I am not ready for a career in politics.
Not that I was ever planning one; but after attending my borough’s council meeting for the first time last Monday, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to sit through another one of them and remain polite.
How our elected officials are able to do it on a monthly basis, I haven’t the darndest idea.
My adventure actually began last month: The administration of Le Plateau Mont-Royal decided to use Facebook to invite citizens to February’s council meeting. So my friend Mathilde and I decided to go check it out. Needless to say, so many people showed up that they had to open up an annex with no view of the proceedings.
Being the diva that I am, I did not stick around:
“Me? Be relegated to standing-room only? Who does democracy think I am?”
And we left in a huff.
So last week, Mathilde reminded me that borough council meetings happen regardless of whether or not there is a Facebook event associated with it.
And that’s what brought us to Monday’s council meeting.
After arriving fashionably late, we took our seats closest to the doors – you know, in order to make a discreet exit should we ever become bored. After a few opening remarks, the real juicy part began: La période de questions (which roughly translates in English as: Rantings and Ravings).
For there were never really any questions – just grievances, complaints, accusations, and denunciations.
People decried the lack of snow removal (to which the administration responded that by not removing the snow and ice and letting Mother Nature take her course in a few days, the borough will save approximately 1 million dollars).
Others complained that the borough’s changes to traffic patterns were negatively affecting their business (to which Mayor Ferrandez responded that if your business depends only on vehicular traffic to stay viable, then you might want to rethink your business plan).
One man even began his diatribe by stating that although he doesn’t actually live in the Plateau, he still wanted to let council members know what a crappy job they were doing. He was from Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie.
I left the council meeting thinking my fellow citizens are incredibly ignorant. Don’t these people know that the borough needs to save money? Don’t these people know that quality of life trumps ease of traffic circulation?
However, as Mathilde and I walked home along l’avenue du Mont-Royal, I began to realise that the only “ignorant” person was myself.
Sure, my street was plowed clean after the last major snowfall. I live on a major artery. But looking down de Bullion, Hôtel-de-Ville, Coloniale, it became apparent that none of the residential streets were plowed at all. They were a fantastic mess.
Sure, as a young, able-bodied, adult male, icy sidewalks just add excitement to my day. But for an elderly woman with mobility difficulties, the sidewalks are downright dangerous.
Sure, I don’t own a car; I travel by foot and by transit in the winter. My office is only 20 minutes away. The grocery store is just around the corner. But if I worked in an industrial park on Côte-de-Liesse and the closest supermarket were a 30 minute walk in the blustering cold, I think I too would be a bit peeved about my street parking being covered in a foot of ice and snow.
I realized all those grievances, complaints, accusations, and denunciations during the council meeting were valid in the context of their realities.
Hmm. Maybe I am ready for a career in politics.
p.s. The next council meeting is on Monday, April 2, at la maison de la culture du Plateau Mont-Royal (465, avenue du Mont-Royal Est) and begins 19h. Make a night of it.
EDIT – and because not all of you live in the Plateau, click here to find out when your borough is holding its next council meeting.