Yesterday’s North Star ran an article about concerns regarding the behaviour of councillors during Township of the Archipelago’s council meetings. Here’s a link to the online version of the article.
Having attended some 150 or so meetings of the Town of Parry Sound Council I have yet to see any type of inappropriate behaviour on the part of the councillors in terms of language or respect. Yes, there have been a few occasions where one or more of the members of Council have rolled their eyes, or displayed ‘oppositional’ body language, but these have been very few and are not a part of the culture of the Town of Parry Sound Council. While I may not agree with all of the decisions of Parry Sound Council I do respect them as a group, and as individuals, for their professionalism.
The reported situation with the Archipelago brings back memories of what was going on at McKellar council meetings a couple of years ago. Since the North Star did a series of articles reporting on the behaviour of members of the McKellar Council it seems that things have headed in a more professional direction, to the benefit of all.
Shining a light on the proceedings of councils, be it through the ‘official media’, bloggers, or concerned residents who call out this type of immature and irresponsible conduct is a necessary part of the system of checks and balances. I applaud Anne Stewart for calling out Archipelago Council about her concerns. It takes courage to stand up and say what is often too obvious.
“Boys will be boys” is no longer an acceptable response to inappropriate behaviour. Too many organizations have been exposed as having a culture that is sexist and/or racially insensitive. After a period of ignoring the issue, and then of trying to explain the behaviour really isn’t what it seems to be, followed by explaining the behaviour is not reflective of the true ‘intent’ of the individuals, an organization finally starts to take responsibility. The next step, not always taken by many organizations, is to implement changes in culture, behaviour, and actions. If the problem starts at the top, then the change needs to start at the top.
A suggestion for the Archipelago; start recording and broadcasting your council meetings. Let the public see what goes on at your meetings and let them decide if the conduct of Council is appropriate. Decisions are no longer being made in backrooms in an all-boys club.
The availability of inexpensive recording devices, and easy ways to share the observations, has shone a light on how we as a society operate. Sometimes the light is unwelcome, but it is so necessary.