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Summer Conference 2002

Christine May

Barbara Hall

Yves Ducharme

Session Two – Local Governance in a Globalized World
YVES DUCHARME, Mayor, City of Gatineau and Second Vice-President, Federation of Canadian Municipalities (bio)
COUNCILLOR CHRISTINE MAY, Leader, Administration of Fife Council and Member, Commission for Constitutional Affairs and European Governance of the EU Committee of the Regions (bio)
BARBARA HALL, Former Mayor of Toronto; Former Chair, National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention (bio)
F. LESLIE SEIDLE, Research Associate, Family Network, Canadian Policy Research Networks (bio)

Left to right: Leslie Seidle, Yves Ducharme, Christine May, Barbara Hall



F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

. . . and I am very much looking forward to their presentations. For those of you who have your pocket or other agenda with you, we’ll go in the order that people are presented there – Yves Ducharme, Councillor May, and Barbara Hall. Once they’ve given their presentations, which are meant to be no longer than 20 minutes, and I’m pretty stern on these things – anybody who knows me knows I am – then you’ll have a break. Then we’ll have a question-and-answer session rather like last evening, and I’m sure that’ll be a good opportunity to put lots more issues on the table and explore the experience of our speakers.

Yves Ducharme is currently the mayor of the City of Gatineau, and for those of you who haven’t followed Quebec politics as closely as perhaps others have, Gatineau is the name of the city that includes the former city of Hull, the former city of Gatineau, and I think three smaller cities, maybe M. Ducharme will explain that to us. Anyway, it’s quite a large city geographically, and there was a bit of debate about what the city should be called, and there were a number of suggestions including Hull and Gatineau, and Trois Portages, and two or three others I’ve now forgotten, and anyway, Gatineau won out, and so M. Ducharme ran for election in the new larger city.

He had been before that mayor of Hull, since 1992, and was municipal councillor for 12 years before becoming mayor. He did as mayor of Hull take a number of initiatives to bring investment and generally improve the quality of living in Hull, including a 911 emergency line, development of the Casino, and now more recently the Hilton Hotel at Lac Leamy. He is among other things the Special Advisor on Urban Habitat for the United Nations Organization. He sits on a number of boards including the National Arts Centre. M. Ducharme.

Yves Ducharme

Thank you, Leslie, for your kind words. I would like to say hello also to our distinguished speaker that joined me this morning.

First, let me start by saying I’m always surprised – I’m not surprised, but every time we have a meeting or we have a conference the first row is almost always empty. So I start looking at the reason why, why even at church, everywhere, the first row is always empty, so we could take the first row and put it in the back and it would be filled. I read somewhere, I don’t remember where, but I remember reading a history that explained. It goes back to the time of the Romans with the arena, the gladiators, and the lions. Everybody was packing up the first row to see the show and see the gladiator getting eating by the lions, until the lions jumped at the three first rows for lunch. So it goes back in history.

Anyway, it is an honour for me to be invited to participate in your discussions. I would like to thank your president, Margaret Lefebvre, with whom I had the pleasure of working at the FCM, and it’s a pleasure meeting you again, Madame, and also to say thank you to the board.

The impressive contribution made by the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs to Canadian political life has long been recognized as most important and significant. The theme chosen for this conference clearly demonstrate that Couchiching is an ever-expanding and adapting good idea. The fact that we are discussing in this conference a theme such as "Cities and Globalization: Communities in a Changing World" demonstrates how far the world has moved in recent years. World governance affects us all, and we know now that we must take an interest in its evolution. Not so long ago, cities would have been told that international affairs are not the affairs of cities and many journalists even today do not understand the need for municipal involvement internationally.

Not so long ago, we would have been considered arrogant if we had been critical or seeking involvement in activities outside our city limits. Of course, some mayors were present internationally. They were the pioneers and visionaries that understood the need for cities to be preoccupied with the global issues. As an example, I could refer to Mayor Horace Boivin of Grandby, Québec, who became an active member of IULA, the International Union of Local Authorities, as early as 1945. Canadian cities have also had from time to time leaders that were able to achieve recognition abroad.

But we are here to share on how to plan the next step by addressing issues related to a much broader spectrum of preoccupations. We need to discuss our involvement in those issues raised by rapid globalization as well as look at how cities in this new context can actively play a significant role in ensuring that the emerging global governance respects the perspectives and the roles of local government. We need to indicate clearly to all other spheres of world governance that improved quality of daily life depends on the capacity for service delivery at the local level and that political stability generally results from participatory and transparent governance at all levels, but most importantly at the local level where our common identities are forged.

Particularly since the end of the Cold War and the opening of the world markets, cities on all continents are strongly solicited to share their know-how and to participate in consultative processes on various issues like questions related to environment, security, urban growth, quality of life, transport and of food security in megacities. Those issues and others are the everyday concerns of mayors like myself and others and the skills to deal with them are those of our elected officials and managers. And those are the very issues that are becoming global.

Cities are also faced with added responsibilities by the strong worldwide trend toward decentralization. In many countries, a tradition of centralized planning has not allowed for the development of effective local government, and therefore this trend has led in recent years to a formidable growth in the call for increased municipal international cooperation activities.

And on that, local governments in Canada are able and ready to contribute within its own sphere of responsibilities. Canadian cities can basically contribute to the two crucial areas of concern, which are political stability and improved standards of living. Those two realities are broadly recognized as the cornerstone of sustainable development and therefore essential to the future if we want to avoid the abject poverty and ignorance that lead to instability and violence. We can do this by sharing our experience to manage in a participatory and transparent manner and by sharing our capacity to deliver high-quality services. Those skills have been developed here since the arrival of our first local governments in the 18th and 19th century. We can rightly be proud of our long history of effective decentralization and efficient local governance.

Our involvement as Canadians in municipal international cooperation activities is based on our realization that many elements in our highly decentralized system of governance can make a significant contribution as the world changes. We can also learn from this process and develop networks and friendships that are building blocks for continued peace.

Dear friends: Since 1999, I have the honour and privilege to serve as a member of the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (this is named UNACLA, and Max Ng’andwe is also serving on this local authorities committee). Based in Naïrobi, Kenya, this committee composed of 15 local government representatives is an advisor to the United Nations network on issues related to world governance.

For the first time, the importance of partnering with cities was recognized by the United Nations. We have met since then twice a year with colleagues from the cities of Bilbao, Tunis, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Venice, Dakar, Allahabad, Moscow, Grand Johannesburg, San Fernando in the Philippines, and just lately, Austin, Texas, and also with the presidents of the following associations: Association of Arab cities; L’Association internationale des villes et autorités locales (WACLAC); The President of the International Union of Local Authorities; Metropolis.

As the world becomes accessible to us all, we all need to recognize and share our approaches to service delivery and capacity development at the level where people live. The welcome but fast-growing sense of world integration must not be allowed to impact negatively on the everyday needs and rights of the citizens of our cities and towns. UNACLA is, for local governments, an entry point to these discussions.

How can the process of decentralization be supported by local government and their associations in cooperation with UN agencies? How can the skills present in local government be shared?

How does local government influence the dialogue on global governance? Can global governance be redefined and made more democratic? Those questions all need consideration in our fast-shrinking world.

The UN network needs to know and understand our local models of decision-making which often are participatory and allow citizen groups direct contributions to the process. This awareness must be made to influence global governance itself. Can we say that the World Bank is democratic? Why do we accept so easily to be led by institutions where representatives of local government have so little influence? The structures of those institutions were adequate for the age prior to global governance and decentralization, but at this time can we not look at ways for more representation and participation for us at that level? UNACLA is a first and important step in that direction.

Local government must be seen to lead in this new world of ours if we want to ensure the democratization of international institutions. Our governments are the closest to the people, we must not let those who are the farthest from the people decide on the future of world governance. We cannot be content to simply manage our cities. This world is interdependent and the world markets are highly competitive.

In Conclusion, the theme of this session is "Local Governance in a Globalized World." When we accept to address such a concept, we must also accept to question our practices. Local governance by definition is exercised in the service of the citizens that are the direct taxpayers, often local government is seen as delivering the services to the taxpayer and should avoid any other preoccupations. Of course, local government is conservative and responsive to the taxpayers and will largely remain that way, but in this new world, local government also must broaden its scope and inform its citizens of the new world realities that will in mid-term directly influence our local success.

Many municipal governments in Canada have accepted this challenge. I am proud of the successes of the City of Calgary internationally, I am proud of the contribution of Hamilton-Wentworth to environmental issues in Namibia, I am also proud of our Gatineau’s fireman training programs in Nicaragua. We are proud of the long-standing and highly productive relationship between Toronto and Sao Paulo in Brazil and we are duly impressed by the work of Québec City in Burkina Faso and that of Montréal internationally, but in China in particular. And this is but a few. I am sure that in the course of this conference you will hear of many more from Brock Carlton, our FCM International Center Director for Municipal Development.

Through FCM and other programs, Canada’s municipal governments are responsive to the global perspective that the new world brings to local governance, and Canada is not alone, the national associations of local authorities in the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, the United States to name a few are also increasingly active in supporting their members to develop international cooperation activities.

We are also quite conscious of the economic benefits that we can derive from this participation as municipal infrastructure will need to be developed in expanding cities around the world. Our public utility firms, our engineering firms in water and waste-water management, our solid-waste management firms, our GIS specialists, are among the first to profit and will continue to profit from such activities, and I’m sure that Lucien Bradé [sp?] from Industry Canada will be able to expand on that. Our political support facilitates access to the relevant actors in other countries in the same way that the federal government uses the prime minister in the Team Canada concept.

Canadian cities have a lot to offer and our municipal skills can be marketed with success in the new economy.

Finally, let me say that the times have changed and that cities intend to play their rightful role in the future of global governance and I am certain that Canadian cities will be significant players in the slow but unavoidable realignment of institutions and of governance practices at global level.

Merci pour votre attention.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Merci beaucoup, M. Ducharme. Our next speaker is Councillor Christine May. Councillor May is originally from Dublin, Ireland. She is now leader of the Fife Council to the north of Edinborough on the east coast of Scotland. She leads a task group on COSLA, Scotland’s Association of Local Authorities, which deals with the future of European regional policy. She also represents Scotland and the United Kingdom on the European Union Committee of the Regions, where her major work is on constitutional issues. Councillor May.

Councillor Christine May

A carpet-covered soapbox.

Ladies and gentlemen, chairman, fellow speakers, distinguished delegates, board members, and anybody I’ve missed in all of that. I really am delighted to be making y second visit to Canada here at Couchiching. Thank you for arranging the weather – it’s wonderful.

Conscious of the time limit imposed by our moderator, there are three main areas I would like to speak about.

Firstly, following some remarks about the general nature of globalization and its impact at local level, I will look at why globalization is not considered to be working for people. Secondly, I’ll give you an overview of Scottish and European Union initiatives in the field of governance, and finally I will touch on how we balance the demands of growing interdependence with the need to ensure local control over decisions which concern our communities.

Now, I think you would realize that globalization means different things to different people. For some, it’s the unfettered movement of capital and dominance of big-business interests in decision-making. For others, it signifies the breaking down of boundaries between peoples, and growing interdependence and cooperation between states. Certainly, the increasing role of the private sector in traditionally public domains, competition between states to attract inward investment, and of course the costs incurred in election campaigns and the resulting reliance of political parties and candidates on business all raise serious questions.

But global issues are faced locally. People want to live safely in their own localities, and they look to local authorities to provide them with that safety and security. Increasingly, in Canada as everywhere else, governments are decentralizing powers to local and regional levels, but not necessarily the resources, and hence it is here that the conditions must be created for economic prosperity.

Cities are the economic powerhouses of their regions and countries, but they don’t exist in a vacuum; increasingly, they’re subject to competition and procurement rules decided in international forums; they’re buffeted economically and socially by relocations of industry; and they’re affected by global conflicts and economic downturns. They are also the main hosts to economic migrants and asylum-seekers.

And in spite of their differences, they share common problems and solutions. Throughout the world, they have to address the challenges of poverty, the digital divide, poor-quality housing, sustainable transport, and so on. The interconnection between cities is recognized by themselves. The development strategy for Greater London, for example, identifies New York and Tokyo as inextricably linked with London by the transactions of markets and communications systems. The GDP of London is larger than that of Sweden or Belgium.

However, it’s not just the cities of the developed world that are interconnected. There is no wall between the developed and the developing world, as demonstrated by events such as the Asian financial crisis, or by global warming. The debate in Europe and elsewhere surrounding immigration also highlights the fact that we face the same challenges and opportunities. It’s unfortunate, in the post 11th-September era, that this debate, at least in Europe, has become at times hysterically linked to fears of further terrorist attacks. And this has led to the demonization of legitimate asylum-seekers, and also to some farcical initiatives, like the proposals for EU development aid (and remember the EU is the world’s largest single donor), linking of that aid to the recipients’ readiness to stem migratory flows and to cooperate more in repatriation of nationals.

The wider links between our cities in terms of culture, trade, and common environmental, social, and political challenges, must also be promoted, although sadly, these debates are unlikely to attract the same media attention.

So the questions that are raised are some of those that I want to address today.

Firstly, to quote James Wolfensohn, head of the World Bank, "Why is globalization not working for the people?" It’s as valid in the wealthier parts of the world as it is in the poorer. And to paraphrase an Indian researcher whose arguments I have found very relevant to Europe, how do we balance the claims of sustainable development, which would imply genuine local self-government and local control over resources, while at the same time moving to a more egalitarian interdependence between nations and peoples?

So why is it not working at the level of the people? A Jamaican newscaster said recently that for Jamaica and other Caribbean nations, globalization, from where they stood, was simply a modern reconfiguration of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Increased world trade in the post-colonial era has not benefited most developing countries, with the possible exception of Asia.

Is it surprising that people are hostile to globalization when the subsidies paid to European and American farmers are worth seven times the aid the EU and US gives to developing countries? The UN human development report published last month showed that while 52 countries were poorer at the turn of the millennium than in the early 90s, aid fell considerably – for Africa it fell by a half. And inequalities in Western States are on the increase. The EU regularly publishes reports on social cohesion. The gap in wealth between EU countries is closing, yes, but the gap between rich and poor is widening.

And social cohesion may be the cornerstone of the European ideal, but the principle is being called into question by some due to budgetary pressures, and of course, the enlargement of the European Union to the east. The Union, you remember, was initially conceived as a means of preventing future wars between old European rivals, but it has developed into an advanced international organization which is at one and the same time party to globalization and a reaction to it. Supporters of European integration see the creation of a strong European economic, monetary and political union as a buffer to the excesses of the darker forces of globalization. You have to ask yourself, why do the newspapers of Rupert Murdoch pour such scorn on the European Union? Effective international institutions are crucial in order to regulate powerful multinational corporations and to address issues such as global warming and development. While globalization is making us more interdependent, it also appears to be resulting in a world which is more fragmented between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless, and between its supporters and its opponents.

The anti-globalization movement is alive and well and kicking in Europe, as we’ve seen in the Göteborg EU Summit, and May Day protests in London. And this movement is almost as anti-EU as it is anti-WTO. However, while you can criticize Europe for oversubsidizing farming, it’s a misconception to portray it as a blind follower of free-market capitalism. The social market is still intact, and has done much to protect consumers and workers, particularly in their living and working conditions. And the European Commission and Court have primacy when it comes to policing mergers and competition-policy abuses, and it doesn’t make us popular with the Rupert Murdochs of this world, and indeed has brought us into conflict with the United States on a number of occasions.

So it’s quite ironic that those who protest against global capitalism are equally vociferous in criticizing an organization which may be one of the few which can effectively challenge the actions of big business. The lead author of the 2002 human development report said, "The anti-globalization movement, the most significant movement of our times, is demanding greater social justice, not just handouts for the poor." All this adds up to a world in urgent need of a political order that can achieve greater inclusion, an order in which all peoples and countries can have a say in decisions that affect their future, and one with rules and institutions that command trust among all peoples and countries.

Now, you can’t expect altruistic behaviour from corporations, or indeed from governments, but addressing the issues of inclusion and equality is a matter for both. Eleven September brought home to everyone that the issue of poverty is also the issue of peace, although of course the roots of the shocking events of 11th September go beyond poverty. But they do require us to address how democratic institutions and civil society treat the dispossessed, the marginalized, and those who feel that things are so bad that they’re only recourse for change is to violence.

So where do cities and local authorities fit into all of this? As I said, global issues are felt locally. People feel powerless when they don’t know where decisions are being made, and when they’ve no sense of their views being taken into account. Having a role to play in voting once every five years or so is not enough. We have to introduce more dynamic concepts of active democracy into our political systems, and local and regional authorities across Europe are doing this.

In Scotland, you will know that we have recently had the reintroduction of a parliament. And in the run-up to that, we played as local authorities a major part in identifying ways in which citizens could be more involved in the work of that parliament. And that has led to an initiative which we’ve called community planning, and that is one which involves citizens in land-use policies, for example, or indeed in planning the planning process and development process. It also involves all of the public agencies coming together to set out a 10- or 15-year plan for their area, as to how they will spend the public resources at their disposal. And they have broadened participation in decision-making. But how do we increase involvement in decisions, as a previous speaker said, decisions which are seen as being taken by those very far removed from localities, towns, and villages. And of course, in the European Union, policy is very often developed and legislation made in areas which are very far from those which must, and those people who must implement it.

So, what we have is groupings of sub-national organizations and interest groups who come together in Brussels to exert influence on the commission and the parliament. And there’s now about 1500 of them. They have come about as a result of concerns about the unpopularity of the EU and demands to play a greater role. We got the governance white paper from the European Commission, and that is looking at how to involve citizens and peoples.

So, a network Europe is still the subject of debate, as are a number of other principles on which emerging forms of European governance should be based, and in Scotland we’ve identified four key points.

First, a changing society requires new models of decision-making which involve civil society and groups outside traditional governmental structures. Second, complex policy issues cut across traditional governmental boundaries. Third, there’s a need to better integrate policy implementation between the different spheres of government. And fourth, the best approach is flexible partnerships based on the principle of negotiated governance, and not a rigid set of rules.

Probably one of the hardest issues to determine in all of this has been the role of civil society. We want to open up decision-making in our local councils, but how far does that go? Is there a conflict between participative democracy and representative democracy? If we allow communities and their spokespersons full discretion in making decisions for their areas, what is the role of the elected representative? We have to tackle this at the supranational, or the federal level, as well. We have to ask ourselves if direct democracy does not risk undermining our national and regional institutions.

So, cities, regions and sub-national government as a whole are increasingly engaged in the development of policies at the European level. The current exercise should mean that there is greater sub-national involvement in the future. But that’s not the most important challenge. Finding ways of governing which engage the broadest participation of citizens whilst representing democratic principles will be the greatest challenge facing us internally in the years to come. Achieving this, and balancing greater globalization and the dwindling influence of individual nation-states, will also provide a challenge. But the greatest one will be the creation of effective institutions at all levels which garner the support of citizens.

Seventy-one percent of 16 to 21-year-olds in the UK in 1998 believed that the way they voted would make little or no difference to their lives. Now, if we were to take that and discuss it we’d need another conference, so I’m not going to do that. But how do we balance the forces of globalization and the positive aspects of growing interdependence with the need for sustainable development and greater local control over decision-making? There are no easy answers. Just in the small corner of the world that I live in, there’s a pecking order of regions, cities and nations which have a greater influence than others over the thrust of globalization. So there’s inequalities in Europe and elsewhere. And there will be repercussions, not just in migratory flows (a pet subject of our media), but also in terms of sustainable development and global warming.

I have to say, and I’m sure you recognize, the anti-globalization and environmental movements, although they are fragmented, have proved to have real clout in certain instances, where boycotts and protests have been successful in changing the behaviour of major corporations. I recommend to you a book called The Silent Takeover, by Noreena Hertz, who points out that where people feel no longer that governments have influence over corporations, they will shop and protest rather than vote. Neither business nor political institutions can survive without popular support. The dwindling number of voters in recent elections in Europe is a matter of major concern.

So politicians, we have to put people before business. The forces of globalization are depleting natural resources and contributing to the growing impoverishment of the developing world, and they must be reined in. Support for politics must begin at community level, and the regulation of self-serving corporations and media moguls can only be carried out by effective international organizations. Cities and regions are often important power-brokers within their political systems, and they have a responsibility to think globally.

So the real challenge is to make politics as attractive as shopping and protesting. For that to happen, international and global political institutions must be seen to be offering a fair deal for the less favoured in our societies, and fair trade for developing countries. I look forward to participating in the lively debate which, having spoken to many of you, I know we’re going to get after this. Thank you very much.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Thank you. Our third and final speaker this morning is Barbara Hall. She was mayor of Toronto from 1994 to 1997. During that time, she worked hard to strengthen Toronto, and Toronto was recognized by Forbes Magazine as the best place in North America to live, do business, work and raise a family. She has just completed a four-year appointment as chair of the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention. She also presently serves as chair of Harbourfront, and is a director of both United Way of Greater Toronto and the Laidlaw Foundation. Her long history of community involvement was recently recognized with a Woman of Distinction Award from the YWCA. Ms. Hall.

Barbara Hall

Good morning. It’s a real pleasure to be here in this beautiful environment, with all the panelists and all of you to talk about such important issues. I generally wake up very early, here in Couchiching woke up very late, to discover that my watch had stopped in the middle of the night. So you can see I have a good timekeeper on my wrist, and I’ll govern my time accordingly, Mr. Chair.

In 1849 Upper Canada, the Baldwin Act established the role, function and structures of local authorities and municipal government. When these new procedures were adopted, the principal issues of the day were drunkenness and profanity, running of cattle and poultry in public places, itinerant salesmen, repair and maintenance of local roads and prevention or abatement of noise and nuisances.

While this list seems dated and makes us giggle a bit, the sad fact is that the basic structures and tools of government established to deal with these issues are, in fact, the core of what is available to Canadian cites in 2002. It’s astounding! The issues facing urban areas today in this era of globalization are vastly different and we need a totally new municipal toolbox to deal with them.

For example, markets for labour, capital, goods, and services are increasingly global in scale. These markets used to be regional – a city like Toronto used to compete with neighbouring towns, or perhaps Buffalo or Montreal to attract the brightest minds, the hardest-working skilled and unskilled labour, and the cheapest goods. This is no longer true. Toronto is now in direct competition not only with Montreal, Chicago, and Vancouver, but also with London, New York, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, and Sydney.

While there may be nothing inherently bad about globalization, the effects of economic transformation can cut deep into the social fabric. Globalization, after all, brings with it a breaking down of traditional boundaries and structures. Bound by international agreements, national governments no longer have the policy options they once possessed. Political power is shifting both upwards toward supranational institutions like the European Union or NAFTA, and downwards toward local authorities.

So far this transition has failed to provide proper mechanisms to ensure transparency, accountability and full civic participation. The governance challenge is to meet these tests, and to maximize benefits while protecting us against unmanageable social costs, inequity and social exclusion as well as environmental degradation.

Economic growth requires innovation, and innovation happens in cities. For years, governments have worked to attract the most inventive firms through tax incentives and other means. We know now that we have to go beyond this. Economist Richard Florida and others have shown us that the highly mobile class of innovators, the best and the brightest, are attracted to a city on the basis of its uniqueness, tolerance of diversity, and the quality of its social, natural, and built environment.

In a globalized world, economic health requires social and environmental health.

The Healthy City movement of the 1980s recognized that social, environmental and economic factors are all inextricably linked together in the modern urban centre. It is now broadly accepted that cities not only compete on the basis of economics; they compete on how well they treat their least-advantaged members: the poor, the sick, the young, the old and the newly arrived. Economic growth is not only compatible with social equity and livability – it requires them.

In Canada, cities have been handed unprecedented responsibilities by provincial and federal governments. From securing affordable housing, to affordable and comprehensive transit systems, to drug-user harm reduction, to public health, to child care, cities now have a substantial role in formulating and implementing social and cultural policy.

Modern social problems exist disproportionately in cities, and yet cities lack both the functioning governing institutions and the fiscal resources to solve them.

Toronto, for example, receives almost no operating funding from upper-tier governments for transit and no capital funding for affordable housing. Toronto is the destination of half of all immigrants arriving in Canada, yet the city receives limited senior government assistance for settlement services. Toronto’s poverty rate is 22% higher than the Canadian average. Reports show a stubborn correlation between race and poverty and immigration and poverty. These correlations have serious consequences for all of Toronto. It is clear our city must improve its capacity to settle newcomers and provide them with access to the economy.

We have one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the country – below 1% – at a time when personal and family income has experienced a dramatic drop. The average cost of a one- or two-bedroom apartment in Toronto is more than the median monthly income of single-parent families living in poverty (United Way, Decade of Decline 3). The challenges facing Toronto are not the same as those of smaller places.

Christine May has said that nation-states are too big to solve the small problems and too small to solve the big ones. The same is true of our cities. Some of the most pressing problems facing Toronto – a secure water supply from the Oak Ridges Moraine, or unsustainable low-density suburban land-use patterns – are occurring outside of city limits. At the same time, some believe that Toronto city council is dysfunctional and therefore its membership should be halved. Will doubling the number of constituents in a ward make council more representative, or make council better able to deal with problems originating outside of its jurisdiction? I don’t think so.

To overcome these problems, and to harness globalization’s opportunities, changes are needed in our governance structures and approaches:

  1. Cities need more autonomy and more effective institutions. Not only are modern cities more than just functional deliverers of services to ratepayers; they also operate on a scale larger than that for which their institutions were designed. In order for municipal authorities to function as genuine governments – that is, to be effective, representative, and accountable – they need to have a defined array of responsibilities, have the bureaucratic resources to gather, analyze, and act on high-quality information, and the ability to flexibly enter into agreements with, and delegate authority to, other bodies. To increase accountability and energize public participation, we should consider mechanisms such as a municipal auditor-general and tougher political oversight of scarce financial resources. We need to nurture neighbourhood associations and grassroots citizen coalitions.
  2. Cities need more funding from upper-tier governments and access to a more diverse tax base. Our cities need stable, multi-year and appropriate financing arrangements in order to do their jobs.

    In Toronto, something like 45% of municipal revenue comes from property taxes, compared to 18% in the United States’ 38 largest cities (BOT 14). While no one wants the overall tax burden on the citizen to increase, almost everyone agrees that the property tax is by itself an inappropriate means of funding social obligations, both due to its regressivity and inelasticity. Elsewhere in Canada and around the world, cities can levy or share revenue from gasoline, sales, and hotel-room taxes. All of these, combined with intelligently applied user fees and development charges, can provide a revenue mix that is both equitable and efficient.

    Own-source revenues are not enough. The economic and social health of a metropolis like Toronto has effects far beyond city limits. In the United States, the federal government recognizes the role that urban areas play . . .

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    [in the nation’s social and economic life,] . . . and directly funds municipal infrastructure, housing, and social initiatives. We need long-term stable funding for all of these needs, including physical and social infrastructure. Without it, the quality and range of Toronto’s services will continue to decline.

  3. Cities need a seat at the table. If the City of Toronto were a province, it would be the fifth largest in Canada. The GTA has a larger population than British Columbia, or all of the Atlantic Provinces combined. Cities need a seat at the table when the big questions are being decided.

    In the year 2000, the federal and Ontario governments collected $9 billion more from the city of Toronto than they spent. Toronto subsidizes the rest of the province and the country. People who speak for Toronto should have a say in some of those spending decisions.

    As I said earlier, Toronto’s capacity to contribute – the health of our economy and society – is in jeopardy. If Toronto is to succeed under globalization and remain the engine of the Canadian economy, it needs to sit at the table when provincial and federal policy is made and money is spent.

    It’s about more than money, however. It’s about ideas. Citizens possess special knowledge about the places where they live and work. They know, better than upper-tier governments can ever know, where the stress points lie, both geographically and in the social order. One-size-fits-all solutions imposed from above are unhelpful. City government’s unique on-the-ground knowledge of the social and economic context makes it ideally placed to advise upper-tier governments on how and where to best deliver services.

  4. Finally, cities need a broader scope for partnering with other governments and the ability to develop new civic organizations that are flexible, quick to deal with issues, effective and action oriented. Recently, we have seen new public–private and inter-governmental partnerships take shape. In the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation or the Vancouver Downtown Eastside agreement, we have seen how all three orders of government and the private sector can come together to accomplish large goals.

When I was mayor of Toronto, we embarked on a bold experiment in the depressed manufacturing district of King–Spadina, within a few minutes’ walk of the downtown financial core. Formerly the centre of the garment trade, the area was slowly becoming a patchwork of parking lots and empty buildings. We saw, however, that artists were, often illegally, turning spaces into lofts and studios. After a very quick review by a skilled team (including all the stakeholders, and people like Jane Jacobs) we took the regulatory lid off the area, and King–Spadina is now the home of Toronto’s globally competitive multimedia and high-tech industries, countless entertainment venues, and some of the city’s finest restaurants. Building demolition was arrested and the old factories have been renovated into condominiums and office space for the builders of the new economy.

At the beginning I said that a city’s future lies in its ability to attract and retain the best talent, and that this ability is anchored in its livability and unique qualities. King–Spadina is an object lesson in how city government can unleash creative forces to create a unique and productive new place.

While there are no universal blueprints, projects like these are the sort of creative and constructive thinking that will be required for Toronto and other Canadian cities to compete and prosper under globalization. Imagine if we tackled child poverty or immigrant settlement with the same will.

We need the vision and community determination to take on these urban challenges: and some creative thinking and the "new municipal toolbox" to get the job done. Canada’s major urban centres must be given new resources and new powers to deal with the new order of challenges in the global economy. To date, governmental reform has been driven almost entirely by the fiscal concern of the senior levels of government, i.e., massive downloading to the municipal level. What we need is a new Canadian vision of livable cities that is powered by urban excellence. We used to be able to proudly say that Canadian cities worked, we had healthy inner-city cores. Well, today all our major cities are in crisis. They do not work as well as they did a couple of decades ago. We urgently need significant municipal reform, a new urban agenda and the resources and tools to do the job well. A great city like Toronto cannot compete in the global economy with the tools it was given to deal with the agrarian issues of 1849.

Thank you.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Well, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that we have a rich menu of ideas and suggestions and information before us, well armed for the question-and-answer session, so I’d encourage you to think up a good question while we have a break. I think it’ll be about 10 minutes. Anyway, there’s a bell that I think you know by now. So see you in a little while.

[break in recording]

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

We’ll start the discussion period now, please. Hello? Bon. Respect pour le président. We’ll go until about 12:15 for the question-and-answer session, provided there are enough questions and if last night is an indication I imagine that with coffee and everything, and this morning, we shouldn’t have any trouble. I see people have already lined up. Please put your question quite directly; if you ramble I may encourage greater directness. And, if your question is directed towards one person in particular, or more than one, perhaps you could also indicate that. Ok, first question please.

Linda Tu

Thank you Mr. Chairman. My name is Linda Tu, and I live in Toronto. My question is really, let us look at the very minute details to build from the bottom up, and I think that’s what Barbara Hall was recommending, so my question is related to her talk. The specific I have in mind, I would like to give you an example to illustrate my question. Where I live, I used to be on a volleyball team, and we used to play in the local school. And it used to be reasonably cheap for us to rent that room for the year from the school board. Because of the downloading of expenses and costs to the school board, the school board had to levy prices that were astronomical for a small community group. The result is that that group has disbanded. We do in fact meet under other circumstances, that’s outside the question. The question is, how does one remove the disgruntlement of the people like me, individuals, by the downloading of expenses into cities like Toronto? The individual who is disgruntled is not going to vote, that’s my experience. Thank you.

Barbara Hall

There are a lot of individuals like you, because in fact the United Way has just done a survey of groups who have been unable to continue to use space in schools because of user fees, and so right across the new city there are thousands of citizens who have been essentially barred from facilities that they have paid for the construction of in the past. I think the place for you to get involved is with those other citizen groups, is with the local government, and urge city council and United Way and other grassroots groups to all come together with the board of education, and take the issue to the provincial government. Unfortunately, what’s happened is there’s been finger-pointing between the city and the board of education, around the pools, around user fees. The culprit in this is the cuts to public education, and a provincial government that doesn’t see recreation, broadly defined, whether it’s volleyball or theatre groups, having a place as part of the education of children. So on that issue there is a broader network coming together. I think the private sector is coming into that. So it’s everyone involved, and I think it’s a very pressing issue in our community.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Councillor May has indicated that she’d like to comment on this.

Councillor May

Well, I think there is an issue for everybody here, not just for politicians, but also for yourself, Linda, and others like you. And that is your expectation of what your tax dollar or my tax pound or tax euro will buy, therefore, what should be provided at a subsidized rate by your elected sphere of government. And that’s something we have certainly in Europe and possibly here, not been prepared to get into in any great detail, and the middle classes that tend to be the most able to articulate their case argue for the same levels of public subsidy for recreational activities, for example, that they enjoyed in the past, whilst yet demanding that greater sums be spent on bringing substandard housing up to a reasonable standard. And I think that society needs to start having that debate very quickly, before the trust between the citizen and various spheres of government breaks down completely.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Next question.

Hanns Skoutajan

My name is Hanns Skoutajan. This has been a very rich morning, I really congratulate the panel. I’m a retired United Church minister and have a very strong concept of the sacrificial lamb, but not sufficiently to have run for public office myself. You have raised some very important and very wrenching issues, and I keep wondering whether answering any of these issues or coming close to them is possible without some very serious rejigging of federal and provincial constituency boundaries, as well as bringing in some form of proportional representation, so that the people who have given up on voting, and Christine mentioned the fact, you know, that we don’t vote, some of the young people, we have no sense of being heard or being anywhere close to being heard or making a difference by their vote. So, my question is, can we hope for, or can municipalities fight for some kind of a change in our political structures?

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator


Yves Ducharme

Well, I believe that municipalities more than ever are striving for new direction and a new way of dealing. We are seen by our provincial government as servants, and we should be seen as partners, instead of being depicted as serving to the province, we should be giving the service to the citizen, at all different levels. But as Barbara said, we are working with tools that were defined in 1849, and there’s not much change that happened since then. With the amalgamation period that we passed through, I often said that we just changed the body of the car, but we didn’t change the motor, and we need to address the real issues. Sometimes it may sound a bit crude, but I say, senior levels of government are pimps to me. We are on the sidewalk every day, trying to give services. And all the money is pumped up, and then when we need a grant for new swimming pool, when we need to change infrastructure in our city, we have to kneel down, raise the paw, and get the [inaudible, laughter]. So, I’m really striving for a new partner, and a partner is someone that respects our needs and understands where we are and what we are achieving.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Barbara, do you want to continue on the same metaphor, or . . . ?

Barbara Hall

Turning to another aspect of the issue, I think Canada is one of the few countries that still has a first-past-the-gate system. I think we need to look at proportional representation. It’s interesting, in a city like Toronto, how often I get into a cab and the driver says to me – the driver is often somebody with a PhD in political science from another country, whose credentials have not been recognized in our city – and the driver will turn to me and say, "How are things going at City Hall?" And I’ll say, well, I read what you read, and they’ll say, "But you’re there!" Well, no, I’m not, – but you got the second largest number of votes in the country! – but, you know, right at every level, there are situations like that. Large numbers of people who feel that their interests and their voices are not represented because of the system that we have. We need to change it. It’s part of how we get the full civic participation that all of us have said is so essential to the future health of all governments.

Councillor May

I hate to be a wet blanket, but I come from a country where we’ve had the single transferable vote since the establishment of the Irish Republic. I then moved to the UK where we have first-past-the-post still, other than for the Scottish Parliament. Voting systems, all voting systems, are able to be manipulated. The degree to which they are able to be manipulated may differ slightly, but they can be manipulated. Systems and structures do not make for political integrity, and without a genuine spirit of cooperation between spheres or tiers or levels of government, call it what you will, seriously, to engage with the views of the people and act on behalf of the people, then it’s just talk, and reorganizations cost money, as those of you who’ve recently been through amalgamations for example will know. They cost money, they create antagonism, ill feeling, and a wish to go back to the good old days. And I’m afraid we are not getting to the serious debate, the global debate, on how do we really change things so that peoples’ views are respected, not, as seems to be the case, creating an expectation that if you have a view, something will happen which will meet the need that you’ve expressed through that view, but a recognition that somebody has listened to what you’ve said, and has responded even if they are disagreeing, and that’s where I think we as elected representatives, we’re still not there.


Well, I agree that cities need more representation and more money. It’s going to take a while, and I do believe that in the meantime, cities do have tools, they could do more if they showed a bit more courage and ingenuity. That’s been my observation as a small activist, small businesswoman. I go to India quite frequently, and for example, the city of Delhi a few years ago was just getting more and more polluted with 500 new cars being put on the road each week – you almost needed a gas mask there. Well, the city of Delhi passed regulations saying that all taxis, buses, motorcycle rickshaws and trucks entering the city had to use natural gas to power themselves. Everybody ignored them, and then the city in the last six months – they have two years to change over, nobody paid any attention – the last six months, the city saw that nobody was doing anything, so then they said to the filling stations, you will be fined, you’re not allowed to fill anybody’s gas in those sectors. So the thing is, they’re banned from getting gas. Well, believe me, the change happened really quick. The pollution has gone down by 80% in Delhi. So that was somebody just having some guts and standing up and doing something.

So, I’ll give an example closer to home. I was a chair of banking issues for the Canadian Organization of Small Business, and lobbied city councillors in early 1990s to get the banks to stop putting down the local economy. They were basically pulling the plug on a lot of businesses. Well, nobody did anything. Nobody stood up. I feel as though as I as an individual made some difference. Now, if the city of Toronto had stood up and phoned some bank presidents it would have made a vast amount of difference, but they said, oh, no, we can’t do it. Well, they can, and they should just have a bit of courage to throw their weight around. Here some of the speakers were saying, well, we are supposed to represent citizens. Well, I think a lot of us feel, well, the courage isn’t there. You could fight the national corporations if you just stood up and said, this shall not pass.

I give you an example of some new legislation that’s come into power. A few of us lobbied the Canadian government to get something called the Community Reinvestment Act passed in Canada. They’ve had this for 25 years in the United States, and in the United States, banks collectively have pledged $20, I might have it wrong, either billion or trillion, some huge amount, over 20 years, of money that they’ve got to pour into community economic development in their areas for things like low-cost housing and local investment. And, anyhow, we’ve got something like this passed in Canada, like banks in the States, they’re giving downpayments for low-cost housing, they actually give equity, they give below-market mortgages. So we have gone to city hall, I have personally lobbied councillors at city hall saying, you know, you could do this! And they just don’t pay any attention. And so meanwhile they say, oh, we have no money, and we say look, you could do something, oh, we can’t, we can’t. So how do you get people to stand up there when they actually do have some tools and actually do something?

Yves Ducharme

Sometimes I feel – I don’t know if it was Max last night saying that a lot of citizens don’t fully understand the limitation of our powers, and even though we make comparison with the United States, or UK, or Europe, or some other Asian cities, I believe that our limits are quite large, and we’ve asked the Federation of Canadian Municipalities last time we had a big-city mayor caucus, the government to create at the executive level a place for municipalities – not to appoint the file to a municipal minister, because it’s not under federal jurisdiction, but at least to have at the table of ministers a place for municipalities to explain, so that everybody fully understands. Like when you talk about the banking system, if we were to be able to explain that to the federal minister, maybe some change could be applied to the law, but we’re not at the table. A lot of change are happening in silos, and when a minister changes something it has lots of impact at the municipal level, but they don’t see it, because it’s not in their field of jurisdiction.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Other reaction?

Barbara Hall

When I talk about the things that cities don’t have, I’m not saying that they have no ability today to do things. I think that particularly working in partnership with community groups, with grassroots groups, that cities can achieve a lot. They can influence – I think at times the city of Toronto has had the attitude that it didn’t care what its powers were, it was going to do things anyway and wait until it was stopped. There are other times that it uses the lack of power as an excuse for doing nothing. So I think there are on many fronts a lot of things that could be done that aren’t, but I think that there are many very central issues that will not be addressed unless new partnerships, new resources, new powers are secured by cities.


Well, just as a parting comment I’d like to say that when I spoke to senior bankers I asked why aren’t you doing any of the good stuff you do in the States here in Canada? And they said, because nobody ever asked us, so I would like to say that the legislation has just been passed, so please start asking them, because they will do it, they have to now, every year. Thank you.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Thank you.

Yves Ducharme

Just going on this comment. I believe, this exercise here, it’s the first time that I participate in the Couchiching gathering, and I believe that we need more of that. But these comments don’t often come to us. Our council meeting rooms are empty, and the only time that we have people in the room is when there’s a big crisis somewhere. So, you see 75 people in a 228,000-citizen city, and you say, oh, we have a problem. Where is the problem? So I think that we have a problem with the silent majority. And as soon as the silent majority becomes vocal, then it tosses aside the pressure group that sometimes pushes for things that the silent majority doesn’t agree with. But we don’t hear the other side. So I believe it is important to engage into a dialogue and to access the different tools that are provided for a citizen, and you could be surprised at how many things have been changed because we receive an e-mail of a housewife, business lady, a student that arrived with a question and the lights go up and we change things. But I think that it is by providing suggestions and not stopping, and then it brings action.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Next question.

John Cameron

My name’s John Cameron, I’m a high-school student from Toronto. One of the things that I think we’ve all heard here today is that a lot of the problems with countries is that their cities need to be healthy, because if the city is healthy, then it helps make the country healthy. And I think a lot of the discussion we’ve heard is that the problem with cities is the downloading without the financial aid to service the downloading of services. So I was wondering what all of opinion is on maybe potentially uploading essential services for cities. Like public transportation, because as we said, if the city’s healthy, then the country’s healthy. So, should higher levels of government take over responsibility for such ideas as public transportation in our major cities? Thank you.

Councillor May

Ok. Now I think for a politician you raise a very interesting question, because politics is about power, and being effective as a politician is having power over as many aspects of your local life as you believe will make it possible for you to do your job, a holistic job on behalf of your citizens. If you then start giving away bits of that, you are subject to national government, or federal government, or provincial government, whatever, influence over an area of your economy that you would prefer to do for yourself. So, it is very much a balancing act, and one thing that we are doing in Europe as a result of this governance white paper that Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission has put out, is asking for a cost-benefit analysis to be done in advance of the passing of any European Union directive or piece of legislation. And I will give you one example. They recently passed a directive on the safe disposal of the waste from electronic equipment. And as it went through its final stage of legislation in the European Parliament, the manufacturers put through an amendment which basically put the cost of the facilities for that disposal onto the local authorities. Our view had always been, and we had successfully argued, that the producer should pay the cost of disposal. Now, that is going – and there is no funding for that. And we don’t know yet where that funding is going to come from, and we have the same thing with refrigerators and disposal of gases from refrigerators, where in the UK we have a huge mountain of them, because we don’t have the facilities. So it is about, and I go back to the point I made earlier. It is about a serious dialogue as to what will be funded through the taxation levied by government at every level. What level of service will be provided? And then some acceptance by the population that anything else has got to be paid for at cost. And that’s where we’re never honest. Any of us – not the individual citizen, and I suspect not the politicians either, because that debate is a very, very difficult one to have. Everyone wants it as cheaply as possible.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Other reaction to the comment?

Barbara Hall

I think, using transit as an example, that for the city of Toronto to say, here, provincial or federal government, you take transit, would be problematic in having a system that would adequately meet the needs of citizens in that area, but I think there needs to be a partnership. Interesting chart in a Toronto publication I got last week looks at the cost of Metropasses in communities across Canada. Toronto has the highest, $93 a month, compared to Montreal, for example, where there’s significant provincial contribution to transit, Montreal’s is $48 a month. Ridership in Montreal has gone up, ridership in Toronto has come down. Toronto has been basically abandoned when it comes to transit, I think it’s the partnership that’s essential. And I think that governments need to stop focusing on how much power can we get, and rather look at how can we work with other levels to solve these problems.

Josh Patterson

My name’s Josh Patterson, I’m from U of T Faculty of Law – that’s University of Toronto, for those of you who are not from Canada. My question is, all three of the speakers have talked about what cities need, and the things that cities have to have, and I’m sure that most of the people in the room would be, a lot of us anyway, would be in agreement, that obviously something needs to change, that something needs to be done, that municipal governance structures need to be changed, but I haven’t really heard any proposals of what a new municipal governance structure might look like. Might it be something like charter cities as we have in other provinces and in some places in the United States, where cities exist of their own right rather than being creatures of a higher government? I don’t know how it works in Britain, I know they’ve been creating new and larger councils in London, for instance. But how are we going to go from identifying the need to convincing senior levels of government that this is something that needs to be done? We’re going to have the representatives from the federal government in the room, I’m not sure if there are any here from the province, but I’m sure if the municipal affairs people were here, they might not agree with what I’m saying. I’m sure that when the minister comes on Sunday, he might have something different to say as well about whether cities should have more powers. How is this going to translate from need into action on the part of senior governments, because working with them is one thing, but until they really buy into an agenda of stronger cities, we’re just going to be sitting here in rooms talking about what’s needed and nothing will change. So I wonder if any of you have ideas for action plans to bring some of these changes about.

Yves Ducharme

Well, I believe it’s just by awareness, and if the parties of the provincial and federal level are – if as a citizen you are concerned about the wellbeing of our city, and ask them to make sure that in their program, there is a special provision for a change in the status of cities, then at one point if all citizens are joining us as mayor and elected officials, if we are not speaking alone – for some years we’ve been speaking in the desert – and I remember once a journalist was talking about the work that we were doing at the FCN to convince provincial government and the federal government to share some revenue, so that we could help them achieve the Kyoto agreement, but why do we pay PST when we’re buying buses? They should be giving us money, but we’re paying PST. And you will never achieve it. But now the federal government speech is changing, so we are moving towards changes. But we need that also to happen in the provincial government. I know that British Columbia is working right now on a charter where [buying ?] nothing will change, I don’t know if it’s going to be adopted, but the status and the jurisdiction that is a [comfort ?] to the city won’t be changed until there is a dialogue and an envelope that contains the right amount of money so that the city can achieve these new tasks. But we need the citizen to be on board with us. And we’re going towards in different provinces, and in Quebec in particular, towards a new election, and we need our leaders to stake an engagement on that, and it’s by being aware of our needs and our difficulties that citizens can help us.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

I might just add a comment based on my own experience and research. One of the things that I find quite interesting about the debate that’s emerged over the last year and a half is how little people seem to have paid attention to some of the points that have come up this morning. If within some of the cities there were broader coalitions between different sectors – business, NGOs, environmentalists, and so on – as Mr. Ducharme says, perhaps some things would change, there would be a response at the local level, there could be a greater response at the federal and provincial levels too. People often cite the examples of some of the American cities, some of the revival that has taken place. It didn’t just happen because somebody pushed a button somewhere, because it was one person’s good idea. I went to Baltimore last year, and we heard the story about how, after the harbour became disused, businesses in Baltimore got together, and they were very concerned that there was potential there that wasn’t being used. And they built a coalition, and the story continued, and the restoration of Boston harbour took place. But it was a long project, and a project that involved a lot of people, so the people who are making points individually and responding to various policy changes and some of the constraints the cities face, that’s good, but more people together are likely to have more impact than lone voices in the desert.

Councillor May

In my presentation, I said that we had identified four key things in response to the governance white paper. One of them was that complex issues require solutions which are not the traditional silo-based solutions. And one of the things that we have done in establishing our community plan partnership, is that we’ve taken a 15-year time span and we have, with the other public-sector agencies, and with the two major sphere of UK government, sat down and set targets across the organization which deals with health, the one which deals with business, the voluntary sector or civil society. And we have set annual targets on which we report collectively annually. And that includes health improvement, business start-up, minority group support for example. And we have a public conference once a year at which any citizen is entitled to turn up and to ask why have you not achieved this target, and most of them we don’t achieve. That, for the agencies which are not directly elected, as the health board is not for example, has been a salutary lesson in responsiveness to citizen concerns, and I look at the lady who asked the question of why don’t we do certain things like dealing with the big banks, for example. Quite often because it’s not top of the agenda of the elected institution or that particular institution, and it’s up to people, ordinary people who feel a sense of injustice or whatever, to push it up the agenda, and it needs folk like you and you to ask the questions.

Barbara Hall

I think in Toronto we’ve seen that process build. After amalgamation, and coming with downloading and a lot of cutbacks, once people went through a bit of a mourning period they started to look around and see that there were big problems. And in a lot of different places, activity started to happen. The city charter movement, financed by Alan Broadbent and Avana Corporation brought people together to look at the aspect of charter. They also brought the five largest cities together in C5. The media taking it on as a campaign. The Board of Trade, United Way, a number of places. So all of those things, in Toronto and in other communities across the country, have put it on the radar screen in a way it hasn’t been for a long time. I think people understand that the issues are complex, and there aren’t simple answers, but people are starting to grapple with those issues, and it will need a process of negotiating and give and take, and I think the thing that we have to keep looking back to each time is not is a level of government giving up power, but rather is this a better way of meeting the needs of citizens and communities? So I’m quite optimistic that we’re on the road. FCM presents some recommendations around process, how we get people to the table, the issues that need to be addressed, and I don’t think any of us know what will come out of that sausage-grinder at the end.


Hopefully, in the very near future this whole process will be taking place because of strong mayoral leadership rather than in spite of mayoral leadership, so anyway, thank you very much.

Yves Ducharme

If I can just show you a small example, all citizens when they are [backing up ?] in [small ?] can change things that are not of our responsibility. In former city of Hull that is now amalgamated with the city of Gatineau, composing the new city of Gatineau, we had a 100-year-old problem with the downloading of people who were drinking at night going from Ottawa to the downtown core of Hull.

Barbara Hall

Shall we identify ourselves?

Yves Ducharme

Yes, every time I was travelling I was saying I was the mayor of Hull, say oh yeah! I was there once, 20 years ago. Even the pilot once on a plane said, yes, I know Hull, I have my card of the Chez Henri, and every single weekend we would have front page in the Ottawa Citizen, CBC, different media showing how violent the downtown core of Hull was. Sixty-five to seventy percent of the people arrested were from Ottawa. But the people from Ottawa, it was like they were looking at Hull as the Tijuana of San Diego. And the business community didn’t say nothing, because they were making a fortune. Bars were packed, we would be having, a half-kilometre strip, about 6,000 people from about 12:00 at night till 3:00 in the morning, and in the end, it would end up in fighting, and we would have to provide police security, and it was costing the city a million dollars per year, just for that strip. And nobody would take care of the problem. Until the time people were fed up with bad publicity. So in 1992 we applied a zero tolerance. So every time somebody was spitting on the sidewalk it was $300. You were urinating on the road, $300. We were saying do it in your pants, it’s cheaper than . . . but that didn’t solve the problem. Business was shutting down, it was empty. Nobody in Hull was going to the downtown strip because they were afraid. So the minister of municipal affairs was asking me what are you gonna do – what are you gonna do with the strip? I said, I’ll turn back the question to you. When will you take off my handcuffs? He said, what handcuffs? I said, you provide the hours. We are obligated to leave the bars open until 3:00 because that’s a provincial law. People come on board, business operators from other parts were on-side with us, and we were able to change the law and only Gatineau in Quebec can decide, as the mayor, can decide that this side of the street closes at 2:00, that one closes at 3:00, and if you have a problem we’ll close you at 1:00. So now, everybody is walking the line, and most of the bars have disappeared. But we have now bistro, restaurant, and we have millions of dollars of reinvestment in the downtown core. But we would not have been able to change that if it hadn’t been for the citizens standing on-side, asking our provincial members of parliament to do something. So it was not our problem. We were doing our job, we were doing our job, but we got it because citizens were on-side. So that’s why we need our citizens in the back of the bus when we’re going to Quebec or to Toronto.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Next question or comment.

Jane Brenneman Gibson

Jane Brenneman Gibson, I live in Toronto, and this is directed towards Barbara, but I’m interested in if the others have comments about it. In Ontario I understand there’s a new municipal act being revised, and you in the future I hope may run for mayor again, and this is an opportunity for you to dream a little bit. So if you could put three new tools in your toolbox, and they could be in that municipal act, what would they be, and what outcomes would you expect from them?

Barbara Hall

Well, the first one would be the ability to take some parts of provincial revenues such as gas taxes. I think the issue of transit is crucial to the future of the city, and property taxes are totally inappropriate for funding that. We need some fast action, there have been some positive impacts in other communities across the country by freeing up some gas tax for transit, and that would be the top of my list. The other two . . .


. . . taken up by provincial or federal jurisdictions so that it moves into areas that are totally abandoned. And the third would be a closer relationship with respect to public education. I think that what’s happening in public schools in a city like Toronto, in many cities, but I’ll talk about Toronto, is extremely destructive to the future of the city. We talk a lot about our great diversity, I believe our diversity is our greatest strength, but one has to get to know each other, have opportunities to have common experiences, to understand each other, and to develop some common action plans to move forward. I’m frightened by the number of people I meet who are seriously considering pulling their children out of the public school system, and we’re losing the opportunity to have that common meeting place. If we look at the future of the economy, it’s based on bright, innovative, creative people, and yet we have schools where the quality is going down, and we’re not going to have the educated, innovative, creative people we need. So many aspects of life in the city, the schools play a major role, and I think that there needs to be more ways of the municipal government playing a role in advocating for and supporting the kind of public education that a strong economy, a strong quality of life in a very diverse city require.


I had a question for the panel. Looking at the municipality situation, the need to empower municipalities, like the GTA and large communities, to empower such large areas of the population that are in urban settings, what about all the smaller communities in that whole process of trying to find empowerment for urban settings, aren’t we opening up a Pandora’s box? Aren’t they going to want the same level of empowerment from the higher levels of government that the larger urban settings are asking for?

Councillor May

Well, it goes back to what I said in my presentation. That’s the big challenge. How do you make the local, individual’s set of streets, that community, feel empowered, and give them power, while at the same time being sure that you respect the rights of democratically elected representatives to take the decisions that have to be taken, and they are competing and conflicting decisions in the overall good of the greater area for which they are elected. And if I had an answer to that, I’d be rich, and everybody would be happy. But that’s the challenge that we’ve got, and that goes back, and a previous questioner asked about three things. One would be honesty. Honesty and debate. Honesty about costs, needs, levels of taxation, what will be provided. Genuine honesty. Some sort of agreement, and I don’t know how you get it, with your media, which allows for that debate to happen which represents the local dissatisfaction or whatever, in a way which allows for a solution to be developed, rather than just highlighting the confrontational aspects. And finally, I think you need power over those who have land and property and don’t use it. All of our cities, all of our areas, are filled with derelict or abandoned or unused property or property sites. They are being held as appreciating assets, by those who own them, and they are not being used, and they create such dreadful division, and I’d like to see some power over that. And only when we get that, and get agreement that that is that is what local, municipal, regional, national governments are about, will you get the feeling of involvement of you as an individual or the guy who’s sleeping in a cardboard box.


. . . cyber-communities we talked about on the program committee when we were developing the conference. The idea of living in different, connecting through the Internet and living in different dispersed areas, or just farmers and local people living, who have their reeve as a representative, as compared to an urban setting with a mayor and a larger structure.

Councillor May

Yes, but then you’ve got to have physical government on the ground, and that has defined boundaries. And again, I spoke about networks and global networks of interest groups, for example, not just cities but rural and mountain areas as well. You have to fit those in, or you have to adapt the physical boundaries of government to take account of those. That’s going to be a while evolving, and in the meantime we have to find a way of dealing with the cyber-communities, the transnational communities, and the very fixed boundaries of community structures.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Ok. Next person?

Emilie Garnier

Hello, my name is Emilie Garnier, I work for Industry Canada on the sustainable cities initiative, and my question is directed to Barbara. It’s regarding one of her last comments about the King and Spadina area in Toronto. I used to live there in one of those lofts with artists, and my neighbours were printers, dancers, singers, marble-carvers, a lot of different people with a lot of creativity, and they are part of the essence of what made place interesting in the first place. And those people got evicted, and the whole part of that strip was converted to law firm, new-economy business, ad agency, and those artists now are scrambling to find studios, place to live, and my question is: what is Toronto doing to find new space for them, and actually to keep those vibrant people who make a difference in the city, and keep it on an international level of the whole community lively?

Barbara Hall:

That’s always a problem with change, that some people benefit and some people have the potential to lose or to suffer, and I think throughout Toronto we’ve seen artists and other people who have been evicted in the face of change. I did a lot of work with artist groups, groups like Artscape, for example, to create the kinds of supports and resources to protect people in that situation. Some of those things were effective, and some of them were not. Often, it goes back to another issue of how we support the arts, how do we support artists? Do they need to live in poverty, and thus be in illegal space, or do we adequately fund their work and their contribution so they’re able to better compete in situations like that? I think one of the problems of the city not having resources from senior levels of government to achieve affordable housing means there aren’t options for struggling artists in the same way there aren’t options for a lot of other people who have low incomes. So we want to see innovation and advancement, at the same time we want to protect people from being victims in the face of that, and that requires some of the resources and some of the power that I’ve spoken of.

Alan Pearson

I’m Alan Pearson, I’m with the International Children’s Institute. It seems to me that cities are a social phenomenon, not a jurisdictional phenomenon, and that therefore the kinds of questions you’ve been trying to address about how to bring jurisdictions together for the sake of urban citizens is a serious question. Thirty years ago, I worked in an innovative federal agency called the Ministry of State for Urban Affairs. It didn’t last very long, but it had a very interesting premise, I think, which was that even the federal government has a footprint on the ground in urban areas, ports, airports, railways, all of that stuff, and our job was the try and get federal agencies, departments and so on, to start thinking about the impact they were having on cities, but also to get involved in a tri-level process of consultation involving federal, provincial and municipal governments to try and make sure that all governments work together. Of course, the federal government wasn’t very welcome in that field by the provinces at least. I’m wondering whether it’s time to bring back that idea, and whether as municipal representatives, you would endorse spending the taxpayers’ money on an enterprise which would focus the federal involvement in urban development.

Yves Ducharme

If I may respond. We had this discussion at the last big-city mayors’ caucus, and the reflection we had is that if it’s solely the affair of the ministry of state on municipal affairs, it’s going to be their business. The other ministers will say, it’s none of my business, it is the ministry of state on municipal affairs. So we prefer to have a seat at the table of inter-ministerial committee at the highest level, whereby each time somebody, or a minister talks about something that could have an impact on municipal life, the others would hear it and we would be able to come in and bring input. Before, it was like that, ministry of environments would say I have nothing to do with city, I’m adopting this law, and maybe the minister of state for municipal affairs would say it has an impact, while it’s not of my concern. So I think that the big-city mayors’ caucus was right, because we prefer to have everybody at the table and be able to share so that everybody has a knowledge of the impact that we have on city and the concern that we have on different aspects of our daily life.

Councillor May

One of the major changes that we managed to get through the new Scottish Parliament was an amendment to the local government act, which did what Barbara has spoken about: gave us a power and a duty of community wellbeing. And it seems to me that you don’t need to create a ministry to oblige government ministers to take account of something that is enshrined, so all you then do is ensure that that power of community wellbeing is obligatory on ministers for them to take account of, as well as for those practitioners who must implement measures or legislation. And I take as an example, one of the main priorities of the Scottish Parliament, which is to improve mortality rates – to reduce the incidence of strokes and cancer. Now, one way of building good health is to have proper housing, and so you cannot confine any improvement in public health just to the department of health. You have to talk about all of the other factors which impinge on the health of people. But until you have a recognition by government that all ministerial departments have a role to play in achieving all of the priorities then you’re going nowhere. You don’t need to spend money on another department and another minister to do that coordination. You need political will. You need to elect politicians who have that political will. And that’s back to you lot.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Next question, comment?

Pat Cross

Hello, my name is Pat Cross, and I’m just a citizen, I don’t belong to anything else, and I thank the panel very much, it’s been a fascinating morning. One of the things you have said to us is that we need more citizen involvement. You should get more involved. And we say, we feel powerless. We don’t know how to get involved. What you’re saying is, you should push, and you actually use those words. But should not also the governments at any level pull? I want to ask you for your comments on a specific Third-World example of this pulling. The power resides in money. Usually that’s one of the big things – money. And if you look at Porto Allegra, in Brazil, there the local municipal government pulls the citizens to be involved in participatory budgeting – the money – the discretionary part of the budget – about 20% of the budget. And they have in the region of 30,000 people a year involved in that. And half of those are the very low-income, low educational level. Half of them are women. Because the local municipality determined that they want that. And they put some money – not a vast amount – but some – to do that, and I wondered if you had any comments on that, or whether – I know some parts of Europe are trying it, and Toronto has a small committee starting on that, and maybe Barbara knows about that. I don’t know about Gatineau.

Councillor May

There’s a significant movement in Europe to do similar things, and I go back and say again, our community planning partnership does attempt to do that at a local level. It’s hard work, and of course you get the people who tell you things you don’t want to hear as a politician, and you have to be prepared to have your arguments ready, because each group will come with a very good reason why their concerns should be paramount. And until you can respond to them in a way that makes them feel that coming was worthwhile, even though they may not have got all that they wanted, you are not having proper dialogue, so we need to stop doing consultations where we cloak the answers as part of the questions and so forth, and genuinely talk to people about how we deal with their concerns. Sweden has done quite a lot, a lot of it done over the Internet; Finland particularly has done a lot in wiring up their citizens. France, some of the municipalities in France are doing cable-video links, for example, so that the citizens can participate via their television sets, and even the poorest households across Europe, most of them have satellite dishes or cable TV, that has proved an effective way of getting those who wouldn’t normally get out to participate involved, because they can do it from their homes. But it is about the willingness to try, and to listen.

Pat Cross

Let me clarify – this wasn’t consultation – this is power. They actually – they decided the budget. It isn’t we would like you to this – it’s different! It isn’t we will listen to you, those people have the power.

Councillor May

That does depend on whether or not the legislation which establishes the local authority allows for that to happen. And certainly in the UK model, it is only the elected representatives who have the power to make those decisions. I suspect that’s by and large the same in Canada, which is based on the same model of local government. Devolution of money is the best way to devolve power, then I go back to the question which I raised: if you’re going to devolve all of the budget – I know you didn’t say that, but that’s the logical extension – where’s the point in having the elected representative? And it’s getting that balance between what is available to be decided locally and what must be left to the level which takes the broader look.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Ok. The clock is ticking along, and I’m going to recognize the people who are in line now, and I would encourage those who have questions and comments to go at them quite quickly, so that all your colleagues can have that opportunity. Thank you.

Maureen Shaw

Good morning. My name is Maureen Shaw, and I’m President and CEO of the Industrial Accident Prevention Association located in Toronto. We’re the second-largest and the oldest such association in North America. We have as our vision, and I’m going to quote our vision to you: "Our vision is a world where risks are controlled because everyone believes that suffering and loss are morally, socially and economically unacceptable." Now, I quote that to you to help folks to understand hopefully the relationship between creating healthy and safe workplaces, healthy and safe communities, healthy and safe cities, and a healthy and safe world. Over the morning I’ve heard all sorts of discussion around – and last night – around structure, and around governance, and around the need evolve governance, all of which I totally agree with, that we still have governance models that were developed back in the late 1800s. But one of the things I think has been a concern of mine for some time, that as institutions, and mine is no different, we have evolved where we think that we know, to the conversation that we were just having, that we tend to not talk with people, but we tend to talk at or to people, and this has really got to change, and I hope that the dialogue over the next couple of days will help that. Now, one of the things that I have been involved with – we have a number of links internationally, we work with other organizations – WHO, ILO, with organizations like my own in Asia, in Europe, in South America, in Caribbean and so on – and one of the things that I have been involved in that I really want to leave you going to lunch with some good news stories, because there are a lot of good-news stories out there, and I do hope by the end of this week that we will have an opportunity to talk about some of the good things that are happening and how we share those, how we share the processes that are being undertaken. The good-news story is that in Canada we created, based on a WHO model called Safe Communities that sort of sprang out of Healthy Cities – we created a safe community model that was developed in communities, no money, no extra money from any levels of government, that brought together people in their communities, from health, from education, from the workplace, led by the mayor of the city, led by the chief of police, and in the city of Brockville, for example, in eastern Ontario, that city has reduced its injury rates by an absolutely astronomical amount, has created an economic development model that is the envy of all sorts of other cities, that is now having international schools land in its community to develop because of the attitude of the community, is reaching out to communities in Russia to mentor them to develop safe community models within their communities. And we now have 33 such communities across Canada. And we started with small businesses in their workplaces to help them to be able to enrich their communities, to sustain their employment levels, to sustain their businesses by being healthy and safe workplaces. So there’s a lot of good-news stuff going on, and I do hope that we’re able to have an opportunity to share that. Thank you.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Ok, next – any reaction, sorry?

Barbara Hall

Can I comment very briefly on that? I spent the last four years working on the issue of safe and healthy communities from a crime-prevention initiative, and looking at how it takes much fewer resources to prevent crime than it does to respond to it after the fact. But if we look at cities that have been successful at imbedding prevention into most of the activities they do, they have all involved very strong hands-on leadership by the mayor of that community, so I think your example is another one of how that kind of leadership can have major impact in communities.

Luisa Veronis

Hello, I’m Luisa Veronis, I’m a student of the University of Toronto in urban and social geography. Thank you for three very insightful presentations. One of the things that you introduced was the idea of tensions between local and global forces. My question is about how municipal governments can try to accommodate these forces. More specifically, I can think of an recent example, with the release of the official plan of the Greater Toronto area that manifests this tension between global and local forces. The official plan is built around the two notions, sometimes conflicting, between local democracy principles of participation and local involvement, the participation of everyone into the process of building together a wonderful city. And on the other hand, a rhetoric about the competitive and the successful city that works more at the global level, attracting global capital. And there’s a lot of talk around reaching consensus together, but also about the diversity of the city, and it doesn’t provide any concrete tools about how to reach this consensus together when on the one hand we have the diversity of new immigrants who have pressing needs with housing, schools, all sorts of social services and employment, and on the other hand how to attract this global capital that we need so much to have the city being vibrant. So I was wondering what your thoughts are, maybe for those who know more specifically about the official plan for Toronto, but also how things are done in other places. Eventually my question is whether having official plans might not be the right tool at the present time to deal with these issues, and whether we can look at alternatives, maybe more grassroots style, so your thoughts maybe around these issues.

Barbara Hall

I think you’re right when you talk about the tensions involved in those two sets of objectives. There is an enormous tension between them, and I see the role of local government to find a balance between them. I think one thing that seems missing when you read the official plan is the social infrastructure that is essential to be a part of it. The official plan really says, trust us. It says we need affordable housing, or we want policies that involve good settlement for newcomers, or the addressing of the issues of artists or other groups in the community. Those things have to be seen as inextricably linked, and people are very cynical and not prone to just trusting. So it’s complex how we deal with those things, I think there isn’t a simple answer to it, but it’s all about finding the balance. I’m not sure in a large city that totally empowering small local groups around the city is the way of solving those problems. I certainly think that we need to reach out much more and bring people in to be a part of the discussion, and I agree with the previous speaker that it’s not putting all the onus onto the citizens, that there needs to be a direct, inviting, pulling in, attracting, and then once people are there, nurturing them, respecting them, responding to them honestly. Real challenges, and things that can’t be legislated – I would love if one could legislate honest discussion, sympathetic listening, you know.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Next comment or question.

Margaret Rogriguez

My name is Margaret Rodriguez, and I’m from Toronto, and I’ve worked at both the provincial and municipal levels of government, and I have – first of all I’d like to thank the panel for a wonderful discussion this morning, and I’d like to ask a question about the how we can get municipalities more involved in the development of strategic policy. It’s been my observation that the provincial government doesn’t regard the municipalities as really having any responsibility for the setting of strategic policy at all, they regard the municipalities, in this province anyway, as simply the agencies for the delivery of services which the province has chosen to download or bestow upon them. At the municipal level, because of this, there’s a lack of capacity at the staff level for doing the kind of strategic thinking that’s needed, and there’s a lack of interest on the part of many city councillors on these issues, and you only have to look at a council agenda to see that most of the concerns of councillors are naturally enough related to their own wards, and the consultation which the province does with municipal officials is often very superficial, and leaves the municipal officials feeling that they didn’t really want to hear from us anyway, they just talked to us so that they could say they did, as opposed to having really listened in the sense that Barbara Hall talked about. And I don’t think it’s sufficient to rely upon organizations like FCM to bring the municipalities together to do this kind of thinking for them, because bringing municipalities together is a very cumbersome and difficult process at the best, even though FCM and other organizations do a wonderful job of talking to governments on behalf of municipalities. So I guess my question is, how do we get a greater sense of strategic policy development in our municipalities and how do we persuade other levels of government to listen to us more effectively?

Councillor May

Can I offer a view from outside, and I offered it last year and I’m not sure it was at FCM. I’m not sure it was universally welcomed, but I’m going to say it anyway. In Canada, you are very proud of the non-party political nature of municipal government, but national government is party-politically organized, and it seems to me that until you deal with that, and organize on party-political lines if that is what it takes to get an input into strategic planning and strategic policy-making, then you’re going to have this. You’ve got to get yourselves organized, and as a party politician myself, I’ve found that a very effective way, because if I can’t do it through the national open channels, then I will do it through my political party, and make sure that it gets onto the national agenda that way. That would be my solution.

Yves Ducharme

Well, I have lots of road to make to achieve that. I believe that in our province, in Quebec, some work was done so that we could achieve strategic thinking. The province was divided into regions, and each region at specific times, the provincial government would come, not as a whole, but the minister of economics will come, and will ask the region to define its own regional strategic policy, and that will be integrated into a provincial strategy. What needs to be done now is that we need to have, in fact maybe the whole cabinet, as regularly as possible to sit down so that each of them could have an understanding of what is happening, because like we said, health is not only a question of is your heart beating at the right speed, it is also a question of do you have access to good housing, do you have access to good education, do you have access to a good job, and this has all different impact. But I believe that we made some progress, it still has to be done, as far as the city is concerned, we are into this process because it is a new city, so we have to redefine the new city, we have to make sure that every citizen in all parts of the new territory feels part of the new city, but still has his own identity as a feeling that what made them proud of their neighbourhood still is kept, and that we share good practice among ourselves. So it’s ongoing process, but I believe that we made some progress since 10 or 15 years ago, but as far as political links from the national parties to the municipal level, what I enjoy as a municipal leader is that I am not linked, I am not, you know, sometimes we say that members of parliament are a voting machine, so when the premier says vote yea, they vote yea. At least at the municipal level, we can agree and disagree, and we still have this latitude.

Barbara Hall

I think we have some Canadian unity here. But I think, you know, that the easy answer would be to elect people who are strategic and think about issues in that way, but I think as we talk about resources coming from senior levels of government, that there are opportunities for them without directing what the solution to a problem is, but wanting to have strategic plans as to how problems will be dealt with before resources are received, and then as part of the accountability process, having measurements that come out of a broad participatory process. What do we need to achieve? How are we going to achieve it? And how do we know whether we have achieved it? And voters should be expecting that, and looking at that, and being a part of that process, and reviewing that before they vote, and I think senior levels can also have a requirement for that before they fund. I think, going back to the official plan, I’ve found it shocking going to the community meetings as that was unveiled, how few city councillors were at those meetings, how few city councillors had anything to say about a document that is touted as the blueprint for the city for the next thirty years? Well, where are the folks who we entrusted to develop that kind of plan?

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Ok, we have two more questions. I’d urge you to come to the point, please.


I’d like to put in a word for the silent majority, of which I’ve been a member up till this moment. Everybody says, you all three say, that we should get involved, and Mayor Ducharme had a very touching story about his citizens getting involved with the uproar in Hull at 3:00 in the morning, which took me right back to vagrants and drunkenness and the act of 1849, which everybody was denigrating. But the fact is, the cities presumably are providing some needs, and the cities and globalization are in competition in providing these needs. And the thought had occurred to me that the deeds that are provided for me by the globalization system are provided by the famous invisible hand. I don’t actually have to do very much about getting my milk, and my orange juice, and my clothes, and my movies, and so on. On the other hand, it turns out that I do have to, I’m called on by you folk, to become very involved in my swimming pools, and my paddling basins, and my garbage collection, and so forth. Why can’t that be provided for me by this same invisible hand, is one thought that comes to mind? I mean, I don’t want to go to Porto Allegra and be involved in the budget discussions, I really don’t. So, I wonder if I could put the question in this form, which I hope is brief. Could you three provide us with a minimum list of what a municipality of 250,000 and up should provide to its citizens? What’s a shopping list of the things that my needs are going to be provided for by the city? So that’s my question, a shopping list of what the city is going to do for me, because that would really, I think, concentrate our minds on how to provide it and how to govern the system that provides it.

Councillor May

You want the short answer? The short answer’s no. Because I can say we will provide you with a safe community, but of course the individual activities below that require a consensus as to whether we should put more into policemen on the street, or more into improving street lighting so that we don’t need those policemen. And I suspect my colleagues will say similar things, so I’m going to stop right there.

Barbara Hall

We’re more into families and children, so that neither the streetlights nor the police are an issue. I mean the lights become an issue so that you can read after dark when you’re going home as opposed to protecting you from kids who don’t have any positive ways of connecting into the community.

Yves Ducharme

I think I would put back a question to you. What would you like us to withdraw from our shopping list?

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator


Zaria Shaw

So, last question. My name is Zaria Shaw, from the London School of Economics. One of the main things that drew me to this conference was the idea of bringing together cities and globalization, which are such polar opposites in terms of concepts – how to develop communities in an era of globalization. My comment that I’d appreciate some feedback on, is: for better or for worse, I tend to be a firm believer that the best way to enhance diversity and multiply options for individuals in a city is to remain firmly grounded in some sense of tradition, values, and not change systems and structures to the degree that most people seem to be crying out for, so I get a little nervous when I hear, change, change, do something, do this. Also, one word that I consider a bit synonymous with globalization is ‘self-responsibility’ and increasing accountability and transparency in a very real sense on an individual level is how people can best contribute in their small way to a globalization movement.

Councillor May

I suppose I tried to argue that, whilst globalization did mean unfettered movement of capital, it also meant a recognition that we are globally interdependent in terms of our role as residents in cities, or rural areas, or mountain areas, and that is globalization in its best form, because it allows us to learn from one another, and doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to redraw boundaries or reinvent structures, but that you work within what you’ve got locally to counteract the more negative aspects of globalization.


To begin, Mr. Moderator, thank you for recognizing me. I suppose the spark of being a citizen strikes at the oddest of moments sometimes when the time is over. But I think one of the aspects that was forgotten and one that concerned me and brought me up to the mike is that globalization leaves us as individuals, and so when we talk about citizens uniting, I think one of the mechanisms we’re not dealing with one another as citizens, we’re dealing with one another as individuals. And if you look at the act of voting, which you’ve mentioned several times on the panel, the act of voting requires a community before you cast a vote. We have this idea that when you cast a vote, it’s just an individual act, and that it is, but it also requires a sense of community to understand where that vote is being cast. One thing that I haven’t seen from the panel, then, is a recognition of intellectual apathy – not citizen apathy, but intellectual apathy, meaning, there are creative solutions and strategies that are needed to rebuild communities that have been fragmented by the processes of globalization. That is something that I definitely see municipal governments acting towards. So that’s a comment, I don’t know if there’s time to have further discussion on that.

Councillor May

I wouldn’t disagree. But I think that the need to condense comment into the 30-second media soundbite has contributed largely to the lack of time spent, like we are doing just now, going round and round issues that don’t necessarily have a single, simple 30-second answer. And that lack of time to debate and challenge within our own minds why we believe what we do has contributed to, I suppose it is a dumbing-down of public policy and public polity, and that leads to systems of governance which try to be what they were 30, 40 years ago when you did have that breath of debate, because citizens do want the quick answer, like my friend the Moll of Kintyre, who wants five things, and we should be able to give them to him, but we can’t, because it’s too complicated to be reduced to five single sentences.


I just suppose I wondered whether our leaders in themselves actually had this vision or these skills. My concern was more on the version of intellectual apathy more than citizen apathy. But thank you.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

Ok. I’m sorry sir, I allowed one person to squeeze in, but we really do have to close down. Unless you have just like 30 seconds to . . .


This is a quickie – I just couldn’t resist. All this talk about representation and getting things done and improved, apathy in citizens’ voting – one reason citizens don’t take voting seriously is that there isn’t any accountability. You vote for somebody, and he doesn’t bloody well do anything! Accountability is a factor, and I just wanted your comments on that.

Councillor May

Hey, see you outside after.

F. Leslie Seidle, moderator

I want to thank our three panelists on your behalf. I sense from the chemistry in the room and the number of questions that you really appreciated their presentations and their discussion this morning – I know I did. I also want to say that I haven’t very often chaired a session where I felt so much passionate interaction between the participants and the other members of the audience, and I think that that’s just excellent. These questions – if you look at the title on a page, it’s got "Local Governance in a Globalized World" – ooh, another one of those.


. . . CityTV, if you’d like an audiotape of any of these sessions, I’m sure this one isn’t ripe yet, but it’ll be off the press shortly, they’re available in the foyer. Industry Canada, one of the major sponsors of the conference through the Sustainable Cities initiative, has a booth in the foyer, and we’d invite you to take a look at that. Couchiching souvenir items are available for sale at the registration desk. There’s a message board for any messages you may receive, and finally, perhaps more important, tomorrow afternoon there are a series of discussion groups, and we’d urge you, if you haven’t signed up, to join one of the discussion groups, there’s a range of topics, the sheets to sign up are at the registration desk.

Thank you very much.