Tuesday, November 4, 2008
OSHAWA--the "Waning Backwater of Democracy:" The "Poster Child"
for "Old Politics"
I am struck this historic day when full democratic justice comes to American when they elect their first African-American president.
This has not come easily. Freedom from slavery with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in the 1860’s, the right to sit in the front of the bus as tested by Rosa Parks in 1955, the universal right to vote which is still being fought on some fronts, The Civil Rights Act introduced by John F. Kennedy in 1963 which allowed for African-American’s Right to Vote and the achievement of high office by US Secretary of State Codoleeza Rice, and Colin Powell former Secretary of State and Chief of Defense staff. With universal black suffrage, black politicians flourished at all levels in Congress, the House of Representatives, as Mayors, etc. All these individuals won their success on the backs of those who had fought and died for democracy and the right to vote.
Things are still not perfect, according to complaints received by CNN about voter and registration problems, and long lines that test the patience of voters, but they are improving. Democracy is improving.
This is in severe contrast with what is happening in Oshawa. Our city politicians have implemented the general vote system purportedly on the basis of the confusing plebiscite question on the last ballot…a question that council asked but one they refused to inform the people about. According to the Mayor, city hall had no responsibility to inform voters about their question. He said this was up to interested citizens to fundraise and inform citizens about the question city politicians had asked. What they Mayor suggested was contrary to Ontario Municipal Elections Law but nevertheless it was the Mayor’s spin on whose responsibility it was to insure an informed electorate.
So while American elections are getting more democratic and both Canadians and Americans are fighting abroad right now to bring democracy and representative government to Iraq and Afghanistan, our political system in Oshawa is becoming less democratic, less inclusive, less accountable, less representative, less responsive and less productive with the general vote which only serves politicians by guaranteeing their re-election until their death or retirement. This will give us aging, tiring and less energetic political leadership in Oshawa.
We will have a system not used in any large city in the country. If the system was a good one, wouldn’t it be used widely in the country.
The system will be more costly to the Oshawa taxpayer as the huge constituencies of all city politicians will be twice the size of those of our Federal and Provincial Government Members. The size of their constituencies of 160,000 people will give rise to demands for larger office space (which has already happened with $14 million “reported” changes to Rundle Tower of city hall with an additional $12 million reported reconstruction of the demolished city hall wings and council chamber), demands for bigger salaries in light of the bigger constituencies, and demands for bigger political office staffs to handle the increased workload politician's will claim.
Over time, all of the politicians will come from a few of the richer areas of the city leaving most areas unrepresented and forgotten and the huge general vote ballots containing upwards of 100 names will make informed voting impossible. Name recognition will be the only determinant of election so politicians will backbite, bitch, bicker, and grandstand to steal the press as well as spend exorbitant amounts of your scarce tax money in sending flyers with their names heavily displayed to all residents of the city….they will campaign to promote their names at your expense.
Wake up Oshawa…don’t let them use you like this!
We fought and died for democracy and are still doing so in foreign lands today…but city politicians are reducing this most cherished democratic right…the right of a meaningful vote to determine our political destiny in Oshawa!
We are told that elections are won and lost by the questions people are asking as they enter the voting booth. The question will be obvious when they are confronted by the huge general vote ballot and most will be confronted by a task they don’t understand, names they don’t know, and an impossible task of selecting those to serve them best. At that point…many voters will be resentful about those that brought about this system. Our job is to make sure that people know this critical information.
So who is responsible for the general vote? Who are the politicians who have voted to serve their own interests rather than the interests of the community? Who are the politicians that must be defeated?
The answer! Mayor Gray and Councillior’s Pidwerbecki, Kolodzie, Parkes, Henry, Sholdra, and Marimpietri. Make a list—these self serving city politicians must be defeated for robbing you of your guaranteed community representation on city council and putting their own electoral interests above your interests and those of your community.
Having now just finished watching President Elect Obama's victory speech, I am inspired to write this addition to the story above that I wrote earlier today.
We have entered a new era...with new lessons for those who would lead. It is clear that people now expect honesty and integrity from their politicians. It is a new age of people power...yes we can!
People know and expect that power is IN the people--not the politicians! It is FOR the people--not for the politicians. Politicians are to SERVE the PEOPLE--NOT THEMSELVES!
With the support of Oshawa voters, we expect to be able to mobilize this message to remove all politicians from city council who voted for an election system not used in any large city in the country...simply to serve themselves!
Barack Obama's election ushers in a new political era with generous skepticism toward "old politics" and "old politicians". With your help we can rid city council of this cancer and bring in a new age. Yes we can! Yes we will!