Hon. J. Gerretsen,
Minister of Muncipal Affairs and Housing,
Oshawa City Council was highjacked last night by the majority of members who voted to revert to a general vote when the present ward system was serving Oshawa well and without a whimper of civic discontent.
At their meeting of Feb. 5, 2007, Oshawa Council 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 could be appealed.
We believe that because of the fact that wards are associated with voting by tradition and by practice in Oshawa since 1985, a general vote for functional purposes dissolves all wards in favour of one which we argue is a change in boundaries that can be appealed to the OMB.
We believe that a review of Oshawa's City Council's action must be undertaken by the independent, objective, and impartial OMB and are anxious to lodge an appeal with them.
Without such a review, we believe city council will lose public confidence as it now appears that they are being self-serving in insuring lifetime council seats with the need for little accountability (constituency work) and little need for serious campaigns at election time.
The disastrous history of the general vote in Oshawa before 1985 was that virtually all change took place through death or resignation of council members and political power became vested in a few of the richer areas of Oshawa leaving most of the city unrepresented for years. The last general vote ballot of 11"X17" containing close to 100 names made it virtually impossible for voters to make an informed choice...and of course, people voted for names they'd heard of, the existing council members whose names were always in the paper as council members competed with each other for press....the secret for election under the general vote.
Also at last night's council meeting:
1) Council defeated a motion that would result in an information brochure being sent to all residents which would include the date for a public meeting.
2) Council defeated a motion that would result in a series of public information and input meetings so that politician’s could gauge public opinion about the issue.
3) Council defeated a motion that would have collapsed the wards to be consistent with the general vote so their move could not be appealed to the OMB.
It looks like Democracy is dead in Oshawa when City Council can plot and strategize to steal voting control from the public by limiting information and public input and debate on such an important issue.
We would ask for the help of your office in reviewing the actions of Oshawa City Council in moving to adopt a general vote with the hope that you will see fit to intervene in their undemocratic and self serving actions. Barring your personal intervention, we would ask that your officials review this situation to see indeed if Oshawa City Council action can be appealed to the OMB.
February 6, 2007