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More Depth in Politics

This week is voting week in Ontario, and the importance of having your voice heard, has never been greater. The economy is sliding in the wrong direction, and the cost of living is rising. The need for having a government in which you have confidence has never been greater.

After moderating several candidate forums, I began to think about the structure of municipal government. I recalled a recent conversation I had with a friend and former councillor, Larry Corrigan. Many of you will remember Larry for his dedication to municipal politics, as well as his colourful wordsmithing abilities. During our conversation, Larry mentioned what I thought was an amazing concept.

He explained how, one of the biggest downfalls of municipal government is the lack of depth in a council. Few politicians stay for a second term, and even if they do, they are partnered with newbies, who spend a great deal of time learning the ropes.

Larry’s solution to the problem of depth of knowledge in municipal government is to create a panel of ‘Elders’; a volunteer group of individuals who have been involved in municipal politics, business, education and not-for-profit organizations.

This group would meet regularly and discuss issues which exist and find solutions based on their knowledge and contacts in the community. They would liaise with the council and Township staff on a regular basis, share ideas and possible solutions, and offer constructive criticism and direction.

Change is good, and welcomed in an changing world, which brings fresh out the box thinking to challenges affecting the quality of life in our valued community and Township. However, it takes time, if you are new to the position, to get up to speed. Such an advisory council could be sourced to offer advice or commentary on critical issues facing the Township, or at least point out possible land mines.

“Think how great it would be to not have to reinvent the wheel after every election,” Larry said, and that is when I realized the idea was a fantastic one. It comes on the heels of retiring Mayor Bobbie Drew, who, after 30-plus years in politics, is retiring and taking all her intellectual capital with her.

One person alone, does not have all the answers or solutions, but a group of individuals, who have seen and experienced many elements of life in a small town, would make up the individual slices of a pie.

Perhaps I am naive in thinking this relatively simple concept would be easy to implement, and the end result, a win-win solution, would benefit this community tenfold. It is certainly an idea worthy of further discussion. Thank you, former councillor Corrigan, for still caring about our community.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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