Democracy is a two-way street

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by admin on April 28, 2011

The Editor,

For the most part, I agree with Ed Hanrahan’s letter, “Dissent an integral part of the democratic process” (Low Down online, April 20 edition). However, I fail to see the link between the eight elements of democracy and the safe assertion “that many of the people criticizing council fail to be democratic citizens.”

The elements to which he refers do not include the other side of the coin, which is the fiduciary responsibilities of council, and the duty council has to provide good stewardship of, among other things, the environment.

In a democracy, elected officials should be open and transparent in their decision-making.  After all, they are making decisions on our behalf. This is hardly the case with this council, the bulk of whose decisions are made behind closed doors.

Governments should obtain the consent of the governed, and citizens have rights to participate meaningfully in public decision-making. This is hardly the case with this council, who have been shown not to listen to dissent if it goes against their personal agenda, e.g., the Meredith Centre.

Governments should involve the public in order to make choices that reflect public values. This principle is not met, unless there are meaningful consultations and unless council actually listens to what citizens say and reflect citizens’ values in their decision-making.

Our elected officials are required to be open and fair in their dealings with their citizens, hardly the case in council’s dealings with Robert Chaffers. Mr. Chaffers was booted from the municipal planning committee as a result of “serious allegations,” allegations that were never disclosed, not even to Mr. Chaffers himself. Sound familiar?

In my opinion, in terms of democratic process, our council fails on most accounts.

 

Jim Wright

Chelsea, Quebec

avatar Agreeing Citizen April 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Jim you have hit it right on – the fact that Chelsea council says it cannot disclose anything to the public that was agreed in an in camera meeting means that nothing has to be disclosed to the Citizens. Also contracts those awarding contracts do not have to discuss the process either, so its a closed shop in Chelsea, pretty sad state of affairs.

avatar Concerned resident April 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I agree with Jim Wright and the other contributor. Mayor Green and councillors have shown no interest in engaging with residents in an honest, transparent or meaningful way. They have shown a very “us” vs “them” attitude in their way of governance – rather than listening to the residents of Chelsea, they strive only to push through their own agenda.
It is very sad for all of us who cherish Chelsea to see Mayor Green and all the councillors so willing to change it into just another suburb. Shame.

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