EDITORIAL: Council should hear concerns

Vernon politicians belittling actions of residents taking a stand for Okanagan Landing firefighters

It’s difficult to understand why a majority of Vernon council is so opposed to receiving a petition about the Okanagan Landing firefighters’ contract issue.

No one is asking council members to break confidentiality and disclose labour and legal details in a public venue. They are also not being asked to enter into a debate with the person presenting the petition.

While the petition calls for council to revisit its decision to end the firefighters’ contract, the politicians have complete control over that.

All that’s actually being requested of council is to listen to a constituent, and in our democracy, that is a basic right.

Residents should be permitted to appear before their elected representatives. In fact, making presentations to council is something Rob Sawatzky did several times prior to being elected mayor.

It’s also unfortunate that the integrity of the petition is being undermined.

“I looked through the signatures and many were not city residents. Many did not know what they were signing,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

Those concerns could be raised about every petition that has come before city hall, including possibly some that Cunningham agreed with.

It’s likely that the bulk of the 1,670 names were from Vernon, and what actually counts is that people took the effort to organize a campaign and take pen to paper. Once again, that is part of our democratic tradition.

And perhaps that is the bottom line, if council members are confident that ending the contract was best for the community, then there is no need to hide or belittle the actions of residents taking a stand.

– Vernon Morning Star