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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 4 July 2014

Richard Pietro and an Affair at Queen's Park

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A bit more background that Richard wasn't privy to, but that explains some of the structural challenges we face in making Government open.
They weren't OPP officers who came out to say hello - they were Legislative Security staff.  Their job, as implied, is to keep the Legislature secure.  It's the centre of Ontario's government, after all, where some unpopular decisions get made.  It's also a target for disgruntled people in general, as politicians always are.
I've seen massive protests on the Queen's Park lawn that have involved angry crowds that felt like kindling, waiting for the right spark to set them off.  I once watched a disturbed man drive a van through police cars onto the lawn and light himself on fire.  At the same time, I've been part of great events like Canada Day celebrations and farmers' produce markets on the lawn of the Legislature that are community-building uses of some amazing public space.
It's not for nothing that there are specific security protocols in place. Legislative Security aren't hired to use their judgment, but to enforce those protocols.  This, in theory, allows for a standard application of the rules to all and sundry, which is fair - at the same time, it impedes little things like Richard's send-off that cause no harm, but according to the rules need to be booked in advance.
There are great guards at Queen's Park who are comfortable about what they do and knowledgeable enough to exercise their own judgment - they don't stop staff who've forgotten their pass for one day from entering, because they know who they are.  At the same time, should anything happen as a result of this judgment being exercised, those individual guards will be the ones who carry the consequences, possibly in the form of lost jobs.
Should Richard have notified Leg Security he was coming in advance?  Probably - but how should he have known that was necessary?  The average citizen doesn't know what Queen's Park protocols look like, nor is there any reason they should, nor is there an easy way for them to discover those rules.
Somewhere in the middle of responsible citizenry, flexible public servants (including Legislative Security) and greater education/access for all parties lies our shared solution that will make Open Government a reality.
A great example of which, by the way, is what happened yesterday.  At the end of the day, Richard got his bike onto the lawn and we got our picture.
Only when we bridge all these gaps will we all be able to put the whole affair behind us.
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1 comment:

  1. This is by far my most favourite post of yours.... The #OGT14 send off is a perfect example of a learning opportunity between people and their government, instead of seeing it as a wedge that further pushes us apart.