Governing in tandem for people

If democracy is the rule of the people for the people by the people, then, by definition, it should work best at the level closest to the people, the level where those elected are, or can be, in daily contact with those who elect them, meaning municipalities.

In a well-functioning system of representative government, municipal administrations make up the back bone of the system because they take the vital services to citizens and are the first and most immediate authority that residents take their grievances to in search of solutions. They are also much better informed of the potential their landscape offers for economic and social development.

We are located close to the Edmonton-Calgary corridor, a strip of land thought to be blessed with resources, human and material, to generate up to $50 billion of wealth over the next two decades.

The debate over how this wealth is to be created and who will get the lion’s share of it, under what kind of arrangement, is already well underway.

Alberta Electricity System Operator, for instance, seems determined to charge ahead with plans to establish a $3 billion transmission line along the corridor despite intensifying political and landowner opposition. On the other hand, there are suggestions, mostly from municipalities, that this kind of immense investment is totally unnecessary to meet the growing energy needs of the region and local, less costly solutions are well within reach.

Municipal governments are just as much authorized to speak for and act on behalf of the electorate as the provincial governments. Granted, their jurisdictions are different as defined by law, but that does not mean that the two levels of government can not find common ground for the good of the electorate that employ them both.

Particularly when it comes to major projects that affect the wellbeing and the future of that very electorate, isn’t it reasonable to expect a harmonious approach rather than conflicts and angry arguments on those vital issues?

At the expense of looking very naïve (not considering the giant corporate interests and massive profits involved), one can not help questioning why it is so difficult to build consensus, with the participation of both provincial and municipal administrations, around issues that affect not only ours, but future generations as well.

— Mustafa Eric