NEWS: Fireworks at City Council first meeting

The newly elected Council of the City of Pickering met Dec. 3.

Warm, fuzzy meeting with no actual fireworks.

Nostalgia, many thank you’s, much display of appreciation, that’s what the first meeting of the newly elected council of the City of Pickering was all about. Each councillor confirmed his appreciation for being re-elected and thanked all supporters and campaign assistants.

Though all the councillors included broad appreciations and messages of thanks, each one personalized their messages with a special insertion.

Mayor Ryan, a very polished and experienced politician paid his respective dues of appreciation from his wife to his campaign chief Dale Goldhawk. Ryan touted his political agenda emphasizing its positive aspects for the Pickering of tomorrow: airport, casino, Seaton, Pickering Rec Centre modernization, expansion of residents for older community members. It was a polished, politically positive message given in a well-honed and practised style. Above all, Ryan was timely with his underlining of how current the issues were before the council, the cannabis question, to how growing employment and development expansion would mean the Pickering of tomorrow is here today and its a great place to live.

Each of the councillors, regional and city, put a personal stamp on their message. Though they may have been practised and messages given by experienced politicians, each man sounded authentic and sincere.

Many of the councillors neared tears as they underlined special aspects of their term of office, their own wellbeing and service and their constituency.

Councillor Ashe emotionally recalled departed family members. Councillor Pickles paid respect to departed councillors who served the city in the past. Councillor Brenner underlined his appreciation and honour in receiving repeated support from Pickering voters for so many years. Councillor Cumming was very emotional in his thanks to his wife during the worst days of his recent illness. Councillor Butt, now an officially elected councillor, emphasized his respect and appreciation to all the constituents with whom he has had contact over the years of his appointed term. He also thanked his mother for all she had taught him and for her many years of maternal support. The 100-year-old matriarch continued her ongoing support for her son by attending the council meeting herself.

A touch of negativity
The council is all men. They may be the most experienced public servants the city has; they may have been deserved of re-election; each may be doing a good public servant job but it is an all-male bastion. This may arguably be barking up the wrong tree but more women need to step up and run for elected office. Women have an obvious differing view from men. Their concerns take other sides, other considerations. It would be a stereotypical over-generalization to talk about their maternal side, their female sensitivity and the gender slanted opinion. To make such sweeping generalizations would be narrowing the focus to an unfair view. Be that as it may, women comprise 54% of the Pickering population, yet they lack even one elected representative. As justified as that criticism may be, there is also an issue of a cultural gap with these councillors. Are the visible minorities fairly represented? Do they have a voice on the council? Councillor Butt may be a member of a minority cultural group from the community but there are so many other groups who have lack a voice here.

The criticisms of above cannot be laid at the feet of these councillors. These are problems with people in general. The members of the community without a voice on the council need to pick up their own bootstraps and motivate their best potential representatives to campaign and run for office. It is their civic duty to become active participants in the democracy of their community, not just its soci0-cultural aspects. The same holds for the women of the community. Too few ran women ran in the recent campaign. Those that did deserve the appreciation and acknowledgement of the community and it is hoped that these women will run again, with greater success next time.

An ancillary issue which is becoming an increasingly worrisome issue is voter apathy. The current council is cognizant of this problem and plans to tackle the issue with greater interaction in school courses pertaining to civics and democracy. A positive and valuable initial step in encouraging future voters to participate in elections. This apathy is affecting more than just local politics. It is pervasive at all levels of government and each of us need to take a more active and more positive role in developing greater participation in our governments.

We congratulate all the councillors in their successful achievement. They are each deserved of the electoral support they received. These are dedicated men devoted to public service, some for many decades, not just a few terms. Each of these councillors is a re-elected representative which confirms that the voters see them as politicians of worth and true value. We wish the entire council a good new term, good health and much support in their next term of office.

A photo gallery this first council meeting:

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