Scribbling down notes on a pad of paper, I heard a tiny whisper in my ear.
“Could you please take your hat off?”
The voice belonged to Brenda Brunt, clerk for the Municipality of South Dundas. It was during a council session and I had forgotten to remove my hat. I was startled at first, and even slightly annoyed, but no problem, I thought. Rules are rules.
It was a short time later that I watched this edition of council wade into the muddy waters of the design of a new campground building for Iroquois.
The item was on the agenda and I assumed it would be fairly straightforward as director of recreation and facilities Ben Macpherson was to present a report on what should be included in the design of the new building.
However, that would not be the case.
It turns out that Deputy-Mayor Jim Locke, Councillor Bill Ewing and captain of the good pirate ship South Dundas, Mayor Evonne Delegarde, had engaged in private, one-on-one conversations with John Ross. The local entrepreneur had taken it upon himself to not only hold court with interested stakeholders, but also invest hours of time laying out a comprehensive design of a potential building.
I’m hardly in a position to criticize Mr. Ross’ ability as an engineer as my building expertise begins and ends with Lego construction; however, for council to not only recognize Ross’ design, but to allow him to present it to council at length in a public forum without disclosing the design circumvents due process and procedures outlined for council. Not to mention that councillors Marc St. Pierre and Archie Mellan were left floundering in the dark.
Hardly what one would consider a transparent or well thought out plan with taxpayer dollars on the line.
At the end of the day, Ross’ design had the attention of council for potential future debate and Macpherson’s report was completely ignored.
Sure, it’s progress, but at what cost?
Now some people would say, “what’s the big deal as long as it gets done?”
To that I would say, council, and especially the mayor, should hold process in as high a regard as progress. It is imperative that the people have confidence in leadership to not only do what is right, but to do it the right way.
But then again, maybe Delegarde is taking a cue from the current political climate.
With the election of Doug Ford as premier, it seems that people have less patience for the bureaucratic games that are synonymous with the political arena or rules. Ford unleashed a barrage of promises with little in the way of explanation on how any of his objectives would be achieved. But hey, who doesn’t want $1 beer, right?
There is no arguing that there is little to no patience to the double-speak that has long plagued political leaders. Trudeau’s latest pipeline purchase while almost simultaneously preaching climate change responsibility is not only idiotic, it borders on farce usually reserved for the scripts of Monty Python. People are sick of it and they would rather pull the pin on the pineapple, chuck it into the political machine, hit the deck and allow a future generation to pick up the pieces.
We’ve reached a cynicism that is dangerous and leads us to elect leaders with a blatant disregard for rules or due process.
The next time someone asks, just leave your hat on because. hey, rules are only rules.