Municipal Election 2010

After Election, Time for Democracy

Now that the municipal election is over, the real work of democratic engagement begins.

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 26, 2010

After yesterday's municipal election, we wake up to a new council that is substantially the same as the old one.

Voters promoted the downtown councillor, a radio personality, to the mayoralty and back-filled his vacant council seat with another radio personality.

In rural Ward 11 (Glanbrook/Winona), a progressive, anti-sprawl environmentalist beat the twice-censured incumbent in a close race.

In Ward 15 (Waterdown), voters elected a moderately progressive candidate who favours smart growth, adaptive reuse of existing buildings and infrastructure and supports improved transit with an accessible light rail transit system.

In every other ward, the incumbent handily won re-election, usually with a large majority of votes cast. Only Bernie Morelli in Ward 3 (with 44.46%) and Brad Clark in Ward 9 (with 45.33%) won with a mere plurality.

These results may have to do with voter turnout, which, like the council-elect itself, is substantially the same as it was in 2006.

Of the 353,317 registered voters, only 141,174, or 39.96%, cast a ballot. That's a modest increase from the dismal 2006 turnout of 36.73%, but it's scarcely cause for elation.

Engagement Between Elections

The good news is that, despite all the attention we give municipal elections - or don't give them, based on the turnout - they are somewhat overrated as a vector of citizen participation in the democratic process.

If you vote for a candidate once every four years but don't get involved in the meantime, it doesn't really matter much who you vote for.

Once politicians get inside the bubble that is City Hall, it's impossible to keep any kind of perspective without ongoing, substantive interaction with citizens for grounding.

On the other hand, with a sufficiently active citizenry, it doesn't much matter who sits around the Council table.

Any reasonably smart, patient, curious, open-minded person will generally arrive at a sensible policy decision as long as they manage not to lose their perspective about what matters.

Similarly: if left isolated from the outside world, just about anyone will fall prey to one or more of the pitfalls that corrode good decision-making - arrogance, fear, partisanship, dogmatism, laziness, stubbornness.

This is why it's so important for citizens to keep up their end of that engagement between elections.

Community organizer Saul Alinsky famously had a meeting with US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had just been elected in the deepest trough of the Great Depression. Alinsky spoke about the President's role in creating a more fair and prosperous society.

At the end of the meeting, FDR told Alinsky: "Okay, you've convinced me. Now go out and put pressure on me!"

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By simonge (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 07:10:34

Well said. If we could get even a fraction of the engagement that happened on the stadium issue, on an ongoing basis we could take big steps forward. If only just over a third of us turnout every 4 years and then go back to our own lives with limited or no civic engagement we can't expect real change. It would be great to have an ongoing section on RTH on civic engagement and ideas on how to have a voice regardless of how much time you have...

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By Dubious (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 09:14:46

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By MattM (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 09:22:19

How did RTH do with its endorsements? Let's see WH for stadium: 0; Eisenburger for Mayor: 0; Light Rail: 0 (now that Boob wants to change it); Bike lanes: only in ward one; Sprawl, only NOT in Winona....a mixed record I'd say RTH...give it up.

It's true. All is lost, we might as well just get some more walmarts going. Anywhere we can put a new highway in? Losani, DeSantis, help us out here! We need generic boxes for these new families to live in! Boston Pizza, hear our call!

Seriously though, although the election results disappoint me, I think Hamilton's rise to glory will go undeterred. The wheels have been set in motion. Lofts and condos are taking off downtown, light rail is still a very real possibility, as is 7 day-per-week GO service to Toronto. The rest of the pieces will continue to fall into place.

Comment edited by MattM on 2010-10-26 08:24:24

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By Inhocmark (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 09:39:51

Last night being my first Hamilton election (my previous elections have been in Toronto, Longueil and Montreal respectively) it is painfully obvious that the real lack of a strong local media ultimately hurts local engagement and creates a climate where name over subtance tends to win out. In the 8th largest city in Canada it should be unacceptable that the only local over the air station chose to go with 2 american shows (although I love Chuck) over election results. It should be unacceptable that the only major newspaper had a live blog done by a reporter whose primary job is to cover the Ti-Cats. The amount of work I had to put in this election to get even a rudimentary understanding of the candidates and their platforms goes above and beyond what an average voter is going to go to through to get information to make an informed decision.

All of the incumbents that came back and the rise of media personality Bratina despite what would politely be described as a vague platform appears to be in some part due to the lack of information out there for the average voter.

...Then again, all the information in the world did not help Toronto out at all, so maybe my point is moot.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 09:52:03

@Dubious electing a downtown boosting, Aerotropoplis opposing LRT loving mayor looks pretty good from here. Far as I know RTH didn't endorse candidates.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2010 at 10:27:32

Thanks for finally publishing this essay. As I've mentioned on my blog for months now, you were responsible for inspiring me to begin examining (and yammering on) about this notion of increasing the 'relationship of engagement' between our citizenry and our local governance representatives, our Councillors. It has very much been the 'raison d'etre' for my blog, and no doubt will continue to do so...

...even through today, where you'll find some pointed posts on this very issue.

Again, my gratitude for having replied to my email all that time ago.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2010 at 10:53:55

Well said indeed Ryan. You guys should put a like/dislike feature on the articles/blog posts themselves. Like

I went to bed fealing frustrated, even defeated; and I wasn't even running.

Butani lost. Tetley lost. Jelly lost. Only McHattie won out of the wards I was really paying close attention to.

I woke up angry though. Perhaps if those I had hoped would take the chair made it into office, I would have felt that I could just sit back and watch those I believed in, fight for me. Although I still wish those three would have stepped into chairs at the table, you are right Ryan. Our civic engagement cannot end here.

Thank-you to RTH, all the writers and commentors, for teaching us all about the imnportance of getting involved in our city, and for keeping us informed. Even up to the final moments, The Spec had a photo of the three front-runners on the site like it was all about them. In the end it was as they did place 1,2, and 3, but they summed up for themselves, what defined their coverage of this election.

Maybe one day we will have a candidate amongst the front-runners, who will step up to the media such as The Spec and say "You know, this election is about more than Dick, Jane, and me. Cover us all, or don't cover the election at all."

Comment edited by lawrence on 2010-10-26 10:02:33

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2010 at 11:29:43

@nobrainer

Thanks for reminding me that Bob isn't exactly a catastrophe. I'd prefer Fred, but still he's not that bad news. Yes, I'm worried about his defenses of Vranich, and the silly stuff he says while spitballing ideas... but he's still going to push for saving Downtown Hamilton instead of selling the farms to developers.

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By observer (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 11:36:04

Brenda Johnson beating Dave Mitchell is major, it's a really important change for Mitchell being finally out, and Johnson on council.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:25:40

You're so right, observer. Mitchell was beaten by a female environmentalist. It's awesome when you think about it.

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By Tecumseh (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:27:42

Does anyone have a good sense of how Jason Farr is actually going to end up voting on council? I've heard from a couple of people now that he is progressive (someone said he was endorsed by the Green Party) but his answers on the RTH election site are generally pretty backward or just quite hollow sounding. I hope, as this article discusses, that with the right influence and engagement he can make reasonable decisions, but as genuine as his intentions might be he strikes me as a little thick.

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By Shaddupsevenup (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 13:39:48

Farr's spelling is appalling. When dealing with the press, independent or otherwise, use Spellcheck. Or be a buffoon.

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By westandonguard (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 13:44:11

I've heard some say Dumb As A Donkey. Works Harder Than A Mule. We need to help guide and support our new Ward 2 Councilor.

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By observer (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 14:12:37

I'd been impressed with Jason Farr in 2003 when he moderated all the Cable 14 debates (though in 2006 he told us not to heckle!) In 2003, privately he understood the importance of Lynda Lukasik running in ward 4 against Sam. Then, though, on Talk 820 CHAM, he was CHML light along with all the others there--sounding unprogressive because it's easy to do that, imitating CHML. So we'll see about him now.

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By marvincaplan (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 14:46:54

Hi, well progressives in the Hammer lose again. Jelly, Martinus and I were all on the progressive side. (Even though many don't agree I'm progressive.) and we sure split the vote. Martinus and I had a little more substance on our sites. In fact, before I take it down, all of you who discounted me as yesterday's person should check it out. Particularly look at my press release under media. Brian Mchattie, and the rest of the progressives out in Hammertown should have known the Aerotropolis was inevitable. It still is. So where is the call to put land already in the Urban Boundary outside the boundary? Before the vote, that could have been a "gimmee." Particularly if there is Provincially owned land.

Is any-one on the Hammer world (Including Matt and Martinus) willing to help fight the de-funding of SISO? It will hurt Hamilton far more than any single issue now being discussed. During the debates I called for a course on how Municipalities and in particular how Hamilton works. Who wants to help.

Can anybody realise that in a mixed economy like ours where the Right is so powerful, that going straight against them is a no brainer sure way to lose most of the time.

You all ask what will Jason be like? While I disagree that accepting donations from unions and corporations shows a lack of integrity, look at who supports Jason when the figures come out. I guarantee developers are on the list. If that's so, why did they support me? Because when I first ran I had Mary Kiss as a Ward mate, and during the election I lost, I had Brian McHattie as an opponent. (By the way, Brian, I'm still pissed that you let sidewalks disappear from cul de sacs in new subdivisions.)

Comment edited by marvincaplan on 2010-10-26 13:50:34

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By bobinnes (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2010 at 15:01:46

Ryan. I doubt that any thesis applied to politics can be 100%. Do you think engagement applies to DiIanni? I initially got turned off Bratina after somebody mentioned waffle but the more i think of it, waffle at a time like now, with storm clouds gathering, might be the best thing to do. Who cares what somebody said a few years ago? So engagement probably makes sense for this administration.

Not that i fully endorse engagement - citizens are supposed to be out there creating wealth (for the political class to spend?!) so engagement more often becomes lobbying, or at the best, the use of surplus time of the idle rich.

The internet changes that somewhat but even for the working poor, who usually have some time off, is that time best used watching the boob toob, maintaining relationships or engagement in complex matters that require huge time commitments to understand properly? Failing which, they will support this nice fuzzy wuzzy LRT theory?

No, in representative democracy, we pay reps to drink coffee and figure out this complicated stuff. Except instead of doing that, they spend their time plotting whose pocket they can pick, seen or unseen. Money democracy.

What you seek is direct democracy. I'd like that too, especially with the internet and often pound the table for Athenian Democracy (google Wikipedia), but it all depends on an educated public. Ever since the US Fed stole the keys to the banking system, it is almost impossible for the public to wrap its mind around financial matters like the soon to double/triple interest rates. Therefore, if one really wants direct democracy, one must also support a simpler monetary system which can be understood even if one's name is not Rothschild (or Keynes). It looks like this could happen anyway so you may just get your wish! (Umm, not the LRT wish, just the engagement!!!;-)

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2010 at 15:50:58

I agree with the article in so many ways - thanks Ryan. Our job here has only just begun.

Again.

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 16:03:45

Agreed, we need to put lots of pressure on Jason Farr, the squeeky wheel will get the grease. He has great intentions and a loud speaking voice. I didn't vote for him because he didn't have a platform on his website or brochure before the elections. Nice to know he is willing to help out the poor in the downtown though.

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 17:00:33

Great article, Ryan!

Why don't Martinus, Jelly, Matt, and all the outstanding progressive candidates who didn't win form a sort of 'shadow opposition' to the elected Councillors? By that I mean a Council of its own (a royal opposition to City Council)comprising of one or two defeated candidates from each of the Hamilton wards, that meets regularly every month or so, & as a whole sets an active agenda for monitoring and responding directly to the issues as they occur and to the councillors involved.

This way candidates can begin a process of monitoring politics at City Hall (a true participatory democracy), using media (like blogs, local publications, 'Spectator', etc) to comment direrctly on what's happening and begin to get their names out there. I like the idea of a 'shadow Council' comprised of the bright progressive individuals who, if they do this diligently enough, can be that 'other' Council competing with the Incumbents who seem all but unbeatable.

Just a thought. What do you think?

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 17:07:14

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By rayfullerton (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 17:41:15

Hey cd,

Suggest you get on the email list of CATCH, Citizens AT City Hall.

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By Sky (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 17:47:49

Hi cd,

I like your idea!!! I may not have won the election but I certainly was amazed with some of the issues !

I will be involved in making sure that some of the Dundas Residents concerns are addressed...

Your comments are great food for thought !

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By z jones (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 18:32:03

Reading this makes me hopeful for Hamilton's future. Not just the article which I loved, but the smart comments from people that care - even the ones I don't agree with but respect for taking the time to share. We need to keep talking and doing and sharing and making this city great again.

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 18:33:57

Thanks Ray,

I'm there!

Sky,

I'm serious about the idea of having a 'shadow Council' that makes the elected Council responsible for every word they say, every thing they do. A real working body of citizen-candidates who, by meeting, recording minutes and setting agendas will form the real 'voice' and 'conscience' of Hamilton region. Here's real grassroots, participatory government that's not just an idea but a working reality: a group of active candidates who become the official opposition, watching, monitoring, writing, protesting on a regular basis. What a way to make local politicians accountable! Wouldn't it be nice if elected officials were constantly looking over their shoulder to see what the 'official opposition' were saying & doing?

The idea came to me as I was lying in bed last night wide awake, feeling dejected at the thought of the same old incompetent crew resuming their seats (with two exceptions). The Mayor shouldn't be the only 'fall guy'.

I was impressed with the calibre of a new (mostly younger)progressive cohort of municipal candidates whose time has come.Incumbents have a virtual stranglehold on electoral process that's making a lot of people call for 'term' limits.

Sky, take the first step: contact all defeated candidates you'd like to form a shadow Council with. Wouldn't Cable 14 love to show something like this as a live proceeding in competition with Council sessions? Wouldn't the 'Spec' love a article like this? Give Hamiltonians a taste of what municipal politics would really look like if the only prerequisites for running a successful campaign weren't being a radio personality or an old Ward crony calling in political favours every 3-4 years.

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By katydid (registered) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 19:45:56

It's appalling that not only did fewer than 40 percent of eligible voters exercise their right to vote, but those that did vote chose to elect the encumbants (with a couple of exceptions). HELLO!! It's the encumbants, many of them multiple term, that have dug us into this pit we are now in. Ward 2 had 19 candidates to choose from and elected Jason Farr....UNBELIEVABLE. If you do nothing else for yourself, check out Raise the Hammer, the Hamiltonian, and Citizens At City Hall (CATCH) on a regular basis. I would like to be able to also recommend The Hamilton Spectator, but their coverage on civic matters is not only spotty at best, but somewhat biased as well. If someone lifted your wallet from your pocket you would be outraged and demand police action. City Council has the power to lift hundreds of dollars out of your pocket on a regular basis. I just don't understand the apathy when so many in our city are suffering in one way or another and City Council appears to be able to operate with impunity.

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By progressive (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 20:45:53

Wow, Marvin, there's a thing called losing with class.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2010 at 21:11:33

Brian Mchattie, and the rest of the progressives out in Hammertown should have known the Aerotropolis was inevitable. It still is.

I see that the reasoning by which you decided to support the Red Hill Valley Parkway hasn't changed. I'm afraid I just can't understand how you come by that conclusion. If an idea is bad enough, anyone who understands how bad it is should oppose it on that basis. Believing that the idea is "inevitable" counsels the type of passivity and fatalism (or, worse, complicity) that leads to self-fulfilling prophecy.

In any event: even though Council voted to approve the AEGD, there are plenty of reasons to doubt it will ever go ahead in any significant capacity:

  • The cost already measures in the hundreds of millions of dollars - money we don't have and money developers aren't falling over themselves to fork over.

  • The cost to upgrade our water treatment capacity to support AEGD could add close to a billion more dollars to the price tag.

  • It's hard not to notice that even though we're still in a recession, oil is trading at around $80/barrel and gas prices are over a dollar a litre. As soon as the global economy kicks back into a growth trajectory, oil prices are going to skyrocket again. Building an economic strategy around air transport is looking increasingly ridiculous as time goes on.

  • Voters just elected as mayor one of only two Hamilton councillors who voted against the AEGD, and voters in the actual ward that will hold the AEGD just elected an anti-sprawl environmentalist.

I've opposed the AEGD consistently since I first heard about it over five years ago. It was a bad idea then, it's an even worse idea today, and I don't see anything changing to turn it into a good idea tomorrow. I'd rather continue to oppose it and lose than sacrifice both my principles and my critical thinking skills just to curry some kind of favour.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-10-26 20:12:35

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 00:23:06

Ryan >> Building an economic strategy around air transport is looking increasingly ridiculous as time goes on.

I agree.

The best economic strategy for the City of Hamilton is to embrace free market competition. Instead of taking tax dollars from people and creating high paying jobs in government monopolies, why not cut taxes so that businesses have more money to fight over.

Think about it this way, if one person is put in charge of creating everything society needs, even if that person means well, they just aren't smart enough to know how to do this effectively. However, if that same person holds a competition and tells people he will reward people who create the products that society votes are best, what will happen? The result will be more and better ideas that help everyone in society.

Ask yourself this, why should the HSR make it's service better for the people of Hamilton? Where is the motivation to do so? If they do cut costs, nobody gets rewarded for their innovative ideas, so why bother?

In contrast, if City Hall decides to be nice and cuts our taxes by 10%, or around $85M dollars, that money can now be spent by people on what they want.

When people have more money to spend, there is more money for businesses to fight over, More competition equals more and better products for society to use. Conversely, when government increases taxes and gives it to monopolistic providers of goods and services (all public employees), society produces less output and grows poorer.

If you want to know the extreme example of how this big government, high tax, low free market competition economic model works, look at Detroit...

They have residential tax rates double of ours, they also have a city income tax and yet their tax base is stagnant or declining.

Because Detroit hasn't fostered an environment that rewards competition, all that is left are people who like looking to the government for handouts, those on welfare and those who work for the monopolistic government agencies.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted October 27, 2010 at 00:56:21

Hello Ryan,

I think you may have unknowingly summed up the outcome of Election 2010 - Hamilton, in a very eloquent manner!

"If an idea is bad enough, anyone who understands how bad it is should oppose it on that basis. Believing that the idea is "inevitable" counsels the type of passivity and fatalism (or, worse, complicity) that leads to self-fulfilling prophecy."

It brilliantly sums up apathy and abstinence; blind love, strategic voting and even blind dart throwing - while it even manages to give a nod to the 12 minstrels who stood in opposition to bad ideas :-)

As yesterday's self-fulfilling prophecy begins to unfold -- your above quote should provide much solace to many in Hamilton, through its long oncoming winter.

Mahesh P. Butani

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 08:18:50

Mahesh,

very eloquent post!

Stay involved. Keep your name out there.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 08:32:57

Mahesh, I think you would of had a shot if you weren't so negative. You had a awesome platform but kept using you're voice to attack the other candidates, the Media, the Establishment. Instead of explaining why people should pick you instead.

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By marvincaplan (registered) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 10:05:27

OK, I should lose with class to Jason Farr who is a similar demographic to the other inner city councillors, I sound drunk, (I don't drink alcohol at all) and everyone who supported the RH is stupid. Trying to get the best deal you can when the odds are so overwhelming is complicity with the forces of darkness. Yep. No doubt about it, those who dare to call themselves progressive but disagree with those who consider themselves more progressive are the real enemy. Sorry, I keep forgetting. By the way, thanks for applauding the bike lanes in Ward 1. The huge reduction in Hamilton's most carcinogenic air pollutant, and the short but much lamented increase in community influence at the Hall. Am I sore that rather than progress most progressive issues are losing ground? Am I upset that having no platform of substance and platforms that are just not realistic are not an election issue? I sure am. And for all of you, who didn't like Fred or Larry, drop me a line in after a couple of years with Bob.

Ryan, I believe I have said many times to you and others, of course the Red Hill road is terrible. But after many years of study, I came to the honest conclusion that completion of a circle road in Hamilton was necessary and there was no viable alternative to the Expressway. As far as complicity is concerned, David Christopherson would have been and would probably still be mayor instead of losing to DiIanni 12 wards to three if he had acknowledged that the Expressway had no chance of being overturned.

I will never learn. The labour movement threw out an NDP government under Bob Rae, progressives refuse to see progress as inferior to perfection, good as the enemy of best, and my comments in the Hammer are discounted as the drunken ravings of a supporter of rampant capitalism.

No revolution that lasts has ever been won without the support of the middle.

By the way, I haven't lost. I still work for social equity, the removal of barriers to the disadvantaged, literacy, justice, and mercy. Those of you who refuse to accept help from the less than perfect often lose that help.

Ah well, after all, what do I care? I didn’t get a job that paid less money, had longer hours, and was more irritating than selling real estate. Matt and Martinus split the younger vote, and the forces of darkness continue to harm our city. My children have all left town. The substantial improvements I proposed will never be passed, and I’m old enough that the worst will not affect me as much.

Ciao

Comment edited by marvincaplan on 2010-10-27 09:13:41

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted October 27, 2010 at 10:48:14

Regarding a 'shadow cabinet'...

I'm loath to see a solution applied to a problem that is handicapped by its adherence to the constructs already in place.

Why have an intermediary element between those governing and those being governed?

Why would we want to in effect produce another layer through which communication, dialogue and discourse would have to be filtered?

What's the essential problem here, what we're trying to overcome? Isn't it that people have been frustrated by Councillors, by not being heard, by them not being available, etc?

Look; if I have a problem with a business owner, I should be talking to them, not some intermediary. (Yes, I realize this analogy is flawed.)

Clearly I have to address this at length on my own blog, otherwise I'm co-opting RTH, but in a nutshell: I'm not interested in trying to fix a flawed design, I'm interested in addressing something much more fundamental, something that is part of a value-system shift. I believe that some of the best and brightest candidates from this election should be involved in trying to make things better, but not in the way that's been suggested; I'd like to see them applying their efforts to increasing the relationship of engagement on the parts of residents with their Councillors, something that may indeed seem more fuzzy...but to my mind, the successful attainment of which would prove far more beneficial to our city than a group of people attempting to keep our Council in check.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 11:08:48

"As far as complicity is concerned, David Christopherson would have been and would probably still be mayor instead of losing to DiIanni 12 wards to three if he had acknowledged that the Expressway had no chance of being overturned."

How'd acknowledging that the Aerotropolis has no chance of being overturned work for Mayor Fred? The guy who opposes it won.

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 13:43:09

AEGD's adoption was not a significant contributor to Eisenberger's defeat. If it was an influential factor, we would have seen that reflected in a vote downswing on all incumbants. On the contrary, most incumbants saw an upswing in support. AEGD may have been a issue in play for Ward 11 specifically, but it really wasn't a city-wide issue.

Regarding Ward 11, it is interesting to note the polls that delivered the votes for the anti-sprawl candidate were in fact from the sprawl neighbourhoods that have recently developed in this ward. The polls in the ward which are still predominantly rural in nature were won by Mitchell. Are the proud owners of new suburban sprawl development endorsing Johnson's anti-sprawl platform, or are they rejecting the rural-centric incumbant? If the loss of agricultural land to AEGD was a influential factor in this vote, why were the rural polls in the ward still supportive of the incumbant who voted for AEGD?

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 14:09:02

I will never learn. The labour movement threw out an NDP government under Bob Rae, progressives refuse to see progress as inferior to perfection, good as the enemy of best, and my comments in the Hammer are discounted as the drunken ravings of a supporter of rampant capitalism. - Marvin Caplan

Read some Joe Bageant have a cold bevy or whatever makes life easier for you and don't worry about it Marvin... works for me ; )

For what it is worth, you have spoken the truth:

No revolution that lasts has ever been won without the support of the middle.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-10-27 13:24:38

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By observer (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 17:31:48

Re comments on Dave Christopherson in 2003 and the election of the imperious now-three-times [federal too] defeated ex-mayor: I believe Dave won four, not three, old city wards in 2003: wards 1 through 4 inclusive. In fact, save for one or two small polling stations at seniors homes, Dave won every poll in wards 1, 2, 3, and 4. Malheureusement, I believe you now gotta go to city hall and/or pay to get that 2003 breakdown. But I remember that this is correct. Also, Marvin's written 2003 pre-election defence of building the Red Hill thing was incomprehensible.

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 18:12:50

Mystoneycreek,

The quotation in Kiely's post will serve as an answer to your anti-shadow Council argument:

"No revolution that lasts has ever been won without the support of the middle."

The shadow-Council is not a reduplication nor a meddlesome intermediary: it's a way for candidates to cut their teeth on real Council-type work & activism, involving media and area supporters, and act as a real opposition to the elected. It would serve as a kind of ideal system most people would be drawn to, if only for the novelty, and whose shadow-Councillors would get the publicity they'll need to run against the Incumbents in the next municipal election.

Consider this analogy: a real Olympics with athletes relying on physical strength and ability only as opposed to an Olympics with athletes on steriods and other performance-enhancing drugs!Give people the option of attending one or the other: which type do you think the majority of us would eventually pick as a true Olympic games?

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 27, 2010 at 22:39:37

a shadow cabinet might be a good idea in theory but in practical terms wherever there is one its just a b-fest and anti everything the government does. A very bad idea IMO

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 28, 2010 at 14:23:07

Marvin, like most centrists, fundamentally misunderstands what it means to be "progressive" (or whatever label you want to use, I certainly am not fond of that one). It's not just considering the opposition opinion on things like Red Hill or Aerotropolis, it's actually opposing them. It's when those type of issues are a fundamental part of your platform. I would never even consider something as silly as paving the valley - it's baffling to me, as it is to most progressives.

Being "radical" or "progressive" isn't about being "in the club". You don't just buy a membership then do what you wish, like with a political party. It's about actions you take and statements you make. Just because you agree with radicals on an issue doesn't mean that we're compelled to support you in perpetuity (something Bratina is reportedly a little sore about). It isn't about influence peddling, it's about principles and worldview.

The political "centre" is a myth, as is much of the traditional understanding of the "political spectrum". Political 'moderates' in Europe would come off like old-guard communists here, and 'centrists' from the US would make Harper look progressive. Whether somebody is right or wrong has nothing to do with where they stand on some imaginary line and everything to do with the facts. These myths are used by the media and politicos to set the terrain for political battles ahead of time, so that anybody who's willing to simply state the facts gets portrayed as some kind of "extremist" (another meaningless label).

For what it's worth tho, I know some LIUNA/Liberal insiders, and they were very involved with Jason Farr's campaign. So Marvin does have a point.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 28, 2010 at 14:43:29

Actually I would argue that RTH is regressive rather than progressive. Those titles are really based on a point of view if what is progressive. I think better terms are leftist centrist and rightist. These basically divide most people quite well.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted October 28, 2010 at 15:44:43

The political "centre" is a myth, as is much of the traditional understanding of the "political spectrum". - Undustrial

Hear hear Undustrial!!! Many of us use the terms, I tend to use them more as an indication of someones ideological position more so than an actual position on the "political spectrum" (i.e, "right wingers" or "neo-cons" are the people that have bought into the concept or "myth" of right wing ideology). I don't know if it always was, but the "political spectrum" has become a scam to divide and conquer us. To convince us that we are different and this guy's opinions are different than yours and they're dangerous!

If the centre, the middle, the majority of people... whatever you want to call it ever realised that we are all in this together, all want essentially the same things (to be loved, to have a clean, safe and secure place to raise our children and/or build a family, etc...) and there truly are proven ways of accomplishing it then we would all have more power.

The ruling class is 1% of the population, they can't have the other 99% banding together now can they... that would be imposing odds on their chances of maintaining control. So "society" has developed many different ways of segregating people from one another, to make people feel superior to others and to create many different divisions of "us and them". The concept of the modern "political spectrum" is just one of them.

Good decisions are good decisions and they can come from many different points along the so called "political spectrum".

For my part I try not to wear any team uniform or fly any flag. I am not right, centre, or left, I'm not progressive or liberal or neo-con or anything in between... I am a person, a citizen of earth, just like the billions of other people in the world who just want to do right by their loved ones, put in an honest effort and go to bed happy.

It is all so simple in my mind, (perhaps that comes from being simple minded : ) but unfortunately the actual job of reversing the massive Clockwork Orange that has been perpetrated on us all is a lot tougher than just saying "I just want to be loved man... don't you?"

So the question becomes how do we breakdown these very powerful barriers that have been placed between us?

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 28, 2010 at 15:49:40

Actually if you really what you say I'd call you a centrist

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted October 28, 2010 at 16:08:07

Actually if you really what you say I'd call you a centrist - turbo

Sure turbo... call me whatever you want : )

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 28, 2010 at 18:35:59

I think I lost faith in the political spectrum around the time Neo-cons and Neo-liberals became exactly the same thing. Labels are perhaps best applied by others, preferably after you're dead. They still haven't settled whether Marx was even a "Marxist", 130 years later.

What we need is to admit what we are, and what we're for - not just where we stand relative to others. I'm an anarchist, for what it's worth. That means something. Terms like "leftist", "progressive" or "green" don't really mean anything these days - they're hip, but every time someone like Obama or BP joins up, the whole thing gets diluted.

Project like Aerotropolis reflect a fundamental vision. It's not democratic, green, or particularly forward-looking in any way, and it clearly does not reflect the views of most of our citizens - only most of our news sources. Hiding behind moderation is ridiculous, it's a very ambitious pro-oil, pro-business, pro-sprawl megaproject. If that's what you're in favour of, then say so, but don't feel the need to define everyone who disagrees as "extremists" in doing so.

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