The Niagara regional council meeting regarding masks last Wednesday was long-winded — to say the least.
During the four-and-a-half hour affair, councillors continued to repeat themselves, showboat to constituents who had likely tuned out long before, and wasted time trying to change the views of other councillors who seemed to have already made their minds up.
Viewers understood from minute one that the issue was polarizing.
But unless councillors are living under a rock, there was nothing said that was new, nothing that councillors hadn’t already considered, and nothing gained from the back and forth.
And after all that back and forth, the decision was deferred. Now, we’ll have to see if there’s another four hours of debate next time.
It wouldn’t be a surprise. It will be frustrating. It will be tedious. It will be pointless. And people wonder why regional government is seen as unnecessary.
The real issue isn’t the time spent, it’s that council didn’t exhibit leadership and make a decision — a decision in the interests of public safety.
Wearing a mask should be mandatory for now, because not everyone is responsible about protecting others, especially people who embrace conspiracies and false information about the virus, or somehow see masks as a political issue.
We can’t leave the health and safety of all in the hands of individuals. And that’s what the mask debate boils down to.
It’s not infringing on your rights nor is it an onerous demand. Very few people have conditions that preclude them from wearing one. And the science, while evolving like many things in this pandemic, is clear that masks are helpful.
We must wear seatbelts or risk a fine. We must not operate vehicles or machinery while intoxicated, or risk punishment. Masks are no different.
Regional councillors, your show was dysfunctional, superfluous and pointless. And worse, it showed a lack of understanding and care for public safety.
Thankfully for NOTLers, it appears that town councillors on Thursday will act to make masks mandatory in town. We look forward to their show of leadership.
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