Peace, order and good government

As everyone knows, Canada was founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… No, wait… That’s the United States.

Canada was actually founded on quite different principles: Peace, order and good government.

On a civic level, these broad principles of peace, order and good government are ones that many people can get behind and support. And in many ways, these are the very same principles that Voice New Westminster was founded on.

If nothing else, Voice New Westminster has proven that people from different political perspectives on a federal and provincial level can find much common ground on a civic level.

Civic issues are very immediate and direct and they cut across political lines: Should a road be widened here or there or not at all? Where should new schools go? Should the city spend money on this project or that one? What level of taxation do the city’s residents and businesses feel is appropriate and bearable? How should the school board allocate its resources?

These are questions best answered through informed community consensus and that’s what Voice has sought to achieve.

After all, good decision-making never results when decisions are made by a select few in the absence of open, honest consultation and thorough discussion with the public.

There’s an endless supply of examples we could provide to illustrate this point, but the recent controversy surrounding the United Boulevard Extension, and whether the city agreed or didn’t agree with the City of Coquitlam to move forward with the project, is a prime example.

And contrary to what one commentator has suggested, seeking transparency and accountability in public affairs is not some sort of sinister gimmick being employed in a cynical way to disguise negative shots. Pointing out the foibles and the errors of decision-makers and their decisions is essential to the process of achieving peace, order and good government in a community.

If the emperors-that-be aren’t wearing any clothes, the citizens must say so. Mindlessly applauding the emperors-that-be and agreeing that their non-existent new clothes are truly wondrous serves no purpose other than pure sycophancy. What our city needs is clearheaded thinking, honest, open-eyed discussion and an end to the apathy that holds us back.

Ultimately, no public good comes when the public’s business is conducted in the shadows and special interest agendas are allowed to replace the interests of the community. Peace, order and good government can only be achieved when light is allowed to shine in.

And that is what Voice was formed to bring about; because nothing good grows in the absence of light, transparency, accountability, and a strong voice for the community and its citizens.

9 thoughts on “Peace, order and good government

  1. These are values we can all stand behind. I would like more detail from Voice on what exactly you would do to ensure greater transparency and citizen consultation. Could you write a follow-up post with some specific changes Voice would try to make?

  2. Having spent sometime living the States, I was often asked on both sides to comment on both sides of the differences between “us” and “them”. To me, it always came back to those two mottos.

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are all individual goals, they satisfy the needs of the individual. You don’t need a functioning society to have those, I’m sure Kim Jong-Il has access to a lot of all three, as did Apartheid-era White South Africans.

    Peace, Order, and Good Government are instead collective goals. They can only be achieved through collective action, are benefits than can only be enjoyed by groups. Ironically, it also appeared the Apartheid-era Constitution of South Africa, so perhaps my earlier point falls flat.

    The point is that those ideas are deep down in our national psyches, and they are manifest in many, any ways. From trust of government to gun control to “socialized” medicine to taxes. It is part of the reason their Democrats will always be “right” of our Conservatives, we will always fall back to the collective good, they will always fall back to individual liberty

  3. P&J
    All that said! It would be nice to be able to speak without condemnation in the name “silly season”. Collective action is not bullying. We live in a democratic society. we need to practice it.

  4. Brianna,
    I am sure Voice has solutions to issues brought forward and I am sure they will “Voice” them as time moves forward. I am also confident that the current regime will look at the so called negative issues brought forward and will make and attempt to remedy. Unfortuately their conflicting political position will not produce required results.

  5. Good question Briana,
    I’m sure Voice will do a post on what it means by transparency.
    Built in to transparency, is accountability.These two words are often over-used, and in manty cases have become cliches.
    Voice is an idea and initiative that came out of the neighborhood residents’ association movement.
    People were tired of having to fight city hall to protect their neighborhoods.
    Voice believes that the current system needs to be turned on it’s head.
    Neighborhoods should not be seen as an entity that demands evermore services and amenities. N/hoods need to be seen as reservoirs of knowledge, commitment, passion and service.
    The same as the school board. Parents need to be viewed as an integral part of the process.
    At both the city and the school board, special interests have far too much influence. Committee structures and public process would look very different in an administration that valued shared information, and goal-setting and view healthy neighborhoods as building blocks towards a great city.
    It is counter intuitive to most politicians to give away or share power, but that is exactly what is required for a local governance system to be truly effective.
    Experience has shown, that where this type of process exists, people will accept “new urbanism”.
    People will accept density in the appropriate places, if it results in increased access to: public transit, transportation, shopping, greenspace, childcare, safe and clean neighborhoods, access to affordable recreation opportunities, library, public art, open space.

  6. Casey: I agree with everything you said. But what I find in politics is that most people do agree in the broad strokes. Most people agree that government ought to be accountable, that transparency is a good thing, that the opinions of neighbourhoods, parents and citizens need to be valued. Where people start to really disagree is in the specifics of how to get there. That’s why it’s so important for Voice to be specific about how you intend to change things at City Hall. I look forward to hearing more from you and Neil and other Voice folk.

  7. Briana, we cannot be more specific in what Voice would do. We are an electors organization. We exist to put forward a group of people for office.
    The only policy we have is how that process plays out. Once we get our candidates named, platforms and positions will be put forward just as we did during the last election. The platform and positions really come from the candidates.

  8. Thanks for clarifying Neil. I (wrongly, I suppose!) was thinking of Voice as a party that would put forward a unified platform. Are you able to speak to how you select the candidates you support? Maybe the criteria you use would help me get a better sense of what Voice stands for.

  9. Hi Briana,
    We cannot be more specific in what we would do. We are an electors’ organization. We exist to put forward a group of people for office.
    The only policy we have is how that process plays out. Once we get our candidates named then platforms and positions will be put forward.
    What this means is that at this time we ask tough questions of our elected officials and at the same time we celebrate the city we live in and we continue to be engaged in the out community and neighbourhoods.

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