Council candidate Darryn Striga is concerned Campbell River will suffer under totalitarian rule if a slate of candidates from Fusion Campbell River is elected to city council.
Striga, a first-time candidate, worries about keeping a true democracy intact if candidates from just one group are elected.
“When you elect a slate, you are not truly electing seven officials, you are essentially only electing one unified mind, or one official and six loyalists,” Striga says. “When a mayor has a council that is comprised of only his closest allies, he has carte blanche to act in any manner he deems fit with no accountability to be expected from the councillors.”
Striga says there is a good reason a slate has never run for council in Campbell River’s history and believes what Fusion founder Walter Jakeway and his group is doing is cause for concern.
“There is a term already in wide circulation that describes a government led by one person and surrounded by cronies and that is totalitarianism. I do not and would not accuse Walter of being an autocrat – such a remark would be beyond ignorant – but the government he proposes to form would be the municipal equivalent.”
Jakeway says because Fusion is not a political party, which he points out often govern under majorities in Canada and B.C., there is room for members, should they form council, to have healthy discussions and debates.
“There are no restrictions on what people can say, this is not a party like the Liberals and NDP which have solidarity,” Jakeway says. “This is not a party – we do not have solidarity. We just have 10 basic principles that we all agree on.”
Jakeway also points out that a group has a better chance of effecting change than independent candidates.
“When you run at-large you can’t promise to deliver because you don’t know who else is going to run,” Jakeway says. “When you have people thinking the same way, you can stick together.”
Striga says he gives credit to Jakeway and the rest of Fusion for having the courage to do what they feel is right, but insists single-party governments are bad for the people and the region.
“I understand Walter’s goals, and it speaks volumes to the current state of Campbell River that a group of people would be driven to such desperation to finally form a slate in an effort to allay the town’s woes, but if a slate were to be successful it would inherently mean the end of diversity among city councillors,” Striga says. “It would mean a lack of representation for people who are not just like Mayor Walter Jakeway and his six closest friends. Such an administration puts too much power in too few hands, and I cannot sit idly by without speaking out when I feel strongly about something that is not in our town’s best interest.”
Jakeway says Striga is jumping to conclusions about Fusion and potential candidates.
“He shouldn’t be forming an opinion until he knows the facts or even who the people on the slate will be,” Jakeway says.
Striga allows it’s possible there would be nothing to worry about should Fusion’s candidates get elected, but he has his doubts.
“History shows us that when a government is ruled by yes-men, any government employees willing to say ‘no’ often find themselves in search of new jobs,” Striga says. “There is also no democratic process that we can use to undo the mistake of electing such an administration for three more years, after which any damage may be irreversible.”
This year’s municipal election takes place Sat., Nov. 19.