Northumberland County Council Committee Receives Unusual Piece of Correspondence

In City Hall

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
An unusual piece of correspondence appeared on the agenda of Northumberland County council’s Corporate Services committee meeting Tuesday.

Rather than a letter from a municipality urging action on this problem or that, it originally appeared April 2 in the Globe & Mail under the headline An open letter to Canada’s political leaders – for the sake of the country’s future.

“Thanks to the clerk for having this on the agenda,” Warden Brian Ostrander said.

“I read this letter in the Globe and asked it to appear. I find the signatures to the letter interesting – they come from all sorts of political and academic stripes. I frankly agree with the letter, and ask that county council endorse this.”

It begins, “We, the undersigned, are calling on you to address urgently the rise of incivility, public aggression and overt hatred that are undermining the peace and security of Canadian life…whether they are connected to geopolitical events happening thousands of kilometres away or derived from homegrown causes.”

The open letter urges a number of steps, including research into “the causes, scale and impact of issue-drive tensions and conflict,” joint national and local initiatives “to confront hate and reaffirm the commitment of Canadians to mutual respect and peaceful engagement,” funding the development and delivery of curricula at all academic levels designed to increase community-level empathy and “encourage a commitment to bridging differences at home and abroad,” enforcement of any laws regarding harassment or intimidation against others because of identity or beliefs (“review their sufficiency,” it added), work to raise awareness of hate speech and its destructive effects, and “speak out wherever and whenever you can about the values that bind us together as a country.”

The motion the committee passed recommends that “county council direct staff to consider the recommendations that align with municipal areas of accountability as part of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion framework to be developed for Northumberland County.”

“Maybe we can take some real action here,” Ostrander commented.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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