Nik Nanos speaks at AMO conference
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario held its annual conference in Ottawa August 19 to 22 with 1,900 delegates in attendance. Readers with the inclination and time can visit the AMO website (Link provided below.) to find all the presentations given at the conference. Most are PowerPoint presentations but there are also some video links to some speakers’ addresses including speeches by Premier Ford and the three main party leaders.
Given the looming municipal elections, this article focuses on the presentation entitled Citizen Perspectives for Municipal Election 2018. We will follow this up with a summary of the cannabis panel discussion which contains some sobering messages for municipalities. The Citizen Perspectives presentation was given by Nik Nanos who is Chief Data Scientist and Founder, Nanos Research. He is a Research Associate Professor, State University of New York, Buffalo and Global Fellow, Woodrow International Centre for Scholars in Washington, D.C. The mayor of Parry Sound, Jamie McGarvey, introduced him by saying, “In Canada Nick Nanos is known as the expert on gathering, distilling and explaining public opinion. He is one of the most respected public opinion pollsters mapping the political, economic and social trends that influence policy.”
Nanos’ 50-minute presentation covered a wide range of topics. The Current has extracted some of his polling results and conclusions for readers.
Freezing property taxes
Source for all slides: Citizen Perspectives-Nik Nanos
As is apparent from the above results, it is impossible to argue with Nanos’ statement that “Politicians that talk about cutting municipal services to freeze property taxes are speaking to a minority.”
Keeping property tax increases to the rate of inflation
This shows that just under half of Ontarians would support or somewhat support this, the highest percentage (48.8%) coming from the residents polled in Eastern Ontario.
Nanos also reported that a “small majority would support a 1 percent increase in HST provided that it was used for municipal purposes.”
How residents want municipal councils to operate
Three out of four Ontarians want members of their municipal council to engage in healthy debate on issues. Once a decision is made, however, residents don’t want to see any more divisions on council. Nanos says,
What does this mean? Yes, have your disagreements. Yes, have your debate. Yes, it can be heated. But once a decision’s made, according to average citizens it’s like: OK decision’s made, let’s move on. Don’t try to re-fight those old battles.
The “Perfect Municipal Candidate”
Nanos ended with what he described as the “juicy part” of his talk. He showed the following results from his survey which had asked for residents’ feedback on both the important and least desired qualities of candidates running for office.
Nanos said that the requirement of honesty, integrity and transparency was “no surprise.” He continued,
But you can see – intelligence, experience, and keeping promises – not as important. Great resumé, but what have you done for me? Yes, you can be the most qualified person. You can be the person with the greatest amount of experience. You can have a flawless record of keeping promises. But, what people want to hear about is the type of person that you are in terms of integrity and your responsiveness to the local population. If you described the perfect candidate, this would be the brand.
He summed up the “Least Desired Qualities” of candidates by saying,
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this. I’ll just say, don’t do this stuff, how’s that? OK, we’ll just leave it at that.