To the Editor,
I try my best not to come off as an uncritical fan of The Review, but I must say that the recent editorial ‘Talking bigger: more important local steps’ October 13) was, in my view, an eloquent and profound piece of writing. Ms. Sproule has touched upon a theme that is all-too-frequently ignored in most media; namely, the ability of communities to best determine several aspects of their collective lives.
To be sure, there are some things for which broader policy and decisions need to be made. I, for one, welcome national standards on pollution and of healthcare. I also like having a national currency and a Canadian postal service, to name but two examples. Some issues are, quite simply immense, and it is only fitting that our responses be equally substantial ones.
At the same time, there are instances when local opinion and knowledge need to be taken into account, or even allowed to lead decision-making. In Kemptville, for example, a decision was made by the province to build a jail, even though the town does not have a local transit system or adequate social services to accommodate a provincial jail. Even worse, the facility is being built quite near to schools and daycares. No local input was solicited that led to the decision, and the consultation sessions that have been set up since are merely exercises in which provincial officials tell the people what will happen, and then allow people to vent. A very different situation would have resulted from consulting the community first, and then acting on its legitimate concerns.
I will not try to address all the points raised by Ms. Sproule in her editorial, but I was struck by her comments about the decline of community-based responsibilities. I agree entirely, and only hope that more communities begin insisting upon reclaiming the ones that have been lost. Once people in a community see the positive benefits that accrue from making locally-based decisions, they will undoubtedly wish to accept additional responsibilities. In other words, nothing succeeds like success. And, I bet that the decisions that are made will likely square up with those made in other communities.
What Ms. Sproule is proposing, I believe, is radical, because she is asking us to step outside of deeply engrained systems of belief about how society should be organized. To that I say “amen.” We need to rethink some of the things we believe, and this will be no different from those who were asked to change their views about slavery, about women’s right to vote, and about injustices suffered by Indigenous peoples – to name but three.
Thank you, Ms. Sproule, for a thoughtful and thought-provoking editorial. You have provided yet another reason to value a true local treasure – The Review.