Jim Elliott

Bringing a New Voice to Regina

Gyro Club Stadium Debate

Good evening folks.  I am writing this after coming home from the mayoralty debate at the Gyro Club dinner.  It was a semi private forum but as it was mistakenly printed that the meeting was open, a number of public were allowed in to the meeting along with the media.

All but one candidate was there.  The moderator, Blaine Lucyk, did an admirable job of both bringing the missing candidates views into the event but also kept the candidates in line while they made speeches, not an easy task.  Each were given an introductory 5 minute time and then was given a chance to ask another candidate a question.  Not surprisingly, most of those questions went to Michael Fougere as he was the one in the know about the stadium.  We then closed with a one minute closing and were able to answer a few questions from the audience.

For the fundamental question, about half were not in favour of the current proposal.  Mr. Fougere was in favour and the other three were not willing to not accept a new stadium if given enough information.

But the concern that seemed to be flowing around easily is a lot of generalities and not too much detail.  We seem to have nice pictures, a few broad budget items, no detail on when or if private funding will come.  When asked about whether the Mosaic stadium was maintained, a very vague yes was provided, no details.

What was even more problematic was the shield of representative democracy used by Mr. Fougere to shield himself and other councillors and his definition of open democracy.  Council should be able to make decisions on anything without public consultation even the day before the election.  And because someone can walk into council chambers and observe the proceedings, this is the most open system we have.  If this is the best, we are much deeper in trouble than we thought.  The best I could say is that the door to democracy isn’t locked like it was before.  You have to know how to open the door, open it far enough to get in and have the opportunity to let others in before we can say it is good.  There are so many barriers to democracy, it would take another entry to write them all down.  That doesn’t even get into whether the Council will even acknowledge your existence or take your input into the decision.  My best scenario is that there shouldn’t even be a door to stop the public coming in.  I have been thinking of what happens in Prince Albert.  They have a day, once a month where any citizen can come into an open mic and ask a question of Council and they are expected to answer the question.

As for the representative democracy, Mayor and Council have an obligation and perhaps legally to engage the public in decisions of this nature before a path can be taken.  Council does not have carte blanche or no restrictions.  What hasn’t happened yet is the public revoking the privileges of Council to do what they think they can do.  A bylaw should be written on limiting decisions like this either to a referendum or to restrict this prior to an election.

On to the next debate.


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