Home > Contemplations > The Job Of An Elected Official

The Job Of An Elected Official


I was reading the SpacingToronto blog today and saw a post where the author, Shawn Micallef, commented on a quote by Toronto City Councillor Paul Ainslie to the Toronto based Canadian national newspaper the Globe & Mail on the subject of whether or not to get rid of the center lane on a city street named Jarvis to make more room for bike lanes and wider sidewalks (this center lane switches between being a northbound or a southbound lane depending on the time of day to help ease congestion).

“[He} said this to the Globe: “I don’t get people calling my office and saying there are not enough bike lanes.” With that logic, does Ainslie not support anything that comes across council’s agenda unless he’s heard something from his constituents? That would be silly.”

Really Shawn? An elected official only supporting things that the people who elected him/her want him/her to support is SILLY?!?!?! Obviously we must take for granted that not every issue that comes to a vote in any democratic governing body has an opinion explicitly expressed by each and every elected officials populace. However, part of the reason these people get elected is because when voters look at their positions on issues they vote for a candidate because the voters agree with them on those issues and trust the candidate’s judgement on other future issues that may arise during the candidate’s tenure in elected office.

Now, of course, Shawn Micallef has taken the idea of an elected official responding to an issue based on the majority of their constituents desires to the Nth degree suggesting that an elected official should, based on Ainslie’s comments, ONLY support an issue after he/she has heard from their constituents on it because that would be silly. However, when it comes to spending CA$6.35 million that the City of Toronto does not have I think the fact that not one of the elected official’s constituents contacted his office to voice their favoring this change to the status quo is enough to warrant voting against it.

Also, let’s not forget that a large part of the reasoning for this change is so that they can add BIKING lanes. Has anyone in the Toronto City Council ever been outside in Toronto anytime from October to mid-April? Except for the odd days it isn’t biking weather (to say the least) for the majority of the year in Toronto. In fact, according to CityNews Weather Blog this past April “The mean monthly temperature for April was 7.83 [Celsius] compared to the normal 6.3 [Celsius]” and there was even “3.6cm of snow” (for my American readers, that’s more than an inch, and enough to stick on the ground, freeze, and make driving very annoying).

But I don’t want to really talk about the Jarvis bike lane issue. What really gets to me is that when I read Shawn Micallef’s post the way I saw it he was basically saying, the voting public in general are stupid and don’t know what is good for them, that is why it is up to the ‘elite’ elected officials to decide what is good for the public even if the public does not agree. Like a parent forcing their child to take their medicine so will the government help the idiot masses by making decisions against the will of the people that the officials have decided the people need because the officials know better.

Quite the opposite is my opinon Shawn Micallef! The job of the elected official is only to respond to the will of the people who put him/her in that office. If your constituents have not expressed an opinion either way on an issue and the issue will cost money (i.e. your constituents tax dollars) it is absolutely your job to vote against it and ensure that their tax dollars are around to spend money on things that the city actually NEEDS. Like, say, 24 HOUR SUBWAY SERVICE.

But that’s just my $0.02

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