Listen: BENN




My opinion plus 75 cents buys me nothing at the dollar store. This “law” applies to everyone.

As well, very little in this world is right or wrong. Mostly there is just opinion. Few people recognize that.

Meanwhile, steaming away at city hall are a couple of tempests in a teapot: an amendment to the idling bylaw; and the appropriateness of the city allowing a business that generates its revenues from the distribution of hydrocarbons to advertise in city facilities. Or to sponsor a community-based event such as Winterlude.

The ‘solutions’ to those two issues are opinion. And it is important to note that opinions, generally, are based on values.  Values are personal.

For example, with idling, some people place a higher value on clean air or climate change than others. Perhaps the value is based on personal health issues. Perhaps it is more ideological in nature. Conversely, some individuals place a higher value on their personal comfort.

That the city dares to accept advertising or sponsorship funds from Enbridge has raised the hackles of a number of people some of whom once held elected office. The tone of their remarks, while not surprising, is disappointing. They are convinced that they are correct. They entirely miss that their concerns are but opinions, based on what they value.

Why does this matter? Because city staff and council are tasked with making decisions that benefit the residents and organizations that populate Ottawa. That means the people assigned with finding solutions need to take a close look at their own values. To ask themselves whether there are other sets of values that need to taken into account. They need to seek out and listen to voices that are not part of their own echo chamber. That advice applies to everyone.

Very simply put, there is considerable benefit to seeking out a diversity of opinions. To step outside the comfort zone of their echo chamber. To ask open-ended questions and listen to what is said. To not lead the discussion but to moderate it. To understand that online surveys are a poor substitute for statistically valid samples. That surveys are only as good as the questions they pose.

So, councillors, staff. Are you secure enough in your own skills to seek contrary opinions? To formulate policies and programs that better meet the needs of the residents and organizations that populate the city? Or are you going to continue to push your agenda based on your own values, willfully ignoring the high probability better solutions exist?

Of course, that is just my opinion.

Ron Benn, a finance executive, has been a member of the Centrepointe Community Association for the better part of three decades.


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1 Response

  1. Jake Morrison says:

    Right on!

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