Fonds consists of records created, accumulated and used by Citizens for Local Democracy (C4LD) between November 1966 and June 1998, as well as a small number of photographs, handbills, ephemera, and a CD-ROM published by the provincially-appointed Transition Team.
These records have been arranged in 5 series, including: (1) Series 641, C4LD Agendas and Minutes, which includes minutes of all steering committee meetings held between December 20, 1996 and June 10 1998, as well as notes and agendas for many, but not all, of the weekly public meetings; (2) Series 642, C4LD Newsletters, Publications and Ephemera, which includes a full run of the 26 newsletters published between December 1996 and March 1998, as well as a fund-raising CD with speeches and songs, 2 posters, and about a dozen campaign-style buttons; (3) Series 643, Citizen Briefs on Bill 103, which contains Hansard reports of over a 100, mostly anti-amalgamation presentations made in February 1997 at the Ontario Government Services Committee; (4) Series 644, C4LD Office Files, which contains chronologically-organized files containing correspondence, notes on meetings, speeches (many by John Sewell), published reports, lists of volunteers, signed petitions, transcriptions of messages received by the telephone "hot line", copies of deputations made before various provincial committees, legal opinions and judgements, clippings of newspaper articles relating to C4LD activities or areas of concern, financial statements, Hansard excerpts, and press releases, as well as subject files, covering such topics as the June 1997 federal election, the provincially-appointed transition team, the November 1997 municipal election, municipal candidates' literature, legal cases, strategy sessions, values statement, and reaching out to other citizens; and (5) C4LD Clippings, which contains newspaper and a few magazine articles that appeared between December 1996 and December 1997.
Citizens for Local Democracy (C4LD) was a non-partisan, citizen action group that emerged in December 1996 to oppose provincially-imposed municipal amalgamation on seven Toronto-area municipalities. C4LD was also involved in a wide range of other issues, notably provincial initiatives to radically restructure the education and health systems of Ontario. At C4LD's peak, between February and April 1997, 1,500 to 2,000 people met weekly in downtown churches; several hundred subscribed to listservs; and thousands of visits were made weekly to the group's Web Site. C4LD was instrumental in pushing for and winning six local referenda on the megacity (on March 3, 1997, 76% voted against amalgamation), as well as pushing for public hearings on Bill 103 where dozens of individual citizens, as well as local politicians and representatives of various organizations, spoke against amalgamation. Ultimately, however, C4LD failed to stop amalgamation, which went into effect on January 1, 1998. The history of C4LD was short, but intense. As early as October and November 1996, rumours abounded about the Provincial Government's interest in municipal amalgamation. Editorialists and columnists began writing about the idea. Citizens began contacting one another. Mayors and other local government officials began discussing how to proceed. A public meeting, chaired by Mayor Barbara Hall, was held in Toronto's City Council chamber to hear citizens' views on the subject. Dozens of citizens spoke, including John Sewell and Jane Jacobs, and nearly every speaker opposed amalgamation. Mr. Sewell proposed that citizens wishing to oppose amalgamation meet the following week in the Council Chamber. C4LD emerged out of these discussions, meeting for the first time on Monday, December 16th. On December 17, 1996 the Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs Al Leach announced the Conservative government's intention to amalgamate into a single "megacity" the seven local governments then contained in the Metropolitan Toronto area. In January 1997, Mr. Leach introduced the City of Toronto Act, 1997 (Bill 103) in the Provincial Legislature. C4LD went into high gear. By mid-January, over 600 anti-megacity activists were meeting weekly to analyze government actions, plot strategy, share information, and volunteer for tasks ranging from distributing newsletters to lobbying politicians and creating a Web site. On February 15th, about 10,000 anti-amalgamationists marched down Yonge Street in the C4LD-sponsored "Rebellion of 1997." In the period leading up to the March 3rd referenda, "all candidates"-style meetings about amalgamation were held in school gyms and churches throughout Metropolitan Toronto. The Government was represented by proponents such as Minister Leach and MPP Steve Gilchrist; while opponents sent economists like Peter Tomlinson and local politicians like Barbara Hall, John Adams, and Kay Gardner. C4LD ensured that these meetings were well publicised and well attended by citizens who asked pointed questions. By this time, 1,500 to 2,000 C4LDers were meeting weekly at Metropolitan United Church to hear John Sewell, John Ralston Saul, Margaret Atwood, and a raft of other well-known and/or well-informed speakers analyze the situation and offer support. On March 3rd, 76% of the voters opposed amalgamation and C4LD ensured that the result of the vote was also widely disseminated and used to oppose Bill 103. Deputants continued to speak against amalgamation at public hearings held by the Government Services Committee at Queen's Park. On April 21, 1997, Bill 103 received third and final reading, and was immediately signed into law by Lt. Governor Hilary Weston. On April 22nd, both a Citizens' Legal Challenge and two municipal legal challenges were launched against amalgamation. In 1998, a number of key participants resigned from the steering committee to pursue other options for achieving their political objectives. John Sewell decided to run provincially as an independent. Kathleen Wynne decided to run for the Liberal nomination in St. Paul's. The C4LD steering committee underwent a major overhaul and the organization continued to meet in declining numbers, monitoring the impact of amalgamation, and generally pursuing a progressive agenda, until mid-2001. Source: Citizens for Local Democracy