Categories: Your Views

Falsely accused of name calling

In L. Hennigar’s letter of (Gazette, July 15) I am accused of unwarranted name calling when I used the words penny pinchers to describe those who oppose the library satellite. Apparently accusing those who are in favour of the project as living in “a comfortable bubble” and are just imposing their “whims” is not name calling.

A while ago I was in the library with my wife borrowing French books (undoubtedly a whim!), I observed a young boy dressed up as Harry Potter and his sister borrowing a Spider-man DVD and a senior with a walker borrowing two books. I am sure that these library patrons would be surprised to learn that some St. Albertans view their watching and reading preferences as whims and see them living in a bubble. While there I borrowed a video on Sarah Palin, former US. vice presidential candidate (definitely a whim). I couldn’t find a biography of Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden (I am in the process of reading the biographies of Canada’s Prime Minister). Now that’s definitely living in a bubble!!

Recently Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall severely cut funding to the province’s public library system undoubtedly seeing reading and the acquisition of knowledge and low cost entertainment as “whims” for those living in “comfortable bubbles” especially in rural Saskatchewan. The principal Saskatchewan penny pincher hastily restored the funding in response to an immediate and sustained negative reaction especially from his rural base. Shortly after Wall announced his retirement. Perhaps a lesson to those candidates in the upcoming municipal election.

It always interests me when people invoke the common sense argument to support their views implying that others who do not possess the common sense attribute may not have any sense at all. If “common sense” was so common there would be no need for more than five million laws, bylaws, regulations and rules at the federal, provincial and municipal government levels and in schools, businesses and churches.

Some citizens believe that petitions and referenda/plebiscites are the ultimate form of democracy trumping our electoral processes. Not all agree. Some see it as an attempt by those who lost the election or the specific vote as a way to rectify the obvious errors of the electorate. In his 27 July opinion piece noted Edmonton Journal political columnist Graham Thomson wrote that governance by referendums (and recall legislation) are political gimmicks. And I would add potentially dangerous subversions of our proven political processes and sometimes human rights (Second World War conscription, two Québec referendums, and a recent denial of a religious minority’s right to have a cemetery of their own are but a few examples).

At any point in time it is not difficult to find 10 to 20 per cent of the electorate who are angry at the decisions of government and politicians. I would not wish to deny any citizen the right to use petitions to redress either real or imagined grievances. If citizens want to overturn decisions made by their elected representatives through referendums triggered by petitions then so be it. However to avoid frivolous petitions I would suggest two things. Each petitioner should post a bond collectively sufficient to cover the cost of the resulting referendum. If the petitioners are successful in overturning the previous decision then their bond is returned. If unsuccessful the bond would be forfeit. secondly, I would also suggest that any referendum results would only be valid if at least 50 per cent of the electorate voted.

Many consider our city council dysfunctional. Seems that the last election gave  “progressives” the majority. This may be reversed in the October election. Regardless of the results I am not sanguine that the new council will be any more functional and have any more “common sense” and wisdom than the outgoing city council. This may result in more petitions and referenda. The only way that a positive result may be obtained is if an entire new group is elected.

Bryan Corbett, St. Albert

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