gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


A couple of things that will cause a mayoral candidate to lose my vote

July 17, 2010 @ 08:31 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

People have been throwing their hats into the ring for the upcoming municipal election, including the incumbent – you can find a fairly comprehensive round up on the Ottawa Election News website. Choosing between candidates can be tricky. Usually, there are some candidates you can exclude immediately because they just aren’t an option. But, once you’ve excluded them you still have to choose someone to vote for. (If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.)

There are a number of things that a candidate in this election can mention while campaigning that will cause me to move them down my list (or off the list altogether).

Tinkering with the tunnel

Ottawa’s transit system is probably a good ten to fifteen years behind where it needs to be. We can’t put more buses on the road and surface rail in the downtown core isn’t going to work. We need the tunnel. Leave it alone. If you even suggest that we need to revisit this I’ll almost certainly cross you off my list.

“Zero Means Zero”

If you want my vote, you won’t campaign on a “zero means zero” policy. Holding property tax increases at 0% means that services are going to be cut or there are going to be more user fees imposed. Cutting services can affect everyone while imposing user fees can have a disproportionate impact on households with lower incomes.

Another way to implement a “zero means zero” policy is by cheaping out on infrastructure maintenance, which is only going to result in increased repair costs. It’s not simply a matter of deferring an expense, it’s actually going to cost us more.

Ultimately, a “zero means zero” policy means that sooner or later property taxes are going to have a big increase and we’re going to be playing catch up to compensate for your policy, possibly for years to come.

Actually, there are some things for which user fees aren’t unreasonable. One would be a per-bag garbage fee. The more waste that enters our landfills, the sooner we’re going to have to expand existing landings or build new ones. Some municipalities have established per-bag fees, either for all bags or bags in excess of one or two per household, with a certain amount of success. If you want to implement a system like this for waste, I won’t complain. (But you’re going to have to reduce or remove the solid waste fee that has started appearing on my tax bill since some of the costs are now being covered by the bag fees.)

And finally, something that just bugs me:

Negative attack ads

If the best you can do is a negative attack ad then you’re probably not going to win. Instead of telling people why you’re better than the other guy, you’re telling them why he’s worse than you.

2 Responses to “A couple of things that will cause a mayoral candidate to lose my vote”

  1. Ken says:

    Transit tunnel – no pun intended, but I think it’s a pipe dream. I think it will eventually be revealed that economically and geologically it’s not practical. 25 years ago when they looked at the idea they discovered that a lot of downtown is on limestone. You don’t go punching big holes through limestone.

    Zero means zero – doomed to fail from the beginning, and I think you and I agree that the mayor who suggested this last time just didn’t know what he was talking about and does not deserve another shot.

    Attack ads – I’m with you on this. Proving you’re better than everyone else by saying they’re worse doesn’t prove a thing. I wrote about that recently myself.

    • gordon says:

      WRT the tunnel, 25+ years ago tunnel building technology was not nearly as advanced as it is today. Lots of tunnels have been built in limestone — you just need to build using appropriate techniques.

      The alternative of surface rail in the downtown core is fraught with problems, the biggest one being all the level crossings. Of course, you could put elevated tracks in place, but then you have noise issues that were never envisioned when the buildings were built and weather-related problems (ice/snow buildup on the elevated tracks).

      Another alternative would be to ban cars from the downtown core or put a congestion tax in place like they have in London (UK). But I don’t think that’s going to be terribly popular with a lot of drivers.


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