Two years ago, in a series in the Collingwood Connection on the eve of the last election, 2014, all candidates were asked to make statements about certain issues. I thought it would be good to examine a few of their promises and see how well they have progressed. Whether they have actually kept those promises. Here is what they said about the topic of accountability and to measure their performance to date.
First, just what is accountability? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing says, “Accountability as a general principle that governments (including municipalities) are answerable to the public and responsible for their actions, decisions and policies.”
Answerable and responsible. But do we have actual accountability here in Collingwood? Or, as Saqib Quershi, writing in the Huffington Post, called it, merely “an accountability façade”? He wrote:
Accountability is a two-way process. Ontario’s public sector often suffers from the sort of accountability… where a public servant is a euphemism for a public master, in charge and unaccountable. We have a cultural accountability problem…
Yes, indeed we do. Ian Lee, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, back in 2008 gave us words that should be carved above every council table in large letters:
Legitimacy is earned through accountability. Accountability is produced through transparency.
Here’s an example of one candidates’ promises:
Ensure all major decisions seek out community input, and ensure there is rigorous staff research and due diligence before any decision is made.
That promise was made by the current Deputy Mayor, Brian Saunderson (although how exactly a decision seeks input wasn’t made clear). And “due diligence” appears from the hospital redevelopment debacle to simply mean delaying tactics.
All of the candidates made similar promises. The Most Secretive Council Ever doesn’t even give lip service to community input. That pretty much sums up The Block’s position on accountability.
But you never really expected these folks to actually KEEP those promises, did you? Neither did I. Keeping promises requires a deep sense of ethics, a strong moral compass and a belief that the community is more important than your own entitlements. And to put personal agendas and vendettas aside for the public good.
Okay, stop snickering. We all know how this has turned out. Let’s examine the promises of those who were elected, shall we? As you read this, ask yourself do the candidates address how they will personally assume responsibility? Do they discuss accountability or process? And do they say how they and their actions will be accessible to the public to measure their accountability? First, The Block.
Continue reading “Promises, promises, promises – all broken”