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Mississauga News - Aug 12, 2009 - Editorial
Citizens issues merit attention
Freedom of speech is an essential hallmark of democracy, a right for which thousands of people have fought and died over the centuries.
Yet, in Mississauga, one city councillor wants to strip residents of that right or, at the very least, curtail their ability to practice it.
At last week's council meeting, Ward 6 councillor Carolyn Parrish said she believes she and her colleagues are, "often held captive by citizens speaking on any subject for as long as they want."
Imagine that. Residents wanting to voice their concerns and have input into how taxpayers' dollars are being spent.
The ability to probe decisions and ask questions of elected representatives is, and should remain, a fundamental right of every Mississauga "every Canadian" resident.
Despite Parrish's apparent lack of regard for their input, taxpayers pay the bills in this city, elect officials to represent their concerns at the municipal level and are, in actuality, every councillor's boss.
Parrish and her colleagues are public servants. Translation? They serve the public; the public does not serve them.
Mayor Hazel McCallion, who has served the residents of Mississauga for more than 30 years in one capacity or another, understands that role clearly.
In fact, listening to residents' concerns, needs, complaints and wishes has been a crucial plank in building her successful political career. She's made a point of knowing what residents talk about at the coffee shop and around water coolers.
And, as McCallion reminded Parrish last week, she and other members of council are, "paid well to sit there and to give the opportunity for the citizens to be heard."
Parrish's lack of regard for the ideas of residents is a little like telling your boss you're too busy and too important to listen to his/her directions: You're unlikely to remain employed long.
Question period is an inviolable and valuable aspect of council meetings.
Perhaps Parrish should concentrate more on what her constituents have to say and spend less time trying to prevent their input.
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