A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Amalgamation raises it ugly head again?

'Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark sent a correspondence to Association of Municipalities Ontario members communicating the province is undergoing a regional review to take a broad look at the current model of municipal governance.'

The above little clip appeared in a short article in a recent Bayshore News item and in normal circumstances would be of little interest but given the enforced changes to Toronto Council and the elimination of elected chair positions in the Peel, York, Niagara and Muskoka regions it perhaps require further scrutiny. That no copy of said correspondence can be found on the ministry web site (or anywhere else that I can see) is perhaps 'normal' for the Ford government but further adds to my concern.

The article also says that Clark's statement explains it is time to consider whether changes are needed to improve municipal governance where the dollars of taxpayers are being stretched. Also that Minister Clark's statement goes on to say the province's goal is to give people what they want: local governments that are working as effectively and efficiently as possible to support the economic prosperity of their residents and businesses.

"We look forward to discussing with our many stakeholders, including our municipal partners, to determine what is working well in our current governance model," says Minister Clark. "And what needs to be improved."

Perhaps I am being a little paranoid but the above brief quote from Minister Clark sounds a lot like bafflegab for “We are going to take our slash and burn agenda seen in Toronto to Municipal government elsewhere in the province”. As the article indicates some individuals are in favor of a least examining the possibilities in the name of 'efficiencies' and this in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, however given our new provincial governments proclivity for bringing in major changes to our governance with little or no 'consultation' and minimal regard for any opposing views I become deeply concerned.

All municipalities should keep an eye on this one and smaller rural municipalities should be particularly vigilant. I for one do not believe Fords earlier words at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual conference that “there are no plans to unilaterally slash the size of city councils in Ontario” …. his word is hardly the most reliable indication of his future plans!
Amalgamating large swaths of rural, suburban and urban areas into one monolith may be efficient (although that is debatable) but it sure is not desirable.


A copy of the full Bayshore News article follows.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Province Appears Open To Municipal Amalgamations: Owen Sound Councillor
Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz

Outgoing councillor Jim McManaman urges new council to discuss possibility, given recent correspondence from province

Can't play this file? Click here to download/listen -

An outgoing Owen Sound city councillor believes there may be an appetite at the provincial level to amalgamate municipalities.

Jim McManaman says Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark sent a correspondence to Association of Municipalities Ontario members communicating the province is undergoing a regional review to take a broad look at the current model of municipal governance that has been in place for almost 50 years.

Clark's statement explains it is time to consider whether changes are needed to improve municipal governance where the dollars of taxpayers are being stretched.

McManaman says this letter, coupled with the recent move by Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives to quickly make changes to Toronto City Council, show the opportunity exists now to engage the province and push for change to the local government structure in the Owen Sound area.

"Better ways to try and streamline government, that appears to be what (the province) is looking for," McManaman says. "For a long time we've talked about regional government in this area."

At Owen Sound's Oct. 29 council meeting McManaman, who will not be on council next term after foregoing a bid for re-election, encouraged his colleagues to consider engaging the province on creating one larger, amalgamated municipality including Owen Sound and its neighbours.

"Have a serious discussion about what a bigger municipality might look like: What the boundaries might be? What services might be shared?" McManaman says. "In my 15 years on council that's been a difficult discussion with our neighbours. But, looking at the context of the provincial government is looking into these types of issues, perhaps now is the time to have that discussion."

Minister Clark's statement goes on to say the province's goal is to give people what they want: local governments that are working as effectively and efficiently as possible to support the economic prosperity of their residents and businesses.

"We look forward to discussing with our many stakeholders, including our municipal partners, to determine what is working well in our current governance model," says Minister Clark. "And what needs to be improved."


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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Enough said...

In a longish op-ed published in iPolitics Michael Harris says the next election is Trudeau's to loose, I cannot help but agree for the other choices are bleak.


By insisting on making war on the carbon tax his call to political arms, Scheer couldn’t say more clearly that he is yesterday’s man.

That doesn’t mean Trudeau is politically bullet-proof in 2019. Just that, should he lose, it will not be because Canadians suddenly want a Ford prototype in 24 Sussex Drive.

Whatever his shortcomings, the PM’s greatest strength is aspiring to something his father once aimed for: a just society.

Despite the broken promises, the awful lapses of judgment, and a few policy face-plants, Trudeau is arm-in-arm with Canadians on values. Scheer continues to hold hands with Harper on everything from climate change to immigration. And both of them continue to cast loving eyes southward to marvel at the power of lies.

Bottom line? Canadians won’t be flocking to populists in 2019 because they suddenly become climate-change-deniers, anti-immigrant, or bow down to a fact-free universe.

Short of a five-alarm scandal for the Liberals, or a serious abdication of the social values Trudeau stands for, they will choose the Liberals over Republican wannabes.

Which is just to say that, populist waves notwithstanding, the next election is Trudeau’s to win — or lose — all by himself.”

Whilst NO politician is going to be gods gift to the population and some, possible all, may have SOME proposals worth consideration at this point in time I see little choice but the liberals unless the slash and burn policies of the likes of Ford, Scheer, Kenny, Trump etc are your preference. The only thing that we can be certain of for the upcoming federal election is that the rhetoric is going to come thick and fast and be over the top and in all probability very ugly.

At this point in our collective history both nationally and world wide we need leaders who seek to unite us not divide. I very much fear that such voices will be drowned out by those for whom political expediency comes long before such things as social and environmental concerns or cooperation and consensus building.


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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Political and Rhetorical Privilege

It’s perfectly possible for a man to lead a comfortable, indeed enviable life by any objective standard, yet be consumed with bitterness driven by status anxiety.” Dr. Paul Krugman in a NY Times article

He goes on: “This sort of high-end resentment, the anger of highly privileged people who nonetheless feel that they aren’t privileged enough or that their privileges might be eroded by social change, suffuses the modern conservative movement.”

Nothing makes a man accustomed to privilege angrier than the prospect of losing some of that privilege, especially if it comes with the suggestion that people like him are subject to the same rules as the rest of us.”

There is a lot of that going around of late and as David Climenhaga recently pointed out one in particular from Ontario falls squarely into that category....

Two well-heeled older men who never wanted for anything during their upbringings and now live comfortable, privileged lives will be getting together in Calgary this evening to talk about just how very, very angry they are.

I give you Doug Ford, Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario, and Jason Kenney, the man who would be United Conservative Party premier of Alberta – and may well be if he can get enough Albertans to be as angry as he is at these imagined slights to their privilege and, indeed, their elite position in society.

Mr. Ford, by the sound of it, has never really had to work a day in his life, having inherited significant wealth from his father’s label-making company rather like his political and rhetorical model, the current president of the United States.

Indeed that shit disturber in chief to the south is doing all he can, like his fellow bluster to the north, to destroy much of the hard won progress towards a more sustainable world both socially and environmentally.....

President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris deal in June, saying the accord would have cost America trillions of dollars, killed jobs, and hindered the oil, gas, coal and manufacturing industries.
But he also, at the time, said he would be open to renegotiating the deal, which was agreed by nearly 200 nations over the course of years – drawing ridicule from world and business leaders who said that would be impossible.
Under the Trump administration, the EPA has taken a more industry-friendly stance, weakening greenhouse gas rules around oil drilling and vehicle fuel efficiency, as well as tearing up an Obama-era plan to limit pollution from coal-fired power plants. The agency removed its section on climate change from its website last year for an “update” that has yet to materialize.

There is an old adage that says 'Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely' , we must be careful to maintain the traditional checks and balances on our political elites of all stripes, our very democracy is under attack in so many places near and far.


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