BILL MCQUARRIE PHOTO Agree or disagree with Bill McQuarrie’s North Island Rising column? Email editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish your thoughts online and in print.

North Island Rising: Politicians never get it right. Or do they?

“I have always had a special place in my heart for small town governments”

Imagine, if just for a moment, an op/ed writer beginning a column with a headline that states, Local Politicians Get It Right. Impossible you would shout. Politicians never get it right. Or do they?

A case in point: Every politician I have ever met has promised openness and transparency. We’ve all heard it, we’ve all rolled our eyes in exasperated disbelief and we’ve all dismissed the promise as nothing more than a lie that is guaranteed to go nowhere.

Yet here in Port McNeill, along with its two neighbours, Port Hardy and Port Alice, municipal politicians seem – at least on occasion – to have this uncanny habit of getting things right.

I was thinking about this, a couple of nights ago. I was driving home along a deserted stretch of fog shrouded highway, and half expected Rod Serling of the Twilight Zone to step out of the mist, onto the side of the highway and in that familiar voice begin, “I submit for your consideration”.

He’d go on to explain how these three mysterious towns on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, have delivered on the promise of transparency. Then with that Rod Serling look, he’d half smile and explain that like all good ideas, it turned out to be so simple.

What is this bold yet uncomplicated act of transparency? So glad you asked, as it’s as simple and as easy as releasing a complete copy of the town’s monthly cheque registers.

This document, the equivalent of a complete accounts payable list, provides an itemized description of every cheque issued over the past month. It includes the cheque numbers, the name of the company or individual paid, what item or service was purchased, and the cost.

Just take a moment to imagine what that means for the taxpayers here. On a monthly basis, they actually get to see where and how their money is being spent. Their Town Council has pulled back the curtain on Ozz and made government what it’s meant to have been…open and honest.

When the taxpayer has access to that kind of information, there is no place for a politician to hide and fairness and transparency become – if they are not already – the de facto way of doing business.

While other politicians remain secretive and reluctant to release even their expense account details, Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Port Alice have gone from talking about transparency to being transparent and the elected representatives of these towns should be recognized for the boldness of that move.

I have always had a special place in my heart for small town governments as sometimes they can be seen as a holdover to a time of a tactile, home grown and responsive form of democracy.

With a dash of Norman Rockwell, it might be the closest we get to the real thing. And this act of simple transparency by these three municipalities should not be something other governments have difficulty imitating.

Bill McQuarrie is a former publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at bill@northislandrising.com

Just Posted

Port McNeill council wants to see a plan on how to protect and invest tax dollars

“if we can make $40,000 or $50,000 in interest, why not, as it could reduce taxes”

Gate House Theatre presents: A Suessified Christmas Carol

The play was an entertaining, amusing and engaging blend of the rhyme based story telling.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: San Josef Bay

“I have always had an overwhelming desire to get to the sea stacks as soon as possible”

Port Hardy Rotary Club donates $8,077 to the Gazette Christmas Hamper Fund

The hamper fund raises food and donations for many communities in the North Island.

Oscar Hickes: The longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island has been cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

B.C. Transit finds 28 used fareboxes online, saves $300,000

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Most Read