Delicate democracy, indeed

Delicate democracy, indeed I didn't think I'd live long enough to see a member of Whitehorse council point out the obvious: accountability from Whitehorse elected officials is pitifully lacking on the most fundamental level. Betty Irwin wants councillors

I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see a member of Whitehorse council point out the obvious: accountability from Whitehorse elected officials is pitifully lacking on the most fundamental level.

Betty Irwin wants councillors’ votes recorded, and Ranj Pillai agrees.

They haven’t been there long enough to get comfortable with the stonewalling culture that permeates the old-school councillors, who must have a combined total of about 3,200 years on council by now.

Or maybe it just feels that way.

The reception from the Buckway-Fendrick cabal towards Irwin’s wild idea is predictably frosty.

Mayor Bev Buckway can’t see the point. When an elected official expresses confusion at the notion of sharing their voting record with voters, it’s time for voters to give our collective heads a shake.

But then, how well I know that fluency with democratic principles is not Buckway’s strong suit.

Robert Fendrick, the city’s administrative director, offers that the “average citizen” doesn’t go through council minutes.

Really?

I used to look at them and I’m pretty average.

I gave up because it was a futile exercise.

Council minutes were weeks, sometimes months behind the meetings they documented.

Bylaws were discussed and passed before minutes were available for first reading. At one time, I calculated well over half of the council and administrative meetings were in camera.

Meanwhile, forest clearcuts were authorized and bylaws, such as keeping your lawn under four inches, were passed, and Buckway was re-elected on a platform of “participation, participation, participation.”

It’s not compelling to most people, recorded votes and straightforward and accessible council minutes and reports and transparent discussion of issues. But it’s the nuts and bolts that help keep a community engaged, and democracy functioning.

It takes courage to come forward, as Irwin has, from within the belly of the beast.

In a fair world, she and Pillai would be swamped with well-wishers and expressions of support.

I’m glad I grew up in a time and place where nobody was so partisan or complacent they wouldn’t speak up for the sovereignty of the citizen and protect what Irwin rightly calls, our “delicate” democracy.

What would that look like here?

It would be real-estate agents and developers, environmentalists and the Chamber of Commerce, and members from every political party and every community association Ð every voter in the city, telling Buckway and Fendrick that we want what Irwin wants.

It would be an extraordinary moment indeed.

But I’m not holding my breath.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the entertainment as former city councillors Doug Graham and Jan Stick attempt to navigate very different legislative waters than the ones they enjoyed on Whitehorse council Ð where they voted unanimously to pass the ludicrous voter enumeration-census bylaw Ð in less than 24 hours, at a meeting that wasn’t publicized.

How did that census work out for the city anyway?

Was it worth shortchanging voter enumeration?

I don’t see anything on the website.

Marianne Darragh

Whitehorse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read