eDemocracy Webinar Series - Social

Webinar Summary 

0:00 - Housekeeping rules, and introduction by host Andrea Reimer to the councillors and the context of the discussion. 
 
8:17 - Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam of Toronto speaks to why she is feeling more optimistic about the police budgeting conversation. 
"The conversation in the community is actually elevated to the point that people are asking if the police are not the right individuals to send out as a first responder, who should we send out? So there's a real active conversation exploring the alternatives to policing."
11:43 - Councillor Sharmarke Dubow of Victoria explains how the conversation should not be about eliminating the police, but about increasing investment and access to community services. There is a need to focus on city policies and city budgeting alongside policing or police budgets.
“At City level, do we have the tools to make the right decisions, and how do cities make sure that policies reflect the communities they serve?"
17:04 - Councillor Lindell Smith of Halifax discusses how the police budgeting has made its way into city budgeting and Halifax election discussions, as well as in larger organizations like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He also sees it as critical to clarify to constituents that 'defund the police' does not mean abolish. 
 
22:42 - Andrea Reimer brings up “framing” and “branding” the issue. "How do you engage people in an authentic discussion where they feel like they can connect with the issue and understand what the issue is?”
 
24:28 - Cllr Wong-Tam speaks to the power of using specific language that citizens and residents were using in order to engage with them, and the momentum this has led to in Toronto.
"I'm very confident that as long as we keep up the activism and pressure across the country, no one is going to walk out of those discussions without needing to press the reform button."
30:54 - For Cllr Smith, more youth advocacy and programming can reduce clashes with police. He expresses frustration over the limits that many Police Acts place on city councils when it comes to having jurisdiction over police decisions and deciding where to re-allocate money to.
“For us, the discussion of putting more money into places that need it has always been in the forefront, but what is not being discussed is [where the money will come from].” 
38:51 - Cllr Dubow follows up by talking about the need for more power, expertise, tools, and data for local governments and city staff in re-allocation discussions. 
“If we talk about parks and public works, sometimes an engineer wouldn’t have expertise to talk about social issues and race. And if you don’t have that expertise at home and you don’t get it funded, how would you get it right?”
50:24 - John introduces the Ethelo Police Budget and Citizen Budget tools that allow residents to understand the implications of city spending increases and decreases. He talks about how small-group deliberation and dialogue can play an important role in police budget discussions.
"I think starting to embed this type of decision-making and trade-off analysis into the hands of local residents themselves is an important part of having people turn their minds to that whole issue."
1:02:00 - Participants and speakers move into break-out room discussions. 
 

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