A Crisis of Disengagement

Holding elected officials and governments accountable is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy. A strong free press is critical to providing that lens of scrutiny. That is why it was concerning to many across Guelph, including myself, when we lost our daily print newspaper.

We have had talented journalists try to fill the gap with coverage of 1 Carden Street, but individuals can only do so much alone.

I have spoken to sitting councillors, candidates, and residents at the door about this issue and I am worried about what it means for accountability and transparency at council.

For this reason, I have included in my platform a plan to create a part-time position for knowledge translation so that residents can get past undecipherable walls of text coming from council and get to the meat and potatoes of what is actually happening at council meetings.

Whether it is because people do not have time to watch or attend council meetings or that Guelphites, especially its younger generations, are moving away from cable all together, we need to make sure council meetings stay engaging and accessible.

Council is an open, democratic assembly of elected community leaders. We must combat the false image of Council as a club of business owners and influential personalities that sit around a table at night commanding the destiny of the city we love. 

Instead of just talking about it, let’s act on it.

Introducing knowledge translation:

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As a municipal council we should be engaging our residents and securing the future of our democracy by learning to communicate with constituents through the most effective method that reaches them where they are, rather than waiting for them to come to us. The onus is on us to communicate with residents outside of election cycles.

The lack of engagement is a serious issue and something I would dare call a crisis.

We need an impartial source of information that is easily digestible, and therefore accessible.

While I am not proposing the creation of a media outlet, I will as your councillor propose the creation of a part-time knowledge translation with visual design and communication experience that will produce live and interactive graphic and web content for residents across the city.

There is a small inner circle of council-watchers and politicos that seem to be the narrow lens through which the rest of Guelph learns what is happening in council and it can be difficult to find the facts on certain motions and debates. Information is power, let’s make sure the power is in the hands of you, the residents of Guelph.

Join me on Oct. 22 and let’s put Residents First by allowing everyone to truly have clarity and transparency about the actions of their elected leaders.

Visit my full platform here: VoteRidder.ca/platform


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