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Putting back the public in public policy September 3, 2008

Posted by Raul in public policy issues, Vancouver.
Tags: , , , , ,

Public participation is touted as “the foremost element of modern democracies“. Since any policy decisions made by politicians and bureaucrats alike will have an impact on society (the public), it would make sense to include those individuals whose lives are affected in the actual decision-making process.


Credit: KeepItSurreal

Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) take it upon themselves to participate in various ways in the environmental policy-making process. Human rights organizations often seek to galvanize public opinion and protect disadvantaged people. This the basis for a healthy, participatory society.

Unfortunately, it would seem as though not everyone is interested in engaging in public participation processes. Earlier last week I voiced my discomfort when I found out that there was much more interest from people who are on Twitter in the American electoral process than in Canadian or Vancouver electoral issues.

I was relieved to find a number of comments on my post agreeing that we need to focus on local issues (although we can’t forget international affairs). More recently, people have started to tweet more and blog more about the upcoming Vancouver mayoral election and the potential Federal election that could take place as early as mid-October 2008. These are, in my view, good news.

That’s why I would like to encourage my readers to take it upon themselves to put back the public in public policy. There are HUNDREDS if not thousands of issues that we need to focus on, and I am going to highlight just a few (all of them, which I’ve written about before).

* The need to support small local businesses.
* The lack of a strong, nation-wide water policy in Canada and a deficient regional strategy in Metro Vancouver, particularly in the management of wastewater.
* The lack of transparency in the development of Bill C-61.
– The need to re-assess the whole Eco-Density concept and understand the heterogeneities within the Vancouver urban region.
– The whole Provincial Transit Plan of British Columbia and how other countries can teach us lessons on transportation policy.
– The lack of a homeless strategy that really addresses the needs of the needier (which are affected by, amongst other things, snow and other climatic elements).

I could go on, and on, and if you have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll easily find the issues that galvanize MY opinion : water, environment, sustainability, homelessness, urbanization, human rights, electronic rights. Oh, and POVERTY. Let’s not forget about poverty. Now, let’s go back to the issues that galvanize YOU! Never has the phrase “think global act local” been more relevant than now.

I also want to take a minute to thank people who have voted for me on the Vancouver Election Blog contest. Rebecca Bollwitt (Miss604) has been the leader for a few weeks now, and that’s awesome and deserved since she’s been covering all things Vancouver (which have included political issues too!) for over four years. David Eby is also in the ballot, and he has always been a strong advocate for homeless people. There are new blogs, like VanCity Buzz who are highlighting small, local businesses (which is a series I enjoy), and there are more experienced bloggers too, of course… there’s Gordon Price and Paul Hillsdon and Frances Bula and Stephen Rees.

I have also seen the evolution of the contest, and I have to say that, in my view, every one of the nominated blogs are deserving, as each one provides a unique perspective on Vancouver. People may or may not agree on what bloggers write, on their style or their ideas, but as it has been attributed to Voltaire (although some disagree on this too!), “I may disagree with what you are saying but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” (I found that some people attribute these words to Evelyn Beatrice Hall).



1. crunchy carpets - September 3, 2008

Oh good post…..It is a bit worrisome how the local stuff slips under the radar because we are so ‘entertained’ by the US stuff.

I try to keep an eye on the Council issues..as I really dislike Sullivan and the lot of them.

The Ecodensity thing annoys me to no end. And the focus on the west side and downtown always annoys me too

2. Thomasso - September 3, 2008

Raul, why not enter the political arena yourself? Start at the municipality level first, become an independent MLA, or get your nomination for the Green Party, both as a MPP or MP?

You would make a great candidate and leader in the Green movement.

Vote Rual! 🙂

3. Urban Dweller - September 3, 2008

Great post Raul. Thanks for the mention, we are not worthy. It is a shame that municipal politics fly under the radar for most Vancouverites.

@ Crunchy Carpets, the lack of attention on the east and south side of the city is appalling. For one example the areas around existing skytrain stations (expo line) have little to no density around them, Joyce Street and Terminal excluded of course. There are many issues facing this city, poverty, densification, taxes, environment, infrastructure…

I second Thomasso Raul for Mayor!!

4. Late Bloomer - September 3, 2008

Good post Raul – I stumbled upon your blog from a comment you left on one of Erika’s posts.

From my perspective, it takes a lot of work to be an informed voter and active citizen – all worth it, of course. To that end, I appreciate you highlighting some of the key issues at stake.

But, beyond knowing the issues, it’s good to know where each candidate stands on a particular issue and, in the case of those running for re-election, what their voting record is on matters of importance to you.

That’s where the work comes in. In Vancouver, with 10 council spots up for grabs (which translates to 25 or so names on the ballot) and a few more folks trying to get your vote for mayor (plus all those folks running for school board and parks board), checking them all out takes time. While the majority of councillors and trustees will be seeking re-election, there are a lot of newcomers to get to know.

Thanks again, Raul. I look forward to your future posts, and congratulations on your ranking in the Vancouver Election Blog contest!

5. CityView: Vote on How to Make Vancouver a Civil City | Currents - September 7, 2008

[…] Vancouver Election 2008 is right around the corner — fun times for political junkies like myself. As Raul would say, it’s time to put the public back in public policy. […]

6. Homelessness Action Week 2008 - October 12th to 19th, 2008 « Random Thoughts of a Student of the Environment - September 8, 2008

[…] the same week, I tried to remind my readers that in order for us to really participate, and put the public back into public policy, we need to focus on local issues while maintaining a global perspective. One of those hyperlocal […]

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