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LETTER: Diversity is key to a functioning democracy

Re: Rift on council emerges as North Saanich OCP committees unveiled. The new mayor of North Saanich, Peter Jones, used Section 141 of the Community Charter to establish several new committees to do something related to the Official Community Plan. In creating these committees, it appears that he is not welcoming anyone who holds an opinion contrary to his.

This is evident in his purposeful, and possibly disrespectful, decision to exclude Coun. DiBattista from any of the OCP committees because “he appears to be diametrically opposed to where the vast majority of the residents of North Saanich have said they want to go (with the OCP).”

In a democracy, it is critical that all voices be heard and that those committees be diverse. A total of 1,617 residents voted for Coun. DiBattista. In silencing his voice, their voices are being silenced as well.

As for the “vast majority” who the mayor alleges shares his view, it is important to consider that the vast majority did not vote in the election. In fact, only 35.43% of eligible voters in North Saanich cast ballots. This means that out of 10,694 eligible voters, only 3,789 voted. And of those who did vote, 37 people abstained from voting for a mayoralty candidate. Mayor Jones received 2,226 votes out of a potential 10,694 voters (20.82%). Therefore, 79.2% of eligible voters did not vote for him.

One cannot presume that all of the non-voters support the mayor’s opinions. Diversity is key to a functioning democracy. Membership on those committees must reflect the views of the community as a whole and not just those who support the mayor’s position.

I hope the mayor reconsiders his actions, alters the composition of these committees and includes Coun. DiBattista. Transparency is also key. Hopefully, he will reveal the exact membership and mandate of each committee and why those members were selected so residents know exactly what is happening and why. To protect our democratic systems, he must come to accept that he represents all North Saanich residents, including those who do not share his views, and not just the interests of a small select group.

Paula Young

North Saanich

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