Our Mayor: the story no one is talking about

As reported by Peter Criscione, correspondent for the Brampton Guardian, in his article on the establishment of a Transit Committee by Brampton City Council, a concerning exchange seems to have taken place between the Mayor, and a local Brampton resident.

Chris Bejnar is a representative of Citizens for a Better Brampton (CFBB). CFBB is active in the community, and has been since before the 2014 municipal election when Linda Jeffrey was elected Mayor.  This is not a fringe group that has come into existence just to cause our Mayor frustration (like some blogs I could name! pfft).

As reported, Mr. Bejnar attended the Council meeting that is the subject of Mr. Criscione’s report, for and on behalf of a group of concerned citizens.  Citizens, as in the people Ms. Jeffrey was elected to represent. When Mr. Bejnar voiced his concerns that Brampton was being left out the HSR plans, as reported, he was met with a very curious response. I will reproduce and quote from Mr. Criscione’s article the sections of particular interest:

  • At one point, the mayor accused Chris Bejnar, co-chair of Citizens For a Better Brampton (CFBB) of being an “armchair quarterback.”
  • “Put your name on the ballot if it’s so easy to do and you have lots of advice for everybody,”

Yup, our Mayor just pulled out the old “Why don’t you do it if you’re so smart?”  I can honestly say I haven’t heard anyone use that since grade school.

Am I the only one who finds this concerning?

Imagine if you will you went to the Keg for dinner. You ask that your steak be cooked Blue, because you have very discerning tastes and do consider anything more than Blue to be burned. Your steak arrives. It is cooked Medium. This is not what you ordered. You call your waiter over, and point out the error, perhaps the kitchen could do something about this. The next thing you know, the Manager is at your table side insisting that “You go in the kitchen and cook it Blue if it’s so easy to do and you have lots of cooking advice for everybody.”

Am I the only one who would consider this unacceptably disrespectful? I’m talking real respect, not just nitpicking line items of a budget and calling it respect for the taxpayer, I mean real, actual, wants to listen to us and our ideas, RESPECT! The lack of respect that it takes to call a citizen an “armchair quarterback” and then tell him to love it or lump it until the next election is staggering. But I think it goes deeper than that.

I am concerned that our Mayor is beginning to show signs that she is not emotionally equipped for the pressures of leadership.  This outburst is concerning, as it may indicate that the job might just be too much her to handle. Such outbursts, directed at the very people she is trying to serve, indicates that she is incapable of bearing the psychological load of the Mayor’s office.

Let us not forget, this is a Mayor who continues to “run with a clique” instead of being able to unify council under at least a culture of “respectfully agree to disagree, but work together for the sake of the City.”  She is also the Mayor who had to try to retract her controversial LRT Vote because she was too fatigued to think clearly about the Motion. And now, for the second time I am aware of, she has responded to criticism not with conciliation, mediation, thoughtful or respectful discourse, but with an immature grade school retort along the lines of Go Fly a Kite!

Actually, I apologize, that’s not a fair statement. Her actual words were:

“Put your name on the ballot if it’s so easy to do” 

and let’s not forget, the one that launched a certain blog:

“If you don’t like the job that I am doing, everyone here has an option in 2018 — put your name on the ballot.”

To Mayor Jeffrey, it seems, citizens are not actually people she has a duty to represent, their voices are not ones that she needs to listen to. To Mayor Jeffrey, I suppose it is her way or the highway. And if you don’t like, you can run for Mayor, the political equivalent of “let’s take this outside.”

The job of Mayor is a challenging one.  There is a lot of scrutiny, a lot of pressure, a lot of unfair and unfounded criticism.  There are, for many issues, many views, ideologies, needs and wants that must all be carefully balanced. Policy decisions always involve saying Yes to one group, and No to another group. Every decision has winners and losers. Every decision will make one group happy and one group unhappy. The job of any leader, but especially that of Mayor, involves balancing that never ending Catch 22, creating compromise and consensus, and ensuring that even the proverbial losers understand that a greater good is at play and that we can move forward and make even a loss work to our long term advantage.

Are we really happy with a leader who show an utter disregard for all who disagree? Who simply fails to respect the fact that reasonable people will differ, and citizens have the right to express their disagreement without being told to go run a campaign if they don’t like it? Even Rob Ford, at the height of his legal troubles and the accusations of illicit drug use, was still out fixing pot holes. And if you can’t act at least as maturely as Rob Ford, there is a deeper problem here than just a failed mayoral agenda.

We deserve far better leadership.

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