Mr. Dariusz Kulczyński presented the following comments at the public input meeting at Sikorski Hall last night.
He has given permission for me to publish the text forwarded on Polish Canadian Independent Courier Newspaper Letterhead.
POLISH–CANADIAN INDEPENDENT COURIER
12 FOCH AVENUE, TORONTO, ONTARIO M8W 3X1, Canada
Tel/Fax: (416) 259-4353: email@example.com ; www.nowykurier.com
City of Oshawa – Residents’ General Meeting April 19th, 2007
My name is Dariusz Kulczyński. I am an engineer with Ontario Power Generation, Darlington NGS. I am also a Deputy Editor in Chief of “Nowy Kurier” i.e. Polish-Canadian Independent Courier biweekly. I have lived in Ward 5 of Oshawa for almost 20 years now.
Like many other voters, I thought that electing all Councillors by all City Residents would be a good idea and I voted accordingly last October. Since then, however, I have given the proposal more thought and I like the system the way it is better. There are several considerations that must be taken into account before the new Bylaw changes the municipal electoral system in our City. I believe there are at least four important issues, and they are as follows:
1. The majority of Oshawa Residents may vote for a Councillor that does little for the Ward he or she supposedly represents. The responsibility of the Councillor would be watered down if not eliminated. After all, the thing that politicians of all kinds care most is whether or not they are re-elected. If all Councillors are elected by all city population, how can the residents of a particular Ward unseat a Councillor if he/she, God forbid, allows for major disrepair of that Ward?
2. If a Councillor must run in a Ward as big as a Federal or a Provincial Riding, then he/she would need to become known to at least five times more people than those residing in his/her Ward. This requires a lot of effort and money and municipal donations are not Tax deductible. It would be fair to institute Tax Credits for Municipal Elections’ Donations to be deducted off the Property Tax the same way that we can deduct donations to political parties. This proposal would, however, contravene the statement by the City Council that changing the electoral system would be “revenue neutral” or have “no financial impact”.
3. Without providing future Candidates with some reasonable source of revenue from Tax-deductible donations, how would they make themselves known to residents of the whole City? Would the City buy free TV spots or Radio commercials for all Candidates? What would the voters base their decision on unless they really saw and listened to the Candidate? On the name alone? This disadvantages such residents as me if I ever wanted to run for office. Outside of the Polish, Ukranian, Lithuanian, Belorussian and Jewish communities my name: “Dariusz Kulczyński” is barely pronounceable in English, let alone easily remembered. The ethnic population can prevail in some areas of the city but not in the city as a whole.
4. The proposed system will deviate from the majority-single riding rep or “first-past-the-post” English style democracy that has existed in Canada since inception. The proposed system would create a pseudo-slate, similar to that used in the proportional system. However, the proportional system requires that each political party submits its slate and, only within each slate, the seats are allotted according to the amount of the votes. This is the way the system works in many member states of the European Union such as Poland. Yet, political parties do not run their candidates in municipal elections in Canada. Hence, the proposed pseudo-slate resembles the one used in the now defunct Communist countries. For example, in Poland, when it was Communist before 1989, there was only one slate-list of the National Unity Front approved Candidates. Those who got most votes on it got elected, and unless, of course, the results were further tampered with. This was considered undemocratic. Without multi-party representation the proposed system hardly offers any benefits associated with proportional representation.
You will note that Mr. Kulczynski comments on the accountability problem of general vs ward politicians, the suggestion of a requirement of public funding for candidates in huge city-wide elections, the probable exclusion of ethnic candidates in city wide elections, and argues city wide elections will require association with competing political parties.
Older resident's of Eastern European heritage undoubtedly will have greater understanding of the ramifications of his last point. We have identified the point previously that many Eastern Europeans came here for Canada's democratic and "real vote" which some of their descendents on Oshawa City Council now want to take away from the Oshawa people.
Editor's Comment 2
Hopefully Mr. Kulczyński will forward his remarks and the address of this site to all of his contacts in the Oshawa Polish Community to keep them informed.
It is important that the ethnic communities, particularly those of Eastern European heritage, be fully informed about Oshawa Council's desires to take the "real" vote...the ward vote, the vote that does make a difference in determining political leadership away from the people.
These communities are all too aware of the helplessness they feel when they have no control over the actions of their political leaders. The Eastern European peoples came here for the freedoms we have characterized by the vote that does make a difference.
History with the general vote in Oshawa is that no general vote politician in Oshawa's 7 general vote councils was removed by the vote. All change during that time took place through the death or resignation of members. Since the general vote didn't and couldn't effect change, it was not a "real" vote. It was the kind of vote that people have in countries such as China, Russia, or Egypt...an apparent vote that has not one iota of a chance of influencing political leadership or direction in the country.
We don't want that in Oshawa!
Editor's Comment 3
I think it fair to append to this comment that Councillor Robt. Lutczyk has been an undying supporter of ward voting in every stage of the process....from opposing the plebiscite question as not being inclusive of the various communities and demographics of Oshawa to his continuing opposition to implementing the plebiscite result because of the flawed process and convoluted plebiscite question. He is joined at present by Councillors Neal, Cullen, and Nicholson in opposing a move to the general vote.
Councillors Pidwerbecki and Kolodzie are the most outspoken advocates of the General Vote and are joined at present by Councillors Sholdra, Parkes, Marimpietri, and Henry as well as Mayor Gray.