THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Opening comments: More at the end.
The Mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, has a nasty habit of trying to win by any means available. Making sure that other people do not have a fair chance to address an issue is common behaviour for her.
Councillor says Hazel trying to muzzle Kolb
Battle lines drawn over Peel's future
Mayor Hazel McCallion is trying to gag Peel Region Chair Emil Kolb as Mississauga's quest for political independence continues, a Brampton Regional councillor charges.
Paul Palleschi said a motion introduced by McCallion calling for council's approval of any future correspondence, from Kolb or Regional staff to residents with respect to Mississauga's and Brampton's bids for political independence, is simply a veiled attempt to "stifle the, chair."
McCallion brought the motion forward Thursday in response to a letter from Kolb that was sent to Peel residents with their water bills last month.
Kolb's correspondence, a rebuttal to a City of Mississauga flyer sent to all homes in February seeking citizen support for independence, strongly defended Peel's two-tier government, saying it has kept taxes at stable rates and has operated debt free since 1997.
"I firmly believe we are fortunate to have an excellent governance structure in Peel that works very well, and I see no reason why this should not continue indefinitely," Kolb's letter reads.
McCallion said the Region chair should not deliver messages related to governance without council's approval.
"You can say whatever you want, but when you use taxpayers' money to distribute something in writing, that's the problem; it should go through council," said McCallion, whose motion sparked heated debate inside Peel council chambers.
After prolonged discussion, the matter was referred back to staff for fine-tuning before coming back to council at a future date.
"It was distributed with the water bill as the Region's position (on Peel's two-tier government)," continued McCallion, whose council is pressing Queen's Park hard for permission to go it alone by November, 2006. "When it goes out that way, it's very confusing to the public. How can we vote unanimously at the City of Mississauga to go alone and then vote differently here (at the Region of Peel). But, that's what it looks like to the public, This shows regional government doesn't work."
Palleschi said McCallion's motion is a blatant attempt to muzzle the chair and Region staff.
"You say he can say whatever he wants, but that he shouldn't be using taxpayers' dollars to do it," said Palleschi, adding municipal governments always use tax dollars to pay for such correspondence. "No matter how you try to word this, you're trying to stifle the chair.
"As long as the Region of Peel is in operation, it can say anything it wants," continued Palleschi. "If you're going to say something about regional government, then you're going to get a response. The chair has the right to do that. He should do that."
Caledon Councillor Richard Whitehead described McCallion's motion as "a motion to censor the chair."
He said until Queen's Park decides otherwise --- and "there's no indication whatsoever the province wants to deal with this..." --- Peel Region is alive and well.
Whitehead said Kolb's message to citizens was appropriately delivered.
"I would be disturbed if the chairman did not defend the Region on an everyday basis," he said.
Mississauga Ward 1 Councillor Carmen Corbasson defended the motion, noting the chair's letter caught her and McCallion off guard at a recent meeting with residents.
"It's embarrassing for an issue of this significance to come out in the water bill," said Corbasson, adding the courtesy of alerting councillors to the correspondence should have been extended.
Citing an inequality in political representation — Mississauga, with 63 per cent of Peel's population, receives only 49 per cent of the vote at council - and what they claim to be duplication in areas such as planning and public works, Mississauga councillors unanimously approved a resolution late last year asking the provincial government for a single-tier municipal government by 2006.
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