Let sleeping dogs lie? Maybe not!
Sometimes I find I can only write when I am facing a very tight deadline. This is one of those times. I have been torn by asking myself if I should write further about the decision Council must make tomorrow evening in relation to how to choose our next mayor or, as I have been advised by some, to let sleeping dogs lie.
What caught my eye however, just a few minutes ago, was a clip from a news interview on CNN where this comment was made. “This is where we are now. There is zero shame in lying…just straight up lying…constantly.” This, of course, is an American talking about American politics and in that country it is frighteningly close to the truth.
I would like to think that we have not gone that far in Canada, but I do believe we are coming very close to a culture where there is no shame in demonstrating a lack of respect for the facts and an increasing acceptance of innuendos that cannot be supported by the facts. We have seen that in our recent federal election from both sides of the aisle. We see it in the media and, sadly, we are seeing it here in our own community. And in this latter respect, I cannot let sleeping dogs lie.
Comments have been flying around lately, mainly on social media, related to the manner in which Council should decide how to select the next mayor of Huntsville, a decision made necessary by the resignation of Mayor Scott Aitchison, the newly minted Member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka. The ones that bug me the most are those, however obliquely implied, that suggest there is only one person on Council that can represent Huntsville’s interests when it comes to hospital care in this community.
As most people are well aware, only two people so far have indicated an interest in seeking the mayor’s office and these are Karin Terziano and Tim Withey. Both are members of Council and Mr. Withey in particular has been extremely verbose in his attacks on the Muskoka Algonquin Health Care Board in relation to their latest recommendation for hospital care in Huntsville. It is a strategy of confrontation, that some question, at a time when the MAHC Board is moving closer to keeping a fully equipped acute care hospital here. To imply in any manner that Mr. Withey is best able to represent all the people of Huntsville when it comes to an up-to-date acute care hospital here is, by definition, to imply that Karin Terziano is not. That in my view is sheer nonsense, with perhaps a dollop of misogyny thrown in.
I need to state a bias here. If we do have a by-election in Huntsville, I will cast my single vote, for what it is worth, for Karin Terziano. I believe she would make an excellent mayor of Huntsville. However, whether or not she becomes our mayor, no one should underestimate―or question―her qualifications, her experience, her record, or her ability to stand up and to stand up tall in the best interests of Huntsville and that includes issues related to our hospital. She is eloquent and persuasive in her own way, and she knows that confrontation is a tool of last resort and not the best way to achieve effective goals.
There are other statements that have been made recently in relation to selecting our next mayor that are not consistent with the facts. One such is that most people in Huntsville prefer a by-election over an appointment. We do not know that. A recent poll suggested the Town is split on the issue, but it was not a scientific poll, we do not know how the question was framed or the context in which it was asked or whether it was conducted by a special interest group with a particular agenda.
There have also been comments stating that a by-election would only cost $50,000 and that additional work could be done by existing staff to reduce costs. Not true. An election is expensive and subject to strict conditions related to security and authenticity by law, conducted by people with the experience to know what they are doing. There are no shortcuts. As one member of Council put it to me recently, “The fact is, if we go for a by-election, there will be a cost to taxpayers of $100,000 in 2020.”
Although I have my preference, I have no idea what Council will decide on Monday night. I do believe however, that Acting Mayor Terziano will be content to seek the office of mayor in whatever manner Council believes is in the best interest of Huntsville citizens. I also have faith that Council will do this without having been swayed by fear-mongering, bullying or threats.
That is why they were elected. That is the way it should be.
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