Not surprisingly, the budget passed third and final reading at a special council meeting on Monday, April 18, called in conjunction with the regularly scheduled Executive Meeting. We were given less than the required twenty-four hour notice of the meeting, but, as usual, that wasn't a problem for most of those in attendance. The job for many councillors appears to be to show up and vote without questioning anything.
A question that I often get from people is "How do you do it? How can you keep on beating your head against the wall?" I think that implicit in their questions is "when it appears that nothing is going to change, that most members of council are quite happy to keep collecting their salaries just for showing up and raising their hands when required".
My standard answer is "You do what you can." Perhaps at some point something so outrageous will be proposed that even those who regularly look to the front of the room before they vote will make an independent decision that actually considers the good of the taxpayers of Prince Albert. Or perhaps people represented by other members of council will let their councillor know that they aren't doing the job they are expected to do. Change will come - it is the way of the world. I keep hoping.
But in the meantime, I do it because that's what I was elected to do. The people who voted for me aren't around the council table, and they elected me to stand up for them. To not do so, to just vote with the majority of council because the conclusion is inevitable, and that way we'll give the illusion of being one big happy family, wouldn't be doing the job, as I understand it. I will continue to raise questions about proposed decisions, because that's how the best decisions are arrived at. And some questions I have to raise over and over, because I don't get answers.
Is it frustrating? You bet. Do I get tired of it? You bet. Am I going to change the way I approach the job? Not a chance. Too many people whose opinions I respect and value keep telling me to continue the fight, so I will.
"The only failure a man ought to fear is failure in sticking to the purpose he sees to be best." - George Eliot