Amalgamation vs. Democracy

An RTH reader argues that the solution to the consequences of imposed amalgamation is actually quite simple - democratic choice.

By Letter to the Editor
Published December 20, 2007

Dear Editor,

I read your piece on amalgamation, and you have hit on a recurring theme in Hamilton.

Fred Napoli and I led a movement to have Flamborough Council challenge the most recently imposed amalgamation. We also closely reviewed provincial documents - something the Hamilton media either neglected or was reluctant to do - and discovered a political deception worthy of bringing before the Courts.

I'm sharing this because I believe our objective of several years ago goes to the heart of the question you pose at the end of your blog entry. The solution to the consequences of imposed amalgamation is actually quite simple - democratic choice.

As things currently stand in Ontario, municipalities are created by Queen's Park. Anyone who believes that municipalities are 'government' has swallowed the lie. Municipalities are at best provincial agencies, and at worst they are puppets or lap dogs.

The solution is that municipalities need to exist 'at the consent of the governed' - the fundamental test for any democratic institution.

Unfortunately, our elected provincial leaders do not trust the public to make informed decisions about which municipal structure can best serve the needs of the constituents.

The Mike Harris regime made the very same mistake that doomed the 1974 Bill Davis version of imposed amalgamation.

Hamilton could function as a two-tier region, as a tri-city model, or as a unified city, but only if that is the decision of the citizens. Until voters are given such a choice, Hamilton's system of government hangs under a cloud of illegitimacy.

This is sad, but true, especially given the immense needs in our community which are deserving of solutions - solutions that require unity and a shared vision.

Each time I enter Hamilton via York Blvd., I can't help but think of the irony that Hamilton is guarded by Dundurn Castle, a monument to a man whose claim to fame was his desire to preserve the Family Compact and oppose democratic government.

Keep hammering away for democracy.

Best Regards,
Ken Bosveld

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