Delegator, Jim Thompson blasts Council for what he saw as a patronizing introduction

By Pepper Parr

June 10th, 2022



Every once in a while a delegation stands before council and says what many people feel.

Jim Thompson, who has delegated frequently in the past couple of months, usually on the LaSalle Park Marina, was ready to speak..

“Welcome Jim”, said Chair Galbraith, “I think you know the drill you will have 10 minutes whenever you’re ready.”

Before starting Thompson said:

Jim Thomson blasting Council at the start of his delegation earlier this week

Okay, I’m ready. Okay, first thing I want to say is that I find that your opening remarks are patronizing. If I don’t get any questions here, it doesn’t mean that the council understood me perfectly clearly.

It just means you don’t want to ask questions or engage. So with that, can I have the next slide please?

And Thompson got on with the delegation

That is not what Council was expecting.

Thompson did get a couple of questions from Councillor Sharman.

And he also got a look from Chair of the meeting, ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith – if looks could kill – Thompson was dead.

And Thompson was not wrong –  too often Councillors sit mute and don’t engage delegations. That statement – “If there are no questions it just means that you have provided clear comments that don’t require clarification” is read out at every meeting when there are delegations. Many delegations find it offensive.  Councillors might think in terms of asking for a rewrite of what they are required to read out.

It sounds like something that was prepared for the Chair of a meeting by the city’s Communications department

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5 comments to Delegator, Jim Thompson blasts Council for what he saw as a patronizing introduction

  • FWIW, I’ll add that it’s a messed up world where councillors refer to delegates by first names, but residents are expected to address councillors by title. Unless Councillor Galbraith is willing to be referred to as ‘Kelvin’ by the public, he and his colleagues should give the public the courtesy of a ‘Mr/Ms’. Yes, even if they know the delegate and are on first name terms outside the council chamber.

    And sure, that can make it sound like councillors have a pickle up their bum, which is why they prefer to use first names. I get that. So either dispense with all the ‘Councillor X, through the chair’ nonsense and let informality be the rule for everybody, or treat everybody with the same level of respect that the elected people in the room demand.

    They work for us, and I’m damned if I know why we’re still expected to doff our caps to them like we’re a bunch of serfs in the presence of the king.

    End rant.

  • Joe Gaetan

    There are times when silence is not golden. When someone has taken the time to research and then to delegate on a subject, this may not be the time to invoke such nonsense. Not having any questions can be interpreted and can mean many things, like, I have no interest in your delegation, or perhaps, I know all I need to know lets get on with it etc. In terms of engagement this approach to not answering questions gets a 2.4675 out of a possible 10.

  • Penny Hersh

    Jim, I totally agree with you. The ward system and the inability of councillors to engage each other on issues in their wards ends up hurting all of Burlington.

    Some municipalities operate differently. The successful candidates don’t run as ward representatives. After the election the work of the city is divided up for each of them. They then work together to represent all the residents of the city.

    What a novel idea.

  • Marshall

    Might suggest that we still don’t know whether the city is run by Council or by staff.

  • Jim Thomson

    I’ve only delegated on LaSalle Park. During the last election I asked all of the Candidates in Ward 1and many of the candidates in other wards what their position on the wavebreak and the Trumpeter Swans was. Councillor Bentivenga surprised me as he had a well though out position. He had been attending committee and council meetings and he said he had recommended to a friend that he should delegate on the Marina. When I asked him why he didn’t delegate himself his reply was that he had his issues and he didn’t want to be the guy that delegates on everything.
    Part of the problem is the ward system. LaSalle Park is considered a Ward 1 problem so its expected that the Ward 1 Councillor deals with it. I can understand the point of view. It’s unrealistic to expect the Councillor for say Ward 4 to be up on the details of LaSalle Park when there are pressing issues in her Ward.
    That’s also the fault of the Code of Good Governance. Councillors aren’t supposed to engage on issues in other wards.