Thursday, May 17, 2012

Seeking Council

Good morning my friends. Depending on who you are will depend on how you interpreted today's blog title. It actually has a meaning that is two fold. The most important of these two meanings is the first (well at least to me it is). I am seeking your council, advice, thoughts, opinions, critiques, etc. on an idea I am currently contemplating pursuing.

For those who are currently up to date on who I am and more notably, my work as a social activist, most of my work has come as a direct result of my involvement with the Occupy movement here in Halifax. The global Occupy movement itself, as well as the local group, share many of the same concerns for the future of our society and the people of the Earth. They have many valid and important issues presented that need to be addressed. More broadly these include greater transparency, increased accountability, stronger environmental protection and care, an elimination of corruption in the political and financial realms and a move towards a more sustainable community in which all who live there are given an equal and equitable opportunity.

These are very noble, albeit grand, goals to aim for. I believe it was once said: "Aim for the Moon and even if you miss you'll still be among the stars." Or something to that effect. I want to work towards these goals; I want to put my efforts into making the world a better place; I want to do all that I can do to create a better world for us all. However, one does not simply try to take charge of the world or a nation from nowhere, unknown and without any support. It seems very unlikely that I will be able to run and become Prime Minister in 2015 and create effective change in Canada and then the world through that particular position. No, that is most improbable.

However what is within the realm of possibility, and perhaps a better place to start as well as more aligned with some of my views of community being the start of long reaching change. When I was encamped with the Occupy movement, we built a community from the ground up based off of an entirely different model than the current capitalist ideal. Though it may be argued from different perspectives, the community did thrive, grow and mature. The point is that through example, we demonstrated that there are options; options that work and through setting the example, I have seen people adopt a new perspective and passion for their communities.

This brings us to what I am seeking your council for: I am pondering the idea of seeking council; a literal seat on the city council of the Halifax Regional Municipality. This possibility has only begun developing in my head over the last 24 hours. The more I think about it, the more reasons I keep discovering on why I should proceed with working towards running in this years Municipal election. Now I am sure some of you Occupy sympathizers and members are already losing your minds; I can imagine some of the accusations that are currently being made towards me. It's your right; however I encourage you to continue reading before you or anyone passes judgement for even considering this.

I mentioned Occupy set an example with their encampment. I believe that Halifax can do the same on a provincial and national level. By incorporating and working towards a more environmentally friendly and sustainable city, the people of Halifax can set the bar to an unprecedented level that can be used to show the immense possibilities that we, as human beings and citizens, possess. The amount of community spirit in Halifax is bursting at the seams. Since moving to Halifax, it has changed from being the place I lived to the place I call home. This city, despite our differences, has made me feel welcome, loved and a part of a caring community; even as big as it is, it still posses many of the charms of rural life.

One of the biggest reasons I am currently considering this option is from the feedback from the people of the city of Halifax in regards to Occupy as a whole. The biggest, most predominant complaint or critique (besides get a job dirty hippie) is that if we want to truly affect change then to get involved in the process; take part in democracy; and of course, if you really want to change things, run for office. After spending eight months with Occupy and having gone through many positive and negative experiences as a result I have  run into a wall. I have begun to question the ability of Occupy to affect political change; it is quite apparent that it is changing human perspectives and consciousness, but I am unsure it will have the far reaching political impact that is needed. The prospect of being involved, taken an active role and participating in making this city a better place for all who live here is almost euphoric.

Now obviously there is much work to be done and tons of information to research before I could make such a huge decision that will impact my future in such a way. Before beginning any of that I would have to first make the difficult decision of non-participation in the Occupy movement here in Halifax. My role there would become no more than a public endorsement of the ideas presented by the global Occupy movement. I am proud of what I was able to do with my time with Occupy, past, present and hopefully future (however little my actual role may or may not become). As it would stand, I would have to put my social activism in Occupy on hiatus and move those concerns into the public forum of municipal politics. I will, until such time as the movement strays in general ideology, continue to support and endorse the ideas of Occupy. 

What prompted me to this? The last two weeks or so of having communicating with the media over the recent developments and activities with the Occupy movement. I've read many critiques about the Occupy movement and some that were specifically directed at me. I have heard and read the many complaints regarding Occupy but one thing, and perhaps I am reading more into it than I should, I have noticed quite often (and in retrospect and hindsight) that often, even when people do not support or believe in what I say, they express their respect, admiration and understanding of me and that which I speak of. It seems as though despite disagreeing with me (in principal or in action) that I have matured enough and have developed enough to be accepted by my peers; even when they are adamantly opposed to some of my ideas.

So what do you think? I'm seeking council from you on seeking council for you (we do still live in a representative democracy). You need more about what I would do as a Councillor? Obviously this idea is extremely fresh so all I could offer is broad or general ideas until a final decision was made; I will include them below:


Transparency - Reduce the number, if not completely eliminate, all in-camera sessions; make all donations and contributions to members of council and the mayor public information; have all sessions of council available for the public in an online text forum; inform and engage the public of any major decisions that will have far reaching impacts on the city.

Accountability - Ensuring all municipal expenditures are available to the public at all times; work to hold public officials responsible for their decisions (including myself); create an independent review board chaired by public citizens as a third party watchdog that monitors and reviews all issues brought forward by the public when challenging or questioning the actions of HRM city council.

Community - Develop and help to implement new community volunteer programs to help improve our city in the following ways: increased environmental awareness, a more eco-friendly Halifax (enforced recycling), develop new ways to address some important concerns such as homelessness, mental illness and poverty, create a community feedback forum to give the citizens of Halifax the opportunity and platform to raise concerns they think the city should address.

Change - Work more closely with the many community, activist and recognized organizations and groups in the city to address specific concerns and ideas. Groups such as community health clinics, women's rights groups, Indigenous people's concerns, education concerns, Union concerns, Occupy concerns, etc, etc, etc. Working closely with these community groups will bring genuine issues and ideas to the table that directly have an impact on our city as well as the many others across the globe.

There is more but I have already exhausted more than my usual length for my blog. I'll leave it at this. I am always willing to discuss other ideas I have not mentioned or some I may have not thought of myself. I became a social activist because I have suffered at the hands of the system (as well as my own doing; I don't blame the system on my personal choices) and I want to make sure others do not have to follow in my footsteps. I have a genuine and sincere interest and investment in making the world a better place; in helping my fellow human beings; to creating a more sustainable, loving community for all. I have only one promise; only one guarantee: Honesty. I have nothing to hide, it's all here or out there (mostly here as it is easier to find when it's all together); I will be honest with you because I am honest with myself. I make mistakes and should I pursue this and get elected, be assured I will make mistakes as a Councillor too. The difference? You'll hear about my mistakes and successes directly from me and not down the road through an investigative report in The Coast.

Truth Starts Here.

Please, I really am seeking your thoughts. Leave them here. Send them to me on Facebook, publicly or privately. You can find me on Twitter and do so there as well, publicly or privately. If you'd rather keep it simple, you can also email me your thoughts:


  1. what do you think about running with a partner or small group? there are some powerful like-minded womyn that may be interested. just a first thought--i've not read the whole thing. i do like the thought of seeing you debate with mike savage :)

  2. Unless you're planning on running for Council just for the publicity, you have zero chance of winning in South End, which will be a slugfest between Sue Uteck and Waye Mason. You could perhaps try volunteering to help a candidate you like with a chance of winning then hope you have some slight influence on them or their policies, but to be honest I think your best path forward is to lead by example with Occupy. Your energy to organize real life Occupy presence at community events like garbage cleanups is the best way to defeat the smelly hippie stereotype.

  3. you have some great ideas :) hugs!

  4. I find the transparency, and the idea of working together WITH the city vice against, to be a very logical one. Judging by some council actions, including petty bickering, secrecy, self-centered motives and their own lack of focus at times, the best place would be, is on the inside. And you are well versed in some areas, more level-headed in others, and any lack of understanding would not be a problem, as similar accusations have been made against many Councillors, as they either openly or secretly tweet their own views, often less organized and community oriented than we expect of them. It will not be easy, you will have to make concessions to stoop to such a level, but it can be done. Smaller people have made mayor. The obstacle will be public support. Globally, you could have lots of support, regionally, you will have bias and suspicion against you. But then, I once was very supportive of our mayor, but suspicion, secrecy, in camera decisions affecting the public and their purse have made me feel more confident with either left-or-right wingers, rather than wing-nuts that sometimes behave as children. Go for it John, if you feel ready. Not every area of the city has bad representation, some have weaker representation, but all require the public support. Your presence might provide more stability and gain some understanding into the mystery. Slug-fests are good. It weeds out the slugs in council. Worst case, you develop insight into what is wrong with Halifax Regional Municipality (often called Halifax Council because it does not fully encompass the HRM as a whole_. We could use at least one Critical Thinker in the group, to help the rest evolve, and wake them up.