H. L. Mencken, an American commentator and journalist in the early part of the 20th Century, observed that “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule.”
Local governments who quote world issues as the justification for their actions pose a particularly cogent example of this tactic. A recent attempt by some members of the North Cowichan council using the excuse of a self defined “climate emergency” to strip the value from a project that met all its zoning requirements is a classic application of it.
The proponents’ action may seem capricious and ill-conceived, but the maneuver, had it been successful, would have had the effect of transferring control and with it, effective ownership of the property. In addition, it would have created a precedent that would let the municipality use the same excuse to apply the same treatment to anyone’s property.
Municipal elections scheduled for 2022 are a good time to start reversing this trend. Good representatives share community values and aspirations. More importantly, they do not bring in externally developed ambitions, and use community assets to achieve them.
The big challenge is to get enough people out to vote. In too may cases, municipal and school board elections are won on less than a thirty percent voter turnout. That means control is handed over to a well-organized minority.
True democracy means that citizens can delegate the management of their community but never the responsibility for its outcome.