Alternative democracy

It seems like anything that doesn’t follow a typical, truthful or legal pattern today is simply an alternative fact, alternative truth or perhaps an alternative legality.

I learned first hand this week how pervasive this “alternative lifestyle” is.

My wife and I attended a local community water users association meeting. It seemed to be a fairly simple meeting after I saw the agenda and budget proposal, which led to user fees.

We were one of the members and were happy to support the board recommendation. 

As is typical in these meetings, a personal agenda often trumps what is best for the community and the board of directors is basically charged with running the organization with two over-riding principles:

  • Run the association within the laws of the province
  • Make decisions that benefit the community

Seemed simple enough. They recommended that members be billed in one of two ways. These were the only two options that met the Provinces Act.

So we had to choose one of the two. Pretty simple, either we are billed by the number of water licences we own or the amount of water we use. 

As the debate ensued, it turned out that it is not that simple. Individually, people went to great lengths to debate how they would be hard done by if either one of the two options were chosen.

The meeting turned into a lesson in Roberts Rules of Order and continued until it was established that there was a hidden third option. 

The third option was to forget the province’s guidelines and continue to operate the way the association had for all the years — outside of the law. The problem arose when the board indicated that they could not support that option since the association’s lawyer had made a pitch to comply or watch out, the province will take over.

This seemed like a big deal to me. I could not support something running illegally, so I voiced my opposition to this new found “alternative option." I voted against the motion. 

The proponent was, however, gleeful. He won, I lost. Mission accomplished. Basically nothing has changed and we can continue to ignore provincial acts designed to ensure safe delivery of water and proper stewardship of public funds.

I guess we would have to live with the decision, we are but one vote; it was democracy at its finest. 

What perplexed me was that the individual who proposed the idea of just ignoring the law pulled me aside at the end and said that he wanted my support.

He was at his wit's end over a community issue related to noise. Too much noise in his world and the noise was illegal. His challenge was that the RCMP were doing absolutely nothing about his noise complaint.

In his world, on this matter, there was no alternative reality, it was simple. There is a law and the RCMP were there to ensure compliance. We needed to lobby.

Would I support his cause? 

There may alternative realities in the world today, but there does have to be semblance of logic to the reasoning.


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About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
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