A new Collingwood Council committee is born…
Scene: A subterranean lair deep beneath town hall. A raised platform with a large circular desk is at one end; several bodies sit there, dimly illuminated by desk lamps. In the centre of the room, an unadorned desk and wooden chair, brightly lit from above; even though the room is airless, the bright light hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room sways gently as people push their way into the space at the back of set aside for spectators, non-dissident media, and upcoming witnesses.
The chairman calls the meeting to order…
Chair: I call this first session of the… uh, the… er, has council designated our committee title?
Member No. 1: Mr. Chair, I’m afraid not; we were only given a mandate to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of Collingwood citizens, town employees, and those organizations suspected of having Commun… er, being mouthy ratepayer groups.
Chair: Well, then, would someone care to put forward a name?
Member No. 2: Town Hall Committee on Un-Collingwood-like Activities?
Member No. 1: Bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? I mean, we need to come up with something so intimidating, people will wet themselves even thinking of having to appear before us.
Member No. 3: Personally I think we should come up with a more cheerful name. We don’t want the public to perceive us as heartless autocrats.
Member No. 4: … even though we are.
Member No. 1: Irregardless…
Member No. 4: … there is no such word as ‘irregardless’. You mean regardless…
Member No. 1 gives Member No. 4 a sharp look and ponders putting him on the witness stand.
Member No. 1: Regardless, then, we require a title that reflects our mandate as directed by council, to question individuals about their role within mouthy ratepayer groups, and the membership of such groups.
Member No. 2: How about, then, the Committee On Un-Collingwood-Like Labours.
Member No. 1: Hey, that’s pretty catchy.
Member No. 4: I would insist that ‘labours’ has a ‘u’, however.
Member No. 2: It does.
Chair: That settles it. All in favour?
All the members acknowledge their agreement to the name.
Chair: With that business out of the way, I will now call our first witness.
A man in his early 60s takes the chair in the middle of the room, and attempts to shield his eyes from the bright light.
Chair: Mr. Paul Hatcher, I believe? You are a resident of Ontario Street. Is that correct.
Mr. Hatcher: Yes, sir, that is correct.
Chair: It is alleged that in July of 2013, you read an article in the Enterprise-Bulletin about an online survey on local governance conducted by the none radical group, Better Together Collingwood. Is that correct.
Mr. Hatcher: I refuse to answer that question as I don’t see the relevance…
Member No. 2: The relevance, sir, is I don’t believe there is any more authoritative document in regard to Better Together Collingwood than its official organ, the Enterprise-Bulletin…
Member No. 4: … we have a photostatic copy of the July 5, Enterprise-Bulletin, in which Morgan Ian Adams (a known BTC sympathizer) has written an article about Better Together Collingwood and its online survey.
Member No. 2: Did you go online and fill out that survey, Mr. Hatcher? Did you not, in fact, give town council an unsatisfactory rating?
Mr. Hatcher: I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any Collingwood resident to be asked. I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Chair, or yours, that I am any less of a Collingwood resident than anybody else.
Chair: I direct you to give an answer, Mr. Hatcher
Mr. Hatcher: I have given my answer…
Member No. 2: Mr. Hatcher, are you now, or have you ever been, a member of Better Together Collingwood, or have you ever associated with a member of Better Together Collingwood.
Mr. Hatcher: I feel that is improper to ask about my associations and opinions.
Chair: The witness is excused…
Mr. Hatcher leaves the witness stand, and the committee retires to its back rooms to darkly mutter its conspiracy theories and conjure up more allegations of associations… After all, it’s a lot easier than addressing the public’s concerns…