Participatory Budget

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will deliver the federal budget later today. What would happen if your plans were actually included in Flaherty's? There is a growing movement called participatory budgeting where the citizens actually do decide where to spend and what to cut.



Part Three of The Current

Participatory Budget - Governance Secretary for Porto Alegre, Brazil

Ottawa brings down its budget this afternoon, and while these things can be rambunctious, volunteer Carmen Pineros herded passersby's on a street in the New York neighbourhood of East Harlem to get them involved in a new initiative.

This week, regular citizens vote on how to spend a million dollars of the city's money. Local committees suggested possible projects. More security cameras perhaps, or a better skating park. Now, residents are choosing what they want to fund. It's called participatory budgeting and everyone in the neighbourhood over the age of eighteen gets a vote.

Participatory budgeting is a far cry from the behind-closed-doors budgeting process most of us are used to. It works in a number of ways, but the key idea is that the community has a direct say in where public money is spent.

And this week, experts in the field are in New York City for a major conference. Cezar Bussato is one of those people. He is the Secretary of Local Governance in the Brazilian City of Porto Alegre. That's where participatory budgeting first really took hold, back in 1989. Cezar Bussato has coordinated the city's participatory budget since 2005. He joined us from in New York.

Music Bridge

Artist: Bedouin Soundclash
Cut: # 11, Rude Boy Don't Cry
CD: Sounding a Mosaic
Label: Stomp
Spine: STMP 043

Participatory Budget - East Harlem & Guelph Participatory Budget

Well, other municipalities have followed in Porto Alegre's footsteps. At the beginning of this segment we heard from residents of East Harlem, voting in their first participatory budget. Melissa Mark-Viverito is the City Council Member for that district. Melissa Mark-Viverito joined us from New York. And Kelly Guthrie is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the City of Guelph.

Participatory Budget - Participatory Budgeting Project

Josh Lerner is one of the organizers of the First International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in the US and Canada. It opens tomorrow. Lerner is the Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project and he was in New York.

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott and Josh Bloch.

Related Links:

Last Word - Jousting Promo

Tomorrow on The Current, our own budget coverage.

And knighthood is in flower -- Shane Adams will be our guest. He's one of the world's best jousters. Yes, he's a competitive jouster and hosts a reality show airing next week in Canada called Full Metal Jousters.

Clobbering on horseback has a long history, but it's not ancient history for a small but dedicated group of Canadians. On today's Last Word, a little from yesterday's practice -- at a tilt-yard near Calgary.


Other segments from today's show:

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