The NDP showed on Wednesday exactly what it thinks of democracy when Municipal Government Minister Stan Struthers sent a letter out to a select few mayors and reeves.
These community leaders felt the wrath of Struthers as the municipalities they represent have not complied with an edict to amalgamate with neighbouring municipalities. Struthers is now dictating which municipalities will amalgamate and with whom, how those municipalities will amalgamate and even where the new municipal office will be located.
That’s right. The provincial government is now forcibly wiping communities off the map with the stroke of a pen. Struthers will only offer a short two-month extension of his Dec. 1 deadline for some communities to comply with amalgamation if municipalities find another amalgamation arrangement among themselves, and only if all of the forced amalgamation “partners” agree. Others aren’t so lucky.
So far, the NDP government indicated 32 municipalities will form 11 amalgamated municipalities. In one case, the communities of Rapid City, which just lost its town hall to a fire, would be forced to join the RMs of Blanshard, Park, Saskatchewan, Harrison and Strathclair to form one mega municipality.
What do people in Struthers’ own constituency think about the local MLA forcing four communities into a shotgun wedding that results in “Municipality Fourteen?” That’s what Struthers has ordered upon the Town of Gilbert Plains, the RM of Gilbert Plains, the Town of Grandview and the RM of Grandview. He has even selected Grandview as the seat of this new government without consulting anyone.
Those are the actions of a dictator. Instead of seeking a mandate to pursue this policy in an election, the NDP decided to force its will on another level of government. One wonders if the NDP would willingly submit to a federal government edict to join Manitoba with Saskatchewan and Nunavut, just as the provincial government is forcing a similar plan on municipalities.
Democracy only works when the people get to have their say. That right was taken away from Manitobans when the NDP forced amalgamations on municipal governments. The NDP knows this runs counter to democratic principles, but has decided to implement this policy the same way a dictator would: “Do as I say or else.” That’s not the democracy our veterans fought for and died to protect.
Critic for Local Government
Progressive Conservative MLA
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 5, 2013