Editorial – Over to you, Mr. Waikle!

Chris Clegg

When High Prairie town council voted at its Feb. 22 meeting to turn down recording all its votes in the minutes for all to see, it was a slap in face to complete accountability and transparency.
Too bad the five members of council couldn’t see through the myriad of pathetic excuses they were making.
Voting to record all votes were councillors James Waikle and Donna Deynaka. Opposed were Mayor Brian Panasiuk, and councillors John Dunn, Sacha Martens, Judy Stenhouse and Therese Yacyshyn.
A simple question needs to be asked: why would any member of council not want as open and transparent government as possible?
Let’s examine the reasons cited.
Too much work for administration. Really? This is not advanced mathematics. Besides, who cares? Administration is paid to work for council. What council wants, council gets. If council honestly wanted recorded votes, it would have happened. Period! No excuse regarding how hard it would be for administration.
The lame excuse of all the extra paper it would take makes one laugh. Instead of recording a vote as “carried” write “carried unanimously”. No big deal. It the vote is split, write the names of those voting in favour and voting against. No chart needed. Council tried to make something simple sound difficult. It is not.
“They can just look at the video?”
So, it is way easier for council to ask a resident to watch two, three, four hours of video rather than recording votes in minutes where one can find it in a few moments. Sounds like council thinks it is better to inconvenience the taxpayer than its administration with a little extra work. How horrible is that?
Council needs to be reminded of the hierarchy of democracy. Administration works for council, while council works for the people, and administration and council work for the people. Not the other way around. Any way that any issue can be made easier for the people such as accessing votes is a good thing.
Or, as Waikle says, “Complete transparency. I think people should know how we’re voting and they [council] should be accountable.”
Knowing his motion was going to be defeated, Waikle also said, “You thoroughly thrashed me.”
It is ironic, however, that Waikle still holds the hammer. By law, there is nothing stopping him from asking for a recorded vote on every motion. If Waikle truly believes in his cause, he will ask for recorded votes on every motion at future meetings and the rest of council’s opinion be damned. It is the one of very few instances where the Municipal Government Act will override any policy or desire council wants.
Will Waikle stick to his guns? If he truly believes, deep in his heart, in recording all votes, he will act accordingly.
Over to you, Mr. Waikle!
The ball is clearly in your court!

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