In early-2016, a delegation from the York Taxpayers Coalition traveled to Queen’s Park to speak to M.P.s from all parties in support of a democratically elected Chair of York Region Council.
Among the reasons why our organization supported this election was the insurmountable public debt accumulated by the York Regional government over the years through the system of the unaccountable Chair appointed by the Mayors and Regional Council members after a municipal election.
We noted that Regional government issues are rarely, if ever, debated during a lower tier municipal election. The 2018 election was going to be the first time in fifty years that York Region voters would get an opportunity to directly weigh in on issues that involved the level of government that impacts the lives and standard of living of approximately 1.3 million people.
In the run up to the June 8, 2018 provincial election, the Ontario PC Party, led by now premier Doug Ford, was silent on any disagreement with direct elections of the York Region Chair. In the new government’s Throne Speech of just two weeks ago, there was no mention of any impending changes.
Yet suddenly, just three months prior to the municipal election and without any prior consultation of York Region residents, Doug Ford has decided to deny York Region voters of their democratic rights.
York Region’s highest profile M.P.P.’s, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, are not York Region residents. They both reside in downtown Toronto, which is a fact that clearly clouds their judgment. They simply don’t understand the issues involving the record high debt load that impacts the lives and well being of residents to keep up with property tax increases. If they did, they would afford the same scrutiny they do on provincial debt: in this year’s budget alone, the York Region Government is spending $5.2 billion while having amassed a debt of over $3.7 billion – the highest per capita debt load in the GTA. Toronto doesn’t have a second tier municipal government after all, so how could they understand the tax pressures we face here?
Taking voting rights from York Region residents won’t solve our public debt issues. We need direct democracy to fix the morass we find ourselves in.
Doug Ford’s rash actions on this regard calls into question his judgment over what’s best for the ratepayers of York Region.