Home › Forums › Ottawa Municipal Election 2018: Comment And Debate › The Democratic Process Is A Crap Shoot
This topic contains 13 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by The Voter 1 month, 3 weeks ago.
- May 26, 2018 at 2:43 PM #751369
Reading The Bulldog on a daily basis has been an enjoyable experience since I subscribed a couple of months back.
Well-written articles by people such as Ron Benn and Ken Gray keep abreast of various issues in our city, Mike Patton videos, comments by intelligent people in the community who care about how the city is run, an editor who wants to keep people informed and get everyone involved, plus an opportunity to hone my writing skills and toss out some ideas and comments.
But I have to admit I’ve become a bit jaded about this whole democracy thing when I read about how poorly the way the people we elect to run our city behave at times.
Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder’s recent comment about how smart she is, the poor handling of the high-rise issue over the past couple of weeks and the gun problem a month or so ago … Their sheen is glossy, their Facebook pages are self-serving, and they all look nice in their sartorial finery, but in all I don’t think they’re doing a very good job.
Also, don’t forget we’re the ones who elected these people so we must accept some of the blame for the problems we get so upset about.
This is election year in Ottawa. Will we fix the problems we’ve created by electing the right people to represent us? I’d guess the odds of electing a fully-functional mayor and city council, a group who really deserve to work on our behalf, is less by 10-fold than the odds Las Vegas was given to win the Stanley Cup last October.
Many residents don’t vote (maybe they’re the smart ones after all), some aren’t aware of any of the ongoing and future issues the city faces, some are close friends of one of the candidates and won’t listen to what others running in the ward have to say, some throw darts at the ballot, while others use the ever-popular eenie meenie approach. Candidate A has sworn the data he has presented is correct while candidate B swears by hers, but, the data doesn’t match.
What’s a voter to believe? The democratic process is a crap shoot.
Maybe it’s time to change the rules of the game; after 150 years. Maybe it’s time to create a merit system in which people are assigned to office based on the score obtained through a pre-defined set of criteria, or at least a methodology is deployed that will whittle the list down to a list of two or three finalists people can then choose from so the democratic process will remain intact. Our governor general is chosen using a variation of this scheme and the people who have served in that role recently have been very good. Obviously the criteria used to serve as mayor and sit on city council will not be the same as for governor general.
The problem is we allow anyone to run for political office without first passing through a pre-qualification process.May 26, 2018 at 9:27 PM #751376
Lots of good ideas: get a bureaucrat with the right qualifications to do the job. And this is especially true in the States where they elect everyone from the dog catcher to the city clerk that hands out marriage licenses.
Nevertheless, this has to be checked against the fact that absolute power corrupts absolutely. The voters shouldn’t have to know the local dog catchers in order to pick the right one (Like our school trustees), but they will know the mayor: that’s where the buck stops, and that’s where the accountability lies.May 27, 2018 at 10:51 AM #751392
sisco farraroMay 27, 2018 at 10:52 AM #751391
ChazJune 4, 2018 at 7:32 AM #752094
I agree that not many people know the school trustees which, given the size of their budgets and the importance of educating our kids, is appalling. I would suggest, though, that there is a shocking percentage of the city’s population that couldn’t name the mayor, the local MPP and MP or their councillor or tell you more than one or two things they or their government had done in the last two years.
If they bother to vote at all, it’s often based on pretty sketchy reasons. I had someone, a seemingly intelligent man, tell me the other day that he’s voting for a particular candidate in October because a hockey player “is on his side”. He could tell me nothing about the actual candidate, what he was proposing for the city or why the hockey player was supporting him.
We desperately need some education for the general populace on basic civics or we’ll get more of the same.June 4, 2018 at 10:20 AM #752173
ChazJune 4, 2018 at 10:30 PM #752245June 6, 2018 at 7:31 AM #752395
Sadly, the schools already have put forward their idea of ‘Civics’ education. There’s a compulsory .5-credit course in Grade 10 that purports to teach federal, provincial and municipal government as well as a few other things. It’s way too short to be able to cover the necessary topics in any depth – it would be a kindness to call it a survey course.
I’m not sure I’d be prepared to look to them to extend that education process to the general population.June 6, 2018 at 7:35 AM #752414
Ken GrayKeymasterJune 6, 2018 at 8:16 AM #752417June 6, 2018 at 12:08 PM #752439
To further complicate the discussion on the mandatory Civics course presented in Ontario high schools, the content is rife with misapplied words and concepts.
For example, when my three children took the course, communism was presented as a form of government. This is not the correct use of the word. Communism is a form of economy, as contrasted with capitalism or socialism. While many nations with an economy based on communism have a totalitarian or authoritarian government (e.g. China), it is possible for a nation to have an economy based on communism, with a legitimately (as contrasted with what we saw in the old USSR) elected, democratic government (none come to mind, but it is possible in theory).
In short, when the content of the course is flawed, we should not be surprised when the students graduate with a flawed understanding of some of the basic elements of our economic and government structure.June 6, 2018 at 3:54 PM #752451
ChazJune 6, 2018 at 10:01 PM #752495
sisco farraroJune 27, 2018 at 8:02 AM #754395
This discussion brought me to wondering if our current crop of politicians could pass a basic test on how our democracy and the economy are supposed to function.
Looking at some of their actions and decisions as well as the explanations they give for them, it’s sometimes hard to believe that they really understand the system.
A more concerning and dangerous thought, of course, is that they do understand only too well and they use that knowledge to subvert democracy in the interests of themselves and their co-travellers.
Some start with integrity and are soon swept up in ‘the way things are done’ while others start in the same questionable place they end up. Few and far between are those who start a political career with ethics and integrity and have them intact at the end of their time in office. Too many people who understand and would work towards the purpose of democratic government leave too soon, burnt out and frustrated by the games that are played in the halls of power.