Don’t repeat history; add plebiscite to ballot

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I had the misfortune to tune into the cablecast of our city council’s committee meeting where several citizens appeared in order to offer council members opinions regarding the possibility of the construction of a new hockey palace and their desire to have that issue put before the citizenry in the form of a plebiscite.
Sadly, several council members decided to take advantage of their protected positions to attack and bully those who appeared before them. The arrogant and condescending attitude displayed by several of our elected officials was a shameful disgrace. I’ve been a judge at high school debates where better decorum was displayed. It is small wonder why many of those we elect are held in such low regard.
This whole council-driven ambition to get on with the project, regardless, is just another example of history repeating itself. I recall a similar debate during the early 1980s when the project was an arts centre. Then, as now, the name was changed in order to garner support. The arts centre quickly became a Community Auditorium. Now, we see this one become an event centre.
Then, as now, consultants were hired to explain how this magnificent structure would bring many wonderful benefits to all. Then, as now, there were those who were concerned about the location, the costs, the purpose. Then, as now, those who dared question the wisdom of those advocating the building that symbol of sophistication were dismissed as uniformed buffoons. Then, unlike now, the mayor of the day. Walter Assef, was consistently opposed to it. Council was, unlike now, split on the issue.
Councillor, in those days Alderman, Rita Ubriaco managed to keep the idea alive and, courageously, finally came to agree that a plebiscite was the only sensible, sane, logical way to settle it.
In the end, after years of acrimonious debate, a vote was held and the Yes side triumphed by a very narrow margin. The debates ended, the building was built and life went on. I can only urge council to take the same courageous step. Add a plebiscite to this year’s municipal election.
Dick Waddington
Thunder Bay

As a taxpayer in this city, I have been following the debate over the multiplex with interest. While I can see the possible benefits of the proposed multiplex, I can understand the fears expressed by the opponents. This is a significant project that will cost us all a lot of money.
If I understand correctly both the mayor and city administration take the position that it is not possible to phrase a clear simple question that would be meaningful at this stage. I would like to suggest the following: “Are you in favour of spending municipal money on a multiplex to be built either in downtown Port Arthur or in Innova Park?”
Paul Deighton
Thunder Bay

IS Peter Stevens (letter, March 20) serious, comparing local taxpayers asking for a plebiscite on the event center to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin using democracy to gain power? Perhaps he would prefer to live in a country that is not democratic and where people do not have a voice. I, for one, want a say in what happens in my city, and country.
As far as local politicians making promises while campaigning to be elected, if you can’t keep your promises, don’t make them.
Frank Ruberto
Thunder Bay