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Collard says “show me” what he said in past

13/03/26 — Councillors Stephen Passero and Paul Collard had a testy exchange over the merits of a ward system in municipal elections and an open system during the March 18 council meeting.

A transcript of their comments is published below with some large redactions made for space and relevance.

Collard’s challenge is at the end of this piece.

Collard: Voter turnout is historically very low to begin with and certainly the turnout at a lot of public meetings is not what it should be and I don’t know that it’s really representative. It meets the requirements but.

The information I’ve had back, and maybe the “No”s do come out first, but I certainly haven’t had people beating down my door telling me that they want to get rid of the ward system.

The system that we have, I think, works. I don’t know of any particular ward that has ever stopped a major project that would be in the best interest of the municipality.

We may have differences of opinions. Our votes are not always seven-nothing. Thank heavens. But they do go forward and I think that every single person at this horseshoe does look at what’s best for the best interest of the municipality regardless of where you’re from.

The fact that I live in Ward 6 doesn’t preclude me from serving in another ward. So we do have the option of having no boundaries, and, matter of fact, in the last election I believe one of the candidates didn’t live in Ward 6, and that was his choice to run in that ward.

The other equation that hasn’t been brought forward — and I don’t think anybody at the table ran because it paid a whole lot of money and certainly pay a lot of money for some of the feedback we got — for someone to go and spend, you know, double-digit number to be elected and then the remuneration is $12,000, I think that might be a little bit of a deterrent, and, again, I didn’t do it for the money. I also wouldn’t do it to take two years to pay back my campaign expenses.

So I think what we have is working. There are people that don’t like it and I understand why some of those people don’t like it.

But the fact of the matter is the system we’ve got — whether you agree with the decisions of this council — this council in the past two years has been effective, contrary to what you might read in some of the blogs.

There’s been major developments take place. There’s been some hiccups along the way but the town does move forward with what we’ve got.

And so I think that it’s — the system we have, it works. I don’t see any reason why we need to change it.

Passero: Even though we ran in a ward system, and it’s been like that for several elections, the day after the election happens, when you sit in one of these chairs, you speak on behalf of everybody. And, to me, there’s an inherent problem or difficulty there when you now speak on behalf of everybody but not everybody had a say in who’s sitting in these chairs. And moreover the decisions that you now make for four years that have affected everybody, only one small segment of the population gets to determine whether or not you did a good job or bad.

Secondly, speaking to the voter turnout issue, traditionally it has been low. Is that something that would change with an at-large system, possibly. I do believe more people would make a committed effort if they knew that they would have a say in every single one of these individuals versus just their ward councillor because, let’s be honest, in a ward system, it’s very much 90 per cent who has more family and friends in that neighbourhood than anything else. It’s not issues based. Let’s be realistic. It’s family and friends and who you can get out to the polls.

An at-large system, there’s no way it works that way. It’s who has the best ideas, who can communicate their message and who has a proven track record and history of working for this community, not somebody who appears out of nowhere and can get more people within a certain quadrant of the town to show up to the polls that day.

So I’m asking the chair to vote in favour of this tabling motion. Let’s give another two weeks or a month to go by. Now that people have the information, now that they’ve had the opportunity to hear us speak, which is an important component of that dialogue and process, and maybe no one around this table will have changed their minds and it goes away.

I think to deny the community that opportunity at this point would be a severe injustice, especially given the importance of this issue.

Collard: Anyway, in terms of people having friends you can run in your ward, I don’t know how you ran your campaign, councillor Passero, but I did go out and speak door-to-door with people, people I didn’t know. So I think it’s more than just having friends that’s going to get you elected.

I think if you speak to the people you can certainly focus on the people you represent and again I repeat, we do speak for all of the people in this town and this municipality. The decisions we cast is one vote for all those decisions regardless of where you’re from.

And again, I don’t know of any councillor from any ward who has ever stopped a project because they were from a particular ward so I think that the system we have is working. It is working, contrary to what a few people might say.

I don’t know what these polls are, these scientific polls, scientific wild guesses, but I’m not sure I’ve seen any number on here or heard any number that would indicate to me that they’re storming the Bastille and they want to have these ward systems abolished.

Passero: It was during the budget season two years ago when I tried to get money for the Kinsmen Pool, and your exact words were, before you voted to defeat it, “I can’t see spending that kind of money for a facility that will serve just that part of town.”

So I believe there was an instance . . . [Collard said something off microphone.] Word for word, councillor Collard. I’ll never forget them.

Collard: I think you better pull the Hansard and show me that. I didn’t say that so that’s all I’m going to say to that.

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