| Jul 17, 2008

Editorial - July 17, 2008

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Editorial - July 17, 2008 Democracy in ActionEditorial by Jeff Green

There are times when it is tempting to condemn South Frontenac Council for their tendency to bicker, to descend into anger with each other, and their inability to work towards consensus. They often bear more resemblance to a dysfunctional family than a township council.

Some of them have been carrying on the same arguments almost since amalgamation some ten years ago.

But I’ll say one thing for them; they keep plugging away, and they are not afraid to express themselves. We all want our representatives to let us know what they are thinking; we all want transparent processes, we want to be informed about why political decisions are made.

Well, this is what we get if we want to know how these decisions are made.

In South Frontenac they hold meetings where the councilors debate the issues that are confronting them without hiding behind politically correct behaviour or secret committee processes.

This week it was Sydenham water, and I defy anyone to say that the outcome of the latest debate was pre-staged. I daresay no one who participated in the meeting knew where the thing would end up, and they may indeed come back in a month or so and accept the proposal they soundly rejected at this time.

But if they do it will be because at least five of them have decided it is the best way to go, and if anyone or everyone disagrees with them, we will at least know where they stood, what they believed in, and where we think they went wrong.

Do we prefer other levels of government, where the public has little or no access to the decision making, where the politicians are muzzled, where structures are put in place to buffer the governing party from the political impacts of their policies?

If Sydenham Water were being handled by the province, there would be an appointed board overseeing all the financing decisions, and the appointment process to that board would be murky, with appointments being made through order in council. No one would know how the actual decisions were made, and any questions would be handled by a communications director.

The decision about costing would be released on a summer Friday afternoon, and would be accompanied by a press release hailing the green benefits of the integrative partnership between homeowners and the benevolent governments that had built the plant.

And the bills would be higher, to pay for all the hidden processes.

I’ll take the fights, the name calling, and the bad blood, because it is the honest expression of opinion about issues that the councilors actually care about.

They may be wrong, they may make bad, even stupid decisions, but there is accountability in the system and at least the politicians have the courage of their convictions.

The same cannot be said for other levels of government in this country.

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