from Oral Questions at the Legislative
Assembly of Ontario
Monday, March 29, 2004
on the topic of
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
LÉGISLATIVE DE L'ONTARIO
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
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
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.