Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quid Pro Quo

I was surprised to read in today's SP (Nov. 2/11) the comments of both Saskatoon and Regina's Mayors regarding the provincial election, although Fiacco was a little more subtle than Atchison.

The PCS royalty issue is the heart of Lingfelter's campaign. Without the increase in royalties his promises are for not. Nixing the idea of a review is akin campaigning against the NDP platform.

The past rule of thumb was that civic politicians stayed mum on provincial issues, and party politics did not enter into the fray of civic elections. But over the last several civic elections, party politics quietly infiltrated the civic arena.

I don't have a problem with this as long as it is done in the open. Should we look at having party nominations for wards and voting for civic candidates based on party affiliation? Those in tune with local politics know which candidates support which parties, but the average citizen may not.

I would like this crossover to be complete and consistency brought to the civic election level.

Many councillors, past and present, have already indirectly waved their party flags by running for a party nominations or as a candidate for a party. By example, Hill and Paulsen have run for the Liberals, former councillors Wyant and Alm were Sask Party candidates; Clark, Iwanchuk and Loewen have deep ties to the NDP. And you can still have candidates on the ballot that declare themselves as independents.

Your thoughts on this idea?


  1. No. Personally, what attracts me to civic politics is the distinct lack of party structure. Sure, councillors and candidates will always have bases of support to draw from, but they can, should, and do build cross-partisan support for themselves.

    Having others trying to put all their ideas into a shinny box with a red, blue, green, or orange ribbon will only stifle good ideas and debate.

    Moreover, it will only lead to a more partisan council - where dialogue and working together are the key to running the city effectively.

  2. But Sean, to a certain extent that is already occurring. Shouldn't it at least be brought to the surface for voters to see?

    You're a former riding President for the NDP are you not? Similarly, Wyant had deep ties within the Sask Party (and eventually ran for them).

    As a voter, I would like to know these things before casting my ballot? Will I base my entire decision on party affiliation? Probably not. But it at least gives me a base on which to work from when trying to determine who best to manage the city.

    Anyone who follows Council can see the divides and alliances that naturally form, surprise surprise, they tend to follow the party affiliations.

    We've now seen a few Councillors make the jump back and forth, if Council is being used as a training ground for future candidates by parties or if parties are stacking councils for political motivation then the voters should have the right to know.

  3. Anyone who has worked with or alongside one of Loewen, Clark, Lorje, Iwanchuk knows that they have access to the NDP political organization.

    I have never helped out with a Sask Party leaning candidate, but I can only assume the same holds true for them as well.

    The sad thing is that the true independents are really the only ones who suffer.

  4. I understand that there are political affiliations for all of them. But I am sick of ALL the parties and would prefer not to be beholden to any party on the municipal level. It's not like Saskatchewan has gained much for going basically all Conservative...

  5. So Anon 10:26
    "It's not like Saskatchewan has gained much for going basically all Conservative... "

    Sounds like you'd be ok if we had gone all socialist??? People are fooling themselves if they don't think the number one organized party in this province the NDP and all their union organizers haven't been actively involved in every civic election. And on the opposite side of things there have been candidates that have been supported by business groups. Although more through financial support than worker bees like the NDP. Civic politics is the one area that affects us the closest and that we should be most involved in yet many couldn't give a #@!&$# Maybe if there was party involvement things would be different.

  6. If prov or fed party affiliation is important to a voter at the city level they will ask and do, but it is far from an important issue for 99/100 voters.

    In my experience, it is the qualities and attributes of the candidates that voters are looking for at the city level. Does this person understand my concerns and will they be able to help address them?

  7. That is true Sean, but to be fair if a specific person is politically affiliated that has a big impact on what someone is looking for in a candidate.

    For example, any partnerships between the Municipality-Prov-Feds are going to be impacted by affiliation.

    Further, regardless of political affiliation if any party is running a slate of candidates (whether under the banner or not) then I think the voters have cause to know as such. If several of the Sask Party riding presidents, treasurers, and other people with positions in the party get together and decide to run a candidate in each ward and utilize the Sask Party organization, fund raising, and election day team I want to know what the coalition of candidates is.

    As the Mistress pointed out, at this point it is not hard to point out the political leanings of several of the Councillors. It appears as if we are seeing the creeping in of provincial politics to municipal, if a party is running a candidate the electorate should have a right to know.

    This is not to say whoever runs needs to declare their political leaning one way or another, but if they are in a position of authority for a political party, utilizing that party's organization, structure, volunteers and fundraising then that is a different story.

  8. Sean,

    Anon 10:05 here. I think your assumption plays under circumstances which may or may not hold true.

    If the NDP were to run a slate of independent candidates, but basically these were all riding presidents and other party ranking officials. They manage to elect 6 Councillors in the election. Your assumption plays out that these Councillors would effectively continue to operate as independents or would we see a shift similar to what we see in Parliament or Legislature where Councillors begin voting along party lines. In essence, as a bloc.

    That is the big question here, is how multiple candidates from a political party would govern. At a civic level we see Councillors who vote as to their beliefs or best interests of constituents. In Prov or Fed politics we see elected representatives vote along party lines (ie. If Harper instructs Trost how to vote, that is how he votes. Even if it isn't in best interests of his riding).

    That would be the big concern. Is once a party is able to get a majority on Council how are decisions going to be made? Will the Will all of council be at the mercy of the majority? With the wards not electing the (underground) NDP candidates being frozen out of having their vote heard.

    The removal of parties at the municipal level has been great because no candidate is under the obligation to vote party lines. This is slowly starting to fade away.

    If several high ranking officials from a party are all running, and using the party resources to boot, I'm thinking more than a couple skeptics would wonder. I'm surprised you have glossed over such a major point in an idealistic hope that candidates would remain fiercely independent despite their political livliehood. Me thinks you may be planning on running again ;)

    I think not being forward about one's political affiliation (and by this I mean anything more than a simple membership) is vitally important to be disclosed when running for office. It's the old sheep in wolf's clothing.

  9. Anon 215 - "the will of council" is always at the "mercy of the majority".

    You also seem to be under the false impression that current or former riding presidents are "high ranking" officials.

    The basic premise of Anon 215 and 201pm is that there is some concerted effort by prov parties to run slates in the City - to the best of my knowledge its false from all sides (despite the conspiracy theories of blowhard radio pundits).

    That doesn't mean people with political experience aren't helping a given candidate. Anyone who takes a serious run for office is going to tap into the people they know best for help and support - that doesn't automatically make them a candidate for party X or organization Y. Moreover, you will find volunteers of all political stripes on any serious candidates team during the middle of an election campaign.

    Again, if a candidates prov/fed leanings are vitally important to a voter, they will ask - 499 times out of 500, they don't ask.

  10. Sean you are avoiding an answer by saying you simply don't seem to think that is what is happening. Lose the riding president, let's just generally call a slate of candidates 'party stakeholders'.

    I think the question still lingers, whether someone should declare their political connections, especially in the face of increasingly more party influenced municipal politics.

    I have no problem if a candidate is a member of a political party, nor would I consider it a deciding factor in casting my vote. On the other hand, that is based on the assumption that Councillors will be voting independently and on the riding's best interest. With an invasion of party politics into Council that may not be a safe assumption.

    I think most citizens would feel cheated if the month after an election 6 candidates basically begin conducting business like they have the majority on Council. If political parties are supporting and advancing candidates (and they have, and will continue) then I think it should be done in the open and not as some secret. Similarly, if a corporate entity secretly sponsored a slate of candidates with an eye towards getting 6 out of 10 elected so that they change some bylaws or taxation to suit their business needs(again not saying it will happen), I would want to know that.

    I want a Councillor who represents me, not one who is a member of a bloc that controls council. If NDP/SP is sponsoring and encouraging along candidates they should eb forthcoming.

  11. "Again, if a candidates prov/fed leanings are vitally important to a voter, they will ask - 499 times out of 500, they don't ask."

    If whether a candidate is a registered sex offender or has been convicted of violent crimes may be important to a voter, however, I don't expect that question to be asked to candidates on the doorstep.

    It's more about disclosure then expecting a resident to run through a list of 50 questions that are irrelevant to the campaign itself with every candidate that visits. Not only that but it is insulting to a candidate.

    Also please refrain from taking shots at Gormley, you are lowering yourself to the level of some of the rude commentors on this blog. Your insight is appreciated.

  12. I am sure it is just a coincidence that certain members of council presntly vote in blocs, going both ways. Wake up folks we have had a partison council since the eighties when provincial politicians were used up and tossed they ran for council; John Brockelbank, Paul Mostoway, Bev Dyke, Pat Lorje, Glenn Penner while others thought to use it as a stepping stone to go the other way Sid Buchwald, Lewis Brand(successful), Glenn Penner(went to legislature and back) Terry Alm, Tiffiny Paulson, Darren Hill. I appoligize if I missed some but you get the drift I am sure. Are they self serving political opportunists or just extremely dedicated public servants, hmmm that's the question?

  13. I don't think we'd be better off going Socialist in Sask. But it never did us much good not to either... Just an observation, not a statement of political leaning.

  14. Anon 925am, again, 6 candidates are a majority and majority rules.

    Anon 929am, its up to voters to make an educated vote. If they don't ask the questions that are important to them it isn't the responsibility of the candidates to answer everything under the sun in advance.

    Again, 499/500 political leanings are not the issue raised at the doorstep, if it's important to you then ask.

  15. Sean S
    You are either the best educated simpleton in the word or a bafoon, your pick!

  16. Political leanings are not important to me when choosing a candidate.

    It just seems like the system is primed where the day after a municipal election we could see 6 candidates come forward and announce that that they are members of a political party and that as such they will be controlling Council under the direction of their political party. Obviously not a great political survival move, but....

    My point, which you seem to continue to gloss over, is that at the municipal level you are right people vote for the candidate not the party. If there is an undercurrent among candidates that they will govern like a political party that should not be up to the voter to have to inquire about, that is something they should be forthright about.

    You use political leanings to distinguish from my political affiliation question. I have no issue with political leanings, or whether they are a member of a party. But if they are affiliated in a power position or running under the direction of a party that is different.

    It's about not being upfront more than anything. Whether you want to believe it or not, the parties are moving into municipal politics more and more.

    It would be a travesty to wake up day after an election and find out a bulk of the candidates elected as independents are actually members of a political party and forming a majority voting bloc on Council, and that it had been planned and kept secret throughout the campaign.

  17. "Sean S
    You are either the best educated simpleton in the word or a bafoon, your pick! "

    Civic Mistress. The place to go for substantive discourse on all issues political.

  18. I agree completely Anon 1116am, if a group of people are going to run as a slate they should declare it. Though, why would a group go to all the trouble of forming a slate not to declare it? kind of defeats the purpose.

    I also agree if someone is running so they can take orders and direction from a party or organization once elected, they should declare it. To the best of my knowledge that has never happened here in Saskatoon. Moreover, why would someone take the time to run and win only to cede their vote to someone else's interest?

    All of this is much ado about nothing. Saskatoon Councillors have always had a very independent flavour to them, despite the affliations of any given Councillor.

    Even the much hyped "gang of four/five" has rarely voted altogether in the past two years (though even if they did it wouldn't matter as they are not the majority).

  19. Sean,

    My point wasn't to point out the obvious flaw of strategy, similarly anyone who did pull such a stunt would surely be facing a one and done career on council.

    It just meant to raise the specter as a possibility. Especially with the increased involvement of provincial parties recently at the municipal level.

    As for you why would someone run just to cede their vote? Politicians do it every day at the Federal and Provincial level. It is the nature of the beast with parties.

  20. Anon 157 - on your last paragraph - touche! - good point.

    A final thought - What attracts me to civic politics is it's independent nature. Councillors live and die by their decisions and public stances and also by how well they represent their constituents on everyday matters. There is neither the safety-net or lead-weight of party politics.

    It's why areas like Ward 3 can swing easily between a very conservative Councillor (Neault) and a Councillor further to the left (Iwanchuk) or Civic Mistress to Clark in Ward 6 in 2006 or Swystun to Birkmaier in 2003 and Birkmaier to Hill in Ward 1 in 2003 and 2006.

  21. The fact of political life in Saskatchewan is that the socialists are looking to retrench in municipal politics while the small 'c' conservative wave engulfs the Federal and Provincial levels. If anyone thinks that party politics didn't have anything to do with Charlie Clark beating the Mistress in the last civic election, you are either naive or deliberately obtuse.

  22. anon 4:22 - Clark beating the Mistress in 2006 had to do with the fact that the people were not happy with their representative and decided to elect somone else

  23. Anon 5:49,

    I can't say without a doubt, as I worked with neither campaign. But from people I talked too, the Mistress was one of a couple Councillors targeted by the NDP.

    It is easy to say Rob Norris may lose to Peter Prebble on Monday because "the voters decided to elect someone else", but the reality is the labour movement has been working that riding hard trying to do what they can to boot Norris (a response to the Essential Services Legislation).

    There are ridings all the time that are targeted. The Mistress was in the bullseye of the NDP. Just another example of the vendetta and don't cross us threats of Saskatchewan's former "natural governing party"

  24. Did everyone notice our newest councillor's grinning dial as she stands right by Link listening to commrade Chow. Don't insult my meager intelect by saying there is not a voting bloc developing on council

  25. “the Mistress was one of a couple Councillors targeted by the NDP”

    No one was targeted by anyone. What you are listening to are excuses for a loss in an election. What transpired was the simple replacement of what the electorate determined to be a less qualified or desirable representative.

    Clark was interested in municipal politics and chose an area to run in that he thought he could win based on what I am sure was research. There is also the possibility that Clark simply worked harder on his campaign.

    Five years later and we are still listening to sour grapes over a loss determined by the voters.


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