Friday, October 19, 2007

Is the Vote a Joke in Oshawa?

Aren’t we fortunate in Canada to get a vote. We should take this privilege very seriously because it is something that the majority of people in the world do not have.

Many people in the world would give their life for a democratic vote to have a voice in their political destiny…and you only have to read the news to know that many are doing so daily to win the privilege. Still others are giving their lives to help bring the democratic vote to places that don’t have it.

The vote is a serious matter and we have to take the whole process seriously. No one expects you to vote randomly picking and choosing without the necessary background information on any vote in question.

Random voting would be considered irresponsible as would not being informed about the vote you were about to cast.

Candidates and parties (in the case of Provincial and Federal Elections) campaign by informing voters of their beliefs and viewpoints on the various issues of the day. Similarly, when governments seek public opinion by way of plebiscite, they have a responsibility to provide background information for voters.

The only valid vote is one cast by a knowledgeable voter. Everyone knows this. So if a government is seeking public opinion on an issue, they know they must provide background information on the issue and promote public dialogue, debate, and discussion.

If they're not serious about getting an honest measure of public opinion, then they don't provide the information. They try to keep the issue as quiet as possible. They may even gerrymander a complex question to skew results in a way they favour. All of this was the case in Oshawa when they had a plebiscite about electoral change on the ballot.

Because city hall was not interested in getting a valid plebiscite result, they didn't provide any information for voters.

Democracy depends upon an informed voter and cannot function without it. Indeed Canada’s Supreme Court says voter information is a basic right.

So what do you think of a government in Canada that refuses to provide information to the voter…a government that didn’t want their citizens to know anything about a question they were asking their citizens...a government that treats the vote as a joke. I’d suggest you’d think this was impossible in Canada.

But you haven’t heard of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

Oshawa’s local government wanted to seek citizen opinion about a potential change to its electoral system…but refused to provide any background information about the question. They said giving information to voters was not their responsibility. Indeed Oshawa's Mayor publicly stated this. Unbelieveable!

So if you were a council member and a motion was made “that staff be directed to prepare an information brochure on the pros and cons of the ward system vs central vote methods of election and that a copy of the brochure be circulated to each household in the City of Oshawa prior to any public meeting on this issue,” how would you vote on this question?

Does it seem reasonable that council would defeat such a reasonable motion?

Well you are not aware of Oshawa.

Watch this film clip and “Prepare to be Amazed!”

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