THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Toronto Star - July 9, 2009 - By Mike Funston, Urban Affairs Reporter
Mississauga council outlaws public question period
Mississauga councillors have ended the city's public question period and Mayor Hazel McCallion said it's all thanks to one man.
More than 30 years old, the council meeting tradition could not withstand the queries of self-styled citizen advocate Don Barber, who regularly pokes, prods and outrages councillors and city staff with his blunt questions and comments.
Yesterday, councillors voted unanimously to end the mid-meeting practice of opening the floor to questions from the public.
Instead, they opted to bump it back to the committee level and impose strict time limits. Curiously, city council meetings are televised on community cable TV. Committee meetings – where initial debate takes place – are not.
Barber's probing of councillors over an obscure issue involving the city solicitor yesterday was the last straw for McCallion.
"You better be careful. Do you know what you are doing, Don? You are ruining the opportunity for people to come before council because you misuse the freedom that we've granted and leniency that we've granted over the years," she said. "And I think that is unfortunate, very unfortunate.
Barber used his pulpit to the last, issuing a mock eulogy.
"We are gathered here today to bury and mourn the passing of public question period. It died in council too young.
"For more than 30 years it has been trumpeted as one of Mississauga's crown democratic jewels by the current mayor."
Barber went on to suggest council poll public opinion before ending question period.
Comments by others, 15, to this web-page;
Donald Barber is watched by City of Mississauga Corporate Security (as am I)
Lasher1000 writes, "Perhaps other wise posters can provide further details on this story (which seems a tad thin). Was Barber just a pain in the arse?" Barber stood alone against City of Mississauga for close to 12 years and they painted him as a crank. When they arrested him back in June 2006, I stepped in his place to observe Mississauga Council. Since February 2007 I have filed close to $2,000 in Freedom of Information on City of Mississauga Corporate Security (MissCorpSec) guards. In December 2007 Barber called for a “broad disclosure” of Mississauga Corporate Security’s conduct and operations. Didn’t happen. Instead McCallion and Councillors responded with a Public Complaints policy that MissCorpSec drafted/crafted themselves –AND allows them to investigate themselves. That’s how you get minors banned without parents/guardians advised, banned for drugs without parents advised, and minors not told that should they return during their ban they’ll be ARRESTED!
Submitted by MISSISSAUGAWATCH.ca at 6:50 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 1
McCallion's Mississauga unscrutinized --and UNTOUCHABLE
About Public Question Period, “builder” writes, "IF you abuse it you loose it." Clearly written by someone who's never attended a City of Mississauga Council meeting, let alone read any of the minutes. repeat, Public Question Period was for show –to create the illusion of democracy. Mayor/Councillors got nervous when Freedom of Information entered the picture. I too have been "encouraged" to email Staff rather than go up in front of the cameras (aka the Public). Here. Take a look at some other bans that City of Mississauga guards issue with McCallion’s blessing. 9/10 year old girl www.flickr.com/photos/43172810@N00/3697349102/sizes/l/. Check out who the Shift Supervisor was. Same guard who called in to have Donald Barber arrested. For more, check out some of these documents about The REAL Mississauga through Freedom of Information at: www.flickr.com/photos/43172810@N00/collections/72157620677722855/ . The problem is that citizens have no media defenders --just stenographers.
Submitted by MISSISSAUGAWATCH.ca at 6:40 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 1
The TRUTH about City of Mississauga Public Question Period.
artudo123 writes, "I used to film a city council meeting for a community station. It was a small city but there was a gentleman who always, always used to take part in question period." "always always"?! Feel FREE to actually check the minutes of Council meetings over the last five years to see "always always". MOST of the time no one went up there! And it's easy to have a Public Question Period when few ever make use of it. Easy to sell bananas at 5 cents a pound when you ain't got none! As for artudo123’s suggestion to ban Barber, Barber’s up there denouncing McCallion’s security guards’ bans of minors like a 9/10 year old girl banned for 30 days from all three major City facilities (Mississauga Civic Centre, Central Library and Living Arts Centre) or 11/12 year olds –WITHOUT parents/guardians advised? Don’t believe? Mississauga Youth bans/arrests at: www.mississaugawatch.ca/blog/?p=5588
Submitted by MISSISSAUGAWATCH.ca at 6:21 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 1
We learn from questions, moreso than answers
I welcome questions - that is how I learn how well someone understands what I am trying to say or do. Questions give me a chance to prove that I am doing what I said. Timing concerns aside, governments should be working hard to ensure that voters (only 23% bothered in Mississauga in 2006) engage, communicate directly, and involve themselves in their community with the passion of the man in your story.
Submitted by DeValera at 5:49 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 1
This is just ARROGANT
"the freedom that we've granted and leniency that we've granted over the years"???? --- WHO ARE YOU McCallion to talk to ppl like this - you were elected and you'd better listen to what your citizens have to say, and if someone disrespects you - there is a good reason for that - you just dont like to hear the truth!!!
Submitted by karina at 5:20 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 1
sorry, one more quote: "It was only in the last few days of the election that the Mayor presented anything in writing regarding why she should be reelected. Up to that point, the Mayor' platform (or lack of it) & her only promise was to try and stay alive." that's disgusting...
Submitted by luan_ngo at 4:51 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 1
i found his website and it turns out he ran for the 2006 election and one of his main concerns were (and this is copy and pasted from his site)......."The GREATEST problems that Mississauga is facing; 1). That Hazel McCallion will likely not live to see the end of her term...." to see more, go here: http://mayor-of-mississauga.com/#2
Submitted by luan_ngo at 4:49 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
Banning Something Due To One Person's Abuse Is No Excuse, Especially Something That Promotes Democratic Principles...
I question how one person could be so abusive to Mississauga's Question Period that City Council would choose to ban the practice altogether. Was Don Barber using profanity, making slanderous statements or asking questions that take more than ten minutes (with no possible answer)? The article does not mention this, yet quotes the Mayor (Queen Hazel) warning him of the consequences of his actions. Perhaps the problem is that Mississauga is in the media spotlight and is looking for an excuse to hide its activities. Democracy works best when institutions are criticized...including a City Council with far too many incumbents...
Submitted by Larry Perlman at 4:42 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 1
Shame on the mayor
McCallion was admired...until now. If council can't take public questioning, they should not be in office. Period.
Submitted by Soapbox at 2:28 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 2 - Disagree 1
Ban Don Barber
I used to film a city council meeting for a community station. It was a small city but there was a gentleman who always, always used to take part in question period. And why? Because the cameras were there. I did it for a year and let me tell you he was one of few people who was always, always getting threatned by the mayor to be thrown out of the chamber. From this article it appears like the decision from council was because of one man and only one man. Can't they just permanently ban him from attending council? I think genuinely concerned citizens should have the right to question municipal lawmakers. What Mississauga has done sickens me and makes me proud I don't live there.
Submitted by artudo123 at 2:14 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 1 - Disagree 1
The council's action is without merit and should be illegal. Public oversight and scrutiny is imperative to democracy. If the council finds anyone's questions a nuisance, they might have something to hide! I also note that this is one of the most highly paid councils in the world, with salaries in excess of $100,000 per year (1/3 tax free). Are their personal budgets open to public scrutiny as they should be for all councils?
Submitted by Namro at 12:17 PM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 1 - Disagree 2
Just ban Don Barber!
I think it's wrong to take away the question period for everyone just because this Don guy is rude? Ban him.
Submitted by Abby Normal at 9:18 AM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 9
IF you abuse it you loose it.
Submitted by builder.m at 8:45 AM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 8 - Disagree 5
Perhaps other wise posters can provide further details on this story (which seems a tad thin). Was Barber just a pain in the arse?
Submitted by Lasher1000 at 8:28 AM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 6 - Disagree 1
Who cares if the city solicitor's issue is 'obscure.' Sometimes what is kept 'obscure' is in fact the most explosive and defining issue. Politicians are masters at hiding stuff. The Mayor should get over it and keep this 'democratic jewel' in place. Maybe Don Barber can get a grip on his behaviour and manners as well.
Submitted by Canadian at 8:12 AM Thursday, July 09 2009
* Agree 14
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