Speak with good purpose

Kids have a great way of putting things in perspective. As they learn, parents tend to learn, too, whether it is subtle reminders about things we already know, or new ways of thinking about things. 

One idea we liked was a line from Victoria Terrace school in Fergus, about speaking with good purpose. Students might be unaware of their impact on others when they gossip or taunt classmates.

If a second or two is spent ensuring what is about to be said is of good purpose and meant for good effect, many hurt feelings could be spared. It’s a noble initiative.

As adults, any one of us can slip up now and again and maybe gossip a little, maybe bear false witness against a friend or neighbour – heck, if driven to it, some pretty nasty things can be said. Most of us have limits, and depending on our station in life, our success depends on keeping a cool head and speaking with good purpose.

It seems to us that a politician, a member of the clergy, a community leader – anyone with a leadership role – should speak with caution, clarity and peace. We expect that and figure our readers also expect orators and writers to demonstrate a genuine, honest commitment to serving at the highest standard possible. Best efforts at all times, if you will.

We remain unsure how a former MPP for townships in south Wellington could go off this past week – and so badly. Liz Sandals, MPP for Guelph, made incendiary remarks about Wellington County staff and councillors to a Guelph reporter as she unfairly criticized county council. The language was heavy and the content was suspect; not at all what we expect from her.

It was out of character enough that we purposely asked our reporter to make sure Sandals had plenty of chances to respond and comment further on the accusations she made.

No response came prior to press deadline, suggesting that for Sandals, this issue can’t go away quickly enough.

In part, Sandals questioned the county’s child care facility in Wellington North, far from the city of Guelph, which contributes the lion’s share of social services funding. Yet city councillors and county councillors mutually supported the project recommended by staff.

Complaints of hoarding reserve funds and the cost apportionment of projects were also dragged up – again. The city lost a court case against the county last year on similar points; the court decided hands down in favour of the county.

Sandals also claimed the county dragged its heels on some funding applications, causing angst to people in her Guelph riding attempting to build affordable housing. It turns out the claims made by Sandals were not entirely true.

This latest kerfuffle adds to a list of salacious claims coming out of the city and its politicians, as published in city Newspapers. We noted with a measure of satisfaction that finally, columnists in Guelph are beginning to pause and think “wait a minute, what is really going on here?”

We suspect had more scrutiny been shown there in the last few years, such incidents like this Sandals business, would be few and far between.

Like the boy who cried wolf, the city and its messengers have a problem on their hands that only seems to be getting deeper and more desperate as time goes on.

Perhaps they need a lesson in speaking with good purpose or, failing that, should say nothing at all.