Monday, August 30, 2010
Does anyone else feel icky about the airport petition?
Democracy. That's the claim. Ensuring a plebiscite, making sure the question goes to a public vote.
I'll be the first to admit that I haven't followed the airport controversy too closely. I think that a city so obviously suffering the sustainability effects of urban sprawl should be rewarded for driving to develop land that's in the core. But I don't know all the sides. All I know is that it's a controversial, highly charged issue. It's been on the table for years - decades, in fact.
And that Envision Edmonton has been quite manipulative in it's 'drive for democracy.'
Well, they were to me. I already felt a bit icky about the offered payment per signatures scheme that fell through earlier this month. They weren't paying people for the signatures, they were paying community leagues for collecting signatures. That's pretty gray in my world. But then I discovered something...
In the frenzy of the 'approaching deadline' signature drive, I was approached by a couple volunteers, once while I was on my cellphone in the middle of a call. What I was told, and what I had been led to believe through the radio ads, was that the petition was simply to call for a vote, not an actual stand on the issue. I confirmed this with the person sticking a clipboard in my face. "This is just to call for a vote, right? This isn't a vote itself, right?"
"Right," I was told. Fine, I'll sign. So I took the clipboard and read the fine print. It was a vote to keep the airport open.
Technically, enough votes to keep the airport open will force a plebiscite so that the entire city votes on the issue. Even if I was a die-hard supporter of keeping the airport open, my signature would only force the issue to go to plebiscite.
Technically they weren't lying to me. Much.
But I was being manipulated. So it made me wonder. How many people who signed the petition were misled? How many thought they were signing for democracy when actually they were picking sides?
How many of those signatures should be considered legitimate?
I don't trust agendas. Especially when they belong to someone else. After this, I cannot believe that Envision has the best interests of the City and its denizens at heart.
They are in it for the win - at the expense of 'democracy' if need be.