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Order! Order, please!

Here are some questions about the procedure for  tomorrow’s HRM Regional Council agenda (Sept. 6). Perhaps there are some experts out there who can help us.

1. HRM Counc. Reg Rankin’s motion to hobble the acquisition of parkland for Blue Mount-Birch Cove project is the first item on the agenda.

The motion was deferred on July 26 so that staff could prepare a report on the situation for Council. But now they’re going to consider Rankin’s motion before the report is introduced, so what was the point in deferring the motion in the first place? How does Council get the full benefit of the report if it doesn’t have a chance to discuss it before Rankin’s motion?

Q: Is this an abuse of procedure?

2. Rankin’s motion and the motion that follows the staff report on the agenda are antithetical. For example: the first motion directs staff to begin “secondary planning”; the second motion is to refuse to engage in secondary planning. So, chronologically, we have two deeply conflicting motions separated by a staff report on the matter at hand.

Q: Is this good procedure?

3. Rankin’s motion arguably contradicts at least two previous ones directing staff to proceed with land acquisition in a businesslike fashion.

Q: Does it nullify the previous motions? Technically, is it effectively a motion of rescission? Does that mean it would require a two-thirds majority to pass? Is it out of order? (See http://bit.ly/2ce7c9X , Article 62, beginning on Page 30.)

Again, knowledgeable comment would be helpful here because citizens have no way of raising a point of order at a Council meeting. If you can help, the best place to contribute is likely the FB site where you found the link to this post.

Procedure aside, Rankin’s motion is mischievous and insulting to the 1,421 citizens who submitted comments in support of a project that will benefit our descendants more than it will benefit us. When is that last time 1,421 people spoke up for something instead of against it?

***

In online discussions, people have noted that Halifax councillors—on average—got one-third of their campaign contributions in 2011 from what CBC calls “the development community.” It’s a little naïve to think this amounts to bribery. Only a fool would risk a jail sentence for a few thousand dollars to help a campaign they might not win. Real bribes are more sophisticated and not the topic here.

But campaign contributions get you better access to the winners you backed. This is legal, and even ethical—we all have the right to speak to elected representatives. Political parties trade access for contributions in plain view at fund-raisers.

So what? Well, examine your feelings when you’re in the presence of power and money. You’ll likely find a powerful desire to co-operate.

That’s the real problem. Without strong self-discipline, meeting with the mighty can bring out your inner brown-noser. No cash required.

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