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Alderman vs. Councillor: the answer is HERE!

By DJ Kelly December 4, 2007

I don’t get what all the hub-bub about changing Alderman to Councillor is. Last night Calgary’s city council once again defeated a motion to change their titles from the former to the latter.

Now I know what you are going to say: “But DJ, alderman is a sexist term and needs to be changed. It’s out of date.” To which I’ll promptly reply, “Whoa, slow down. I think you misunderstand me.”

Is ‘alderman’ a sexist term? Here’s my point: Who cares?

I don’t think it matters if it is sexist. The point is someone finds it sexist. It is hurting someone (albeit a small portion of the population). So if we can relieve their pain then why wouldn’t we do it? I can’t think of a single person that would be offended by the term ‘councillor’. So if one term hurts a few people, and another hurts no one, why not make the switch?

As you can see from the today’s Calgary Herald article, Alderman Druh Farrell – who voted to leave the title as is – mentions the term is rooted in history and is an honourable title. From what I’ve heard this is the standard argument by those wanting to leave it as ‘alderman’. But certainly every other major city in Canada thinks ‘councillor’ is an hounourable title. So that part of the argument is bunk. So the question falls to historic arguments. But isn’t ‘councillor’ also “rooted in history” in Calgary?

You see, from 1884 to 1894 Calgary’s council did use the term ‘councillor’. In 1894 they changed it to ‘alderman’ when the reorganized the Wards. Now I’m not clear here – I’m not a historian – but I think we might have even had both ‘aldermen’ and ‘councillors’ until 1906. (The writing in this City of Calgary article is a little sparse on the details. Or maybe I’m just misreading it.)

So it was good enough for us 120 years ago but it isn’t now? Now, that every other major Canadian city uses the term?

Let’s just make the change and get it over with so our ‘councillors’ can get back to working on more important things. Please?

  • Brandon

    If they do make the change will they not need to change the wording in all policies and procedures? If they do then this would be a waste of tax payer dollars.

  • Brandon

    If they do make the change will they not need to change the wording in all policies and procedures? If they do then this would be a waste of tax payer dollars.

  • Not only that, but councillor makes a whole more sense, given that it’s city ‘council.’ We’ve stopped calling female poets ‘poetesses’, we’re moving towards ‘actor’ for those who act regardless of their sex or sexual persuasion – just do it. Of course Lethbridge still has only ‘aldermen’ – although there are at least two women on council. Changing the term is such a no-brainer I’m surprised it’s even worthy of debate.