Friday, 16 November 2012


Vancouver Councilor Geoff Meggs was questioned during a City Council meeting about the lack of consultation regarding a plan to build a gigantic, view blocking building in the West End. He said, 

The consultation was the election. This is my delivery!"

So there you have it. 

Mr. Meggs believed that he had a mandate. He was not alone in this.   President Bush explained that he had a mandate to liberate Iraq. The difference was  that his mandate was of divine origin. It  came from God.

So, who is more delusional? The one whose  mandate comes from the voters or the one whose mandate comes from God?.

Paradoxically, the person who enacts a residential poultry bylaw because God told him to “ Go forth and build chicken coups in the peoples backyards” may be completely sane.  The one who believes  he heard the voice of the voters saying, "Let there be chickens,"  is absolutely nuts.

Think of it this way. Religion has centuries of  intellectual underpinnings to support its arguments.  On the other hand, there is no possible way of determining the will of the voters respecting each and every promise in a city election. Politicians claim the mandate because it allows them to do things in office without any further need for accountability. It derives from a set of beliefs that is demonstrably false. (They say to themselves, I can do anything because the voters love me. They really love me.)

Councilors have a limited mandate to represent their constituents and to figure out what they want as best they can. It isn't easy.  No Council can have a mandate for most policies at council level because there is no way of  knowing why people voted for them, particularly in our at large system.

In the first place, very few citizens actually vote. In the last election it was 37% of the eligible voters. So 63% gave no mandate at all about anything.

A party runs on the gas of promises. It is impossible to say that the 37% of the voters favoured all of the policies. Some of them may just have liked Gregor's looks. 

In the last Vancouver election it is likely that  many voters chose the winners as the lesser of evils. I can tell you that I endorsed Mayor Gregor in 2008 to punish the NPA that, incidentally,  also purported to have a Mandate. In that election a lot of NPA supporters just stayed home. 

There is also a tendency to vote for the candidate whose name begins with A, B, or C.

We will no doubt continue to hear the claim by elected politicians that they have  a mandate to spend a half billion dollars on a stadium roof, to rezone an entire city, to sell off a railway system, to close a street, to build a street car - you name it- they claim the mandate.

When enough politicians scream in harmony that the people speak through them,  they  actually start to believe it themselves. Or put even more simply: people with overlapping delusions have the makings of a political party and will get along wonderfully. 

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