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Teams rebel against province


Frustration levels have peaked, with transition teams members refusing to meet further until the premier puts a hold on all the downloading.

A letter penned by Terry Mundell, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and co-chair of both transition teams, went to Premier Mike Harris yesterday but the teams have yet to hear a reply.

Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, who sits on the Provincial-Municipal Transition Team, said they were getting tired of the premier saying the announcements were done in consultation with AMO and the transition teams.

“That’s not a true statement,” Mayor Witherspoon fumed this morning, noting they were consulted but then the announcements would be something completely different from what they wanted.

Added to that was the meeting with reps from the Ministry of the Solicitor General on Monday who claimed the policing costs given last week were “close” but not exact.

But he admitted a “glimmer of hope” came Monday when the premier acknowledged the downloading would carry a $672-million price tag for municipalities, and said it would all have to be worked out by the year 2000.

Municipal Affairs and Housing minister Al Leach, though, is insisting all the changes happen by Jan. 1, Mayor Witherspoon added.

“I think there’s a problem right in his Cabinet,” he noted, adding there were MPPs admitting it was all happening too fast.

“My feeling is . . . there has to be some answers before the AMO convention,” Mayor Witherspoon said of the annual meeting later this month in Toronto.

“It’s going to be a free-for-all if [Premier Harris] doesn’t have something announced by then,” he warned.

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