Diversity not only deepens our experience of life, but also provides a feeling of security for those of us who belong to linguistic, ethnic, ideological and other minorities.
So it trivialises diversity to suggest - as The Record seemed to do in its year-end coverage of local politics - it can be achieved through variety in the way our elected representatives look.
Our city councillors may all look different, but I question whether the council is meaningfully “diverse.” First of all, all councillors belong to the same slate. Whether it’s an official slate is beside the point. And across candidates - elected or not - there seemed a tendency, this election, to campaign on received wisdom and platitudes.
A truer sign of “diversity” would be politicians courageous enough to address matters of importance critically and honestly. For example, at a time when the United Nations is telling us we have little more than a decade to avert catastrophic climate change, what we desperately need is at least one councillor to advocate for radical action at the local level - rather than the inadequate, incremental approach that is currently being promoted.
A serious approach will mean replacing street parking with bicycle lanes, mandating a degree of energy self-sufficiency for all new buildings, banning the sale of certain single-use products, etc. We could also do with councillors who stand up for the needs of regular working people versus the interests of the super-rich who drive our housing market.
That will mean saying no to developers who won’t keep all rents or sales prices affordable to the median local family income, and likewise saying no to means testing that stigmatizes the poor.
If we see evidence of such courage in the next four years, I’ll be elated. If not, I’m prepared to join the majority who, for lack of real diversity among candidates, see no point in voting.
Patrick Parkes, New Westminster