Let the people decide... a little later










The next chapter of city council's OPP costing saga will be bureaucratic, involving letters back and forth between the city and provincial government. That will be followed by a lot of behind-the-scenes number crunching and, perhaps, disputes over the validity of the numbers being crunched.

You can probably bet, however, that when the OPP's proposal comes back and the discussion reaches the public meeting stage, there will already be a full lobbying effort to refer any final decision to a referendum in the 2014 municipal election.

The idea of a referendum, urged by Louise Severson in last night's debate, already appears to have some traction on council, although how much remains to be seen.

The trickier question is about how to make a referendum practical under the current timetable.

If the costing comes back, as the OPP officials suggested last night, in about six months, and the city holds more than one public meeting, that could conceivably take us to the end of this year, if not early 2014. The municipal election, however, takes place on October 27.

If council chooses to delay a decision on any switch to the OPP by 10 months, the proposal needs to be revised and renewed, since it is only valid for six months. So, then, if a renewed proposal comes back with any significant differences, do we restart the public consultation process, and restart the debate?

Alternatively, should council schedule a separate referendum less than a year before a municipal election? Should the city do it online, or simply take a poll?

A referendum sounds like the ideal form of democratic expression on an issue as important as the future of policing in Brockville. Until you try to schedule it.