Clumsily Stumbling About
In mid-March, the Wahta Council sent out a late newsletter and added postings on their website to notify the people of Wahta, the Wahtaronon, of the Council’s intent to have a vote on their “Wahta Mohawks Membership Consultation Plan.” A general community meeting was held on March 28, 2015. The Council admitted that they had received minimal, if any, substantive feedback on their Consultation Plan since it was introduced at the previous general community meeting last fall. In the end, no vote was held.
Wahtaronon are now receiving envelopes in the mail encouraging people to send back a ballot indicating that they either agree or disagree “with the adoption of the WMMCP.” The ballot is also a lottery ticket for one draw of $100 dollars. The Wahta Council is not concerned in the least about the optics of providing a monetary incentive to vote.
The proposed Consultation Plan was developed from a flawed foundation.
In dismissing the Governance laws which were developed and ratified by the community after a three-year process that involved community workshops, meetings, and newsletter information exchange, the current Council took the position that there wasn’t enough involvement from the membership as a whole. They claim this is one of the reasons they developed the Consultation Policy. Yet only two dozen people showed up for the vote they called. In contrast, in 2014 more than double the number of people attended the meeting to adopt the Governance laws, which is very significant for a community with approximately one hundred adult voters residing in the territory.
The validity of the vote to adopt the proposed Consultation Plan is questionable, since the Council’s intent is to replace laws which are meant to hold it accountable.
The Consultation Plan itself is flawed.
The Consultation Plan was developed by the Council and Administration. In fact, the version they posted online has the name of the former mayor of the neighbouring municipality (now Wahta’s Financial Accountant), attached to it. There is no ownership by the people or empowerment of the people in this process. In contrast, the Governance laws were developed by the people. The people can see their words in the document.
The Wahta Council is now struggling to keep up the charade and clearly does not believe in the document they have developed. According to the Consultation Plan document, any “Strategic Initiatives and Consultation, Policies, Procedures and By-laws” can be approved by Council after presentation to at least two community meetings. “Laws, Codes and Constitution” require three facilitated “Membership Consultation” meetings which ultimately lead to a referendum under the Wahta Mohawks General Referendum Regulations. Is the Consultation Plan a “Policy” or “Procedure”? Is it a Code? The document sets out no procedure for a vote, nor does it define the threshold (50% + 1? 60%?, 75%?) required for a measure to be considered approved.
Where is the provision for a vote in the document?
Why are there so many different, and seemingly contradictory, terms for meetings involving the people? Some are called Community Council Meetings, some are called Membership Consultation meetings, others are called Special Purpose Consultation Meetings, and still others are facilitated Membership Consultation Meetings. Presumably these are all different than “Membership Meetings.”
This is not only a matter of careless editing and terminology. It is a critical matter of how a government engages the people to whom it is supposed to be accountable. The failure of this Council to understand how to engage and empower community is amplified by its failure to publish motions/records of decisions, and their failure to publish minutes of meetings.
There is no provision in the document to identify how it might be amended in the future. Like everything else, in the absence of the Governance laws, the Wahta Council makes things up as they go along.
The Consultation Plan is the emblem of this Council. Besides their involvement in a municipal dispute over a second development project at a tourist site, this is the one item that they can flag as their biggest accomplishment in governance. It is a picture of a group of people clumsily stumbling about, trying to pretend they have a clue about what they are doing in office.
Wahta Community Fire Update for April shared with permission from the Wahta Community Fire Facebook page. You can learn more through the following links:
Website: Wahta Community Fire
Facebook: Wahta Community Fire
Twitter: Wahta Community Fire