Thursday, September 28, 2006

Montague Election Diary : Day 2 - The Incumbents

Today, a quick look at the incumbent members of Council here who are running for re-election.

Reeve Gary Doyle, according to the township website, has been active in municipal politics for 19 years and has been Montague's reeve for 13 years. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that whatever may be right or wrong with the township at the present, the buck stops with Doyle. Like our erstwhile federal government, he's had 13 years to prove himself. Reeve Doyle was the public face of the Page defamation lawsuit, and became nationally famous in the Macleans magazine piece. Doyle has several of the Township's officials report directly to him, rather than through the administrative structure of the township and thus exercises a significant amount of power. Mr. Doyle operates a drywall business; as I have not needed any drywalling done I have not had the honour of meeting him. (His challenger for Reeve operates a roofing business and once cleared the ice off a leaking roof for me, so I have met him). Mr. Doyle didn't do any visible campaigning in the last municipal election, nor does he communicate with residents any more than is absolutely essential, so far as I can tell.

Deputy Reeve David Schoular does not live in Montague but is on Council through his ownership of property in the Township. Again, we never heard from him in the last election campaign and he seems to keep a pretty low profile. His name doesn't crop up too often in Council minutes, so it's really hard to know where he stands. He was however on record as a firm supporter of the lawsuit against Mr. Page and he has been vocal in opposing the Ratepayers' Association.

Councillor Vince Carroll's description on the township website is blank. I have not had the time to trawl through all Council minutes from the last three years to determine whether there is more to Mr. Carroll than this suggests. Besides which, Mr. Carroll has complained on the record about public discussion of councillors, so we'll bow to his wishes and we won't discuss him further.

What we have then, in the slate of incumbents, is a group who have very much been running things their own way, and who have certainly done little to avoid or to heal the divisions in the Township. To those of us who have not been involved in the Ratepayer's Association or the Page matter, they have been all but invisible. The impression is that of a comfortable club that has been keeping things ticking over and has not taken kindly to any attempts to scrutinise or change the status quo.

When I lived in Ottawa (the old city) I met Mayor Jim Watson three times over a 4 year period - just randomly, as he took an interest in events I happened to attend. Montague has 1/100th the population of that city and in 5 years there I have never met one of my elected councillors. Perhaps that will change this time around.