Volume 1 Number 32
14 August 2011
Chalk One Up For Democracy
In my Commentary 31 of August 7th, (called Mayor John Close’s Tyranny-of-the-Majority), I indicated that Mayor Close was attempting to shut out debate of bylaws by removing a councillor’s right to send a by-law to committee for debate.
I called the attempt tyrannical, and urged honest members of council to oppose it.
I took one look at the ways Mayor Close and CAO Cook had in just a few months replaced the agenda of the people with their own agenda – giving the Sauble Chamber $60,000 of taxpayers money, waiving most of the Dynamic Beach By-law for the pleasure of the Chamber, making Chamber events exempt from the noise by-law, flouting the liquor control laws for Chamber events, and much more.
And to be very candid I did not hold out much hope that the honest ones could stop the Cook/Close siege on democracy.
But I must confess that I seriously underestimated not only the come-from-behind rallying power of council members, but also their resolve to do what’s right for the citizens of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula.
In the August 9 COW meeting Councillor Janice Jackson led the charge, with an impassioned speech about how the “send-it-for-debate” rule and the debate itself are so critical to council making decisions that are in the public interest.
Then Councillors Jackson, Bowman, Thomas, McKenzie, and Standen forcefully argued the “send-it-for-debate” position, skillfully debating, and deftly countering all opposition from the fast-shrinking “tyranny-of-the-majority” gang. CouncillorsKirklandand Klages seemed to have some reservations, but were at least very open-minded about it.
And in the end council defeated the motion that would have removed a councillor’s right to send a by-law for debate. And to top it off Councillor Bowman introduced a motion to revise the wording of rule A14.6 so that it will be absolutely crystal clear that “if after first and second reading of a by-law any councillor asks that a bylaw go to COW for debate, then it shall [voice of determination] go for debate (but not repeatedly)”.
Kudo’s to council.