from Oral Questions at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Monday, March 29, 2004

 on the topic of
Municipal Restructuring


The Legislative Assembly of Ontario



Monday 29 March 2004 Lundi 29 mars 2004




Mr Michael Prue (Beaches-East York): My question is to the Premier and it's about the promise of democracy that you made to the people of the city of Kawartha Lakes. You will see in the gallery today that many of them are here to hear your answer.

Before the election, you told them that you support local democracy. You promised them that if they voted in a referendum to de-amalgamate, you would honour that referendum. You said, "We believe that the best solutions are local solutions and that local residents should have the right to decide on the future of their municipality." Well, Mr Premier, on November 10, the people voted on that future. They voted against their amalgamated city and in favour of returning to their pre-existing local government. But you, sir, have changed your mind. You have said no to de-amalgamation, but more importantly and more tragically, you have said no to democracy. Tell the people of Victoria county here today and those watching on television, why have you broken your promise to them?

Hon Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): The Minister of Municipal Affairs has much to say on this.

Hon John Gerretsen (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, minister responsible for seniors): I thank the member for his question and I also welcome the people of Kawartha Lakes who are here today. As I indicated to the council, both when I met with them here in Toronto and later, when I went to Kawartha Lakes on February 18, our primary responsibility is to make sure that our municipalities in Ontario are financially sustainable. I will quote from a letter I gave to the council and an open letter that I wrote to the citizens as well: "It is my responsibility to help ensure that all of Ontario's municipalities are viable, financially sustainable and capable of delivering the services the public deserves. I have reason to believe that a number of the former 16 lower-tier municipalities would experience significant financial challenges, given the present-day roles and responsibilities." I made it quite clear to the council that we are always willing to look at new and innovative methods of delivering services to the people of this province.

Mr Prue: Minister, the people of Ontario expect their government to respect democracy, first and foremost, even when you might not like the result and even when you think it might cost more money. Before the election you said, "Local residents should have the right to decide on the future of their municipality." In your platform, on which you were elected, you said, "We will put an end to dictated municipal amalgamations," and that the only amalgamations you would support would be those approved by a binding local referendum. You also said, "Democracy is rarely convenient and tidy," and that "at its heart, it means that people must have a say in how they are governed and on the future of their communities." Now you've turned your back on these lofty words and you have broken your promise with respect to the will of the people of Kawartha Lakes.

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Question.

Mr Prue: I ask you again not about whether this is saving money, but why you have broken your promise. Why have you broken the democratic will of the people of that city?

Hon Mr Gerretsen: Let me repeat once again for the member and for the people of Kawartha Lakes: As I stated in my letter quite categorically, I remain open to considering a proposal from the duly elected council of Kawartha Lakes -- who are just as democratically elected as the referendum that you spoke to -- that would meet the reasonable criteria of property tax fairness to all residents and assure fiscal sustainability of all resulting communities.

We are always willing to look at new ways of delivering services to the people of this province so that they can get both the provincial government and the locally elected governments they deserve and demand.


Source Link:  http://www.ontla.on.ca/hansard/house_debates/38_parl/Session1/L022.htm