Burlington may have the wittiest Council in Ontario.

By Blair Smith

May 19th, 2023


My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.…
                         (Hamlet, Act-2, Scene-2, lines 86–92)

Well, to be a bit of a wag about it, judging from the Council meeting of May 16th, Burlington may have the wittiest Council in Ontario.

The actual business part of the meeting lasted less than an hour and the end was greeted with great good cheer by all those around the horseshoe table – and that was everyone except the absent Shawna Stolte. She is becoming more like Ophelia every day.

During this very brief but apparently extremely productive time:

• 3 items were approved from the May 2nd Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee
• 9 items were approved from the May 3rd, Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee
• 5 items were approved from the May 4th Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services Committee
• Burlington Council’s support to the AMO proposed Legislative Amendments to Improve Municipal Codes of Conduct and Enforcement (keep our Councillors safe please) was approved, and
• 3 by-laws were approved

City Council moved to a virtual mode during the pandemic and has decided to continue doing virtual meetings which has changed the tone of Council meetings and significantly reduced the number of delegations made.

And all this was done with no debate, no delegations, no questions, virtually no comment and in total unanimity.

Does this not speak volumes of the total alignment of our representatives, how all wards (with some jostling around the space currently allocated to ward 2) have lined up in happy unison answering the municipal muster?

Or is it more a reflection of the rather disappointing fact that all these items were put on the Consent Agenda and none were considered complex or uncertain enough to deserve further discussion?

The types of items that generally appear on the Consent Agenda are non-controversial or routine items that are discussed at every meeting. They can also be items that have been previously discussed at length where there is group consensus. However, to have twenty substantive items marshalled into Consent is highly unusual. It also has the effect of ensuring that there is no further public debate. Matters on the Consent Agenda do not generate or invite delegations.

This may come back to haunt Council if any of these items – so summarily swept into the “done” margin – come back, as several surely will, to suggest that due diligence was not performed.

The ability to communicate with not only the people in her ward when she was Councillor forward ward 2 but with almost everyone in the city made it possible for Marianne Meed Ward to become Mayor. That capacity to communicate so effectively no longer seems to be there.

I imagine that the response from Council will be something to the effect that “all the discussion was done at the Standing Committee level so there was no need for further debate”. But I think that this is misguided.

When it comes to public policy, more open conversation is always better. Particularly, when the subjects include such things as the proposed changes to the Jo Brant Board of Directors (where there is clearly a difference of viewpoint between the Mayor and Councillor Kearns), very expensive sole source purchases or the status of the LaSalle Park negotiations.

Brevity may, indeed, be “the soul of wit” but the absence of complete and open dialogue is most certainly the ‘enemy of an informed public’.

Related news story:

How Council decided it wanted to work with the hospital after it no longer had a seat on the Board

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3 comments to Burlington may have the wittiest Council in Ontario.

  • Shawna Stolte

    I want to thank everyone for their kind and generous support during my 6 week, health related Leave of Absence. I’m back in action and healthier than ever.

    • Blair Smith

      Good to hear. Unfortunate that you had to miss so much that would have been of material interest to your constituents. Hope to see a fiery return.

  • Joe Gaetan

    Will the “Fab 7” be virtual or zoom campaining in 2026 ? I bet not, same with showing up for photo ops. Any bets one or more of them will be at The Freeman Station on May 20.