October 02, 2015 - 10:05 AM
Voting is only a very small part of democracy. The ability for groups to gather together to hear different viewpoints, discuss ideas, and raise concerns is another important part. It will never be that every single person in a community agrees with a decision, but having dialogue increases the chance of shared understanding and agreement of what the best options are.
The City of Kamloops has been getting better and better and civic dialogue, no small part because of Councillor Arjun Singh who championed more public engagement.
This week for example, 500 plus people showed up for a chance to give Kamloops City Council questions to ask to KGHM about its proposed mine. Some in the audience supported the mine, others opposed, and it was obvious by the questions which were asked. That so many people cared enough to go to the meeting says a lot about how important this issue is to people in Kamloops, whether they agree with the proposed mine or not.
While some meetings in Kamloops are organized by City Hall, others are by special interest groups.
For example, about 40 people attended a public meeting last weekend organized by the Kamloops Voters Society about the proposed performing arts centre. They came to get answers to questions, voice their concerns and give their support.
Across Kamloops, every morning, old people, mostly men, gather at coffee shops to discuss the ways of the world. They talk about many things, but chief among them is politics. I’ve heard that they are talking about the proposed new performing arts centre right now. There are grumblings that it will cost too much, that the wrong people (as in not them) will benefit, and that the centre will be under-utilized. I’ve heard they talk about the proposed mine too, and how it is or isn’t different than the mines that were around Kamloops in the past and are adjacent to Kamloops now. Whatever their opinions, what’s most important is that they have a chance to talk to others about what they’re thinking.
Whether a meeting organized by City Hall, a special interest group or a coffee klatch, being about to share ideas makes our community stronger. It strengthens our democracy.
Which is why it is too bad that throughout this election Conservative candidate Cathy McLeod has avoided debates and public meetings. For example, she missed the first debate of the campaign at the farmers market and the recent debate at Sahali Secondary School.
There is just over two weeks left before the Oct. 19 federal election. Mulcair, Harper, Trudeau, May and Duceppe will have plenty of air time. But what matters in Kamloops is making a decision on NDP Sundhu, Conservative McLeod, Liberal Powrie and Green Party Greenwood. Here’s hoping that all the candidates show up at all the meetings between now and election day.
Because voting is just the last step.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015