There is nothing new about politicians who learn their craft while climbing the ladder of politics. Many make a start on school board, get to know the people of their area and wait for the right time to move up to municipal councillor. Municipal council, in turn, can become the incubator popping out fresh young faces to be your next member of the legislative assembly or member of parliament.
While politicians of all flavours can be found on this path, it is most common in Ontario to find they are paid up members of the conservative party. This is where they find their mentors, their funding sources and support for the campaigns to come. No city beats Barrie in this conservatism of its city council.
It was why after being in the city for only a few years, I ran the campaign ground game for a new mayor. He ran against two well-known conservatives and a group of also-rans. He is now on his third term as mayor.
While I like to think that Mayor Jeff Lehman does what he can with a council that wants to defer any contentious issues until they are told what position to take, this city council is not progressive. We have a burgeoning, successful city here despite a council of small city minds. The truth is, the city is run by its senior staff and people learn you best not interfere.
Recently a brash young councillor became annoyed with two former city council members who are now the sitting members of parliament. They are both about what you would expect in a city that allowed the rise of Patrick Brown, from councillor to MP, to leader of the Ontario conservatives. The councillor was angry about white-supremacists joining in on Andrew Scheer’s remarks to some westerners castigating prime minister Trudeau for not building them a pipeline fast enough.
It was hardly a municipal issue and the councillor was out of line using his position to demand an apology to Canadians by the conservatives.
But it was also hardly an issue for council’s ethics commissioner. Nor was it worthy of a threatened law suit from the two MPs.
Mind you, I think I should drop in on council meetings more often. It is obviously becoming more fun.
Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry
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