Town council is wasting its time grappling with a decision on whether to allow questions on charitable gaming halls and the municipal bus on the ballot in November.
On the gaming issue, it appears the people’s decision will be moot because the province intends to award casinos to companies next month—well before town residents will even decide whether they want one here or not.
If anything, town council now looks silly for not realizing the timelines involved.
As for the bus, referendums shouldn’t be used to condone or reverse a previous decision. After all, we pay councillors and school board trustees to make decisions, and we have to trust that they take all arguments into consideration before doing so.
And if we allow a referendum on the bus, why not have one on whether Pither’s Point dock should be repaired? On whether Memorial Arena should be renovated, or torn down? On whether a separate school board rep deserves a seat on the new district public school board?
Or how about a referendum to see which questions should be put to a referendum?
Obviously, the sky’s the limit on potential issues.
Part of the problem is that few issues have simple “yes" or "no” answers. The other problem, of course, is that referendums don’t necessarily resolve issues (Quebec jumps right to mind).
Referendums can serve a useful purpose but only under very limited circumstances. We don’t need one on every issue that crops up (the bus), nor on ones that are basically moot (gaming).
Neither gaming nor the bus warrant being on the ballot as a referendum question in November, and council would be wise to make that decision next month.
To do otherwise would open the floodgate to demands for referendums on every decision down the road, and that’s no way to run a town, province or country.