We are pleased to post this submission from David Daniels. We had heard about this affront to democracy but here is a first hand description of the incident and his comment.
THE MAYOR BUILDS HUBRIS**
David A. Daniels
** “Hubris”: Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance”
Virtually every Council meeting has a “Question Period”. Prior to accepting questions from the gallery, the Mayor typically states something like: “This is the time when the public may ask questions concerning items not on the agenda.” I have often asked questions at the question period.
At the January 4th Committee of Council meeting, when the Question Period arrived, and as I was about to rise from my seat to ask a question, the Mayor stated:
“I invite you to ask a question if you are at this point prepared to be helpful and representative of a builder, a builder, somebody who is interested in advancing the interests of the Town in a constructive kind of way at these meetings. Otherwise, I would ask you to direct it either to myself or the CAO separately.
We are a little bit tired of the other approach.
So, if you have a question that is constructive and reflective of being a builder in a part of this government that you want to amplify the good of this Town, I invite you to come to this microphone.
Otherwise, send us an email and we will take it as an opinion.”
I did not ask the question I had in mind.
Does this new “policy” mean that anyone who raises questions or concerns about projects the Mayor favours is necessarily NOT a “builder”?
When I raised questions about building Railtown, was I being “destructive”? The Mayor pushed for the Town to contribute $60,000.00 toward building the new Acadia University track and field. In return for its $60,000.00, the Town received the good will of AU and not much more. I raised questions about this expenditure; so did members of the Parks and Recreation Committee. Were I and those committee members NON-builders? Did we display less of an interest in the Town’s well-being because we disagreed with the Mayor?
Who appointed the Mayor as the decider of what can or cannot be asked at public Council meetings? Last time I looked at the Municipal Government Act, the Council was the governing authority who decided policies in the Town, not the Mayor.
The newly adopted Strategic Plan calls for Public Participation but apparently only on the Mayor’s terms.
I’d like to think that the fact that there is a now public participation plan in the making, at least in part, is due to my persistent questions about allowing the public to participate at Council meetings.
Is the Mayor suffering from a bad case of hubris? This condition often afflicts those who have been in power too long. Those who suffer from this ailment try to prevent the voicing of contrary opinions or simply ignore them. After all, if you’re always right, why bother listening to others, especially those who may disagree with you.
One cure for hubris may be to read the Charter of Rights and think about the importance of freedom of expression and dissent in a democracy.
Will those who champion democracy and good government, including at least one councillor, please take note and have a word with the mayor? And not just the mayor. Mr. Daniels is too kind in not mentioning the deafening silence around the table. Perhaps the councillors can’t ask questions either.
This article and a submission by Lutz Becker on “Clock Park” which follows will be found published in the Jan issue of the Mud Creek News usually available in the Post Office.*
*If you don’t find them on the counter search for them in the trash!