OPINION: How did it come to this?

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The Chatham-Kent Civic Centre.

“Papers!”

That could be the demand in the not too distant future for taxpayers seeking to attend a Chatham-Kent council meeting.

The municipality is bringing in stronger security measures for council meetings.

To help our elected officials and municipal staff to feel safer, there will be security guards on site during council meetings.

All visitors and media will be issued passes to allow staff to track who is in the building at all times.

According to municipal CAO Michael Duben, there have been instances of “suspicious behaviour in the building in and around council meetings.”

Our initial tongue-in-cheek response is to look around the council table and spot “suspicious behaviour” – the inattentiveness by some councillors for various deputations to council, or others who check their cell phones and update their social media in the middle of meetings where their undivided attention should be on the situation that is right in front of them.

Seriously, councillors should feel safe as they make decisions for what they believe is the betterment of the municipality. There should be no opportunity for the public to attempt to bully, shout down, or spit on our elected officials.

The fact councillors and staff may not feel safe when the public shows up in support or opposition of a motion or individual is quite sad and is a testament to the ludicrous feeling of empowerment certain individuals seem to have, not just here, but across North America.

If you want to deliver a message to council, do so at the polls come next election. Don’t agree with how they operate? Vote in different politicians. That’s how democracy works.

But if you don’t bother to vote, don’t expect things to change.

And considering only about one-in-three eligible voters bother to cast their ballots at the municipal level, councillors should not feel all that concerned.

Delivering a message via threats of violence against a municipal politician is ludicrous. You may not like a council decision, or a councillor, but there is no place for bullying behaviour.

Thankfully, this is not Michigan, where gun-toting militia occupied the state capitol building in 2020.

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