Wednesday, May 2, 2007

More signs that democracy is dead in Oshawa

Oshawa City Council passed their self-serving bylaw to bring in the general vote for the election of Oshawa City Council Monday night.

They arranged the affair once again to keep it a secret.

They excluded interested citizens from addressing council on the bylaw because they still want to keep it a "non-issue" with the public. They want to keep it as quiet as possible. They still want to stifle public comment and debate.

They invited the public to provide written submissions but none of these were considered in Council's deliberations. Some citizens took the time and effort to write...but their efforts were in vain. Once again, council's invitation to provide input was only a joke....a sham--the same as the rest of the process!

By their actions, council shows great disrespect and disregard for the public.

Only one citizen, VOTES Chair, Bill Longworth, was able to comment to council on the bylaw, and that was an accident of timing.

VOTES had previously applied for a city funding request for $25,000 to prepare and distribute an information brochure on the ward issue for distribution to all Oshawa households.

It came back to council because Councillors Henry, Sholdra, and Parkes were unable to understand a "plebiscite-like" question at council that required them to vote "NO" to provide the funds and "YES" to deny them.

Misunderstanding the question, like many voters misunderstood the similar plebiscite question, they voted "NO" thinking they were denying the funds but from the convoluted way the question was worded were actually providing VOTES the funds.

With Oshawa City Council's definition of democracy, they can make up the rules as they go along. And so when they realized they had made an error, they simply referred the whole thing back to committee so the question could once again come back to council to give them another kick at the cat to "get it right."

This was the April 30th meeting---the same meeting where Council were voting to introduce the general vote...and that is why the VOTES chair was the only citizen allowed to speak.

The mayor tried to confine the VOTES Chair's remarks to the funding question but Bill Longworth refused to allow the mayor to define how his presentation for the funds grant was to be made. Had he wanted the mayor to write his presentation...he would have asked him!

And now Councillor's Henry, Sholdra, and Parkes are hitching their horse to the plebiscite result...which came from the very kind of question they themselves did not understand and got confused by...amazing!

I guess Councillor's Henry, Sholdra, and Parkes must feel the public is far more astute, wise, and intelligent than they are and thus could not make the same kind of error that they did.

Also amazing, as part of his summary comments to the general vote bylaw, the Mayor even had the audacity to suggest that city council had no responsibility to provide citizens with information about the change before they voted. Can you imagine? The mayor says they didn't feel a responsibility to the citizens to provide information they required to make an informed judgement...unbelievable!

This proves beyond a doubt that council wanted to slip the whole thing in below the public radar.

The Mayor said it was up to private taxpayers to use their own finances as well as their time and effort to communicate the details to the public...amazing!

The Provincial Government is planning to ask the people about a new provincial voting procedure in Ontario...Perhaps the Premier should take the Mayor's advice and provide no information and promote no public discourse or discussion. According to the Mayor, this would not be Provincial responsibility....Can you imagine? Dumb!

Responsible governments that want to ask a serious question to get a serious reading of public opinion are also serious in providing as much information and promoting as much public discussion and dialogue as they can. If they don't want to provide information, they shouldn't ask the question.

The process followed by Oshawa City Council was a "sham" designed to "trick" and "confuse" the public. The process they followed made a mockery of democracy which absolutely requires an informed public.

Fortunately, Monday night's vote to bring in the general vote is not the end of the process.

Council's adoption of the general vote bylaw will not stifle the VOTES group which has started to accelerate its communication efforts with the introduction of 37 internet "community forums." All of these sites can be accessed by the public both from as well as directly over the internet.

You can find these forums by logging into and searching "Oshawa." There you will find a forum focussed to your community or your particular interest that can be used freely for the discussion and dissemination of any and all items of interest to you or your community. You could even inform your neighbours of a yard sale, a social function...or your opinions about any political issue---including council's change to the general vote if that is the issue that turns your crank.

We are also looking at other remedies to counteract Oshawa Council's anti-democratic moves and feel the whole issue still has significant potential to explode in the face of council in ways that they had not considered.

The will to insure that there is no erosion in the democratic ideals, values and principles is basic and strong in thinking and free people, and we shall continue to honour, cherish, and work to preserve the integrity of these beliefs and values that have made our country the greatest in the world.

The result of the council vote Monday night is what we expected, and we want to insure all that we have always felt that the struggle and the fight is just beginning.

We are confident justice, and freedom, and "right" will prevail in the end.

Keep the faith.

It is time for renewal

No comments: