You get paranoid working in politics. In a world where nothing is ever quite true and every word and action has to be picked over for some hidden meaning, you start to lose touch with what the average person might call reality. Nine times out of 10 you’re wrong and there’s no intrigue or machiavellian conspiracy hidden away in the rumours and assumptions of the political day to day, and so any good pol develops a healthy distrust for gut reactions.
So, it was with healthy skepticism and an open mind that I approached the recent allocation of committee appointments for Victoria city councillors. On the mayor’s recommendation, council approved 42 committee appointments last week, ranging from the purely ceremonial Honorary Citizen Committee to the political suicide mission that is CREST. Thrown into the mix were this year’s standing committee members, neighbourhood liaisons and all manner of other business-as-usual positions not worth mentioning here.
While there’s nothing even remotely interesting about many of these appointments, it’s not what’s being done but who gets to do it that deserves a second glance. Apart from six CRD positions chosen by voters, appointments were divided up by Mayor Dean Fortin. Councillors Madoff and Alto led the pack at seven positions each, followed by Isitt and Gudgeon with six, Young with five, Thornton-Joe and Helps with four and Coleman with only three meetings to occupy the long hours between public hearings.
Even with an open mind, it’s hard not to see a political motivation when the only two remaining members of the Dean Team top a list of appointments that follow neither popularity with voters — the top polling members of council are Young, Thornton-Joe, Isitt and Helps — or seniority, the prize for which goes overwhelmingly to Councillor Young.
Sure, you get paranoid working in a world that rewards favouritism and the politics of personality. Sure, most of what politicians do is pomp and ceremony, but under all the strutting and rhetoric is a greater purpose — a better life for everyone in our community. But when pure politics might just stand in the way of the only goal we all seem to be able to agree on, maybe that paranoia is justified. M