Jim Young declares: Because you will stand before them in 2018 and they will demand to know.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 28th, 2016



City council and the few that attend city council meetings along with the even fewer who watch what council does on the Cogeco live broadcast are in for a treat this evening.

Hearing a true democrat (note the small D) explain the rudiments of what it means to live in a democracy.

Jim Young will explain to members of city council (hopefully the staff will have their ears open as well) when he explains that:

Sometimes democracy frustrates us. Sometimes it completely fails us. Democracy is messy and unpredictable. But its inherent frustrations are still preferable to its failure.

Yes, it grinds ever so slowly through elections; committees; consultations, delegations, votes, amendments then back through the whole messy, frustrating process again.

Jim Young

Jim Young delegating.

And yes, those slow, tangled procedures can tempt us to short circuit the process in the name of speed in the name of efficiency to get the good works we have in mind into action.

The democratic processes of our city demand that qualified, talented professionals like the city staffs and managers, we are fortunate to have in Burlington, apply themselves to a certain vision of the city.

That they nurse that vision through the often tortuous process to council for approval and implementation, only to have someone like me, a citizens delegate, put a flea in council’s ear, a spoke in staff’s well-oiled wheel and force a review all of their efforts and the inevitable delay that brings.

Democracy is indeed frustrating and the temptation to limit those small interferences, those small interruptions is great.

Sometimes it may seem as if we delegates are the enemy of the process. That we somehow stand in the way of the great works and plans you all have in mind for the city.


Marianne Meed Ward delegating.

But that begs the question, for whom are these great works and plans intended? Are they for the benefit of council? I prefer to believe council is bigger, nobler and above that self-interest. Are they for the benefit of Staff, I think not, indeed with all due respect many very dedicated staff members are citizens of other municipalities and even then their professionalism puts them above that.

No, the big plans and great works are for the citizens, those very same people who come here to delegate to advise council, to say please consider me, my family and my neighbours when you contemplate these great plans and great works for the future of my city, the future of our city.

We live in a time when even the best efforts and endeavors of all levels of government are looked upon as “elitist”; are perceived to serve special interest groups and appear to ignore Jane/Joe Public until election time rolls around.

Vanessa Warren

Vanessa Warren delegating.

Limiting the input of citizens only feeds that perception, gives voice to the unreasonable because the reasonable voices feel stifled, limited, ignored.

We live in a time when the Rob Fords and Donald Trumps of this world lend false voice to the anger and frustration of those ignored and overlooked voters. Those brash populist voices, who defying common sense and reason somehow hold sway over electorates.

Not with wisdom, not with policy, not with vision but with the false promise that they will listen while whispering that the “Elitist, Mainstream Incumbents will not”.

When those voices hold sway, democracy fails us.

I urge council: Do not open that door to those small minds and loud voices.

We live in a city rated the best place to live in Canada, the best country in the world. That makes Burlington truly special. That enviable place in the world has been was achieved not just by the excellence of our city staffs, the guidance of dedicated councilors, of every political stripe, but also by a citizenry who love their city and who have participated in its plans and success over many years.

Our 25 year strategic plan very boldly calls for a city that engages its people, I urge council not to let that ambitious goal be tripped up at this, its first hurdle.

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.


Monte Dennis delegating.

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.

Your constituents will thank you for it. Burlington will thank you for it.

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