Good to Know Letters & Opinion

The “T-word” goes with the “D-word”

Word transparency
Written by Patti Foley

While you can’t actually see it, the T-word Transparency sits squarely in the middle of the D-word Democracy. Because in a democracy citizens have a right to know. They have a right to access information. They have a right to know how their elected officials are processing that information to make informed decisions that are in the best interests of the taxpayers. No one else. The taxpayers.

Our elected officials have the right to know as well. All of them. Not some of them. Inherent in their ability to make informed, intelligent, taxpayer-benefiting decisions is the necessity to have all the pertinent information available.

At the May 7th general committee meeting of Town of Caledon Council, a Motion was added to the Agenda by Councillor Christina Early. The Motion pointed out that “it is imperative that in order for Council to fulfill its role and duties, all members of Council must receive all items of correspondence that is addressed to the mayor and/or Council and/or the Municipal Clerk and/or the CAO.”

The Motion hinged around “all correspondence from other levels of government.” It is likely that the catalyst for this Motion was the absence of relevant information being shared with all Council members regarding the mayor’s recent move to advance rezoning on 12 development applications in Caledon.

One such piece of relevant information is a letter from Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, dated April 26th, 2024, addressed to the mayor and clerk, beginning with the sentence “I am writing to provide information to Town Council in advance of its consideration of the 12 proposed Zoning By-law Amendments….” Council members learned of its existence through the press (a TorStar article).

The incident came on the heels of some Council members becoming aware of 12 Region of Peel reports, that deemed the12 applications premature, during the April 25th Public Information Meeting. They felt that the reports should have been included in the Agenda for themselves and the public to see.

As well, at the May 7th Council meeting, there was a report requesting that all of Council be permitted to sit in on Closed Committee meetings. In January the mayor had used Strong Mayor Powers to establish a Single-Tier Transition Committee and unilaterally appoint two Council members to it – Mario Russo and Doug Maskell. With Caledon facing the costs of major infrastructure downloads from the Region, Council members feel they should all be allowed to hear those discussions.

There is no doubt that lack of transparency, inadequate disclosure, and increased authoritarianism all erode democracy. Taxpayers, including members of Council, have a right to know. The “T-word” is part of the “D-word.” And democracy is worth fighting for.

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About the author

Patti Foley

Having spent 25 years in Bolton, Patti remains an advocate for Caledon. As a former Regional Councillor and a long-time community volunteer she is passionate about communicating information about its issues, news, events, people, non-profits and businesses.

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2 Comments

  • Patti, I couldn’t have said it better myself!
    Withholding these important documents from council members seems to me to be both childish and dictator-like — neither of which have a place in any government, much less Caledon’s.

  • Hello! I’m wondering if you will be preparing a response to the integrity commissioner complaint against Lynn Kiernan? Nothing in the Caledon Enterprise either. Just wondering about reporting on this if it’s still to come?