Saturday, April 7, 2007

Presentation to City Hall, Feb. 5, 2005

Oshawa city council was considering its strategy to avoid an OMB appeal regarding its plans to change to the general vote.

According to Provincial Legislative changes, city staff advised them that they could avoid appeal by switching to the general vote as long as they kept the existing wards without revision.

A "loophole" in the legislation allows councils to determine the composition of council but not to revise the wards without the possibility of appeal.

Since wards are associated with voting throughout Ontario and in Oshawa since 1985, VOTES still feels that it can appeal to the OMB once the city passes its bylaw since funtionally seven wards are being reduced to one for voting purposes. VOTES has also developed two additional arguments of appeal.

VOTES feels that the changes to the Provincial Municipal Act opens up a "can of worms" unanticipated by the Province, but beyond this, just because council can do something doesn't make it right or just for the people.

Without a daily newspaper that is circulated by paid subscription to people who are really interested in Oshawa, City Council was able to slip their moves to the general vote below the public radar screen without any public discussion or debate. And in everything it did, Council flew its planes low.

They failed to provide any information to the public about the change. So to this day, we have not been told of Council's rationale for putting the plebiscite question on the ballot, what was wrong with the ward system to consider change, or what benefits the general vote is expected to bring to Oshawa.

The result? People were confronted for the first time in the voting booth with a convoluted "trick" question that they had never discussed, considered, heard about...and had to vote "NO" to retain the ward system that they had used for many years.

The entire stategy and systems city politicians put in place to move toward the general vote was democratically flawed to the extreme. Democracy requires an "informed" public and city politicans did everything in their power to keep public information to a minimum on this important issue. Council's communication strategy is completely different when they want you to know something...then no expense is spared!

Since no public dissatisfaction had ever been expressed about any shortcomings of the ward system, one has to assume it was supported by the people.

The issue has been completely thought up and fabricated by the politicians who know that the general vote guarantees them lifetime seats on council. At term salaries and benefits of close to $500,000, there is plenty of motivation for politicians to risk their integrity in making the change.

It is extremely unethical for politicians to gerrymander the system for their own benefit at the expense of the citizens of Oshawa.

We need a system that serves the people, not the politicians.

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