The good people of HN and I will not be silenced

By MPP Bobbi Ann Brady

 The past few weeks have been interesting in local politics. In fact, it has been an interesting and wonderful two years since, with your approval, I took the fight to Queen’s Park to stand up for democracy and challenge the establishment. And when you challenge the establishment, there is a price to pay.

In case you missed it, a motion was brought forward June 19th by Haldimand County Councillor Stewart Patterson to bar me from attending delegations with the county at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) in Ottawa this August. A bizarre move to say the least.

AMO is a meeting of cabinet ministers, associate ministers, MPPs and municipalities. Municipalities ask for 15-minute delegations with cabinet ministers to make funding requests. Municipalities do not have all their delegation requests fulfilled. Haldimand County is currently waiting to hear which delegations they will be granted.

The MPP’s role at AMO is to advocate with their municipal partners. It has been this way for as long as I have been in politics — MPPs of all stripes supporting their communities. But because I am Independent, some councillors erroneously say I am a risk to the historic process of AMO delegations.

This past Monday, I responded to the motion at Haldimand County Council and asked the five councillors (Stewart Patterson, John Metcalfe, Rob Shirton, Dan Lawrence, Patrick O’Neill) how I am different from any other opposition members like a Liberal, NDP or Green. My colleagues of these stripes are not being barred from AMO nor have they ever been. Indeed, a few of them reached out following news of the motion and told me to stand my ground.

There is a concerted effort to silence me. I have opposed a city of 15,000 homes and 40,000 people from day one and continue to oppose the idea. That is not popular with the majority of Haldimand County councillors whom I encouraged to work with me to safeguard the thousands of direct and indirect jobs at the industrial park. I asked them why they continue to support a development that most of their constituents oppose – I asked if they knew better than their constituents and one councillor nodded his head ‘yes.’

During debate of the motion, one councillor said I get an A+ for effort but our system of government works against an Independent and I need to play ball. If playing ball means sitting in my seat being seen and not heard like a Victorian child, no thanks. Ironically, this is the councillor I have joined forces with to demand reconstruction of the Argyle Street Bridge. I asked him if he still wanted me to stand and ask when reconstruction will begin.

A few days before the motion against me was tabled, a news story emerged naming me Ontario’s number one rising star on the opposition side – an accolade voted on by elected members and staff of all stripes, the media, and lobbyists. All these people see me as someone holding government to account in a professional way and yet five councillors see me as a risk.

My role as MPP is not to represent those five councillors, but rather to represent the 110,000 people of our incredible riding. It is a job I do with intense pride and passion. Motion after motion can come forward – I will not be silenced.

Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk