A Ward 8 resident asserts that Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead does not speak for him in accusing downtown advocates of wanting to "hijack" the Transportation Master Plan
By Gord Stephan
Published February 23, 2015
Dear Councillor Whitehead,
I write you today to express my displeasure with your recent behaviour, comments, and your incorrect assumption that your stance on public transportation is unanimously held by all of your constituents.
You recently applied the term "hijackers" to those in the lower city who are actively participating in the debate on public transit. (This is reminiscent of the words of former Mayor Bob Bratina referring to some people as "dissidents".)
In the guise of representing your ward, you have deliberately created a division between the upper and lower city. Again, you don't like what they have to say, so you return to this completely unprofessional behaviour.
Resorting to name calling of people who are exercising their right to voice their opinions is childish and worthy of a seven-year-old on a school playground. As much as it is your right to disagree, it is not acceptable to name call.
I must also assert that you have a public voice to make your opinions known, whereas the "hijackers" do not have that luxury.
Do I also need to remind you that a politician's job is to consensus build, not to be antagonistic? You were elected to do this. Your mandate is based on achieving 75 percent of 36 percent of of eligible Ward 8 voters who voted.
Given that you were elected by barely a quarter of the electorate, perhaps you should undertake additional consultations with the electorate before you presume you speak for all of us. You don't speak for my opinions.
I can fully understand why the Wynne government has been reluctant to commit to funding of any public transit enhancements. This council cannot present a united front on the topic. Given your recent comments, it is unlikely there ever will be unanimity and the city will never receive the funding so badly needed.
I find it disconcerting that you are afraid of the process being "hijacked" by downtowners, but you are willing to give an equal vote on transit to the suburban wards who pay considerably less to fund the system. So you are willing to allow those who don't use the system to have more power than those who do use it and pay more for it. What is democratic about that?
I am very concerned about your behaviour to challenge an individual to an IQ test over social media. This is most unprofessional of a politician. I cannot, for the life of me, determine what would make you think that this was acceptable behaviour for anyone, let alone an elected official.
The public deserves an elected official who will remain professional, mature and not submit to others' behaviour.
Your challenge of the city staff objectivity of the bus lane report was insulting, uncalled for and totally out of line. I do not have a problem with you objecting to the conclusions of the report, but to question the objectivity of the individuals who prepared the report is difficult for me to comprehend.
These people have been hired to do a job and, as such, for you to question their conclusions because you don't agree with them shows me that you are in fact the one who cannot make objective conclusions of your own.
Your predetermination that the bus lane was a bad thing, right from the get-go, does not allow you the privilege of insulting city staff.
Needless to say, all of these issues give me pause to question your ability to truly represent the constituents of ward 8. I want a representative on council who can tolerate dissent without name calling, act in a professional manner at all times and be respective of all opinions. This is something that you clearly have not displayed.
Update: Councillor Whitehead sent the following reply:
There are a group of narrow minded activist that have made it clear they have the monopoly on all solutions. Just like the red hill activist that cost taxpayers of this community tens of million of dollars. It is not about whether they should have opportunity. My comments where about ensuring others are not intimidated and allowed an opportunity to engage.
My comment was not directed to engaged citizens city wide that wish to constructively provide input into this process .
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