"...where I come from they call that democracy." -Walter Robinson


  NEWS ITEM:

Rural Council holds public meeting

at the Kinburn Community Centre
November 8th, 2004

Guest Speaker: Walter Robinson

     LINK TO MEETING NOTICE - PRESS RELEASE

(A link to Walter Robinson's speaking notes are at bottom of this page.)


As reported in the...

--------------  Ottawa Valley News  --------------


A city boy's take on the emerging rural agenda

By Karen Secord
Ottawa Valley News

November 10, 2004

Early on in his presentation Walter Robinson, the past federal director of the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation, engaged his mostly disgruntled rural audience at the Kinburn Community Centre on Monday evening, when he described his past occupation as a "national tax fighter" and his present one as a "Member of Parliament in exile."

 
  Guest speaker Walter Robinson, the former Federal Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, with Donrobin resident Peter Scott-Smith  
 
 
"I've seen many organizations of anger fizzle into oblivion," he told the 150 or so in attendance for a Rural Council meeting. "Congratulations to the Rural Council for turning your anger into advocacy, irritation into information, and resignation into a resolve for recognition, respect and results."

 
 

I've seen many organizations of anger fizzle into oblivion," he told the 150 or so in attendance for a Rural Council meeting. "Congratulations to the Rural Council for turning your anger into advocacy, irritation into information, and resignation into a resolve for recognition, respect and results."

 
 
On this night there were representatives in attendance from the West Carleton Rural Association, the Ottawa Farmers' Business Association, the Lanark Landowners Association, the Richmond Village Association, the Osgoode Chamber of Commerce, and the Willola Beach Property Owners Association.

 
 

Robinson was introduced by Rural Council president Bob McKinley. "Walter resigned his position with the Taxpayer's Federation to run for the Conservatives. Unfortunately the voters lacked the good judgement to elect him."

With only 735 days left before the November 13, 2006 municipal election, Robinson had the audience in the palm of his hand when he reminded them that "democracy ceases to exist if we cannot criticize."

"If you're getting under the skin of your councillors then good for you," he said.

The Rural Council is an organization that was formed in March 2004 when rural businesses, farmers, and landowners within the City of Ottawa came together at the Nepean Sportsplex to offer their support for a new way to deal with what they perceive as inequitable treatment in the amalgamated city structure.

On this night there were representatives in attendance from the West Carleton Rural Association, the Ottawa Farmers' Business Association, the Lanark Landowners Association, the Richmond Village Association, the Osgoode Chamber of Commerce, and the Willola Beach Property Owners Association.

Rideau Coun. Glen Brooks and Osgoode Coun. Doug Thompson were also present. West Carleton Coun. Eli El-Chantiry sent his regrets.

Robinson continued by sharing his belief that the issues facing rural Ottawa are hardly unique.

 
  Mike Campbell, President of the Willola Beach Property Owners Association, with Rural Council President Bob McKinley.  

"Rural residents across the country are telling elected officials and policy wonks that the citys agenda -- while it is important and real -- cannot and must not become the sole preoccupation of politicians to the detriment of real rural concerns," he said.

 
 
"
... they are complaining a lot these days... it's great isn't it... where I come from they call it democracy."

"...democracy ceases to exist if we cannot criticize."

                                                                                                                               
-Walter Robinson


 
 

Robinson attempted to explain "a perception problem in the downtown corridor and among the economic development community as a whole" by recalling a conversation he had recently had with a city official, and a simple research project he undertook.

"I mentioned to a city official... late last week that I was looking forward to my speech this evening. His response was terse: 'Ah, yes, the rural whiners, regardless of what we do, they'll never be happy, all they do is complain and criticize' and on he went with his vitriol..."

Robinson's response was positive yet biting.

"You know, you're absolutely right... they are complaining a lot these days... it's great isn't it... where I come from they call it democracy."

But it was probably his recounting of the research he had done on Ottawa's top three web sites that really caught people's attention.

 
 
"There is no mention of the 100,000 people who live in the rural area or 95 percent of the geographic footprint of Ottawa. And there is no mention of the economic contribution or the hi-tech innovation that you bring into the city. And on the city's website, Ottawa.ca, there is nothing about the people who live in the rural areas."
                                                                                                                               
-Walter Robinson


 
 

While the Ottawa Carleton Research and Innovation (OCRI) site and Ottawa.com site are the catchall for every imaginable fact and figure about Ottawa, Robinson was surprised to discover that there is little mention of the city's rural component.

 
 
"There is not one person on the city payroll who has any ability to inform the city on rural issues."

..."If your councillor doesn't represent you, doesn't share your values, then start looking for someone who does."


                                                 -Bob McKinley, President of the Rural Council

 
 

"There is no mention of the 100,000 people who live in the rural area or 95 percent of the geographic footprint of Ottawa. And there is no mention of the economic contribution or the hi-tech innovation that you bring into the city. And on the city's website, Ottawa.ca, there is nothing about the people who live in the rural areas."

However, on the subject of de-amalgamation Robinson and McKinley did not see eye-to-eye.

"I don't think we can put the toothpaste back in the tube," said Robinson, who admitted to being a key proponent of amalgamation. "I think as the city continues to grow there might be a way to have a two tier municipal structure, but not under the guise of de-amalgamation."

"There is not one person on the city payroll who has any ability to inform the city on rural issues," countered McKinley.

"If your councillor doesn't represent you, doesn't share your values, then start looking for someone who does," he added. "One thing a politician hates more than anything else is to be voted out of power. We need to expand the basis of our influence and use it during the election of 2006. We can hold the balance of power."

For more information on the activities of the Rural Council, or to find out how you can become a member, go to www.ruralcouncil.ca.

Ottawa Valley News


 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Walter Robinson's speaking notes

 


 

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