Councillor right; referendum wrong

Re: Calls for referendum voted down (The NEWS, May 10).

Kirk Oates says he is not in favour of referendums for resolving public debate. He says, “We were elected to make decisions on behalf of the citizens; a referendum is an abandonment of what we were elected to do.”

Finally we are hearing from a politician with an understanding of why he was elected and the tradition he is obligated to uphold. This is a very rare insight at any of the political levels. People are not elected to become parrots for the slogans of their electorate. And no voter or candidate can possibly envisage the range of issues to be dealt with during an electoral term. The voter must take care to evaluate the candidates on their ability to make decisions wisely when unforeseen issues appear.

The elected representative should have the guts to make decisions and not hide behind the very imperfect tool of the referendum.

The Irish statesman and father of modern parliamentary democracy, Edmund Burke, cleared this question up in his speech to the Electors of Bristol on Nov 3 1774.

He said, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

Mr. Oates is defending a noble tradition.

Colm Harty

Qualicum Beach

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