I am very thankful that the municipal act doesn’t extend additional powers to the head of council.
As far as I’m concerned we got this right, everyone around the council table is equal, although the majority at our council don’t see it this way. Mr Illingworth was speaking about building a team, through trust, in an already formed council. This is a facet of leadership. Mr. Somerville’s fanciful notion of a “strong mayor system” is not this at all.
He is proposing that candidates run as teams, or members of a party or a slate before they are elected to council. Warning bells should be going off here. Mr. Somervilless rationale is that “any measure” to peak interest in voting should be examined. I disagree, this measure is drastic and I have no desire to see municipal politics diluted by introducing existing party lines. I doubt if Mr Illingworth were still alive that he would endorse this approach. Are we as a public really that stupid to need to have official political party designations on municipal candidates for us to make a decision? If so then we are doomed. In fact the opposite should happen. Individual candidates should explicitly state their stance on the issues and what makes them different, as an individual. Reducing an election to voting for a “party” and not the candidate is what has failed us at the provincial and federal level. Municipal politics are free of this level of crap and we should be happy about it. This wreaks of the reductionism in the American political party system and reminds me of that scene from the Simpsons when the two aliens Kodos and Kang abduct and replace president Clinton and Senator Dole forcing the public to vote between the two of them. Kodos: It’s a two-party system! You have to vote for one of us. (The crowd murmurs) Man in crowd: Well, I believe I’ll vote for a third-party candidate. Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away! Ah-hah-hah-hah-haaaah! Introducing parties, and an “Opposition party” at the municipal level, is as laughable, and unnecessary as Mr. Somerville’s column. Once parties are formed and operate as blocks in council, as we have seen with our current one there is no opportunity for independent thought. Political parties are “means” not “ends”
We have done without them up until now, and for good reason. Anyone who can’t bother to take the time and understand the issues shouldn’t have it glossed over for them just to get them to vote. I think Mr. Somerville needs to read his own words, and in his words, is the one that needs to come “out of the closet”, or at least step of his “front porch” and experience the world the rest of us Aurorans live in.