FLORA Community WEB
134 Sparks St., Suite 200
Ottawa, ON K1P 5B6
Letter to my city, regional, provincial and federal representatives:
Mauril Bélanger - MP, Bernard Grandmaâtre - MPP, Madeleine Meilleur - Regional Councillor, Stéphane Émard-Chabot - City Councillor
June 20, 1997 I just read the transcript of a presentation by John Sewell to the Municipal Governance Institute (Vancouver, on Friday June 20, 1997). It can be referenced at the WEB URL of http://news.flora.org/flora.action-forum/268. In the interest of saving FAX paper I will send this to you only if you specifically ask me for a copy (Please contact me at any of the above addresses if you need a copy. I can fax to any number you send me).
In this letter it speaks about how "Canadian municipalities are in a quandry. We don't know whether we're the most important level of government or the least important". One of the things I have kept reading time and time again is that in a world of globalization, local control and local interests become very important. Who better to design an Ottawa that will meet the needs of the people within it but the men and women living in Ottawa who are part of the municipal governments.
Contrast what I see as an obvious importance of local governance with the fact that municipalities are creatures of the provinces, and you end up with an obvious problem. Discussing whether we give power to the provinces or power to the federal government is no longer a rational question to be discussing in the current world climate. While it is obvious that there is a need for federal and provincial standards, it should be clear that the bulk of the implementation and details should be worked out at the local level.
The presentation went on to talk about how local governments are also seen as much more open.
Municipal governments might be the most accessible and responsive of all levels of government in Canada, but they get little respect. The whole idea of decisions made in open session, after full debate and full disclosure of all staff reports - and these practices are hallmarks of municipal decision-making across the country - are scoffed at by the big boys at the provincial or federal levels. There, decisions are made in the privacy of a secret Cabinet meeting for which one can't even get an agenda. Cabinet ministers even swear oaths that they won't reveal the public's business to the public. Reports that go to Cabinet are automatically labelled secret.
I wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of this presentation, and to also add myself as a
voice in support of increased power at the local level. This is not a knee-jerk reaction to the
current problems in the Ontario provincial government, but a general feeling I have had in
relation to citizenship and public participation. I hope you will take the time to read the
presentation and consider these ideas in the future. If there is work underway to these ends,
please let me know as I would then be able to work with you.
Note: This and other letters can be found at: http://www.flora.org/russell/letters/.