The greatest advantage that democracy confers on a society is the accountability that the people can expect from those whom they choose to govern them.
But there are loopholes in the system.
Most significantly, real accountability is achieved only by consent, and can be enforced only through the process by which leaders are chosen.
In other words, ordinary people can â€“ and should â€“ speak out to inform their leaders at all times, but they can only force their leaders to listen at election time.
That loophole is too often exploited by politicians when they have to make uncomfortable or controversial decisions.
â€œConsultation with the publicâ€ is well and good, but it only has real strength when the public has the option of baring its teeth at the polling booth.
Have you noticed that the hard decisions are rarely made in the months before an election, but often come a few months after the polling booths close? Itâ€™s one way of exploiting the loophole: ordinary people faced with everyday life often are unable to sustain the energy to battle a secure government that needs only pretend to listen.
Brookswood is a community divided over the direction its future should take. And all members of that community, on either side of the issues at hand, should have the right to bare their teeth if they feel it necessary.
This year is an election year. If Township council is sincere about its public consultation process, it must make its decision on the Brookswood Official Community Plan in time for the people there to weigh â€“ and exercise â€“ their options.
Donâ€™t let the issues languish on some obscure committee agenda until that safe period shortly after this fallâ€™s elections.
And letâ€™s also have a solid yay or nay on the Coulter Berry proposal before summerâ€™s end. Fort Langley also needs the opportunity to hold the current council accountable for whichever decision it makes.
Election years should be used to close potential loopholesâ€¦ not widen them.