The Uxbridge Cosmos acknowledges that Roger Varley, a regular contributing writer and columnist with the newspaper, is running for municipal council in the upcoming election. The Cosmos recognizes that this is a source of conflict for both itself and Mr. Varley. Both parties have agreed that, effect 2 p.m., July 27, Roger Varley will not, for the duration of the campaign period, contribute any material to the Cosmos that deals with township or council business in any capacity. After the August 2 edition of the newspaper, Mr. Varley will not be submitting his “Am I Wrong?” column for publication. Mr. Varley will still be able to cover and submit articles that cover sporting events, such as Uxbridge Bruins games, as he has done in the past, and other ‘soft’ topics the publisher deems appropriate and free of any conflict of interest.
So long, farewell
As you might have read in the item on page 1, I have filed my papers to run as a candidate for councillor in Ward 5. In view of that fact, this is the last column I will be writing for the Cosmos for the foreseeable future.
Nor will I be writing about council meetings or anything else that could even remotely be considered township business. To do so would be unethical on my part and possibly lead to the Cosmos being considered in a conflict of interest. I have had extensive conversations with my colleagues at the Cosmos about my entering the election campaign and the upshot is this: I will receive no deals on advertising (that would be against the law), no special or lop-sided coverage during the campaign (that would be unfair) and no favouritism when it comes to questions asked, either for newspaper articles or at the all-candidates meetings.
However, unlike the last time I ran for council in 2010, I will not refrain from all writing for the Cosmos. I will continue to cover the Uxbridge Bruins games as I have for the past 13 years and I will write the occasional story on other happenings and events around town.
Having said that, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am at the number of people who have put their names forward for election. The total number of names on the ballot this year will be 37, seeking positions on township council, regional council, regional chair and the various school boards. Just a couple of weeks ago, there appeared to be no contests at all in Uxbridge’s urban wards and urban voters were faced with the prospect of voting for the mayor and regional councillor but having no voice on the makeup of the rest of council. Happily, those voters now do have a choice when it comes to ward councillors.
I am also happy to see the large number of women running for office; fully one-third of the candidates on the ballot. I just wish there were more and I also wish there had been some young people willing to follow the lead set by Jacob Mantle back in 2010.
I don’t know all the candidates, but I know a good many of them and I know they are all good people. I might not agree with them on certain issues, but I do know they all firmly believe in what they propose and are willing to stand up and defend their positions. I hope the voters in the township will give each candidate the opportunity to present their case when they come knocking at the door.
A couple of other points I would like to make. In the 2014 election, roughly 50 per cent of Uxbridge voters cast their ballots. Really? The ballot comes to you in the mail and all you have to do is mark your Xs and drop it back in the mail. How difficult is that? And yet 50 per cent of the voters can’t even take the time to do that. These are often the people who moan the loudest about what council has done or hasn’t done. Back in the day, when one had to go to the polling station and mark the ballot behind a screen, I always took my young sons with me to show them how it was done and the importance of taking part in the democratic process.
Some of you might point out that in the past I have written columns in which I stated I was not going to vote – (usually in a provincial or federal election) – because I didn’t have faith in the electoral process (First Past the Post). But I have always voted in municipal elections. Municipal government is the one that affects you most directly and isn’t sidetracked by partisan politics. And, most importantly, municipal elections usually feature people you know: family, friends, acquaintances, people who won’t disappear from view the moment they are elected.
To all candidates, I wish you good luck. Win or lose, I thank you all for putting your names forward and for being willing to serve your community.
To all voters, I ask you to give every candidate a fair chance to be heard, to acquaint yourselves with the issues at hand and to ask the hard questions. It seems to me that if all these candidates are willing to put their lives on hold for a while, the least the voters can do is spare a few minutes to listen – and vote.
Tell me, am I wrong?