Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Democracy at Work

Here's an example of how democracy works, which makes me proud because my daughter was actively involved. Tamara Tarasoff resides with her husband John Pinkerton and children Nicholas and Elena in the Gatineau hills, 40 km. northwest of Ottawa, near Wakefield, Quebec.

For many years local residents organized to monitor the pristine Gatineau River. When government wanted to build a new sewage/septic treatment plant, more citizens joined in protest, including Tamara. They cooperated to communicate with more neighbors until many were involved in fact sharing using the Internet. Their persistence paid off in a victory for the local citizens.

Several groups with websites united: Ottawa Riverkeeper, Citizens for the Protection of the Gatineau River, and Friends of the Gatineau River, which posted an information webpage : Proposed Septage Treatment for MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, which links to facts and two blogs, one is Tamara's : EcoLaPeche Blog, "For citizens concerned about the proposed regional septic waste treatment plant on the Gatineau River."

See a summary of their problem : Local Communities Struggle with the Challenge of Treating Septage (, April 16, 2011).

Three years ago Tamara began her blog and worked closely with the community in keeping the surrounding mayors and councillors on their best behaviours. Teamwork paid off especially in helping elected representatives with transparency in civic matters, in making sure that environmental issues are honoured, and in helping top community and corporate officials act as equals in their municipalities.

After three years of work, on Sept 21, 2012, the Wakefield community online bulletin board announced: "We WIN!!! The MRC Mayors announced last night that the septic treatment plant slated for Farrellton, along the Gatineau River will NOT be built."

The following day, Tamara's 134th blog post reported: Project Cancelled! This time it is official! She ended her report with: "Our community worked hard – really hard – and we got our well-deserved victory. Thank you everyone! Now let’s celebrate!"

If you have an issue with the government or want to oppose injustice, get started. There are many advocacy guides and examples like this to encourage you to do something, which is how democracy works.

Recall the wisdom of the late American anthropologist Margaret Mead who once stated 'A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.' I would like to update this by saying: 'When we have a vision, when we work together and when we persist, we can change the world -- one step at a time.'

1 comment:

  1. A victory for nimby and NO sewage plant, however, the story is not complete. Is the river not kept pristine by sewage being treated instead of being dumped raw somewhere?
    Just wondering if we're being short sighted somewhere ~.