Last night was an opportunity to recognize and give thanks to the many people who I have worked with the past two years as the Warden of Leeds&Grenville and this year as Chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus. I was so pleased to host the banquet in our home town. I have bragged about Westport all across Ontario to politicians of all orders of government and this was the first visit by many of the guests.
The evening included catching up with old and new friends, business owners and lots and lots of politicians from Eastern Ontario. The Coves’ hospitality was outstanding. The entertainment was provided by Jeff Friesen, Westport resident and story teller extraordinaire and by Soul Purpose, a singing quarter from Elgin. Both were thoroughly enjoyed by our guests.
The banquet gave me the opportunity to recognize politicians from across Eastern Ontario and staff from the Village and Leeds&Grenville. I finished my comments with encouragement to all politicians to keep the civility bar high, to avoid the slippery slope that many politicians have slid down.
I was asked by several guests for this last portion of my speech. As a matter of fact, when my back was turned during the Soul Purpose performance, one guest took my notes right off my table! I thought by including it in this blog, other politicians could give consideration to what I believe to be our duty.
Incivility – NOT the new normal in Leeds & Grenville
We continue to be surprised by prominent politicians who lower the bar for acceptable behaviour. Who encourage animosity. Who believe that might makes right.
We must remember that what holds us together in Leeds & Grenville is the respect for the collective. It is our right to have and to boldly state our differences, while remembering that we are one community. That the power of language goes both ways – it can be thuggish and part of the problem or positive and part of the solution.
Divisive, degrading, offensive and disruptive behaviour is not by chance, but by intent. Hyperbole is the first cousin of untruthful. We need to remember who we are, what our values and principles are and resist those who espouse rhetoric that is a race to the bottom, where nobody wins.
Michelle Obama said it best – “when they go low, we go high!”
Great advice to heed, as it is us – the politicians – who have the ability to ensure that incivility does NOT become the new normal in Leeds & Grenville. Please give this some consideration.