Grow up or shut up - Shawn Loughlin editorial
When Citizen founder Keith Roulston first named me editor of this fine newspaper he said it was important for The Citizen editor to live in the community the newspaper serves. Admittedly, at first, I didn’t see the importance of such a move.
I lived in Goderich and didn’t think it was another world compared to Blyth or Brussels. However, once Jess and I moved to Blyth, I at once felt more connected to the community. Living here has helped me get the jump on many stories I wouldn’t have otherwise and it has resulted in a true community investment.
There is a dark side to that investment. As part of a community, you succeed when it succeeds just as you fail when it fails. And when there are squabbles, especially as the editor of the local newspaper, you can’t help but feel as though you’re right in the middle.
You could argue that the aforementioned dark side of community investment does just what it’s designed to. If your community fears losing something, fearing you too will lose it, you could argue, lights a fire under you.
As a new father, I am hyper-aware of the future of our community. I want to see daycare in Blyth for Tallulah. I want a viable arena so she can play hockey one day. Most of all, I want to raise her in a community of which she can be proud. This starts here in Huron County and goes all the way up to the international stage. U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept a democratically-sound election loss, climate change, nationalism on the rise and intelligence on the decline keep me up. I want her to grow up in a safe, caring, stable world.
With that preamble out of the way, I have to say that one of the parts of my job I find the most laborious is editing Denny’s North Huron and Morris-Turnberry Council coverage.
Often controversial and full of meaty quotes and must-read potential, which is great for The Citizen, this coverage, to me, feels like watching two parents who hate each other forced to stay together for the kids and arguing over the bills. We’re the forgotten children of a relationship that seems to have run its course.
Seeing the two councils nickel-and-dime each other and exchange childish barbs has been a real disappointment, I have to say.
I understand there are real issues to debate. Cross-border servicing in this criss-crossed county is confusing and often there are losers and winners. But watching local councillors bungle opportunities to find common ground time after time has been excruciating.
It really hit home for me watching a recent Huron County Council meeting. When one of our local representatives started bickering, attempting to rob another of some funding, other councillors stepped in, like the adults in the room, and said, essentially, that behaviour was unbecoming of elected officials.
Those paying taxes in North Huron and Morris-Turnberry deserve better. And through conversations I’ve had, I have yet to get a response to this issue that doesn’t involve a wry smile and a slow, methodical head shake. People don’t care about the minutiae of who pays what, they want co-operation, integrity and leadership from their politicians, not a bar fight they feel obliged to break up before they and their friends get drawn into it.
Residents want more from their councils. We can complain about the borders, but they’re not going anywhere, so we better learn to live with them. These divisions run deep and they are nothing new, but we need an adult in the room to stand up and advocate for co-operation, reason and the best interests of the people over a sense of winning and losing.