Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Calgary’s Mayoral Race 2010: What I don’t want to see

As everyone who pays any attention whatsoever to politics in this city will already be aware, Calgary’s 3-term mayor, Dave Bronconnier, announced last week that he will not be running for re-election this fall. This makes for the first “open” mayoral election here since 2001.

With candidates just starting to announce their intentions, I don’t have anything resembling a preference yet. I do have some notions of what I don’t want to see, though.

Misrepresentation in the media

In 2001, somewhere between a dozen and twenty candidates were on the ballot for mayor (I really cant remember the actual number and couldn’t easily find a reference online). You wouldn’t have known that, though, if your only source of info on the election was the mainstream (primarily corporate) media. They decided that there were only four “legitimate” candidates who merited any substantive coverage. The media gave effectively no attention to any of the other candidates.

I consider that to be viciously anti-democratic. All citizens should have an equal opportunity to learn about every candidate, regardless of how “serious” or “fringe” they may be considered to be by those in power (which includes the media who are currently very much part of the structures of power in our society).

Power = Opportunity = Responsibility.

The current dominant media have lots of power (although that does seem to be diminishing a little), therefore lots of opportunity. That creates significant responsibility — responsibility they are failing terribly.

In deliberately excluding the majority of candidates from the dialogue, the media denied the core principles of democracy. I hope we can avoid, or at least reduce, the same problem this time around by making all candidates part of the dialogue with fairness and openness.

Oppositional Politics

Ever since Ald. McIver decided, over a year ago, that he wanted to become mayor of Calgary, he seems to have been taking every opportunity to move us toward intensely divisive oppositional politics. He has manufactured “controversy” to create the very false impression of a war between two sides on council. He and his supporters have engaged in attacks on other members of council in an apparent strategy aimed at eliminating the possibility of anyone else being able to take a successful run at the mayor’s seat.

This is self-centred political ugliness that in no way serves the interest of our city and communities.

We don’t need elected representatives who are bent on tearing down their colleagues on council, who move the dialogue from looking at the complexities of the issues our city faces to unrealistic simplifications of “us vs. them.”

I do, actually, believe that all voices, including those I vehemently disagree with, should be at the democratic table — except for one. I see no place for those who want to destroy the opportunities we have for dialogue in favour of their own selfish political games.

With that, I truly hope that McIver and his ilk will be removed from council and replaced with people who can bring those “right-wing” perspectives McIver appears to represent to our city without diminishing the quality of the democratic dialogue.

“Your Worship”

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to see whomever gets elected as our next mayor take action to end the practice of referring to that office holder as “your worship.” (ick!) I’m not counting on it, but I can dream, can’t I?

New local political blog

This post is the first of mine that will be cross-posted to a new political blog going by the tongue-in-cheek name of “The Best Political Team in the Blogosphere™”. The blog aggregates a few, not especially representative (so far), local political bloggers with some very divergent viewpoints. I totally disagree with some of the stuff posted there so far, but that’s all to the good in democratic dialogue.

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