Friday, September 28, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


The ruling municipal Non-Partisan Association board has acted in a very partisan way and has made a decision that all its incumbents will be protected if they choose to seek re-election and subsequently will not have to face nomination challenges.This move by the NPA board is really undemocratic since it flies in the face of democratic principles where members who belong to a political party are usually vested with the decision on who they prefer to represent them in an election. The NPA board has just stripped from its membership, grassroots decision making and the members should now be questioning whether their membership or countless hours of volunteer work on behalf of their party has any benefit?

As well, this move by the NPA board, may have hurt their incumbents opportunities in the 2008 municipal election as it most likely will be seen by the public as another example of bastardizing democracy. Citizens are with increasing vigor, speaking out against authoritative rule. We believe in representative democracy and when we elect our politicians, we want them, first and foremost, to represent us, and be accountable to us the citizens.

Increasingly, we have seen our elected representatives becoming subservient to their political parties, leaders and inner governing councils. If our elected representatives don't toe the party line or the leader's vision, they are treated shabbily and in many cases, suspended from their party. Case in point was the recent expulsion of NDP MLA, Michael Sather, who was supporting a position, different than the one being presented by the NDP Leader.

Another example of a politician, appearing to adhere to the party line was a recent statement made by Councillor Suzanne Anton. Ms Anton, when contacted by a media outlet, the Straight, regarding her thoughts by the NPA board to protect incumbents, this top vote-getting NPA Councillor, took a really safe position, which unfortunately didn't say anything meaningful. One would have thought that Ms Anton would have stepped right in and expressed an opinion on behalf of the citizens and members of her party who she was chosen to represent. Instead, when she spoke, it was to claim what a tight caucus the NPA is and what a joy it is working with her team. Councillor Anton, of course we know you have fondness for your colleagues and that is a given, but we really wanted to hear an actual opinion on what you thought of this move by your party.

In fact, many members in the NPA are uncomfortable with the decision made by the NPA board and the awkward leadership of its incumbent Mayor, who many political observers believe will drive the NPA into the ground, come next election.

Former NPA Park Board Commissioner Laura McDiarmid, who served as both Vice-Chair and Chair of the Vancouver Parks and Recreation states on the decision to protect incumbents, " we are re-moving ourselves from democracy, we must first be responsible to the public, especially more so in municipal politics, where there should only be one master and that is the public". " The NPA should be moving for more interaction with the public and the NPA board policy doesn't reflect this reality ".

Ms McDiarmid went further claiming, Councillor Anton shouldn't make statements like that since it only affirms the status quo and the public is getting real tired of maintaining the status quo.

Democracy, which is best left in the hands of the people governing themselves and which Ms McDiarmid's statement accurately reflects, is moving away from this governance model and many a politician seems to be making decisions based on special interests or in the interest of those who fund them rather than what is in the best interests of the public.

Citizens though are smart and once politicians make fatal decisions of not being responsive to the public, instead preferring the status quo or discarding democratic principles in favour of achieving or maintaining power, this delivers yet another blow to democracy.

This also re-affirms to the public that politicians seem to care less about them and more about themselves.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


Post a Comment

<< Home