Editorials - April 14, 2023
A ‘win’ is just the beginning
The Chippewas of Saugeen First Nations have been awarded ownership of a two-and-a-half-kilometre section of Sauble Beach that has been contested for decades. The portion of the beach in question was part of Treaty 72, signed in 1854, and just two years later the Crown improperly surveyed the land when marking out the reserve boundaries. While the federal government recognized the mistake in the 1970s, the province and the town have been fighting the claim since 1995.
Sauble Beach is a lucrative waterfront tourist destination and the town makes more than $1 million each summer from parking fees. From the sounds of comments, nothing will change for tourists, other than the revenue will go to the Chippewas instead of the Town of Sauble Beach. Many hope that the Chippewas will improve the ecological stewardship of the beach, which is a vital habitat for the endangered piping plover.
While the media headlines declared this a “win” for the Chippewas of Saugeen, that seems to be a simplistic view. A century-old wrong has been righted, but the real work will begin now for the First Nation leaders and the neighbouring municipality to find a way to move forward and work together. Not only is a treasured beach at stake, but there are three private landowners caught up in the crossfire whose generations-long ownership of real estate has been converted into a “life interest” allowing no sale or bequeathing of the property.
No one said reconciliation would be easy. – DS
Checks and balances
The North Huron budget has passed and recreation in the township is safe. But, for how long? Community centres have been spared in this year’s budget, but some glaring concerns remain.
With the budget up for approval, council members were asking very legitimate questions about a $400,000 cut to the recreation budget, perhaps underfunding the department, setting it up to fail, and figures that Director of Recreation Vicky Luttenberger says differ from her submissions to what appears in the now-final budget. For now, those questions remain just questions, as Director of Finance Chris Townes was out sick for one of the most important meetings of his year.
This is not to necessarily point an accusatory finger at Townes, that is, but at a council that simply went ahead and passed the budget in the face of some significant and warranted concerns.
This process has been chaotic from the start, with staff members presenting a splashy potential increase of over 20 per cent followed by even splashier solutions of gutting recreation and closing centres. Now, at the one-yard line, councillors simply accepted what they were given.
Councillors are elected to be our eyes and ears and, most important, our voice when it comes to the business of operating the township. When they can’t get their questions answered in the face of one of the most significant votes of the year, residents should have concerns.
There could be perfectly reasonable and understandable answers to the questions mentioned above, just waiting to be shared. But, the fact that we don’t know for sure is enough to press pause. – SL
Across the aisle
In March of 2022, the Liberal government of Canada made an announcement that it would be pursuing a number of shared priorities with the New Democratic Party (NDP) in exchange for support in maintaining the current minority Parliament until 2025, without forming an official coalition government. For more than a year now, the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Liberals and NDP has brought a semblance of political stability to Canada, which is in stark contrast to the other recent experiences with non-majority governments.
The ongoing fidelity of the agreement between the Liberals and NDP has been characterized as relatively steady and incrementally productive, in sharp contrast to the deadlocked dysfunction and chaotic methods favoured by supporters of last year’s so-called “Freedom Convoy”.
According to Aaron Wherry, a senior writer at the CBC, the Liberal/NDP arrangement has demonstrated the value of communication and building personal relationships between competing parties. Wherry emphasizes that the agreement has necessitated ongoing dialogue and structured meetings to ensure effective co-operation.
While opinions on the specific goals of the Liberal/NDP confidence-and-supply agreement may vary, the key takeaway is the significance of finding common ground between parties as a practical and beneficial strategy to governance in a minority context. This approach has historical precedence, as exemplified by the modern Canadian flag, which was the result of collaborative efforts in a minority parliament. What a contrast to the divisive and inflammatory “F*** Trudeau” flag that has emerged from drastically less collaborative origins.
Whenever the next election arrives, Canadians should consider supporting those willing to work collaboratively to solve problems and achieve goals, not for ones who just say, “My way or F*** it”. – SBS