Monday, November 02, 2020

On stark choices

The advance polls are now open in Regina's municipal election, while mail-in ballots have been available for some time. So I'll take the opportunity to discuss voters' options - beginning with the City Council races which make for perhaps the most interesting set of possibilities we've seen in decades.

I've already pointed out Paul Dechene's view of the possible downsides. And Sara Birlios' report includes pessimism as to the prospect of achieving much through electoral means, especially at the municipal level.

But to the extent it's possible to make positive change through municipal government, this year's set of options provides a stronger prospect of that than any in recent memory.

To start with, there's at least some room to build on existing votes and relationships on Council, including a strong majority willing to voting for a renewable energy plan, and multiple votes from what I'd hope are safe Council seats to fund an anti-homelessness program.

From there, it's not hard to see how the election could plausibly result in a durable majority of progressive Council members, plus at least a couple of incumbents (one of whom has already been acclaimed) willing to work on issues as they arise.

Of course, the downside is that there's an equally foreseeable path to a Council littered with rank bigotry, planned giveaways to developers, reliance on overpolicing, and a bevy of anti-revenue rhetoric. We could realistically see John Findura remain the most backward councillor in the city on renewable energy based on his wanting to put off voting on a sustainability framework; we could also realistically end up saddled with a majority of councillors far worse than him on that and many other issues.

We've certainly approached municipal elections from a worse starting point than having a somewhat responsive Council, and an opportunity to elect better. And the uninspiring choices for mayor (which I'll address next) may seem a lot more palatable if we can do the work to elect councillors who will put people first.

So for those looking to make a difference (particularly after the disappointment of the provincial election), now is the time to get people out to support Cheryl Stadnichuk, Andrew Stevens, Dan LeBlanc, Shobna Radons, Shanon Zachidniak, Jason Mancinelli (as a cooperative councillor in a ward with no RDLC endorsement), and Landon Mohl.

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