Enough with the tired platitudes from council candidates

Plain Rhetoric
By Bill McQuarrie
July 18, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — The city’s by-election is two and a half months away and I’ve got my fingers crossed that we won’t again be given Winnie The Pooh’s, Eeyore version of municipal politics. By that I mean the tired old, slow and steady, let’s not rock the boat or make any hasty, let alone bold and innovative decisions.

Personally, I feel this attitude got us into the mess we are currently facing with Ajax. The unwillingness or perhaps inability at the top to lead from the front, provide direction and dare I say, have opinions and goals, has contributed and even created much of the confusion, distrust and polarization that now exists.

Some politicians present themselves as community leaders, qualified and able to handle all aspects of running our community. Leading up to an election, we often hear about their dynamic problem solving abilities and how they will personally cure the ills that beset us.  

Yet once elected, boldness is replaced with Eeyore-like caution. Fear of offending the constituency becomes uppermost of mind. Getting re-elected seems to become the scale upon which decisions are made. And slow and steady is the shield used to deflect and excuse indecisiveness.

As for those tried and true promises. Come on now, if you really are intent on solving the affordable housing crisis and homelessness, tell us exactly how you plan on doing this, who’ve you got on board already and when it is going to happen. Ditto for diversifying and growing the local economy. A good turn of phrase, but exactly how are you planning to achieve this? Everyone talks the talk with platitudes so commonplace, so banal and so cliché as to be meaningless.

This is not true of all city politicians, but having an opinion and a standard by which you make decisions and can be judged is a tough road to walk.

So far, we have somewhere around 11 candidates going after two seats on council. They run the full gamut from blustery old school politics to boring administrator to next step is the legislature to youthful exuberance but waiting for the substance.

A few of those currently sitting on council have taken stands, have made their opinions known and have taken action that is consistent with their views on where Kamloops needs to be in the years ahead.  

Some in the community waste no time attacking them for their openness, yet fail to acknowledge that these councillors have at least had the courage to speak without re-election filters on.

Others have been more circumspect, less willing to be open and straightforward with voters and in the process have failed to lead.

We need more of the former and less of the latter sitting around council table and I’m uncertain about the ability of the current batch of contenders to fill that need. To not see council as simply the next step to becoming mayor. To not see mayor as the next step to the legislature. To not see the job as a supplement to one’s current income. To not see this job as being anything other than the unleashing of the full potential of Kamloops.

I’m tired of a lazy government that sees a 3 per cent tax increase each year as normal and acceptable. I’m tired of a bored government that sees slow and steady as the solution for everything. I’m tired of a secretive government that negotiates the future of our community behind closed doors. I’m tired of anyone who runs for office on a single agenda. I’m tired of anyone who runs on a social or economic platform but lacks specific ideas and a plan for making it happen. I’m tired of bluster. And I’m tired of being taken for granted.

Give me a platitude and I will not give you an ‘X’ beside your name. Tell me homelessness is important but have done nothing in past years in office to solve it will not get an ‘X’ beside your name. Telling me you’re an excellent and proven administrator will deny you that ‘X.’ I mean, that’s why you hire good staff isn’t it? Telling me you are young with fresh ideas won’t garner an ‘X’ unless there is substance behind that youthful charm. And just once mention the phrase, “slow and steady,” and... well... I’ll likely spoil my ballot.