by Gary McHale - The Regional
August 17, 2011
As I pointed out last week the province is more than happy to have Haldimand Council believe they are mere children and incapable of doing anything to solve any problems facing the county. The Council appears willing to repeat the message that they are helpless - if so, why did any of them run for office?
The Council's argument is that the province, the higher level of government is the parent while the county is the child - legally speaking. Given this logic McGuinty must be the child while Harper is the parent. McGuinty has claimed he too is helpless and blamed Harper for Caledonia. Haldimand Council agreed and voted to blame Harper as well.
What Mayor Hewitt and Council have seriously misunderstood is that the single greatest weapon anyone has in a democratic society is to speak out. Council can expose the failure of governments and get media attention. If this is not true then why do we have opposition parties in both provincial and federal governments?
Imagine any opposition MPP or MP automatically answering questions with the phrase, "We can't do anything"? Their whole job is to speak out and expose the failure of the government - our democracy depends on it. In a majority government you have approx. 150 MPs with no power over what the government does. No authority to enforce their will on the government, no authority to force new laws, no authority to ensure existing laws are upheld. However, they have a weapon so important that our Parliamentary system depends on it - they have their voices.
So far the only time Mayor Hewitt has spoken out regarding illegal smoke shacks or DCE is immediately after a rally is held. Although he cannot stop the rallies (he has no authority over them) he speaks out thereby proving that he understands his duty to speak out on local issues regardless of whether he can control what happens.
Where are the county resolutions publicly calling for the OPP to end Two Tier Justice? Where is the county resolution demanding McGuinty be accountable for what he failed to do in Caledonia? When does Mayor Hewitt call Toby Barrett to arrange the use of the Media Room at Queen's Park so that he can directly speak to the media?
Prior to being mayor Mr. Hewitt made a big deal about creating a petition calling for the removal of ex-Commissioner Fantino and for an inquiry - our group helped by getting almost half the signatures that were gathered.
However, why has Mayor Hewitt not asked the Council to endorse a new petition calling for an inquiry? Why has he gone silent? If it was right to put together a petition when he wasn't in office then why isn't it right to do so now?
Mayor Hewitt and Council can send a serious message to McGuinty that Haldimand cannot be forgotten, that Haldimand demands a resolution and an end to racist policing policies. Such a message would equally be heard by Tim Hudak - in case he gets into office in October.
Now is the time for Haldimand Council to speak out in order to have influence in the provincial election. Mayors do this all the time throughout this province but not in Haldimand. Mayors cannot force the province to do anything but they can help shape public opinion.
This is why so many municipalities passed resolutions against Wind Farms in Ontario. All these communities didn't sit back and say, "We are the child and the province is the parent". They stood up for their communities and spoke out for those who they claimed to represent.
In many ways this is the single greatest problem Haldimand Council has - they forget who they represent. Their goal isn't to make McGuinty feel good by passing a resolution against Harper. Their goal isn't to accept whichever OPP Commander senior brass forces upon them. Their goal isn't to sit idly by while cashing their paycheques.
Their goal is to speak out. We pay them so they can devote themselves to full time service to ensure the concerns of the people of Haldimand County are heard and true action is taken to resolve real problems. This concept is stated by Apostle Paul when he stated, "This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing."
In many ways our British heritage is a covenant between the public and the government. Unlike the Americans, we entered into an agreement whereby we, the people, would not bear arms to defend ourselves and in return the government guaranteed public order and protection. As Canadians we have honoured our side of the agreement but governments at all levels have dishonoured theirs.
The County does not honour their side of the agreement to enforce by-laws, maintain civil order, exercise control over police and end riots. This is why our British heritage makes it the duty of the Mayor, not Premier of the Province nor the Prime Minister of Canada, to end riots and restore Law and Order in communities.
Section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada which defines who is a Peace Officer, has the Mayor listed first. Five hundred years of British history dealing with riots and lawlessness has placed the responsibility upon the Mayor not Premier or Prime Minister. Throughout the Criminal Code a Mayor has the same authority as that of a police officer. A Mayor has the authority to lay charges and make arrests without warrants in the same way that a police officer can.
While I am not suggesting that Mayors in Canada start kicking down doors and raiding people's homes, I am suggesting that British heritage does NOT see a Mayor as the helpless child in a parent/child relationship.
I think it is time for the Council to grow up, leave their parents' home and start taking responsibility for their future. If not, Haldimand will always be the forgotten child.