Wanderings – All politics is local

John Sandfield MacDonald was Ontario’s first Premier and represented Cornwall at the time of Confederation in the provincial legislature. He served as Premier for over four years. One lesser known fact about this MacDonald: he also Cornwall’s first federal Member of Parliament.

In 1867, a provincial politician could also run for office in the same riding at the federal level – and vice versa. MacDonald served as both MP and Member of the Legislative Assembly until 1872. He was one of 25 politicians – mostly from Ontario or Quebec – who double-dipped. The practice ended with legislation changes that started in 1873. That history lesson, and the current provincial election campaign, lead me to wonder if the practice should have ended? Think of the efficiency. Existing politicians could do double duty, on one salary, with one staff.

We voters could save time at the ballot box, and have informed representation at multiple levels of government. Technology can help with this of course. Smart phones and Google Calender can keep things straight for this hard working government individual. There are many modes of transportation to get to and from the different places our elected official needs to go. One salary, two roles, and the same travel costs to Ottawa and Toronto. This seems like a no-brainer situation.

Many issues cross jurisdictional boundaries. Having one person in a dual role means less coordination, more work. And many ridings elect the same “colour” of political party, regardless of what election it is. The simplicity of having only once choice adds to efficiency.

If we really want efficiency – and who doesn’t – we could go out on a limb and simplify further with municipal governments. The saying “all politics is local” fits.

Voters elect councils which have deputy mayors and mayors. Those politicians serve at an upper-tier county council and those councillors select a Warden. That Warden is the top elected job in the county government, so it makes sense to have that person also be the MP and MPP. That would save millions in elections yearly. Vote for the mayor, get the other three for free! It would make municipal elections much more interesting I think. And with warden elections, we’ll still get variety. A “one and done” vote for the whole ball of wax – municipal, provincial, and federal – efficiency and representation at it’s best! Thinking about this, you don’t have to look far to see that voters have done that informally for the past 10-15 years voters already.

Lest readers think there is something more in my coffee cup than a caffeinated beverage, I’ll stop now.

No, I don’t really believe that there should be fewer elections and fewer choices. There should always be more choice for political representation, and independence between all levels of government. Independence or separation between levels of government has been sorely lacking for many years. Officials should work together, but not be in lock-step with each other. Or worse, have a politician from one level of government pull the strings to make the other politicians at other levels dance.

Concentrating political power in one person in a riding is dangerous. It is something that has happened this year and will continue if people don’t watch the political landscape around them.

So remember, no matter what day an election is on, and how much of an inconvenience it may be to mark an “X” on a ballot, not participating in the process is far worse. Go do your part and vote.