Monday, October 17, 2005

Hapless state of democracy

The residents of my city, Vaudreuil-Dorion, were supposed to choose to a new mayor and a new councillor for each of the eight districts on November 6, 2005.

Residents in none but three districts will get that chance, and even then, only to choose one of two wanna-be councillors.

Why? Because no one could be bothered to mount a challenge.

The pattern extends all over Quebec. Over 500 mayors were re-elected on October 14 because they had no opponents.

Let's say you were a disgruntled resident in one of those 400+ municipalities. Unless you wanted to run for mayor yourself, you could pretty much consider yourself to be in Cuba or North Korea.

But for most people, it doesn't seem to be an issue. Who cares what they do in the council chamber anyway?

I've attended city council meetings where there were seven citizens present.

The passing of resolutions by the mayor and councilors sounded like an uncontested auction. I wonder what resolutions they would pass if not one citizen was to show up.

Something's got to be done about this. While this may technically be a democracy, for the average, disgruntled Joe, it's anything but. It could be argued that angry Joe can simply run for mayor if he's not happy. Sure he can, except it won't help Joe to spend his valuable time and money just so that he can cast a vote for himself, and still get the same mayor. He might as well not bother.

Have a bunch of dissatisfied Joes thinking that way and you have what we had on October 14.

Having a choice doesn't guarantee Joe a new mayor, but at least Joe should feel there is a reasonable chance for his vote to make a difference in getting a new mayor. Otherwise, Joe will have no reason to be engaged in the political process.

Heck, if all those people who run in federal elections with absolutely no chance of winning were to contest these local elections, I'm sure at least some of them would end up with a job.

As for my councillor (who I can remember since I opened my eyes to the world of local politics), he too went unchallenged.

I think political-savvy students should band together next time and attempt to give these unchallenged dictators a run for their money. If anything, it'll be good experience.

Let's get a province-wide students' movement going. We could all run under the same banner.


Blogger Melanie Holubowski said...

I am not surprised whatsoever at voter apathy in this province (or this country for that matter). People do not care. People cannot be bothered to show up to a monthly council meeting to know what is going on.

I have covered several council meetings in Vaudreuil,and St.Lazare and there was rarely a soul to be seen.

The only time I saw more than 50 people in the room was when a condominium project was to be passed that night. Residents tried to stop it, but it was too late....The town had passed notices in the paper, had a referendum and no one questionned it...It was only after local media hinted at the size of the project that disgruntled that people complained, But it was TOO LATE. Regulations prevented the mayor from doing anything. The condos are being built at this moment because of citizen apathy.

It is horrendous that I do not get to choose my mayor. Even worse, in Hudson, NO ONE presented themselves for district 1. This is a sad time for politics.

People tell me, it won't change anything - they don't listen to little me. WRONG! I have been to meetings where citizens opposed certain projects or asked for stops signs - and guess what? They got what they wanted, because they fought for their case.

Sikander, I know you said we should both try our hands at politics, but I prefer being on the flip side, reporting, making sure that people know what is going on at city hall...I'm the only one who can hold them accountable to their decisions.

4:13 PM  

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