News Views: Shushing

Pitt Meadows council wants to suspend question period for the six weeks prior to a municipal election.

Pitt Meadows council wants to suspend question period for the six weeks prior to a municipal election, to avoid politicking, grandstanding or campaigning.

The 15-minute session usually follows council’s regular meeting, and provides members of the public an opportunity to speak about what concerns them, such as the budget.

Coun. Tracy Miyashita opposed changing the procedures bylaw to suspend question period.

She said doing so is silly.

“We’re afraid of a question?”

Coun. Miyashita couldn’t be more correct.

Question periods have long followed government meetings, and through many municipal elections.

Now, in the age of social media, they are too much?

Who’s grandstanding now?

Some prospective council candidates have used that period to promote their agendas, and intentions, which would mean they had to actually attend a meeting.

Eliminating question period prior to an election could stifle debate on a divisive or key issue.

Answers to questions provide information for all constituents.

Question period holds politicians accountable.

And if questions don’t pertain to civic business, or are inappropriate, the mayor, gavel in hand, is there to ensure protocol is followed.

Coun. Bill Dingwall is right: council should encourage citizens to comment and ask questions about city business at every meeting it holds in public.

Participation is part of democracy.

Coun. Janis Elkerton thinks there are plenty of other opportunities for the public to engage council, and that other municipalities are also suspending question period.

So why have it at all? Why then increase the length of time for a question to three minutes?

Some questions must be pretty important.

And we’re pretty sure council can handle them, any time.

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News