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Michael Sandel: The lost art of democratic debate

Michael J. Sandel (born March 5, 1953) is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for the Harvard course 'Justice' which is available to view online, and for his critique of Rawls' A Theory of Justice in his Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982). He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002.

Thank you

It was an honour and a pleasure to participate in the municipal election.  65% of registered voters cast their ballots - probably the highest in the province.  We do ourselves proud by our participation, interest and choices

Take care

Congratulations to the new Mayor & Council.

This election was an incredible journey.  When engaged in something like this one learns so much about oneself ... and so much about others.

We offered something "out of the box".  Traditionally, elections focus on personalities or issues or both -- we offered an "idea".

The idea of creating meaningful process for citizen participation.   

We celebrated the fact that 600+ people resonated with that idea.  

We ran "for" something ...not "against" something or someone.

The voter turnout numbers aren't official yet but I've no doubt we will once again be one of the highest, if not the highest, in the country.

Nelson you do yourself proud.  

Take good care.

Vote with your "heart" ...
Just home from the last forum a Mayoral Forum sponsored by the Nelson Daily News, Chamber of Commerce and Hume Hotel.

It was well attended, well-organized and everyone was ...well-behaved.

Four days left until the community's choices are known.

I've said it at every forum I've attended - there are no wrong choices.

There is a depth and commitment from all candidates and I firmly believe that any combination will serve the community well -- especially if citizens stay involved.

I would love to be part of a City Council that works in a full and respectful partnership with citizens and I'd love to work with citizens who want that partnership.

Vote with your "heart" on Saturday ...for the future you deserve.

A Conversation is Happening ...

... people are talking about democracy, citizen empowerment, referendums, and much more.

It's wonderful to have people approach me asking about a Citizen's Initiated Referendum Bylaw  - curious, challenging, informed or mis-informed -- it doesn't matter.  I love to have these discussions.

People are surprised to know that the City of Rossland adopted a Constitution Bylaw twelve years ago.

Rossland's Muncipal Constitution is based on the belief that citizens (voters and taxpayers):

  • will take an interest in issues of substance;
  • will seek to inform themselves about facts; and
  • will debate the merits and the cost of public policy questions

provided their efforts can truly, honestly and effectively determine the decision.

The Rossland Bylaw gives citizens the ability to initiate a referendum process, on issues they deem important, if they secure signatures from a certain percentage of registered voters.  Rossland citizens chose 20% as their benchmark.

There are some that have a concern that the community would constantly be embroiled in a referenda process. Research shows this doesn't happen. It takes time and energy to undertake a petition and citizens will only engage in a petition process for an issue of substance.

Rossland City Council trusted the wisdom of their residents and had the courage to implement this progressive Bylaw.

p>Rossland's Constitution Bylaw has created a healthy working partnership between council and citizens/taxpayers.

It could do the same for Nelson.

Making Decisions As If Citizens Mattered

I've received many calls from concerned citizens over the past number of weeks -- concerned primarily with Council's might is right attitude -- especially as it has to do with development. 

My heart was heavy after talking with an elderly woman for about an hour on Sunday afternoon.  She asked the question numerous times -- I don't understand how they can treat people in this way?

I've also just read Jennie Barron's piece in the EcoCentric -- Doodle Then And Now.  She says -- "Ultimately, what was most frustrating was there nothing in the public process to allow for genuine dialogue, constructive input or cooperative problem-solving."

Startling isn't it -- nothing in the process to allow for genuine dialogue, input and problem-solving.
This isn't the provinicial or federal government.  This is our municipal council.  Friends, neighbours, acquaintances, fellow citizens -- who have put their names forward to steward the community for their term.  I have seen this same time and time again.  Once elected, there seems to be a fear of public input.

Jennie ends her article with -- I think it's worth asking just how the candidates will court new development without divorcing themselves from the concerns and values of their electors.

Good question -- but it is not uncommon for candidates to tell the electorate what they want to hear at election time and not follow through.


In 11 days the polls will close.  

Nelson will know who their representatives will be for the next three years.  Eighteen people have put their names forward to serve the community.   Any combination holds promise.  I will still sleep well no matter what.    

But take a moment to think about after the election.  The best case scenario is an informed and involved electorate working in partnership with an elected body that supports and nurtures this kind of relationship.   

I brought this belief to the Council table for 6 years while serving in the mid to late 90's.   I offer it again.  It would be a honour to serve as your Mayor and to represent you in this way.

(Flyer - watch for it in your mailbox this week)

Well-Armed Lambs!

I recently came across a quote by Benjamin Franklin -- "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.   Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"

While it made me chuckle it also made me think. 

It made me think that at times it has felt like citizens were the "lamb" and councils and developers the wolves.


Parpolity or Participatory Politics is a theoritical political system proposed by Stephen R. Shalom, professor of political science at William Paterson University in New Jersey. It was developed as a political vision to accompany Participatory economics (Parecon). Shalom has stated that Parpolity is meant as a long range vision of where the social justice movement might want to end up, within the field of politics.

Thursday evening

We've added a new section to the website - Books.    I wanted to share with you some of the books that I have in my library.  I love looking at people's book collections ...it's an intriguing glimpse into who they are and what makes them tick.    The first book we've selected is -- Better Not Bigger: How To Take Control of Urban Growth and Improve Your Community by Eben Fodor -- which Dr. John H. Baldwin, Director of the Institute for A Sustainable Environment says is "a must-read for decision-makers."   Everyone should read this ...and pass it along.  

I'd love to hear from people about what books they're passionate about or that have inspired them.   Marianne

Thoughts and Reflections

It's been a busy past few weeks with getitng the website, brochures and lawn signs developed and answering a myriad of questions from the media. 

In two and half weeks voters will go to the polls to select Nelson's next Mayor and City Council.  Fifteen people are running for six seats on Nelson City Council and three for Mayor.  The depth and diversity and passion for this community are obvious.  Nelson will be in good hands with any combination of the eighteen.

 I have been asked by Dave Elliot's supporters  --  why are you runnning ... you share the same values ... you're splitting the vote and John will get in.

Firstly, when I visited City Hall on Thursday, October 13th to file my papers there was one other name who had filed for Mayor -- John Dooley.

Secondly, I passionately believe that democracy is about choice.


Democracy is a form of government in which policy is decided by the preference of the majority in a decision-making process, usually elections or referenda, open to all or most citizens.