Thursday, October 11, 2007

The electoral reform wipeout!

Well we had our Provincial plebiscite yesterday on electoral reform and the thing got shot down in flames.

This despite a massive $6.8 million advertising program that was designed to inform the public.

Few voters could have missed the blitz that turned up everywhere…print media, television, and even popped up regularly on your internet screens.

Journalists on all sides of the issue in all media wrote reams about the change. The systems were compared, differences highlighted, advantages and differences were given…it seems that no end of information was provided.

Most voters must have been aware that the proposed system was devised by an independent citizen assembly commissioned by the government as a result of rising critiques of the existing system.

After all of the information that had been made available, the question asked was very straight forward….Which system should Ontario use? (a) The existing system, or (b) The alternative system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly?

Despite the massive communication efforts, critics today are saying that the public was still ill-informed.

So what would these same critics say about Oshawa’s recent plebiscite about electoral reform in Oshawa?

Unlike the Provincial efforts that have been criticized for not enough information, Oshawa provided none!

Unlike the Provincial efforts where the idea for electoral reform arose as a result of public criticism and then the solution was proposed by an independent citizen assembly, Oshawa’s electoral reform was all an inside job by the politicians…they proposed change when no criticism was heard, and then gerrymandered a question using technical and undefined terms that had meaning to them but not to the public, and the question they asked was convoluted and difficult to comprehend so that voters had to vote “NO” to retain the system they were obviously satisfied with and “YES to reject it for the system favoured and proposed by the politicians.

Oshawa’s plebiscite questions regarding City of Oshawa council were:
1) Are you in favour of electing those councillors who represent the City on City Council and on Regional Council by general vote as opposed to ward vote? And,

2) “Are you in favour of electing those councillors who represent the City only on City Council by general vote as opposed to ward vote?”
Realizing that most people will answer “yes” to things they think experts are proposing, council asked the question in such a way that the “yes” answer proposed the change they wanted.

The Oshawa questions would have given a completely opposite result had the politicians transposed the order of words to read, "ward vote as opposed to general vote!"---but this was not the result the Oshawa politicians wanted!

Council deliberately designed a question to skew the results the way they wanted. In the process Council has manipulated voters and treated them as fools and in the process has debauched, debased, defiled and demeaned the very basis of democracy.

No doubt had they asked the simple question as the Province did, “Are you in favour of retaining the present system?”, the question would have been simple to understand and the overwhelming response would have been “yes” to keep the system that they were familiar with and satisfied with.

The whole Oshawa process was so flawed that the Oshawa plebiscite has no validity whatsoever. Politicians know this and designed the process this way…and then many have the nerve to say they support ward voting but must uphold the voice of the people as expressed through the plebiscite.

Oshawa City Council’s strategy in this whole thing explodes any credibility city council members might have.

Isn’t it about time the politicians “come clean” with the Oshawa public and fess up to the fact that the only reason we’re getting the electoral change is to protect incumbent’s council seats until their death or resignation?

The politicians are choosing to serve themselves rather than the people they are supposed to represent.

There can be no other reason.

And what is the cost of council’s self serving actions? Oshawa citizens will pay the price through a loss of our neighbourhood council representation, less accountable politicians, an electoral system that depends upon name recognition rather than service to the people, a fractious and non-productive council as all members fight to grow their “name recognition” to compete for the same city-wide vote, and a council that grows stale because of limited turnover.

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