During election campaigns, we hear candidates speak a lot about respect for taxpayers, but we rarely hear them speak about respect for citizens.
What’s the difference, you ask?
Well, here’s how I see it:
Respect for taxpayers is about ensuring that politicians are appropriately spending tax dollars they collect from property owners. It’s about taking a serious look at how your money is invested and ensuring that it is spent wisely and frugally. It’s difficult to cut taxes without cutting services, but we should always be ensuring that we’re getting the best value for our dollar and that everything is running efficiently.
Respect for citizens on the other hand is about ensuring that everyone in the community feels welcome and included and like they can speak to any politician about their concerns and be taken seriously. Although an individual may not be a property owner (and, therefore, not paying taxes directly), they should always feel they can voice concerns to their regional councillor and that they are being listened to and valued as a human being as much as anyone else would be.
Sadly, we’ve seen little of either of the above on this current term of Regional Council.
June is Pride Month.
Here’s why it’s important in the context of the election:
Shortly after this term of Regional Council began, a councillor who is currently on leave for longer than is permitted by the Municipal Act (more on that in a future post) wrote some abhorrent things about same-sex marriage, Pride, and the LGBT community. Sadly, no other politicians immediately stood up and called out the appalling behaviour. (They did eventually, but not nearly as quickly as they should have given the gravity of the situation.)
This can’t be how the people who represent us at any level of government behave. Everyone not only should have a voice with and the basic respect of their elected officials, but they should always feel that they do as well.
I think…I hope that with all of the causes and events that I’ve been involved in over the years (including, but not limited to the (now defunct) Mayor’s Committee on Community and Race Relations and being a founding board member of Quest Community Health Centre, as well as the creation of Underdogs Boxing Club), people know that they can count on me to be a true champion for all people; to speak up about everyone’s concerns.
It’s time to Reset the Region and make sure everyone in Niagara knows they are represented by their elected officials.