Democracy in Kingston

Democracy in Kingston: A Social Movement in Urban Politics, 1965-1970

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Democracy in Kingston
    Book Description:

    A reform movement in Kingston emerged in 1965, developed steadily over five years, and then rapidly disintegrated. The two major strands of reformers, the New Left and a more diffuse movement of the middle class, drew together in 1968, focusing on the issues of rental housing and urban renewal. The reformers sustained an intense level of political opposition for over two years but, for a variety of reasons, by the end of 1970 the movement had fallen apart and the remaining fragments had apparently lost influence.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6126-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. xvii-2)
  7. CHAPTER ONE An Exemplary Place
    (pp. 3-23)

    Democracy is seductive. This is not primarily because of any moral or intellectual superiority that it may have over other political ideals. Rather, it reflects the simple fact that, as long as the few make decisions for the many, the latter will eventually rebel. It is in the majority interest to do so. Within what is normally thought of as the political arena, the consequences of this fact have been very significant. In the twentieth century, democratic social movements such as socialism, populism, and modern liberalism continue to draw most of their support from those who are relatively powerless: the...

  8. CHAPTER TWO A Synthetic View
    (pp. 24-29)

    The social movement of the 1960s aroused the passions of supporters and detractors alike. Different classes of people stood to gain, and to lose, from reform. Each group believed its interests to be legitimate. Each saw the world in a particular way, and made its own version of the truth. The perspective of hindsight helps us to avoid some of the grosser errors of the time. The notion, for example, that the movement was a Soviet plot or that students would lead a revolution are obviously wrong. But hindsight does not provide us with a vision that is singular and...

  9. CHAPTER THREE The Inheritance
    (pp. 30-49)

    One of the most remarkable facts about the 1960s is that they followed the 1950s. The two decades are a study in contrasts. In his 1961 inaugural address to City Council, His Worship Mayor W.T. Mills summed up Kingston’s progress to date. He declared that “the city of Kingston is a unique blend of past and present. Stately old buildings, many of them reposing in park-like settings, have given it the name of the ‘Limestone City’. Well-designed industrial plants, shopping facilities and pleasant new subdivisions mark it as a progressive, modern city as well.”¹ There was no irony here. Between...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Into Unknown Kingston
    (pp. 50-70)

    The 1960s brought change even to Kingston. Members of a new middle-class generation found it impossible to reconcile what they saw about them with the ideals that they had learned at home and in school. By insisting that society live up to its ideals, and by showing how that might be done, they were a vital force in breaking the paternalistic consensus of the 1950s.

    In Kingston, the Queen’s University campus became the seedbed of change. One of the immediate consequences of the Second World War had been a baby boom. Six years of war had delayed some marriages and...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Rebels with a Cause
    (pp. 71-87)

    Lester Pearson helped to keep the Kingston Community Project alive. In the early 1960s he had been greatly impressed by the style of the Kennedy administration, and by the Democratic party’s program of domestic reform. In 1965, echoing the words of Kennedy’s successor, Pearson declared a Canadian war on poverty. This slogan was really a misnomer. For the most part Pearson’s package was a rather conventional combination of regional assistance and welfare reform. One program, however, was more radical: the Company of Young Canadians.

    The inspiration for CYC appears to have been Kennedy’s Peace Corps, although from the beginning it...

  12. CHAPTER SIX The Triumph of Hope over Experience
    (pp. 88-105)

    The New Left was in the vanguard of a broader movement for social reform. Lagging behind was a much larger body of people whose ideological and party commitments were weak. The early 1960s have been described as “a period of transition [in Canadian politics] in which optimism mingled with uncertainty, and social liberalism accompanied middle class conformism.”¹ Slowly, however, a movement for social reform made itself felt at the ballot box. Election results, of course, are open to many interpretations. Typically elections are fought on a perplexing mixture of issues and personalities. The 1962 and 1963 campaigns were no exception.²...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Two Types of People
    (pp. 106-125)

    In politics, organizers can never escape the question of what to do next. The answer is rarely obvious. Political ideologies offer only the broadest of guidelines, for they are usually defined in terms of ends rather than of means. The New Left deliberately blurred this distinction. A participatory democracy, they believed, could only be achieved by a popular, democratic movement. This provided some tactical guidance to local organizers. But it did not obviate the need for them to have a practical understanding of what, in a specific context, they could reasonably hope to achieve: of the compromises and alliances that...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT The Dummies Get Smart
    (pp. 126-144)

    The disruption of public meetings by tenants and their political allies was a sign of desperation rather than of strength. A movement that had gained force steadily since 1965 had begun to falter by the summer of 1970, and indeed was soon to disintegrate. This was not for want of trying. Even after the second defeat of rent controls, atak did not give up. With the support of the ndp, tenants fielded three candidates in the civic election that fall: Meister looked for re-election in Ontario Ward; Bobbi Spark stood in Cataraqui; and Sandra Aunger, a Queen’s student, tried to...

  15. CHAPTER NINE A Democratic Vision
    (pp. 145-156)

    The significance of the reform movement in Kingston is that it embodied a new type of democratic politics. In Canada, as in most capitalist nations, democracy is strictly limited. It is confined to a distinctively “political” arena within which people make their views known mainly by electing representatives to govern. The reform movement of the 1960s tried to push back these limits; in the process, it began to redefine the very nature of political democracy itself.

    The process of redefinition found its purest expression within the New Left, which viewed politics as truly pervasive and inherent in any social situation....

  16. APPENDIX A: The City Directory and the Measurement of Social Class
    (pp. 157-161)
  17. APPENDIX B: Patterns of Ward Voting in Federal Elections, Kingston and the Islands, 1958–74
    (pp. 162-164)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 165-192)
  19. Index
    (pp. 193-203)