Politics Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Energized Citizenry – Let’s Not Waste It

Joe Fontana could have displayed a duty of care to our community by stepping aside as Mayor after LFPress broke the story about the government cheque which is alleged to have been used in connection with a Marconi Club function.

Had he done so, in a timely fashion, it would have shown character and leadership.

But for whatever reason, he chose not to. And now that opportunity has been lost.

Even if the Mayor should now succumb to public pressure, it will simply be viewed as a capitulation.

Nevertheless, many members of the public have clearly demonstrated their desire that he do so. The issue has “engaged” citizens in a way that other efforts have failed to do.

There is a clear indication that some members of City Council have heard the public and are prepared to present a formal request to the Mayor this week. If that turns out to be the case, such request will be imbued with the credibility that the public has given it.

What concerns me the most is that the Mayor will refuse the request and that all those citizens who have become newly interested in local government will become disenchanted.

As has been pointed out often enough, there is no legal mechanism provided by the Municipal Act which will force the Mayor to step aside.

And that’s the point of this post.

Citizens need not simply pursue a dubious strategy of trying to convince the Mayor to change his mind. There’s another strategy which can also be pursued. One which holds more promise of being successful and of having even far more long-lasting positive effect.

What I’m suggesting is a concerted lobbying effort to convince all of our provincial political parties to agree to a strengthening of the Municipal Act.

What’s clear to me is that this situation would not exist, but for the failure of our political parties to allow it in the first place.

I am not simply pointing my finger at the current governing Liberal party. Conservatives and NDP have also held the reins of power in recent memory and could have closed the loophole and chose not to.

The timing for such political lobbying is perfect. The Liberals are currently having a leadership race. Following that, a provincial election will not be far off. Probably in the Spring.

The desire for change is palpable. Citizens are energized. That energy needs only be channeled in a more promising direction.

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