Knaves and Fools

Ron Bolin: August 19, 2011

On the night of November 19, exactly three months from today, we will have a “new” Mayor and Council, whether new by first time entry or “new” by re-election.  If the traditional pattern holds, we will not know much about their motives as they will not have debated the issues with us or with each other; they will be backed almost entirely by either the union movement or by developer/ contractor/ real estate interests; and they will not have a transparent agenda (notice that I did not say that they would not have an agenda) by which to measure their previous actions whether they have a political track record or no.

Think back to the 2008 election.  Do you remember what our current Council members promised?  Did any of these promises materialize in the past three years?  Or were they simply overwhelmed by events, leaves in the wind so to speak?  If they run again, ask them to haul out their old election materials and measure their own progress.  Determine whether they have met their -and your- expectations.  Ask them what has been the hardest thing about being on Council.  Ask them if they feel they lost income to be your representative (Council remuneration for most is commensurate with the median income in Nanaimo, i.e. the point at which half the population earns more and half less).

Until today, I was unaware of the under the radar preparations being made for the election.  Today I learned that the union faction is holding interviews to determine which candidates they will endorse.  From what I have heard a lot of old names are on the list.  If the unions are moving, the developer/ contractor/ real estate interests will not be left behind.  The question for citizens to answer is whether they are satisfied to have their future settled by an underground war taking place in the back rooms of our City, or whether it is time to start an up-front  civic political party to bring our election practices out into the light.  I will be interested in your opinion on this and other election related matters.  I will be particularly interested in your thoughts on whether it is too late to begin a push for a party.  Would you be interested in participating in the development of a municipal party?

What have you done to deserve and protect your rights today?  What will you do in the next three months before the November 19th election?  On reading Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man” the other day I was struck by the cogency and currency of the following statement:

“When I contemplate the natural dignity of man, when I feel (for nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honour and happiness of its character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.”

Are we satisfied to be treated as knaves and fools?