Thursday, October 05, 2006

Montague Election 5 : The First Salvos Part 1 - Incumbents

The election here is now well and truly underway. The Ratepayers Association has distributed an announcement of the all-candidate's meeting they're hosting next week. In the announcement, each candidate was invited to submit a 50 word statement. In this edition of the election diary, we'll take a look at these statements. Today, the incumbents. Tomorrow the challengers.

From current Reeve Gary Doyle:
"I have worked diligently throughout the years to ensure the Township is operationally and financially secure to face the challenges ahead. Through attention to detail, good planning and individuals who are dedicated to completing any tasks, we can keep the Township strong. Ensure your vote produces a positive, progressive Council."
There is a mixture of truth and rhetoric here. Montague Township certainly is on a stable financial footing; that's one of the things I like to gloat about when my friends and co-workers extol the virtues of the mega-city of Ottawa. Operatianally secure? I'm not sure what that means, but if it means the roads get salted and plowed in winter, and occasionally graded when the potholes reach more than 18" in diameter then again it has some truth to it. There is much that could be improved about the basic services offered to residents; road maintenance is but one area where things could really be improved.

Doyle's reputation for fiscal prudence is also in tatters after the Page lawsuit debacle - although rather than take any responsibility at all for the $50,000 to $70,000 they wasted, Council simply increased the property tax this year to compensate. Doyle was invited to apologise to the citizens of the township for his misadventure in ego, but declined to do so. Nobody could accuse Montague's council of 'tax and spend' policies but in the Page matter it was certainly 'tax and lose.' At least if he'd taxed and spent we'd have some 'operational security' to show for it.

From current Deputy Reeve David Schoular (a reminder; Mr. Schoular does not live in Montague).
"I am seeking re-election to the position of Deputy Reeve and solicit residents for their support in electing me to a second term in office. Council has made much progress over the past three years and I am committed to continue this trend over the next four year term."
There isn't much of substance in this statement. Not much to praise, not much to decry. The 'progress' of which Mr. Schoular speaks he will need to elaborate more clearly; again I'm not really sure what progress he means. My tax bill progressed upward. Is that it? We'll find out more on the night...

From Councillor Vince Carroll:
Municipal Council is not a simple process. Our municipality is rural/agricultural and for us to grow economically, we must move forward, perhaps with a gasification plan and a privately funded recreational facility. I'm tired of seeing our tax dollars go out the door with no return to Montague."
Now, here's something concrete, something we can get our teeth into. Mr. Carroll at least has some ideas. I'm not convinced on the gasification plan, but certainly looking at the services offered to residents would be a good idea. Economically, I personally think that a long term view would have to take into account the trend toward more people like myself moving out of Ottawa; the hitech workforce retreating into the country for a bit of peace and quiet. Helping to improve things such as broadband services in the Township might be preferable to natural gas. Not that we want to see the character of the Township change from it's rural nature; but economic realities will force some changes. I think Mr. Carroll's on the right lines to look forward but I'd be interested in hearing his views on the likely makeup of the Montague economy in 25 years time - because I don't think it can be sustained on agriculture in the long term. Especially if (God forbid) we have another Liberal government any time soon.

From Councillor Bill Eckersley:
"Effective councils work by cooperation, respect, experience, a willingness to negotiate and not least, knowing when to compromise. Without this we have gridlock and dissension. I have proved my ability to work with these principles and within the legislated framework of council. So I, once again, ask for your support."
This is all good stuff, but has worrying overtones of 'consensus above all else'. Margaret Thatcher once described consensus as 'Something that nobody believes in, but that nobody objects to." History and personal experience teaches me that the pursuit of consensus above all else leads inevitably to stagnation and mediocrity. Indeed almost all the great advances of science, technology, politics or international affairs have come as a result of someone challenging the consensus of their time. Is Mr. Eckersley ready to stand up for what he believes, or is he going to go along with another ill-considered misadventure like the Page matter?

That's the incumbent slate. Tomorrow we'll look at the challengers in their own words.

Word of mouth tells me I'm getting a lot of readers in the township - folks, let me know if the blog's helping you to think about the election here. I'm not here to tell you how to vote, but I do encourage you to VOTE. If you agree with me, great. If not, maybe I'm helping you crystallize your voting decision anyway. It's all about being informed and making the right decisions for Montague. It's a great place to live, no matter what.