One of the most important political rights in a democracy is the right to vote in free and fair elections to ensure that there is rule by the people. But electing a Councillor to represent the community is only the first part.
Our democracy would be very shallow if it begins and ends there. Too often an elected Councillor makes decisions on behalf of the community according to what their party caucus decides. We need to ensure that our Councillors represent the decisions that the community makes.
Right now, we are left almost entirely out of decision making. Any democratic engagement is limited to participation in ad hoc workshops and meetings, invitations to public information sessions every now and then and a few opportunities to object or comment in writing. None of this is taken seriously or has much of an impact.
These engagements are not seen as a fundamental part of our democracy – they are outsourced to the administration and the Councillor has a small role to play, if at all. You may meet with a Councillor if there is a crisis to resolve; or invite the Councillor to be present at a community meeting, but there are no regular meetings scheduled between communities and councillors to make meaningful decisions that count.
We need councillors who are willing to attend assemblies and take mandates on all important decisions that are made. A mandate is permission to make a decision in the way that the Community feels is right. In this way, the power lies with the community and the Councillor is a delegate chosen to implement it on behalf of the community.