Editorial: What Kind of City Do You Want?

Editorial: What Kind of City Do You Want?



Arthur Topham
QC Sentinel

November 18, 2011

Well, basically, it's all over except for the crying, the laughter, the joy and the disappointment that inevitably result whenever the citizens have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote for those who will, afterwards, rule the roost so to speak.

It's been for many, if not all the candidates in this municipal race, a grueling and demanding marathon where their time and their energy has been maxed out to the limits of endurance.

As one of the contestants for council, Mitchell Vik, so aptly put it last evening when I caught him racing out of his K-MAX video store to attend yet another evening event, "There's no rest for wicked you know...."

And so it ought to be for those who wish to gain the public's trust during these times of economic and political travail when all about us we are inundated with the growing realization that so many of our institutions and levels of government are proving themselves to be shams and pretenses rather than solid, dependable bulwarks of democracy and freedom.

I think that Jon Ferry in his "MetroNews" column in the Province newspaper has been hammering this point home since the last Union of B.C. Municipalities conference when he first began writing about the spending habits of local municipal governments, revealing how the vast majority of them are taking such undue license with the taxpayer's pocket books in order to spend their way to prosperity during a period where the economic fabric of not only the province and the nation but the world itself, is in such disarray that it appears to be unravelling before out disbelieving eyes with each passing day.

Those politicians who would rather indenture their cities and their taxpaying citizens to the bankers than face the realities of the times are, I suggest, not the ones who we need at the helm of our civic ships of state as we attempt to sail on through these trying, tempestuous waters we're now in the midst of. We need men and women of foresight and practicality; leaders who understand that not everyone has the ability to always pay, pay, pay for whatever little or big "service" that the Mayor and Council may deem of importance to the city.

We need people in all levels of government who have a firm grasp of the political realities of the day and who will, when required, have the intestinal fortitude to admit when they have either overstepped the bounds of common sense or, should they realize and understand that previous decisions of council, taken during brighter periods of economic stability, are now no longer tenable or advisable, have the courage to speak up and do their best to alter the city's course for the betterment and security of all its members.

But... (and there's always a 'but' when it comes to the process we call democracy) we cannot, and should not, ever take for granted that the political leaders themselves are the sole recipients of the power that we, the people, bestow upon them every three years. While it may be comforting to think that we can download our personal responsibilities on to those we elect to lead us and then, should they not meet our expectations, rise up in indignation and outrage there is another component of the process that must be stressed again and again. That is the responsibility of all capable members of a community to fulfill their duty first and foremost and that means exercising their responsibility to get out of their armchairs and VOTE!

While it its the duty of the media to try and present as much information on the issues as possible and while it is the duty of those who wish to represent their fellow citizens to be honest and forthright in their campaign promises, the ultimate duty rests on the voters to do their due diligence and show up at the voting booth.

The next three years for Quesnel are in all likelihood going to be more of the same when it comes to facing the critical problems that municipalities everywhere are being challenged to address: deteriorating infrastructure; faltering and undependable sources of revenue, be they corporate or those often coming from provincial and federal sources; the growing disparity between the rich and the impoverished as now witnessed by the recent "Occupy Movement" throughout the world; diminishing finite resources; the cancerous growth and systemic dangers posed by government bureaucracy that tends to increase with each passing year and make decision making at all levels more onerous, dictatorial, frustrating and complex; environmental challenges that tax both our individual and collective survival yet never seem to addressed and resolved; and on and on.

How we deal with these concerns depends upon how seriously we take them and our hard-earned franchise and whether or not we are willing to get off our collective ass and show up at the polling stations to register our personal mandates for resolution to these demanding issues. The ball is now in the court of the people. May the best people for the job be successful and good luck to all who have had the willingness to offer themselves for civic duty. Saturday, November 19th is the day. And as the button above states: Get out and Vote!