Some more information you ‘need to have’

The Suburban

January 8, 2014

Further to Editor Beryl Wajsman’s statement in his article on the Jan. 1 edition that “this is ammunition you need to have,” let me offer some more.

As a regular attendee at the Lester B. Pearson School Board council and executive committee meetings, allow me to supplement The Suburban’s Jan. 1, 2014, article: School Board elections present hope for progress in 2014.

Journalists Joel Ceausu and Robert Frank are absolutely correct when they write: “Elections were supposed to make school boards, which spend billions of taxpayers’ dollars, directly accountable to the populace.” Moreover, “…. elections are at the very heart of the democratic process that we all hold dear.” How true.

Part of the democratic process includes the question period whose official purpose, at the Federal level, for example, is “to seek information from the government and to call it to account for its actions.”

Put another way: question period is more commonly understood as a venue for public accountability.

That said; let’s review some articles in the Quebec Education Act. Article 167 stipulates that: “the meetings of the council of commissioners are public,” and Article 168 says: “a question period must be provided at each public meeting during which the persons present may put oral questions to the commissioners.”

For about 15 years I have been doing just that, but something unusual happened at the November 2013 Council meeting. First, by resolution, council suddenly shortened the public question period time from 20 to 15 minutes and only allocated three minutes per speaker. Given that at virtually every meeting, for years, union reps excepted, I was “the public,” the resolution was not necessary.

(Then I was informed that I was no longer allowed to make comments or ask any questions at Public Question Periods).

What happened to this writer (volunteer) could happen to anyone. The board is a poor teacher with its narrow view on matters dealing with democratic governance.

Chris Eustace