Monday, November 14, 2005

Poor Politically Tortured Aurora Voters

Being a registered voter in Aurora stinks big time. The past five years have been a tumultuous one politically at all four levels of government. The federal, provincial, regional and local governments have all had points of contention for citizens of Aurora. From top to bottom it has been a disaster on the political front.

It never was this way before. Aurora politics saw the municipal level of government more or less agree once a law was passed the politicians let bygones be bygones and moved on. Not now. Politicians representing Aurora have been backstabbing, floor crossing, accused of unlawful activity, lying and dropping dead in foreign countries. All levels of government, from top to bottom have seen bits and pieces of the dirty bits of politicking.

At the top, the federal representative, is really a recent affair. With the re-organization of federal boundaries a brand new riding of Newmarket-Aurora . Belinda Stronach was elected in the last election as a Conservative candidate and then, in May of 2005 she crossed the floor to take a cabinet position with Liberal government. To say the least, voters in Aurora (and Newmarket) are a little upset at being lied to in 2004 election when they trusted Belinda. Not only that there were rumours of her sneaking into 24 Sussex Drive (the Prime Ministers residence) in order to broker the deal to get her the cabinet position. None the less, Belinda's actions leave a lot to be desired. The next election might see her Conservative opponent, Lois Brown defeating her because of the anger. I could go on, but the links above basically tell Stronach's story.

The provincial level representation has been a fun over the past few years. Back in 2001, Al Palladini died on a golf course in Mexico forcing a by-election. Greg Sorbara was elected handily over runner up Joyce Frustaglio and other opponents.

Sorbara hasn't exactly been the most straight politician either. First there was Premier Dalton McGuinty's promise during a commercial during the last provincial election of: "I will not raise your taxes, but I won't cut them either." By at least October of 2003 that promise had blatantly been broken. Tobacco and corporate taxes headed higher followed, soon after, by the introduction of the "health care premium" (which by the way was added to the income tax slot on all Ontario workers pay cheques). Aurora voters, who had again overwhelmingly re-elected Greg Sorbara, were shafted again. Even worse, there representative wasn't some back bench trained seal, there representative was the architect of the Liberals last election victory as well as the Finance Minister. Sorbara basically hoodwinked the Aurora voters into voting for him and then saying, "oops" and changing his tune after being elected. (Some will say that Liberals had no choice but to raise taxes, others point out that the Liberals knew the condition of the financial books before the election...but none the less they still broke their promise).

Now Sorbara resigned his position as Finance Minister over a property deal scandal. Even worse, Sorbara's resignation came the day before, and overshadowed Ontario's Speech from the Throne. Not that the Speech from the Throne added anything new to the Liberals promises. In fact they were just a recycled laundry list of promises. Maybe this was because the Liberals made 50 promises in the last election that they are still working on keeping some of those promises. Aurora voters can only hope so, because the list of broken promises continues to get longer and longer.

Moving our glance to the Regional Scene for Aurora voters, it gets a little better as Aurora's fight to get more regional representation above the one single representative. Vaughan has been battling for more regional representation in the last couple of years because of population increases. Aurora's population, as of the 2001 census, was 40,167 people and still has only one representative. Georgina, according to the 2001 census, had 39,263 yet has two representatives. How does this make sense? However, none of the other towns and cities of this region pay attention to Aurora's lack of representation. Something needs to be done on this front to end this inequality.

At the local level, the municipal council has been fractious with the councilors bringing up points of order, interrupting each other, and even hitting each other with papers. The last two weeks of council meetings and general committee meetings has been a perfect case study. At one point Councillor John West was threatened bodily harm as he got up and left a meeting in disgust. The person threatening him had to be physically restrained and the town's mayor, Tim Jones, is trying to find a way to keep this person out of the Town Hall legally.

Add to this the discussion over which community groups should occupy the old Library building has gone no where. The past council meeting saw no decision being made despite years of study by both town staff and outside consultants on what to do with the building. This issue ended at this past council meeting with Councillor Evelyn Buck's continuous interruptions while Councillor Damir Vrancic was trying to speak and further petty bickering. Locals have written letters to a local newspaper (which doesn't publish current editions online) complaining about this current group of councilors. Aurora politics has never been so bad.

In the olden days, every topic was well researched by staff, councilors and the mayor. Sure there were some long discussed issues with the odd spat. However, this current council has had more spats in the recent times over speed bumps/humps, the new recreation complex, the new seniors centre, the new library and what to do with the old library building.

Aurora's voters are a tortured bunch. It seems no matter what elections this town's voters take part in, the voters end up with politicians who challenge their trust. Its a sad state of affairs really that the above bunch look after so much of Aurora's (and others) taxpayers money. When will the poor politically tortured voters of Aurora find relief?

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