Curses, Foiled Again!

Ron Bolin: July 7, 2013

“Curses, foiled again!”  This classic phrase from Snidely Whiplash (or was it Dick Dastardly) could be imagined as emanating from the mouths of our City leaders as a BC Supreme Court  judge on Friday ignored their pleas to overturn the principle of “Innocent until proven guilty”.  Despite the City’s liberal use of our tax money in an attempt to demonstrate that Dave Cutts and John and Jane Doe should be presumed to be imminently guilty of various acts against the City and its bylaws even before any such act has been committed, the court upheld the right of citizens to peacefully protest the pronouncements of its political masters. 

Not to have found the request for a premature injunction both precedent setting and, in effect, ultra vires, would have been to put anyone who questioned the decisions of their elected betters at risk of being labelled as probable miscreants who might warrant special treatment. And why was Mr. Cutts denied the costs of his defence against what the court decided was in the end, not a justifiable offence.   Just as it could have been for John or Jane Doe, so could it have been for you and for me.  And cannot court costs be used as a serious threat?  This is truly bureaucracy run riot.  And who pays the price?  And by the way, what was the price?  How much did we pay to threaten ourselves?  .

At this stage of the game, can there be anyone –barring the denizens of City Hall and SARK who appear to be trapped as a matter of “face”- who believes that we, as a community or they as our representatives, know where this game that was started in the dark and continued in ignorance, will end?: or how much it will ultimately cost?  Isn’t it the reincarnation of the VICC fiasco which started with a financial promise which barely passed, was soon broken and has proceeded to demand more and more of our community treasure each year?  [The VICC is projected to lose over $3.5 million dollars this year (i.e. about 4.4% of our tax bill) and that cost is projected to increase each year over the next five.]

Nobody denies that the Colliery Dams require attention.  Neither can it be denied that there has not been a thorough examination of the risks of the total related watershed system or of the costs of overall risk reduction or the damage to the community fabric of removal.  Like the VICC we are shooting from the hip and the lip without a pause for sober consideration of the risks and the rewards.  It is unfortunate that Chief White’s proposal for community participation in a community decision was ignored.  A hand was offered and it was spurned.  Why?  It beats me.  What is the game that is being played?  And who benefits from it?

I was once told by someone on Council that once the public has elected a representative they don’t want to think about issues any longer, leaving that to their elected Councillor(s).  This is one definition of representative democracy.  It is not one which I can embrace.  Nor do I find it one applicable in Nanaimo where issues, even if they are raised during an election, tend to be soon forgotten.  Where, for example, is the transparency which so many of our candidates promised?

Your thoughts on these matters are requested.