Strong local democracy is worth fighting for

    [Shawn Micallef, Toronto Star Columnist]

    You can, in fact, fight city hall.

    That you can’t is one of the great cynical lies of democracy, although Premier Doug Ford’s move to cut Toronto council in half threatens to make that lie a reality.

    Ford’s attack on local democracy counts on people paying less attention to what goes on at City Hall than they do at the provincial and federal levels of government, and counts on the easy cynicism that lack of attention allows for.

    People who support the cut might dismiss City Hall as just a place where potholes get fixed and parking disputes are settled. They’ll also point to the ample evidence of the ridiculousness that sometimes comes out of there. Some city councillors, and some mayors, say and do preposterous things. Comic things. Absurd things.

    It’s true there is no political theatre quite like a city council meeting but it’s also true that this is the level of government closest to our everyday lives. From the moment you turn on a tap or flush the toilet in the morning, it’s your municipal government that oversees much of what you need to work, play and prosper throughout the day. The decisions, compromises and arguments are often at the neighbourhood level and are personal. The debates can be vigorous, raw and messy: the “sausage” is made in plain view.

    Continue reading

    Originally printed in Toronto Star Friday, August 3.

    Shawn Micallef is a Toronto-based writer and a freelance contributor for the Star. 


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