By Mike Archer. There is a great deal of hope that Monday’s inauguration of Henry Braun as Abbotsford’s new mayor and a council with four new members will mean a great deal of change for this city.
While I share in that optimisim, there are several reasons to be cautious as we watch the new mayor and council wade into what promises to be a heavy and sometimes difficult agenda. We can’t forget that four of those we elected to sit on council have played a major part in creating what so many seem to hope will be changed.
Neither the old power structure nor their agenda will disappear just because of an election.
All that has happened is that a legislative opportunity has presented itself for a new council to respond to the minority of the electorate which votes and change some of the more unseemly, inept and discredited aspects of public policy in Abbotsford.
It will be neither quick nor easy but at least those intent on changing things at City Hall have the ultimate premission and authority bestowed upon them by the voting public to start the process.
Mayor Henry Braun has stated that job one will be the homeless crisis. Neither he nor the four new councillors believe that the old council and mayor’s strategy of fighting homelessness with police and lawyers was appropriate.
That doesn’t mean the four old councillors have changed their minds on the subject. Nor does it mean that many powerful individuals and groups within the power structure are still perfectly happy with criminalizing poverty, mental illness and addiction.
It simply means there is light at the end of the tunnel for those who believe we should be helping the marginalized instead of persecuting them.
Other issues such as the elusive economic growth the City has been seeking for over a decade; the necessary changes in the manner in which the public and the business community are treated by local bureacracy and police; the financial mess left by a succession of weak councils with little or no understanding of the financial consequences of what a small group of well-placed individuals and groups were asking them to do …
All of these issues will demand superior political leadership on the part of Mayor Braun, the new councillors and those old councillors who have woken up and smelled the coffee. Any councillors who have misunderstood the call and the need for change are and will remain in the minority and are on the wrong side of history.
It doesn’t mean the job of changing things will be easy. It just means it will be possible.
We owe the agents of that change our patience as they take on the job of delivering the results for which we voted.
Join the discussion 4 Comments
Enrique Rempel Says:
I guess unbiased reporting is no longer possible, but then again Today Media has never been accused of being a NEWS forum.
Articles that put half of the council against the other half before it has even started is neither helpful or intelligent. Hopeful ALL the council member can look past this kind of BS and focus on working and helping our city.
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Mike Archer Says:
Hey Enrique, Thanks for your comment. I have to say I’m getting a little tired of having the opinion pieces on Abbotsford Today attacked for containing opinions. Reporting and commenting are not the same thing. We make very clear distinctions between our news coverage and our editorials, opinions and columns. Your inability to tell the difference is, frankly, not our responsibility. Perhaps the fact that no other media in Abbotsford ever expresses a useful, topical or meaningful opinion on issues of importance to the community has the community confused into thinking someone in the media having an opinion is somehow unseemly or wrong. Media outside of Abbotsford have been expressing opinion for hundreds of years and it has lead to some quite interesting and meaningful changes over that time period. If you honestly believe that the way I have described what I think are the issues facing this new council in a political column are wrong or misplaced you are absolutely entitled to say so. Why you feel you have to couch your opinion of my opinion in a phrase like “Today Media has never been accused of being a NEWS forum” I have no idea unless you are interested in attacking my credentials or my right to have an opinion. Frankly; your accusation about news coverage is untrue, unfair, deeply insulting and betrays a lack of understanding of the media’s role in society which surprises me. Go to our website, go to the NEWS section and repeat your accusation if think you can.
When it comes to matters of governance – the actions of our various levels of government – opinion and commentary are as necessary as reporting what the actions were.
Opinion and Commentary give the actions taken context, set out what the actions means – not what it seems to mean and explores the consequences of the actions.
When Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced the government would be increasing its spending on healthcare by 2% a year for the next 5 years far to many people thought that meant they would be getting more healthcare when the reality is they will be getting LESS healthcare 8+% healthcare EVERY YEAR.
That is because the costs of healthcare are rising at double digit [10%=] rates. If the cost of healthcare increases 10% but spending only increases 2% you have gotten 8% LESS healthcare not 2% more.
That is an extremely significant difference.
Opinion and commentary provide the opportunity to provide explanation and context to provide understanding and bring important issues to the attention of the public…….and politicians.
Readers who disagree with an opinion or commentary can set their interpretation, point of view, to words and submit it to Abbotsford Today and have it published.
Because the Forum that Abbotsford Today provides, a forum that the tradition broadcast and print media once provided but no longer do, is a place to share opposing views, views from different perspectives, views influenced by different life experiences. A place to examine those differing views, exchange and test ideas.
That kind of Forum is invaluable.
Because it is far to easy for governments, businesses and individuals to lie [create a false impression] via choosing which facts are presented and how they are presented.
Many do not like opinion or commentary that does not reinforce their assumptions and what they know [no matter how inaccurate their knowledge is] because it threatens to make them think or worse – GASP – change their viewpoint.
And we all know were that leads……rational decision making based on facts.
Dan MacGuire Says:
Yes, absolutely Henry Braun and the other NEWLY elected people need our patience … but the others really should get an earful – now is the time to remind them that a new approach is needed for the city to move forward – if they get a hundred calls, emails or letters I would think at least one of them will see the light!!