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RANT: If you can't stand by it two weeks from now, shut up

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
November 4th, 2015

When the city passed a new bylaw that said a motion without a seconder would not be reported, I was prepared to write in opposition to same.

If it happened, record it. Period.

Right?

My problem with it was this: you may have a voice of dissent on council. That may not be comfortable for you, but your comfort level is not my problem, nor that of any resident. That dissenting voice was duly elected, and you have no right to silence them, it’s anti-democratic. I don’t have to like or dislike them – but I surely DO want to hear from them, as is right and proper in a democratic system.

The truth is, despite Facebook posts to the contrary, this bylaw doesn’t silence anyone.

 I asked about a dozen people (several of them from other communities with similar bylaws) why this made sense to them, and they turned me around on it.

If any dissenting member of council has something they want to put forward, they can totally do so, by way of a Notice of Motion. In fact, ANY member of council can do this. That notice comes at a public council meeting and cannot be refused as part of the public record. There is no gag order at work here, there is no silencing happening.

The important part is, a Notice of Motion gives the other councillors two weeks (or until the next meeting) to consider what is on offer before they respond.

But it HAS to be recorded. No councillor can be silenced. No bylaw can stop that – it’s provincial law.

What we are talking about, here, is not silencing any particular person, but rather spur-of-the-moment motions put forward with no notice, essentially blindsiding sitting councillors and giving them six or seven seconds, with no facts or information to support any position, be it pro or con, and then holding them publically accountable for the decisions they make in response.

I think that’s sleazy as all giddy-up, and so should you.

Make a Notice of Motion – no one can stop you – and let them think on it for a couple of days, no?

If you have something to put forward, and you don’t think it can bear the scrutiny of six people for two weeks … why in God’s name would you want put it forward at all? That’s lazy, selfish governance, not to mention bad politics.

It’s weak and shameful to take emotive issues, blindside people with them, and then reap the political rewards when others don’t know how to respond with only a second’s notice. It’s also a politically successful tactic, as we’ve seen too often during election cycles.

God forbid we should make it a part of actual governance.

I applaud the City of Castlegar for declining to allow that nonsense here.

By all means, take a stand in opposition. Do it proud, do it loud.

But Castlegar demands you do it with integrity, and they have my support in this.

If you have something of value to say, it will have value two weeks from now. If the only way it has value is to blindside people with it, then I don’t think it has value at all, and has no place in the public record. It’s a double-edged sword, in that old-guard councillors are held to the same standard – you don’t throw a hot political potato in their lap, and they can’t do it to you, either.

This bylaw is a demand for sane, rational, and informed conversation. No more, no less.

Its detractors have a political agenda beyond that to which they are willing to speak. Which is the very baseline of anti-democratic action.

If you have to blindside someone to make your point, your point has no merit.

Period.

 

Categories: GeneralPolitics

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