Sunday, March 11, 2007

Want a Greater Disconnect With Your Politicians?

Every authority on Municipal Government would state that a basic and prime characteristic of Local Government is that it is the system that is closest to the people.

This level of government should be representative of the demographics of municipality in every way…ethnic, socio-economic, etc., and should be inclusive of each of these communities and reflective of the community in every sense. Ward voting provides this naturally.

The ward is small enough that the representative becomes widely known in the community, knows many of the people by name, interacts informally with them in his daily life, and is expert on the finest details of the community. He learns about the community by being in it every day. He is close to his constituents. He knows first hand the needs and aspirations of those he represents. He has first hand knowledge of the community he/she represents. He's a regular guy in the neighbourhood. He's the guy you may see walking his dog past your house every morning.

Its where he shops, walks, plays, and parties. He knows the community and its people.

Because ward residents vote for him/her as their representative, he is accountable to them. If he fails to satisfy them, he loses office. Because he is a common fixture in the community, residents have an intimate knowledge of his worth as their representative.

No one would feel that the Provincial or Federal Member of Parliament is as close as this. He spends most of his time outside of the community only dealing with it in the abstract, if he deals with it at all!

This is the what will happen to Oshawa Politicians under the general vote. They will have a constituency almost twice the size of the Federal or Provincial members and will become as remote. It wouldn't be long before we would be hearing salary demands matching the Provincial or Federal Members with arguments of constituency size. With the salary demands will also be staffing and office demands to cope with the large constituency workload. Because of the size of the constituency, he is a representative you may never see.

The Political Party System makes sense of voting in Provincial and Federal Elections because voters vote for a party platform and leader with the local candidate being of lesser unimportant I'm told, that they are responsible for only 4% of the local party vote. The candidates knowledge of the community is irrelevant to getting elected. That's why candidates can often "parachute" into the riding from afar. People vote along party lines and the candidate can be faceless.

So a big price Oshawa people will pay if we do get the general vote is a growing disconnect with our local politicians.

Under the general vote, your local council member is not likely the guy who lives around the corner but one of the many who live in a few sections of the in the needs of their local neighbourhood and not knowing yours exists.

What service will your community get if no one lives among you. What service will your community get if they all live around you. Human nature provides the answer to this!

Let's not widen the divide between city residents and the members of our local council.

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