A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Municipal Councils Follow Harpers Lead

I dont often comment upon the actions of lower levels of government here but make no mistake that such proceeding are carried out in an open and accountable democratic way is just as important as it is at Provincial and Federal levels.

In his recent annual report Ontario ombudsman André Marin pointed out that numerous municipal councils are breaking the municipal act by holding 'in camera' meetings for many issues that should be help in public. Indeed I am aware of several councils in my area that do so regularly and have been aware of some that have at times held unofficial “meetings” at the local coffee shop which in itself is contrary to the 'guide lines'

He says the province must put “some teeth” into its government transparency legislation by penalizing municipal councils which break open meeting laws......
“Right now, municipal councils — some of them at least — play loose with the rules because there are no consequences,” he said. “If there was a consequence, such as a fine or imprisonment, councillors would think twice about breaking those rules.”
Since 2008, any Ontario citizen has been able to request a probe into a meeting believed to have been improperly closed to the public. Marin’s office — which has jurisdiction in 191 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities — has received more than 500 complaints.

I start to wonder if its not a case of 'if its good for the goose its good for the gander' and councils see the secrecy and rule bending and breaking going on in Ottawa and think if they can do it why should we not follow suit. It would seem that Mr McGinty was taking notice for as Mr Marin noted it was “bizarre” to be talking about transparency when the legislature is prorogued.
“I find this a little strange that we’re here talking about councils not doing all the right things in order to be public and open when we have a legislature that’s shut down.”

It seems that democracy is under fire from all directions! We MUST defend it where ever these attacks occur because once hidden discussion and decisions become the norm at any level of government then democracy has all but burnt to the ground.

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