Wider range of experiences, diversity needed among local councils: Weaver
Susan Weaver has gotten a taste of community leadership, and she sure did enjoy it.
After being a leader of the – eventually successful — group opposed to the installation of a cell-phone tower in the forest at Dave Beck Park in Pointe Claire last year, the 65-year-old potter has decided to throw her hat in the ring of municipal elections and has started garnering signatures of support for her run at elected office in November.
Weaver, who has been a fixture at Pointe Claire city-council meetings since that time, said she feels like the all-male Pointe Claire council (which was universally acclaimed without opposition in 2009, with the exception of district 1, where incumbent Rob Geller defeated challenger Claude Cuillerier. Weaver hasn’t yet decided which ward she plans on running in, however.
“I feel like there needs to be more diversity on council,” said Weaver, who campaigned door to door gathering signatures for her official nomination papers last Tuesday. Weaver, who has little municipal experience, brings instead boatloads of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.
“I find I’m actually interested in this stuff,” Weaver said. “I guess I am interested in politics on the municipal level. I’m a bit of a junkie. I do think, though, that we need more women on council. In a perfect world, it would be half men and half women on council,” she said.
No one in her neighbourhood has yet laughed her off the doorstep when she’s gone looking for support, Weaver said.
“The more people I talk to, the more they’ll know I’m serious about this stuff,” she said.
In Pointe Claire Village, optician Alain Dubuc is living the same situation. The longtime (36 years) Pointe Claire Village optician said the current council sitting in Pointe Claire needs “rejuvenation,” and that’s why he will be running for Geller’s district 1 seat.
“I have collected my signatures and will be presenting myself for council in November,” Dubuc said. The lack of opposition in 2009 wasn’t a deficit of democracy, Dubuc believes.
“I suppose it means that people were satisfied with the job that was being done,” he said, but now, it must be refreshed, Dubuc asserted.
“This is a council that has been here a long time and must be rejuvenated,” he said.
Beaconsfield mayoral candidate Rhonda Massad, who announced her intention to challenge sitting incumbent David Pollock about a year before municipal elections in the name of transparency, said more diversity of opinion is not only crucial to maintaining a gender balance, but also to getting a well-rounded look at issues.
“(Women) make up 52 per cent of the population across Canada, but we only make up 17 per cent of municipal councils,” she said. “It’s not only that, but women bring a different perspective. They have a different way of looking at things. They’re more nurturing and more willing to listen,” she said. Currently, two women – Massad and Karin Essen — sit on Beaconsfield city council. Massad believes that on Nov. 3, voters will make the decision as to what is a good balance.
“The citizens will decide what’s best for them,” Massad said. “I think inevitably, we’ll end up with a fair (gender)split (on council).”