Thursday, July 18, 2024
July 18, 2024

Viewpoint: Trustee criticism not deserved

By MAIRI WELMAN

I gave up trying to engage in reasonable fact-based dialogue on the editorial pages of the Driftwood some time ago and have since focused my energy on moving forward with work to solve our island’s challenges, particularly the housing crisis.

But the more I watch the drama unfold, in the pages of the Driftwood, on social media channels, and in person at meetings, the more I remember a lesson I learned a decade ago when I worked for Dr. Penny Ballem. Always ask yourself, who benefits from the conflict that is being created?

Frants Attorp and the “Positively Forward” group take almost weekly aim in these pages at trustee Laura Patrick’s performance as an elected official, promulgating misinformation and, at times, outright lies about her motivations and actions. The nefarious schemes they accuse her of would be almost laughable if it weren’t so calculated on their part.

On the other extreme of the ideology scale we have Eric Booth and trustee Jamie Harris. Eric’s missives against Laura on social media are toxicly mean-spirited and frankly surprising, if only for the fact that, as a former trustee, he knows all too well just how dysfunctional our governance system is and would therefore, one would think, have some empathy for the woman who is trying to find a third way.

Jamie Harris seems to have decided that near constant belligerent opposition is his singular contribution to local governance. As a first-term elected representative, he is still learning that governing well is about being able to sit across the table from someone you fundamentally disagree with and have a respectful, open-minded conversation to find the nugget, no matter how small, of shared value from which to take a step forward together.

I have witnessed that Laura Patrick is the only local government official on Salt Spring Island who is actually doing the hard grind work of reading all the material, going to ancillary meetings, talking at length respectfully with staff, deeply understanding policy implications, and trying to find a middle way that will satisfy some needs for all sides.

It is no small wonder that so few women are interested in public office, and I’m amazed at Laura’s willingness to tough it out. The two sides currently firing into the middle directly at the one person they have a chance of working with had better hope she doesn’t decide “life is too short for this crap,” and step out. They would then have to face each other and reckon with their complicity and lack of substance.

“Democracy is a long, slow, hard business. It requires sacrifice and virtue. It requires listening to the views of others and it demands an acceptance of the necessity of difficult choices. It requires, above all, commitment to forging a common good out of the disparate and varied material of our social and economic lives, a good that recognizes the worth of everyone whatever their differences. If we don’t do this, we don’t do democracy.” Marc Stears

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1 COMMENT

  1. Mairi – I stand by my criticism of Trustee Patrick, as best expressed in these three previous posts of mine….

    ” I personally like Laura as a person, but, as a politician she has proven herself incompetent in her position. When she was first elected we were in a crisis….we are no further ahead now, than we were then. Crises demand action, other than that of lips moving. She has the perfect partner in Trustee Harris who has proven he is prepared to do anything and everything to move solutions forward.” – https://islandstrust.wordpress.com/2024/03/07/open-letter-to-paul-mcelroy/

    https://islandstrust.wordpress.com/2024/03/04/how-to-lose-friends-and-infuriate-enemies/

    https://islandstrust.wordpress.com/2024/05/01/dreaming-the-possible-dream/

    Ask yourself this question – “After nearly 6 years in office, what/where is Trustee Patrick’s published vision for solving the housing crisis?”

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