Best words heard and reported on in 2016 - keep them in mind in October of 2018

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2017



One of the reasons we do what we do at the Gazette is to record what happens in the city. That doesn’t always result in our making a lot of friends – that isn’t our job.

At times it is tiring – Burlington has been poorly served by media in the past ten years – it doesn’t have a radio station, the one local television station tends to focus on Hamilton – its home base.  While there was a time when print was very evident in Burlington- that is not the case today.

In the five years plus we have been publishing, first as Our Burlington, then we re-branded and now use the name Gazette, we have listened to hundreds of citizens delegate to their city Councillor’s

News is news – at times it is fun to publish; on other occasions it is disappointing to report on what city council has decided to do or what an agency decides to do.

But there are times when ordinary people who care, who are passionate and have no self interest in what they are saying or writing comes to the attention of the public.

It was our pleasure to write about and report on what Tom Muir and Jim Young had to say during a debate on the amount of time citizens would be permitted to speak when addressing city council.  Their words were, without a doubt to this writer, the wisest words heard in the council chamber during 2016.  Something we could all be very proud of.

My colleague, Joan Little at the Spectator, described Tom Muir as “acerbic”. That would be about right.  Tom does his research and as he said in his delegation – he has been doing this for more than 20 years.

The issue before council was a motion to reduce the amount of time a citizen could spend delegating before a standing committee be reduced from 10 minutes to five minutes.

In November 2016  Muir said the following:

Muir making a point

Tom Muir: Acerbic for sure but still one of the best delegators the city has.

“I would hope that Council votes in favor of the 10 minutes unanimously, as a show of good faith. I will say that a vote to reduce to 5 minutes is something I see as an insult to citizens and their possible contribution to what we do as a city – our city.”

“Further, if Councillors still want to vote down the 10 minutes, I say this. If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit. I mean that, and will not forget how this vote goes tonight. “

“This Council is not your Council; it is the people’s Council.

“And these Council Chambers are not your Chambers, but are equally, the people’s Chambers. All the Councillors and Councils hold these offices and chambers in trust.

“So to vote to reduce the people’s time to speak in these chambers is to fail in that trust, in my opinion.

I ask therefore; herein fail not.”

No doubt what Muir was saying.

Jim Young, a man with a delightful Scottish brogue made his point very clearly. Jim was a little more philosophical but his words were no less pointed.

Jim Young

Jim Young – delegating to city council.

“When you deny constituents the reasonable opportunity to advise you during council term at meetings such as this, you leave them no other option but to voice their frustrations through the ballot box at election time.

Look at recent election results, where voters vented their frustration at the perception that politicians are not listening, do not provide the opportunity for citizens to be heard, a perception that has given voice to the Fords, the Trumps and the Brexiteers who, bereft of policy or vision or even civil discourse, at least pretend to listen, pretend they will be the voice of the people.

Then proceed to undo all the good that has been done, the community that has been built by that slow and frustrating democratic process.

So far this delegation has taken about 5 minutes, and with more to say, I hope you can understand how limiting 5 minutes can be.

I will finish by challenging each of you who wish to limit the participation of citizens in the affairs of our city:

Will you please explain to this gathering tonight how limiting delegations to 5 minutes is good for our democracy, good for our city?

Will you then publish that explanation in your Newsletter for all your constituents to see and to judge for themselves?

Will you stand at your regular town hall gatherings and tell the people of your wards why you want to silence their voice?

Because you will stand before them in 2018 and they will demand to know.

If you cannot, in conscience, address your constituents on this issue, then you have accept an amendment to rescind that decision and restore the full 10 minute allotment for citizen delegations, or better still do the right thing and propose such an amendment yourself.

The opportunity to listen to these two men and then report on what they had to say made all the trials and tribulations of the past few years’ worth every minute of it all.

Craven with gavel and papers

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven

Council voted 6-1 to maintain the 10 minute time allocation for delegations at Standing Committees. Councillor Craven was opposed.

The motion to limit the time to be available came out of a committee made up of Councillors Craven, Taylor and Lancaster. Craven is what he is; Lancaster doesn’t know any better, Taylor should be ashamed.

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7 comments to Best words heard and reported on in 2016 – keep them in mind in October of 2018

  • Centerline

    I think Councillor Craven’s 10 minutes are up, or would that be five minutes? Time to kick some of the long term Councillors to the curb.

    • Phillip

      Craven, Dennison, Sharman, and Goldring all believe in “top-down” leadership which has created a huge disconnect between their policies and the needs of local residents/taxpayers who have been marginalized by them. In part, the last municipal election which gave this group huge majorities is seen by them as being a validation of their leadership styles and policies. However, this view is wrong; the last election didn’t feature any meaningful candidacies to oppose them so the election results should be viewed for what they are–a mile wide and an inch deep. Lancaster is a non-entity. Possibly the only councillor worth saving is Meed-Ward who does make some effort to engage the residents of her ward (having said that, I am troubled by her sell-out of the residents of south Burlington in the New Street Fiasco). Conclusion: it’s time to “drain the swamp” in November, 2018.

  • Brian Jones

    The Gazette covers Burlington quite well. Otherwise the residents would not know the happenings within.
    nice to see
    also nice to see the 10 minute time to delegate is upheld. Ridiculous to reduce to 5 with the many controversies looming ahead

  • Joe Gaetan

    One councilor referred to the Gazette as a rag,Pepper must have hit a deeply seated nerve.Best of 2017

  • Hans

    Glenda D said exactly what I was thinking.
    I am also very grateful to Joan Little.

  • Joe

    I completely agree. Thank you all.

  • Glenda D

    Great post….thank God Burlington has men like Tom Muir, Jim Young and most of all for Pepper Par and the Burlington Gazette. I for one appreciate all that is done on our behalf. Thank you.