Coun­cil weak­en­ing lo­cal pol­i­tics

RE: Hamilton ward bound­aries

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

An ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial el­e­ment for f air elec­toral prac­tices is hav­ing a neu­tral and non­politi­cized process for de­lim­it­ing elec­toral bound­aries. Among ex­perts, this is re­garded as one of the most im­por­tant strengths of Cana­dian elec­tions, and is the main rea­son why Canada ranks among the high­est in the world in terms of elec­toral in­tegrity, for elec­tions held at the na­tional level. At the same time, the prob­lem of ger­ry­man­dered district bound­aries is re­garded by ex­perts as the worst as­pect of U.S. vot­ing pro­ce­dures. It is well known that in the U.S., this prac­tice en­sures that rep­re­sen­ta­tives are re­turned time and again based on mo­bi­liz­ing the party faith­ful with­out hav­ing to ap­peal more broadly to con­stituents. In short, it is what dis­tin­guishes the over­all fair­ness of Cana­dian elec­tions from the se­ri­ous elec­toral le­git­i­macy prob­lems plagu­ing the United States.

It is ab­so­lutely out­ra­geous to see 11 of 14 coun­cil­lors vote for their own self-serv­ing ward bound­ary plan over that pre­sented by neu­tral ex­perts. This is noth­ing but the basest kind of strat­egy for pro­tect­ing their own po­lit­i­cal ca­reers. Th­ese coun­cil­lors’ ac­tions serve to weaken the al­ready frag­ile le­git­i­macy of mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics. They are erod­ing the trust of Hamil­to­ni­ans, and do­ing real dam­age to the load-bear­ing walls of lo­cal democ­racy. Shame. Karen Bird, Pro­fes­sor, De­part­ment of Po­lit­i­cal Science, McMaster Univer­sity

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