Now that the spring is upon us and we are just six months away, many wonks are turning their thoughts to the municipal election in October. With Bill 9 receiving royal assent last week, you can include the Alberta Legislature in that group.
After the Bill was given assent into law, I gave it a read hoping to provide readers of my blog some insight beyond what has been given in the main stream media. Sadly I can’t give you any. I still have no idea what it says.
It’s a complicated mess of ‘this part is cut’ and ‘this is what it’s replaced with’ and ‘this is something new’. I felt stupid just trying to figure out what is new, what is old, and what is gone, let alone what it all means. Why can’t legislation be written for normal people? Why can’t it show the whole law as it stands now, instead of just an summary of all the changes, which forces you to go find previous versions to do some kind of legal, time-travelling mash-up? No wonder so many people breaking laws say things like “I didn’t know it was illegal” if we make finding out what is legal and illegal so hard.
(My solution would be to just have a bill that shows the deleted parts as text with a strikethough and new text as bold. Or new in green and deleted in red. Whatever. There just has be a better way. But I digress, because this is not what this post is about.)
Apparently the legal minds at the City of Calgary are having the same sorts of difficulty as I am. Although obviously they got through Bill 9 in enough detail to realize there is a section which don’t make sense.
Yesterday the Mayor sent the following letter to the Minister in charge of municipalities:
2010 April 27
The Honourable Hector Goudreau
Minister of Municipal Affairs
Government of Alberta
104, 10800-97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Dear Minister Goudreau:
Re: Bill 9 – Local Authorities Election Statutes Amendment Act, 2010
I am writing you in respect of the above noted statute, which received Royal Assent on April 22, 2010, and is now in effect.
I understand that Bill 9 was intended to clarify certain issues raised by the amendments to the Local Authorities Election Act (RSA 2000, c. L-21) resulting from the Local Authorities Election (Finance and Contribution Disclosure) Amendment Act, 2009 (SA 2009, c.10; formerly Bill 203).
In particular, section 147.6 of the Local Authorities Election Act requires that:
(1) candidates for municipal office must file a declaration outlining the total amount of campaign contributions held by the candidate, including any surplus money from previous campaigns; and
(2) if the total amounts held by a candidate exceed $500, the candidate must pay the excess to the municipality.
Both of these requirements must be met within 3 months following the coming into force of the Local Authorities Election (Finance and Contribution Disclosure) Amendment Act, 2009. That statute came into force on February 3, 2010; accordingly, the above requirements must be met by May 3, 2010.
However, the Bill 9 amendments to the Local Authorities Election Act included the addition of the following section:
147.92(1) Sections 147.5,147.6,147.7(2) and (3) and 147.91(b) apply to campaign funds on or after December 1, 2011.
(2) Subsection (1) is deemed to have come into force on February 3, 2010.
Can you clarify that it was the intention of the Legislature in adding section 147.92 to delay the operation of section 147.6 until after the upcoming municipal elections taking place in October of this year? In other words, was it intended that a candidate would not be required to file his or her declaration and pay any surplus campaign funds pursuant to section 147.6 until December 1, 2011?
Furthermore, if the above was in fact intended, how is this to be reconciled with section 147.4(1} of the Local Authorities Election Act, as amended by Bill 9, which is a similar disclosure provision and which requires that candidates for municipal office file disclosure statements and pay any campaign surplus in excess of $500 to the municipality by March 1,2011?
In short, kindly clarify on what date candidates for municipal office are to file declarations or disclosure statements and pay any campaign surplus to the municipality.
I appreciate your assistance with clarifying this issue.
I barely understand the question being asked here, but after several readings it seems to me the Province has multiple pieces of legislation, which are either contradictory, or mandating required time travel on the part of candidates. Either way; I agree, clarification is needed.
And I’m happy to see I’m not the only one who is confused.
The world has changed a LOT in the last few years. Things are speeding up so fast many of us have difficulty keeping up. Stereotypically the ones complaining about this “speeding up of life” are members of older generations. This isn’t ageist – its just that those under the age of 35 have grown up with a high level of change and haven’t been around long enough to remember any form of ”good old days” when the pace of life was different.
As my grandma once told me: each generation that has passed has experienced more change in their lifetime than the one immediately preceding them. Or you could just ask anyone who has had to ask a toddler to program their latest gadget; they’ll tell you. (My best friend’s daughter who is just two is already better than I am with Skype for example.)
While it has been my experience frame of mind, rather than age, is usually a much better indicator of willingness to work with – rather than against – the new challenges the world may give you, there is sadly no denying it can be a factor. So with that in mind, here is the list of the ages of Calgary City Council incumbents as of voting day 2010. Decide for yourself if their is an age pattern to the ones you agree with, and compare your philosophies with the ones about the same age as you.
Although, there are none under 40 so I can’t really compare myself on that basis. And I’m not sure how many of my blog readers will be able to either. (Perhaps that’s a naive assumption on my part however.) Either way, I still find it interesting to know the demographics of those who represent me and I thought you might too. So here they are:
Dave Bronconnier – 48
Dale Hodges – 69
Gord Lowe – 71
Jim Stevenson – 65
Bob Hawkesworth – 59
Ray Jones – 57
Joe Connelly – (Couldn’t find his age.)
Druh Farrell – 51
John Mar – 41
Joe Ceci – 53
Andre Chabot – 51
Brian Pincott – 49
Ric McIver – 51
Diane Colley-Urquhart – 61
Linda Fox-Mellway – (Couldn’t find her age.)
These ages are based off of numbers I pulled from the introductory articles of candidates in one of our two big newspapers during the 2007 election, so I can’t vouch that they are 100% accurate. Please forgive me if there is a mistake.
And yes, there is something to be said for having life experience too.
2010 is going to be a year of sweeping change at Calgary’s City Hall.
If you’ve been paying attention to the papers these past couple years you’ll know there is a deep seeded frustration among Calgarians with their current council. And with that frustration has come the hope for something better. (Affectionately referred to as “hope-y change-y stuff” by Fox News commentator Sarah Palin.)
But will the public get the change they have cried for? To do this, half of council would need to change. Given Calgary City Council’s average turnover, 2007 saw a “lot” of change when three incumbents were defeated and one retired. However four is a long way from a majority of new faces, and that is something that has not happened in a very long time. As a matter of fact, only five of the current 15 council members were not sitting in their same seat in 2001. That’s not much change over the last decade.
However 2010 may just be shaping up to the year it actually happened.
First Dave Bronconnier announced that he will not be seeking another term. Then two days ago Bob Hawkesworth, who first became an alderman in 1980, announced he would be doing the same and stepping away from his aldermanic seat.
I realize this is only two incumbents stepping aside and does not look good for the prospect of “change”, but despite the Calgary Herald yesterday announcing “all other aldermen have indicated they will be on a ward ballot this fall” I think we may see a couple others stepping aside before nomination day arrives.
To begin with, not all aldermen have formally announced their intentions. I would not be surprised to see one or two more announce they will be retiring from politics. According the City’s website Dale Hodges has held his aldermanic seat since 1983. Meanwhile Joe Ceci and Linda Fox-Mellway have been aldermen for fifteen years and Ray Jones has been warming a chair for seventeen years. Gord Lowe is now 71 – the oldest on council – and may be looking to slow down. All of these council members I would estimate are potentials to step down still.
At the same time we know Ald. Ric McIver is almost certain to throw his hat in the ring for mayor. Assuming this happens, this is one guaranteed new face on council. Joe Connelly has positioned himself well for a run at the mayoral seat as well. At the same time Diane Colley-Urquhart has been rumoured to be thinking about it too (although no one has come forward with evidence she is seriously considering it yet).
If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that there may be five members of the current 15 members of council that will choose not to run in their current position come September. That alone would represent more change than we’ve seen in a very long time. Heck even 2001, the last year the incumbent mayor did not run, there were only five new faces on council following the election!
If we factor in the same amount of turnover as the 2007 election in the form of frustration aimed at the current council, it is very possible, albeit not probable, we could be seeing a majority of newbies come October 19. Even if this doesn’t happen, we will still be seeing more turnover in one go round than many of us can remember.
Now for the big question: will it be good turnover? The kind that alleviates Calgarians’ frustrations? Stay tuned to find out.
This post has been cross posted to The Best Political Team in the Blogosphere. Check it out for all your coverage of the 2010 Calgary Municipal Election.
So Dave Bronconnier has just announced he will be stepping down from the mayor’s chair and handing over his oversized mayoral necklace (does that thing have an actual name?) come October 2010. He will not be running for re-election.
While it is possible we could spend some time reflecting on our 35th mayor’s tenure – after all he’s been mayor of Calgary since 2001, having been elected three times, and before that was alderman of ward 6 for nine years as well – the real fun lays in what this means for the candidates that have been mulling about the starting line of the mayoral race for the past year or so.
Bronco’s announcement today almost guarentees Joe Connolly and Ric McIver will run for mayor, but who else? Will Alnoor Kassam now return for another kick at the can? Could we see Diane Colley-Urqhart or Druh Farrell step up in the coming months?
Personally, my guess is you’ll see one one Brian Pincott, who is currently ward 11 alderman, or frequent civic commenter Naheed Nenshi step up and take a serious run.
Either way, things just got interesting. Tie on your sneakers, because the race is about to begin.
On your marks, get set, GO!
A few months ago I wrote to ask Calgarians to wait until the design of the new Santiago Calatrava bridge was released before deciding if the $22 million price tag was worth it. The design was supposed to be released by the end of May, then the big day was scheduled for August 6, before yesterday’s surprise release of the images. A bumpy wait, but now that they are out Calgarians are able to have their full say. (Click here to view the design on CBC’s website where many are giving their comments.)
It appears as though price is no longer the only contentious part of this bridge however. In addition to releasing the artist renderings yesterday, the Mayor announced on Friday that the bridge is meant to honour the Canadian Armed Forces. Then this past Monday he emerged from a closed door Council meeting to announce the bridge will be named the “Peace Bridge”.
So by my count that now gives Calgarians four different things to complain about when discussing the bridge:
- The cost.
- The spin.
- The name.
- The design.
And so it begins. The newsrooms, the editorials, the twittersphere, and the blogs have all become sounding boards of confused fury. People are being lumped in as either “for” or “against” the bridge. But as you can see from the list above there must be nuances not being explored. So I break it all down thusly:
1. The cost.
Con: This bridge is costing more than any other pedestrian bridge in Calgary’s history. Given the current state of the economy, reasoning suggests the large amount of cash resources could have been better spent elsewhere, on something Calgary has a demand for. I have not seen any data suggesting that what Calgary really needs right now more than anything else is a pedestrian bridge just west of Prince’s Island.
Pro: You can’t build a bridge for much less than this. The rumour we could have done it for $2 million simply is not true. It is also important to note the City of Calgary is not paying for this bridge out of their property tax revenues. The money for the bridge is coming from the Provincial Government as part of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding. As such, there are a number of “strings” attached to the agreement that mean Council can’t do much with the money except build a bridge. (Remember the Bronconnier/Stelmach public battle of about a year ago? This is what that was about. Bronco wanted to be able to spend the money on other more pressing civic needs. He lost this part of the argument.) Because the money is unexpected and limited to only this use, it stands to reason that you might as well build a better bridge than you normally would have rather than giving the money back. (You’ll hear more from me in the future about provincial/municipal funding issues. It is this kind of messed up relationship that illustrates why we need a new deal for cities.)
2. The spin.
Con: The number one reason why Bronconnier is so happy to honour our troops with this bridge is to help deflect some of the public criticism over the other three items on this list. It’s hard to argue with this. Even though the Mayor says this was the plan all the way along, it is news to just about ever observer. Including many – if not the vast majority of – council members. It smacks of using our troops as a political shield. Just about the lowest tactic I can think of.
Pro: Bronconnier may be telling the truth – we don’t know for sure. And either way naming the bridge in honour of the Canadian Armed Forces is a great idea, given the bridge’s proximity to Memorial Drive and the re-vamp that is underway there – also in honour of our troops. Most everyone thinks this is a good plan; however we must be wary that accusing the Mayor of political gamesmanship does not mean the accuser things this is not a worthy group to honour in this manner.
3. The name.
Pro: “Peace Bridge” is an appropriate name given that the bridge will be in honour of our troops. Peace is what they stand for. The name is also symbolic of Calgary and Canada as well as the joining of two shores.
Con: It is such a good name we already thought of it 82 years ago when we named the Niagara bridge that joins Canada to the United States at Fort Erie/Buffalo. Don’t our troops deserve to be honoured in a manner not already reserved in Canada for a different group? Couldn’t we be just a little bit more creative in the name we chose to honour them? I’m sure they’d be much happier not having to share a name with a much more famous bridge. It seems like the least we could do.
4. The design.
Pro: Calgary needs more iconic and unique architecture. The city is one of the most creative places in Canada – and I would argue the entire world. However the city has been mostly built during “boom” cycles, meaning getting a building up as quickly as possible had to be the number one goal. This kind of accelerated program doesn’t allow much time for the design process to create new engineering marvels. When Santiago Calatrava was commissioned to design this bridge it was because he had a history of unique designs that people the world over talk about. This design is unlike any bridge Calgary has, and is unlike any bridge anywhere else in the world. It is uniquely Calgarian and has the potential to quickly become a local treasure.
(We’ve known for months the bridge wasn’t going to be a standard Caltrava-esque design because of the limitations created by having a helipad so close. So if you expected the high towers and cables give your head a shake and get over it.)
Con: As Don Braid said in his recent post: Parisians didn’t love the Eiffel Tower when it was first designed either. They felt it was ugly and inappropriate given the scale and design of the rest of their city. So far I have heard Calgary’s new bridge design referred to as a Chinese finger trap, a blunt, a futuristic tunnel, a candy stick, a ribbed condom, and a drinking straw. (The design has only been out for about 18 hours so I’m sure there will be more to come or some I’ve missed.) What do these descriptions all have in common? It makes it sound like people don’t like the design. But I’m not buying that. I think this is people simply trying to make sense of what it is they are looking at. And that’s a good thing. Just like with the Eiffel Tower, iconic architecture is rarely immediately embraced the way the status quo is. Hopefully once is all said and done they decide they do like it.
So there you have it. All the pro and con arguments summed up. If you think I missed anything please let me know. I hope this will be able to help us frame the argument for or against the bridge with a little more nuance.
Or at the very least get to the point of accepting it a little quicker. Because I think it’s pretty cool Calgary has something so different, finally. (Even though I think it is a lot to pay, but we had little choice on what to do with that money so I’m happy with our choice. I also think naming the bridge in honour of our troops is a great idea, even though the Mayor’s political spin was terribly executed and the resulting name was unoriginal. Hopefully you understand my nuanced opinion on the bridge a little better given everything that came above in this post. If not, at least I tried.)