Ottawa elections

As much as I love to rail on the Harperites and their version of a Comedy of Errors, I’m going to shift the focus of the political part of this blog (um, OK, so it really is 95% political… as much as I like to write the odd “daddy-blogger” entry here and there) to the Ontario municipal races – especially here in Bytown. I’ll likely keep with the practice of scribbling my Friday Miscellany notes and will vent my anti-DeceptiCon rants in that space.

Why refocus? Because I was/am a student of local government and despair that this level of government – the level that is closest to the people who vote for them – is largely ignored and widely misunderstood. Voter turnouts for municipal elections are in the 40-55% range and this pitiful level of civic engagement shows little sign of improving any time soon.

I think it important to encourage a focus on local issues because these are what touch us directly. Our emergency services, schools, road maintenance and snow clearing, libraries and waste management are all the responsibility of our Council and School Boards. Decisions are taken by our local Council and School Boards on how our communities are planned, the protection of our natural environment, and where and our children are educated. Local decisions made by local people like you and I.

Local government is vital. It is in our backyards. And it is largely ignored. That is unfortunate.

So – just for old times sake, here is a candid shot I took of John Baird during last spring’s session of Parliament. I think he is making a point of order.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a point of order..."

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5 Comments to “Ottawa elections”

  1. trashee says:

    Of course, it doesn’t help that one of the prominent mayoral candidates can’t even get the spelling right on his website!

    Check it out:

    Over the past for years we have fought the lethargy of politics-as-usual and delivered on project that have been discussed, debated and ignored for as much as 20 years
    o a revitalized Lansdowne Park, after decades of inaction,
    o a meaningful Light Rail Transit plan that will decongest downtown and serve as the backbone for future east-west/north-south links,
    o the launch of the Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge, and extensions to Lime-Bank, HuntClub, Terry Foxeased the suburban commute

    It’s on the front page of : http://larryobrien.net/

    Sigh.

    If you can’t find a spelling mistake on my site, will you take a sign?

  2. Here’s how buying fighter jets affects Joe Citizen… Canada bought 120-odd CF-18 jets for a stupidly expensive price compared to the alternatives back in 1981 and they were arriving to operational units in 1983.

    I was in the AIR FORCE from 1985-1992 (army from 1983-1985). In the $*#^&( air force. In those 7 years, this is how much interaction I had with these spiffy toys:

    1. I saw one at Comox on display in 1985.
    2. One buzzed our tower at CFS Baldy Hughes in 1987 (very cool, by the way).
    3. A childhood friend was killed when his CF-18 crashed in Inuvik in 1987.
    4. I saw a bunch and even flew the CF-18 simulator at CFB Cold Lake in 1988.
    5. Like many people, I’ve seen a few at air shows and such. I’ve even seen a few US F-18 jets on visits to the USA.

    That’s it. And since I was actually in the air force, I could reasonably expect that except for pilots and air maintenance crew I had a LOT of exposure to the things. The money to buy them comes, relatively magically, out of the federal budget. Yes, it’s my taxes, but it’s still pretty far removed from my life… and I was in the air force and thus closer than the vast majority of Canadians would ever be.

    On the flip side, city government has been doing its damndest to royally fuckup our mass transit for the last 22 years and I’ll be paying for that DIRECTLY as long as I live in Ottawa, and have to look at it (or not if they never build the thing) every day.

  3. trashee says:

    You’re dead on, Squid-dude. Most of the policies that impact every “Joe Canuck” are made at the local level; yet this is the level that is largely ignored. I blame the media for some of this but it is also a fact that the issues dealt with by Municipal Councils are not as “sexy” as those on the Hill.
    Changes in bus fares are trumped by spending gazillions on new fighter jets, for example.

  4. Have you ever noticed that people tend to view the importance of elections in a rather backward way? Federal elections get the best turn-out and most interest. Then provincial elections somewhere in the middle. Finally, municipal elections get treated like the red-headed stepchild of the political process.

    Yet, when you think about it, what the municipal government does affects you every day, often in starkly noticeable, highly irritating ways. Got a parking ticket? Municipal. Want to paint your house pink and chartreuse with purple dots? Better get a municipal permit if the local laws allow it at all. Kids in school? Municipal. The list goes on and on.

    People don’t care about the yobbos that get elected for them though. Sure, they’re happy to bitch and moan about city gov, but when it comes time to step up and say something that makes a difference (i.e. VOTE) they say “meh” and ignore it. Strong, competent municipal government can really offset the effects of marginally or completely incompetent federal and provincial government.

    Federally, however, they really affect you in invisible ways. Sure, they set federal income tax (which is lower than provincial in Ontario), and federal sales tax (also lower than the provincial part), and set criminal law (although most people will only run afoul of provincial statutes), but really, the fed has very little direct impact on most people’s lives. You could replace the prime minister with that gorilla up there, wearing the colours of any party and it wouldn’t make *THAT* much of a difference at the Joe Canadian level.

    But federally is where all the smack talk is, and more than half of Canadians get off their behinds to vote even though it’s really the least important election from a “does it affect me” point of view. Federally, each citizen’s voice is one in 30-odd million, and realistically, they have to treat you that way.

    Provincial is somewhere in between. Certainly we’ve got no problem electing idiots in this riding (Dalton McGuinty’s riding), and I do wish more people spent time thinking about their choice and actually getting out to exercise it. Provincial government underpins municipal, and it’s provincial statutes that generate annoying tickets, big taxes, and do the most to directly affect one’s job and larger life aspects outside of the immediate neighbourhood in which one lives.

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