A QUESTION OF ANSWERS

He almost did it last Tuesday. Councillor Handley almost got himself thrown out of Council for for the second time this term. In fact, the way he kept daring Mayor Luciani to hit the Panic Button (a button under the Mayor’s desk which summons the police), you’d think that he wanted to be thrown out.

Maybe he did.

Now, I don’t mind if Handley is tossed out of the Council Chamber again. It makes absolutely no difference to me one way or the other. I also don’t care about the Winterberry bus, since I’m neither a student nor a homeowner on that street.

The reason for the hubbub behind this fiasco was as follows: representatives of Brock U. and their Student Union (BUSU) came to Council to argue in favour of a motion to reinstate the Winterberry bus until the end of the school term. They said that, along with dangerous road conditions (unshoveled sidewalks, snow on the road, heavy construction), this measure would give the students living there a chance to end their leases and move.

When Councillors had an opportunity to question (that’s just question, no comments, under the procedures) the delegation, Councillor Handley began simply enough by asking them if they had any proof that these students could leave at the end of the term. Then he proceeded to tell them that he had a list of 39 leases that were until May, 2019, another whole more year. Then he began to inform everyone of the addresses of all of these leases.

The Brock folks answered with a long reply, including that the leases weren’t the only reason for the request and that many of those leases had an out with notice.

Whether either of these is true isn’t the point. The point is that Handley began arguing the point, Luciani ruled him out of order, Handley ignored the ruling, arguing that he asked a simple question and they should have given him a simple “yes” or “no” answer. In the end, he almost had his person removed from the Council Chamber, but not quite.

So, was he right? A simple question on his part would have been, “Do you have proof of these leases ending?” Obviously, his “question” included a lengthy explanation and recitation. The fact is that Councillor Handley’s “simple question” took 4:27 to “ask” (at 45:10 on the counter to 49:37), while BUSU’s answer took 3:43 (49:37 to 53:20). That seems fair enough.

So, right or wrong, what’s the point? Some think he was electioneering, since this is an election year. However, the fact is that Councillor Handley generally tends toward the dramatic (some say melodramatic). The people who are steadfast Handley fans will no doubt agree that he did the right thing, as steadfast supporters of anybody or anything tend to do. But the real question is this:

How well is he representing anyone if he’s standing outside City Hall looking in?

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