There’s little doubt that Sooke council’s latest foray into global issues will raise some eyebrows.
Signing on to ban nuclear weapons will doubtlessly give rise to voices of derision from those who believe that municipalities should know their place as the most junior level of government and leave global issues to the grown-ups to manage.
But while that position might have represented the popular view in 1970, anyone clinging to that particular position in 2019 just hasn’t been paying attention.
In 1814, Russian author Ivan Krylov wrote a fable about a man who was so taken with the minutia of the tiny items in a museum that he failed to notice the elephant in the room. That’s not unlike municipal politicians who are so concerned with park benches and potholes that they fail to notice that climate change threatens their city with flooding or forest fires.
The world is facing multiple pressures, including climate change, inequality, migration, terrorism, and yes, a threat of nuclear war, and it’s all happening while national governments are coming unstuck.
The solution, say some experts, is for cities to lead.
In 2016 a Global Parlaiment of Mayors was created internationally to help mayors to tackle local challenges resulting from global issues.
Inter-city networks like the B.C. Union of Municipalities have become more common, joining hundreds of similar organizations worldwide to provide a voice to people who feel ignored by their national governments. Cities have independently opted to take action on issues like climate change, pollution and sustainable energy. They have declared themselves sanctuaries for displaced migrants and taken action on the opioid crisis.
By doing so, they’ve addressed these problems on a micro level, but cumulatively, they are making a difference and are sometimes motivating their national governments to act.
It was Mahatma Gandi, who said, “It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
Sooke council seems to know the truth of that statement. In truth, a failure to accept the responsibility to address global issues is tantamount to political malpractice.