Province rescues politicos from themselves

By Karen Brandt

Who’s faster than a speeding bullet and can leap over tall buildings in a single bound?

Maybe Glen Shortliffe isn’t a reincarnation of Superman, but he may as well don the hero’s blue tights considering the superhuman task he faces.

The much-heralded special advisor on municipal restructuring in Ottawa-Carleton is expected to resolve in just 60 days what area politicians have been battling over for decades. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to expect territorial-guarding politicians to agree on the contentious issue of municipal restructuring.

What is not too much to ask, however, is that they rationally discuss the topic without resorting to inanely counter-productive bickering that belongs on a school playground and not in the councils of elected officials.

Ever since regional government was created in Ottawa-Carleton 30 years ago, constant infighting has put it under increasing strain.

In one corner are the suburban and rural politicians who balk at what they perceive as excessive control from the region.

In the other, are Ottawa politicians who have added to the chorus of complaints by suggesting municipalities would be better served by only one layer of government.

From 1976 to 1992, four commissioners reviewed the issue of municipal restructuring, but their findings resulted in no major changes.

In 1996, the province appointed a facilitator who tried unsuccessfully to hold the hands of politicians and persuade them to work together.

In the past two years, the war of words between politicians has sunk to new lows, with both the region and suburban governments mounting PR campaigns to convince citizens that their vision of Ottawa-Carleton is best.

This swirl of contradictory information turned an already complicated issue into a veritable quagmire, leaving people confused and apathetic.

Who could blame the citizens’ panel on restructuring for throwing up its hands in frustration last year after having to deal with misinformation and interference from politicians?

Sadly, the group’s collapse amid allegations of political sabotage made any further attempts at reaching a consensus impossible.

After all the lip service paid to coming up with a solution on our own, the decision over the future of governance in Ottawa-Carleton will ultimately be left to someone who is not even an elected official.

Ain’t democracy grand?