OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter from Oro-Medonte resident Sandy Agnew questions why some of the Progressive Conservative candidates have not participated in recent debates. Jill Dunlop did not show up for two debates this week in Simcoe North.
Tony Benn, a former British politician, once outlined the five questions you need to ask every politician or person who holds power. “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?”
I would love to ask these questions of our Progressive Conservative MPPs who represent all of Simcoe County’s ridings, but the fact is that every debate I’ve attended they were nowhere to be found.
And this isn’t just happening in the Barrie ridings. In all five ridings, they’ve been missing community-led debates — a chance for the public to ask the questions about their record and what priorities they have for our communities.
So here I will answer those questions for them.
What power do they have? Well, they decide the investments in our health care, education system, our public health, our environmental health, protection of our water, roads and infrastructure and provincial taxes to name a few biggies. The decisions made at the provincial level will impact us for decades to come.
Where did they get it from? From the public and the people who voted for them. Despite only receiving 40 per cent of the votes in the last election, they have 100 per cent of the power.
To me, that means they owe it to us to explain what they did, why they did it and be accountable for their record. When you control all of the strings, you are 100 per cent accountable to everything that happened. But they’re not going to public events to be held accountable. Even before the election, it was next to impossible to book a meeting or get a response to an email or a return phone call. I know I wasn’t the only one.
In whose interests do you exercise it? I’d particularly like to know this since many of the decisions they’re making, including protecting long-term care providers from the legal wrath of families who lost loved ones in nursing homes, to highways that benefit developers who own the land surrounding it, it seems that it’s not for the people. All this was happening while they ignored the needs of autistic children, health-care workers and small businesses, to name a few. For the people, indeed.
To whom are you accountable? Well, it should be the public, but the frequent breaks at Queen's Park, unavailability of MPPs to their constituents and now missing at public forums, it seems that regardless of who they are accountable to, they’re arrogantly assuming these seats are a guarantee; therefore, there is no need for them to work for it or be accountable.
They are displaying extreme contempt for the public and the power we hold. That alone should be enough to remove them from power.
And finally, how can we get rid of you? Well, that’s the easiest part: vote. Why give your vote to a party that won’t even bother to work for your vote? Why give power to people who don’t feel the democratic process is worth their time? Despite our antiquated voting system, there are many great candidates in our region who are working hard for our vote and who have respect for our institutions and democratic principles.
Stop rewarding people who aren’t upholding the tradition of our democracy. Stop rewarding people with votes that they aren’t willing to earn or be accountable for.