Selected Quotes On Amalgamation, Democracy And Referenda
Dalton McGuinty and John Gerretsen

Dalton McGuinty

No one really believes the amalgamation is going to save money.
December 16, 1996

Will you allow a referendum on your megacity before you ram this through?
December 16, 1996

This morning you made an announcement on this issue of megacity madness. In some ways it's a complicated issue, but in others it's not so complicated. For the people in Metro Toronto it's going to mean three things, quite simply: (1) higher taxes, (2) fewer services and (3) there's going to be a lost sense of community.
December 17, 1996

To the same minister: I want to be very, very clear on this just so there's no doubt. The Liberal caucus is against your megacity. We're going to fight you on this.
December 17, 1996

With each passing day, people are becoming more and more aware that your megacity madness is about three things: mega-taxes, mega-cuts to services and mega-dictatorship by the province.
December 19, 1996

Premier, once more: You said, "There is no cost for a municipality to maintain its name and identity." You said, "Why destroy our roots and pride?" You said, "I disagree with restructuring, because it believes that bigger is better." Finally, you said, unequivocally and very, very clearly, "Services always cost more in larger communities," and you said that with complete conviction. So why is it that you are bent on proceeding with amalgamation in so many communities across the province, but especially here in Metropolitan Toronto?
February 12, 1997

Democracy is rarely convenient and tidy. Instead, it's a slow and messy miracle. At its heart, it means that people must have a say in how they are governed. They must have a say on the future of their communities. Democracy clearly imposes a responsibility on people. It's their responsibility to understand the choices before them, and it's their responsibility to choose wisely.
March 4, 1997

Democracy imposes responsibility on those who govern. Democracy gives the people a voice, but it also compels those who govern to listen to that voice. Democracy isn't just something that takes place once every four years. Democracy is what is supposed to happen in a free society each and every day.
March 4, 1997

There's a fine line between leadership and being out of touch and I suggest to the members opposite that to ignore the clear and unequivocal results of the referenda would not be to show leadership; it would be to ignore the will of those you represent.
March 4, 1997

Any member of this Legislature who dares to ignore the will of the people, which has been duly expressed by way of referenda held yesterday, is putting their own political career at risk. Premier, your megacity was a mistake.
March 4, 1997

The people voted no. There is nothing left to interpret. It was simple, straightforward and unequivocal. They said they are against turning six cities into one. End of story. They don't want amendments;
March 4, 1997

Despite all the fine speeches delivered during the course of the election and prior to that about direct democracy and how you believe in the importance of referenda, you are about to ignore the clear and unequivocal results from last night's referenda.
March 4, 1997

In fact, I remember when Mike Harris was campaigning in the town of Fergus and someone asked him about amalgamation, and he said: "Why destroy our roots and pride? I disagree with restructuring, because it believes that bigger is better. Services always cost more in larger communities." He was right. Mike Harris was right, but that was then and this is now. Leader of the Opposition Mike Harris was a great defender of local government; Premier Mike Harris sings a completely different tune.
March 4, 1997

Not only are taxes going to go up; you should know that there's going to be a resulting loss in services and, just as importantly, there's going to be a loss of a sense of community.
April 1, 1997

I remember the good old days when Mike Harris used to speak in favour of referenda. I remember when he said the government should listen to the people it serves. But that was then and this is now. Opposition leader Mike Harris used to listen to people. Premier Mike Harris runs roughshod over them.
April 21, 1997

You can send a loud and clear message that it's not okay for the Premier and a small group of ideologues in his office to ignore the people of Ontario and those they elected to represent them. It's not too late, in fact it's never too late, to stand up for real democracy instead of sledgehammer democracy.
April 21, 1997

The evidence is overwhelming and beyond dispute. A megacity will cause property taxes to soar, it will cause services to be cut and it will make government even more remote from the people it is supposed to serve.
April 21, 1997

They didn't say, "No, unless they make some token changes," and they didn't say, "No, unless they make some minor amendments." They said, "No." They said, "No means no," and they said, "No means no megacity."
April 21, 1997

Listening, Premier, is a good thing. It's not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength.
June 3, 1997

In March of this very year we had the megacity referendums where over 400,000 people came out and voted against this government's proposals. So when this government tells us that it is interested in listening and interested in learning and interested in bringing about change as a result of what they have heard, they are not telling us the truth. It's as simple as that.
September 18, 1997

I defy this minister to stand up and tell us how it is in keeping with democratic principles that 75 people can be allowed to sign a petition and compel a commissioner or this minister to impose a restructuring solution on a community. I defy this minister to tell us how that is in keeping with traditional democratic principles that have been articulated and developed century after century after century right across the free world.
December 7, 1999

If a city wants to make a decision about the municipal restructuring plan being imposed on it, you get to decide whether or not the citizens of that community have a right to vote on that. Minister, if that isn't censorship, if that isn't dictatorship, then tell me what is.
December 8, 1999

John Gerretsen

I think we should also be talking about the megacity project. What's this all about? You talk about an anti-democratic move that's being put on by the government; I can't think of one that's more anti-democratic than that, because basically less representation means there will be less of a democratic influence on people's lives and on the public institutions that we all hold so dearly in this province.
December 16, 1996

There is a complete inconsistency by the government. They are saying on the one hand, "Yes, we like the concept of referenda," and on the other hand they're saying, "Yes, but not in this case." It seems to me that the only kinds of questions they want to ask in a referendum are ones they obviously agree with and that somehow will limit the role of government in the future.
December 18, 1996

Mr. Clement has talked about referendum legislation with the Legislative Assembly committee on a number of occasions, urging the other members of that committee to endorse the concept of holding referendums. This is a perfect opportunity for that to actually take place, on an issue which is clear-cut and focused.
January 20, 1997

This whole notion that if we somehow got rid of local politicians we'd all be better off is something I totally reject.
June 11, 1997

As I mentioned before, in a place like Chatham-Kent, if you get rid of 90% of your elected local politicians, when you go from 141 local politicians in total down to 18, you are simply not going to get the same kind of service, you're not going to get the same kind of response and you're not going to have the ability to speak to your local representatives in the same way you do now.
June 11, 1997

I have maintained all along that a bigger government isn't necessarily a better or cheaper government, and that seems to be the modus operandi this government is operating under, that as long as we get rid of all sorts of local governments and get rid of more and more politicians, local politicians, then somehow we'll all be better off.
June 11, 1997

What we're talking about with all these amalgamations is, number one, less democracy. The kind of input the local citizen wants in this local decision-making process will simply not be the same if the politicians he or she wants to have contact with are going to be further and further removed from the process and are going to represent larger areas with many more people than they presently do.
June 11, 1997

I didn't agree with megacity and our party didn't agree with megacity and our party certainly didn't agree with the Fewer Politicians Act.
June 23, 1998

But the other thing about this is just the fact that it doesn't make sense, because these people are now paying for services that they're not going to receive. Remember, this was all sold to them on the basis that if we just allow for larger amalgamations, larger restructuring, then there will be all sorts of money saved, we'll get rid of a whole bunch of politicians, because after all, it's the local politicians that cost all the money.
November 24, 1998

This notion that if we have smaller councils we will be better off is absolute nonsense. I think that local councils ought to be truly representatives of the communities that they are.
December 14, 1999

I think the reason that the government's doing this is because they are bent on the notion that bigger is better. This is supposedly from a government that believes in less government.
December 14, 1999

Living in an urban community is totally different from living in a rural community. The kind of topics that get discussed at council, the kind of problems that are dealt with on a day-to-day basis, are totally and absolutely different. To put a rural area, which may be as much as 20 miles away, and in Ottawa-Carleton I would dare say some of these areas are probably closer to 40 miles away from the city centre, into a regional area, into a new city centre makes absolutely no sense.
December 14, 1999

The final point I want to make is that municipalities should be formed as a result of communities of interest. Putting vast rural areas with urban areas and calling it a new municipality just isn't right. It's not in the tradition of Ontario municipal government.
December 15, 1999

To lump large rural areas in with urban centres, rural areas which in some cases are 20 or 25 miles away from the urban centre, is just totally and absolutely wrong.
December 16, 1999

That is the main problem with all I've heard about the amalgamations or all the restructurings that have taken place. It is always the rural areas that lose out.
June 1, 2000

As you and I know, there's been absolutely no proof whatsoever, with all the actions this government has taken, that anybody has saved any money at the local level. Taxpayers aren't better off. There are many more services that have to be paid for at the local level and there's been absolutely no proof that all of this restructuring has saved any money whatsoever.
June 1, 2000

The government can take great pride in the fact that it has cut out thousands of local politicians across the province, but people have to realize that the amount of representation they get is going to be less and less and their ability to get to their local representatives is going to diminish more and more. I don't think that in the long run we are going to be better for it.
June 1, 2000


Home    Issues    Links    Contact Us