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Energy Saving

I guess it is a matter of growing older -- older and wiser -- but I have a tendency to question actions and thought processes that expend energy with no purpose in sight.

Everyday we expend energy on thoughts and actions that will have no result other to create negative stress for ourselves and others. Confrontation is viewed as a viable option for interpersonal relations, and is often used as an opening, as opposed to a last resort.

I myself -- in younger years -- was quick to create controversay with the plan to sort the mess out after the dust had settled. In an era that required dramatic change and a distinctive shift in attitude, it was a viable option for me, but in the end, the personal cost was too much to manage.

Politics is a tough life and mistrust and confrontation are intrinsic in the everyday political values. There are those -- far too many -- who view politics as a game, and expend their energy finding ways to manipulate the system and get their way. They are virtual political chess players; planning ten moves ahead and always trying to manage the actions of the other players. Life is too short to fritter away your energy in this way.

Make no mistake, I understand full well that to get your items on the political agenda you have to gather allies, generate intelligent and thought-provoking positions, lobby to gather support and ultimately facilitate your vision into Council's agenda. But I am not a devotee of conspiracy theory or conspiracy planning, and I am more prone to patiently wait out the theorists, and, when they have exhausted themselves, return to facilitating the vision.

I lament some of my political actions of the past that lead to confrontation, but, with a significant time out of politics, I have a clearer vision and a style that is more energy efficient. For example, the strained relationship with the County of Brant is one that began generations ago, and was systematically entrenched across successive political incarnations. Instead of natural allies -- which we are -- we are more often given to mistrust and adversarial openings.

The City of Brantford and the County of Brant can thrive and survive side by each, recognizing each other’s strengths and working together to strengthen each other's weaknesses. I am more than willing to stand up straight and tall, and state that my pronouncements of more than a decade ago were the product of the time, and that a more rational approach is to advocate for the autonomy of purpose and political self determination.

I started thinking about this more when I was driving with my son to Paris Sports in downtown Paris to pick up the required BMHA hockey pants. I saw a couple billboards put up by Brant County Power talking about energy conservation and new energy sources. The politics of the billboards is not controversial, but it certainly was a fascinating juxtaposition of political options.

There were discussions around amalgamating the two local power corporations a couple years ago that, depending on who you ask, fell apart because of certain individuals and certain personalities. (Most of the autopsies on failed agreements generally come back to finger pointing at one or a couple of individuals. This is a convenient but unreasonable analysis, and is a strong statement for transparency in discussions.)

Instead of political processes falling apart on an inability to find an agreeable governance model, we can really conserve our energy -- political energy -- by determining the ultimate goal and then determining the best path to get there. The ultimate goal is always punctuated by the rights and needs of the general public to receive the best service for the greatest value.

To conserve energy, we can clearly state that our ultimate goal is to facilitate two strong communities. Brantford is a large urban municipality and Brant is amalgamation of rural communities. We travel in different circles, we access different funds; Brantford has a substantially larger population base (almost 2/3rds larger) and a substantially larger budget.

But because we are larger does not mean that Brantford has to force Brant into a subservient or lesser position, and, at the same time, Brant has to recognize that Brantford has to move at the pace of a large urban municipality. The differences have always been our stumbling point, but if we identify and respect these differences, we will demonstrate the most efficient use of our collective energy.

Instead of wasting our energy on political infighting, we should be using our collective energy to secure strong and viable economic development, creating safe and sustainable residential development, and protecting the environment for future generations.

Let's be energy-wise -- wise political energy.