There is a worrisome trend where elected officials rely too heavily on consultation processes to justify their decisions.
Having taken office, elected officials are tasked with representing the balance of their constituents, regardless of whether constituents voted for them or not. I’d like to take this one step further: Elected officials must represent their constituents even when constituents fail to attend public consultations.
Far too often, we’re told that if we want our say, we must attend a public consultation. This gives the impression that consultation reflects the concerns of all constituents. This assumption is false. Representation at public consultations generally reflects those with particular interests or a particular passion about an issue that is often not representative of the general constituency.
When elected officials rely wholly on public consultation to guide their thinking, they run the danger of neglecting the vast majority of constituents who choose not to attend. Elected officials cannot defer decisions to public consultation; otherwise they run the risk of only representing the vocal few.
Those who are unable to attend assume, and rightly so, that elected officials are tasked with representing them and making balanced, well-informed decisions rather than decisions solely based on public consultation.
CEO, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
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