Dear candidates, you need to do more than listen.

It seems pretty clear that Ottawa has a consultation problem. No, it’s not that consultations never happen–that’s often a line used when people don’t like the results (*cough*Holland Avenue*cough*). It’s that people regularly feel ignored. You go to consultation after consultation, but to no benefit–the powers that be are just going to do whatever they want to do (*cough*Holland Avenue*cough*).

You can see this appetite for a more consultative and collaborative city not just in local news stories or on social media; you’ll see it from candidates for the upcoming municipal election. Websites are strewn with pledges to consult with residents more; to hold workshops and gather feedback; to find out what you want; and to better champion your wishes at City Hall.

This is all very good. This is what a councillor should do. It’s what many (but not all) already do. So, yeah, find out what’s important to residents, and do your best to build the city they want and deserve.

But goddammit, do more than that. Have a vision. Have some ideas. You need to represent your ward, but you also need to be a leader.

I see too many websites that have no policy positions. They have no platforms. There is no way of figuring out what the candidate actually wants to achieve. Rather than present a set of policies, or a vision, or even an idea of what they want to achieve, many of these websites ask you to tell them what needs to be done.

In lieu of a presenting a platform, they’re asking you to build one for them.

(And, to be clear, I’m not picking on any one person. This is pervasive.)

These candidates without platforms…I’m not arguing that they’re bad candidates or that they don’t have any good ideas (I know some of them do!). I’m just suggesting that they need to give something to residents, to show residents they’re thinking about ward and city issues, and have at least a general idea of how to address any issues.

Now, it’s still July. We’re still in the nomination period (and there will probably be more people declaring in the coming week) and residents aren’t paying the closest attention, yet, so it’s still early. You don’t have to roll out your plan right at the start of the campaign.

But we’re getting closer and closer to home stretch. The longer a candidate goes without some sort of policy stances, the more I think they have no plan for what they should do if they’re elected.

And that would make them bad candidates.

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