Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ebony and Ivory...

Nation, I was in the middle of writing (in my head, Mozart-style) the "What Would E.S. Do - WAP Edition" post for this blog, when I stumbled across 2 news items that blew my mind...

Mind-blowing point number one: Two politicians who probably couldn't agree on the colour of the sky, are agreeing about the most fundamentally important value in our democratic system: That the PEOPLE are in charge, as opposed to the elected few.

Mind-blowing point number two: One of them is Brian Pincott, who I wrote about just 3 days ago in relation to his "dog park user fee" brainwave.

I'll have a lot (a LOT) more to say about the notion of private, PC-only cabinet advisory committees with no published minutes being paid taxpayer money at a later time. But for now, the "take of the day" on the issue goes to Doug Griffiths, MLA for Battle River-Wainwright, member of the "Enlightened Eight", snappy dresser and all-around good guy:

"I completely understand why people are concerned... if that role is an internal PC caucus function, why should we be paid?"

To whit: If it's not a public function, but a private one, then why should public (aka "MY") dollars be paid to the participants?

Doug gets it - which is hardly surprising.

What I found a little more surprising - but very pleasantly so - was the about-face by Alderman Brian Pincott on the dog park issue. Brian initially floated the idea of a user fee for dog parks, and then - in what could only be an attempt to discredit the last few paragraphs on this past Wednesday's post on The Enlightened Savage - he came out yesterday and said:

"... I have heard from many people who, like you, have asked that I vote against a user fee, even if council is told that it would be possible to administer one... I will do this. Should council be told that we could levy a maintenance fee to off-leash users (and I must stress that we have not been told that we could) I will not support such a fee."


This shouldn't be newsworthy, but it is - which speaks, I think, to the low expectation that we have of our elected officials - a low expectation that, sadly, is usually well-earned. In this case, though, Pincott is showing that he understands that the people calling his office are actually the decision-makers, rather than the ones who sit in the funny-looking council chamber.

YES, Nation, I also couldn't help but notice that the next municipal election is less than a year away. Why so jaded? ;)

The bottom line is, whether a politician is a Progressive Conservative or a raging lefty, when the time comes to cast a vote, a politician who understands that their own, private opinions matter not a whit in the context of this job they're elected to do is okay by me. I can be ably represented by a person who shares NONE of my views, so long as that person realizes what Griffiths and Pincott understand: The opinion of the voters is what counts.

Power to the People.


heeedcase said...

What ever happened to the Burkean view on democratic representation:

"Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion."

There is a large amount of unpopular public policy that would, despite unpopularity, serve to benefit the country / province. Case in point is a sales tax in Alberta. A terribly unpopular idea, but most economists would agree that implementing it would be significantly more effective than relying solely on an income tax.

User fees in general are another good idea, user fees on a dog park are a little bit silly because of the difficulty of enforcing them.

Second point, is another point Burke makes, the delegate model will most likely lead to discord at a higher level of deliberation. He goes on, "...parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament."

To be clear, I don't think either model is entirely workable, a balance must be struck, but to discount entirely the judgement of a representative, is to discount entirely the reason for representative democracy.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't this "… whether a politician is a Progressive Conservative or a raging lefty …", be rewritten as "… whether a politician is a raging righty, a raging centrist or a raging lefty …"

Yeah, No bias here. ;-)

Enlightened Savage said...

Anon: The 2 politicians being discussed fell into the 2 categories I laid out.

I'll let you figure out which is which. :)

Enlightened Savage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Censorship on this blog?

Disco Stu said...

Thoughts on Copenhagen?

Enlightened Savage said...

Anon: Check the time stamp. I accidentally posted the same comment (mine) twice.

Not censorship - except of the "hoping not to look like a noob" variety.

Disco Stu: It's coming. I've got about 8 posts I really, REALLY want to write - and as soon as my schedule clears up some, I'm all over it. Copenhagen is in the top 3.

Enlightened Savage said...

heeedcase: Thank-you for your thought-provoking comments.

I think you touch on the difference between "representation" and "leadership". It's something I want to devote an entire post to - I would love to hear more of your thoughts, if you'd care to email me at amishbuggyracing (at) gmail (dot) com.