VOCO: Voices of Central Ontario
February 19, 2004

      Every citizen in the Province of Ontario should be mourning the death of democracy today. The Ontario Liberals, under the leadership of Dalton McGuinty have passed the point of broken promises. They have undermined the very values of democracy itself.

      On November 10, 2003 the people of Victoria County voted in their Municipal Election to a Ministers question on whether to de-amalgamate the City of Kawartha Lakes and return to their former municipal governing structure. The question was clear. The result was clear. The majority of people voted "Yes". The majority of wards voted "Yes". The only mayoralty candidate who ran on a "Yes" platform was elected.

      In February 2001, Dalton McGuinty committed in writing to the people of Victoria County that "the Ontario Liberals believe in local democracy. 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" He went on to say that a Liberal government would be bound by a referendum that allowed local citizens to determine whether or not to dismantle the amalgamated city.

      Yesterday, Minister of Municipal Affairs John Gerretsen arrived in the County to deliver an open letter to the residents telling them that the government will not be implementing de-amalgamation of the City of Kawartha Lakes.

      This response by the Premier and his government blatantly ignores the results of this vote and sends the message that they consider any vote subject to review and rejection by a single person or tribunal, and very clearly demonstrates the meaninglessness of democracy.

      The people had spoken. They expected the Premier and his party, with their so-called 'democratic renewal' mandate to do nothing less than honour his undertaking and implement the results of the vote.

      V.O.C.O. chairperson, Lynne Boldt says "This has now gone beyond the issue of amalgamation vs. de-amalgamation. Almost 33,000 people here in Victoria County voiced their opinion via the most basic form of democracy - the election ballot - and have now been ignored. BOTH sides of the question are, and deserve to be, extremely insulted."

      "After almost a year of diligent preparation, research, campaigning, and right up to the vote itself, ANYONE who participated in our democratic process has now been ignored by this Provincial government." McGuinty's own words in March 1997 say it all: "Any member of the Legislature who dares to ignore the will of the people, which has been duly expressed by way of referenda...is putting their own political career at risk."

      We couldn't have said it any better. V.O.C.O. (Voices Of Central Ontario) is the grass-roots citizens' organization that was formed about four years ago when residents here felt they were ignored when the Harris Conservatives forced the amalgamation of the area without consulting the people.

      What the McGuinty Liberals did yesterday is even more reprehensible given the promises and platforms that they used to elicit the trust of Ontarians in last October's provincial election. It is morally, ethically and politically WRONG!

      Shame on you! The owners and supporters of democracy, we the people of Victoria County, have issued this statement to inform the government that we will not tolerate or accept such offensive behaviour by elected representatives. McGuinty again said it best when he stated "Democracy gives the people a voice, but it also compels those who govern to listen to that voice." The V.O.C.O. organization, ever-growing in its tireless existence, founded in the roots of democracy, suggests you have failed in your job of governing the people of Ontario. You must step aside

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