A page four newspaper article from the Port Arthur News-Chronicle, published on Tuesday, September 9th, 1958. The article is titled: “Why Take a Plebiscite On a Vague Principle?”

A typed newspaper article on plebiscite and amalgamation

The text reads:

The councils of the Lakehead cities, forewarned by the mayors in inaugural address in January that amalgamation would come up for consideration, are getting around to a joint meeting on the subject. But unless the joint meeting is more successful than some that have taken place between officials of the two cities in the past, the issue may not be any closer to settlement at the end of the mayors' terms than it was at the start.

Fort William council seems determined to conduct a plebiscite to learn the wishes of the people of the two cities before any investigation is made of what amalgamation would involve. Port Arthur council, however, apparently prefers to investigate the question, report to the people and then take a plebiscite.

If Fort William council is able to convince Port Arthur that a plebiscite must be taken as the first step, then that vote will of necessity be simply a vote of on the principle of two cities becoming one. The voter will not know whether the investigation will reveal that amalgamation is impractical and expensive, or whether a metropolitan system may be recommended. He will not know whether the proposed merger might include just the two cities or several municipalities adjoining them (in which case the plebiscite would have to extend to these municipalities).

It is doubtful whether any citizen could vote intelligently on even the principle of amalgamation without some knowledge of what might be involved. But if the plebiscite is taken, on principle, and a survey made by a group of experts, a second plebiscite would have to be taken at some future date to determine whether the proposed plan for amalgamation was acceptable.

In the meantime, of course, the reports of the experts would have to be studied by councils of both cities, and they would have to reach agreement before the question could be put to the citizens.

Councils of the two cities have discussed amalgamation frequently, but they have been commendably cautious about taking any action. They apparently recognize that the joining of two cities that have lived in friendly rivalry, have competed successfully and have grown in stature and prospered, side by side, for a hundred years, cannot be thrown together suddenly. It is foolish indeed to alter the course of history without a proper appreciation of the past and an understanding of the future.

The curtain of sentiment that has kept the cities apart in the past will not be penetrated by an out-stretched hand with an itchy palm, or by idle talk of union for the sake of bigness. Port Arthur and Fort William people will have to be given some logical reasons – economic reasons in dollars and cents – to believe their future will be brighter under amalgamation before they can be expected to give up a proven system for an experiment.

TBA 2401

Contact Us