Taking your job as a city councillor seriously

I’ve been blogging for about ten years, now. I’ve always been opinionated (shocking, I know) and I’ve always followed politics to one degree or another, of a decade ago, I decided to dive in. At first, it was just a little personal site that no one ever really read, but, soon, I joined a group blog that received considerably more traffic.

I was well-versed in the political debating game. I knew the terms, the slang, the talking points, the arguments, the rhetoric, the preferred methods of attack, all of it. But when I started contributing to a relatively popular site, something changed.

It was on one of my very first post there. I was about to make some sort of factual declaration (“So-and-so said this”, “So-and-so believes that”, “The research says this”)…but just as I was about to write that–to write something I’d probably say off-hand in a conversation–I figured I should double-check.

And wouldn’t you know it, my memory or interpretation or understanding of the situation wasn’t accurate. Maybe it was close…maybe it was really close…but it wasn’t quite right, so I couldn’t quite make the argument I wanted to.

(This was on a fairly partisan website, so not every reader was happy with such nuance.)

Now, this is how I approach my writing and my blogging. I’ve been known to inundate my posts with hyperlinks (though, on this blog, sometimes I’m feeling lazy). When I write a column for the Sun, I do my research and I check quotes. I’ve made a couple mistakes here and there, but, generally, any declaration I’ve made, I’ve been able to back up.

Yes, the analysis, the opinion, the judgement applied to a situation will be subjective, but when it comes to facts and data, I want to be as accurate as possible. Their is a weight to participating in this sort of public forum. I take my role in it seriously.

And I believe our elected politicians should, too. Unfortunately, they do not. Too many think that city council is just their (and maybe their constituents’) personal grievance machine. They aren’t thoughtful. They aren’t prepared for council. They aren’t honest or straightforward. They aren’t taking their role seriously.

When you hear a city councillor questioning whether or not the Laurier Bike Lane has made the streets safer, he’s not taking his role seriously (there was a massive study done by the city to answer that question. The answer is yes.)

When you hear a city councillor suggesting that street lights will make other areas darker and more dangerous, she’s not taking her role seriously.

When you hear a city councillor suggesting road expansion will ease congestion, he’s not taking his job seriously. (It’s called “induced demand”, and you should be forced to look it up at least once before you vote on any road projects.)

When you hear the mayor suggest that drivers pay for roads because they pay for gas taxes, you know he’s not taking his role seriously.

When you hear a councillor claim he didn’t know about a city project, when he has been documented as a party to the discussions, he’s not taking his role seriously.

When our transit chair takes drives to a RedBlacks game, he’s not taking his role seriously.

When our public health chair hasn’t read any literature on safe injections sites, he’s not taking his role seriously.

These are just examples off the top of my head. Each one comes from a current member of city council. Each one helps demonstrate that many of our elected officials are not working in our best interest, but are cynically gaming the system for their own political gain.

They don’t deserve your respect. And they sure as hell don’t deserve your vote.

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