Time for truth and transparency

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Charlottetown ranked No. 95 out of 100 Canadian cities in a recent financial transparency report by the Frontier Institute for Public Policy.

Summerside wasn’t ranked, assumedly because of size, but it is unlikely the western capital - or for that matter any other municipality, town or village on the Island - would have performed any better.

On the heels of the report being issued this week, Island NDP leader Mike Redmond stated that the results make it “embarrassingly clear that it is time for the Ghiz government to catch up with the rest of the country and pass freedom of information legislation covering municipalities.”

He’s on the right track. The government should do it, immediately, just as every government (Liberal or Tory) prior to this one ought to have – but didn’t. Redmond’s motivation is clear, he is looking to score political points, but if we are honest, it’s unfortunate, embarrassing, and sad that we live in a time when elected officials at the municipal level need to be legislated by the province to tell the truth and be open with their constituents.

Need proof?

Last week Summerside’s mayor and council met behind closed doors to discuss a funding arrangement with the federal government. This is important because this funding arrangement discussed neither a personnel matter, property matter, nor a legal matter. It is commonly accepted in most jurisdictions that those three categories are the only reason for meeting in secret – away from the prying eyes of the taxpayers footing the bills.

The mayor and council contend that they had to do it or risk losing the funding because the good folks at ACOA, their Harper government partner, don’t like others stealing the credit when it comes time to dish out the cash. Sadly we believe them. But that is no excuse. If you’re an official elected in Summerside and you are being blackmailed or bullied by another government department you should go public with your concerns, not convert. Let the electorate be judge and jury; it’s called democracy; we used to live in one.

In order for democracy to work, public scrutiny needs to be paramount, regardless of the level of government.

If the senior levels of government are telling us that bullying is not acceptable in society, then it’s time they realize we will hold them to the same standard.

And if Ottawa wants to pull the funding for our new big screens at Credit Union Place because they don’t get to have their smiling faces holding the cheque, let them. It’s a short-term loss for the greater good. At least you, councillors, will be able to sleep at night knowing that you are not sneaking around behind our backs damaging your credibility. A risky move during an election year for a group still wearing the black-eye of a previous council’s concert scandal.

 

Organizations: Credit Union Place

Geographic location: Summerside, Iceland, Ottawa

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