Running Municipally

1991 Ottawa-Carleton Regional Municipality elections

Why I ran

At the time I attended a meeting of the Ontario Greens. At that meeting Murray Bookchin spoke and talked about the importance of libertarian municipal ism. It made sense to me so I decided to put boots on the ground and see what would happen.

A dozen things I learned

1: It turns out Green Politics, Participation, Decentralization, or Municipal Libertarian ism is a bit to esoteric for most people who just want to get through a week of work, get thru dinner, get the kids in the tub and to bed and then have an hour or two in front of the TV before they have to do it all over again.

2: The real difference is not between Conservative, Liberals or NDP but between the candidates and the electorate. The candidates were mostly astute pragmatists seeking personal benefit and power, the electorate mostly struggling and indifferent to the rules of the game. The pragmatism of the parties is seen in cooperation with tax lawyers and accountants who structure the rules in a way to benefit a few. Funny how I have never seen a tax lawyer protesting, but yahoos with horns on their heads, yeah they protest.

Nothing as useless as a protest; the more people protesting, the more useless. But running for office is an actual threat to the gravy train and when you do start running instead of protesting the power elites will change the rules to make it harder to vote. You will never know you are on a lead until you pull on the lead. Once you run and get close to making real changes you will be killed. That is how you know you are being effective.

3: I am extremely happy that I lost. In the case of my riding the winner was a hard working civic volunteer who deserved to win. What I learned in the process of running is that I am not that interested in public life.

4: The media plays an interesting role. We were told by the Ottawa Citizen editorial board we were going to be ignored unless we did something interesting. We were encourage to protest in the nude, or make statements only about the environment. When we issued a 32 point statement on municipal politics, 28 points were ignored and only the points that supported the stereotype they wanted to perpetuate about the greens were used. No attempt to be truthful. No attempt at integrity.

5: For a segment on the CBC we all dressed up in suits and presented our self professionally. One candidate with long hair played a guitar in a local bar and that was the clip they chose to air. I believe the terms is:

Gaslighting a colloquialism, loosely defined as making someone question their own reality. The term may also be used to describe presenting a false narrative which leads to doubt about the truth and becoming disoriented or distressed

Control of the media is central to any change anyone wants to institute anywhere. As long as it is controlled by Corporate Entities we will only be fed news that meets the needs of corporations.

6: My volunteers and I knocked on 30,000+ doors. One of my strongest memories was a refugee who would not let go of my hand. He was a refugee from Central America and he thanked me for running. He stated that he was in Canada because members of his family were killed for doing what I was doing. He told me what I was doing was vital and important. That moment is etched in my mind.

7: Running for office was challenging when you are naive and idealistic; as my father said “The Lord Jesus Christ could not have won on that platform”.

8: For multiple years I had been active in Municipal issues, speaking before councils, advocating for restrictions on pesticide use, spoke to various committees, in short an activist. I had lobbied for an environmental review committee and had always been met with a stern, NO!. Within 24 hours of me announcing my candidacy the Nepean Mayor announced the formation of an environmental advisory committee. Yah…I won!

9: You should run for office. Not participating is the biggest mistake you can make in your life. You will only regret the things you never do.

10: Since running all the municipalities have been amalgamated into one city, taxes have not gone down, no improvement in services, just council is more remote from the electorate. We headed in the wrong direction in regards to living in a democracy.

11: Knocking on doors teaches you allot about people. The nicest people were in a trailer park in Bells Corners. The smaller the house the warmer the greetings. The most aggressive angry people; the ones who growled and sneered; who were rude at the door were in the nicest neighborhoods. The difference was striking.

12: No matter who wins the election, the government stays in power. The reason is that the government is the myriad of bureaucratic institutions overseen by the elected officials. Its worse than you could possibly imagine.