I have been following the debate about our public schools with great interest. However, there is one concern that I think takes precedence over public versus secular. I’m referring to the ‘passing the buck attitude’ displayed by the majority of our elected officials.
Morinville Town Council displays with pride their motto and values on the Town’s website: ‘We listen, we serve, we achieve’ – ‘leadership and innovation’, teamwork and responsiveness’ ‘partnership and collaboration.’ In their message at the front of the Town’s 2011-2013 Strategic Plan, they tout that, “As Morinville continues to develop and evolve, so will our priorities, objectives and the implement actions.” Is this a political case of ‘do as I say, not as I do?’
Their response to Councillor Holmes’ motion of Mar. 8 asking Town Council to invite the Minister of Education, MLA Kowalski, trustees of GSACSB, and other stakeholders to attend a meeting in Morinville to discuss the future of our local education system was to declare that, “it is not the job of the Town Council to mediate” (Councillor Pattison), “not our place, not appropriate to get involved” (Councillor Boddez), “this is too broad an event on a touchy matter” (Councillor Krauskopf), and “not our issue-Council has enough issues at the municipal level without taking on further issues,” (Mayor Bertschi).
An interesting response from a Council that pledged during the 2010 election, “representing your interests on Morinville Town Council by responding to residents’ concerns (Councillor Pattison), “community minded and involved” (Councillor Boddez), and to bring “a deep understanding of what it takes to ensure we have a community that is sustainable over the long term “ (Mayor Bertschi). As a voter in Morinville, I thought that the overriding mission of our Town Council should be that declared by Councillor Holmes, “to become the advocates for our community that we were elected to be.”
Councillor Boddez stated that, “it’s certainly not our place, not appropriate to get involved.” Hmm, I wonder then, whose place it is?
Perhaps I am living under a delusion regarding what our elected municipal officials’ responsibilities really are. The Municipal Government Act states that the “purposes of a municipality is to provide good government, services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of council, are necessary or desirable to all…and to develop and maintain safe and viable communities.” Did we not elect these representatives to ensure that our interests are secured, our concerns advanced, our future viability ensured? To not even extend an invitation to the parties involved to sit down and discuss the issue at hand, is surely contradictory to Council’s mandate. The elected leader of our Town Council stated that “It’s not our issue. It is purely and simply an issue between the province and the schools.” He said that he “did not believe a point would come when it would become the town’s issue.” However, Morinville’s 2035 Municipal Sustainability Plan, developed by Town Council to ‘become Morinville’s highest level planning document to set the direction for the municipality,’ declares the document to be ‘a comprehensive plan covering the full range of issues important to residents and organizations including elements such as education, which are outside the municipality’s direct control or jurisdiction.’
During the Mar. 8 Council meeting, Councillor Van De Walle submitted a motion that “Town Council spend time to discuss council openness, transparency and accountability sometime in 2011.” This motion was carried unanimously. I would think that ‘accountability’ would include concerning themselves with the issues important to their constituents. I recommend that the citizens of Morinville closely watch Council’s actions as it responds to our concerns. Passing the buck just won’t do…Morinville Town Council, it’s time to ‘walk the talk’.