Panellists discussed the barriers to seeking elected office, the importance of local government, and ideas for boosting civic engagement.
Why Would Anyone Run for Municipal Office?
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
1. Electoral disengagement is a democratic crisis with dire consequences
A CBC article titled “No Ballots Required” highlighted a concerning trend in municipal elections throughout Canada — the lowest candidate numbers in recent history.
Kate Graham, a professor at Huron University College, Senior Advisor at Colliers Project Leaders, and a former candidate in the June 2022 Ontario provincial election, stated that roughly one-third of the 400+ recent local elections in Ontario were uncontested, with 32 councils that were entirely acclaimed. Adding low voter turnout to the mix, this situation paints a grim picture for the future of local democracy.
2. Municipal government is closest to voters
Naheed Nenshi, the former Mayor of Calgary, offered a case for why people should run for municipal office: The systems that directly impact people every day — everything from roads, to recreational facilities, to water infrastructure, to emergency services — are led by local governments.
He added that the relative lack of party politics ensures that local governments can do what they do best: keep communities happy and healthy.
3. We must tell transformative stories to combat electoral cynicism and hostility
All panellists discussed the atmosphere of cynicism and hostility that surrounds electoral politics across all orders of government. Combined with the force of online political radicalization, many people — particularly women, people of colour, and people from other equity-deserving backgrounds — may feel disincentivized from participating in public life.
4. Tackling systemic barriers to participation is key
Tenille Bonoguore, City Councillor for the City of Waterloo, shared insights about the lack of racial diversity on councils, and the all-consuming nature of work as a councillor. Few people have the privilege of being able to afford the low salary and high workload, and fewer can afford the impacts on mental health and family life.
It is particularly important to find ways to address these systemic barriers which discourage participation from people of colour, low-income communities, and women — all of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. One way forward is for federal and provincial orders of government to contribute to more municipal funding.
5. Political courage is a necessity
Druh Farrell, a former City Councillor of 20 years for the City of Calgary, expressed that she has taken multiple bold stances throughout her political career and was always prepared to lose. She stressed the importance of finding the courage to connect with constituents and keep explaining, in the simplest terms, the rationale behind unpopular policy stances.
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “transcription” in the subject line.
[Mary Rowe] 12:00:27
there we go! Hi, everybody! It’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute coming to you.
[Mary Rowe] 12:00:32
Live today from the beautiful, sunny city of Calgary, and I happen to be in a building that was purpose built, that my colleagues from Calgary reminded me purpose built to be adopted to not only include parking but also to include different kinds of multi-purpose space including where I
[Mary Rowe] 12:00:49
am where there’s a conference going on that I’m speaking at, and then a bunch of side rooms and things, and so it’s tremendous to be here I’m gonna ask my panelists to expose their screens and put them on so you can see they’re waiting.
[Mary Rowe] 12:00:59
There to come on and to acknowledge, obviously the first thing I want to do is acknowledge that Calgary is a very rich city, with all sorts of Interesting history and evolution and phases of development Most importantly, it’s ancestral, communities that were founded
[Mary Rowe] 12:01:16
here it is part of Treaty 7 which include the Beguni, the Gaina, the sixika, the Suitina, the Bear Paw, the Wesley and the Chiniki first nations, of the Stony Nakota, a Nation, It’s also the Territory of the Major nation 3 in the Southern
[Mary Rowe] 12:01:33
region of Alberta, and the acknowledgment there in terms of the aboriginal first nations.
[Mary Rowe] 12:01:39
Indigenous history. Here is also reflected, as you can see, in the actual urban farm which I happen to be looking at through the edge of this platform building, and I’m really really pleased to have just as just coincidence that we’re having this session that I happen to
[Mary Rowe] 12:01:52
be in Calgary, and then 2 of our panelists are former.
[Mary Rowe] 12:01:56
Recently former politicians elected officials on council here in Calgary.
[Mary Rowe] 12:02:01
So it’s all about Calgary today. And that’s tremendous.
[Mary Rowe] 12:02:04
And we also have a Kate Graham with us from the University of western Ontario.
[Mary Rowe] 12:02:08
No stranger to municipal politics, and provincial politics.
[Mary Rowe] 12:02:10
Instantly in London, and then Tenille Bonnegor, who sent me in the in the prep that pronounce her name.
[Mary Rowe] 12:02:18
Just think of Bono and Al Gore together, Bonnigor!
[Mary Rowe] 12:02:21
So from Waterloo. So if you guys can, put your screens on, then everybody will see each other and we’ll get a chance to talk about this topic, Which you can see, we asked with a certain tongue in cheek.
[Mary Rowe] 12:02:33
Why would anyone run for a municipal office?
[Mary Rowe] 12:02:36
2 thirds of Canadians go to a municipal poll this month, I think it’s mostly all in October to decide to cast a vote or vote set for local council reps and for mayors, and as we know it will propagate you kind of reinforce with me. If this is true i’ll come
[Mary Rowe] 12:02:52
to you first, but we know that it will be probably the lowest turnout that we get in any election process in Canada tends to be at the municipal level.
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:02
But I want you to confirm or deny that for a gate, and we also know that through that, through the pandemic, if there’s ever been a moment where people would be we hope?
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:12
More aware of the importance of their local representation, and the importance of local government in terms of delivering them.
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:18
The services and programs that we became. So, you know, viscerally aware, we needed during the pandemic.
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:24
So maybe that will mean we’ll get more people turning out to the polls this this fall.
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:28
I don’t know, but we wanted to get a chance to talk to folks who have been in the trenches, some of you.
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:34
Still there, I think, for another month. Daniel, you said, and and and others that have stepped out more recently to just let’s talk a bit about.
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:42
Why would anybody run for municipally elected office?
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:46
And I’ll mute myself so that you don’t get too much background noise.
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:49
Obviously, And, Kate, I’m going to go to you first in London. I’m assuming you’re in London, Ontario.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:03:51
sure I have
[Mary Rowe] 12:03:54
Today, you’re home to give us a bit of an overview about what your analysis is telling you.
[Mary Rowe] 12:04:00
You were a former municipal staff employee, and now you’re an academic, and you’ve been in the political world.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:04:01
[Mary Rowe] 12:04:04
As I said, you ran provincially. So maybe you can just start us off, and then I’ll swing around, and I know the mayor is there summer because I saw him briefly come on he’s put his camera off but we do, have Mayor Nenshi and councillor
[Mary Rowe] 12:04:16
farrell and Councillor Vonneberg with us.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:04:18
Sure. Well, it’s pretty when When Cui first advertised this event, I don’t know about the other panelists what your experience was, but my inbox filled with people who said why would anyone run for me?
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:04:31
Municipal? Office. I’ve been thinking the same thing, you know.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:04:32
I drive around my community. I see this signs up, and I wonder I watch what happens to people in these roles, and I think why would anyone step forward to do that?
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:04:41
And I don’t know about you. But for me that is like 5 alarm fire level alarm about the state of our democracy, and what the experiences are of the the you know great people who choose to step forward often a very genuine desire to serve their community so Mary as you mentioned.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:04:56
Yeah, there are 800 municipal elections across 5 provinces and territories in the next 3 weeks in Canada.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:05:04
So it’s it’s one of those unusual moments where all of these elections coincide, and it provides a phenomenal opportunity for us to take a good look at what’s happening with the health of our local democracies and as you said, i’m in Ontario
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:05:16
I know the Ontario case best There are a few indicators that suggest that we may have a problem on our hands.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:05:22
So 444 of those elections are in Ontario, and 139 Mayors or Reeves were acclaimed, meaning.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:05:29
No one was willing to rent against them, and there are 32 councils where the entire council was acclaimed.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:05:37
we could go community by community, and also look at places where there are just far fewer candidates running I think there’s also a gender dimension to this we see fewer females willing to step forward in London where I live 73%.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:05:49
Of the candidates are male. We don’t have enough of other dimensions of diversity as well, and you know, maybe that’s a a post pandemic hangover where we know the impacts have been uneven and the level of energy that’s needed is unevenly there right
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:06:03
now because people have struggled so much, we we don’t know but I I like your optimism that maybe we’re about to see a huge turnout in this great awakening that local government.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:06:12
Matters, but I think we’re in for a low turnout across the country.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:06:18
I think we’re in for you know, communities really struggling to remind people of wh what we all know.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:06:23
If you’re tuning into this today, you need local government matters.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:06:27
It’s defined by being closest to the people And yet when we look at some of these key indicators, like turnout like who’s running like with the lived experiences, are of the people who step forward I do think there’s lots of reasons that we should be bringing the alarm.
[Mary Rowe] 12:06:41
Thanks, Kate. Well, I I’m I’m flabbergasted that there are 82 councils that were fully Atlantic.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:06:46
[Mary Rowe] 12:06:47
I 32 of 800? Yeah, exactly. One would be concerning but 32, fully acclaimed in 800.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:06:47
30 33 would be concerning
[Mary Rowe] 12:06:56
And then, as you suggest, fewer women, fewer counts overall.
[Mary Rowe] 12:06:58
I mean, this is just a sorry state, I guess, but nice to see you, Mr.
[Mary Rowe] 12:07:02
Mayor, I always a mayor, and once a mayor.
[Mary Rowe] 12:07:05
I was a mayor, delighted to have you on city talk again, and I think we could go to you next.
[Mary Rowe] 12:07:10
If you will, just to give us a sense of what you your temperature taking is telling you and, as you suggest, 2 is it two-thirds of the country. Kate.
[Mary Rowe] 12:07:18
800 municipal elections, two-thirds. Yeah, So it’s A. It’s an interesting opportunity for a real transition here, and they had over to you and then, I’ll go to your colleagues from county
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:07:19
It’s 5 provinces and territories. Yes, so 800
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:07:30
I feel like I’m missing one of those provinces, Kate, You’re gonna have to fill me in.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:07:34
On which of the Atlantic provinces I’m missing on my list, But hi!
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:07:39
It’s Peter I’m supposed to be in Pi today.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:07:39
E pei, and November the seventh.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:07:43
As a matter of fact, I was a late addition to this thing, because I was doing some.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:07:48
I was supposed to be on a plane on my way to Pi, but apparently they still don’t have power all over downtown.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:07:52
[Mary Rowe] 12:07:53
We’re at city costs. Gain Pei’s loss.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:07:56
Yeah. But I’m thrilled to be here, anyway.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:07:59
So? Why would someone run for municipal office I mean Counselor Farrell probably has way more to say about this than I do, as she typically has way more to say than I do.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:08:10
But right, through. That’s how it works, right. I’m the quiet one, and the quiet one in the relationship, because now she’s running for provincial office and my question is why in the world would anyone want to run for provincial office, but look municipal office, is where it’s
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:08:25
at. We get to work on the issues that are the most interesting. You know.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:08:31
I just the reason I was a little bit late this morning is because I just got off of a really interesting conversation with mostly February, civil servants, and I was talking about the necessity of Centering the Citizen and the decisions, we make you know too often in government.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:08:49
We center the process or the bureaucracy or the history, or the way things have been done.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:08:55
And in Calgary we worked really hard on moving the citizens to the center of the process, and no one argued with that.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:09:01
It was. Just how do we do it? Right? Everyone thought that was the right thing to do, and I noticed in talking to these Federal civil servants that it’s actually kind of an alien concept.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:09:13
Because so much of the work they do is so very divorced from reality.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:09:19
And when you look and I shouldn’t say reality, it is real, but it’s divorced from the reality of people’s everyday lives.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:09:25
And when we look at where the Federal Government is really failing right now, passport office airports.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:09:35
So on. These are the very few areas where the Federal Government actually interacts with citizens directly, and it is really interesting to me that service Canada is be buried in child youth, and families, Canada which is buried in social development.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:09:55
Canada and that there’s no overall view or focus on service on citizen service or customer service.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:10:04
If you prefer. And so for me, municipal government is really where we get to interact with people, it’s a cliche to say we’re closer to the people I mean, heck there’s twice as many Molas in calgary as there are city counselors so that’s
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:10:18
not really the case, but what is important is that the work that we do is in fact, the work that impacts people every day.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:10:28
So Mary, you’ve heard me say this many times. My joke always is.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:10:30
If the Federal Government disappeared While we were on this webinar, it would probably take us a week or 2 to notice if you’re provincial government disappeared.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:10:40
You know, if you were in school or in the hospital, you’d notice pretty quickly.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:10:44
But if you municipal government disappeared while you’d have no roads, no transit, no parks, no green space, no clean water, no 911 no police, no emergency, response, no fire.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:10:54
Department, and you’d notice pretty quickly, because you’d be dead.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:10:57
And so the work that we do with the municipal level is what keeps people happy, healthy, and safe every day, and to me there’s nothing better than that And the last thing i’ll say is and there’s no political parties which makes life so much better so I often tease
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:11:14
drew as sort of being kind of one end of the ideological spectrum on our Council, and we have folks who are, you know, the tea party of Canada trumpers on the other side.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:11:26
But more often than not Councillor Ferrell votes with those folks, or sometimes they even do stuff together, because the unshakable drew chew align.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:11:37
She can tell you a vote, but but it’s because we’re focused on what’s right for cities.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:11:43
There really is no right-wing or left-wing way to plow the streets.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:11:46
There’s just an efficient and an inefficient way to plow the streets, and so ultimately, that’s what gets me really excited about municipal government and the way to annoy me the most is if someone.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:11:57
Says to me Oh, now that you’re done being the mayor, are you ready for a bigger political job, or a more important political job?
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:12:04
There is no bigger or more important political job, and the one I was just lucky enough to hold for 11 years.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:12:10
I’ll stop there.
[Mary Rowe] 12:12:12
It’s like this way that we talk about. We we. I always try to to try correct people when we talk about senior levels of government as if your children
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:12:19
Oh, I just told. I just told the civil servants to get the word level of government out of their vocabulary.
[Mary Rowe] 12:12:25
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:12:26
We’ll talk about orders of government, and if you say senior level of government, I’m a very nonviolent man.
[Mary Rowe] 12:12:33
Yes, exactly. So it’s gotta be orders of government, And there is an interesting comment that Cameron Charlotte Boffin, who has to be the Chair of the Coi Board just, saying but he’s also a montrealer he’s saying that there, are political parties in
[Mary Rowe] 12:12:44
Quebec, and in Montreal, and there are political parties in Vancouver.
[Mary Rowe] 12:12:48
So it’s not always the case, but I hear you.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:12:50
but very, very different right? And I I should have said, except for Montreal and the lower mainland.
[Mary Rowe] 12:12:52
[Mary Rowe] 12:12:55
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:12:56
But very, very different, because those are not especially well actually in In both Montreal, Quebec City, and the Laura mainland, all 3, the parties tend to be parties Nowadays, tend to be parties of personality so they’re not you know, it’s not liberal
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:13:12
versus Conservative, and in the in the lower Mainline, in Vancouver in particular, it used to be kind of Ndp.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:13:18
And everybody else, but that has disappeared. Quite a long time ago, and and what we’re seeing now is Kennedy Stewart was elected as Mayor Vancouver is an independent now, He has his own party which is basically the Kennedy.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:13:31
Stewart party, which probably won’t survive him.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:13:32
Vision Vancouver didn’t survive when Gregor Robertson stepped down.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:13:38
So there are arguments for if you want to get really nerdy about it, there are arguments for the organization of City Council using explicit parties instead of shadow parties like you have in the in Toronto.
[Mary Rowe] 12:13:45
[Mary Rowe] 12:13:46
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:13:52
We can get into that. If people want to get all nerd out about it.
[Mary Rowe] 12:14:03
just just let you know. That city talk always has lots of urban nerds, and they’re on that chat.
[Mary Rowe] 12:14:11
So chat away, guys about whether or not parties are a good idea or not a good idea, and also as had suggested, they’re not like rigid ideological parties.
[Mary Rowe] 12:14:18
They’re sometimes coalitions or different things, but I think it’s an interesting question in Ontario at the moment, because of the province having brought in strong there.
[Mary Rowe] 12:14:26
What they’re calling strong mayor legislation, and whether that will tip the balance. But I want to go.
[Mary Rowe] 12:14:30
To Tamil next. It’s to give us a perspective I mean, you’re a journalist, to Neil, and somewhere in there you decided, hey?
[Mary Rowe] 12:14:35
I’m gonna run for elected office. So why on earth did you decide to do it?
[Mary Rowe] 12:14:38
And I guess we could ask you, Why aren’t you continuing, and why do you think people should run select office and then, Drew, you’re gonna be clean up.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:14:47
okay. Yeah, So I’m in Waterloo, which is on the traditional territories of the Hotdoshani, a Nasha Adishnave and neutral peoples.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:14:56
so Yeah, I was. I’m a news journalist by background.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:14:58
I covered State, national politics, all that kind of stuff. So I like to think.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:15:03
You know, I I was pretty jaded before I hit politics, which was a fairly handy thing, but I I really entered.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:15:12
I ran for council, fueled by my community work.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:15:16
To be honest, I had been involved in environment groups, locally, I’d have been involved in arts and culture projects, and with the climate crisis I saw a real need to change just just to set a very clear focus within the city of it. Of the direction.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:15:35
To go So I really went with the hope of kind of moving the compass on climate change and equity.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:15:41
No, I am very, very lucky, because Waterloo Council is pretty different from what I hear from other places across Ontario and some across the country.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:15:53
we are a Young council. We’re majority female.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:15:56
Most of us have young kids, including the male counselors.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:16:00
we come from different backgrounds. But basically all of us share a fairly consistent vision of where we want the city to go.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:16:10
We just disagree sometimes on how to get there. So during this term we totally moved the needle when it came to climate action, infrastructure funding to better support.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:16:23
You know climate mitigation. We’ve Satyo created a new equity team within the city.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:16:29
So when I was thinking whether to run again, I had a couple of things to consider, which was you know, Did have I done enough in this term?
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:16:40
And do I have the energy and capacity to do another 4 years at this level of engagement, and my answer to the second part was no like I had this reckoning with myself and you know council’s fantastic It is such a great opportunity so when you ask Why should people run it’s the
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:17:01
most impactful way to help shape your community. And you know, as an head was saying, like city councils, they touch every part of your life.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:17:11
I like to tell people it’s from when you step out your door and walk onto the foot path to catching the bus, whether you have a park, whether you’re toilet flushes and whether you can get a glass of water all of that comes under municipal so you get to dig into
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:17:28
some really gnarly and complex challenges, you get to meet a heap of people, and ultimately you, I’ll part of a group that is trying to make the best decisions for the future of the city, and that’s a really privileged position. To sit in so I think
[Mary Rowe] 12:17:48
so to me. What? Just why didn’t you stay at it?
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:17:51
Well, council. Is pretty all-consuming here in Ontario It’s a it’s a part-time role here in Waterloo.
[Mary Rowe] 12:17:54
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:17:57
We paid around $40,000 a year, So we’re on the lower end of pay when it comes to a city of a 100 3,000 50,000 people, and I have a very busy ward mine is the uptown heart.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:18:13
Of the city. I have fantastic residents who are very engaged.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:18:16
I have the urban core with all the businesses and the diversity of that.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:18:20
So this is the nexus of gentrification and climate impact, because it’s also the oldest oldest area of the city.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:18:28
So it’s kind of for a policy. Node. It’s the most fun seat to have Yeah, So I’ve loved it.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:18:37
but it’s it takes a lot of commitment, and it’s not a part time.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:18:41
Recall. So the way I think it is Council is a fantastic adventure that precludes a lot of other live adventures
[Mary Rowe] 12:18:53
but you do have live to personalize, and you wanna make priorities.
[Mary Rowe] 12:18:57
Obviously pick your priorities. But I’m interested at all of you, and I know Drew is gonna come right in and reinforce this.
[Mary Rowe] 12:19:03
You know, this isn’t for the faint of heart being a municipal counselor, and you are dealing with real issues.
[Mary Rowe] 12:19:09
People experience. I often say to the Federal bureaucrats that you know if you’re a if you’re a career civil servant within the Governor of Canada, you you and your mid-level, or even quite senior level you rarely see your minister you know you have an
[Mary Rowe] 12:19:27
appointment, You’re you you have a brief, and you go across to the other building, and you, brief the minister, if you’re a municipal Council Member you’re seeing staff, on the way to the bathroom every day. So there.
[Mary Rowe] 12:19:39
Is a proximity that a Council member has to staff, and the staff have 2 council members, which is also, it has all sorts of positive components to it, but it also has all sorts of other challenges so drew Let’s go to you next.
[Mary Rowe] 12:19:54
I we were reminiscing you and I. I’ve known you since the beginning of your political career, and you were just starting out, and you’ve just completed.
[Mary Rowe] 12:20:00
how many terms were you on council here in Calgary?
[Druh Farrell] 12:20:02
okay, 6, terms, 20 years. Yeah, I know, yeah.
[Mary Rowe] 12:20:04
6 terms, and 20 years good for you, good for you. So why on earth would?
[Mary Rowe] 12:20:12
Why did you decide to do it? Why, just stay at it for 20 years, And and what do you think now?
[Mary Rowe] 12:20:18
But why do you think it’s important that people provide, you know?
[Druh Farrell] 12:20:24
Well, I I got involved because I was involved in my community, in a really profound way as a community volunteer and actist, and it seemed like a natural step to to run for for office and I think you you have people run for office, for different reasons summer, interested in power, even though I was in
[Druh Farrell] 12:20:45
municipal level. You have limited amount of power, but it it that does attract certain type of person and that are other people who are there for public service, and to truly make the world.
[Druh Farrell] 12:20:54
A better place for the people that you touch, and and that that’s what motivated me, and I stayed because I just continued to find really exhilarating reasons to stay involved in, and how to how to change my little part of the world.
[Druh Farrell] 12:21:12
So it it was immensely inspiring and rewarding.
[Druh Farrell] 12:21:18
I I do think, though, when we talk about the the phenomenon of of why we’re not seeing women running and why we’re not seeing people from diverse backgrounds running I think we need to talk about that directly.
[Druh Farrell] 12:21:30
Because it’s a phenomenon, and it’s it’s purposeful It’s a strategy where you you develop citizens.
[Druh Farrell] 12:21:40
Cynicism, through through just the bullying. That’s happening in social media.
[Druh Farrell] 12:21:45
People, We’re we’re seeing it with. Covid.
[Druh Farrell] 12:21:49
It’s gotten even more expensive, I know. Had had to deal with that in a very extreme way.
[Druh Farrell] 12:21:55
Sort of so did I; But that’s that’s a strategy to stifle debate.
[Druh Farrell] 12:22:03
And so. And it’s specifically directed toward women and of people of color and people from other marginalized groups, and And so how do you contract?
[Druh Farrell] 12:22:16
That I I think the natural responses to protect yourself and your family, and not subject yourself to that kind of abuse, But that would be the wrong approach, cause.
[Druh Farrell] 12:22:31
That means that they went, and and so confronting it, developing a circle of protective friends and supporters, who can shield you from that.
[Druh Farrell] 12:22:44
I I it limiting your social media it.
[Druh Farrell] 12:22:49
There are ways to strategy, to to counteract that, but removing, you know, women and and diverse communities from the political arena, we all lose as a result, and and so I I think my I was always subject to some pretty tough elections I won them all but it was because I focused
[Druh Farrell] 12:23:17
on vision and part vision, rather than devolve into negativeivity.
[Druh Farrell] 12:23:23
I never devolved into negativity, and and I know that’s why.
[Druh Farrell] 12:23:31
Now had won against all odds was because he’s spoke of of a really compelling positive vision for a city.
[Druh Farrell] 12:23:36
And don’t be afraid to talk about that vision. But we the society’s becoming cynical because of that negativity, and they’re being be barraged by by a a whole host of really awful topics and people are just naturally shutting down and they they can’t consume
[Druh Farrell] 12:23:58
all this, this awful stuff, And so they’re just removing themselves from the from the equation.
[Druh Farrell] 12:24:05
And that’s the worst business outcome. But it is a strategy, and we must figure out a way as a society to counter that strategy.
[Druh Farrell] 12:24:13
I would say, none of us, none of us have the luxury of being a bystander right Now that’s why I’m running for another order of government.
[Druh Farrell] 12:24:22
I never thought that I would do that, but I just. I make a terrible bystander, and I think that we need people to step up who are there for public service.
[Mary Rowe] 12:24:32
I think we need a t-shirt that says I would make a terrible bystander I that’s a fabulous way of you putting it, I mean.
[Mary Rowe] 12:24:41
Once once you have the bug of service, and you understand you want to provide service.
[Mary Rowe] 12:24:43
But I am interested to Neil. I saw you put your hand up.
[Mary Rowe] 12:24:46
So. Do you want to talk about the bullying piece like?
[Mary Rowe] 12:24:49
What are we gonna do about this? Because and Kate I mean, I’ll go to Tanail first, and then Kate.
[Mary Rowe] 12:24:53
I want to hear from Kate whether we’re seeing in the research in the data that social media bowling or other kinds of voting or lack of civility is that actually do we have data to to confirm that that is deterring people from seeking municipal office to tanal
[Druh Farrell] 12:25:04
and it’s also it’s it’s it’s beautiful, just the lack of civility.
[Mary Rowe] 12:25:04
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:25:04
well, yeah, cause yeah, I wanted to
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:25:04
[Druh Farrell] 12:25:08
It’s actually threats the threats. But sorry.
[Mary Rowe] 12:25:09
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:25:13
Yeah, no, it’s like I. So I wanted to perspective I just wanted to push back a little bit on on some of what we were saying, not to, not to say that she’s wrong.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:25:23
But I think there’s there’s more. There’s other aspects to it.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:25:26
Yes, women are treated differently in their discourse from the public, that’s for sure.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:25:30
And we see that within the responses that myself and my fellow, relatively younger female councillors receive versus the feedback that the men received just in the tone.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:25:41
It’s very, it is different. It is very real, but when it comes to representation, I think just it’s interesting here in Waterloo region.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:25:52
So we’re at a lower tier municipality.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:25:55
So we got the city, and then the region at the city.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:25:58
This, women running everywhere. It’s probably just There are as many women as men, if not more.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:26:05
you know it’s so. Agenda is not okay. It’s it’s you know.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:26:10
It’s always you know. You need to make sure that that stays strong.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:26:14
but in Waterloo I think there have been so many strong women, councillors, and strong women that we’ve had women may as before.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:26:23
that that’s been normalized to an extent that as a candidate, that it’s kind of it’s not exceptional that there are a lot of women running in Waterloo.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:26:33
The challenge here is in a more holistic representation of the diversity that’s within Waterloo.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:26:41
So right now I’m an Australian Canadian. I am diversity in Waterloo This does not look like diversity.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:26:49
Okay, but I’m about as diverse as it gets for this city council, which is, it’s not the Council’s fault, but it’s up to the voters to bring in new people is this changes.
[Mary Rowe] 12:26:57
but to Neil. Let’s let’s when you say it’s not.
[Mary Rowe] 12:27:00
But when you say it you you say it’s not the Council’s fault.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:27:00
At the original level. So it’s mostly at the region
[Mary Rowe] 12:27:03
Let’s just talk about that for a second. I mean the dilemma is that we we all function like tribes and clubs, and and we do end up self selecting. So I don’t know whether we can let councils off the hook to say, it’s not the council’s
[Mary Rowe] 12:27:15
fault It has to be some collective ownership that we take that we’re not some for whatever set of complicated reasons What’s actions do we need to take to make sure that people front diverse communities people, of color indigenous people.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:27:27
[Mary Rowe] 12:27:29
Coming from different backgrounds, feel comfortable, throwing their name into the hat
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:27:32
Oh, yes, it that I didn’t mean that I meant the the the makeup of Council who is elected to Council is one of the few things that Council cannot control.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:27:40
So we don’t get to say who sits on cancel.
[Mary Rowe] 12:27:40
[Mary Rowe] 12:27:43
Right. I see what you mean. Yeah.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:27:44
They get. To say that. But you’re right.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:27:47
So we are working very hard on equity and belonging because we need people to see themselves at that all.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:27:52
We need people to be welcome at that level, and what we’ve had is, you know, there is some pretty awful racism that occurs in campaigns in this region, and candidates of Kala are, affected by horrendous reactions and behaviors but What we’ve seen in the past
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:28:09
is other candidates rallying around and supporting those candidates of color to let them know that they have our support, like even if we running against each other.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:28:21
I’m gonna support you and and call out that behavior.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:28:24
So there’s we need more of it. We all need to be doing it to get back to like.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:28:29
We can’t be bystanders, but that’s where I think other candidates and other elected representatives.
[Mary Rowe] 12:28:42
Kate, I was gonna go to you next, but I’ll go to my head first.
[Mary Rowe] 12:28:45
He’s put a sign up, and then I’ll come to you.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:28:49
there we go. Thanks, Thanks so much for that I did want to jump in because I wanted to ask Kate a question.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:28:56
As well before you went to her. Thanks for that to both of you and and to Neil.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:29:01
I am shocked that you just self-disclosed as an Australian cause.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:29:05
I thought that was a I thought that was a perfect Kitchener Ontario accent.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:29:08
You just moved across to Waterloo. So you’re hiding it Very well.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:29:13
I may get you to say my favorite word in Australian at some point, which is the number that comes between 12 and 14.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:29:21
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:29:22
okay. I’ve never had someone want to ask me to say 30
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:29:27
dirty. I love it, anyway. No, What I wanted to see up and ask Kate about is the E.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:29:36
The extent to which, if you know all this nastiness is actually affecting people’s desire to run forget, about, to win, but to run for a moment, because we saw in our last election a very high proportion for us to female candidates when so Drew and I served on 3 terms
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:29:57
together, and the high point for women on our 15 Member Council was when there were 3, and in one of those councils there were 2.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:30:08
Now this was not the case in the past. So before Drew was elected 20 years ago, we had, I don’t think, we ever had a majority female counsel, but almost we had a lot of women in what was then ironically the alderman roll one of the first things I did when I became
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:30:24
mayor. Which Drew told me was a ridiculous, empty gesture.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:30:28
But I’m still happy. We did. It was we change that name, alderman, to counselor, and for our efforts we were rewarded with The smallest number of female candidates in the next Election that we had seen in generations and so clearly there’s much more to it than that But what
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:30:47
I also think is interesting, is in the 136 year History of Calgary there were exactly 7 visibly non white members of Council, and in our last count council together you and I, served with 4 non white members out of 7 so 4 of them were at that time and I think there are jury do you know off the top of
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:30:57
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:31:09
your head 5 or 6 Now, when I was first elected in 2022,000, and 10, I was the first non white mayor of any large Canadian city.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:31:23
Now, of course, the city’s the Calgary and Edmonton.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:31:26
Both have non-white mayors. There’s a very good chance that the city of Vancouver will have a non white mayor next week.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:31:34
So things have in some way shifted, despite all the nastiness and we’re starting to get more candidates running, and I don’t know if that’s just a result of demographic change in one out of 3 Calgarians is not white.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:31:47
Now, so you’re going to expect a larger group of people running, or if we’re actually seeing anything in the data, you know, I think the question of how you win is a non traditional candidate, i’d love to address it I don’t want to take up too much.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:31:58
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:32:00
Time. That’s an interesting question, because you have to have access to fundraising.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:32:04
You’ve got to have access to volunteers. You got to have access to power and experience.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:32:10
Why did I say power? Experience in terms of running a campaign.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:32:14
That’s a whole other story. But the real question for me is, are we seeing candidates, especially female and non white candidates, decline because of the environment that’s out.
[Mary Rowe] 12:32:28
No, that’s great thanks, Mayhed it before, Kate.
[Mary Rowe] 12:32:29
You respond just to say that, as is always the case with city talk, we have a very active chat community that are having lots of exchanges back and forth, thanks Everybody and a couple of people, including Alison story who I think, is running for Council in chat i’m is on on the session today, and a couple
[Mary Rowe] 12:32:43
of others. And so we’ve
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:32:44
Hi, Alison, you’re running for council. That’s awesome.
[Mary Rowe] 12:32:46
Exactly. So. So I think we I Exactly. So. I think we’re creating a community support here, and a safe space for all of us.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:32:47
[Mary Rowe] 12:32:53
I hope to talk to one another back and forth about what are your experiences and what what?
[Mary Rowe] 12:32:57
How do we take steps to actually address them? So I, hope people will continue to engage in the chat on this, and and and also, I think there’s some some folks from anal here, and some academics who are also tracking what people are raising so we always publish the chat just so people know that if you
[Mary Rowe] 12:33:11
have a concern that you don’t want something on.
[Mary Rowe] 12:33:13
The chat published. Please get in touch with us and we’ll make sure it isn’t.
[Mary Rowe] 12:33:17
But we always publish the chat, because it’s always so rich.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:33:27
Sure, so I I think we should start by just calling it what it is.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:33:30
So we have a deep, longstanding problem in Canada, where at all, across orders of government and across rules, Mayor’s counselors, and so on.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:33:40
the vast majority of our elected officials have been older.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:33:42
White, straight, affluent men, those 5 demographics, especially when together, have been so heavily overrepresented.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:33:51
Across all of these roles that they start to establish a norm of what we identify as being qualified to hold leadership.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:33:58
So anyone who doesn’t fit that mold for any number of reasons has a worse experience.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:34:04
When running, and when holding elected office. And there’s a growing and pretty healthy body of research on this, I see Actually, a few people who’ve produced this research are in the chat here studies on gender female identified candidate studies on racialized candidate studies on indigenous candidates
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:34:18
studies from candidates. We’re on, you know, lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:34:22
They have a worst experience. They experience more online hate and vitriol.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:34:26
But the question about is it discouraging people from running?
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:34:29
It’s a is a hard one to study. There are examples where people have gone out and ask, would you think about running for office?
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:34:34
And certainly the sort of mental health effect the impact on family loss of privacy.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:34:40
Those things are well established. I think the trickier part of the onion to unpeel is the impact that watching elected officials who do not fit that prototype and the experience they have the impact it has on confidence we know there are big gaps in terms of whether for example, those who
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:34:56
identify as female and male, consider themselves be qualified for office, because we’ve accepted that definition.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:35:02
The qualification looks a certain way instead of the way that it should be in politics, which is This is a representative group.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:35:08
So the diversity of your experience is what qualifies you to hold elected office and you know, I’ll just just one kind of broader point is, I think our political system.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:35:17
We take representation very seriously, right. But the the primary way we’ve defined this is geographic right?
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:35:24
How do we organize wards? How do we organize the Senate?
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:35:26
How do we organize? Sees, So we’ve determined that geography is so important that we will set up a system that absolutely guarantees that we hear from geographically all parts of the country.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:35:37
But for some reason we’ve been unwilling to make those same interventions to think about representation more broadly, like gender, like race, like age, like socioeconomic status, you know, like sexual orientation.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:35:50
These are things that I think increasingly, if we are to have legitimate governments, that people can believe in that actually hold to the promise of representing the people they serve. You know it’s great.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:35:59
To do, Ask her campaigns, and you know these interventions that I think will move the dial a little bit on getting underrepresented groups to step forward and run but there.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:09
Are very intentional interventions that we could make that would fix this problem in a moment.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:13
Right? Quotas So does this the big one. There’s lots of examples around the world.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:17
There are things that we could do to just solve this problem.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:20
You know, you see lots of experimental sortition, for example, there’s lots of innovations happening to solve this representation problem.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:27
So I think in Canada we we both don’t acknowledge that we fully have this problem.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:31
We think that it’s sort of solved, and it’s getting better.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:33
And we point to these sort of anecdotal examples, and then we haven’t really had a serious discussion about what we would do if we just wanted to solve this for once and for all, and it’s not because there aren’t ideas out there I think it’s because we the political.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:36:45
Okay, okay, And what about the economics of it? I mean, the loss of you.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:36:48
It It feels like it. You have to be rich. I have a second salary to be able to, afford to be a municipal counselor.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:51
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:51
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:36:54
If it’s not going to pay you a proper salary, so that it can be your full time job.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:56
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:36:58
That’s a pretty basic thing, you know. You can’t quarter and okay.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:36:59
[Druh Farrell] 12:37:03
thank you. I I I think we were talking not about just who’s running for office, but also who’s voting in elections?
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:37:11
[Druh Farrell] 12:37:13
And and Ontario experienced one of the lowest folder turnouts.
[Druh Farrell] 12:37:17
Is that going to be Rep. Is that going to be duplicated?
[Druh Farrell] 12:37:20
I I I can’t stress enough that that cynicism people shut down.
[Druh Farrell] 12:37:24
I I think there should be a lot of study on why people stayed away from the Ontario election when it was so profoundly important.
[Druh Farrell] 12:37:33
We all have a lesson to learn there, but it so I I People may be putting their names forward, but but people are that public is staying home and there’s a reason for it, and we should all be concerned about that I I want to push back one on to Neil, a little bit because I think councils
[Druh Farrell] 12:37:53
do have a role, and who, when you look at stepping stones for who runs for politics, is often people who have been on boards and commissions for this, for the municipality and often when I first got elected they were all male and they were all white.
[Druh Farrell] 12:38:08
I rarely I what was. I I was predominantly the only woman in the room when I was on a board or a commission as a new member of Council and and people of color.
[Druh Farrell] 12:38:22
I I would say that would be even worse. That would be all older white men.
[Druh Farrell] 12:38:28
And when when we started looking at Diversity for our boards and commissions, and and recognizing that diversity is representation, and and that then we started to see different different people, running because they were in the public eye, and they had experience, with the with public boards, and commissions, whose voices, do
[Druh Farrell] 12:38:50
councils, amplify. That’s incredibly important. Because if we don’t hear from those those diverse communities in public hearings, then they remain silent, and They feel powerless.
[Druh Farrell] 12:39:01
So I think councils have a really important role in who they’re inviting to the table and make room for them.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:39:01
[Druh Farrell] 12:39:08
so I’ll I’ll just leave it at that
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:39:10
that’s a really good point. Yeah, it’s it’s totally yeah, I understand what you’re saying.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:39:15
We have committees as opposed to Boards and commissions, and they’re they’re not really in the public eye all that much.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:39:21
So there’s it sounds like you have a lot more.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:39:26
way to your tools to use in it, to try and help make that happen.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:39:28
But it’s certainly something that we’ve started like this term of council.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:39:32
We’ve also kind of bringing in equity questions when it comes to committee representation and things like that.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:39:37
So you’re right. These are very active discussions, but we need to keep pushing them
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:39:42
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:39:52
yeah, you know, there are a number of very practical things, as Drew as pointing out that we need to do to encourage people because people don’t just run for office.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:40:04
One morning, And so it’s important to help folks feel part of their community, both through traditional structures and subverting the traditional structures, As Drew as pointed out, but also through just making people feel welcome in their communities and so you know, I’ve been I’ve been a bit excitedly
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:40:28
energetic this morning, because I want people to be excited about running in elections and voting and elections.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:40:34
But there’s some very serious issues here. So drew highlight, some something that a lot of people are not brave enough to say, which is a lot of this division.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:40:42
Didn’t just happen. It is by design and it’s a very deliberate design, and the design is.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:40:51
And I apologize if this makes me look like I should be wearing a tin foil hat.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:40:55
But we know what’s happening, and it’s extremely cynical, and it has to do with elevating the voice of people who in the past have not been voters.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:41:06
And it’s turning those people into voters And so starting in about 2,015, with Cambridge Analytica and with Brexit.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:41:16
What we saw was a very deliberate attempt to get people who we might define as dividers and haters for lack of a better term.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:41:23
Drew would just straight up, call them racists who never really voted before, And so we’re never a fruitful target for political parties to go after, and through, various mechanisms These groups have been radicalized, but they’ve also become very solid voters so you have peer
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:41:49
polyam, who knows that much of his message only appeals to 2025% of the population, and he knows that 2025% will vote.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:41:59
So there’s no incentive for him to be able to appeal to everyone else.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:42:03
The perverse other part of this is that that someone’s calling it anger farming in the chat, that that kind of attitude turns off everyone else.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:42:15
So it’s got a double benefit. It gets the dividers to vote, and it turns off the Non dividers and gets them to not vote.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:42:22
And so you end up in a situation, and and I I don’t claim to know anything about Ontario.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:42:28
Provincial politics but you end up in a situation where you have a very low voter turnout.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:42:34
But the people who are voting are different demographically than they were before.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:42:39
So you know every political party, every candidate, has always pandered to seniors because seniors vote.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:42:45
And now what we’re seeing is a lot of these dividers.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:42:48
Our voting in the same numbers. Seniors are voting so this is an accidental, The sort of radicalization is very deliberate and very designed.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:42:58
So in the 2,017 election, when I, when I was running for Mayor, what we found was a lot.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:43:03
Of these tools were being experimented on against us Fundamentally, a bunch of Canadians had gone down in the 2016 trump election and learned from Cambridge Analytic, and others how to use this with the deliberate Intent, of unseating Rachel Notlene Alberta Kathleen Win in
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:43:20
Ontario and the Prime Minister, and they succeeded in 2 out of 3.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:43:26
No one would argue that those 2 probably would have lost anyway.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:43:29
But nonetheless, This was done deliberately, and because our municipal election happened to be before those elections, you know, getting rid of that Muslim Guy in Calgary was an opportunity to test this stuff out so we tried to do the opposite we tried to use the same
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:43:46
Drew probably doesn’t even know this, but we tried to use the same tools that were being used to radicalize one segment of society, to radicalize a more thoughtful segment.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:43:58
Of society, particularly women, and get them to vote, and we had some success in doing that.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:44:04
But we are not nearly as well organized as the others.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:44:09
We are nearly as far along the path in order to be able to do that, So I think that’s the important thing to remember.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:44:16
It’s not that suddenly people are more nasty.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:44:19
Those people have always been nasty. It’s just suddenly they’ve been given the permission to be able to do what else?
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:44:27
And story, says she faced when she ran for mayor.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:44:32
And this is where our real challenges and I spent a lot of my time thinking about how we counteract that part of it is.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:44:38
We use their tools against them, but part of it is, we really just have to appeal to people to understand what is it stake here?
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:44:49
And what happens when you stay home, and what happens when you don’t encourage other people to run?
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:44:55
What happens when you don’t donate money, and to me I only have one or 2 solutions to every problem but one of my solutions to this problem is the concept of community service.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:45:07
What I call seba transcript word. That means service.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:45:11
So I launched a program some years ago that I took from the mayor’s office with me literally.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:45:18
It’s only a big phone number 3, and it’s in my basement.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:45:20
But it’s called 3 things for Canada, and it just simply encourages every citizen to do 3 acts of community service every year at least, reacts whether it’s shovel your neighbor’s walk or Join the board of your local community association because what I believe is not that voters, are active
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:45:42
citizens, but I believe that active citizens vote so a lot of people a lot of philosophy has been.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:45:50
If you just get people to vote they’ll get more involved in their community I actually think it’s the other way around.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:45:55
If you figure out ways to create social ties between people, if you find ways to do create community service, then you are building up that social capital which results in people voting and running for office and I can’t see the whole chat but I saw someone start, it’s.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:46:13
Interesting that the right wing has used, and this is the key.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:46:16
What folks on the far I don’t like using right and left, but what folks on the divider side have done is they have very paradoxically used.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:46:25
The tool of creating social capital to create social capital among people who want to divide, want to watch things burn.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:46:28
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:46:35
And so again. I’m pontificating. Mary knows I do that, but she likes me, anyway.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:46:40
One of the things that we really saw during the convoy protests, and so on.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:46:45
Look, if you’re someone like Drew Farrell or Kate Graham.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:46:48
You’ve been to lots of protests in your life, and when you go to these protests you always know that you’re taking a personal risk, but not everyone will agree with you that you could get beat up that you could get arrested that you could beat, up by the police if you’re a person of
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:05
color, but you do it any way, because it’s important to you.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:09
And what happened in all these anti vaccination, etc.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:12
Protests was we remove that element of risk because it became a party. That’s why you had hot tubs on Parliament Hill.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:22
The people On Saturdays, marching through the Belt line in downtown.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:26
Calgary. We’re doing so because of philosophy, but also because it was fun.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:29
That’s when they saw their friends, and they were doing so with no risk whatsoever.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:36
And this is actually a fundamental shift that we created social capital in a dangerous way, because we didn’t know how to respond to it.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:43
The People of the Belt Line in downtown.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:47:43
So can I.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:45
Calgary finally started swearing at folks and counter protesting, and then they went away pretty quick, because it was no fun anymore. And this is what we have to be Figure out.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:47:49
It wasn’t a part in. Okay. Can I steer us back
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:47:54
How to build that social capital up again. I’ll stop.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:47:56
I wanna I wanna steer us back to then. If if social capital is what we’re after, which I’m sure it is, and I see your hands up to me So I But I want to just for the remaining, time we got, on the call I i’d like us to have a bit of
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:48:09
a tough conversation if we could about part of what contributes to cynicism about municipal politics, and I don’t know whether this affects people’s decisions to run or not.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:48:18
But what I am interested in when you counsel somebody who’s running again, or he’s running for the first time in the next 4 or 5 years.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:48:25
What do you think they can accomplish? I think many of us are tired of municipal councils contributing to Nimby and i’m wondering if there’s a way for you as veterans to encourage you if we want the electorate to take municipal
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:48:43
leadership seriously, that I think we’ve got to find a way to demonstrate municipal officials taking, you know, Bold stands on problems that are facing us and nimble is one of the ones that drives a lot of people crazy, so does anybody want to step in on that and
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:02
I will jump in on this one. I think part of it stems from the fact that a lot of people don’t actually know what Council does.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:09
I think we’ve this will be an entire different discussion, and this may be the journalist in me.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:13
But the breakdown in local media is having a very direct impact in local democracy, because people only see their social media feed.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:49:18
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:20
So they’re not actually seeing the other side of political debates.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:24
They don’t actually believe there is another side sometimes. So they So I think that’s fueling.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:30
The cynicism is, people only see their reality, and then municipal councils.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:35
They have to deal with nuance. They have to deal with great.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:38
We have to do the best for everyone But it’s funny you asked you mentioned Joe.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:42
How do we get councils to take bold stands and provide leadership That’s what we did.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:47
This council, and it’s being turned against us in some ways.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:49:53
In this campaign. So the war city of Waterloo, as with every city, residential roads are a key issue, residential road, safety, and speeds.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:50:03
So Hello, Calgary We set a new residential speed limit at 30 kilometers an hour.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:50:11
Yeah, it was bold. It’s not super common in Ontario.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:50:14
It has been done but it’s not common yet. The research supports this move, and just my ward was begging for it.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:50:23
So for Ward 7 uptown people will basically like go as low as you can.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:50:28
But the local media and some other people, active on social platforms, have basically Reignnolds.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:50:37
This as an election issue, and we see people running against this, despite the science supporting it, despite the fact that it’s an essential key to meeting our climate. Goals.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:50:47
To meeting our neighborhood goals. Despite everything that’s going for it.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:50:52
There’s this reactionary Populist backlash
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:50:54
and you can imagine you can imagine if a council took a similar approach, let’s say, on inclusionary zoning, and said, Okay, that’s it.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:51:01
Everybody Inclusionary zoning is across. If it had the jurisdiction across all parts of the city, you could imagine a similar kind of pushback, which I’m sure, both and Drew can comment on in terms of their efforts to try to get neighborhoods to accept more density
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:51:14
so there’s the dilemma. We want people we want the broader electorate to understand how critical your role is.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:51:15
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:51:21
Why you’re so important to their quality of life. But when a council goes and does something brave, they get punished
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:51:26
I think we need to become our own storytellers.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:51:29
We need to tell this story so well that we’re bringing people along with us.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:51:34
But the challenge is, how do we reach them? How do we get them?
[Tenille Bonoguore] 12:51:38
How do we sha? How do we help people break down their own silos to be able to see the full picture?
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:51:45
we’re making this job even more important than it already was.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:51:50
I don’t want to be so negative and like, I think it’s a way deeper problem that, like, I agree.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:51:57
I think those but I’ll be positive, sets forward, But you know we talked a few times about the Ontario election that just passed really low.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:52:03
I was a candidate in that election a dork that will stick with me.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:52:07
Was it pulling vote on election day? And there’s a woman, and she had my sign on her line.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:52:13
I didn’t end her door 3 times already the polling station was across the street, and I said, There’s 45 min left.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:52:19
Can You Please go and vote And she was like you know, it’s been a long day, and I’m like I’ve been out for 16 h a day as a volunteer for months, and it’s not worthy, enough to walk across the street and It’s not a criticism.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:52:31
Of her. I like People don’t believe that this matters.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:52:34
They’ve lost fake. This is important. They feel powerless.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:52:38
They don’t think that it matters. And when you think like, if this was, if we were treating the population like a human body, this would be a symptom, not the disease, right population, Well, being one.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:52:49
Of the indicators is like high engagement, democracy, a sort of sense of collectivism, a willingness to come together, and I, I do think there’s these big concern of things that we are retreating to the individual people feel under threatened. Under attack.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:53:01
They’re these deep problems that manifest in I just can’t walk across the street because I It’s a deep problem.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:53:10
Okay, if you I appreciate, I appreciate this, and I appreciate you.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:53:10
It’s not 1 s
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:53:13
The level sophistication you bring to it. But if if we’re trying to be an antidote to people feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, helpless, all the post pandemic stuff that people are reporting my instinct, is always go as local as you possibly can and the idea that had about 3
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:53:27
I agree. I agree.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:53:30
things for Canada. Is it 3 things for your neighborhood?
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:53:33
Do we create a situation where people are reminded about how they can make a difference?
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:53:38
Out their their own door step, and then somehow, they make common cause with the person that’s running locally.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:53:44
I I think if I can I So I I think this is the real promise, and what’s exciting about local politics, whether it is closer to people or not?
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:53:44
I’m wondering what Drew. Go ahead, Kate.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:53:53
When people feel powerless, right like politics, can’t be about concentrating power, it should be about giving Power people.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:53:58
Have more power than they think that they do, and finding ways to fuel that, and using the closest level that we have to be transformative and different I I do think that’s our best our best hope
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:54:09
So so one big idea, of course, would be at the Government of Canada, and the and the provincial governments gave more money to municipalities, and then you and then you receive to have more power, just saying if they thought the stakes were.
[Druh Farrell] 12:54:23
I do because I I I I made some bold moves.
[Druh Farrell] 12:54:27
Lot of them. While I was on council, and I was always prepared to lose the election.
[Druh Farrell] 12:54:33
But I think that my constituents and I never suffered from low verdict.
[Druh Farrell] 12:54:39
Voter counting out they would, They were always hotly contested.
[Druh Farrell] 12:54:42
Election, but I always shared a vision, an articulated, a vision that was authentic, and that and and I left bread crumbs.
[Druh Farrell] 12:54:54
So people understood why I was making these seemingly controversial decisions at the time, and and so always always explaining and sharing and having conversations of one.
[Druh Farrell] 12:55:11
Of the reasons people I’ve been so radicalized is there’s this sense of community.
[Druh Farrell] 12:55:15
There there’s a sense of belonging with. It became a party, but also a sense of belonging.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:55:17
which is the point they had meant, it would became a party right
[Druh Farrell] 12:55:22
And we’re losing that, partly because how? How?
[Druh Farrell] 12:55:25
We’re building our cities. How? But if you can, over your term, if you’re running for re-election, and as you’re building up a constituents, do run the first time to to to build a sense of belonging and show where people fit, in and it, is constantly constantly finding
[Druh Farrell] 12:55:46
better ways, to meet communication. And I think politicians and bureaucracies are terrible at communicating complex ideas.
[Druh Farrell] 12:55:54
They can be boiled down to really simple things. And so I I can’t stress that enough.
[Druh Farrell] 12:56:02
I can’t give you any easy steps, but there’s there are ways to inspire people, and that’s our job as decision makers is to find ways to inspire people.
[Druh Farrell] 12:56:13
That they there is a better way. There’s a way that improve people’s lives, and it’s not just about you.
[Druh Farrell] 12:56:20
It’s about our society, and why we’re stronger together.
[Druh Farrell] 12:56:22
I think that’s incredibly important, and we’re losing that as a society.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:56:27
interesting to Neil’s call that we have to become around.
[Druh Farrell] 12:56:27
We need to get it back
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:56:31
You have to become your own storytellers your journalist to Neil.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:56:34
So we’re hoping does. That is that giving us a clue as to what you’re going to double down on once you’re released from the shockles of the Water to Council
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:56:47
I get it, I totally get it. If If you were to, I mean, and you know you’ve got several.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:56:52
Pretend you’ve got several candidates potential counselors on this.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:56:55
On this live session, and then the other people will watch it. As you guys know, we get much more, traffic of people watching these things subsequently.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:57:03
If there is one thing that you would encourage people that are seeking elected office, and may or may not be successful, even the ones that win, but also the ones that lose.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:57:11
Are there? Is there a particular call out? You want to make for the next term?
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:57:16
The next 4 years of municipal leadership in the country.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:57:23
I think the the real call it is first of all to those of you who are running way to go.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:57:30
congratulations. I hope that you are all super successful, because you’re obviously nerdy enough to be on this call, But get off this call and get to the doors.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:57:39
but you know that’s a great thing, and as we’ve heard from these wonderful panelists today, and what an honor to be here with all of them the critical thing is just to appeal to people’s vision for how a community can be better even when I got down and dirty
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:57:58
and bare, knuckled. I never departed from that basic concept that we can all agree, regardless of where we stand.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:58:06
We can all agree on a few basic things. If you work hard, you deserve to have a better life.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:58:12
The community needs to work for everyone, and we should all invest in transit, and some worse, very, very specific things like that, you know.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:58:21
Transit, always a winner. For example, right left, young old doesn’t matter.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:58:25
Always a winner. And so these are the sorts of things where, if you can stay above the fray, you’ll notice that’s where you get and and on the speed limits to me.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:58:34
I’ll just say very interestingly in the 27 team election, a lot of the candidates ran supporting 30 kilometers an hour. Speed limits.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:58:43
So in our very first meeting as a new council, we went around the table and said, What are you guys interested in?
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:58:50
And that came up, And I said, Let’s do that, and let’s get it done quickly.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:58:53
And it ended up taking 3 years through, and we ended up at 40, kilometers instead of 30 kilometers, and it was everyone thought it was super controversial I did not hear one person talk about it in the 2017 election it’s done.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:59:00
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:59:07
It’s dusted. People see the benefits and they’re moving forward, and we’ll see if the new council tries to go from 40 to 30.
[Naheed Nenshi] 12:59:13
But if you make the decisions and get them done, even inclusionary, zoning people aren’t gonna go back and try and unwind them.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:59:23
and I think the important thing is that you know it may take years.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 12:59:25
Remember, like you, it takes a few go rounds, and then you look back and realize it happened quick words to Kate Drew, and then to Neil, and going forward, What would the focus to the focus be Kate, over?
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:59:38
Sure, so I’ll remove the repeat the point that I think you know politics should be about giving people. Power.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:59:43
So thank you for running, and if you are lucky enough to be successful, use that position to give voice to those, especially who you hear from the least.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 12:59:53
acknowledge the inequities around you, and be willing to take a hard stance, even when it’s not popular, to me.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 13:00:00
The the 3 big problems in the world right now are climate change, inequality and all forms and our weakening democracy.
[Dr. Kate Graham (she/her)] 13:00:06
So none of those are popular issues to take on, and they all require political courage, and they all require listening, not just to the loudest voices, but to those who need government the most
[Druh Farrell] 13:00:19
Well, I could talk for another hour. But I this is such an important topic.
[Druh Farrell] 13:00:23
I People need to see themselves reflected back in decision making.
[Druh Farrell] 13:00:29
And so how you describe the work that you do personalize it, so that it the average person can see why it matters to them, and that goes back to what Neil said about storytelling.
[Druh Farrell] 13:00:46
It can’t I? I It can’t be over emphasized.
[Druh Farrell] 13:00:50
How important it is to communicate. Why, it matters to an individual who’s busy just struggling with life
[Tenille Bonoguore] 13:01:00
okay, first of all, if you’re running, Thank you. It’s a hugely vital part of democracy.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 13:01:05
And it will make you a better voter in the future for issues like honestly, climate change it’s whereas at the clock is ticking.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 13:01:12
This is not a drill, so that’s going to be front and foremost.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 13:01:17
And if you’re lucky enough to get one of these seats, enjoy it, Don’t take it like it’s it’s gonna be a lot, but it’s a huge privilege and ultimately, it’s not.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 13:01:27
About you. Someone else will be in that seat one day, so just while you are in it, try and build the best future you can, so that when you do step away one day you can step away proud
[Druh Farrell] 13:01:38
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 13:01:40
honestly, you guys are all great and to all the city talkers who are in the chat and listening, you know.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 13:01:45
Let’s curb our inner cynic our inner skeptic, and appreciate the leadership that these kinds of folks have been providing in elected office or almost an elective office in Kate’s case, and and the kind of encouragement they’re offering to the people on this
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 13:01:58
chat, but others who are willing to put their names on the line on the ballot, and will will all turn out.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 13:02:05
And it’s all part of building a stronger. Canada is having stronger local representations, So, as Kate suggests, that the power is more equitably shared, and that we can actually affect how our cities work for everyone so thanks everybody, for joining on city talk great to meet you to neil and and
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 13:02:20
good luck. And whatever’s next You drew nice to see you again, Marianne.
[Tenille Bonoguore] 13:02:20
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 13:02:24
She always great to have you on city talk. And, Kate, we’re always appreciate the perspectives you bring.
[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 13:02:28
Thanks everybody, for joining us. It will be posted online in the next couple of days, and don’t forget.
[Druh Farrell] 13:02:34
Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin
From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk
12:00:17 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Welcome to today’s CityTalk:
Why Would Anyone Run for Municipal Office?
12:01:24 From Nick Hanson, CUI : A friendly Zoom reminder — you can see and hear the panellists, but we can’t see or hear you .
12:02:25 From Nick Hanson, CUI : We are recording today’s session and will share it online at canurb.org/citytalk-canada/
12:03:10 From Pat Petrala : Greetings from Sunny White Rock BC, unceded Semiahmoo First Nations & Coast Salish peoples lands.
12:03:44 From Purshottama Reddy : Hello, from Durban, South Africa.
12:04:13 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Welcome to Kate Graham
Professor, Huron University College & Senior Advisor, Colliers Project Leaders (London)
12:04:19 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Kate researches, writes, speaks and teaches about politics in Canada and supports municipal governments across Canada in areas of governance, council-staff relations, decision making and priority setting. She holds a PhD in Political Science and teaches at Huron University College and Western University. Before entering academia, Kate spent a decade working in local government, most recently as the Director, Community & Economic Innovation at the City of London. She was the youngest member of the senior leadership team and received a Top 20 Under 40 award for her work in this role.
She is a three-time published book author including as co-author of the textbook, Local Government in Practice: Cases in Governance, Planning and Policy (2019). Kate is an active politico, including running for Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in 2020 and leading the party’s platform in 2022.
12:04:41 From Sarah Woodgate : Hello Everyone! Sarah Woodgate from Calgary Mokinstis! Great to see this talented panel today from my three home cities!
12:06:09 From Nick Hanson, CUI : We invite you to introduce yourself (and where you are located) in the chat
12:06:16 From Don Strickland : Welcome to Kings University College and Hi Kate who taught me Federal Election School last year in London ON
12:06:17 From Nick Hanson, CUI : We hope this session is as interactive as possible, so please feel free to share comments, references, links or questions in the chat
12:06:29 From Brandon Van Dam : Brandon Van Dam (Kitchener, ON)
12:06:49 From Bronwynne Wilton : Bronwynne Wilton, Centre Wellington, ON
12:06:59 From Guhad Hersi to Hosts and panelists : Greetings from Toronto.
12:07:04 From ANDREA BETTY : Penetanguishene Ontario!
12:07:13 From Yalini Vijayanathen : Yalini Vijayanathen, Scarborough ON
12:07:23 From Nathan Rogers : Halifax, NS
12:07:33 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Welcome to Naheed Nenshi
Former Mayor (Calgary)
12:07:37 From Nick Hanson, CUI : PEI
12:07:47 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Naheed Nenshi, A’paistootsiipsii, was sworn in as Calgary’s 36th mayor on October 25, 2010 and was re-elected in 2013 and 2017.
Mayor Nenshi was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, was awarded the President’s Award from the Canadian Institute of Planners and received the Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Psychological Association. In 2013, after his stewardship of the community during devastating flooding, Maclean’s called him the second-most influential person in Canada. He was also awarded the 2014 World Mayor Prize by the City Mayor’s Foundation as the best mayor in the world.
Prior to politics, Naheed worked with McKinsey and Company and later formed own business to help public, private and non-profit organizations grow. He also served as Canada’s first tenured professor in the field of nonprofit management at Mount Royal University.
12:08:00 From Emily Campbell to Hosts and panelists : Hello all! Emily Campbell joining from Calgary. Keenly interested in municipal politics and looking forward to this panel.
12:08:30 From Patricia Lewis : Perth-Wellington riding (Stratford, Ontario area) is not allowing voting in person. Must be done online or on phone. How does this help with voter turnout? Also voter list only includes people who own property, so dismisses seniors or low income individuals living in rental units.
12:08:35 From Stewart McDonough : Data on Ontario elections available on AMO’s website https://www.amo.on.ca/municipal-election-statistics
12:09:51 From Nick Hanson, CUI : When posting in the chat, make sure the blue button says “Everyone.” (If it doesn’t, you can click the little triangle and change the setting)
12:10:20 From Stewart McDonough : Of 417 municipal elections in Ontario, 139 mayors or reeves and 32 councils acclaimed as was mentioned. Small uptick in women running. Significant decrease in candidates running over the last two elections.
12:11:49 From Caneron Charlebois : There are municipal political parties in Quebec/Montreal. It seems to work OK?
12:12:28 From Florence Morestin : Also municipal political parties in Vancouver
12:13:17 From Kirsten Frankish : I think there’s often a lack of understanding of what municipalities are responsible for and involved with. A greater understanding of the significant impacts and responsibilities would possibly garner more interest and engagement.
12:13:35 From Kirsten Frankish : By the public, I mean 🙂
12:13:43 From Purshottama Reddy : Party politics is an impediment to good local governance. There is no politics in basic services provision.
12:14:23 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Christopher Cheung from The Tyee explains why so many political brands have emerged in Vancouver’s municipal landscape. https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/09/12/So-Many-Parties-Your-Guide-Vancouver-Crowded-Election/?mc_cid=0687b85567&mc_eid=369d3fe825
12:14:36 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Welcome to Tenille Bonoguore
City Councillor (Waterloo)
12:14:42 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Tenille is an award-winning journalist and science writer, a mom, and passionate community-builder.
After moving to Waterloo in 2010, she founded the WR Arts Award-winning Grand Porch Party, has sat on environmental and community boards, regularly appeared on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo as their parenting columnist, and has actively contributed to making her adopted city as vibrant and inclusive as possible.
Tenille is also the mum of two amazing little girls, step-mum to two wonderful young men, and an immigrant who is terrible at walking on icy sidewalks.
12:18:29 From Nathan Rogers : Within some Towns, municipalities, etc, in Nova Scotia – the Province is responsible for streets. Not so in Halifax but smaller communities
12:18:36 From Stanley Lee : How much privilege do you think the politicians have in order to compete/serve in the city councilor roles?
12:18:52 From Pat Petrala : WHY not have compulsory 12-20 hours PRE-election candidate workshops to qualify, with test – self assessment. Screen out time waters like “Mr. Poop/Victoria”, EGO brand marketing motivations & motivations. LACK of understanding of civic responsibilities, roles & not micro manage staff like some corporate boards. Jurisdiction lines, misguided ideological resolutions and committees which waste time for staff to do reports that echo prior ones. FCM could set a basic section & cities have another session.
12:19:47 From Pat Petrala : Politics and Public Life is a lifestyle job
12:19:56 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Welcome to Druh Farrell
Former City Councillor (Calgary)
12:20:04 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Druh Farrell is a born-and-raised Calgarian and a long-time resident of Ward 7, where she served as City Councillor from 2001-2021.
Prior to being elected, Druh was a fashion designer and clothing manufacturer, and served as board member of the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association, chairwoman of the Inner-City Coalition, and manager of the Kensington Business Revitalization Zone Association.
12:21:39 From Nathan Rogers : Is the total benefit package more attractive at Federal / Provincial orders than Municipal? I suspect yes
12:23:01 From Nathan Rogers : I like the angel wings
12:24:08 From Petra Wolfbeiss : It is important that Druh raised the issue of online and other bullying and abuse. AMO is looking at strategies to support our members in this area. We are aware of a number of folks who are stepping away from running because of this. Druh said it is a strategy to distract and push people off the idea and commitment of public service. But it is real and has a toll. I would like to get a better idea Druh of how you work through it…and others.
12:27:51 From Alysson Storey : I would love to see this from AMO (and any other interested organization). When I ran for Mayor in the last election (the sole female in a field with 5 men), I was harassed and bullied, both online and in person, on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, for the entire campaign (6 months). I had to get police involved more than once. I have had multiple women in my community tell me they would never consider running after watching what I went through. So the silencing effect is real. On the plus side (so I don’t sound too negative!) I am running for Council this time and have experienced much less abuse, but I deliberately did not run for Mayor again because of the harassment me and my family endured last time. I felt like I would be less of a target running for Council (which seems to be true so far). Needless to say I have LOTS of thoughts about this LOL. Appreciate this issue being raised.
12:28:38 From Jacquetta newman : Problem is the microaggressions and behavior on the council floor. I have a report done with students about the spoken and unspoken sexism that occurred on the London City Council.
12:29:57 From Pat Petrala : I observe the entanglements/alliances of fed/Prov party workers, phone banks, emails and social media mobilization & influence getting stronger at civic level. The votes 4 key persons reflect same “party” e.g. postal code results – 1,380 for MP. MLA & the partisan block at city hall.
12:31:22 From Petra Wolfbeiss : Jacquetta and Alysson would love to connect with you offline at some point. firstname.lastname@example.org
12:32:01 From Patrick Kyba : Is the “nastiness” being discussed for municipal elections different for municipal elections vs. provincial/federal elections?
12:32:12 From Pat Petrala : Will the chat remarks be shared after with the replay link?
12:33:05 From Alysson Storey : Hi Naheed! 👋🏻 🙂
12:33:21 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Pat: Yes, the chat is posted, along with the video and transcript
12:33:44 From Jared Kolb : In Toronto, in 2022 there are half the number of people running for city council as in 2018.
12:34:16 From Aleem Kanji : AMO and FCM indeed are the Association of Old White Men. If you have ever gone to these conferences, you know what I’m talking about
12:35:39 From Rylan Graham to Hosts and panelists : I wonder if Councillor as a “full-time” position versus a “part-time” position also influences who decides to run for office? And at what point in its evolution does a municipality make the switch.
12:36:14 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Do you have specific questions for the panellists? Post them in the chat, and we’ll try to answer as many as possible.
12:36:33 From Petra Wolfbeiss : AMO and FCM, often together are committed to diversifying voices and who sits around the council table. We recognize that community development, democracy, establishing the best services can only happen when underrepresented groups and individuals have a voice and position.
12:37:58 From Rylan Graham : I wonder if Councillor as a “full-time” position versus a “part-time” position also influences who can or decides to run for office? And at what point in its evolution does a municipality make the switch to full-time councillors?
12:38:06 From Bronwynne Wilton : I was told by a mayoral candidate in my township that he didn’t care about diversity at the Council table. The context was when he was telling me he would be endorsing an older retired man to run against me in my ward.
12:38:07 From Aleem Kanji : That’s a pithy statement Petra. What specifically are you doing to push under representation? How are you measuring success and what are your metrics?
12:38:39 From Petra Wolfbeiss : Quite a bit and would be happy to discuss.
12:38:53 From Pat Petrala : Do women candidates/past candidate join EQUAL voice the strongest national Women & political network? Can we encourage it please? Patrons and mentors will be useful for next generations I went to different Women Campaign Schools over years, some got elected. Some chose to be active in community vs public office & collaborate WITH the women who have been elected.
12:39:02 From Alison McDonald to Hosts and panelists : As someone running for the first time, I plan to maintain my full time job while serving (if elected)
12:39:31 From Suzanne Kavanagh : In Toronto it is challenging for new candidates. Often times they need to step away from their jobs whereas incumbents keep their salaries as Councillors.
12:39:36 From Nick Hanson, CUI : As part of the Toward Parity Project, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) compiled practical strategies for overcoming the obstacles that prevent women from fully participating in municipal politics. https://data.fcm.ca/documents/programs/wilg/fcm-toward-parity-inventory.pdf?mc_cid=0687b85567&mc_eid=369d3fe825
12:39:39 From Jared Kolb : Hypothesis: turnout was so low in Ontario – and will be again this October – because people are utterly exhausted politically and civically coming out of the pandemic
12:41:15 From Aleem Kanji : We will see a historic low voter turnout in Canada’s principal city on Oct 24 in the municipal elections. There is no G7 or G20 principal city that has this low interest in its municipal election.
12:42:01 From Jacquetta newman : “Anger farming”
12:42:02 From Sarah Woodgate : What systems or new approaches might create a safe inspiring environment for people to choose to run for office across Canada for municipal government? Top missing elements today? 1. Salary and Compensation especially small municipalities 2. Measures for Safety, harrassment and boundaries for politicians 3. Focus on Public Board and Commission equity reform with equity lens and community associations 4. Elevating the voice of non-voters 5. Other? Are there missing national tools that could support this?
12:43:43 From Kate, Canadian Urban Institute : “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.” – Toni Morrison
12:43:45 From Alysson Storey : I have knocked on thousands of doors over the past 8 weeks Jared – I completely agree on the exhaustion element (heck, I still feel exhausted). We had a very taxing and arduous provincial election barely five months ago. It’s so hard to measure municipal election interest in smaller communities but I have genuinely no idea what our turnout will be in my community (Chatham-Kent).
12:43:47 From Patrick Kyba : Provincial and federal politics also suffer from our first past the post voting method. This is a much less of an issue with municipal politics, particularly if the municipality doesn’t have specific wards so citizens can vote for ALL of council.
12:44:13 From Pat Petrala : PUBLIC EYE – Brand/name recognition over time is a valid lever to run for office. Knocking on doors, got delightful responses that they knew my name – because I wrote letter to editor which they agreed with. I wrote constructive remarks versus judgemental ones for Council & of course, sent letters to Council on same thing. I advocated with staff to help shepherd the better solution as Councils idea.
12:45:57 From Brandon Van Dam : Interesting to see the far-right borrowing from the US with a focus of filling school board trustees who are racism, homophobic, transphobic, etc. It has even got the attention of corporate Canada such as Ben & Jerry’s
12:46:28 From Brandon Van Dam : https://www.benandjerrys.ca/en/whats-new/2022/10/vote-in-city-elections
12:49:21 From Jared Kolb : Alysson, I’m also curious about trust and engagement. When our worlds became so very small and limited during the pandemic, when we stayed home and didn’t engage with our communities, to what degree has our sense of civics calcified. Why would I care about other residents in my city? There’s so much that needs to be built and re-built from the ground up. Agree with Naheed’s notion of simple ways to restore social capital.
12:49:33 From Pat Petrala : YEP, observe patterns of building social capital by ROTARY – which have been main backers of many elections – candidate grooming, name recognition, fund raising, networks over time. The elite club & expensive obligations can be a barrier for newcomers & low income folks.
12:50:51 From Alysson Storey : Jared – excellent point. And agree with your and Naheed’s point. We must restore the social capital, we lose it at our peril, permanently.
12:51:11 From Naheed Nenshi : @aleem no, there’s no election in Calgary on Oct 24
12:51:46 From Stewart McDonough : Hey Naheed, I miss the 3 Things for Canada days! Nice to see you.
12:51:54 From Aleem Kanji : Note to all: Naheed was born in Downtown Toronto!
12:52:06 From Emily Campbell : Part of the challenge of “telling our own stories” is the shrinking local news media
12:52:59 From Sarah Woodgate : Prominent culture today is focussed on me vs we. What are candidates doing for me vs societal good. How can focus shift to collective as described by Naheed.
12:55:02 From Aleem Kanji : Local politics in Canada’s principal city: https://twitter.com/brandongonez/status/1577270989531979777?s=21&t=6NwsWAl_QAnd0DOrQ8k5Ug
12:56:00 From Pat Petrala : Uniti – Harmony House ”inclusive” project has been a 10+ year challenge to get purpose-built rentals. Intense year of mobilizing advocacy, shaming arbitrary rejection and respected public champions finally got it approved – last co0unsil meeting; the other 49 project McCullum’s block put through another matter. Doug Tennant @DouglasRTennant follow & learn
12:59:15 From Druh Farrell : I ran in 2001 on lowering speed limits.
13:00:34 From Dr. Kate Graham (she/her) to Hosts and panelists : GO VOTE!
13:00:35 From Nick Hanson, CUI to Hosts and panelists : Join us for our next CityTalk: “”How Do We Bring More Diversity to Housing Policy?” on Thursday, October 27.
13:00:57 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Please help us thank today’s CityTalk panellists:
Tenille Bonoguore — City Councillor, Waterloo
Druh Farrell — Former City Councillor, Calgary
Kate Graham — Professor, Huron University College & Senior Advisor, Colliers Project Leaders, London
Naheed Nenshi — Former Mayor, Calgary
13:01:13 From Petra Wolfbeiss : Great discussion-thank you
13:01:21 From Caneron Charlebois : Bravo to all. Thanks!!!
13:01:26 From john beebe : Thanks to everyone! Yes, to giving people power.
13:01:32 From Allison Ashcroft : So great to see you again Kate, I love everything you prioritize and how you express it. So authentic with great empathy and humility.
13:01:35 From Alysson Storey : I could listen to all of you for another afternoon! Very thankful for your service, and for sharing your perspectives.
13:01:39 From Florence Morestin : thank you, very enlightening discussion!
13:01:39 From Barb Dupuis : Thank you!
13:01:42 From Zahireen Tarefdar : Thanks so much everyone!!! Fantastic discussion
13:01:55 From Susan Harrington : Thank you so much – very inspiring !
13:01:58 From Sarah Woodgate : Thank-you paneliats amazing discussion. Thanks to CUI for this topic today!
13:02:03 From Robin McPherson : Thank you for this! I’ve got to go and knock on doors!
13:02:07 From Annamarie Burgess : Thank you, amazing discussion indeed!
13:02:20 From Nick Hanson, CUI : Join us for our next CityTalk: “How Do We Bring More Diversity to Housing Policy?” on Thursday, October 27. RSVP at https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/4516656018484/WN_cp8kfnlTSsOrzoG9rpJM_g
13:02:22 From Bronwynne Wilton : Thank you! I feel inspired about joining our local council in a couple of weeks!
13:02:23 From Allison Ashcroft : Another stellar citytalk Mary!
13:02:25 From dan schumacher : Thank you in advance for your community service
13:02:26 From Sarah Woodgate : Great to see you again Kate!
13:02:28 From Rosa Jones to Hosts and panelists : Thank you! Enjoyed your discussion. Best of luck!
13:02:34 From Sabreena Delhon : Thanks so much!