Alex Bishop

My loyalties are to Hamilton first and foremost

“This blog was taken from thespec.com”

Sewage water. I think about it a lot because it’s part of being a parent — that pit in your stomach when you’ve unintentionally put your children at risk. Many times, as we walked by the water, my children would grab out rocks, as children do, try to skip them and keep the pretty ones. I remember my daughter running up holding a rock she was proud of. But this wasn’t innocent, the water was contaminated, and many people knew. My children, thankfully, never got sick and were unaffected. No parent likes their children being that close to danger.

This sewage contamination and people’s reaction to it have forever changed me in unexpected ways. Initially, it reminded me of the true character of Hamiltonians. Together we shared our outrage without violence or incident. Hamiltonians from all walks of life shared in grief and anger. Our water was polluted. This disgusting miscarriage of justice has shown me that Hamiltonians want to work together, within the system, to make change. It showed me that when focused on an issue that impacts us all, our shared values as Hamiltonians and Canadians allow us to lend our voices and our talents to make change.

There are some people that I’ve spoken to who cynically believe that in time we’ll give up and accept what council does. This city has survived much difficulty, from being a steel giant to job loss and almost economic devastation, to a city with a vibrancy any municipality would be jealous of. We aren’t “give up” people. That is another characteristic we all share.

As I began to speak with those in political circles, I noticed that their conviction wavered when it came to those with the same political stripes when I clearly said that “everyone who knew and did not disclose should lose their job.” Others made excuses as to why they personally shouldn’t hold their colleagues’ feet to the fire. Crying in frustration does not excuse anyone from not disclosing.

Our water was polluted — no matter what political stripe someone has, they should be held fully accountable without accusers being accused of being dishonest. We owe a loyalty to the city and its people before we owe loyalty to those who share most of our core values. Everyone I speak to outside the political world does not care about what part of the political spectrum any city workers, city staff or council member may align with.

Going forward, I will support and work with politicians from any party, any part of the political spectrum, as long as we agree or could agree, on an issue-by-issue basis. I will anchor myself and align myself with the desires of people who live and work outside the political sphere. I will never be swayed by the idea that I should be more loyal to those who share the same beliefs as me. I will be loyal to the citizens of this city, province and country, relying on research and data to guide my beliefs.

I am inspired to this change of putting principles before personalities by Hamiltonians. I think we are hard-working, principled people who care more about issues than partisanship. I want to support ideas, and I want to think critically about the issues I support and lend my voice to and to work with any politician that cares about what I care about. And if someone does something I cannot support, like not disclosing the true nature of a sewage spill, my loyalty will be with Hamiltonians, and not one of their representatives.

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