Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

A little decorum would go a long way

Posted by auroracitizen on August 6, 2009

The comment below is from today’s Toronto Sun and it sounds a lot like Aurora. What lessons can be learned?

A little decorum would go a long way
Interim integrity commissioner blasts councillors for rudeness
By SUE-ANN LEVY, 6th August 2009

In a tiny paragraph of his annual report to council yesterday, interim integrity commissioner Lorne Sossin hones in on the immature and petty behaviour that has become the norm during meetings at Socialist Silly Hall.

He contends that the “lack of civility” he’s witnessed at several council meetings in the past year “is corrosive to an environment of mutual respect” and likely to “undermine public confidence in city council.”

When I contacted him for more specifics, Sossin, who leaves the city in early September, said the kinds of things he’s referring to run the gamut from “name-calling, casting aspersions on other councillors to indifference” — meaning councillors are often busy chatting with other councillors while their colleagues try to address council.

Like me, Sossin says he has seen plenty of “snickering, heckling” and other attempts to “demean and diminish colleagues.” He feels councillors need to “show respect” for their colleagues and the “office” since everyone has been elected to council by constituents, who want their views represented. “This petty back and forth … that’s where the lines need to be drawn,” he said.

Being far more diplomatic than me, Sossin wouldn’t name names. But, in my view, it is usually the same cast of characters — mostly the cabal of councillors in the mayor’s inner circle — who believe their self-righteous views are the only ones that are legitimate, and that those who dare disagree have no concern about the public interest.

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen and heard councillors such as Pam McConnell, Paula Fletcher, Adam Vaughan, Kyle Rae and Gord Perks loudly heckle right-of-centre colleagues who endeavour to provide a view other than that shared by them. Budget chief Shelley Carroll is often seen wandering around the council floor and committee rooms openly yakking and laughing with her leftist pals on council, whenever a councillor dares criticize one of her beloved mayor’s initiatives.

CITIZENS GRILLED

The rudeness isn’t just directed at councillors. I’ve watched many times in standing committees as councillors like McConnell and Fletcher grilled members of the public, who have come in to give their opinions, as if they were lawyers cross-examining opponents. Many councillors don’t even feign giving public deputants their undivided attention. They either leave the room, tap on their Blackberries or chatter with their seatmates. Maybe these rude, self-important politicians, apparently suffering from a political version of attention deficit disorder, need some lessons from Miss Manners.

Sossin says a problem at City Hall is that the Speaker — Sandra Bussin — does not have the same “authority” as speakers in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park — who can toss out politicians who don’t behave. In contrast, at City Hall, an ejection is “put to a Council vote,” he noted. The interim integrity commissioner believes councillors must take responsibility for their own actions and “not accept” a culture of incivility.

Coun. Mike Del Grande, who often finds himself heckled and cat-called by the mayor’s inner circle, feels there’s much more Bussin could do as council’s speaker. He says she hasn’t always been fair with her rulings and doesn’t work to stop the heckling as soon as it occurs.

Coun. Case Ootes adds Mayor David Miller does little to discourage the heckling and does not , in his view, set an example by applying council rules in a fair and equitable manner. “I lay a lot of the problems at the foot of the speaker and the mayor for playing fast and loose with the rules of the chamber,” he said. “That’s what causes the polarization of this council and the heckling and disrespect between councillors.”

SUE-ANN.LEVY@SUNMEDIA.CA

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5 Responses to “A little decorum would go a long way”

  1. White Knight said

    One might feel a little comforted, if the article weren't so disheartening, knowing that we in Aurora are not the only Ontario citizens who have to suffer a dictator mayor with an overall dysfunctional council to tackle the business of our town.
    Instead, sadly it is just a very true reflection of politics today.
    As for the Anonymous responder who feels Councillor Buck didn't make any sense, does he/she ever try to decipher Steven Grainger's babblings? Even the lawyer at a recent council meeting couldn't follow the incoherent gobbledegook well enough to determine what the councillor was asking.

  2. Anonymous said

    You people who continually back this mayor and her band of merry thieves are all f$%$*$!

    I hope you all have money to burn in your tax bill, but I certainly do not and I am totally beside myself that we and I mean WE AS A Town of let this injustice go on for as long as it has.

    People talk about Frank Klees for Mayor, how about Frank Klees as our representative in provincial parliament to never let this kind of bull(*#$ happen again. We need our higher elected officials to finally stand up and take accountability for this scham NOW!!!!

    It is no longer a municipal problem but our provincial counterparts need to take some accountability for the Municipal Act.

    REMEMBER WE ELECT EACH AND EVERY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT AND THE CRAP STARTS AT THE BOTTOM AND WORKS ITS WAY UP. LET'S DO SOMETHING NOW!!!

  3. Anonymous said

    Has Toronto council ever sued one of its own while ignoring other clear breaches of the code of conduct, or is Aurora a trail blazer in setting a new low ?

  4. Anonymous said

    Does anyone understand what Councillor Bucks's points are on Cable News?
    She comes off as making no sense.

  5. Anonymous said

    I think that Toronto Council would look great if the Sun writer compared them to our dominating mayor and floundering councillors led by the blunders of Grainger, Willson and the other non descript councillors and the co-mayors who continue to spill out the hate venom.
    I hear that council was having an in camera session tonight to discuss what I hear is Councillor Buck.
    Another colesed meeting by our transparent and open mayor

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