Having worked for more than 30 years in the municipal political environment, I am not surprised at all by dirty political tricks being inflicted on The Bulldog.
When I look back at what I witnessed, the words “dysfunctional environment” or “dysfunctional elected people” often came to mind. There is something about politics that brings out the worst in some. I find it unfortunate that the public doesn’t see some of these councillors for what they really are. What you see is certainly not what you always get.
Fortunately there are some on Ottawa City Council who genuinely want to help their communities and put in a full day’s work but I’m not so sure it is a majority. The best the public can do is to keep them to their promises, ensure they are not abusing their office budgets with the purchase of hockey tickets, energy drinks that few residents consume and over-the-top advertising that only serves to promote themselves prior to elections.
I also think our democracy is in terrible need of term limits. Some councillors remain for years and end up short on imaginative approaches or only appear to show interest in the salary and benefits provided. Many have little or no management or financial skills.
Residents absolutely need to look at their backgrounds and educational experience. Many over the years leave these details vague particularly as it relates to their educational background or lack thereof or embellish what they did prior to elections.
Finally, council members often enable those politician who have little ability to do the job and have very limited skills because their vote on particular issues takes precedence over what should be important to their respective communities. Some are given titles to shore them up but it doesn’t change the fact they are poor performers. Their vote is the ultimate purpose for enabling them. Historically politicians can only point to themselves for how they are viewed, for the cheap shots directed their way and the general disdain and contempt directed at them.
The very low election turnout points to how they have turned off the public for so many years. I rarely vote for the same politician going for a third term because it does not serve the public. Residents are deserving of new visions and fresh approaches. The city will be better served if voters wipe out a good 50 per cent of those on council in 2018.
In addition, residents need to pay very close attention to who are behind campaign contributions. I call it the in-breeders of finances with the same players contributing to the same group of politicians election after election.
There are also other means of donating funds to particular causes outside elections which potentially influence politicians during the lobbying process. Perhaps the media should have a closer look at this very informal donation process.
Pierre Pagé is the former City of Ottawa clerk.