gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Party politics in Ottawa

August 05, 2009 @ 11:50 By: gordon Category: General

Tuesday’s Ottawa Citizen has an article about party politics in Ottawa. Apparently, three leading governance experts say that party politics could be the solution to the system of governance in Ottawa, which is “broken”. The current system, according to them, has “much too narrow a focus and inhibits the politicians from taking a more global outlook”.

“Many disparate interests cloud the big picture,” according to Katherine Graham, Dean of Public Affairs at Carleton.

But, isn’t that the point in municipal government? That the elected representatives actually represent the people in their ward?

Party politics exists in Montreal and Vancouver, while it is actually illegal in Ontario. Though the systems in Montreal and Vancouver has been relatively successful, some people doubt whether they’re really in touch with the grassroots. Party politic systems often see the independent candidates excluded because they don’t have the financial resources to compete with the political parties.

Vancouver’s system, for example, currently has a party called Vision Vancouver in charge. Vision Vancouver arose out of a “realignment” of left-wing politicians. Eight months ago, it won over the incumbent Non-Partisan Association, but now it’s suffering from infighting and division.

I’m not sure that a party political system is what Ottawa needs. The party with the majority can ignore the opposition and make decisions behind closed-door caucus meetings. Given the fact that decisions made by Council have a more immediate and direct effect on people living in Ottawa, this lack of transparency and accountability is not a good thing. I want my representative on Council to have a vested interest in my neighbourhood and not be afraid of speaking up because they aren’t toeing the party line.

And what if we end up with a minority situation, such as we have at the federal level, where there’s no distinct ruling party? Does our municipal system grind to a halt while the parties make backroom deals to jockey for power? Do we suddenly have to start worrying about votes of confidence in the ruling party? In the event such a vote is lost, what happens? Would the Lieutenant Governor or the Premier ask the remaining parties to form some sort of coalition or would we have to go back to the polls?

No, I don’t think a party political system is what the City of Ottawa needs. I like the fact that my representative on Council has a vested interest in my ward and isn’t distracted by party politics. I have enough other people I’ve voted for at higher levels of government who have these concerns, thank you very much.

One Response to “Party politics in Ottawa”

  1. We already have party politics in Ottawa.

    Most of the city council is controlled by the “My Arse Has Grown To The Shape Of My Chair” party. Comfortable in their presidente-for-life positions, they do what they want with little regard to what is good for Ottawa in the short or long term.

    When the boat is rocked, they drum up ways to get rid of the irritant… like, say, having the mayor charged with a crime for which the judge rejected the bulk of the “evidence”. The point is not to have the mayor put away – merely to taint his reputation… he’ll never be re-elected and everyone can always snicker about how he’s “really a crook but got away with it”. Good politicking MYHGTTSOMC party!

Leave a Reply