Well, that was kinda short...


I had one of those “What-The” moments last night.

During the COPS meeting on Brockville's OPP costing, I was looking forward to the presentations ending and the question-and-answer part beginning.

Not that the presentations weren't interesting and contentious, both things journalists like. It's just that, at public meetings, these things tend to be preludes to those walk-up-to-the-mike segments that can be even more interesting.

And then, not even an hour and a half into the meeting, the presentations were done and the meeting was done.

“What the...?”

It's not that I don't understand COPS members' headaches at having to schedule this meeting. They had a lot of statistics and arguments to make, and worried an additional question-and-answer period would have made it run way too long.

And I don't share some people's view that COPS is out to stifle dissent. For one thing, it didn't look like there were any potential dissenters in the room.

But, as I've said before, in political battles, optics matter. And COPS missed an excellent opportunity to position itself as the promoter of free and open debate in this discussion, by being the first to engage civilians in an public debate.

Mayor David Henderson argues there's no point in having a debate before the OPP's proposal is in. Hence the just-the-facts-ma'am format of the contact committee meetings.

That also explains why the OPP presentation scheduled for last week's city council meeting, the one that had to be put off because of the OPP's billing reform exercise, was not to include a Q-and-A section.

Had the OPP presentation gone on as scheduled, COPS members and other OPP skeptics would have complained the OPP is here to dictate things and not to answer questions.

And a little over a week later, COPS would have made its presentation, and not taken questions.

One can give Louise Severson and her colleagues the benefit of the doubt when they say there will be another meeting soon that will include a debate.

But for now, this is starting to look like federal politics – or even American politics –where each side talks above and beyond the other, and doesn't take the time to listen.

I for one, could have gone for another hour at that meeting.