Editorial – A+ for Waikle

Chris Clegg

Someone out there in Voterland wants 100 per cent disclosure from council.
It’s about time!
Newly-elected Town of High Prairie Councillor James Waikle has started the ball rolling on a policy change which will see council record all of its votes for the public to see.
Current policy records motions passed or denied but does not record each vote unless a recorded vote is asked for by a member of council. At any time, a council member can ask for a recorded vote, which must be done according to law.
The question is, why does any council not record all its votes for the public to see?
In bringing forth the idea at council’s Oct. 26 meeting, Waikle admitted it might be a bit of a “pain” for administration to record the votes. To that suggestion we say so what.
CAO Rod Risling responded by saying council would have to change its procedural bylaw. He added the decision is up to council and that, if passed, administration “would get used to it”.
Recording each vote for the public to see only makes sense if any municipality wants complete transparency and accountability. At any time, any constituent should be able to know how his/her elected official has voted on every issue. To suggest otherwise is incredibly stupid yet many of the local councils in this region do not record every vote. Why?
This is not difficult. If the motion passes unanimously, record the motion as passed unanimously. No need to list the votes. If not, record each voting in favour and against. Any municipality not doing so is only taking the easy way out which has become all too common. It is not only doing a disservice to the constituents it is downright lazy.
Elected officials are always beating the drum about being transparent and accountable. Yet, far too many sit in their chairs and forget about being as transparent as possible. Many approve past minutes at meetings knowing full well there is not complete transparency, contrary to what they tell people, especially during election campaigns. Why this occurs is anyone’s guess.
Waikle has brought forth the issue. This newspaper has called for this action in the past but the plea has fallen on deaf ears.
Every municipality should adopt Waikle’s suggestion. In fact, Alberta Municipal Affairs should mandate every vote be recorded. You would have to ask your MLA why this isn’t so.
There is no need to hide how every elected official votes. Doing so smacks in the face of true democracy. Government is supposed to work for the people, not against it.
Waikle’s idea will be put into a motion at a future meeting for a vote. People will see very soon how transparent and accountable the new High Prairie town council wants to be.
There is no need for elected officials to hide behind a vote. They are elected to make decisions and all votes should all be public.
Other municipalities should follow Waikle’s lead. The people can only hope.

Share this post