Public participation counters ‘put up and shut up’ democracy in Chelsea, Quebec


by admin on February 23, 2011

The Editor,

Re “Democracy runs second in Chelsea” (Low Down, Feb. 16 edition):

Andre Renaud (ex-mayor of Chelsea, Quebec) would have your readers believe that the people of Chelsea are like lobsters in the trap: we’re stuck . . . no way out . . . don’t bother struggling, etc.

Actually, I am encouraged that other private citizens are willing to devote their unpaid time, energy, and thoughtfulness to issues that affect the whole municipality. Their participation is an admirable counterpoint to the old-school “put up and shut up” style of democracy Mr. Renaud seems to favour.

Unlike developers, consultants, and engineers, these contributors to the political dialogue have nothing to gain personally from their recommendations, except perhaps a clearer conscience. How many people would vote for the $10-million Monolith Centre now, given the can of worms it has opened? We will never know with this council at the reins.

Yet ex-mayor Renaud does raise an interesting point: maybe it’s time to delve back into the past five or six years’ history of Chelsea politics to better understand how the Chelsea council was handed the current mess, and why they feel irrevocably compelled to continue it.

Could be a great feature in another Low Down!
Peter MacGibbon

Chelsea, Quebec