Municipal councils, as well as provincial and federal governments, often turn to “consultants” to make the big decisions or at least assist with the process. Whether it be to engage a community in some shape or form, to mitigate issues, to test the waters prior to an important benchmark decision or even to hire/fire staff or designate a member to some committee or the like. The thing is, these elected officials were chosen to represent a community and to make decisions for the populace. They are hired guns. But instead, generally speaking, these same elected officials often outsource decision-making or gather research evidence or seek advice before biting the bullet on pretty much any decision, these days. But maybe it’s always been that way?
It would be an assumption, but elected officials seem to want to stay as far away as they can from taking responsibility from a decision being made. This way their hands are clean. It’s a slippery slope and not one to be taken lightly. So why then, is it a common practice? Sure, outsourcing to lawyers or a similar entity has always been something businesses and organizations have turned to, as decisions were waiting in the wings to be made. But, elected officials are chosen by taxpayers to make decisions, both large and small. Of course, an informed decision is a must and is recommended.
In the workplace, an employee will ask for advice or try to figure out the best plan of attack to making a decision, that will affect a business. The same can be said about council or in a government. But, an employee, it is expected by management, will make a decision. Whether it be good or bad, a decision will need to be made, no matter what it is, many times. That’s why the said employee was hired in the first place. They met a whole bunch of credentials and made the grade. The same goes for an elected official. Citizens, after careful consideration, pick their leaders and it is hoped, those leaders will make the right decisions. If an employee chooses wrongly, they may be terminated or will face consequences. The same should be said when it comes to disciplinary action for an elected official.
In today’s “cancel culture” when somebody does something or says something publicly or otherwise, they may be held responsible, even more in 2021 than in previous years. And that’s a good thing? For so many decades, actions have gone unchecked by those in power or at the helm or being a representative of someone or something somewhere. What was OK last year, just might be on the public’s hit list this year.
Accountability is what is important. Most organizations, political and otherwise, preach about the noble quest of transparency and being accountable to its citizens or customers or members. Why then, when it comes down to it, do many organizations and otherwise, seem to falter and flake out with this premise?
With municipal councils and provincial and federal governments — they seem to spend a lot of time these days behind closed doors in-camera or without the prying eyes of the populace looking in on them with judging demeanours. So much for transparency and the goal of being accountable for actions and inaction.
Moving into 2021, it is highly-hoped, governments, businesses and people (in general) are more open to the possibility of being honest, truthful and trusted. Here’s a New Year’s toast to an open and accessible governance and through commerce.
This editorial originated in the Taber Times.