For a lot of people who live in Ontario, I suppose Mike Harris and his right-wing “Common Sense Revolution” ruined those words. But taking a page from progressive movements, I say let’s reclaim “common sense.”
It’s the essential trait missing among the many elected people on city council who can’t see past the boundaries of their own ward. Perhaps it’s a leadership deficit, forced amalgamation or simple political rivalry that keeps these councilors from making meaningful change in the way the city operates. At the very core of the problem is their inability to work collaboratively for a common and greater “all city” good.
Ottawa should be an innovator. We should encourage the world’s best urban design and constantly strive to be a real world capital. We don’t. We bicker instead.
The frustration is palpable in urban Ottawa. Strike up a casual conversation about snow removal, property taxes, cycling infrastructure or the lack of services, and expect an earful from someone who lives downtown. Look up and down Rideau, Sparks and Bank Streets, and ask, “did common sense create these spaces?”
Ask the citizens of Ottawa what to do about these trouble spots downtown.
I couldn’t care less if a councilor is left wing or right wing. As long as they demonstrate their ability to be commonsensical, not comical. As long as they present solutions and not problems to be solved. And, above all else, as long as they are willing to work together as a council to create common sense solutions to the challenges facing Ottawa.
So, how do citizens inject common sense into this debate? How can we structure a conversation with candidates that ultimately ensures real commitments are made at election time?
photo by Evan Thornton