The term “due diligence” is one that gets tossed around a lot, particularly in certain businesses and industries. Often I suspect people think it is a term reserved for those aspects of life, and yet I think the concept of due diligence has a far wider value. I think we, as citizens, have a responsibility to exercise due diligence when it comes to the stewardship of our community.I had a conversation with someone recently and found myself explaining why I get involved in so many issues impacting this community, and why I ask all the questions I do. And as I explained I found myself using the phrase “due diligence”, as it best describes what I do: research, analyze, and consider consequences. It is perhaps an informal sort of due diligence, and not the extensive kind done by business, but it is still what I do when I approach any issue. And it is, I think, part of our job as citizens to do exactly this with every level of government – municipal, provincial, federal – because the decisions made impact us all.
One of the important facets of doing due diligence is that while one may have a certain mindset going in it is crucial to remain open to changing that mindset should one discover they are wrong, or misguided. That can be the hard part, because we are creatures who don’t like that sort of internal conflict, and yet some of the most enlightening moments can occur when we realize we have been wrong about something. And the other hard part can be making sure that as we do our due diligence we don’t slide into “complaint” mode instead, as complaints are not questions, and tend to do little to further our understanding of an issue. When one has done some due diligence – done their homework, discovered the facts, and grasped a better understanding – they can then ask questions or, even better than lodging complaints, raise issues and suggest potential solutions.
I understand it is impossible to do full due diligence on many issues and topics because we may not have all the facts available to us, but I think it is of tremendous importance and value to search for as much information as we can, and to ask those who may have the information if they can share it. And even if we cannot do full due diligence I think we can usually do enough to be informed and active citizens, which leads to....True citizen engagement. Engagement is another word we talk about a lot, and there are a variety of different definitions. Engagement shouldn’t just be showing up at engagement sessions and reading the news, though. Engagement is even more than showing up at the ballot box every few years. Engagement is a process, not a destination, and it should be a commitment and interest in this community and the way it is developing, and one that extends further than the superficial in recognition of the fact that this is....
Our home. Yes, this is our home. Would you allow anyone to perform work on your home without doing your due diligence? To rewire it, change the plumbing, install new fixtures, or anything else without having done some homework and research on them and what they propose to do? Would you allow them to touch what is likely your greatest financial investment? No? Then doesn’t your community, likely the greatest investment you will make over the course of your life through taxes and residency, deserve the same attention and care? Isn’t stewardship of this community the responsibility of all residents, not just the elected officials? Isn’t it our job to ask questions, propose ideas and solutions, and question if we feel the direction we are heading in needs adjustment? And we can do this because...This is a democracy. Part of the joy of democracy is the ability to freely ask questions and suggest solutions. We can do so publicly and privately, with humour or with seriousness, and as individuals or groups. We can direct these questions to our government and to those we have elected to represent us, and we can reasonably expect these questions to be answered, although we need to keep in mind that in the end...
Our due diligence may not change the outcome. Perhaps we feel a decision is wrong, or misguided. Perhaps we feel things are headed the wrong way. And perhaps we are unhappy, but if we have done our due diligence then we have at least one thing. We have...The comfort of knowing we have asked the questions, suggested the solutions, and acted as involved, engaged, and caring citizens of our community. We have been part of the process, and we have performed our responsibility and done our due diligence as residents, citizens, and community partners and members. And regardless of the outcome there is a great deal of pride, and citizenry, in that alone. That is why when I think of my home I think of many things, and one of them is due diligence – because I owe it to this community, the future, and my home, to do my own due diligence, and try to make this better place every single day. Why?
The Intrepid Junior Blogger
Proud citizen of Fort McMurray
Because of her. That’s why.