was that they had the power to unilaterally change the method of electing council without possible appeal to the OMB but that if they changed the wards, this was appeal able.
Ludicrous!!! We will have a ward organization in Oshawa but it will not be used for election purposes. This means that you will lose your ward representative chosen by your neighborhood on city council. Thus in the next election, you will choose the council from a huge list of names where it will be impossible to get to know the candidates. Therefore you will elect the familiar names…the present council members who will fight for press over the term of council to enhance their name recognition. The last time we had a general vote we had half the city unrepresented for 7 consecutive councils as all of the political power resided in north end residents as half of the council lived in the old ward 6 of the day.
In my presentation to council last night, I asked why council would be afraid of an OMB appeal if they were convinced their actions were serving Oshawa best. I pointed out that public confidence in their decision would have been enhanced by having the OMB, an outside, independent, objective, and non-political arbiter rule on the change. Council however, does not want their actions looked at in this way.
Council does not want the OMB involved because they know that this heist was an inside job to replace the ward system that was working excellently for Oshawa and without a whimper of public discontent. Every step of the way was a strategy to get their desired result. The question of changing the political system came from the politicians; they kept the voters uninformed, asked a convoluted question in such a way that voters had to vote “NO” to preserve ward voting, and insured that the first time voters had considered the complicated question was when they made a choice in the voting booth. As few voters even knew of the existence of the referendum questions, they did not have a chance to consider or debate the issue before this. Deliberately keeping the voters uninformed about the meaning and impact of the change from Ward to General Vote is deceitful, dishonest, and a travesty of the trust we place in our politicians to serve us.
Along the way to adopting this decision last night, council voted on a number of motions.
1) They defeated a motion that would result in an information brochure being sent to all residents which would include the date for a public meeting.
FOR…Lutczyk, Nicholson, Neal, Cullen
AGAINST …Kolodzie, Marimpietri, Pidwerbecki, Parkes, Shouldra, Gray, Henry
COUNCIL STILL WANTS TO KEEP THE PEOPLE UNINFORMED!
2) They defeated a motion that would result in a series of public information and input meetings to that politician’s could gauge public opinion about the issue.
FOR…Nicholson, Lutczyk, Shouldra, Cullen, Neal
AGAINST…Kolodzie, Henry, Pidwerbecki, Parkes, Marimpietri, Gray COUNCIL WANTS LITTLE PUBLIC INPUT INTO THE SITUATION
3) They defeated a motion that would have collapsed the wards to be consistent with the general vote so their action could not be appealed to the OMB.
FOR…Nicholson, Lutczyk, others to be determined
AGAINST…Pidwerbecki, Kolodzie, others to be determined
COUNCIL DOES NOT WANT AN OMB APPEAL BECAUSE THEY WANT TO AVOID HAVING AN INDEPENDENT AND OBJECTIVE PROVINCIAL BODY HEAR THE FACTS ABOUT THE CHANGE AND HOW IT OCCURRED TO SEE WHETHER CHANGE IS JUSTIFIED BY THE FACTS AND IN THE INTERESTS OF OSHAWA CITIZENS. PERHAPS THEY ARE CONCERNED THAT THE OMB WILL SEE THAT OSHAWA POLITICIANS HAVE KEPT VOTERS UNINFORMED, THAT THE CHANGE WAS PURELY DRIVEN BY COUNCIL MEMBERS WITHOUT ANY EXPRESSED PUBLIC CONCERN, AND THAT THE MOTIVATION FOR THE CHANGE WAS SOLELY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE POLITICIANS IN INSURING THEIR LIFETIME SEATS ON COUNCIL.
It looks like Democracy is dead in Oshawa when City Council can plot and strategize to steal voting control from the public. Council appears to be on its way to implement a system that serves them rather than the people. Oshawa people must act if they want to preserve a system of accountable politicians.
How can you help? Write to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and demand that he act to stop council’s move to a general vote. Ask him to insure that we retain ward voting to keep our politicians accountable to the people. Complain that council did not inform the public about the impact of the change. Tell him that it appears that Council deliberately withheld information to keep the issue secret until voters were confronted with it in the voting booth. Tell him you found the questions confusing when you had to vote “NO” to retain the present ward voting. We need to flood his desk with citizen concern if we are to stop this undemocratic mad grab at a life-long seat on Council by the present members. We deserve a system that serves the people and not the politicians!