The recent Woolwich Township public meeting regarding the possibility of a casino in the township certainly did not disappoint – but it was a much shorter meeting than I had expected. My old ‘friends’ from the OLG certainly didn’t disappoint either. There were numerous grammatical and/or spelling errors in their PowerPoint presentation, demonstrating the OLG’s professional standards. Makes me so proud of our government.
And let’s not forget the speakers after the OLG presentation. There were about 10 speakers, one of which I couldn’t tell if he was in favour or against. I’m not sure if it was his presentation skills or the fact that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. I also discount the first speaker as he wasn’t even a resident. He was a retired addiction counselor who had just recently written a book on some facet of addiction and made sure that the audience knew the book was available for sale. Did someone say conflict of interest or was that just ringing in my ears?
Regardless of the remaining 8 or so speakers, I would say that it was about a 60%-40% split on the issue, sixty being against. However the arguments on the ‘con’ side certainly weren’t a repeat from the early gambling debates. Remember them? It went something like this: ‘there will be prostitutes’, ‘there will be soiled adult diapers in the parking lot’, and ‘our children will be exposed to drugs and criminals’. Even today, those arguments are ridiculous, especially since none of them ever happened!
This time the arguments, mainly from retired pastors, involved the question of “what values do we want to have in our community?” This is a pretty good question – if it was posed to a pastor, but this question was asked of our municipal councilors. So when did the issue of ‘values’ become part of the job description for a municipal counselor. I thought I elected these folks to handle the ‘business’ of the township, to manage the bottom line of the township, to match my tax dollars to the essential services of the township. I thought there was a fiduciary obligation with the municipal councilor position. I don’t need the municipal councilors to tell me if abortion is right or wrong, or to tell me if homosexuals are bad people or good people, or if drinking beer makes me a bad or a good person, or if eating meat is right or wrong or if owning a gun is right or wrong, etc. If the casino in Woolwich Township is legal and it helps the bottom line of the township, then give it the green light to go in Woolwich Township. Will that decision demonstrate that Woolwich is full of a bunch of hypocrites? Absolutely, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. If the previous gambling/slot decision that was made by Woolwich council about a decade ago, was based on the fiduciary issue, rather than the moral one, Woolwich would be 16 million dollars richer and they’d be merely agreeing to an expansion of a legal operation. And I wouldn’t be anticipating a tax increase. Not to mention the fact that the not-for-profit Woolwich Agricultural Society wouldn’t be up the creek, outside Woolwich Township, without the proverbial paddle. If I’m to believe the recent development in the Rideau-Carlton Raceway situation (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/11/23/ottawa-casino-not-at-rideau-carleton-raceway.html), the Woolwich Agricultural Society and Centre-Wellington Township are missing more than just a paddle. It looks like they might be missing the entire body of water! Regardless, I’m just hoping for more opportunities for public meetings on this topic. With the American election over, I’m always looking for the next best form of cheap entertainment.