I was pleasantly shocked at the recent Woolwich Township council meeting, where a decision was made to roll out the welcome mat for a casino, pending numerous conditions and receiving a green light from OLG. In an earlier post, I had commented that I had looked forward to the ‘entertainment’ factor of these meetings as I am fascinated by some of the public speeches and presentations. I was definitely not disappointed, however, there was one speech that didn’t really entertain me – it insulted me. And the author and presenter of that speech was the Chair of the Region of Waterloo, Ken Seiling.
Mr. Seiling made it clear that he was speaking as a citizen of Woolwich Township, not as the Chair of Waterloo Region but I can’t imagine that the personal opinions that he provided on the Woolwich casino issue are much different than in his position of Regional Chair. Mr. Seiling stated that many of Woolwich residents had “commonly-held principles” and that these principles were “built in our DNA” and “a part of our roots”. His speech went on to convey that he didn’t think that a casino fit with those commonly-held beliefs and that “Woolwich should not be bought” by the casino proposal and Woolwich should not be a partner in this project. He concluded by advising the voting councilors that approving this casino would make this their legacy for the township.
So if I disagree with Mr. Seiling, is he saying that my ‘roots’, being different than his roots, are for sale? And can this be translated to say that my values are for sale? I felt somewhat insulted by this and wondered if others perceived his comments in a similar manner. Well, it didn’t take long before I got an answer to that as another resident, Richard Bradley, got up and said that he felt that there was a ‘prejudice’ evident in the comments made toward individuals who went to a casino or toward those folks that were in favour of the casino. He elaborated, in a humourous way, that he wasn’t a gambler, nor was he a theatre-goer, or even a hockey fan but he felt that all of these activities were entertaining to the people who participated and that the money expended on tickets for the theater or a hockey game didn’t produce any monetary rewards but did provide an ‘entertainment’ reward – much as some people receive when they put money into a slot machine or spend it on a gambling activity. It’s their entertainment.
I’m afraid that Mr. Seiling’s comments are sounding like someone who isn’t keeping up with the growth and changes of his own township. The ‘commonly-held principles to which he refers may be changing as new families with different ‘DNA’ and different ‘roots’ move into the township and the Region. To my knowledge, there is no ‘application process’ whereby someone wanting to move to the township has to demonstrate that they share Mr. Seiling’s ‘commonly-held principles’ and I’m thankful for that. Get with the program Mr. Seiling. Woolwich is more than Old Order Mennonites and more than religion and the principles that are associated with traditional religions. There might even be an atheist, an agnostic, an ex-convict, or someone who gambles and drinks, or maybe someone who masturbates and heaven forbid, someone who is a homosexual and has children going to the schools of Woolwich Township. However will we deal with that? Guess we need to make that wall around Woolwich a little taller and stronger to keep those people out that don’t have our ‘commonly-held principles’. Maybe the Region can use their portion of the casino money to take care of the improvements on that wall.