In Regina, 36.47% of eligible voters bothered to vote in yesterday’s municipal elections. That’s up 11.5% from three years ago when Fiacco was acclaimed. Pretty appalling isn’t it. The work the Coalition for a Citizen-Friendly Regina (CCFR) did to field candidates and highlight a number of issues during the campaign should not go unnoticed. Though none of the CCFR slate were elected to Council, their contributions to the political discourse in this election should be commended. In personal conversations, several have suggested that the local media bias against the CCFR brought out a backlash vote. And, one cannot deny that the cult of personality surrounding Mayor Fiacco as the primary reason for his handy victory over CCFR’s Jim Holmes.
CCFR should be proud of its foray into local politics. As a grassroots organization modeled faintly after the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) in Vancouver and with hints of the passion that moved Citizens for Local Democracy (C4LD) into action in Toronto a few years ago, CCFR changed the course of politics in Regina.
Prior to the campaign, Council chose not to create rules on the public disclosure of money spent during the election campaign, with Mayor Fiacco stating that, “I’ve not heard any complaints and I don’t think you need to fix something that isn’t broken.” During the campaign, however, Fiacco appear to flip-flop referencing a Leader-Post poll that showed significant public support for spending disclosures. “I think in the next year what should happen is whoever is elected should revisit it … and have a good discussion on whether or not disclosure is what the citizens want,” he said.
Another issue brought to the fore in the recent campaign was the proposed development of Regina’s southwest. Immediately after the Regina Media Collective broke the stories about the Fiacco connection and RREDA’s NAFTA lobbies, and Holmes publicized it, City Council placed the development on the back burner.
This election was a beginning for CCFR. Within less than one year, the organization formed, developed policy, and fielded several candidates who changed the course of politics in the Queen City. That is democracy in action.