Political Accountability

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Join Us for the Launch of the Accountability Project

Pickering City Hall (front), Thurs. Jan 2, 3:00 pm
Visit our new issue-specific website, AccountabilityProject.ca

Political Accountability

Governments are the biggest threat to the environment through:

  1. specific anti-environmental policies
  2. failure to enforce good environmental legislation that is already on the books
  3. lack of effective policy

Most of the environmental issues that DurhamCLEAR has and will be focussing on result directly from actions taken by governments.

Governments can make or break the environment and as a result we recognize the need to elect the 'right' people during elections.

To this end DuhamCLEAR founding member, Doug Anderson, created an extensive environmental questionnaire for all candidates more than a year before the 2010 municipal election. A website was created to make the responses readily available to the voters of the Region. In the end 135 candidates answered the questions.

The website received more than 15,000 visotors in the month leading up to the election including more than 5,000 on election day itself.

That website has now been archived but is still accessible to voters at DurhamElection2010.durhamclear.ca.

Plans are underway to do something similar for the 2014 election.

How to tell if a politician will be accountable

During the 2010 municipal election, DurhamCLEAR conducted an extensive - 36 question - environmental questionnaire of all the candidates - - it took most candidates 1/2 hour or longer to complete it. Some agonized over it for hours, even days trying to find the perfect answer.

While more than 130 candidates completed it, it became clear as we read the answers that only some candidates provided sincere answers -  far more provided the answers that they thought we wanted to hear - the ones that would get them the most "brownie points".

One question that we didn't answer was "Would you be accountable to your constituents?" because of course they would all answer "Yes". Most would actually have meant it even if they had, quite possibly, a very different idea of accountability than their constituents. Politicians generally have pretty strong egos and most can't imagine that their constituents would not be in general agreement with them on the main issues.

Well, after the last election, we were blidsided when a few of the candidates that we specifically set out to elect turned their backs on us. Since then I have spent considerable time trying to figure out how to make candidates more accountable.

RECALL

The long-term answer is RECALL which is a process, generally enshrined in electoral law which permits voters to petition for the removal of an elected official.

Recall is little known in Canada although British Columbia has a recall law. Also, in the last municipal election, Toronto Mayoral candidate, Rocco Rossi, put it into his election platform. Unfortunately he withdrew from the race before election day. However, it got quite a bit of press coverage at the time - most of it positive.

Recall is quite common in the United States and is enshrined in several State constitutions. Click here for more detail.

Local Government and the environment

Most of the environmental issues that DurhamCLEAR has and will be focussing on result directly from actions taken by governments.

Governments can make or break the environment and as a result we recognize the need to elect the 'right' people during elections.

To this end DuhamCLEAR founding member, Doug Anderson, created an extensive environmental questionnaire for all candidates more than a year before the 2010 municipal election. A website was created to make the responses readily available to the voters of the Region. In the end 135 candidates answered the questions.

The website received more than 15,000 visotors in the month leading up to the election including more than 5,000 on election day itself.

That website has now been archived but is still accessible to voters at DurhamElection2010.durhamclear.ca.

Plans are underway to do something similar for the 2014 election.

 

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