Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Hoping for greater accountability

  • Print

The recent situation in which Winnipeg’s mayor, Sam Katz , faced a court case about spending public funds on his own business raises the broader issue of political accountability.

Most of us don’t have personal connections with those who represent us. Yet, their decisions affect everything from what roads are repaired to land use decisions, snow clearing, police expenses, community club funding, and how much tax we pay.

We decide who gets to hold public office, but there isn’t much we can do to hold them to account during their term. The problem is voters seem to have a very short memory at election time. During the 2014 civic election, will voters remember how their councillor voted over the years, or will they just go by what the candidates say in their campaigns?

It’s interesting to note some councillors say very little, while others are more engaged in executing their responsibility to the people who put their trust in them. Just a few weeks ago the majority of councillors voted to increase their own expense accounts from $74,000 to $114,000 per ward — a 54% increase! Wouldn’t it be great to decide how much your allowance should be?

Some information essential for political accountability is available on the City of Winnipeg website. The minutes of every council and standing policy committee meeting are available. You can find out how councillors voted on any issue and what they spend their ward allowances on.

Do you know what your councillor is using his or her allowance for? Unfortunately, it is not practical for every citizen to pore through the details of every council meeting over a four -ear period come election time. It would be ideal if people could easily look up councillors’ positions on particular issues, what they said in council, and how they voted on motions. With the current set up, this is very difficult and time-consuming.

Fortunately an Open and Accessible Data motion was passed by council in May 2012, which should lead to more open government and open data initiatives.

Once more data is made available to the public and media in accessible formats, the gap in political accountability between elections may be reduced.

Perhaps one day, the time between elections should be referred to as the ‘accountability period’!

Our current system lacks in accountability, and hopefully this can give us more trust in our democratic process – because at this point, greater accountability is essential.

Jody Gillis is a community correspondent for North Kildonan.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Readers' Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

See the results of the 2014 Canstar Community News Best of Winnipeg Readers' Survey.

View Results

This Just In Twitter bird

Poll

The forecast says we're going to get a blast of warm weather, but we all know what's coming. Are you ready?

View Results