Podcasting to Reset the Region – What does it mean; how can we do this?

Episode 6 of Podcasting to Reset the Region is about the impact one or a few new Regional Councillors can have.

The transcript for my hearing impaired friends and followers is as follows:

Welcome to Podcasting to Reset the Region. I’m Laura Ip, and I’m running to represent the people of St. Catharines at Niagara Regional Council.

My campaign slogan is: Reset the Region, and people have asked me what this means; what does it mean to Reset the Region; and how can I do it? Certainly, alone, how can I Reset the Region?

Well, first of all, I’m hoping that I won’t be the only one who is elected to Regional Council who believes that the Region needs to be Reset, but let’s say that I am. Let’s say on the off chance that I am the only person who is elected, who is different or of a different way of thinking than the people that we currently have at Regional Council.

I have a reputation in the community for being, we’ll say ‘vocal.’ That’s, uh, that’s the concern that people have around some of the issues is that I’m too vocal. But what does that do at Regional Council?

Given a lot of the things that we’ve seen the last four years and particularly the last six or eight months, having someone at Regional Council who’s vocal can go quite a long way. One person really can make a difference. There is a, there’s a quote actually by Margaret Mead that says, you know, when you think a small group of people can’t make change, in fact, it’s the only thing that ever has. But having someone on Council who knows what municipal government can and cannot do; is guided by a strong set of ethics and values; knows what the Municipal Act says is important, because when things come forward at Regional Council either through the agenda as official business or when other councillors are saying or doing things in the community that maybe the community doesn’t agree with or appreciate – to put it nicely – having someone on Regional Council who will bring those things up and be vocal about them makes them a matter of public record. So, even if I am only one voice on Regional Council, if I’m bringing things up at the beginning of a meeting to try to get them on the agenda or bringing up something under New Business, it means it’s a matter of public record. It means that the voice of the people, if you’re voicing your concerns on social media or by calling me or sending me e-mails, it means the voice of the people is being brought up at Regional Council. It means that your voice is being heard through me.

Now, of course, I’m hopeful that come Monday, October 22, the people of Niagara will vote for several people to help Reset the Region. We have councillors in every municipality who need to be replaced, in my opinion. And the challenge is while the, what I’m going to call ‘bad’ councillors have made themselves pretty well known, there’s another group of councillors who maybe haven’t been as effective as we would like them to be.

When things have been going wrong at the Region, there are a number of councillors who have been what I’ll say, going along to get along. So, they’ve been quiet about it; they haven’t taken a stand; they haven’t made it clear that the community has concerns. Um, up until the last few months, we have seen many people on Regional Council just sit back and be quiet.

Now, of course, we don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors during in-camera meetings*, but we shouldn’t. Really. We shouldn’t know what’s going on in those meetings, because of the nature of them, but in open council where the public is viewing the meeting or attending the meeting, we’ve seen a number of councillors be very quiet, and that’s a problem as well, because even if they know the concerns of the public, if they’re not raising them, then in my opinion, they’re not effective councillors.

Again, while I hope that I am not the only councillor who is interested in Resetting the Region, I do think that one person can make a difference. One vocal person; one person who is listening to and learning from the people of Niagara can make a difference.

If you have questions about my campaign, about where I stand on various issues, about my feelings about some of the things that have been going on specifically at Regional Council the last four years, you can visit my website: lauraip.ca; you can find me on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching Laura Ip for Regional Council; you can, of course, e-mail me: laura@lauraip.ca; and beginning on Tuesday, September 18, and every couple of days, I’m also going to be having meetings that I’m just calling: Coffee with Laura.

So, I’ll be at various coffee shops throughout the city, every couple of days, between September 18 and October 20, where you can come out and talk about Regional politics. You can talk about what’s going on in the community. You can talk about what’s important to you; what you’re hoping I will work to accomplish at the Region, because I think that communication with the public is of paramount importance, and I think a lot of times our Regional government is insulated from the community a bit, and that’s why many of the things we’ve seen the last four years and, again, the last six or eight months have gone unnoticed until now, because of that insulation.

The first Coffee with Laura is on Tuesday, September 18 at Tim Horton’s at 525 Welland Avenue. You can find all of the dates on my Facebook page as well as on my website under a blog post called: Communication is of paramount importance.

On Monday, October 22, 2018, I hope that you’ll vote to Reset the Region. Vote for me – Laura Ip – for Regional Council.

*Note: I, of course, mean this with respect to whether or not some of our quieter councillors are speaking up at all. We all know that there has been an unprecedented number of leaks from in-camera meetings, which means we know some of what’s been happening in these meetings, but we don’t know that those who have been quiet in open council haven’t spoken up otherwise.

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