The job of councillor is more than a hobby



One Facebook commenter on my previous blog entry brings up a point that merits an addendum here.

Kevin Fulsom writes the following: “10% reduction for councillors in Brockville is asking far too much. You guys are not well paid to begin with. If the salary is too low, only the rich will be able to participate in politics, and that is the danger.”

In fact, it's a danger that was recognized by what one would think an unlikely source during Tuesday's debate on the proposed reduction of city councillors' pay.

Councillor Tom Blanchard, who may be considered one of the voices of business on Brockville's council, offered up a detailed explanation of why he opposed Councillor Jeff Earle's bid to lower councillors' remuneration by 10 per cent.

The most cost-efficient council, noted Blanchard, would be a volunteer one. It would be comprised of people with enough time on their hands to do the city's civic business and represent it free of charge.

Needless to say, such people would also have the financial security needed to spend that much of their time and energy representing the people without getting remuneration for it.

Blanchard opposes this, because it would limit the range of people who would be able to serve on council.

“The remuneration of council as a whole is not unreasonable at the current level,” said Blanchard, who added the role of councillor should be compensated at a level that will attract people to serve and represent the city.

That's all people; not only rich people.

I suppose Leigh Bursey, the self-proclaimed house leftie, should thank Blanchard for his stance, since Bursey would be one of the current crop of councillors who would not afford to serve without some compensation.

I doubt Bursey is alone.

I certainly am inclined to thank Blanchard for his broadness of mind – not because I'm contemplating a council run to top up the mortgage payments, but because I appreciate what Blanchard's comments signify about Brockville's political climate.

We may not live in the kind of hyper-partisan political atmosphere seen in the United States, but we have our own brand of polarization here in Canada.

So it's encouraging to see Blanchard embrace the kind of diversity of opinion that would see members at polar opposites to his conservative views have their fair shot at city council.

Lower council's pay a little too much and you risk turning the job into a rich person's hobby.