As reported in the Oct. 9 Northern Life, a member of the Greater Sudbury Taxpayers’ Association said that what they were doing is both ethical and democratic.
On the question of running candidates in the 2014 municipal election, he is quoted as saying , “...we are very interested in putting forth a slate of candidates ... if there are like-minded individuals who support the goals of our organization why should we not support that person? ... That’s called democracy.”
This principle, they must agree, should apply to any organization in town. Suppose, for the sake of argument, a branch of a mafia-type organization moved into Greater Sudbury and proceeded to apply the same principle.
Leaving aside ethics, let’s look at what is legitimate in a representative democratic system. Parties come forward to promote the interests of the different sectors of the population, and put up candidates to represent them in the legislature when elections are held.
Obviously, this opens the door to all sorts of mischief. There are strict rules about fundraising and election expenses, gifts to candidates, and the use of voter lists to make misleading telephone calls.
The parties themselves are subject to restrictions, such as having a sufficient following to avoid having an unwieldy multiplicity of parties consisting of two or three members.
It is worth repeating that the party puts up the candidate. How they choose their candidate is their business, but the candidate, if elected, is answerable first to the party, and only then to everyone within the jurisdiction of the government concerned.
All this is legitimate, and, if everybody plays by the rules, it is generally considered ethical.
How did it all start? Democracy, or government by the people, began in the city. The concept could not be applied in large states with huge, widely scattered, populations. The new concept of representative democracy evolved out of this dilemma.
Now, the individual citizen could only take part in government by joining a group which would send a delegate to the seat of government to represent the group as a whole.
Obviously, the link between individual citizen and government became convoluted and that much weaker.
There is no need for this party system in municipal government. It is not so remote that we have to form micro-parties to convey our voice to city council.
If ever party representation were to be brought into municipal government, we would have to put in place all the necessary safeguards to make it legitimate.