Willow Pond

The political will to do something

Over the last few days, I’ve spoken with all of the non-incumbent candidates for mayor. While their commitment to working something out with my mom and dad differs a little, all three of the non-incumbents were supportive, and promised to figure something out to either end the court proceedings against my mom and dad, or to come up with a solution that would permit the continuation of the Liberty Summer Seminar.

Jeremy Woodcock speaks with my dad

Jeremy Woodcock came out in person to our court trial yesterday, so I finally got an opportunity to speak with him face to face. His support for my mom and dad and the Liberty Summer Seminar is unequivocal. Since my dad brought the “Save the Liberty Summer Seminar” petition with him, Jeremy went ahead and signed it again. He told me he supported Corinna Traill’s proposed motion (the one I wrote about here), and thinks the municipality’s response to the Liberty Summer Seminar, and the lack of political will on the part of the current mayor and council is unacceptable.

He’s right. It is unacceptable.

Yesterday and this morning, I had an email exchange with Adrian Foster, who is a current councillor, and is also a candidate for mayor. Marven Whidden, the popular local blogger, blogged about Foster’s plan to work collaboratively with residents to encourage the kind of activities, like Whidden’s “illegal” neighbourhood street party, that build community spirit and promote the kind of municipality we all want to live in. Foster’s platform includes this:

We need to encourage our residents to enjoy sharing time and talent together. I do not support levying fees for public festivals nor do I support making safe, organized street parties like Morgandale’s ‘illegal’. Let’s foster, not hinder community spirit“.

That plank piqued my attention.

I sent Foster an email to find out if this platform has the Liberty Summer Seminar in mind as well. After all, the LSS is an annual event that brings people together to celebrate and promote Canadian classical liberal values and institutions. He told me that the LSS is the kind of event that he had in mind. Then he sent me a quote this morning to use on this blog:

“As a purely personal observation, I’d suggest that we would all be happier if this whole incident had not occurred. The upside is that we’ll be compelled to review some of our policies with an outcome that could promote, rather than hinder agri-tourism and gatherings such as your own. I’d hope we can be creative enough to find ways to maintain the integrity of our zoning by-laws where neccessary while at the same time allowing flexibility where it makes sense. In simple terms, moving forward, we need to look for solutions rather than problems.”

As for solutions, Foster says that he would look into a variety of possible options, including temporary re-zoning for the weekend of the Seminar, for example. This should not, however, be necessary, since it is hard to believe that the Liberty Summer Seminar, given the kind of event that it is and the way it is run, is contrary to any bylaw.

Paul Adams and I at the Orono Country Cafe (maybe I should have done something different with my hair...)

This morning, meanwhile, I had the opportunity to spend an hour chatting with Paul Adams over coffee at the Orono Country Cafe. Paul has knocked on over 27,000 doors personally, wearing out two pairs of shoes in the process.

He tells me that what’s happening to my mom and dad is not unusual, that Clarington residents, unlike in other nearby municipalities, are particularly hard hit by archaic and byantine bylaws that should have been changed many years ago.

“I have spoken with thousands of residents and business leaders about the conflicted business environment, especially as it pertains to business policy, in general,” Paul wrote to me a few days ago. “I have heard, almost daily, about by-laws and similar obstacles that make doing business in Clarington difficult. This must change for an economically sustainable community and for community, in general.”

As for the Liberty Summer Seminar, Paul told me that, should he become mayor, he will seek out my mom and dad and try to work something out with all of us to permit the continuation of the Liberty Summer Seminar. He told me today that he planned on coming to court yesterday to show his support, but that a prior engagement went on longer than expected.

Throughout this whole ordeal, Paul has responded quickly to our concerns. He not only responds to all of my emails, he’s asked for more details, has read about our case, and even tried to visit with my mom and dad personally (my parents were at work when he stopped by, so he left a card with his phone number).

As for incumbent mayor Jim Abernethy, I really haven’t tried to speak with him since he suggested that my mom and dad can “beg for forgiveness.” Prior to that, however, Abernethy insisted every single time I’ve asked him to intervene or help in some way, that his hands were tied. He can’t talk to bylaw, his hands are tied. He can’t intervene, his hands are tied. He wishes he could do something — since everyone agrees that charging my parents for the Liberty Summer Seminar is absurd and, frankly, outrageous and indecent — but, alas, his hands are tied.

Paul Adams and Jeremy Woodcock insist that that’s not true. That the mayor and council direct bylaw, and not the other way around. That our representatives could stand up for us, rather than stand aside, if only they had the political will to do something.


    A thought on who might be able to help you the most. Though I’m sure your conversations with these three were more detailed and extensive than could be portrayed here, I thought it noteworthy that Foster was the only one mentioned here who had a specific idea (temporary re-zoning) and from the way you put things here, it sounds as if he may have had a few. I have no idea the merits of the temporary re-zoning suggestion, but it’s one thing to express support (as they all seemed to), and quite another – and better – to have concrete proposals.

  • You have a good point, Corwin. Although I certainly would not overlook the fact that Woodcock showed up at the courthouse in support of Peter and his family. Nor would I overlook the fact that Adams has taken such an active and involved interest in their case (and, it seems, others similar).

    One thing however is quite clear: Abernethy must go.

  • The choice is clear: “Anybody But Abernethy”

  • I agree with Connie. abernethy needs to go. All 3 of these candudates sound like an improvement. Glad things sound like they are going better.

  • Absolutely, Abernathy must go. We need a Mayor that will listen to counsel, the people that we vote for. Abernathy does not seem to recognize the democratic system, nor does he seem very democratic when it comes to playing fair with the Jaworski’s.

  • Woodcock showed up where you guys were forced by the process to be.
    Someone said to me once that showing up constituted 90% of any action.

Leave a Reply