Last week late-night sessions came to a head in the Alberta Legislature as the Redford Progressive Conservatives rushed to bring yet another catastrophic legislative session to an end. Scandal after scandal erupted which complimented a disastrous budget that put lie to nearly every promise Alison Redford made only a year ago when she lied her way to power in Alberta. While polls have certainly proven themselves to be unreliable, it is pretty much undeniable that the Redford government is in a popularity free-fall in Alberta.
Among the many scandals that have sprung from our government, the revelation that over $2 million in severance has been paid out in the Premier’s office alone is the most telling of the state of affairs in our legislature. Rumors of Redford’s outbursts and untenable attitude are being confirmed as exhausted and harried staffers are constantly shown the door having failed to do the impossible in painting Redford in a positive light.
Alison Redford like Ed Stelmach before her and like Stephane Dion won her position due to being everybody’s second choice in a divisive leadership race. Like those before her, Redford is floundering as she never really had a large base of support within her party to begin with. Redford won by playing the system and through renting the support of Alberta’s teacher’s union. Only one caucus member supported Redford’s leadership bid initially and she really hasn’t endeared herself with caucus since.
Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives are hardly known for their selfless idealism. MLAs and staffers have no intention of going down with the Redford ship and we can rest assured that the knives are already coming out.
Aspirants such as Doug Horner and Thomas Lukaszuk will be furious as they see a Mayor building a leadership foundation while they are still bound as cabinet members. The unofficial leadership campaigns among the PC caucus will be well underway by mid-summer as we will see MLAs and cabinet members surfacing in the most unexpected of parades and barbeques as they try to broaden their provincial exposure and support. An increasingly desperate and furious Alison Redford will be watching and it will be quite entertaining watching her trying to plug the holes in the dam before the leadership campaign flood bursts it.
Policy and legislative action are important and interesting to watch. Internal party intrigue is even more fascinating though and the summer of 2013 will be loaded with it. Be sure to read between the lines with every action you see from PC MLAs and Alison Redford. A 40 year dynasty is crumbling and more than a handful of it’s members feel they could be the party’s savior if they could only get their hands on the reins.
In February 2012, federal Justice Minister Vic Toews managed to do a remarkable thing; he made a statement so offensive in defense of his flawed legislation that he managed to unite the left and the right in opposition to him. The bill was C-30 which would have given sweeping powers to authorities to snoop upon people’s private internet communications purportedly to help reduce child porn trade.
In one statement Toews managed to outrage political watchers across the entire spectrum as he ridiculously and offensively tried to imply that anybody who opposed his legislation is a supporter of child pornography. Bill C-30 was eventually withdrawn due to mass public opposition to it. That does not happen often with a majority government.
That sort of vapid debate tactic is unfortunately in common use when people are discussing issues that get emotional. Most recently I saw this as I wrote upon the folly of Calgary’s city hall trying to legislate a ban on sharkfin soup. My entire point was that it simply is not within a municipal government’s jurisdiction to legislate what kind of food we can eat no matter how horribly the food was harvested. This brought about all sorts of responses about how terrible shark finning is to the point where one hammerhead said my article was essentially saying I condoned people going to the SPCA to pick up a puppy to eat.
No matter how many horrors are brought up, it does not change the reality that it simply is not the role of our city council to legislate on this. It does not matter if the sharks were subjected to electroshock torture while being repeatedly sodomized by the fisherman while watching Lindsay Lohan trying to act before their fins were cut from them and they were tossed back into the sea, it is not relevant to the discussion of municipal jurisdiction. This is not simply my opinion, this is how courts have ruled in Canada thus it is silly and wasteful to direct civic resources towards this issue.
To claim that pointing these jurisdictional realities out is being supportive of animal abuse is simply shallow and foolish and does nothing to address real issues.
I figure I may as well list a few other areas where this baseless type of debate is often used and will likely be used again so I may link people here when they try it.
I can oppose legislation relating to natives as well as the activists and proponents of those legislations without being a racist. This applies to pretty much any legislation that effects or is being promoted by any person of an identifiable group.
I can support changing Canada’s failing healthcare system without wanting to change it to the American system. There are hundreds of systems and dozens that surpass Canada’s in terms of both cost and outcomes. I really don’t care what happens in the USA in that regard. It is irrelevant and acting as if there are only two healthcare systems on the planet is simply stupid and is hindering real reforms.
I can oppose having Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan without being supportive of the Taliban. How many more good Canadians need to die in that stone age state with no visible signs of them growing out of being a vicious theocracy?
I can oppose bicycle infrastructure being constructed at the expense of existing automotive infrastructure without being “anti-bicycle”. I can take issue with the exaggeration of demand for these bike lanes and prove the lack of use of them without being anti-bike too. I find this one ironic as one of the more prolific bicycle zealots in the social media world loves to send expletive laden rants at me accusing me of being anti-bike. Meanwhile his handle is @carfreeyyc and he personifies the anti-car movement quite well to the point of wearing it on his figurative internet sleeve. Most bicycle aficionados are not anti-automobile but their activist element certainly is as can be seen in the crazy ImagineCalgary city plans.
I can oppose many of the flawed animal rights legislations that have been tabled without supporting animal abuse. I want to see stronger penalties for cruelty to animals but activists have to stop inserting clauses trying to take away the property status of animals if they want these legislations to pass.
I can oppose capital punishment without being supportive of <insert crime here>.
The examples are endless but I have covered the main ones that I see directed at me anyway. Many things are debatable and all legislation should be. Opposing a piece of legislation does not mean that one condones the act that the legislation is supposed to address. We can never let people try to stifle rationed debate by implying such.
Once upon a time the state took it upon itself to be the moral governor in Canadian lives. Policies outlawing various sexual acts taking place between consenting adults were myriad and were enforced. These policies were modeled to save us from ourselves and to keep our mortal souls away from eternal condemnation in hell and they were strongly supported by people in the religious right as they used various texts to explain why the state must contain and condemn these acts determined to be unethical by what essentially were powerful interest groups.
Times thankfully have changed and while I am far from a Pierre Trudeau fan, he made it clear that the state has no role in regulating the bedroom activities of consenting adults.
While the religious-right has been sidelined in their quest to have government regulate our personal lives, the loony-left has stepped up to the plate to fill the void.
Our choice to determine what we will consume is no less personal than our choice in sexual activities. Despite that, extremists on city councils such as Brian Pincott and Druh Farrell want to go so far as to actually determine and regulate what we eat based on what they consider to be ethical or moral foods. We see this trend happening all over North America as Mayor Bloomberg in New York tried to ban certain soft-drink sizes and Toronto banned a kind of soup. Thankfully judges so far have proven themselves to be wiser than these civic, moral busybodies and have rightly tossed these offensive and intrusive policies into the trash where they belong.
One clear mark of the fanatical is the constant pursuit of a goal no matter how clearly it has been proven to be wrong. In a committee that is trying to find a way to get certain types of soup banned within Calgary as per Brian Pincott’s initiative, it has been realized that such a ban will not survive a court challenge. Undeterred by this reality, the committee is moving along with ideas such as a shark fin registry that will ensure that the foods harvested meet up with the ethical standards to be determined down the road. Truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to the world of the extreme left.
What these people are trying to do is create an end run around court protected rights. They want to use a large and restrictive bureaucracy to stop a practice that they have determined to be immoral which will essentially be a ban. This is exactly like Nenshi’s virtual development freeze in Calgary’s suburbs. A ban or a freeze can be hidden through abusing the regulatory system to halt a practice. It is a sneaky and disingenuous means of making policy but it is starting to become common practice in Calgary’s city council that hides within in-camera (closed to public) meetings more than ever despite promises of transparency from Nenshi.
These initiatives need to be stopped and the types of politicians who pursue them need to be thrown out of office. While taxes are being raised and deficits are rising, we have politicians wasting countless dollars and time with these committees and task forces that are working micro-manage our very lives. Rest assured these zealots will not simply stop at shark fin soup if they manage to ban it (whether outright or through regulation). Have a look through google, these sorts want to ban or control our fat intake, sodium and even mandate degrees of organic and local produce as shown through the Calgary food initiative.
We can’t claim to be surprised when these nuts bring out these policies. The city of Calgary has had it’s blueprint for intrusive government right there for all to see within the insane ImagineCalgary document and the food policy spawned from it. We as electors need to pay attention to just what kind of ideologues we have in our civic councils (and at all levels of government for that matter).
Don’t let them turn the discussion into one of what food is or isn’t ethical. What we need to discuss is who’s role it is to tell us what we may purchase or eat and it sure as hell isn’t the role of municipal governments. We can decide on our own what we want to put in our bodies.
Keep the nutty, tax-funded soup committee well in mind when casting your ballots this fall.
Yesterday I listened to a radio retrospective from 1969 where excited children were interviewed just after the moon landing.
One of the children was asked, “Do you want to go into space one day?”
The child responded, “Oh yes.”
The interviewer asked, “Do you think you will?”
The child responded, “No”.
When asked why not the child said. “Because I am a girl.”
In such a short piece it was laid out so clearly how our primitive societal outlook held back the hopes, dreams and aspirations of so many children based on things such as gender, race or even family status. This was not all that long ago at all but thankfully in the developed world we have grown beyond those attitudes incredibly in just one generation. There are still archaic attitudes held by some and still unfair limitations being presented to some but we are working towards ending those.
As with so many things though, we have reached a target and then continued pushing right past it to the point where we have created a whole new problem. We no longer have a generation that feels that they can’t do certain things simply because of race or gender but we have created a generation that is marked by a very deep sense of entitlement.
We have told our young people over and over that they have the right to become whatever they want to be. The reality is that what we are creating is the equal opportunity to pursue certain careers but we can’t guarantee that the pursuit will be fruitful. Let’s face it, if every young person could become whatever they dreamed to be, we would be a world full of singers, firefighters, movie stars and of course astronauts. In the real world the openings for those roles are rather limited.
In Quebec we have seen riotous protests for over a year as thousands of students with a profound sense of entitlement protested an incredibly modest increase in the cost of their already hugely subsidized tuition. During the whole “occupy” thing the year before we saw young people feeling entitled to illegally squat wherever they please to demonstrate a sense of general discontent that they could not get everything they want from society. As that generation hits the working world the cold wash of reality is going to be terribly hard on them.
In the real world we don’t all get a ribbon for participation. We never should be trying to crush or limit the aspirations of young people. We do need to add a dose of reality though.
In the world of the arts we see this sense of entitlement at it’s height. Embittered interpretive dance graduates and people with doctorates in advanced finger painting are tiring of serving coffee and are demanding that the public fund them so they may work in the field of their choice even if there is no demand for it. Arts lobbies are having some degree of success as politicians fear being swarmed by unemployed mimes at election time so tax dollars keep getting tossed into the arts pit for more substandard productions. In Alberta SOFA has been yelping to a fever pitch acting as if art will outright vanish from the world entirely if we do not tax the productive further to pay for it. That of course is simply untrue. Heavily subsidized arts do lead to crappy quality arts though as I laid out in this posting.
Though I am sure there are people who could be more diplomatic than I about it but it has to be said to some. Not every person is actually any good in their field of choice. Somehow the interpretive dance major has to be coaxed into another trade and the finger painter informed that his work is shitty and will never sell. If these delusions are not punctured at some point, the dancer will often find herself swinging around a pole with money in a g-string while drama majors find themselves in grimy West Coast studios in a branch of the film industry that they never really dreamed of entering. Which reality dose is more painful? The first one or the second?
Our collective sense of entitlement has led to mass overspending provincially. Redford now is ineptly cutting from post-secondary education which has led Mount Royal University to cut some of their arts and journalism programs. Hey, we can’t have it all and if we are going to cut that is simply where it needs to be done. This does not mean that there is no arts education or journalism available, it is just that the opportunities are re-modelling a bit to reflect a realistic demand.
What am I to say to a person with a degree in philosophy aside from: “No thank you, I don’t need fries with that.”? How many openings for careers in women’s studies do we really ever think there will be? We have to get realistic with what we are teaching and those taking the courses need to be realistically informed about the chance of their being employed in the field of their choosing.
I do not owe anybody a living in their field of choice.
The dreams do not need to be squashed but they do need to be tempered with reality. A person can paint part time while working on a different career. A person can still attend weekend casting calls while working as an engineer. Hey, if you get your break that’s wonderful but if perchance you don’t make the cut your bills will still be paid and I won’t have to listen to the enraged howls of entitlement from you.
It needs to be taught that a person is not a failure if they end up in a career that was not their first choice in life. Nothing makes a job more of a drudgery than thinking that you were supposed to be elsewhere. As I type, I am in Oklahoma supervising the survey of an oil exploration program. I deal with countless nightmares at times from drug addled staff, to gross hotel conditions to picking ticks from myself nightly after having walked through the bush for a day. Rest assured I did not daydream of doing this as a child. Despite this not being my first career choice, I am comfortable with it and accept that it is what I do. Why depress myself or demand that others facilitate a change for me? If it was all that bad, I could seek something else. I have learned to enjoy the travel and the outdoor aspects.
As deficit budgets continue on all levels of government while we pursue the same crash the Europe is enjoying, we see a looming reality check where spending will inevitably have to be cut. When we re-balance our education system we must work to ensure that we model public-funded education based on our national needs rather than entitled wants. If we keep taking the path of least resistance we will have a mountain of unemployed arts grads while we madly draw even more immigrants to fill the labor voids created by our tilted system.
You never see a plumber working as a barista. Let’s work to find that balance with our youth between encouragement and reality.
We need not destroy dreams, but we have to let youth know that they don’t always (in fact rarely) come true.
To begin with on this rant, I will shed the label “progressive” for policies and refer to them for what they are on the spectrum: “left wing”. The left/right political spectrum is an accurate measure in describing general political leanings particularly with policies if not with people. Many keep wrongly trying to claim that the left/right concept on the political spectrum is out of date or inaccurate. Almost invariably those trying to hide from the left/right descriptor are people who land on the left side of things as they try to describe themselves as “progressive” (despite opposing most forms of progress). Left leaning folks in Canada are understanding that hard left-wing policy is unsalable to the electorate when presented openly thus while retaining the philosophies they try to mask the real intent politically. We see this most often in civic politics where the lack of a party structure has allowed many hard-left leaning candidates slip by the electorate when they typically would have been rejected.
One of the biggest contradictions in the left-wing world has been their constant claims of wanting to support the poor while supporting so many policies that harm the poor further. There are two factors that strongly affect people in low income situations; the economy and the cost of living. If we really want to ease the pain for low income people, we should be ensuring that we have a strong economy so that income may be found for those who seek it and that the cost of living remains as reasonable as possible. Unfortunately, left wing initiatives only harm the economy and shoot the cost of living through the roof.
With the left gravitating so much towards civic politics, we have seen quite a trend of an almost religious-like urbanism that is zealously focused on increasing population density at all costs. In Calgary we have seen this with the importing and hiring (at huge cost) of American municipal planner Rollin Stanley who is so obsessively density focused that he is actually controversial and somewhat well known. It takes quite the extreme viewpoints for one to stand out so much in the typically dry world of urban planning but Stanley has managed to do so with his unreasonable anti-vehicle and consumer outlooks.
Through regulatory abuse and red tape, Mayor Naheed Nenshi along with left-wing allies on council such as Druh Farrell and Brian Pincott have essentially frozen suburban development. 97% of Calgary’s growth has been in the suburbs over the years and there is a good reason for that: it is affordable and people don’t want to raise their families squashed like sardines in a dense urban environment. Despite such overwhelming demand by consumers, the density obsessed are working hard to take away consumer choice through regulation. There is a great little saying about socialism: “Ideas so good that they have to be mandatory.” We can’t let those unwashed citizens choose where to spend their lives and dollars! It is upon the urban planners to force these people into what we see as “sustainable” living.
Now when one meddles with the law of supply and demand there is always a consequence. In Calgary (and many other cities) housing is being choked by ideologically extreme councils thus causing the cost of housing to go through the roof. Many of density zealots love to wistfully speak of Manhattan and San Francisco as great density models to follow. What these ideologues constantly forget to mention is that these centers are catastrophically expensive to live in with average homes costing over a million dollars in Manhattan and nearly as much in San Francisco.
Housing is one of the largest expenses in everybody’s lives. People with low incomes are harmed terribly when housing supply is choked. The poor who the left claim to care about get pushed further and further from urban centers seeking affordable housing which of course leads to even more suburban growth which is second only to the holocaust in it’s evil! To fight this trend, Nenshi has been supporting huge property tax hikes every year along with development levies in order to make suburban living as expensive as living in a downtown density paradise. The left wing density gang does realize that they can’t reduce the cost of living downtown so they hope that in raising the cost of living artificially elsewhere that they can at least equalize the poverty throughout the city.
The poor in cities are now being driven further and further out from the city centers as left-wing policies make living untenable for them. While Nenshi and his followers love to pejoratively toss out the word “sprawl” and feed a myth that the suburbs are subsidized, they are actually feeding outward growth as they raise the cost of living for our most vulnerable. While bedroom communities offer more affordable housing, they often have less employment opportunities nearby so lower income folks either have to commute great distances (environmental evil) or remain unemployed.This comes at a cost to the low-income in lost personal time and in transportation.
The cycle only gets uglier as civic governments try to battle with reality along with supply and demand. Large urban governments are constantly demanding more taxation powers along with charters that will allow them to bully neighboring smaller communities. Satellite cities have seen explosive growth as people retreat from the high costs and purposely traffic-hindered downtowns caused by density focused civic governments. Mayors like Nenshi want to use taxes as a hammer along with control of neighboring communities in order to force a halt to the consumer exodus from their cities.
As the urban poor get hammered by high housing costs caused by left-wing local governments, they get hit yet again through increases in their costs of consumer goods. Protectionism and opposition to big-box product distribution causes the costs of all goods to rise quickly. Mayor Nenshi called new big-box developments “crap” when trying to justify why city hall was using red tape (something Nenshi claimed to oppose) to hinder a viable development. Well, Nenshi not every person can afford to ride a bike to Kensington to purchase handcrafted items from local artisans. Those poor that the left claim to care about get harmed terribly when affordable consumer options are taken from them.
In the early 90s I made my living through pizza delivery. Much of my diet consisted of food from work and what other consumer goods I bought at that time were limited and dear. I remember financing the purchase of a VCR over two years. I think I paid about $500 dollars for that thing by the time I was finished paying. Through open foreign trade and big-box distribution, those types of items along with clothing and countless other things are a fraction of the cost that they were 20 years ago. Despite this, the left wing opposes free trade and large product distribution. Let the poor buy designer clothing I guess.
Ahh but electronics are wants not needs right? Well the left leaves no stone unturned and is ensuring that needs are expensive too. Despite scientific realities proving no nutritional benefits to organic produce, grossly lower crop yields with organic produces, no definable flavor difference with organic products and a massively higher cost for organic products, the left supports these products. GMOs have proven to be harmless and have greatly increased yields thus lowering the cost of food around the entire planet. Despite this, the left hysterically opposes GMOs as the real target of the left is an anti-corporate outlook rather than food safety or affordability. Meanwhile the cost of foods goes up and up.
Idiotic “100 mile diets” which ignore our local climate and consumer demand are pushed along with a raft of other loopy food policies laid out in Calgary’s food plan which was inspired by the insane ImagineCalgary plan which Nenshi participated in building. These plans go as far as trying to force food stores to carry local products and to force them to build into areas that don’t have enough consumer demand to support them (to save the world from long shopping drives). These costs are of course passed along to the consumer and yet again the poor get hit hard.
Now it is pretty clearly established that left-wing policies hurt the poor terribly when it comes to the cost of housing, eating, entertainment, travel and pretty much every other consumer good, let’s have a look at how the left harms the economy.
Lowering the cost of living helps mitigate some of the challenges of being low-income but it does not solve the problem that put the person into a low-income situation in the first place. Big intrusive government does not ease poverty. What people in low income situations need is a strong economy with growing local employment leading to a high labor demand which of course leads to full work weeks at higher pay. Left wing people really do have some sort of mental deficit that makes the concept of supply and demand incomprehensible to them unfortunately. This leads to those who claim to care for the poor constantly championing against industry which is actually the only thing that will ease the poverty.
The left has become so fanatical against conventional energy generation that they now oppose all initiatives no matter what. Even the reversal of a safe and harmless pipeline is now being opposed though these extremists never present realistic alternatives to the energy that they are opposing. Until we see an invention of the flux-capacitor or some other fictional (for now) form of energy generation, fossil fuels are by far our best means of powering our society. The left’s chronic opposition to all forms of energy is costing the poor terribly.
One of the best ways to keep a strong local economy is to have a business friendly climate. A couple weeks ago Mayor Nenshi went on a tirade where he demonized local business leaders and referenced jetsetting and such in ways that would have made Marx proud. Nenshi is now fundraising and building a polarized us vs them climate in Calgary where the affluent and hardworking are demonized. Now think about it, as a business considering locating in a city like Calgary would you really want to move to a place where the Mayor is prone to decrying you as an evil rich industrialist? It is hard to measure the exact amount of damage being caused by Nenshi’s anti-industry attitude but it is very real. While Calgary’s Mayor is not attacking all business people, he has made it clear that he will not hesitate to do so when he feels irked. His tantrum with the homebuilder’s association was almost embarrassing in it’s vitriol.
The left does like firing out the simplistic cries of “tax the rich” or “tax the corporations”! People should have a look at where the vast majority of charitable contributions come from. When people of any income get tax hikes they re-examine their expenditures and charities often are among what gets cut from spending. Charities are often much more effective in poverty mitigation as they target their programs based on real need as opposed to government organizations that more often are based on mass employment of bureaucrats and scoring points for political optics.
The left almost always overlooks philanthropy when attacking those they have determined to be “too rich” in their envious and divisive eyes. As Naheed Nenshi continues his crusade against Cal Wenzel in Calgary, I wonder how this will affect Wenzel’s decisions on his charitable works in the city? Cal Wenzel’s donations to the arts and housing charities in Calgary are well into seven figures. Why should he continue to invest in a city like that when the Mayor works so actively to demonize him?
Naheed Nenshi is a classic example of one who campaigns from the center and governs from the left. One need not scratch Nenshi’s increasingly thin skin much to find that the color underneath is not purple, it is very red. Nenshi’s quest for larger government, higher taxes and his clear loathing of industry are showing his true nature and this bodes poorly for attracting new industry or retaining current industry in Calgary.
Yes indeed, some rich folks do jet around the world and live in big houses. Some of them drive big cars and some can be pretty darned arrogant (though Nenshi has no high horse to ride on regarding arrogance). You don’t have to like those nasty successful people but you had better recognize that we need them. The arrogant rich guy may be annoying but he also potentially employs thousands. While your altruistic Uncle Bob may be a real sweet guy, he won’t be building industry in a city. We need those large industries and the general income that comes with them.
Demonizing the affluent and taxing the crap of them only causes them to leave. Capital and people are mobile and they can and will leave. Yet again in such cases, the poor are stuck holding the bag.
Let’s imagine such a city without evil industries where those nasty, selfish business people have been driven out. Oh what sort of paradise would we have? Well, last year I worked on a contract in Stuebenville Ohio for a while and took some video while down there. Have a look at how a city looks when the rich have gone away.
Imperial Oil, CP, CN and other companies are leaving downtown Calgary. These businesses will go outward to follow the labor migration to the suburbs and to escape the demonization of their industries by local governments and the fanatics supported by them. Developments are fleeing too and we will see more giant malls such as Cross Iron Mills being built just outside of the city limits to avoid punitive local governments. Supply and demand will always win in the end but ideologues such as Nenshi can do terrible damage to the poor in trying to fight it.
The world is full of contradictions and hypocrisy. There are few areas more glaring in this than that of the left claiming to care about the poor. If you care for the state of the poor, avoid “progressives” at the polls at all costs.
April was an exceptional month of faux-outrage, hyperbole and a fabricated political controversy spurred on by none other than His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi himself. A grainy recording of a speech by a Cal Wenzel (founder of Shane Homes) in front of 150 attendees of an industry meeting (hardly a hidden conspiratorial group) was released to the media some months after the fact. In the secret recording, it was revealed that Wenzel did not like the direction that some members of council were going in and was encouraging others to use legal political means to try and facilitate the election of council members who have a more favorable outlook on the home development industry. There really was utterly nothing wrong with this and special interest groups have been participating in elections since the very beginning of elections.
This whole episode was really a non-issue until Mayor Nenshi spotted and took advantage of the opportunity to try and create local outrage against a well respected and established business in Calgary in hopes of polarizing the electorate in His Worship’s own favor. If nothing else, Nenshi has proven himself to be a canny political player if not a principled one. Nenshi even puffed up and scheduled a press conference where he reported that utterly nothing had changed aside from his remaining outraged that people in Calgary may hold a view differing from His. It was a striking spectacle indeed to watch our Mayor create such a fuss over so little.
An ongoing irritation over the course of this conceived dustup was the abuse of the word “partisan”. The Manning Institute was dragged into the whole affair as Wenzel had spoken of developers and homebuilders contributing to the institute to aid in the training of candidates. The manufactured indignation was repellent as “partisanship” was decried by our Mayor and his legion of hipsters supporting him on social media.
To begin with, there are no parties in civic politics in Alberta. While the word can be used in broad definitions, it really is not appropriate when speaking of Calgary civic candidates or interest groups. What we have happening in Calgary civic politics is a clash of ideologies which while more subtle, is far more concerning than partisanship will ever be.
The Alberta Party was built by Chima Nkemdirim (Naheed Nenshi’s Chief of Staff) to be a post-partisan party. What that contradiction meant was that the party would mask all forms of coherent policy through fluffy, broad and feelgood platitudes in hopes of masking the left-wing ideology of it’s supporters. It was recognized that Albertans soundly reject hard left wing policies at the polls so this consensus style party was created to try and slide their ideology past the electorate. With Nenshi’s unexpected win as Calgary’s Mayor, the Alberta Party lost the leader expected to take them to the 2012 election and Nkemdirim fled along with Nenshi into City Hall. By masking their partisanship and in having no real leadership, the Alberta Party fizzled to a dismal 1.3% finish in the 2012 Alberta provincial election. The voters were not fooled. Real partisanship has a role and the electorate demands it.
Part of why Nenshi has been decrying a non-existent partisanship within the Manning Insitute has been to mask the hypocrisy in his being a founder of and supported by CivicCamp which is an ideological special interest group that is trying to influence the Calgarian civil political government exactly as the Manning Institute is. Both groups are exactly the same in their basic nature, the only difference is a wide gap in the ideologies.
The Manning Institute is at least honest in their ideology. They say outright that they want to encourage and facilitate conservative policy in municipal politics. There is utterly nothing wrong with that.
CivicCamp on the other hand is very disingenuous in their goals. While they spit out the term “partisan” as a pejorative and try to paint themselves as being a democratic service in municipal politics, they are very clearly ideologically driven with some pretty distinct goals. CivicCamp takes strong and direct stands on policy initiatives such as the ideologically extreme PlanIt document which was spawned from the outright insane ImagineCalgary pap. If you are going to take direct policy stands as a group, you have moved well out of the public service role and right into ideologically driven advocacy. Again there is nothing wrong with this but CivicCamp should be more honest about what they are. Reading through the site quickly indicates the hard-left lean of the group.
CivicCamp carefully tries to avoid mention of the names of the people involved with them as well. One can hide the policies of the group but it is hard to hide the intent when the names of the founders can be seen. Just as the name Manning makes it clear that the Manning Institute is a conservative leaning group, the heavy involvement of occupy Calgary organizer and extreme left-wing activist Grant Neufeld in CivicCamp gives a strong indication of just how far out there the group’s ideology really is. Calling Neufeld a left-wing extremist is hardly an exaggeration when you consider that the guy wants to actually ban air-travel and compared people who use flight to travel to murderers. The hyperpartisan Green candidate for Calgary Centre (Chris Turner) is heavily involved with CivicCamp which is rather telling of the group’s nature as well.
Naheed Nenshi and his followers are ideologues and the clash that is happening in Calgary is ideological rather than partisan despite Nenshi’s attempts to deflect from that. There is an ideology that is heavily stuck on environmentalism, big intrusive government and massive increases of city density and it is pretty clear that Nenshi and some other council members are strong adherents to this ideology. This is not shadowy conspiracy, it is right in the open if people want to look at it. Nenshi helped build ImagineCalgary and the agenda is more than clear in that document. Hiring density zealots such as Rollin Stanley is among the least of the things Nenshi wants to do. Look at how fervently he wants broad municipal powers granted in a City Charter and to increase the taxation reach of the city. Nenshi needs these things if he hopes to meet the goals in ImagineCalgary.
Ideologues are inflexible and linear in the pursuit of their goals. They do not care about collateral damage on the way to what they see as an end and will stop at little to get there. Ideologues tend to be thin skinned when it comes to any critique of their agenda as was seen in Nenshi’s now legendary tantrum with a local developer.
Like it or not, we need parties and the partisanship that comes along with them. We need ideals and idealists too to set goals and broad agendas. Let’s call things what they are though and not try to hide agendas.
The only thing more troubling than an ideologue is one who is trying to hide their nature. Deflecting and pointing at the ideology of others while hypocritically pursuing one’s own ideology is hardly productive.
Among the buzzwords that have been so overused such as “vibrant” and “sustainable” is the word “transparency”. Despite that word being used so much by our Mayor, we have more in-camera council meetings than ever and the top man seems to be anything but transparent in his ideology. That is unfortunate as the ideology is what it really is all about in the end.