Tag Archives: Local Politics

Thoughts On Local Government_>>>10

[The following is a point-form note series on Local Government Politics aggregated from an academic course on that subject.]

The city manager model: – Referenced in Urban Governance in Canada by K. Graham, S. Phillips with A. Maslow

  • The city manager model is at the other end of the spectrum from the departmental model, fostering greater administrative integration and a more hand-off role of municipal council.
  • It arrived in Canada as early as the 1900s as one of the prescriptions from the municipal reformers, they thought it would create more professionalism in city government and permit council to serve more as a corporate board of directors than as managers of the city’s affairs.  Councils opting for this approach hire a professional manager to oversee all administrative activities and all departments of city hall.
  • All department heads report to the manager
  • Slow to take hold in Canada
  • Conflict between the mayor and the city manager
  • Examples today, Halifax, Edmonton, and Vancouver
  • US to limit corruption, an objective a-political person would be in control

Urban populism as a legacy of historical development in Canada (360):  – Referenced in Urban Governance in Canada by K. Graham, S. Phillips and A. Maslow

  • It has been suggested that the period between Confederation and the rise of the managerial reform movement in the 1890s represents an early epoch of vital local democracy, despite lack of voting for women and other minorities
  • Although property restrictions still narrowed the electorate clear lines of responsibility existed to inhabitants
  •  End of Golden age, when Provincial governments usurped local authority
  • Important developments in urban populism between the early part of the century and the contemporary period are rooted in participation outside the traditional definitions of municipal electoral politics, for example:
  • 1919 Winnipeg General Strike was primarily about broader issues of labor rights, social justice and economic well-being.  Nonetheless it shaped electoral politics in the city of Winnipeg.
  • Oshawa General Strike, it cast a shadow over the practice of urban politics in other Canadian cities as well.  Example, business leaders and municipal politicians in Toronto worried throughout the Depression about the emergence of unions as an active force in municipal politics.
  • The effects of the urban managerial reform movement stifled the rise of urban populism in the period from the early twentieth century to the end of WWII.  The establishment of numerous agencies, boards, commissions to oversee key local functions was an important factor, in some cases these special districts were less accountable and responsive to general public because they were captured by special interests.  Example:
  • City of Vancouver’s town planning commission was established in 1925, in response to Vancouver Board of Trade, The Association of Property Owners and other real estate interests.  All proposals went through the Association of Property Owners before sending them to the public domain
  • Not until the post WWII period did major changes take place, resulting in urban representation and politics as we now know them. 

The legacy of Canadian intellectual history:  – Referenced in Urban Governance in Canada by K. Graham, S. Phillips and A. Maslow

  • There have been a number of central themes in the conceptualization of Canadian cities and their governments embedded in it.
  • These themes concern the origins debates abut the roots of local and urban government in Canada, specifically the influence of British tradition and government and the urban heritage of Canada’s “great and generous American neighbor
  • They also concern debates about the role of cities and city governments in generating economic prosperity and originating other forward impulses.
  • Origins Debate (2 elements):
  • Requirement of an essentially colonial administration to have some form of direct administration over the pre-confederation colonies, it pre-dates notions of local democracy, whereby local governments would have had independent elections.  Rooted in early military regimes of French and English Colonialism.  British began in the same way surveying for townships along the St. Lawrence River in 1783.  However, did not call them townships, but numbered them, related to US conflict
  • Emergence of municipal institutions with the additional elements of democratic self-rule, independent elections, and revenues.  Attributed to two developments.  The arrival of settlers from New England, and the fruition of the English reform movement through the passage of the Reform Act in 1832 and the first modern piece of legislation affecting English local government in 1835
  • Also, development of local, municipal governments slowed because of anti-democratic views of elite family compacts, and the requisites of the colonial administration and protection from American intrusion of the evolution of our government system
  • American influence encouraged rebellions of upper and Lower Canada and the drive for responsible government in Nova Scotia.
  • 1849 Baldwin Act in Ontario, which has had a seminal influence on the development of local government till today, it was first piece of legislation that created a uniformed system of municipal government over an entire province, it created a two tier system (335)
  • See 335, 336
  • Durham Report?