A few sparks finally flew at town council after the final vote on the licensed premises bylaw last week.
Coun. Vince Sharpe, the most consistently outspoken member of council, declared the vote “disgusting” once it was made.
Coun. Darrell Christie took issue with that, rightly so, and Mayor Jim McDonald had to restore order.
It was one of the rare times Christie has spoken at council, so it was nice to see some emotion.
Sharpe has a tendency to step out of line, often using curse words during council meetings and becoming slightly belligerent with McDonald.
But agree with him or not, you have to respect the passion, and it’s definitely entertaining.
Coun. Kurt Wainman certainly took issue with Sharpe’s behaviour and let him know as much once the council meeting ended. He repeatedly told Sharpe to “go cry outside.”
It’s also nice to see Wainman get involved. The chronically absent councillor seems to show up only for important votes.
This issue hit many emotional notes, even including a member of the public crying during council while relaying what alcohol had done to her family.
On the one hand, there is the clear, rational case to be made that prohibition does not cure addiction problems. If people want to drink, they will find a way to drink, or they will find something else to put in their body. Often, prohibition leads to even more dangerous substance abuse.
On the other hand, there is the fuzzier but no less worth considering argument that Inuvik is a unique environment and conventional wisdom may not apply here. Perhaps simply sending the message that the town does not support regular drinking habits is meaningful to enough people to make it impactful. Gwich’in Tribal Council President Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan made this point.
To that end, though, one wonders where it should stop. Why not ban alcohol completely?
Either way, the licensed premises bylaw and KBL Environmental’s proposed soil treatment facility have brought out the most debate in council in recent months.
That is when council looks healthiest. Nothing’s better than a good war of words.
Voters want their political representatives to go to bat for them and have no fear in the public arena.
There are way too many wallflower politicians skating by with politically correct terminology, scared to open themselves up to disagreement.
The town council almost seems to regard these debates as a tragedy, as if the rift in opinion and forceful words means something is wrong in Inuvik.
But these debates are democracy in action, and if anything, having them at every meeting on many more issues would be even better.
It’s also a great way to get people interested in politics.
Small-town politics, at its best, is way better than reality TV.
It goes without saying that political theatre needs to stay on the stage.
Adults should all be able to duke it out in the chambers and shake hands afterwards.
People who aren’t afraid to kick the hornet’s nest make life worth living, and council worth attending.