The NG Times Newspaper

submitted by Jim Bertram

The great 19th century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, is quoted as having said the following with respect to political practice: “I repeat…that all power is a trust … that we are accountable for its exercise…that, from the people and for the people all springs.”

Disraeli’s comment and similar comments by great and thoughtful leaders are important to consider in a country which assumes itself to be a democracy based on honouring the rights of its citizens, as opposed to leaving citizens at the mercy of the opportunistic and cynical sharks who so often ply the seas of politics.

Disraeli’s idea isn’t a new one. And it may not be the most eloquently said. But it reminds me of a comment our MPP made last year which was quoted in an N.G. Times article.

In the article, MPP Clarke is quoted as having responded to a question about the right of North Grenville residents to be consulted before a provincial government decision was taken to build a large new correctional facility in Kemptville.

Clarke’s answer was abrupt and to the point. He stated bluntly that the province was alone in having the power to decide this issue. And quite recently, our Mayor, Ms. Peckford seems to have spoken for all of NG Council when she repeated Mr. Clarke’s words on the subject of provincial power, word for word. Yes. That’s right. Just the province has anything to say about the issue.

I guess neither Clarke nor Peckford are familiar either with Disraeli or the finer points of democratic decision-making.

At this time, both the province and Council are making mumbling and unhappy sounds about responding to some issues which I brought up vigorously (some poor souls would say ‘rudely’) in a series of seven articles which the N.G. Times published between August and November of 2020.

The province has, for example, uttered words to the effect that they will provide funds for additional policing requirements following construction of the jail. Of course, the definition of additional requirements will be provided by… yeah- you guessed it! The province!

Additional words have been uttered to the effect that additional funds will be allocated for additions to the drinking and waste water systems made necessary by the addition of a prison to Kemptville’s water infrastructure. T

own dwellers should really be paying attention here. The definition of what constitutes additional requirements here will also be defined by… hey, you guys are good. Right on. Yes . THE PROVINCE. See a pattern here?

And what says the Mayor? She repeats the provincial wordplay which will not be put to the test for a few years. And who will remember then? She says the province has the right to build this prison. And I have seen not a single challenge of that power, right or prerogative from our Mayor or Council from August 2020 to now.

I have seen nothing from Council that betrays the slightest desire to stand for and represent the rights of our NG citizens. Not even a hint of reaction to the casually brutal and callous treatment of our citizens’ and Council’s right to be consulted on such a momentous issue.

Fellow residents, power does NOT confer or constitute right. The judicious and wise power of a democracy is not expressed in the tense and terse manner in which Mr. Clarke has brandished his “power”- his “sole power” – as a club to beat down fair and reasonable concerns of people who love their community and, to use one of the Mayor’s favourite terms, ‘care’ for each other.

At the end of the day, neither Clarke nor Peckford may care much for what the Jail Opposition Group which I founded a year ago continues to do in alliance with CAPP, another jail opposition group founded by Colleen Lynas.

No, they may not be happy about our growing opposition efforts. But with the support of residents, our voices grow stronger. We know that might or power, even rooted in statute, does not automatically confer right. ONLY THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE MAY DO THAT.

Please join the groups of citizens opposing the imposition without true consultation of this jail on the people of Kemptville.

Join the growing numbers of people placing lawn signs on their property indicating their opposition to this project.

All will pay, very few will gain if the jail is built.


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