Susan Delacourt, TorStar columnist, says it best when she writes: “The Israel-Hamas war has divided Canadians. Why can’t our politicians unite us?”
The City of Pickering has a divided council. One councillor has been suspended pay for 90 days for commentary and actions deemed as unacceptable violations of the Council’s integrity and ethical conduct policies. This is not a questioning of the validity or justification of the suspension. It is a question of what the Council is doing about it as a followup. The Councillor, Lisa Robinson, was an elected member of council. There, a legitmate representative of her constituenccy, Ward 1. Now that Ward has no representation on Council. This warrants action. The electorate voted for a representative. At this moment, they do not have it.
The Council and the Mayor should be doing something about this. What action they should take and to what extent should be resolved by the Council and the Mayor. But a 90 day suspension of representation is questionable if not outright unjustifiable. They should do something constructive and positive to restore the representation to Ward 1.
On a relatively related note, there are a number of areas needing action by this Council but they seem to be being ignored or put on a back burner. Some of the burning issues: the rise of hate and racism incidents in the community, the rising level of auto thefts in the region, the need for better information and communication of Council actions to the community.
The Council may be acting responsibly, carrying out functions as it should but the community is not well informed about this. Overreliance on the City’s website for bridging this information gap is unacceptable. Too few community residents use the Internet. The Council should be exploring better ways to keep the community up-to-date on what it is doing and the success of their work.
The eNewsletters as published by Councillor Brenner and Mayor Ashe are positive and constructive steps but again they are too Internet-reliant. The Town Halls as done by the Mayor and Councillors Brenner, Cooke and Nagy are also worthwhile endeavours, particularly Councillor Brenner’s where specific topics are presented are another positive method of keeping constituents current. But more and broader communication methods need to be explored and used.
As Delacourt suggests politicians need to do more to resolve issues and problems in the community.
Mr. Mayor and Councillors, where are you?