Archive for June, 2006

important perception

June 18, 2006

Many people say that “perception is reality”. I have often heard that it is most important for elected people to appear to be effective.

The obvious problem with this, of course, is that councillors make choices everyday in how to spend their time. Given the choice of working on something with long-term and dramatic impacts or appearing in public, someone who is more concerned about their reputation than actually achieving meaningful results would abandon the lower profile or non-public meeting in order to be seen as effective. It’s an interesting contradiction.

This does little to build teamwork among councillors as the more important tasks end up being completed by the remaining councillors, but those who abandoned the effort actually end up looking good in the public eye. Voters reward self-promoters.

I personally hope that politicians would choose to focus on making improvements to the community over building their public image.

It’s disappointing, but the reality is that voters tend to see only a flashes of the work of an elected person. And perception is reality, so what they see in that fleeting glimpse is what they have to base their judgment upon.

So, for political survival and success, I suppose it is more important to be seen as effective than it is to be effective. I’m just not sure it supports effective governance.

lots to learn

June 16, 2006

Vancouver is often called the most livable city in the world. After visiting Montreal, I wonder about the criteria.

What I saw was a city where decent rental housing was available for a couple hundred a month. Ownership is still possible under $200,000. The streets were very safe. The neighbourhoods are compact and walkable. The people are diverse and accommodating. Road rage is relatively non-existent. I saw very few panhandlers, none who would follow you with their story about running out of gas and needing to get back to Abbotsford. Though built out, it is green. Trees everywhere. They don’t seem infested with the kind of view-mania that nags BC trees to death. There are neighbourhood parks throughout. There is public art everywhere. Public festivals fill the calendar.

Montreal is a mature and confident city from which Vancouver cities have a lot to learn.