My (totally not creepy) dream about Mélanie Joly and corruption
This came to me in a dream I had last night and I feel the need to share.
I was quite stunned by Mélanie Joly's rise from fourth to second place after last night's CROP poll was released - a function, I think, of the clean campaign she's running and a growing resentment among voters faced with establishment candidates like Denis Coderre and Marcel Côté whose campaigns have respectively stalled and nose-dived. Richard Bergeron, fairly anti-establishment, is still having trouble attracting mainstream support, particularly among Anglos. So, it stands to reason that a new, young leader could pick up some votes and have an outside shot at winning the mayoralty.
Before dozing off last night, I thought to myself, 'what would I do if I were directing her campaign?'
My conclusion, which was partially dreamt and then didn't seem that crazy this morning: Mess with the establishment and end municipal political parties. Because that's what people want right now (many just don't know it yet, it’s a complicated problem).
If I were in her shoes, I would have the Groupe Joly candidates (her party is only running candidates for about half the seats in council and probably won't win many anyway) pledge to drop their party affiliation and become independents once elected. If elected mayor, she would then encourage other councillors to do the same, and many will comply because they don't need party support systems as much once elected, and a couple of the parties will surely fold anyway. She would then lobby the Quebec government to ban political parties municipally, in what could be the simplest and cheapest corruption-fighting move in the government's arsenal. It was a good idea, even when Michael Applebaum forced executive committee members to pledge independence, and it’s a better idea now.
Why do we need to ban municipal political parties?
Unlike their provincial and federal counterparts, no uniform vision or political philosophy is necessary at the city level. City councillors should set aside their ambitions to change the world and focus on providing basic, frontline services like paving roads and collecting garbage properly, which they have yet to perfect in my lifetime. Let's not forget that many, probably most Canadian cities don't have municipal parties (Toronto doesn't, and despite its eccentric mayor, is still an incredibly well-run city; a city that just became the fourth-largest in North America – and that should have been us!).
Ending the party system would be a huge blow to corrupt forces inside and outside of City Hall because political parties grow in influence and size mainly with donations. Who donates to ideologically-bankrupt parties like the old Union Montreal? Not so much people who were moved by their vision of Montreal (they had none), but those hoping to buy influence among politicians, which they did quite successfully until the pesky Charbonneau Commission got involved. Unlike the PQ, NDP, Conservatives or Liberals, Union was devoid of a clear political agenda while being flush with donation cash, and that's what made them suspicious to me from Day 1.
With this move, Joly could single-handedly claim to have dealt the biggest blow to corruption of any Montreal politician and pave the way for a jump to higher levels of government, if that's an ambition of hers one day. This would be combined with her rather interesting idea (the best idea of the campaign so far, in my view) of negotiating settlements with companies who ripped off the city, asking them to change their management and repay taxpayers to avoid costly lawsuits and local job losses. Sometimes, lawyers have good ideas.
Perhaps my dream of taking a sledgehammer to the municipal party system is more anarchistic than realistic, but it's the right thing to do. And I'm throwing the idea out there for Joly or anyone else to run with. Let the best man (or woman) win - not the guy with the most posters or publicists.