[The views here are the personal opinion of the undersigned and not necessarily those of the website management.]
Former Ajax mayor Steve Parish has made a number of worthwhile and valid cautions about the “Strong Mayors” policy in Ontario.
Agreed, democracy is being eroded when one-third of the votes passes the motion.
The possibility of cronyism is real with appointment to positions of responsibility on committees by a strong mayor.
The risks and dangers are there. However, some safeguards are still in place to give the electorate some feeling of security.
Firstly, we have a free press and journalists who are responsible, dedicated and intelligent. They report the transgressions of poor governments, expose political chicanery and unmask tainted governing leaders. The free press needs to be appreciated as defenders of the public and champions of society.
Next, there is a set term of office and if we believe the politician is failing in being a responsible person, we vote them out of office, never to see that light of office again, ever. That is a powerful tool and every politician has that reminder nagging at them whenever they vote on a motion and speak about an issue. Democracy still exists and works in our country, in our province and in our municipal governments.
Finally, the other safeguard is less concrete we should remember is more gossamer. Parish may be crying “Wolf,” when there is no wolf. We voted for candidates who we believed, to be honest, trustworthy and sincere politicians. We should also believe that these people are people of morals and principles. Once we elect these people, we cannot switch to doubting them unless there is evidence to prove otherwise. We have to believe we were voted for the right people, and that they were sincere in their campaign promises and statements. We have to believe that the good is foremost in these people, not malevolence and evil. Perhaps this gossamer safeguard smacks of naivete but I would rather believe first before criticizing and castigating too soon and maybe wrongly.
We have to believe the political leaders we elected are good people and we need to trust they will act the way we believe they should. They may trip and fail at times, as our own children do but do we reject the child for an instance of failing or wrong? Can we cut an adult the same slack adopting a “let’s wait and see attitude” before casting rock-hard aspersions?
I respect Parish’s views fully as I should. He was a mayor of which many in Ajax were proud and supportive. However, I feel there is more to the story. I want to hear more!