Monday, August 13, 2007

Oshawa’s Self-Serving Politicians

Your Oshawa City Council has voted to implement the general vote for the election of members of Oshawa City Council. This means that all members of city council will be elected city-wide the same way mayors are across the country.

There are serious implications of this to you as a citizen. You will no longer vote for ward politicians to look after the interests of your community. If you have a community problem that you want addressed, there are no specific politicians accountable to you and your neighbors.

In the past, if you became dissatisfied with your ward politicians, this dissatisfaction is something probably shared with your community, and the politician would be replaced.

For example, the residents of North Simcoe Street became dissatisfied with politicians’ moves to “protect” the street from any development or changes to existing residential architecture there. Residents saw this as interference with their property interests which would affect their property values. They also saw it as interference in their right to modify their residences. Thus they defeated Councilor Cathy Clarke and replaced her with Councilor John Henry. Under the general vote, this would not be possible as politicians are elected city-wide.

Councilor Henry benefitted from this “power” of ward voting but he has since been a strident supporter of the General Vote which means that he no longer is responsible for any neighborhood and cannot be defeated in the same way that he was able to defeat his predecessor.

It is interesting that Councilor Henry has turned his back on the system that gave him political success in favor of one that assures his continued seat on council. By supporting the change, he is also turning his back on the voters of his community who placed their trust in him.

Councilor Henry was joined by Mayor John Gray and Councilors Parkes, Pidwerbecki, Kolodzie, Sholdra, and Marimpietri in voting to take away your local community political representation. They have adopted a system virtually unused in Canada which will make Oshawa the largest city in Canada using the General Vote without also the use of political parties.

As citizens, we have to work to defeat these politicians who have proven that they are more interested in their own interests rather than the interests of the citizens of Oshawa.

If the general vote made sense, wouldn’t it be widely used across the country?

While Municipal Government is supposed to be the government closest to the people, Oshawa politicians have taken our local government farther away than either the Provincial or Federal governments since our local politicians will have constituencies almost twice the size of those of our Provincial or Federal Members.

Politicians like the General Vote because it provides them far more protection from political defeat even though they may support very unpopular positions.

Because politicians are no longer responsible to the individual citizens and individual neighborhoods whose voting power is insufficient to remove them, politicians start to serve “new masters” who can deliver more votes to allow significant growth toward the 25,000 votes or so they require for election.

So what do they do? Their “masters” now become the large organizations and groups who can influence their city-wide members to support the politicians who “are friends of the group”.

Politicians can also support development proposals of those who would donate to their campaigns with far more immunity than they had under ward elections.

In all ways, the change to the general vote is self-serving for the politicians.

And all of this time, we thought politicians were supposed to serve us!

Wake up Oshawa! Get active and do something about this!

We have to start now to defeat the politicians who have voted to serve themselves rather than serve us.

What are you going to do to help bring “responsible” politicians to our city council?

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