Saturday, January 05, 2008

Montague Council : Wind(bags) of Change

Sadly, after a year of relative peace and quiet in our little backwater of Eastern Ontario, in which many bridges looked well on the way to being mended, and hatchets buried, events have overtaken us.

Deputy Reeve Peter Kavanagh has been increasingly called away in the course of his consulting business and therefore has made the difficult decision to step down. TDPC applauds Peter for his courage and integrity in making this decision, and for the very significant contribution he has made to Montague. He will be missed.

The resignation left council with the option of appointing someone to serve the remainder of the term, or holding a by-election, and here's where things get interesting again. The press coverage of the meeting in which council reached the decision to hold a byelection is nothing short of an embarrassment to the township.

Some people were apparently miffed that Peter Kavanagh had discussed his resignation with Reeve John McTavish the night before he publicly announced it at council. Clearly to any right thinking person this was a correct and proper course of action, and Mr. McTavish was entirely correct to respect the confidence Peter asked for. The Deputy Reeve is exactly that, a deputy for the Reeve, so it only makes sense that the Reeve should be the first to know and should have had input into Peter's decision.

More embarrassment stemmed from Cllr. Bill Eckersley's "long winded" public address. Eckersley apologised to the public for the cost of the upcoming byelection - thus confirming that he favoured the appointment solution. He went on to talk about rumours in the township concerning remarks he may, or may not have, uttered while intoxicated, or not intoxicated, in a pub in Smiths Falls. Yes, in an open council meeting, in front of the press, your elected representative went there. It isn't clear from the Record News report whether Eckersley denied either being intoxicated or making the offending remarks, but what a spectacle.

However, the Record News does offer the solution to the conundrum of why Eckersley was so excercised. "You made sure it would be anyone but me," he's quoted as saying, and in the process revealing that the real issue here was his own political aspirations. He then voted in favour of holding the byelection, claiming that he had no choice. To quote a former PM, 'Sir, you had a choice'. If you favour appointment, vote for appointment. If you vote for a byelection to be held, then quit pretending you didn't want a byelection to be held. This is not rocket science, Councillor and we're not as dumb as you might think we are, just because we happen to live in the boonies. And if you want to be Deputy Reeve, go ahead and stand in the byelection. It'll do wonders for the sale of earplugs in Lanark if you win.

As it is, thanks to the media coverage, Montague council is again being held up as a laughing-stock in the area. Cllr. Eckersley is proud of the many courses he's undertaken as part of his education in public service. The one course he needs is one that is offered only in the University of Life, and that is when to keep one's mouth shut.