Civil Disobedience

If you have been following what I’m up to, you’ll likely know that I now have a column in the Guelph Mercury every third Friday of every month, called Civil Disobedience. See below for links to my columns.

In writing for it I am reminded of the challenge of providing opinion in 650 words that has everything in it that a reader would need if they would have any chance of knowing what I’m talking about, and more, that we likely would have given up on reading long ago as a species had it not been for that higher-being of the written word known as… the editor, the unsung protector of civilization as we could ever hope it to be. So, a big thank you to Phil and his team.

And if you have been following my writing, here, in my recent or previous columns in the Guelph Mercury, or my comments on other blogs — especially 59 Carden St., you will know that an issue for me is how people are vilified for their political views, towards closing down debate that could possibly threaten a political agenda.

This was a lief motif on the part of supporters of Mayor Farbridge, including from within Council from 2002 to 2006 towards the “bloc” of the Kate Quarry council. These notes rose to a high pitch in the 2006 municipal election. Towards moving us forward, I campaigned in that election in Ward 3, a ward that was especially polarized, under my Common Ground Campaign.

And bigger picture now, civic discourse has taken a turn for the worse in town because of the dynamic that was brought to us in that election. The very people who continue to drive the coercion we now have, in terms of what we are able to say publicly, lest we are vilified for it, a small group with considerable impact in this regard, are also the very individuals seemingly too self-assured of their own intelligence and morality to accept that they have a lot to own in this regard.

The ends justify the means, right? How are you actually able to say that? How do you know what “ends” we have been opened up to in our community?

Don’t kid yourself, this dynamic has strained community harmony in Guelph, and everyone should be concerned about it. It’s reap what you sow kind of stuff. There is an aspect of accountability for it that needs to be addressed.

This dynamic in our way of relating to each other and discussing the issues may well stand to be Mayor Farbridge’s most enduring legacy. Who is proud of Guelph, seemingly unlike those who may disagree with a direction that’s been taken.

But I least I won’t be a bystander to it, which is what one does when faced with bullying.

I am doing my part in sounding the alarm about what it has meant and will continue to mean for our community. Call it civil disobedience. It is about saying what so many in the room are thinking, but are afraid to speak out, as it runs counter to the “official speak” that is coming from the powers-that-be at City Hall.

And, for others, it is about speaking for those that have left the room.

I think this is seen in the disengagement we have in Guelph, verified in the low turn-out in the turnout in the 2010 municipal election. Perhaps, hopefully, that accountability will occur in 2014.

It may be that we’ll arrive at the point where we come to together and say as a community, ballot by ballot, that initiatives around “wellness” and downtown splash pads and what-not aside, the bullying doesn’t fit with who we are, and really…

Thanks, but no thanks… what you’re selling just isn’t important enough.


Civil Disobedience columns, published in the Guelph Mercury

Governments can’t forget the people they serve. Friday, October 19, 2012.

Council missed opportunity in handling of bar-stool tax motion. Friday, September 28, 2012.

Elected Senate could bring higher level of civic engagement. Friday, September 21, 2012.

Firing up the attack machine sends a bad signal. September 7, 2012.

About Craig Chamberlain

Ward 3 Guelph resident, dad and step-dad.
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