Six Hundred And Fifty

Six hundred and fifty.

That was the number of words in a recent column reacting to a Councillor’s motion that didn’t even go anywhere.

But if who wrote the piece really doesn’t matter, or at least less than that Community Editorial Columnist’s politics — as a supporter of the Mayor — the name of the Councillor and the details of the failed motion driving that column does.

And that would be, Councillor Cam Guthrie. The motion, as I understand it, was to simply refer to the Governance Committee a request that it look at the feasibility of Council meeting in August, instead of well, not meeting.

I was in the gallery for that Council meeting. A lot was revealed in it, including during the discussion of whether or not to meet in August. To blog or not to blog: there were elements of that discussion that made me sit up. And I will return to some of that next post. But suffice to say, I didn’t jump on it as I should have here.

Thanks to that Community Editorial Columnist (and Scott Tracey), we are talking about it now. (Scott Tracey reported on it that night — here’s a backgrounder.)

The short of it is, Councillor Guthrie presented his motion, one and then some other councillors spoke against it, Councillor Bell spoke in favour of it, other councillors spoke out against it, I think another councillor spoke in support of it, Councillor Guthrie further spoke to his motion, the Mayor spoke against it, a vote was taken and it failed.

The majority vote on Council determined that Council wouldn’t refer the idea to committee. They decided they wouldn’t even ask the committee to talk about it. It died right there. (Or at least it was supposed to die.)

But hey, majority vote. That’s how it goes. That’s how decisions are made. That’s of course not to say there isn’t accountability subsequently attached to that decision for members of council, though, really, who’s paying attention, right?

Well no one, really. Until they are. That’s how it goes as well.

What really gets people’s attention? Columns about failed motions and leadership ambitions. Why? Because something about it stinks. It’s petty. It’s petty on the part of the majority, petty on the part of that columnist.

And it gets people’s attention because it suggests at least one of the Mayor’s supporters is quite threatened by Councillor Guthrie and any future bid he may have to be mayor.

Which is to signal to would-be voters: Maybe he is a contender, maybe he is someone to watch, maybe he is an option. WHY ARE THEY so worried about him?

Which actually is the best thing that could have happened for Councillor Guthrie. Far better than being successful in his motion, and having the Governance Committee decide to have everyone attend a meeting that didn’t include much business.

But then again, none of that was what Councillor Guthrie wanted.

He wanted to meet for the sake of conducting the City’s business. Which is part of why the reaction to him is so revealing. In it, they exposed themselves. 

At the core of it, the failed motion was about challenging how things are done, in an all-things-considered, small but meaningful way.

The majority on council reacted by slamming the door on it. The columnist reacted with six hundred and fifty words towards what seems will be part of a narrative intended to cut the legs out from a potential contender for the mayor’s seat.

Which given an angle in the column against Councillor Guthrie, about maturity and wisdom, neither of which were particularly wise, ironically.

And in that irony, there’s arrogance as well. Something else that catches the attention of voters.

I dread, as most of us will, what else this signals: the firing up the attack machine. If this is what we can expect to see from the Mayor’s supporters in reaction to a benign failed motion to refer something to a committee, well, what are we going to see in response to something more substantive?

They would be well advised to be more cautious in any future attacks they make on would-be contenders. But I wouldn’t hold out for it. With arrogance comes that blind spot that doesn’t perceive one’s disconnect with another majority.

Six hundred and fifty words. Expect tens of thousands more to come.

About Craig Chamberlain

Ward 3 Guelph resident, dad and step-dad.
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