Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Dangerous Precedent for Ontario Voters

To the Mayor and Council,
c/o Oshawa City Clerk

You may be interested to know that the following Letter to the Editor has today been forwarded to 250 Ontario Newspapers and hopefully will receive wide circulation and exposure. As you can see, we are wanting to focus province-wide attention to the actions of Oshawa City Council to either bring legislative reform to enable a workable general vote for Oshawa or for the government to prohibit Oshawa's move if this is not the direction it intends for Ontario Municipal Elections.

As you know, a similar but expanded letter has already gone to the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Letter to the Editor
250 Ontario Newspapers (personally named and addressed)

A Dangerous Precedent for Ontario Voters

Ontario Bill 130 allows city councils across the Province to introduce city wide elections whereby the vote for every council seat would take place over the entire city as is the case for mayors at present.

Ontario Municipal Councils can make this change unilaterally and it cannot be appealed to the OMB or any other independent or senior body.

Oshawa City Council has voted for this change. At the next election, all candidates for Oshawa City Council will campaign for election across the entire city of 160,000 people.

This has a number of negative repercussions for Oshawa ratepayers and potentially for voters throughout Ontario where local politicians choose to implement the general vote.

In Oshawa, the huge election ballot will contain the names of up to 70 or 80 candidates for the various offices making informed voter choices virtually impossible. The city-wide constituencies of local politicians will be twice the size of our Federal and Provincial Constituencies making local politicians less accessible and accountable than our senior government members, and the high cost of campaigning will make city politicians less representative of the demographics of the city.

To overcome these and the many additional deficiencies of the general vote, the growth of civic political parties must be encouraged by changes to the Ontario Municipal Act and The Ontario Municipal Elections Act if the general vote is to be allowed in large municipalities in Ontario.

The formation of civic political parties would simplify the process of informing voters as candidates associated with the party would all adhere to a common platform and party affiliation and its platform would be the predominant factor attracting votes rather than the individual. The party would be accountable to the public in implementing its platform and its candidates would face electoral defeat for not doing so.

Barriers to municipal political parties presently exist in regards to fundraising limitations, election expenses reporting, registering of candidates, etc., and no provision is given for civic parties to formally and officially approve their associated candidates or the identification of candidate party affiliation on the election ballot which the Supreme Court has held as an essential aspect of voter’s rights to make informed and rational ballot choices under the Charter of Rights.

Such permissive legislation to allow for the formation of civic political parties exists in British Columbia's Local Governments Act to permit the use of the general vote in Vancouver, the only large city in the country, now along with Oshawa, to use the general vote.

While these changes would “Americanize” Ontario’s Municipal Elections System, there is no alternative if the Province is going to allow for use of the general vote in large Ontario Municipalities.

You can read more about this important issue at

Bill Longworth,
Founder & Chair of VOTES (Vote to Eliminate Self Serving Politicians)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Legislative Changes Required to Make General Vote Workable

Hon. J. Gerretsen,
Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing


Hon. D. McGuinty,
Premier of Ontario

Jerry Oullette,
MPP Oshawa

Christine Elliot
MPP Whitby/Oshawa

To the Mayor and Council
c/o Oshawa City Clerk

Local Press

Dear Hon. Minister:

Request changes to The Ontario Municipal Act and The Ontario Municipal Elections Act to allow for Municipal Political Parties to contest Municipal Elections

As you know, Bill 130 changes to the Municipal Act allowed Oshawa City Council to implement the general vote for the election of city council for the next municipal elections. While a plebiscite was held, the people were ill-informed as the Mayor stated that the city had no responsibility to inform them of the meaning of the question, its ramifications, or why the question was asked.

This has a number of negative repercussions for Oshawa ratepayers and potentially for voters throughout Ontario where local politicians choose to implement the general vote for municipal elections.

The huge number of candidates on the Oshawa Municipal Ballot will produce an enormous ballot listing up to 100 names for the various offices making it virtually impossible for voters to make informed choices.

Since informed voters are a basic requirement in a democracy, I am asking for legislative changes to The Ontario Municipal Act and The Ontario Municipal Elections Act to make the general vote “workable” and “democratic” for voters in Oshawa.

The only way to make the municipal general vote workable in a city the size of Oshawa is to allow for the organization of municipal political parties. While this would “Americanize” our municipal election systems mirroring their city elections which are largely organized around slates representing the Republican and Democratic Parties, there is no alternative for the Provincial Government if democracy is valued and the general vote is to be allowed or encouraged in Ontario Municipalities.

Such permissive legislation to allow for the formation of civic political parties exists in Sections 6, 7, & 8 of British Columbia's Local Governments Act to permit the use of the general vote in Vancouver, the only large city in the country, now along with Oshawa, to use the general vote.

The formation of civic political parties would simplify the process of informing voters as candidates associated with the party would all adhere to a common platform and party affiliation itself would be the predominant factor attracting votes rather than the individual or his/her name alphabetically positioned on the ballot.

As you know, barriers to the formation of civic political parties presently exist under The Ontario Municipal Act and Sections 29-39 and 66-82 of The Ontario Municipal Elections Act in regards to fundraising limitations, election expenses reporting, registering of candidates, etc., and no provision is given for civic parties to formally and officially approve their associated candidates or the identification of candidate party affiliation on the election ballot which the Supreme Court has held as an essential aspect of voter’s rights to make informed and rational ballot choices under the Charter of Rights.

Changes are necessary to allow for centralized party fundraising and spending at any time and not confined to election periods in order to allow for the development of public awareness of party objectives and platforms as well as for common election period expenses for party signage, brochures, advertising, etc. during election periods.

Should the Province be unwilling to introduce these legislative changes permitting and encouraging the development of Municipal Political Parties, I am asking that they declare Oshawa’s move to the general vote invalid as it severely jeopardizes the ideal of an “informed” vote necessary in a democracy.

You will understand, sir, that the basic premise of democratic politics is to serve the people…not the politicians. We cannot allow our city politicians to "Shanghai" the system for their own selfish purposes and benefits. We cannot allow our political system to become “self-serving” for the politicians.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Here's A Postage Stamp Oshawa...Politician's want you to write down all you know!

Oshawa politicians along with all Ontario Municipal Governments have been compelled by recent Bill 130 amendments to Provincial Legislation to appoint various officers by January 2008 to ensure the Accountability and Transparency of Municipal Councils.

You can request your own survey from city hall by clicking the highlighted text and requesting one. Due to the shortness of time, you can request the form be sent to your email and you can return it electronically.

Below is the city survey sent out to randomly selected citizens with some format changes to the form to facilitate this blog medium.

Accountability and Transparency Survey

Accountability and transparency are the cornerstones of good government.

The City wants to hear how well it is doing.

Please return this survey in the postage-paid envelope by November 30, 2007.

Oshawa City Council has created an Accountability and Transparency Subcommittee to respond to the Provincial Municipal Act requirements to establish an Accountability and Transparency Policy. The Accountability and Transparency Subcommittee is seeking your input.

Being accountable means that Oshawa City Council is clear in its actions, that its decision-making processes are understandable, that it is accessible to the citizens it represents and, finally, it is responsible for its decisions.

Being transparent requires that the City actively encourages and fosters public participation, ensures adequate communication on issues and that the City’s decision making process is accessible and understandable by you.

By providing your opinions on the City’s level of accountability and transparency, you will help to support a process that seeks to continuously improve the way our City responds to your needs.

The form following is my submission to the questions asked!

A. For each question below, please indicate your level of agreement in the brackets following the statement. Strongly Agree=1, Agree=2, Neither Agree or Disagree=3, Disagree=4, Strongly Disagree=5, No Opinion=6.

1. I am knowledgeable about city processes used to make decisions. (1)

2. I understand the processes used by the City to make decisions. (1)

3. I feel the City’s decision-making processes are transparent. (5)

4. I am able to contact City Council to express my opinions. (2)

5. I am able to contact City administrators for information. (2)

6. I feel City Council accepts responsibility for its decisions. (4)

7. I feel City administrators accept responsibility for their actions. (2)

8. I feel the City adequately communicates information to its residents through:

a) City Page in Oshawa This Week ---(5)

I feel that Oshawa's $10,000 monthly advertisng bill to Oshawa This Week strongly influences their news coverage of city hall activities. Instead, city hall should advertise in the Canadian Tire Advertising supplement that accompanies the Friday paper. Further the minimal news of perhaps 2 or 3 major and 10-12 minor stories is lost in the reams of paid advertising flyers all of which have to be collected up and disposed of at taxpayer expense. This pickup cost should be borne by the paper itself.
b) Inside Oshawa (annual report to citizens)---(5)
I feel this is ill spent taxpayer money. Why should city council expend significant monies this way to prepare and distribute these huge flyers, and others similar to them, complete with politician's messages and mugshots when they constantly refused to distribute information about the plebiscite question on the recent municipal election ballot.

This was truly an important issue for taxpayers and yet the mayor said it was not council's responsibility to inform the people. He said it was up to taxpayers themselves to fundraise, produce, and distribute any such information even though The Municipal Elections Act erects significant roadblocks to such third party campaigning.

If plebiscite information was not important to get out to the public to insure voters understood the question and knew the consequences of their information is.

The Supreme Court says citizens have a basic right to know such information but council refused to provide it....SHAME!
c) Bill inserts---(5)
If bills are going to be sent out anyway, this is the time to include information for ratepayers. The Mayor's mugshot and message along with those of city council members should be sent out with the municipal tax bills.

And while I'm at it, why should taxpayers fund expensive ads for politicians at special days like Remembrance Day, Christmas, etc., and every possible opportunity known to man. (Check pg. 6 & 10 at link) I was sickened to see the number of such taxpayer funded political advertising appearing in every publication conceivable around Oshawa this past Nov. 11. If politicians feel this kind of advertising is necessary, let them pay for it out of their own pocket.
d) Public meetings---(5)
These are suspect in terms of influencing political decisions. In terms of the Sikorski Hall public meeting to hear citizen concerns, city council voted not to produce and deliver information about the topic to Oshawa households and the flyer sent informing of the meeting was of such low quality that it looked like a typed and mimeographed flyer...hardly the quality that Oshawa City Hall produces on such topics as "Downtown Ethnic Restaurants", "Oshawa's Walking Paths", "Pesticide Use in Oshawa," 60 page Infosource, and a myriad of other high quality, professionally designed and printed, and colourful brochures they waste taxpayer money on.

At the public meeting cited, politician's minds were already made up on the topic. They subsequently made a decision to adopt the general vote even though they had no access to letters solicited from the public or indeed the minutes of the Sikorski Hall Meeting. Indeed, Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki gloated to me that the general vote was a "done deal" in mid January long before the public meeting. Councillor's minds were made up on this issue when the last council framed the plebiscite question and designed the "KEEP EM IN THE DARK" strategy....Democracy--Be damned!

There also is no way to objectively measure public sentiments at these meetings if the Sikorski Hall Meeting was representative of these. While speakers favouring ward elections slightly outnumbered those favouring the general vote, the quality of input was not even close. The weight of reasoned opinion was clearly on the side of ward voting. Many speakers favouring ward elections gave well thought out, learned, thoughtful, and academic presentations while those favoring the general vote, all of whom seemed to be politically ambitious CAW retirees, simply argued that the plebiscite result should be upheld without acknowledging how flawed the process was when voters were denied the necessary information to inform them of the meaning and consequences of the question.

Then and now, the public meeting seemed to be all about "OPTICS" and not about genuinely seeking public input or opinion.
e) Other, please specify (5)

The Mayor has also tried to explain the convoluted and difficult plebiscite question in terms of a requirement to “be worded in the affirmative”. This is absolutely wrong. Either the Mayor is unaware of election law or he is deliberately misleading the people. Section 8.1(2.4) of the Municipal Elections Act clearly states that the question shall be capable of being answered in the affirmative or the negative and the only permitted answers to the question are “yes” or “no”.
There is a profound disconnect between the "pretty words" that council uses to describe its communication, transparency, and accountability objectives to the public and its actual practice.

City Council is being profoundly hypocritical to show any concern for good communication, transparency, and accountable in light of their refusal to inform citizens about the plebiscite details as well as many other issues affecting our city.

In summary, good communications starts with honest and forthright attempts to do so. City politicians have failed miserably at the task and no public optics exercise like this one is going to change their practice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Violated UOIT/Durham College Students must act to Protect the Freedoms of Canadians

I have always been one to speak up for democratic justice and act to protect the sanctity of the rights and freedoms we have as Canadians. Thus I worked for a number of years to successfully bring ward voting to Oshawa personally presenting the case at a 21 day OMB hearing in the early 80’s.

This effort was important in bringing accountable and representative government to our city and the change was important in bringing vibrant progress to this city and a breed of politician whose electoral success was dependent upon serving the needs of people.

The first ward elections turfed half of the council out of office because ward elections require politicians to work to solve constituency problems and are accountable to voters to do this. General vote politicians got turfed out because they concentrated only on promoting their name since that was the name of the game in getting elected.

Today, I am addressing another injustice in Oshawa…the recent searches through UOIT/Durham College student housing to find leasing documents.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states:
1) Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. (Part 1, s8)

2) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances. (Part 1, s24 (1))

3) Where, in proceedings under subsection 24 (1), a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.(Part 1 s24 (2))
Despite Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the articles cited above, City officials with police and locksmith in tow entered student residences to find evidence to charge property owners with bylaw infractions. In so doing, they subjected students to unreasonable search and seizure contrary to protections guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the basic Constitutional Law of the country.

The above sections of Canada's constitution clearly state that those whose basic Canadian rights were violated can seek recourse through the courts and in this article, I am counselling those students affected to do just that. I am counselling them to seek legal recourse to protect their rights and those of their fellow Canadians and am working to distribute this information to UOIT/Durham College students. Interested readers should read the Canadian Civil Liberties Association statements regarding citizens right's of privacy.

Students affected need simply file a complaint at the closest police station or to a police officer dispatched to their home that their rights of unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms have been violated by the City of Oshawa who took unreasonable actions against student privacy when in fact the action should have taken place against the property owners whom the city felt were skirting city bylaws and whom they wanted to hold to account.

Only the police can lay the charge, but they need a "complaint" in order to begin their investigation. Once the case has been investigated, a charge, if warranted, is laid against the offenders, and then the case is passed to the Crown Attorney to prosecute the case which is the first stage in the students getting retribution for the offence.

Offended students can seek this legal recourse without cost and legal awards may very well pay the bulk of their tuitions and other educational and housing expenses.

City politicians must learn that they cannot take advantage of the vulnerable…that they cannot simply run over ratepayers and citizens as they have done with the ward/general vote issue.

Had the politicians been properly advised, they would have known that Section 24 (2) of the charter prohibits any evidence seized through these unreasonable searches from being used in a court of law to prosecute infringements of city bylaws in any case and so the action by the city supported by the mayor and politicians was singularly and unbelievably ludicrous in this country, an affront to the rights and freedoms of Oshawa residents as delineated in the Charter, a public relations disaster, and no doubt made our city council once again the laughing stock of the nation.

The problem becomes even more outrageous when one realizes that the city itself was party to the infringements that they are now trying to reel in through renovation approvals they gave throughout the building process.

Affected students should review the following of many “Unreasonable Search and Seizure” Supreme Court Cases of a much more serious nature than having rental housing arrangements that were problematic for the city and indeed decide to take police and legal action against the unjustified invasion of their privacy.

1) A school vice principal detained and searched a student in presence of police officer and confiscated drugs…found to be illegal search and seizure

2) Police installed tracking device in car of suspected murderer…less intrusive search in car than in home but still found to be too intrusive..Supreme Court found evidence obtained through tracking device inadmissible in court

3) Investigation and Enforcement Officer of the Ministry of Environment compelled Inco employees to submit to questioning and to produce documents and other materials related to dumping of chemicals and other materials into waterway. The Supreme Court found the Enforcement Officer in an abuse of process as he had no statutory authority to compel Inco employees to submit to questioning or to produce documents related to the issue in question.

4) Police attended at a residence at 4:00 a.m. and executed a search warrant as part of an investigation for possession of a firearm and stolen property.
Six police officers entered the suspect's residence, two of whom had guns drawn. The firearm was subsequently found to be permitted and registered to the plaintiff. The court found that the police violated the plaintiff’s rights to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by s. 8 of the Charter as the circumstances did not justify a night search of a private dwelling, the degree of force used was unreasonable, the investigation of the firearm registration was careless, and police seized numerous items outside the scope of the search warrant. Compensatory damages in excess of $3000 were awarded to the complaintant.
We have cited a variety of search and seizure complaints all of which were upheld by the Supreme Court and all of which would seem to be far more serious than city bylaw infractions and the attempt by the city to find and seize housing rental documents in order to prosecute owners of rental units.

RCMP spokesmen described the whole search and seizure investigation process acceptable under Canada’s constitution at a recent international crime symposium.

Like our fight to retain ward voting for Oshawa which serves people and the city best, we have a responsibility to future generations to be ever vigilant to protect our liberties to ensure that our country remains the best and free-est in the world.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bill Longworth's Request for an Audit on City Council's efforts to prepare voters for the plebiscite question

The following is Bill Longworth's presentation to Oshawa City Council's Finance and Administration Committee, Nov. 13, 2007

"I am here this morning to request City Council to direct Oshawa's Auditor General to perform an audit on City Hall’s communication, information, and education efforts to properly prepare Oshawa voters for the General Vote Plebiscite question.

In a democracy, the result of a vote is valid only if it comes from an informed electorate. Thus voter information about the plebiscite question prior to voting is the only input that could validate the plebiscite result.

In this country, we have access to information legislation protecting citizen's right to "know". In the face of this "right" protected by law, how could Oshawa politicians withhold important voter information about the general vote plebiscite--Why the question was asked when no disatisfaction with ward voting was ever expressed; What was meant by the term "general vote"; What the consequences of the general vote were to the city; Why were satisfactory attempts not made to ensure voters understood the question; Why did council refused to circulate information brochures to the public on the issue, etc., etc., etc.

We think it important to establish if Oshawa measured up to the communication standards expected by the Supreme Court of Canada, Elections Ontario, Elections Canada, and Access to Information Legislation in its awareness campaign leading up to the General Vote Plebiscite.

There seems to be a great disconnect between the expectations of these bodies and public pronouncements from the Mayor that the city had no responsibility to inform the public, to define the terms used in the plebiscite question, to provide a rationale for the change, to explain why the question was asked since the question was not in response to any expressed public concerns about ward voting and to explain the ramifications of the change to Oshawa ratepayers.

The mayor insisted it was the public's responsibility to fundraise and organize public awareness campaigns despite the fact that Section 39 of the Municipal Elections Act places significant legislative restraints in the Municipal Elections Act against such "third party" campaigns. Such groups have to register with the clerk, can fundraise only after such registration and continuing up to the voting day, and are subject to the same spending limits and reporting requirements as candidates

While the supreme court says voter information is a basic right in a democracy, and the mandate of Ontario’s election commissioner leading up to the Provincial Plebiscite on Electoral Reform was:
a) To insure that voters receive clear and impartial information about the referendum process;

b) To increase awareness of the referendum question; and,

c) To educate voters about their choices.
None of this was done in Oshawa…the Mayor said the city had no responsibility to communicate any of this to the voter. Councillor Joe Kolodzie said he’d never heard of a government body providing information about a plebiscite question.
Along with Mayor Gray and Councillor Kolodzie, Councillors Sholdra, Pidwerbecki, Parkes, Marimpietri, and Henry consistently voted against providing any information to the public. Obviously, they didn't respect Oshawa voters enough to provide the information.

Are city politicians heads in the sand so they simply overlooked their communication responsibilities to insure an informed voter…or did they purposely and systematically design a system to keep the voter in the dark until they were confronted with the complex and confusing question for the first time in the voting booth not knowing even what was meant by a general vote or its ramifications.

In either case, those who voted to deny voter information are unfit to govern.

At the very least, Oshawa politicians should have insured that voters were aware of what was meant by the general vote. A likely interpretation of the general vote to many voters is like a general election where everyone votes in constituencies for their area representative. And this is a perfectly legitimate interpretation for someone unfamiliar with political terms.

Interestingly, Oshawa’s Strategic Initiatives committee is presently establishing a committee to study how City Council can receive more direct communication from the upper levels of government. Isn’t it hypocritical for a local government that refuses to communicate important information about a plebiscite question to voters to get their considered and valid opinion itself to complain about what they consider to be inadequate communication from senior levels of government?

Council is also establishing an accountability and transparency committee as required under Bill 130.

Isn’t it hypocritical also for council to establish an accountability committee when it has voted to introduce the less accountable general vote system to the city. And isn’t it hypocritical for council to establish anything having to do with transparency when it hid the plebiscite question and details about its implications from the public as best they could.

And isn’t it hypocritical when council publishes brochures on topics like downtown ethnic restaurants, walking paths, and the 60 page Infosource document complete with politician’s mug shots delivered as a re-election document by Canada Post to everyone’s doorstep only to land in their recycling bucket and then be collected and disposed of at taxpayer expense when they refuse to provide information about major electoral reform being proposed for Oshawa?

And so I’m asking council to direct Oshawa’s Auditor General to perform an independent and thorough audit on Oshawa’s plebiscite process and City Council’s efforts to inform and educate the public about the referendum process and question to establish with some certainty the validity of the plebiscite result…to see how well Oshawa City Council measured up to the information expectations of both Canada’s Supreme Court and Elections Ontario.

In the survey, I’m asking that:

a) The auditor compare Oshawa’s communication efforts with other Canadian Federal, Provincial and Municipal administrations that wanted to secure a measure of public opinion through the plebiscite process,

b) The auditor commission a survey of Supreme Court cases having to do with the availability of voter information leading up to elections,

c) The auditor commission questionnaires and surveys to establish the degree of voter knowledge about the plebiscite questions, its meanings and ramifications leading up to the vote,

d) The auditor commission independent and random surveys of Oshawa voters to establish ratepayer’s knowledge of the change and their degree of satisfaction with its ramifications,

e) Survey questions should include:
i) if respondents agree that they were fully and sufficiently aware of the details and ramifications of what they were being asked on the plebiscite question,

ii) if respondents agree with the removal of local or neighborhood ward representation,

iii) if respondents agree that they could make knowledgeable choices of the merits of up to 100 general vote candidates for different offices on an election ballot,
iv) if respondents agree that members of local council should have constituencies twice the size of those of their provincial and federal government representatives

v) If respondents agree that governments have responsibility to inform the public of details and ramifications of questions they are being asked…or do they agree with mayor gray who says the city has no responsibility to inform and all of the efforts at communicating details of the city question should be left up to private citizens to fundraise and organize the information campaign
I would ask that any audits commissioned on this issue be completely independent of city council, that reports and study design be completed without input or approvals of city politicians, and that the results be widely distributed to the public."

And so what was the result of this suggestion? It was the expected. No action! The committee recommendation is to receive and file this request. They don't want any study of their undemocratic, irresponsible, and self-serving actions that cannot be supported on any rational grounds whatsoever. So I will be making the same request of the full council at their November 26th meeting.

I am predicting that the recalcitrant intractable and obstinate
seven---Mayor Gray and Councillors Sholdra, Pidwerbecki, Parkes, Mariempietri, Kolodzie, and Henry will vote against any objective study of the sense of their decision to move to the general vote while such a study will probably be favoured by Councillors Lutcyk, Neal, Cullen, and Nicholson.

So you ask why would I continue to knock my head against the wall when I can predict the result with a high degree of certainty?

I have to document and exhaust as many lines of potential positive action as I can and every roadblock I reach is mounting evidence of council's resistance towards any reasoned and responsible action. All of this will be useful as pleas for democracy escalate to higher external authorities with Canada's Supreme Court at the pinnacle.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Protecting the Ideals of Remembrance Day

I was struck this morning with the drama and emotions and ideas presented in a Toronto Star Article, How can we forget that sacrifice.

A WWII veteran recounts his war experience describing first hand observations of his war experiences...the sights, the sounds, the smells, the terror, and the raw emotions of war. And what it was like to see your comrades fall beside you.

Throughout our nation, we have to protect the spirit of what our heroes were trying to preserve for the world.

And maybe these efforts and sacrifices were all for nought in Oshawa.

Our soldiers were fighting to liberate the people and preserve their freedoms...and in the free world the meaningful vote that has power to determine political leadership is the icon of all of this.

The "real" and "meaningful" vote is the very essence of a democracy.

And on this Remembrance Day, not only should we remember our heroes, but we should remember what they were fighting for--the democratic vote that determines political destiny.

Unfortunately, with Oshawa City Council's return to the General Vote, we will lose all of this.

Oshawa's history with the General Vote demonstrates that politicians could not be defeated so voting was an exercise in futility. And like non-democratic systems everywhere, all political power became centralized to a few...and in Oshawa under the General Vote, all political power became centralized in a few of the richer areas leaving vast areas of the city unrepresented, disenfranchised...and forgotten!

The devastating and un-Canadian effects of the General Vote in Oshawa cited above is not speculation. It is Oshawa's history!

Let us not forget this plea, "If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep though poppies grow in Flander's Fields."