Oshawa city council has again distinguished itself across the country with another first! NOT!
FIRST--Oshawa Council voted on April 30, 2007 to return to the general vote for the election of city council for no reason other than to protect their council positions until their death or resignation. They rigged a plebiscite question to confuse voters and skew results the way they wanted, refused to provide any public information about the question or the reasons why it was being asked and now at 160,000 become the largest city in the country to use the general vote without municipal political parties. They know that with an impossible general vote election ballot with close to 100 names, their ability to raise the necessary $35,000 campaign funds through political donations from their political favours and their ability to grab the press over the term of council, that they will be the only candidates familiar to the voters and thus will be impossible to dethrone. This method of election means that city council is not accountable to the citizens and they can rule dictatorially with impunity…something they are presently doing in regards to University/College student rental housing. As an Oshawa "First" for the country, we may have the only city council in the country that puts their personal electoral interests ahead of the public good….shame!
SECOND—With police and a locksmith in tow, Oshawa Bylaw Officers enter private student residences without permission searching bedrooms for rental documents. In most parts of the country, we’d call this a “break and enter.” We might understand this uninvited entry in the event of criminal activity…but for student rental documents—never! With no doubt, this is an Oshawa “First” for Canada.THIRD—As another Oshawa “First” in the country, Oshawa politicians devise a bylaw to license and control student rental accommodations in a defined area of Oshawa. This is blatantly discriminatory against the owners, some of whom had been approved for up to 7 bedrooms by city planning officials and had plans approved by the building inspections department. If the city succeeds in closing this student housing area, the students will simply move further afield. In the process though, the city inconveniences students in causing them to live further from their studies and drives up student rents.
FOURTH—City Council calls a public meeting to get input regarding their bylaw. Despite an overflow crowd with many legitimate and intelligent concerns being raised by spokespeople, not one voice I heard spoke up in defense of the proposed city bylaw. No matter, if citizen experience with the general vote/ward vote issue is any indication, the meeting was a sham anyway. Council will plunge ahead and do what it wants no matter the opposition. The real test will be comparing the bylaw council passes with the draft distributed at the meeting.
The large turnout at this meeting resulted from the real and immediate personal financial consequences to everyone involved. Unfortunately, the ward/general vote issue did not attract the same attention because the consequences to the public while just as real were unfortunately more abstract. People have not yet realized that this kind of irrational council action will be repeated by a general vote council that is not accountable to the people because councillors know they are not in danger of being voted out of office for irrational and irresponsible actions.
On the other hand, perhaps council action will motivate those affected to solidify their organizations and work for the defeat of council at the next election. With the general vote, block voting of the size represented by those concerned will be able to turf the whole council out of office.
I would be pleased to lend my efforts to any such organization