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Elections let democracy start anew

Posted on October 18, 2017 by Taber Times

The winds of change swept through many local council chambers in the Taber area as the polls came to a close on Monday at 8 p.m.

Taber town council has four new faces at the table that did not serve this past term.

Five of the seven-member council at the M.D. of Taber are new, with the three ridings that had actual races having the incumbents go down in defeat.

Barnwell council has a completely new council with every person getting in by acclamation.

As Vauxhall council scrambles to find seven candidates to fill its seats, it will run until at the latest April 30 as a five-person council until others step forward for a possible election.

As stated in past issues of the newspaper, editorial staff at the Taber Times/Vauxhall Advance have had issues with how some of the above mentioned councils have conducted their business in the past, either through articles constantly outlining the Municipal Government Act, editorials or personal columns or comment.

In-camera sessions, where any reader is welcome to examine agenda packages with motions that were passed after the session to decide for themselves if the reasoning was a liberal interpretation of land, legal, or labour to avoid public discussion and debate.

Partial agenda packages submitted with information that council has in front of it during open session, but the press does not.

People being allowed into in-camera sessions that should not be allowed under the Municipal Government Act.

Special meetings on peculiar days called for non-emergency situations with very little notice. Also, special meetings held under the guise of a FOIP exception where following discussion, no resolution has been made.

According to meeting minutes, some meetings where in-camera discussion is triple the length of discussion in open session.
Administration overreaching and making active inquiries into the newspaper of when controversial stories will run, implying the timing should be delayed or the story buried altogether.

Council members overreaching in their scope of power in how they interact with town employees.

One of the five questions The Times posted to Taber town council candidates prior to last week’s forums was ‘Describe ways you will ensure accountability and transparency in informing the public in council and town matters?” 

That is a question that can easily be posted to any council as they embark on their new voyage for the next four years.

Steering clear of the above list of instances would go a long way to achieving the transparency and accountability that not only us in the media seek, but the voting public does as well.

Some may view the above examples as much adieu about nothing, but therein lies the slippery slope no council should be engaging in — the comfort of the darker shades of grey councillors are OK with in conducting public business.

Soon, the greys get darker and darker until a politician is no longer keeping the promises they made during their campaign trail of being a man or woman of the people.

So every newly elected council gets a clean slate, be it new councillors or incumbents. One can choose to learn from the past or not, but as the famous words of George Santayana go, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

The Taber Times and Vauxhall Advance will be watching, as will the public who put their trust in you as their elected representatives. To the best of your ability, please do not betray that trust.

Democracy should not be abused.

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