Friday, May 1, 2009

City Lacks Openness with Voters

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

Hon. Dalton McGuinty,
Premier of Ontario

Hon. Jim Watson,
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Mr. Andre Marin,
Ontario Ombudsman

Local Press

As a person who wants to follow the actions of city council and of the concerns of residents, I find it ludicrous that city hall buries citizen letters within the agendas and minutes in such a way that no interested citizen can see copies of letters directed to the mayor and council to read their concerns and suggestions. City Council is not a private club and all information should be open to the citizens except that which is allowed to be "private" by legislation. I find this council to lack openness in the extreme with the citizens.

As an example of this, my letter addressed to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in respect of suggested changes to the Municipal Elections Act is hidden as an appendix #9 at the bottom of the April 27, 2009 City Council Agenda and the lengthy letter is simply addressed as:

9. Bill Longworth submitting his recommendations to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing concerning the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, and recommending that Oshawa Council’s resolution to change to the general vote system of election be rescinded and that every municipality in the province with a population in excess of 40,000 people be mandated to elect their councils by the ward vote system of election. (All Wards)

This may whet the appetite of interested ratepayers but there is no link for those interested to see the entire list of suggestions given when in the past such links were provided.

Is this city council's attempt to limit public input and discussion to the administration of this city.

Please provide me the bylaw addressing this change of policy or was it simply made by seat-of-the-pants political reasons to stifle citizens?

It seems to me that we have two municipal GTA governments that garner national press exposure because of their inane actions...namely Oshawa and the City of Vaughan.

I am requesting that the Oshawa City Council be more open with the citizens of this city who are charged with the responsibility of electing a vibrant council for this city.

A vibrant democracy only thrives in the presence of information, something this city continues to deny.

It was undemocratic for the city to place the election system plebiscite on the last ballot and then refuse to provide information to the citizens about the question because the mayor publicly stated at city council, that it was not city council's responsibility to provide information on a question they had asked...and this denial of information is continuing to this day.

I am also sending this letter to the Premier, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and the Ontario Ombudsman with whom this city has recently been involved in a major conflict in refusing to return documents belonging to his office