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Letters to the editor

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Democracy and doublethink

Re: Want to be a city councillor? (Oct. 28)

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In his book, 1984, George Orwell used the term, doublethink, about attempts to get people to accept two mutually contradictory beliefs. I wonder if we are seeing doublethink with council’s last-minute change in the process to replace former councillor Rick Weaver.

Several councillors talked about “representative democracy.” We are told they have the power to pick whichever process they want. It might apply –if council worked in a democratic way.

I am reminded of a conversation with a mayor from New Zealand who said councillors can work equally and independently representing residents or they can act like a private club. Introducing a motion 55 minutes before a council meeting to the surprise of some and with the knowledge of others shows behaviour much like a club. The actions of seven suggest they are in the club, while three councillors are not. As such, the claim of representative democracy is challengeable by the simple fact that three councillors had no prior notice of this controversial motion.

From observation, the club seems to share some attributes:

• It is driven by right-wing ideology. It is dismantling sports like tennis, lawn bowling and golf and investing little in art and culture. The KPMG report, used to justify many decisions, is ideologically focused on selling assets and reducing services;

• It sets its own agenda, sometimes with few obvious links to the needs of residents or approved official city policy;

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• And it sets its own rules. Publicly released information showed official city business was conducted on private emails of the mayor and two councillors about selling Arrowdale golf course. I asked a mayor in a different city if using private emails for public business was acceptable. His response: “No way”.

Part of my professional background includes studying how executive teams solve problems and make decisions. Club behaviour involves an “inner group” and “outer group.” Those on the outside know this for a fact; those on the inside deny that any such club exists.

The city is gaining many new residents from larger cities who have a broader view of city administration. They want accountability, communication and innovative decisions. It’s hard for a club to deliver results as too many people become alienated and disengage.

Ed Bernacki
Brantford

Glad for Gladu

I’m glad for Marilyn Gladu — the MP, that is — who is not afraid to bring up vaccination concerns that have been raised by her constituents. Some say that, with her statements, she is undermining the party’s image in the public eye. Well, in my opinion, the party does not have much of an image and has already blown up because of Erin O’Toole’s lack of stewardship.

Conservatism is about questioning the status quo and sometimes taking positions that are not popular with many. Being Liberal lite will not get one elected, as already seen in the last election. One just has to look south of the border, where governor-elect Glenn Youngkin in Virginia ran on conservative issues and values by not being afraid to take that stand.

The first thing the Conservatives should do is hold a leadership review and, then, if they are wise, boot O’Toole, otherwise they will remain in the opposition benches for years to come.

Stephen Flanagan,
Ottawa

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