Shelley Carroll has been active in Toronto municipal politics for nearly 20 years, first as a school board trustee, then as a city Councillor, even serving as acting mayor during the Sunrise Propane Explosion of 2008. In this episode of the podcast, she sits down with Michael to talk about the importance of municipal government and its underrated role in daily life.
The conversation moves from there to local news and on to community building and then how to operate and engage in an ethnically and culturally diverse city.
Any discussion of Toronto politics inevitably turns to the ongoing City vs Province conflicts, and Shelley shares what she learned from Berlin city-state politics.
Michael asks about the role of social media in politics; local news is failing and it becomes a duty for politicians to use any platform to communicate what their goals and activities are to their constituents. This leaves them open to the abuse that these platforms can allow. There may be a solution to both of these problems but it is going to take demands from government and the clientele of these social media companies to see real change.
The discussion does delve into the specifics of Shelley’s career, but each event spins into a broader topic. Her role as budget chief turns to how backroom deals between Councillors don’t really happen, and how friendships and cliques get left at the budget committee door. Her time as Acting Mayor was a scheduling accident that started off with jokes around the office, then turned catastrophic. And we learn how a team of B and C string staffers can respond under duress. Her tenure on the Toronto Police Service’s board leads to community policing and navigating controversial policies. Sitting on the Transit Commission is about interference in operations, and arguing for what makes sense.
The Liberal Party of Ontario and of Canada are in a crisis of identity, as support for the centre positions are eroding. Shelley is still committed to the party’s values and hopes that they can regain the confidence of the people.
Good leadership goes unnoticed everywhere, but let’s not lose track of any of the leadership in local government.
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