August, 2011

Invariably her name evokes a response – good and bad.  She’s been a lightning rod for voters at both the federal and municipal level for years – pro and con.  Some charge that she’s a human incendiary device, a negative force on the political scene.  Others say she’s a dogged worker, an effective councillor and MP and someone who has the guts to tell it like it is – much like her archrival at City Hall,  Mayor Hazel McCallion.

Others, like the author of this piece, like the fact that she’s a huge supporter of good deeds in the community – the recent Mississauga Food Bank Concert at the Living Arts Centre being Example A.

It seems there is no middle ground when it comes to discussing the merits of former Ward 6 councillor, and ex-Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish.

On September 19th, she will try to win her way back onto Mississauga city council as one of the candidates for the opening in Ward 5, created when sitting councillor Eve Adams won a Conservative seat in the recent federal election.

Sure there are other candidates running for the Ward 5 seat, a glut, in fact.  But all eyes are on Parrish.  Will she or won’t she win?

In an unprecedented move, the Mississauga News last month announced that it has decided to “can the chatter” and suspend online commentary on all stories related to the Ward 5 vote and candidates.

It’s to provide complete, open and transparent coverage of the campaign and subsequent vote.

In effect, it’s the Parrish Rule.

The News argues that what it is receiving in its online commentary “isn’t commentary and it’s by no means fair.”  Many of the comments “have bordered on libel,” said an editorial in the News, published last month.

While many argue that the “Parrish camp” was responsible for the recent judicial inquiry into a proposed development in the city’s downtown core that might have involved a conflict of interest with the sitting mayor, there’s no doubt the inquiry will cost taxpayers upwards of $7 million.

The truth is this:  it wasn’t the actions of the “Parrish camp” that caused the inquiry, but the actions of the mayor.  Whatever the outcome of the inquiry, and we’ll know in September, it has brought into sharp focus a chummy city hall process that doesn’t pass the smell test.

It says here that Mississauga desperately needs more councillors with the spunk to tell it like it is.  Councillors who do their homework.  Councillors who can evoke healthy debate – pro and con, good and bad.

Carolyn Parrish was and is such a person.  Her time on council was productive and served the best interests of this community.

On September 19th, she should be allowed to continue her work.

– Rick Drennan, managing editor