Bottom-up is revolutionary; is Pontiac prepared?

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

Warden Jane Toller tells us she’s determined to open up the MRC via more
transparency from her office, and from those she manages, but also to open the MRC itself, “bottom-up”. (See interview, page 22) “Bottom” means us and our municipalities. 

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

Warden Jane Toller tells us she’s determined to open up the MRC via more
transparency from her office, and from those she manages, but also to open the MRC itself, “bottom-up”. (See interview, page 22) “Bottom” means us and our municipalities. 
Old command-politics means policies start in Quebec City, filter through intermediate offices, arrive in Campbells Bay where it is bequeathed to our
mayors and, some of the time, to us at the bottom. Toller hardly intends a revolt against Quebec City, but she aims to introduce some decisions moving in the opposite direction.
This isn’t novel; most politicians already claim to listen to voters and to carry their messages back to the government, but the democratic process works in reverse. Parties set policies, and the reps carry them into the political arena; we hope those
party-policies reflect our own, and sometimes they do, especially close to an
election.
Ms Toller has deeper roots in Pontiac’s history than many of us, and I assume she also sees our history as part of the generic “bottom”; history can generate policies, there’s another bottom. While history cannot determine things, it will
at least now be considered, and that’s healthy.
For you and I, bottom-up means we, the people, get more involved in our MRC’s decisions and its areas of influence. More people running for municipal
office would be incredibly healthy. Attending consultations and meetings,
writing letters to the editor, calling our mayors, talking socially . . . this is how
the “bottom’ speaks up. 
Bottom-up also requires that on voting day – provincial this year, federal next year, municipal just past – we bottom-voters evaluate how well our political leaders have made “bottom-up” a reality. Or have they continued being messengers between the Cabinet and us?  Hence, old party-dominated politics becomes our first item to check-off — have they broken that flow? – and then we consider their real-time decisions in office, and, finally, we’re pulled in by grand words  (“federalism”, “separation”, “more jobs”), and we go vote.
At the next municipal election we will decide if our municipal leaders, MRC included, have been effective in pushing back at the Centre and carrying
our needs and messages upwards, from us, the “bottom”.
Instead of listening drearily in front of the MP, bottom-up means the mayors talk and the MP, MNA, or visiting minister takes notes.  This would be a remarkable reversal, but essential to bottom-up governing.

Nuclear dump a
top-down decision

As an example of a break with top-down politics, consider the  situation we face in Pontiac with the government-supported plan to build a huge radioactive dump on the Ottawa River.
Our MP and MNA have both declined to speak up on behalf of us, their
constituents, on this outrageous proposal. They’re not doing bottom-up!
Given the huge amount of money at stake with this project, nice but modest cheques to nearby municipalities don’t even scratch the surface of this bank-roll. This project is all about “solving” nuclear waste disposal (and
about transporting nuclear waste to the Ottawa Valley) for profit. $500,000 to Sheenboro is comparable to a waiter’s tip!
Pontiac is accepting all this risk and danger — and we are getting nothing for that? Hey, that sounds too much like Hydro-Pontiac, and makes us angry.
Think of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, still unresolved. Imagine a
hundred years from now with our great grandchildren living here, and Chalk River suffers an earthquake during the flood season . . . everyone will be asking who came up with this dump idea!
Our great grandchildren, fleeing or in hospital, will curse our legacy to them, but according to Warden Toller (and other good people in the Ottawa Valley) they should be cursing the politicians who are today refusing Toller’s bottom-up principle.
If this dump goes ahead, let’s name it after those very politicians. Future generations will then know who approved this disaster-in-waiting. 
And Chalk River is only one of several significant files we will be facing
over the next four years. Let’s accept Ms Toller’s challenge. Let’s face them all, and insist our political reps do so, too, via the bottom-up!