Be as it may, my question requested Guibord account for the progress made during the past year following a decision last winter by council to update the applicable rules governing question period. I explained to Guibord that so far as I knew, nothing had been presented to council since then. I added that since that time however, in my eyes he seemed to have attempted to unilaterally apply new arbitrary rules, such as the need to limit questions to those items which are included in a meeting's agenda.
In answering my question, Guibord seemed to have deftly skated around the issue, primarily explaining that over the past year council had been quite busy and worked very hard at other issues, adding that the subject of updated rules for question period would eventually be dealt with. Never one to miss an opportunity to add his two cents worth (useful or not) in defence of Guibord, councillor Félio added that one factor explaining the delay in progressing this initiative was the abscence on sick leave of the City Clerk.
Having followed quite closely last year debates on city council about question period , I estimate that development of an update to the rules governing question period for consideration by the council represents about two hours of staff work, at most. The changes to those rules currently in place identified during council debates last year during their public meetings are relatively few, simple and pretty uncrontroversial, such as limiting the time accorded to each questionner to five minutes. Also, to the best of my memory, the main councillor responsible to coordinate this question period rules update is André Henrie. I noted that when I raised this subject during Monday's council meeting, he seemed ill at ease and remained very silent.
However I am grateful to mayor Guibord for having allowed me to express my views on the subject of question period, despite the fact my intervention was a short speech. I did stress that in my view, the municipal council, and he in particiular he as mayor, had a moral responsability to publicly account for his and the city's policies and decisions. I feel this obligation is partly exercised by honestly and openly answering questions by the citizens of Clarence-Rockland about municipal affairs during the council meeting question period, without imposing any arbitrary constraint limiting questions to only those included in a council meeting's agenda. In my opinion, to do otherwise is undemocratic, lacks transparency and is an affront to public accountability.
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