The following presentation was delivered by VOTES Chair, Bill Longworth, to Oshawa City Council at their April 30, 2007 meeting in which they passed their bylaw to revert to the general vote
Mayor and Members of Council
You are about to pass a bylaw tonight to erode democracy in Oshawa
And your action is going to explode in directions you never anticipated…even including a fight to keep annexed Old East Whitby Township in Oshawa…They were given guaranteed representation on Oshawa City Council and had their own ward councillor even when Oshawa had the general vote
Their needs are distinct…their voice is strong…and they demand a voice at the table.
Perhaps there is another jurisdiction within Durham Region that will be more representative of their needs
Your moves to the general vote have been below the radar of most people up to this time
Human nature being what it is…most people will not really stand up to be heard until the crisis is upon them…and that crisis is now for some and will be focused for all at the next election when people will be frustrated by the huge, undemocratic, unmanageable, and impossible ballot.
It’s only at then that people will come to realize that--
Your bylaw will take away their guaranteed neighborhood representation
Your bylaw will take away the real vote from everyone including the ethnic communities that some of you belong to
Your bylaw will take away the distinctive voice of Oshawa’s rural communities
Your bylaw will disenfranchise many areas of Oshawa so that most parts of Oshawa will not have a voice on council
Your bylaw will ensure that only the rich areas of Oshawa will have a voice on council
Your bylaw will ensure that only the rich will be able to afford to campaign city-wide for a council seat
Your bylaw will ensure the existence of only one demographic voice on council...the voice of the rich, the white, the non-ethnic
Your bylaw will reduce political accountability to the people of Oshawa
Your bylaw will take away the real vote that gives a real role to the people in determining their political leadership
Your bylaw will guarantee your seat on council until your death or resignation
Your bylaw by all of these things will reduce democracy in Oshawa
Because you can do something, does not make it right
You can walk past a blind person trying to cross the street and not help…you can do this---but it does not make it right
You can see a child in distress and not give a thought about helping…you can do this…but it does not make it right
You can see all kinds of things happening in society and just walk past and do nothing about them…you can do this…but it does not make it right.
These are not actions that we call Canadian
You can change the system of electing council to reduce democracy…you can do this…but it does not make it right
You’ve given no reasons for the change…you’ve given no reasons for asking the plebiscite question in the first place…you’ve given no benefits the new system will bring to Oshawa…you’ve given us none of the information we have the right to know
You’ve given none of this information…because there are no viable answers to these questions.
If your system was better, wouldn’t it be widely used in Canada?
Changes in Ontario’s Municipal Act allow you to reduce political accountability, disenfranchise many sections of the city, make it virtually impossible for ordinary people to raise the funds for a city wide election campaign, and reduce the power of the vote to be ineffective in choosing political leaders.
You can do all of these things with your bylaw tonight…but that does not make it right
The Municipal Act now allows you to reduce democracy in Oshawa…but that is obviously not right for Canada or Oshawa
In talking to Municipal Affairs officials, irresponsible actions like yours were unanticipated by drafters of the legislation.
Some things you can do are just not morally or ethically right
And what you are doing by passing the bylaw is not morally or ethically right
It is political irresponsibility
It is un-Canadian
It is introducing the kind of political system that many peoples from around the world came to Canada and to Oshawa to escape
Council…if you pass this bylaw tonight…you are being very un-Canadian
You are demonstrating your belief publicly that the political system should serve the politicians…not the people or the city
You’ve followed a system that was a sham from the very beginning…you knew what you wanted to do and put a system in place to do it.
The plebiscite question confused the people…just like 36% of you were confused by the same kind of question for the VOTES partnership grant…a backwards and convoluted question confused you…and it confused the public.
When so many of you get the question wrong, you can’t say that the same kind of confusing question is a fair measure of public opinion
In your case, you are having another vote tonight to see if you can get it right…I think the people of Oshawa deserve the same opportunity
You held a public meeting to get input regarding the general vote bylaw…it didn’t matter what was said at that meeting…because it was a sham.
The whole process was a sham…Alderman Pidwerbecki told me in January that the whole thing was a done deal
We shall insure that people remember in the next election
Members of Council…It’s your political career at stake…don’t let Councillor Pidwerbecki lead you down the garden path to your political destruction.
In a general vote election, he’ll be your competitor for the same city wide votes
…and VOTES and its call for Justice, Democracy and Accountability will be your worst enemy then and throughout this entire term of council where we’ll be chipping away at your support.
We’ll be joined by all of your fellow councillors who will be your competitors for the same city wide vote.
All of your council colleagues today will be your enemies tomorrow with the passage of the general vote bylaw working to drag you down as you scramble to stay on the city council lifeboat
The VOTES party will run a vibrant city wide campaign to remove self-serving politicians from city hall
We will restore ward voting as our first act of council
You can avoid our campaign against you by voting against the general vote bylaw tonight.
It’s your political career at stake
While the people of Oshawa have not yet moved on this issue…I am confident they will during the next election.