Friday Fill(ibuster): Municipal monsters and government gremlins

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Political News Friday, October 31, 2014 View Count = 1810

Friday Fill(ibuster): Municipal monsters and government gremlins

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The adorable editorial cartoon above comes to us from Michael de Adder at the Halifax Chronicle Herald and so maybe we ought to start out east. Elections Nova Scotia, working with the province's education department, is registering 16 and 17 year-olds while in school so they’ll be on the list when they are old enough to vote.

With municipal elections across Ontario and Manitoba, and more to come in BC and PEI next month, new initiatives for engagement in city politics are all the rage. In Toronto, an immigrant neighborhood gets a push to the polls (includes sidewalk chalk!). And in BC, Promote the Vote asks voters to pledge to talk about voting with non-voters.

Monday was a tale of two voter-turnouts in Canada’s metropolis. Torontonians turned out in record number, but many GTA results were only half that figure. But regardless of who turned out, who won or who lost, putting your name forward for office offer both the best and worst. Here are some honest reflections from Morgan Baskin, a Toronto Mayoral candidate who happens to be 19 years old.

And although it’s great that more than half of Canada’s population is getting democratic renewal with municipal elections this fall, we should perhaps be asking what new powers municipalities need to really flourish. Andrew Coyne has insight on what has been holding our local governments back and what can be done about it: “Far better [than the current fiscal arrangement] would be to allow cities to raise their own income or sales taxes — as a replacement for property tax, not in addition — for services, like fire and police, that can only be financed through taxes, while financing other services, wherever possible, with user fees. First among these, I need hardly add, is to price roads, which will do far more for congestion than any of the mayors’ grandiose subsidized transit plans.”

Can GOTV be taken a step too far? “Vote shaming” relies on past voting records to make that trip to the ballot box one motivated by guilt. And speaking of the US, the term “bumpkinfication” has entered political parlance. Will it be a new addition to the Oxford English Dictionary next year? Moreover, will it be a trend to hit Canadian politics in 2015?

Looking to update your resume? US researchers reveal how partisan cues on resumes generate considerable bias and prejudice towards candidates. That “people are less judgmental about different lifestyles, but they are more judgmental about policy labels,” is a problem says Brooks.

Do you prefer a good listen to a read? Check out CBC’s 180 with Kim Campbell on gender in Parliament, Sameer Vasta (MaRS) and Richard Pietro with their Open Government podcast or Everyday Political Citizen Michael Spratt’s Docket podcast with NDP MP Craig Scott on how laws get made in Canada.

Speaking of Everyday Political Citizens, today is the last day to nominate someone for the 2014 edition of the contest! It is easy, just takes a second and can give someone the recognition that they deserve. Also, just look at all the amazing nominees so far!!! Our acting director Jane Hilderman took to the pages of Huffington Post this week to make the pitch for why you should nominate!

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We held off on the levity last week because of circumstances but we had to bring this one back: Does Trudeau resemble a Disney cartoon? Does Bob Rae look like a cloud? HuffPo gives us a fun romp into the realm of Canadian political lookalikes just in time for Halloween!

On the topic of last week, Jane Hilderman has another insightful piece on our blog this week, this time spreading the word about what we should all remember about Parliament in the wake of the armed attack on our national legislature. Jane also found time this week to help out hugely with this Friday Fill(ibuster)--thanks, Jane!

And if you see any munchkins on the trick or treat route dressed up as one of last week’s heroes, the Sgt-at-Arms, let us know! On his show this week, Stephen Colbert depicted Kevin Vickers as less of a super hero and more of a Bruce Willis.

Plus, Jane’s not the only member of Samara staff with words to share this week. Our data wizards Laura Anthony and Alexandra DiGioseffo pipe up with surprising analysis and helpful prescriptions about riding association websites: “If your party’s local association is not yet online (which is the case for 42% of them!), you can always take a more conventional, yet forgotten, route and contact the national party directly by phone or mail.  Still not satisfied?  Why not become part of the your riding association’s executive and make sure your website is up and running. As always, we’ll be watching, waiting, and googling.”

Opportunities:

If you have a great city-building initiative that needs to get off the ground in Toronto, check out the launch of our Agents of Change: City Builders program from the Centre for Social Innovation.

With predictions already being tabled for the 2015 election a year out, Elections Canada is now accepting applications on an ongoing basis to work during the federal election.

Some might say that this democracy news roundup is normally just a mishmash of content. This week we hope it's felt like more of a Frankenstein monster of political insight. Happy Halloween to all and thanks for reading!



(image credits: Chronicle Herald, Huffington Post)



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