February 4th 2016. The location – Toronto City Hall. The issue on the table “The Digital Divide”.
The amateur social justice blogging class sits in the bleachers holding their breath, spell bound by the intense sessions of debate and discourse lead by the esteemed Councillors of the great city – not to mention the complicated socio-economic issues addressed in the course of the discussion.
Well that was the expectation. That was what I was envisioning when I changed my outfit twice before determining something that looked “appropriate” in my mind.
Reality was slightly more disillusioning.
Lets just say that, I walked in expecting a United Nations Security Council, but instead encountered a fine round of Kindergarten politics.
Most of the councilors appeared to be ill-informed, or not-informed about most of the information that was actually being discussed and there were actual (constant) demands for a deferral based on the fact that some councilors were simply confused by the discussions at hand. This coupled with the overall causal atmosphere of the council when it was session – which included speakers not being available when they were called upon, and councilors moving about the place talking to each other when another councilor had the floor – all seemed to scream of a lack of preparation. Not to mention, everyone in the room seemed slightly…. Dare-I-say-it…. catty with each other.
And it must be remembered that the issue being discussed was the “Digital Divide”– a topic that was both important and uncomplicated enough that not only had I actually read about the issue prior to the City Council Meet, within five minutes I was able to form an informed opinion on the issue. Certain councilors even encouraged the class to go take the stage and share their views on the subject. After 15 minutes into their discussion, I believe I would have willingly taken that stage even knowing next to nothing on the issue.
I am not going to pretend to know a lot (or anything) about the Toronto City Council, but from this singular experience I would like to suggest that perhaps introducing a higher degree of professionalism during these Meetings would achieve a lot more, than perhaps randomly shouting “HIP HIP HOORAY” in the middle of a statement, when completely unprovoked.
While being recognized by the council as “social justice bloggers” was actually pretty cool, it would have been greater to see them actually resolve the fairly simplistic issue before them.