Approximately two years ago, a majority of members of the NG Municipal Council signed and published a letter in the NG Times. Its general tone was rightly taken by the community to be an overbearing attack on the right of the citizen to freely express his or her opinions on the conduct of any aspect of municipal government affairs. I am sure that NG residents remember that letter as being an important issue in the last municipal election.
Fast forward to the present: in last week’s paper, Michael Whittaker, a municipal committee member, went on the attack against citizen and, I presume, taxpayer Craig Stevenson’s article in the Times of a few weeks ago. Apparently, Mr. Stevenson showed great “temerity” in daring to comment on the “specific roles of newly formed advisory committees”. He was “pretentious” and showed “arrogance” in his comments. Mr. Whittaker further says: “One would think he believes the municipal government of North Grenville is incapable of making rational, intelligent decisions in the selection of a competent board for the Kemptville campus.”
Dear, oh dear. Imagine that. A citizen, and probably a taxpayer, having the… well, the utter temerity to have questions and concerns. A taxpayer who arrogantly refuses to march to the tune called by the municipal council and its various official committee members. My goodness! What kind of a fellow can that Mr. Stevenson be?
Well, let me describe him for you. He is, apparently, a citizen who, by all accounts, is paying attention. Furthermore, he has the courage to bring his concerns to the public arena. He is willing to donate a few minutes of his time to the community by way of shining the light of his thinking on public matters of concern to all. Well done, I say!
I believe that, whether I agree with him or not, we should thank Mr. Stevenson for taking the time to ask his questions and express his concerns. He surely does not deserve to be hammered into quiescent submission by a representative of the municipal government. Were I still a member of municipal Council, I would certainly have contacted Mr. Stevenson by now to begin answering his concerns. I guess that’s not Mr. Whittaker’s style.
A final question: is Mr. Whittaker’s style of dealing with citizen questions the style of our Mayor? Our Councillors? If not, maybe a little note from the Mayor to all members of Council, committees and boards explaining that THEY are the Servants of the public. Not the other way round. Let’s not have a third letter to the public to insult and browbeat them when they are exercising their right to question and to comment!