Friday, January 18, 2008

So the Mayor Wants Me to Eat His Words


Mayor John Gray
City of Oshawa
emailed to:
January 17, 2007

Hello John:

Because of your protestations at the Accountability and Transparency Committee Meeting this morning about the accuracy of the film clip on www.oshawaspeaks, I reviewed the clip and can find no inaccuracies about my comments that you publicly insisted that the City had no responsibility to inform and educate the public about the plebiscite question to insure that they understood the question and its ramifications.

If council was unwilling to inform the public about the plebiscite question, I can't understand why it was asked. Not insuring the public understood the question, I have difficulty comprehending why you and six other members of council insist on upholding its results as "democratic" saying, "The people have spoken!"

I find council's action in this whole issue extremely undemocratic as the basic requirement in a democracy is an informed voter. How can it be democratic when council took concrete and deliberate action to deny information to the voter.

While I fully understand, in retrospect, that you may not like your ill-founded comments being publicized on the video that is at present approaching 1500 viewers, no one put these words into your mouth and so you have to take full responsibility for them.

Your words certainly help explain why the citizens were not adequately informed and why public discussion and debate were not promoted. Your words also help to explain why council repeatedly voted to deny public information. Like you, the majority felt it was not Council's responsibility to insure that the public was aware of and understood the question council itself was asking. Obviously, like you, they didn't think it was important to inform the public to insure that the vote reflected a valid measure of public sentiment on the issue.

I do not believe, however, that council failed to adequately inform the public because they believed it was not their responsibility...but that they contrived to deliberately keep the public in the dark to catch them "cold" for the first time in the voting booth to confront a difficult and convoluted question worded in a way to solicit a specific response by unaware voters.

Council's lack of interest in insuring the public understood the question, along with the convoluted way it was worded, and the fact that the question did not arise from any concern expressed by the public, all work to prove beyond a doubt that council manipulated the public to get a result they favoured...democracy be damned!

Surely as a long-time politician who should be very familiar with the Ontario Municipal Elections Act, you, Mayor Gray, knew that your public statements about the interested public itself being responsible to organize and run information campaigns regarding YOUR question was against the law and that the Act gives cities themselves unfettered spending ability to inform the public about questions they are being asked on the ballot.

Because Municipal Elections Law gives cities that unfettered and uncontrolled spending ability to inform the public about ballot questions, but does not give the same right to the public, surely implies to any reasonable person that the city itself had a responsibility to adequately inform the public.

Mayor Gray---I should also express my personal displeasure at your public comment to me at committee this morning that, "I knew of the plebiscite but didn't get off my ass to do anything about it until it was too late".

While I don't appreciate your choice of words as Chairman of the committee, as it isn't the way that I communicate, I also want to correct your perceptions of the action (or as you say---inaction) that I took.

Just weeks before the election, I found out "by accident" that the plebiscite question was to be asked. Not believing this from my source, records in the clerk's office will show that I communicated with that office to confirm the accuracy of my information. Upon confirmation from the clerk, I wrote to the Mayor and Council asking that an information brochure be sent to all homes in Oshawa. This letter was never acknowledged nor did city hall ever take any action on my request.

I am extremely careful about the accuracy of everything I write on and would appreciate you identifying specific factual inaccuracies that you find in the video documenting your comments on this issue at the April 30, 2007 council meeting. As far as I can see, the video itself reflects with 100% accuracy what you said. I do not have the ability to edit the video to put words in your mouth!

I can assure you that I will correct any inaccuracies in the explanatory notes inserted in the video clip but will not change content just because you do not agree with it or like it but at this moment stand behind everything that is said and implied in the video.

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