With the municipal election just around the corner and some people and candidates claiming that council needs to be made up with people who have a business background, I wish to take a moment to debunk this myth.
Businesses and governments are completely different entities and have distinct goals.
Individual businesses have much narrower foci then governments. They deal in transactions that involve the profit-making of a particular person or industry within a distinct market. Consumers choose to pay for products and/or services and are able to select between different businesses based on costs or individual reasons.
More simply, businesses operate in a specific market in order to maximize the profits for owners and/or shareholders. Period.
Governments are structured to offer sets of essential services to all citizens in as fair a manner as possible. They do so by collecting taxes and various user fees that are used to fund the services offered. They are also major employers of public servants, most of whom belong to unions or associations that work under the conditions found in negotiated collective agreements.
In addition, there are different contexts under which business and government operate. For instance, municipal governments are mandated by provinces to offer and pay for specific services. They have no choice but to offer such services.
Businesses, on the other hand, can choose which goods they wish to make, or services they offer.
It follows then, that the skills necessary to be successful businessperson or CEO do not necessarily dovetail with those needed to sit on council as a councillor or mayor.
Business is not government; government is not business. Vote wisely.