The Importance of Local Government

In the course of running the LGPI, we at the Frontier Centre have learned a few things about where local government fits into the Canadian body politic.

The seminal moment was in December 2009, when we launched the third annual LGPI.

That was the year that Stephen Harper prorogued parliament (and everybody in Canada discovered there was such a word as prorogued).

After the first two editions of the LGPI had attracted very substantial media nationwide coverage, the phone was almost completely silent, off the hook, for the entire 2009 release.

That's when we realised something important about local government.  The nation can easily focus on its one common government in Ottawa.  It can focus on the provinces from time to time, when a Premier of provincial government does something of national importance.  But it very seldom pays attention to local government in the same way.  Local government constantly struggles for attention.

And yet, local government is arguably more important than any other level.  One way to think about its importance is a thought experiment in which a level of government were to magically disappear and ask how long it would take before anybody would notice.

In the case of Federal Government, it could be months.  Probably nobody would notice until the next tax season!

In the case of Provincial government it would be days, when schools and hospitals no longer functioned.

But the services of municipal government, water, sewers, roads, and lighting would be missed in minutes.  Familiarity breeds contempt, the saying goes, but with the LGPI the Frontier Centre aims to bring Local Government back to centre stage in Canada.