“Stripping our right to vote for our Niagara Regional Chair in the middle of an election campaign, without notice or consultation, is an affront to local democracy.” – Karrie Porter, aSt. Catharines resident and candidate for St. Catharines’ city council in Ward 4-St. Patrick’s who launched a petition this July to stop the Ford government from cancelling this October’s election for Niagara regional chair.
A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted August 15th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
Never mind the public outrage that followed Doug Ford’s July 27th announcement that he and his self-described “Government for the People” were scrapping elections for regional chair in Niagara, York, Peel and Muskoka, and cutting the number of councillors on Toronto’s city council in half.
Waving all petitions from residents and elsewhere aside, along with calls from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party to at least push a “pause button” and consult with the people, Ford and the majority government he was gifted by less than half of the people who voted in this June’s provincial election, made the shocking announcement this past July 27 – on the last day citizens had to register to run as a candidate in this October’s municipal elections – to slash the size of Toronto’s council in half and cancel elections for the position of regional chair in Niagara and the other three regions referred to above.
In all of the vague rhetoric Ford dished out during this spring’s Ontario election, there was never a mention that he would do that kind of a hatchet job on Toronto’s council or deprive the reisdents across Niagara of the opportunity to vote for the person they want serving as our regional chair rather than have a person appointed to that all-important position by those sitting on the Region’s council.
In a news release the Ford government circulated this August 14th, Steve Clark, Ford’s Minister of Municipal Affaris, declared that the government is “pressing the pause button on how chairs are selected in four regional municipalities” in the province, including Niagara.
There are close to 50 regional municipalities, including counties and districts, in Ontario. Why suddenly deprive an opportunity for voters to choose their chair in Niagara Region and three others?
Up to July 26th, we had four candidates registered to run region-wide in Niagara for the top municipal council job. They were already rolling out their platforms for voters, many of whom were already getting engaged and looking forward to October 22nd when, for the first time in almost 50 years, the people of Niagara could choose who they want to serve as regional chair.
Then, suddenly, on a Friday when people were busy finishing up their work week and making weekend plans, Ford and his Tories tabled Bill 5, which they wasted no time passing this August 7th, and pulled the whole rug out from under that opportunity.
What kind of “Government for the People” does Ford and the lap dogs in his party call that?
This is not government for the people. This is the slippery slope to fascism.
It is an assault on everything that every man and woman in this country fought, sacrificed and died for to protect our freedoms and democracy.
- Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
Now here is the Ford regime’s August 14th news release –
Ontario Makes Local Government More Efficient
Legislation streamlines Toronto City Council and restores municipal decision-making in selecting regional chairs
August 14, 2018
TORONTO — Ontario has passed the Better Local Government Act, reducing Toronto City Council to 25 councillors and returning to the 2014 method of selecting chairs in the regions of York, Peel, Niagara and the District of Muskoka.
“Streamlining Toronto council will help the city make decisions more quickly and effectively,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “It saves the city more than $25 million – money it can use to build transit, housing and infrastructure and make life better for the people of Toronto.”
The changes include:
- Aligning the City of Toronto’s municipal ward boundaries with provincial and federal electoral districts, reducing the number of councillors to 25.
- Redistributing Toronto-area school board trustees to align with the new ward boundaries, while maintaining the existing number of trustees.
- Retaining the October 22, 2018 election date and extending the nomination deadline for Toronto council candidates and school board trustees to September 14, 2018. Updated regulations will help previously nominated candidates transition to new wards.
- Amending the Municipal Act and the Municipal Elections Act to reverse changes, introduced in 2016, that mandated the election of new regional chairs in the regions of York, Peel, Niagara and the District of Muskoka. These regional chairs will continue to be appointed as they were in 2014. Other regional chair elections will remain unchanged.
“We’re pressing the pause button on how chairs are selected in four regional governments,” said Clark. “It’s an opportunity to discuss regional representation and engage municipalities on the future of regional government.”
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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders