Irony alert: pay close attention to what we're really saying here. Our sense of the absurd is on full display in what follows...
CityCaucus.com are often criticized for not giving Vision Vancouver credit for their great ideas. Yes, we've not pumped our fist in the air about the idea of homeless shelters for chickens, beehives to pollinate the Mayor's symbolic garden at City Hall, or ramming through controversial policies after midnight in council chambers. But two motions put forward for this week's council meeting are not only worth a second look, the editorial board of CityCaucus.com give them our unqualified support!
First up is the motion by Councillors Kerry Jang and Raymond Louie, which urges the City to weigh in on the affairs of Canada's most read newsmagazine, Maclean's. Jang and Louie think that Vancouver city council should demand that Maclean's issue an "unqualified apology and constructively address the stereotypes and perceptions perpetuating racism in their recent article "Too Asian?".
Now, the reaction to the Maclean's article did generate this response from the editor which seems to have soothed most observers of this controversy. But as with Toronto city councillor Mike Layton, it's important that local politicians get their pound of flesh too. The Globe and Mail derided Layton's sister motion to demand a Maclean's apology as being self-serving political posturing, but we say tut-tut to G&M, and booya! to our boys from Vision.
Second up is Coun. Andrea Reimer's motion on the matter of internet usage fees charged by Bell Canada to its national customers. To Reimer's suggestion that the City of Vancouver lobby to overturn the decision of the Canadian Radio & Television Commission (CRTC), we say hear, hear! Her motion asks council to: "call on the CRTC to reverse Telecom Decision CRTC 2010-255, and prevent incumbent ISPs from imposing usage- based billing on the independent ISPs that purchase wholesale broadband."
Reimer is exactly correct that Bell's move is exactly the thin edge of the wedge that will displace market competition and result in all Canadians struggling to stay online. Now, it might strike some as ironic that the City would like us to have water meters installed to restrict all-you-can-eat lawn sprinkling in summer, but when it comes to unlimited internet usage packages it's tickety-boo. No matter, we support Reimer notwithstanding.
It's time the City of Vancouver stuck up for its citizens in matters such as these by setting up a new role of Cultural Sensitivity Commissioner. The mandate of the Commissioner's office will be to relieve our hard-working elected officials of having to police media and federal agencies at all. This would all be a part of the CSC's bailiwick, and the Commissioner will regularly report back to city council on the progress of that office.
We can't think of a more important act of this term of government than to put in place this new Cultural Sensitivity Czar. It is a role so critical to the well-being of the affairs of Vancouver citizens that the position should be generous both in its compensation, and the breadth of its mandate. When it comes to who runs the City, the CSC's office must be understood to be the equivalent of at least the office of the chief of staff of the Mayor, which is to say, right on top.
As an expression of the value citizens would put on the almighty Commissioner of Cultural Sensitivity, the salary expectations of this role should be on par with that of the City Manager, who this year is in line to receive a $14,000 pay increase in line with 4% of her current $313,000 annual pay grade. So the base for which we would begin to consider paying this role would be in line with Penny Ballem's $327,000 salary, not including benefits of course.
In his Globe and Mail op/ed, Marcus Gee states:
[Toronto city councillors] Mr. Layton and Ms. Wong-Tam come from a milieu where taking offence comes as naturally as breathing. In their circles, no doubt, everyone thinks the Maclean’s article was an outrage. Being a city councillor requires a different sensibility. They are not activists any more; they are democratic representatives. The people they represent have bigger things on their minds than a provocative magazine headline.
Mr. Gee, are you actually suggesting that our city councils should only concern themselves with only that for which they are elected for? Surely our city councils must try to punch above their weight class.
By sparing no expense, and giving the necessary powers to this new role of Commissioner of Cultural Sensitivity, Vision Vancouver and their COPE allies will give new importance to the role of City Halls across the country. This is an idea which we support unreservedly.
- post by CityCaucus Staff