Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A municipality, such as Halifax, can't be both BIG and local

I am off tonight, to speak as a member of the provincial Greens before a municipal meeting.

A meeting seeking voter input regarding concerns that unlimited and secret campaigning spending is a threat to local democracy.

(My words !)

I am sure to be asked, in a threatening tone, but do you speak officially for the Greens?

I will tell them that I indeed speak as a member of the supreme ruling body for the GPNS - indeed for every democratic society  - its voting members.

The mantra here in Nova Scotia, and I am sure it is the case in your part of the world too - is that bigger government (and the bigger salaries for its politicians and top bureaucrats) is better government.

Candidates spend $250,000 to become mayor of our city - and that leaves most of us out of the electoral process.

No wonder that voter turnout is so low.

When Nova Scotia municipalities were many and their electoral districts were tiny, you didn't need any money to get elected.

You needed a lot of shoe leather and a firm handshake at all the doorsteps, together with a local reputation for hard work and honesty.

Now only those well connected to the rich, famous and looking-for-something types can afford to run.

We don't actually pay less for our politicians - before there were many little politicians who were part time, represented small districts and got bare stipends.

Now the very few in number municipal councillors are all full time, all very well paid, all with lots of expensive support.

Ditto their civil servant counterparts.

Halifax municipal districts can frequently hold more voters than provincial ridings and some are geographically bigger than some federal ridings, let alone provincial ridings !

That's not local government : a city resident of the local government of Halifax living in Ecum Secum must travel two to three hours over a winding road to visit "their" town hall.

The "city" of Halifax is bigger than the province of PEI or the state of Delaware. In fact it is bigger than about fifty of the smaller sovereign nations in the world.

Who benefits from the "local" being re-defined as  big and having so few councillors ? Rich developers, rich politicians and rich top civil servants.....

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