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View from the Cordillera

A Commentary on Achieving Excellence in Local Government
Read by Municipal Leaders on 4 Continents
Published by the Cordillera Institute
(Vol. 4, Issue 23)
Surviving and Thriving in an Irrational World (part 1):  What Threatens Our Futures
Guest Author
Brian Lee Crowley
Managing Director
Macdonald-Laurier Institute
Ottawa, ON, Canada
For more information on our guest author, see the About the Author section below.

To order the full text of this commentary or to become a subscriber, see the notes below.

Summary of This Commentary
This commentary is based on a talk given to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association at their President's Summit in Red Deer (Alberta) on April 30, 2009.  Just a little more than 6 months earlier, the financial regulatory committees of the U.S. House and Senate had set off a chain of events which have had devastating effects, not just on the U.S. economy but on economies around the world.  [For more on this fleecing of shareholders and taxpayers, see Issues 03.30 to 03.32.  You can read the summaries of that series here.]  The timing of this chaos, right before a presidential election in the U.S. and a federal election in Canada, inspired the major media to marvel at the 'brilliance' of the strategy.  Labelling as brilliant a strategy which gained political victory at the expense of plunging the country and much of the world into recession is just 1 of many irrationalities of these times in which we are living.

Another irrationality is the cheering of the major media as the new administration in Washington, as well as administrations in Ottawa and other national capitals, launched so-called economic-stimulus packages which are producing the opposite result.  As unemployment continues to rise, as our retirement savings are decimated, as businesses are choked by a scarcity of capital and more punitive regulation, as our senior governments throw around our money — and even more that they have borrowed in our names — as if there is no tomorrow, as officials in Washington and in a number of other capitals are calling for more of the same, those in senior government who are responsible for our municipalities are, once again, talking about municipal reform as a solution to their own financial problems.  And, just what solutions are they considering?  You guessed it — forcing municipalities to merge.  In part 1 of this guest commentary, Dr. Crowley demonstrates why forced municipal mergers are irrational.  He exposes the myths used to support this agenda and explains why its results fail, time after time, to deliver on its promises.  If your organization is being asked to consider merging with 1 or more of your neighbors or if your senior government is even discussing the possibility, you will want to read this issue.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

About the Author
Brian Lee Crowley is the founding Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a public policy think tank opening its doors in Ottawa in March 2010.  Prior to that he spent 15 years as the founding President of AIMS (the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies), a regional think tank based in Halifax (Nova Scotia).  He has twice won the leading international prize for excellence in think tank publications, the Sir Antony Fisher Award.  In 2006-08 he was on secondment as the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist with the federal Department of Finance.  This is the most senior independent economic policy advisory position within the federal government and carries with it the rank of Assistant Deputy Minister.  During his time in Ottawa, Dr. Crowley worked on a broad range of policy files and redesigned the pre-budget consultation process.  In 2007 he was named one of the 100 most influential people in Ottawa by The Hill Times.  His latest book, Fearful Symmetry: The fall and rise of Canada's founding values, has been a big national bestseller in Canada since its release in September 2009.

As always, we welcome your comments.

David Barber
Director
Cordillera Institute
(416) 293-9300
CordInst@istar.ca
http://pages.istar.ca/~cordinst/



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About This Publication
Each issue of View from the Cordillera covers some aspect of excellence in local government.  It may examine one of the success elements; it may present a case study; it may introduce a resource (an individual, a group, a publication, etc.) which is advancing excellence; it may advocate a new direction for local government; or it may identify a wrong turn in public policy and offer an appropriate remedy.  This electronic publication is read by those who govern, manage, support, and sustain our local governments.  For more information, just click on the About VFC button below.

About the Cordillera Institute
The Cordillera Institute is an independent research and public policy organization dedicated to excellence in local government.  Since our founding in 1994, we have studied many high-performance organizations to learn what makes them successful.  From this research, we have distilled a set of principles, paradigms, policies, programs, and practices which are the key elements of their success.  Our mission is to be a catalyst — to empower municipalities, school boards, public utilities, and other local public agencies to achieve excellence by adopting and applying these success elements.  For more information, just click on the About CI button below.

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