Re: City of White Rock targets ‘abusive’ residents, Jan. 27.
I read with alarm, but not surprise, the proposed changes to the Council and Committee Procedure Bylaw by selected members of White Rock city council.
Alarm because anytime a governmental body proposes restricting freedom of speech we should all be concerned; and the lack of surprise coming from expecting this kind of behaviour from certain members of this council.
Here’s the thing; as citizens of Canada we have a right and responsibility to make our views known on matters that impact our community and our lives.
The sad part here is that this seems to be utterly lost on some council members and city staff. Clearly several need to be reminded that they are appointed or hired to serve the citizens of this city, not the other way around.
Are there people in White Rock who communicate towards the council and staff abrasively, or with a perceived lack of respect? Certainly. It is this freedom that enables citizens to exchange views and information, to protest against injustice, to influence the public discourse, and to criticize the actions of the government.
Restrictions on free speech cause harm to democratic life and stand in contradiction to the fundamental principles of democracy – that government should impose no more than the necessary minimum of restrictions on individuals, especially regarding their basic rights of freedom of speech.
Or to put it more directly: Dear White Rock council, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen…
Steven Hughes, White Rock
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I read with interest the news story concerning “abusive” comments being directed towards White Rock city council by members of the loyal opposition who, I would guess, think they know more about running the city than the current council does!
I have only lived in this area for five months, so for now I really cannot comment on the pros and cons concerning local politics, not as of yet. But my experiences attending council meetings in Burnaby allows me testify to the fact that there is always a group of irate citizens out there who like to think they should have a ‘direct’ say in how the city should be run.
I get that and I understand the frustrations we all have with our governments in general. I grumble to my poor suffering wife about this and that and who and what – because we pay the bills via taxes. But that’s all I can do because I’m not an expert in basic fundamentals of how a city runs. And neither are the naysayers.
I can see what’s happening to South Surrey-White Rock; all of us can. A lot of it is not pretty or not all that well considered or executed – the removal of the plant life on the hill seemed to be a glaring example. People should be annoyed and rightly so.
The question begs to be asked of the naysayers: just what makes you an expert on all matters large and small on any subject? What gives you the right to hog more time to comment when others are speaking?
You oppose something? Then by all means do so. But try to remember you’re living in a democracy, and the people you are badgering were ‘elected’ to run the city – you were not. It’s called civil discourse, look it up and learn something.
The fact of the matter is that so long as you keep yelling, no one will listen. In the end, all you’re doing is yelling, and that rarely endears your elected officials’ ears to your cause. You become an annoying noise, just like the train horn blasts. People hear it but tune it out when they hear it day after day.
Mark Tyson, Surrey
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An open letter to White Rock council.
I advise all of you to take notes from the following links before pursuing a muzzle bylaw on the citizens:
There is an abundance of links I could include, but let’s just leave them to the above.
I double-dare you to call in the RCMP the next time I cry out, “Shame!” or laugh out loud in the council chambers!
At the very least, confer with your legal advisors before you consider doing so.
Erika Johanson, White Rock