Thursday, August 28, 2008

Trust The People

Today is the anniversary of the death of the first mayor of Toronto.
William Lyon Mackenzie died August 28, 1861. He was 66.

Remembered as an insurgent and a bit of a nutbar he was captured in Dennis Lee’s poem 1838:

“Mackenzie was a crazy man.
He wore his wig askew.
He donned three bulky overcoats
in case the bullets flew.”

But Mackenzie fought against the Family Compact and for people’s rights to have a say in government. I’ve written before about the way Mackenzie, a journalist, worked to put information into the hands of the people. (See my blog posting on Tuesday January 2/07 or better John Sewell has written Mackenzie, A Political Biography of William Lyon Mackenzie (James Lorimer and Company, 2002)

Mackenzie believed in trusting people to make the right decisions if they were given adequate information.

Ultimately Mackenzie felt the need to take up arms – not very effectively – as we know. Lee again:

"Mackenzie talked of fighting
While the fight went down the drain.
But who will speak for Canada?
Mackenzie, come again!”

An interesting thought. If Mackenzie were to come again what would you think of the state of local democracy in Toronto?

I imagine he’d be reconvening the boys at Montgomery’s Tavern over Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone comments recorded earlier this year in the Toronto Star.

On the issue of solid waste Pantalone said:

“You need to understand issues like that. They’re very complex. It would be better that we discuss these issues in private.”

Please Mackenzie, come again.