Municipal councils are supposedly “Bipartisan”. This statement is no longer valid! It is slowly turning into yet another “Urban Myth”. Bipartisan is defined as : of or involving the agreement or cooperation of two political parties that usually oppose each other's policies. In other words, decisions made by municipal council members should not be based on political party affiliations of its members.
Over the last two decades, municipal councils turned into fertile cultivation grounds for rearing provincial and federal candidates. This is the marriage of convenience for both parties – municipal politicians who want to further their careers and graduate into the next levels of government and parties who want to secure politicians as candidates with name recognition by the public that will translate into guaranteed votes.
The result? Municipal politicians will take every chance to attack the policies of other political parties at the provincial or federal levels whenever an issue lends itself to the opportunity. It also means that they have to promote or praise the policies of their affiliated party when the occasions arise. These actions are executed to express loyalty to their own political party and to impress the party to grant them preferential selection when ready to advance to the next levels of government.
Mostly because of these actions above, the voters slowly get confused between municipal and provincial politics – even federal politics on some occasions. If we want to look at why this is happening, we have to examine the voters' depth of political knowledge, or lack thereof. Very few can distinguish Federal, Provincial, and Municipal jurisdictions on particular issues.
Many election campaign volunteers talk to me about their unusual encounters with residents this year. Chinese residents openly asked about the political affiliations of the candidates. They will say that their votes are going to the PC party candidates only and will actively support the candidate due to the provincial PC party's policies and the poor management of finances by the previous Liberal party.
对他们来说，省选举还在继续，今年市政选举是左翼和右翼两党之间的较量。当一位万锦市市长候选人打标语攻击现任市长时，这一问题变得更加突出。此候选人的标语是：“让另一位自由派（市长）回老家，投（我）一票 – 我是保守派！”。显然，这使得市政选举中的政党竞争的暗流从私下变为公开。
To them, the provincial election has not ended and this municipal election is now a contest between the two parties on the left and right side of the political spectrum. It did not help when one Markham Mayoral candidate took on a slogan to direct at Markham's incumbent mayor - “get rid of another Liberal (the mayor), elect (me) – a Conservative!”. This brings the undercurrent of political party contests in municipal elections into the open.
In the current municipal elections, the involvement of the number of provincial politicians granting endorsements to municipal candidates increased. Previously, there were traditional and unofficial understanding of non-involvement from provincial politicians in municipal elections. Now, the door is swung wide open.
In the past, municipal politicians are very low key when it comes to their political party affiliations. They are only exposed when they declared their nomination for candidacy in provincial or federal elections. These days, the voters are leaning towards finding out about the candidates and not just incumbents. They go to social media and check out the pictures of these candidates attending party events to quickly identify the party they belong to. For municipal politicians, the days of hiding their party affiliations are over.
市级政客对党的忠诚也可能突然改变。为了进一步发展他们的政治职业生涯，许多政客会在政党之间跳槽，尤其是自己效忠的政党能否上台不知道要等到猴年马月。当然，这种情况只会发生在拥有很多选民爱戴的“明星”候选人身上 - 通常都是族裔选民聚集的选区。
Loyal commitment to a party can also changed abruptly. In order to further their careers, many politicians will select to switch political party rather than wait for the party's fortunes to turn around in future elections. Of course, this can only happen to “star” candidates with plenty of supporting voters – typically a heritage politician within an enclave of ethnic supporters.
The Canadian political landscape has undergone metamorphic changes over the last decades as its demographics evolved at a rapid pace. Many elected municipal politicians are only actively serving a fraction of their constituents with policies of their affiliated party in mind. Adjustments need to be made to preserve the integrity and non-interfering tradition of the three major levels of government not only at election times. But with so much at stake, l cannot see those benefiting under the current system will make any efforts to change it in the near future.
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