Editorial – Councillors feel citizen pressure

Jeff Burgar

There are tests for many occupations. Lots and lots of tests to be a working doctor, lawyer, engineer, nurse or any professional. Restaurant operators have to pass food handling courses and earn the trust of a watchful banker. Mechanics, plumbers and electricians, welders, educators and many more need certificates.
So why do we let politicians get away without producing proof of some kind of knowledge they bring to the job?
It’s a well-known fact that when a learning session or seminar comes up to help politicians become better at governing, those most needing training never show up. One can assume many people in office, especially places like towns, cities, counties and municipal districts have heard of George Cuff. Cuff has written several small books, and many, many magazine articles on local governance.
In one of his books, Cuff tells newly-elected councillors, and we paraphrase here: “Don’t let it go to your head. Just because you won, does not mean you are suddenly smarter than the guy or girl who lost. Or smarter than the person on the street. You have lots of learning ahead of you.”
But, many new councillors think they are now indeed smarter than the rest of us. One can also name many long-term councillors, and even a few reeves and mayors across the land, who also think that way.
We can name two mayors who never went to Emergency courses. Both did not know what the purpose of the Local Emergencies Act is. When faced with a decision to declare the Act in effect, didn’t do so. Their reason? “Didn’t want to panic people.”
Is that smarter than the average person on the street? Out of interest, ask your own friendly local councillor what is the main reason for the Act.
On the same vein, one has to wonder exactly how politicians in one of our local communities can hire a new town manager, a CAO, without checking a reference. That appeared to happen in High Prairie the past month.
Job applications were accepted. At least one candidate was offered the job. It was declined. The people hiring went back to the stack. Picked one. Made an offer. Offer accepted. Four councillors patted themselves on the back for a job well done. Three other councillors were outraged enough over what they saw as sloppy procedure and political gaming. They voted to kibosh the job offer.
Sloppy procedure? Yes!
Political gaming? Yes!
Just how bad is unknown, but details of secret meetings and bad practices keep leaking out. Finally, under great citizen pressure, all four “smarter than the average person” councillors backtracked. They voted with the dissenters, making it unanimous, to cancel the hiring. More details on this can be found at southpeacenews.com.
One takeaway from this for sure: Most politicians work hard and try their very best. But a very few should not be in office. Or they should learn councillor roles and responsibilities. Simple right and wrongs. Ethics. Basically, how to do their job properly.
Not muddling through and failing taxpayers.

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