Monday, November 20, 2006

The burbs versus the core

This is a rather delayed post, but I've been on the road for the past little while, and haven't had much time to write on here.

Last week, the voters of suburban Ottawa, the city where I spent many of my formative years as a grad student, engaged in an act of collective stupidity and opted for unilingual, political experience-free, right-wing nutbar Larry O'Brien over former city councillor and gay rights advocate Alex Munter for their mayor. I rather suspect, as have many other commentators, that voters were seduced by O'Brien's promise of no tax increases for the next four years. From everything I've heard, the city is in for an unpleasant time with him in office. He'll make Mel Lastman (who was my mayor for the entire 21 years that I lived in Toronto - cradle to graduation) look like a pleasant dream.

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At 8:09 pm, Anonymous Kuri said...

I think it's the tax promise as well. I was in Ottawa during the election before this one, and among people questioning the candidates, it seemed like Ottawans believed they had a divine right - by virtue of living in the national capital - to not pay property taxes for their services. If anything needed doing, upgrading, improving? Oh, the National Capital Commission should pay. (i.e. taxpayers in other cities should pay but not Ottawans!)

At 7:28 pm, Anonymous Douglas said...

Kuri, you've got it wrong about the National Capital Commission. The NCC, originally created to beautify the lumber town of the 1920s, has over time expanded its mandate until it has become the largest landlord in town, with powers to expropriate whatever it wants, without accountability. Its presence is pervasive and represents a huge federal intrusion into the municipal sphere. At this point its only reason to exist is to exist, and the only explanation for its survival after twenty years of Mulroneyite and Martinite cost-cutting must be that its land holdings are so great that it has become self-financing. It's like a federally-created duchy superimposed on the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau. So until we can get it broken up and its assets distributed to the appropriate provinces and cities it's not out of line for Ottawans to expect it to pull its weight in the area of roads and bridges. The money for that comes not from Alberta but from Ottawans' grandparents' expropriated farmland.

At 9:59 am, Anonymous Halden said...

At the beginning of the campaign I scoffed that O'brien was like our version of Ross Perrot but lo and behold he went and won this thing. If you look at the vote break down O'brien's suppport is all in Rural areas and the Burbs(except for Kanata which voted Munter) which tells me it was indeed the tax breaks as Rural and burb citizens that see no benefit in paying taxes for city services they feel they do not receive.

At 11:36 am, Anonymous Kuri said...

Douglas, sorry, but that's laughable. Unlike the first nations, those Ottawan's grandparents were white and were paid for that land. I'm sympathetic to doing away with the NCC (the projects I noticed it doing when I lived in Ottawa consisted of "beautifying" rich neighbourhoods with little touristic or business value while neighbourhoods in need, Hintonburg and Mechanicsville for two examples I passed through everyday on the way to work, deteriorated), but I was frankly shocked at the lack of responsibility displayed by citizens during that election. If you want maintenace and services, you need to pay for them, and to pay for them you need taxes. Taxes are just part of being an adult.


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