I have never been able to understand the reasoning that the Winnipeg NDP people have used to justify forcing rural people and rural municipalities to buckle under and obey NDP commands of amalgamation.
So I began to look for any other provinces that were subjected to the same type of government-forced amalgamation. The first province that I found was Ontario and I began to ask how good really was this for small communities and small towns. It seems that many small towns had simply disappeared from the landscape. In Ontario, councillors do not represent a certain ward, some councillors are elected at large, which means that where the most population is, obviously is where the councillors are elected from as each voter gets to vote for his or her choice of four or more councillors and a reeve. Many towns have a larger population than all the surrounding areas combined. The result, councillors and reeves were elected from the one population centre.
Imagine if all MLAs were elected at large and all voters had a choice of voting for their choice of all candidates across Manitoba. What kind of a representation would there be? We would soon be known as the province of Winnipeg.
The only other province that talked about amalgamation, that I can find, was New Brunswick in which the then-premier Shawn Graham commissioned a report from Jean-Guy Finn and given a budget of $424,000 for one year.
The Graham government shelved the Finn report, saying that it would cost upwards of $88,000,000 and therefore would be too expensive to implement.
One of the reasons the New Brunswick government had given for wanting larger municipalities was to eliminate the cost of provincial policing services by allowing these large municipalities to absorb the policing cost.
Premier David Alward has said that there will not be forced amalgamations in New Brunswick.
Premier Graham and Premier Alward both toured the province of New Brunswick in their terms of office and met with the people and the councils of New Brunswick in town hall meetings to get the feelings of the people towards this report. I can not imagine that happening in Manitoba.
Most small municipalities in Manitoba are very well run. They are not in debt up to their ass, as the provincial NDP seems to be, in fact most rural municipalities have a small surplus rainy day account. Why are the mostly farmer councillors in rural municipalities able to manage the council’s monetary resources so as to avoid deficits while our provincial representatives have only been able to manage their monetary resources into very deep deficits? Forcing the provincial NDP to increase the PST to eight per cent.
With seemingly no clear and transparent objectives that rural Manitobas are aware of, why are rural municipalities being bullied into a force amalgamation?
I urge you, Premier Selinger to do the right thing, take back control, listen to the people of rural Manitoba, do whatever it takes to shelve Bill 33.
Mr. Premier why did your government of Manitoba set amalgamation meetings in downtown Winnipeg for the farming community in the middle of harvest?
Please Mr. Selinger, make an effort and take the time to find out what rural people really want and need.
New Brunswick got it right!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 20, 2013