Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 23, 1999
O’Brien’s Circus and Regional Restructuring Freak Show
Strange Antics, hot tempers and red faces restructuring: It’s a Jungle Out There
Imagine being in David O’Brien’s loafers. You come to Hamilton-Wentworth, charged by the provincial government with the considerable responsibility of coming up with a recommendation on restructuring local government so there are fewer politicians, lower taxes and optimum service delivery. You probably know, anecdotally at least, how rancorous the debate has been over the years.
But we’re betting the career bureaucrat must be shaking his head over how dysfunctional, mistrustful and downright hostile is the world of politics in Hamilton-Wentworth. Welcome to our nightmare, Mr. O’Brien. Mississauga, it ain’t.
Step right this way to observe all the local politicians. They’re the ones who sleep with their eyes wide open so they don’t get jumped by the mayor from one town over. So overwrought are they, so wound-tighter-than-a-drum, that their actions under pressure can get downright goofy. We’ve got the region’s top politician on a local radio talk show with a local member of provincial parliament. What happened could pretty much pass for the radio version of Jerry Springer, especially what went on during commercials.
Then we’ve got the iron-willed independentist faction from communities around the region who would just about rather die than suffer the indignity of a single-tier local government that includes Hamilton. So passionate, so victimized, are these people they think nothing of making unsubstantiated allegations of corruption that would get people sued in most circumstances.
The good news, and we’re confident that the adviser is well aware of it by now, is that the embarrassing antics of these few isn’t representative. Most of us here in Hamilton-Wentworth, and our neighbours going through the same process in Haldimand-Norfolk, are reasonable people. We’ve known for some time that we need a much more efficient system of government. We have lots of questions, and some legitimate concerns. We’re hoping that the adviser and provincial government will succeed where we’ve failed and re-invent local government in a way that makes sense. And we’re thankful that the circus has left town. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial, D12, 10/23/1999)