Useful guidance on 2010 debate conduct

My comments Friday on CTV about the city’s decision not to hold a major public 2010 countdown celebration provoked a deeply irritated rebuke from one viewer.

His comments included a valuable perspective on how all of us, politicians most of all, should behave in the coming year. (Sorry, I have been unable to find a link to the CTV piece.)

I was asked if I had received any complaints about the lack of a public celebration. I outlined the civic activities that are being organized, but replied that no, the only complaint I was aware of was from the chief of staff to the former mayor. A true statement, but the wrong answer, as  Vancouver’s D. Bremner pointed out:

“As we approach the games, people on both sides of the equation have passionate opinions — present case as a glowing example.  With nearly a billion $ on the line with the village, ‘big brother’ security lurking in the shadowy wings, along with the duplicitous scarf covered faces of the protesters, this is a powder keg waiting to go off.

“As a citizen of Vancouver I want the protesters — if they’re honest enough to show who they are — to have a voice, and the supporters to have a wonderful celebration of worldwide competition free of the trappings of partisan or even national politics.

“I think to achieve that balance it’s really important for all of our municipal politicians to embrace the concerns of its citizenry, give those concerns the time of day, acknowledge that they’re important and make a considered response.

“This has to be done now, not just a week from the games when prejudices are entrenched and trust has vanished faster than a bob-sled team.  Failing to do so — as I have to say your response on CTV appeared (however edited it may have been – perhaps there was balance that was cut out) — generates a sense of frustration and disempowerment.

“Today, at the end of a long week for this fellow, that resulted in a somewhat barbed e-mail tiff.  With others involved it may result in something far more damaging . . . to Vancouver’s image, to the image of honest competition and sport, to the health and well being of spectators.

“I know that we all know that ‘people’ are passionate about the Olympics.  What I would urge you and your fellow councillors to remember is that a sound bite can soothe or enflame.

“For those that matter, it’s not what you say, but that you have given it some thought that counts, and not just the thoughts of politics or re-election, but an honest and objective opinion – emphasis on the honest first and the objective second.

“Take that into account, whether I agree with you or would argue with you ’til I’m blue in the face, and I’ll be a happy camper!”

Point taken.