Lower and lower - Shawn Loughlin editorial
This is a disappointing column to write, but I think the time has come for North Huron residents to be concerned with some of the decisions being made by council and the behaviour of some councillors. Are individual councillors making decisions based on what they feel best represents the views of their constituents, or are they imposing their views on the rest of us?
I tried to write this column a few weeks ago, but it never quite said what I wanted it to. I’m glad I waited, because the situation has only worsened in the interim.
A municipal council is like a baseball team. The word on baseball has always been that it’s an individual sport masquerading as a team sport. Sure, there are nine of you out there, but it’s not a team sport like hockey or soccer. In a municipal council, we have individuals who are masquerading as a cohesive unit and those individuals have varied backgrounds when it comes to everything from where they live and what they do to their religion and principles.
I have written before about the shameful ongoing situation between North Huron and Morris-Turnberry. The behaviour of both councils have been disappointing at best and laughably juvenile at worst (though you could make the case that it turning into a rift between two neighbours from which neither will ever recover could be the worst case scenario). Countless letters have been written, from those affected and those who aren’t, and Huron County has even threatened to step in so the adults can handle things, to no avail. (This even resulted in Reeve Bernie Bailey running down renowned scholar, researcher and professor Wayne Caldwell, whose name was floated as a potential third-party moderator.)
Now, however, things have firmly crossed over into the embarrassing as North Huron Council has hid behind policy as a reason to not fly the pride flag, with Councillor Chris Palmer suggesting that flying a pride flag would be a first step towards eventually flying something as trivial as a “Hot Wheels” flag. This kind of statement is unbecoming of an elected official, there really is no other way to say it (at least in this resident’s opinion), despite his half-hearted efforts to then assure us that he thinks everyone is equal. This came after Palmer criticized a proposed Indigenous land acknowledgment just a few weeks earlier, suggesting that it was in the wrong because it didn’t fit with Christian religious beliefs.
And while the situation has yet to appear before council, the request to rename Gypsy Lane looms, as the Blyth Festival is already facing resistance about changing a street name with a name that many have flagged as racist.
North Huron is officially becoming the black sheep of the county and residents are being dragged along for the ride. Between letters to the editor, conversations on the street and online comments on our stories, it’s clear that many council decisions are not reflecting the views of residents. But do they care?
This community is home to the Blyth Festival, a beacon for artists that has made a point of telling Indigenous and LGBTQ+ stories on the Memorial Hall stage; stories that have been embraced by Festival audiences. One has to wonder if that will continue if our representatives keep acting in this way.
Great leaders are unifiers. They believe in a rising tide lifting all boats and they think before acting and then do so with compassion. Some North Huron councillors are hellbent on being divisive and seem to be more interested in making enemies than friends, intent on tearing down, rather than building up.