Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Supreme Court Challenge!

The small thinkers of Oshawa City Council are in way above their heads on this one!

The loss of a meaningful vote is something that goes to the very heart of Canadian values and way of life. The loss of such an important instrument as the “real” vote to determine our political leaders can be the thin edge of the wedge for the loss of other rights and freedoms.

Canada's Supreme Court says, "Canadians are privileged to live in a peaceful country. Much of our collective sense of freedom and safety comes from our community’s commitment to a few key values"--and democratic governance is listed as that first key value. They have stated that, “Elections are fair and equitable only if all citizens are reasonably informed of all possible choices."

Oshawa Council made a mockery of this statement by the ultimate court in the land by consciously carrying out an extremely flawed plebiscite process designed to deny voters information they had the right to know. People were never told the rationale for change, the benefits to accrue to Oshawa, or the reason why the plebiscite question was being asked since no public dissatisfaction had ever been expressed with ward voting. People were not even told what was meant by the general vote.

The term general vote means many different things to different people. It is customarily thought of as a vote that accompanies general elections…a vote in which everyone casts a vote in constituencies or wards. In researching meanings of the term general vote, I have found no definitions but a number of implied meanings from the way the term is used in news contexts. Therefore the term "general vote" is ambiguous. It has different meanings for different people and was never defined by city council...So it is definitely undemocratic for city council to want to implement a general vote that goes along with what they want it to mean…rather than the many meanings others have for it in society.

On top of this communication failure, Council confronted voters with a difficult to understand convoluted “trick” question designed to confuse the public and get an answer they wanted.

So were electors reasonably informed as Canada’s Supreme Court requires? Absolutely not!

The process was so flawed that we believe that it should be declared invalid, city council censured for their irresponsibility, and told that they can institute another general vote plebiscite only after satisfying provincial officials that they have sufficiently informed the public and promoted sufficient public inquiry and debate.

Section Five of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a part of the Constitution of Canada and provides a constitutional guarantee 1) that governments must explain their actions to the people, and 2) that the public must play a meaningful role in the electoral process. This provision applies to the Federal government and to Legislative Assemblies. We feel it applies to cities like Oshawa also since their entire being and powers fall under provincial jurisdiction.

These also are core values of our freedom as stated in the highest law of the land that have been denied

So what are we going to do?

Because of Oshawa city politician’s attempts to “Shanghai” our political system for their own benefits, we are escalating our efforts bigtime.

Because we think the system should serve the city and its people, and not the politicians, we are initiating consultations with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association which lists, "The protection of the fundamental freedoms essential to the democratic system," as its first objective and are hopeful of having esteemed counsel Mr. Alan Borovoy take this issue to the Supreme Court of Canada on our behalf.

If we are successful in this endeavor, there would unfortunately be great costs to be borne by the Oshawa taxpayer. This is the direct result of Oshawa Council’s stubborn, undemocratic and irresponsible efforts to implement the general vote for their own self-serving purposes.

While the costs will be great, our civil liberties are protected by a “meaningful” vote that has a “real role” in determining our political leaders and our political destiny in Oshawa is fundamental to our way of life. The costs of doing nothing but to sit back and spectate at the erosion of our democratic rights would be at a profoundly higher social cost.

We have to be ever vigilant about protecting the core values of our free and democratic land. If we let democracy slip a little, this could be the thin edge of the wedge for the erosion of some of our other freedoms.

Oshawa People and Canadian People must demonstrate that they can not be toyed with by politicians who want to use the system for their own purposes.

Too many Oshawa Citizens have personal knowledge of the dire consequences to a society and to the world when that happens…witness Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Nicolae Ceausescu, Idi Amin, Slobodan Milosevic, Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein….Some of these guys even got elected first through popular vote and then started eliminating the rights and freedoms of their societies.

We can’t afford to risk any of that here through the loss our “real” vote that selects and changes our politicians at the people's will.

1 comment:

Site Administrator said...

Eroding rights and freedoms...Is this possible?

At the Feb. 5, 2007, meeting of Oshawa City Council, Councillor Nestor Pidwerbecki inquired publicly of the mayor about shutting down individual blogs on the ward/general vote issue. He was probably referring to Councillor Brian Nicholson's blog but isn't this a comment trying to limit our freedom of public expression?

Councillor Pidwerbecki is also the chief driving force behind the move to the general vote and I presume the strategy behind the whole flawed plebiscite process which was also highly undemocratic.

Perhaps when you look at this Councillor's comment to limit public information through the control of blogs, the loss of some our rights and freedoms does not seem so far fetched.

So the mayor's response to Pidwerbecki? I'd advise you to start your own blog although with your computer skills, that may be quite a challenge!

The whole thing was laughed off as a joke...but hey, aren't a lot of controversial issues first floated as jokes to measure public support.

I take Councillor Pidwerbecki's comments to limit free expression as highly undemocratic and probably quite reflective of his true attitude toward the rights and freedoms we have in this country.

Voters beware!