Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears – NOT
I took a lot of flack yesterday from the Alta Vista Community Association for my post Es Tu Peter? It is their opinion that I unfairly tied Councillor Peter Hume to a controversy with which he had nothing to do. It is my take, however, that even if Councillor Hume didn’t directly take part in the decision to move the AGM to after the election, he certainly knew about it as he is copied on many emails I have seen.
But here is the point that seem to be lost on some people: An opportunity for challengers to an incumbent to speak to a group of civic minded constituents has been cancelled for whatever the reason. This hurts the challengers far more than it hurts the high profile incumbent. Remember, an incumbent can call a city sponsored meeting for a myriad of reasons and get residents (voters) to attend. This is not the case for challengers. Challengers must rely on third party organizations such as community centres or associations to sponsor an event. So the less events there are, the harder it is for challengers to make their stances known.
And this brings me to another point. Many community centres, community houses and senior residences choose to stay out of elections because of the costs in terms of resources and money. Yet, if an incumbent wants to hold an event such as a taxpayer funded strawberry & tea social for seniors or a condominium summer barbecue sponsored by a third party these are organized by city staff. These events are also not counted as electioneering events and challengers can be barred from attending. I wrote about this happening at the Denburry Condominium last month (The shenanigans by Councillor Maria McRae start again in River Ward).
Maybe the city needs to look into a policy that evens the playing field between incumbents and challengers. Maybe it should be a requirement that any community centre or any public facility that hosts a City of Ottawa event be required to hold a candidates information meeting during the election period, the cost paid for by the city. If the city can pay for a strawberry social, why can’t this be justified as well?
So you see, the issue is not about Peter Hume but the process from which he benefits by shutting out the voices of the challengers. A solution to resolve this should be debated. And maybe my oblique reference to Brutus and stabbing was a little over the top but something is silenced when candidates can’t speak to voters.