Democracy takes a huge hit in Haldimand

IMPORTANT: Be advised that, as per Council’s vote last night, until further notice, any mail – electronic or post – sent to Mayor Trainer at her Haldimand County address is no longer private, and may be distributed to staff and/or other council members at the discretion of the Chief Administrative Officer.

UPDATE 1544 Aug 21/07: See Resolution 863-07: Haldimand’s attack on your privacy for wording of the resolution passed by council.

2inch_voc_logo-url.jpgIn ‘BULLETIN: Mayor Trainer needs your help NOW!‘ I outlined the seedy, backroom manipulations of Haldimand Council as they launched a sneak attack on the mayor’s privacy that would destroy the confidentiality of all communications between her and her constituents.

Last night I, along with Gary McHale, Jeff Parkinson, Donna Pitcher, Merlyn Kinrade and many other residents of Haldimand, watched a farce worthy of a Monty Python production during which council put forth a last minute change to their repugnant resolution which Council approved by a vote of 5-2. Councillor Grice and the Mayor opposed.

The new resolution says that the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will get copies of the mayor’s correspondence, not the entire council. He will also have the authority to distribute your mail as he sees fit. This means, of course, that you and your mayor now have no privacy.

Hamilton Spectator asleep at the switch 

The Hamilton Spectator reporter must have been sleeping through last night’s meeting because today they ran a story entitled, “Haldimand citizens keep e-mails to mayor private.” One resident wrote to me asking, “Were we at the same meeting as this Hamilton Spectator reporter?” I and a number of other people have written to the Spec advising them of the errors in their story. We’ve also heard reports of a radio station repeating the same nonsense. Please send a link to this post if you see similar errors in reporting on this story.

Attack on mayor’s privacy was revenge for speaking out against McGuinty 

In a delicious and, no doubt, inadvertent revelation, Grice defended council’s attack on the mayor’s privacy by confronting her about her decision to publicly speak about the fact that she disagreed with council’s decision not to blame the province in a county press release regarding the native occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates. There is now little doubt that council’s attack on the mayor was motivated by revenge, not by legitimate mail distribution concerns.

Details of last night’s council meeting 

I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow description of last night’s meeting since that’s already been done, or about to be done. Donna Pitcher and Jeff Parkinson already have stories up. Gary McHale has a number of articles and video clips in the works, and I will link to them as they become available. See ‘References’ below.

Residents are fighting back!

Be advised that a number of residents are already taking action against council. I expect that complaints will be filed with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Canada Post and with the courts. Here’s what Caledonia resident Lisa Parent had to say this morning: 

“I just got off the telephone with Canada Post. I explained what happened last night and what it means. I asked if I send a letter to the Mayor marked private and confidential and it is intercepted and forwarded to staff and council, is it against the law?

“His answer was, all mail is private and confidential. Unless the person receiving the mail agrees to forward the mail it is against the law to intercept it. He suggested that we should have a lawyer follow-up on the exact laws that would be broken. He said it applies to all mail not just those marked private and confidential.” 

Haldimand Council is very sadly mistaken if they think their un-democratic attack on the authority and privacy of the mayor is over. It is just getting started. Stay tuned.

I should have worn rubber boots

muzzled_man_cartoon.gifAfter watching Haldimand Council in all their treacherous glory during the past week, I am disgusted by their undeniable lack of respect for the people they are paid to represent. Councillors and staff had secret meetings behind the mayor’s back to craft a seditious attack on her authority and privacy. Two councillors and the CAO ducked out of an important meeting to attend a Liberal re-election photo op. Residents were blatantly and deliberately silenced. One was personally insulted by Councillor Sloat who then assaulted another man. And finally, despite warnings that their actions may well be illegal, councillors pressed on with a vote to ratify a vengeful, ill conceived attack on basic liberties. No, it was not a good week for democracy.

As I drove from Cayuga to Caledonia after last night’s meeting, I marvelled at the magnificent beauty of the Grand River vista during the evening sunset, and wondered if it was true that ‘we get the government we deserve.’

I sure as hell hope not.

Mark Vandermaas, Editor


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