Monday night, 29-10-18, a packed gallery at the Lake Macquarie City Council council meeting, witnessed the bastardisation of democracy. Mayor Fraser opened the meeting by reminding councillors of their duty to the citizens of the city, which, in part, requires that they “represent the collective interests of residents, ratepayers and the local community”.
This apparently fell on deaf ears, including the Mayor’s. The gallery was there to witness the tabling of a sizeable petition concerning the future use of the Toronto foreshore. With precedents, Councillor Harrison moved the tabling of the petition be brought forward. This was put to a vote with some “Aye’s” and some “Nay’s”. Without a show of hands, used later in less contentious issues, the Mayor immediately declared the motion defeated. A protest by Councillor Harrison brought the Mayor to her feet in order to silence the lone voice.
Forced, by the machinations of democracy, to sit through the histrionics of councillors patting themselves on the back for the next two hours it was time for the tabling of petitions. It was made clear that Councillor Harrison was not to talk on the petition so she dutifully read the petition title and body and was in the process of explaining numbers and due diligence in ensuring no duplications etc when she was again “brought to order” by the Mayor. At this point the gallery erupted and the meeting was adjourned for 5 minutes.
A feeble excuse was given in that to talk on the petition required a motion and none such was moved, regardless of the fact that Councillor Harrison was not talking on the petition.
One can only form the opinion that this council has something to hide and is frightened we, the public, might get wind of their ulterior motives.
The “Councillor Handbook” states, in part,
When making decisions, councils should: ensure their decisions are transparent and that decision-makers are accountable for decisions and omissions.
Mayor Fraser and LMCC councillors, what are you hiding?
– John Sharples, Toronto