The Big Chill

Lisa Dumontier

I am apparently a big suck. Forget my “we live in the north and its cold here, get used to it” editorial of January 18th questioning the qualms of school authorities cancelling busses and sending students home when bad weather strikes. Even after all that chutzpah, I totally succumbed to the harshness of Mother Nature shaking and shivering my way through the blistery cold that locked down on us last week hoping some luck would come my way and work would be cancelled until the temps warmed up.

It was certainly cold outside with temps dipping far below the minus thirty mark even without the blustering winter wind that seemed to be coming straight out of the arctic. I donned layers, wore scarf, hat and mittens, pulled out my super heavy duty Sorels yet was still overcome by the cold every time I ventured outside.

I guess it wouldn’t be a winter spent in Red Lake unless your eyelashes froze together on at least one occasion and the chill of the wind certainly adds colour to your cheeks shaving minutes from your morning make-up routine, doesn’t it? Beyond that, I suppose we should be grateful that we’ve celebrated a mild winter to date and that, unlike years previous, the chill-to-your-bones deep tissue cold hasn’t touched down in the Red Lake area prior to this.

Despite the chill outside, Council Chambers heated up last week during a Regular Meeting of Council on January 16th. A seemingly dry agenda, the evening offered little hope for interest until Councillors began their discussion over whether to grant a request for a four-month leave of absence from Councillor Jason Baker. While the request was approved—with all present delegates voting in favour of the motion—an interesting point was made: does the Red Lake area have room for a part-time representative?

Things happen in our personal lives that we can’t often predict or prepare for and sometimes, those happenings require a break from our responsibilities elsewhere. But where do we draw the line? When a Councillor is new to the process, has a work schedule that makes it difficult for him to attend meetings in the first place and requests a leave of absence beginning January 1st on the 10th day of the month when he’s already missed another meeting, is that fair to the people who voted him into office? That same Councillor has made it to the minimum meetings required to retain his seat on Council over the past six months when other Councillors have been present at nearly every one and now we’re asking these time-strapped delegates to pick up the slack? It doesn’t seem fair to me.

As best as I can decipher, in order to retain a seat on Council, elected officials must make it to a minimum of one meeting every three months so with that in mind, Mr. Baker has fulfilled his commitment to the Municipality but I doubt he’s fulfilled his commitment to the 733 voters who elected him into office.

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