Springwater township’s “No-show candidates”: Let them cry their hot tears of oppression elsewhere.

Mayor Linda Collins and Deputy Mayor Dan McLean and former Simcoe County Warden and township Mayor Tony Guergis decide to boycott an all-candidates’ meeting this week.

No showers linda collins tony guergis dan mcleanNoelle takes them to the rhetorical woodshed:

There is more than a drop of irony in the failure of pro-MSP Candidates to appear for the All Candidates Meeting last night

Once again the pro-MSP brigade showed a remarkable capacity to simultaneously display duplicity, self-pity, and more than a little irony at last night’s All Candidates Meeting in Snow Valley. Speaking via a common spokesperson, Brenda Stanley, the candidates, including Linda Collins, Tony Guergis and Dan MacLean, cited concerns about the transparency and neutrality of the organizers, AWARE Simcoe, as reason for withdrawing from the public meeting.

This allegation, and the act of public theatre through which it was delivered, raises an eyebrow for several reasons.

First off, the peculiar timing of Kathleen Wynne’s letter to incumbent Mayor Linda Collins, arriving, as it did on the day of a much-anticipated open public forum, begs the question: if Collins has had access to this back channel, why did she apparently fail to seize this opportunity to ask the Premier the question residents have been loudly demanding – Will you review the MSP? Instead, Wynne’s response that the province “has no plan to review the Midhurst Secondary Plan or Special Rule in the Transition Regulation,” suggests the Premier had not been invited to take, or defend a position on this issue. The only way to find out, of course, is if Collins would release the unedited email correspondence with Wynne. Without doing so, there seems no compelling reason to believe she has shifted her long-standing pattern of seemingly representing developer interests over the concerns of residents.

The irony is stark, coming from the clutch of candidates who now allege preferential treatment of their opponents by the organizers of last night’s meeting. Clearly, this faction not only had prior knowledge of Wynne’s letter, but took it upon itself to plan and coordinate its exemption from the meeting, surprising other candidates as much as it did those residents who came expecting a long-awaited, honest and unfiltered discussion.

Pity the candidates who narrowly escaped being ganged up upon, and torn limb-from-bloody-limb last night, by committed, truth-seeking residents. They have clearly insulated themselves from the democratic process for so long that they no longer recognize it when it comes up to shake them by the hand. More than that, they have come to fear it, and to fear any encounter where they are not able control and limit public participation.

Let’s also address the allegation that the organizers shared questions in advance with its preferred candidates. AWARE Simcoe has unequivocally denied this allegation, and pointed to measures it took to guarantee the neutral facilitation of the meeting. But let’s assume for a moment, they did plant questions. Surely none of the questions would have been unpredictable to incumbents who are presumably, by now, well versed in all the issues? Or were they out of their depth? Perhaps they feared pointed, negative questions by their opponents, in which case, the most suspicious response is silence.

Overall, the sense of entitlement displayed by sitting out this singular opportunity to recharge the local democratic process, is dwarfed only by the repugnant stench of self-pity. The pro-MSP faction would have you believe, after its long unbroken history as apparent mouthpiece to the developer, that it has become the victim of an unfair attack. Let’s get one thing straight – oppression happens when power and authority is exercised unjustly – for instance, in the case where a corporation uses its undue power and influence to affect land use policy, it is the local and adjacent residents and environments that are oppressed. It’s not oppression if the pro-MSP faction suddenly feels the tide of public opinion turning against it – that’s just democracy at work, thanks to power of citizen mobilization.

Let’s not joke. The Midhurst Secondary Plan has become the pivotal and polarizing issue of this election, because it defines two very different visions for this Township; and that is only right, because its vast implications are dead serious for Springwater as well as for neighbouring Townships that benefit from Springwater’s environment, that are tied into its rural economy and food production system, that share its road networks, and that would experience exponential demand on services, were the MSP to go ahead.

And finally, let’s not fuel the ridiculous pretence, that excluding oneself from hard public questioning is anything other than an act of political manipulation. This considered (in)action on the part of the pro-MSP brigade displays an utter lack of regard for the democratic process. Let them cry their hot tears of oppression elsewhere.

These opinions belong to Noelle Rancourt, indignant nearby (and former) Springwater resident, and do not reflect the views of any group or organization.

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