Mayor Nenshi’s budget woes haunt Calgary
Disclosure : Wyatt Claypool is a third-year Policy Studies and History student at Mount Royal University, where he serves as the President for its Campus Conservatives. He is also a Conservative board member for Signal Hill.
Calgary’s budget is not holy, and I have no clue why the city council keeps acting like it is. Mayor Nenshi’s attempts along with other council members to rejigger the property tax balance between business and homeowners was a move I can only describe as tone-deaf to the needs of Calgarians in this current economic slump.
Regardless of how much the average Calgarian has in their pockets somehow it was still a top priority to maintain the slightly over 17 billion dollars 2019-2022 budget. It makes sense to me that the budget should reflect the ability of Calgarians as a whole to pay for the services that tax dollars fund. Despite the ever lowering of household income around the city as well as the rising unemployment rate and downtown office vacancies, up until a week ago, there was no question that Calgary taxpayers were going to still be on the hook for that 17 billion over three years.
Maybe I am too much of an idealist, but I’d imagine when we first pass a budget we assume that in our economic state we can pay for 100% of what was agreed upon by the city council. But if one year into the three-year budget, we find an income contraction throughout Calgary of 15%, then why shouldn’t the budget be adjusted to reflect that loss in ability to pay comfortably. This is especially true of property taxes as they are not adjusted based on one’s employment or income status. Nenshi on this issue positions himself as tragically loyal to the budget he initially passed which would be commendable if the economy had not further deteriorated.
Nenshi believed that the city’s actual ability to fund the budget was just another one of those fussy technicalities and can be worked around to preserve current spending. In his view, services outweigh household economic health. City services, especially those most likely to be cut, add little benefit to the lives of Calgarians when bills need paying. A new library ($245 million) seems like an insult to those business owners who are operating on ever-shrinking margins and possibly facing closure. No struggling homeowner is visiting the library or touring new art installations when family budgets need to be further tightened.
Nenshi recently complained about having been pushed to cut the city’s 2019 budget by $60 million this year saying, “the plan goes too hard, too fast for marginal improvements”going on to say one month to find areas of the city budget to cut was too short notice. Nenshi? You can’t find 1.4% of your next year’s budget to cut, as a former business professor? I, like most Calgarians, don’t buy it. Nenshi is simply obstinate. It’s only a problem when he has to feel the effects of the economic downturn, which is why he also fiercely defended his diamond-studded pensions from Jeromy Farkas, who along with Magliocca, Chu, and Sutherland see that Calgary has a whole needs to be far more frugal with its spending.
As the Mayor of Calgary, Nenshi and his cliche of city councillors should not be leading from behind as they have. If Calgarians have already been cutting back for years, then elected city officials should certainly not be the last aware of the need to reduce spending on luxuries. I would not mind the current expenditure on the arts and new city infrastructure as much if we had the economic strength back when Nenshi was first elected mayor in 2010, that sort of goes without saying, yet it has still not caught up to him that it is 2019 and Calgary is not in the same economic shape. King Nenshi brings the attitude that if Calgarians cannot afford bread, then they should stop their complaining and eat cake instead. I’m not sure whether to laugh of tear my hair out at all this stupidity.
If Mayor Nenshi can only see the city budget as a measure of whether we are in a recession or not, then he will continue to squeeze every last dollar out of property owners blindly. His placation of protesting business owners by simply shifting the tax burden to homeowners is proof enough of this. I have a strong doubt that if the success of the July 22nd deadline where up to Nenshi if the job would ever get done. He has yet to take the lead on the budget cuts and would rather complain over small technicalities to make this procedure a slog through the mud.
Nenshi is still of the mind that the city budget is to be guarded and is dissuading council members from getting involved in the cuts as if unelected bureaucrats can represent the interests of Calgarians better when finding areas of the budget in which to save money. Coming from the same man who did not think a month was enough time to make cuts, I believe Mayor Nenshi fears the speed of council members and would prefer the unaccountable bureaucrats drag the process out. Too bad for him that won’t be happening. The world will spin on if we let the grass grow a little taller on public land, or lose out on some modern art bike racks. A little bird named Nenshi has also informed us that the Mayor’s salary is too high, so I have a good idea of where to start at the very least.
At least we can look to the silver lining at this time that Calgary does have some good councillors who have shown leadership through this tough economic times. I look forward to having a Mayor Farkas, Magliocca, or anyone else who won’t take Calgary’s taxpayers for granted. As voters, we should reject good times candidates like Nenshi and elect someone who will assume management of the city seriously.
Calgary’s budget woes are just a symptom of an out of touch mayor. In the future, when selecting another mayor to lead our city, we must ask ourselves whether a budget or some other thing is more important than the economic well-being of Calgary business and households. As for Nenshi, it looks like we will have to continue to push and drag him into doing the right thing (if he ever does).
During an NHL game in Vancouver, a fan’s homemade sign which read “Support Don Cherry” was confiscated by the arena’s security, according to Rebel News.
The man who brought the sign to the game stated that he “just wanted to support Don Cherry” after his deeply controversial firing. The game was being played between the Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars.
As well as this, the man displayed his message during a break in play, which is the designated time for signs like this to be held up. Apparently after he had held the sign up, a member of Vancouver’s security team approached the man and told him to follow him into the hallway where he met multiple policeman, who then took the sign from him.
Justice Russel Zinn has just released his written ruling on the Lawton and True North v. Canada case. The case was started when Rebel Media and the True North Centre for Public Policy began a legal action to obtain permission to cover the official English and French federal election debates. The two media organizations claimed they would face “irreparable harm” if they were denied access to the two debates.
The two media groups found that their accreditation to cover the debates was denied on the morning of Friday, Oct. 4, just three days before the debate. The two outlets then quickly filed urgent motions to the federal court on Monday, just hours before the debate for an interlocutory injunction against the commission’s denial. Their motion was heard at 3 p.m. and a decision was made shortly after at 4:30 p.m., just two-and-a-half hours before the debate started.
The two news outlets were particularly interested in going to the two debates run by the Leaders’ Debates Commission as they were the only debates in which Justin Trudeau attended. Most important to the two media organizations were the media scrums that took place after each debate, which gave time for accredited journalists to question the Prime Minister for up to ten minutes.
After the debates, Trudeau’s government decided to appeal the court’s decision to allow the group coverage of the debate. Their reasoning that Lawton, a journalist for True North didn’t meet their accreditation standards–despite other journalists being allowed to attend the event not meeting them.
The written decision released Thursday details why the honorable Justice Zinn decided to force the Canadian government to compensate True North for the legal costs they incurred.
The decision mentions in section 15, “The Executive Director of the Commission attests that ultimately all applications for accreditation were accepted except the two before the Court”
The decision to deny the media groups accreditation was an attempt by the Commission, created by the Trudeau government. Both True North and The Rebel are highly critical of the Trudeau government.
Justice Zinn’s decision also criticizes the vague qualifications that the Commission laid out and the unfair nature in which the accreditations were given out
“For these reasons, I find that the Applicants are likely to succeed at the hearing of the merits in successfully challenging the accreditation decisions as both unreasonable and procedurally unfair.”
The decision also criticized the stance of the Commission that the groups would not be negatively impacted by not being allowed physical access to the debate. Justice Zinn retorted in section 53 and 54 that the Commission was ignoring the real reason in which a media group would be interested in attending the debate would be for the scrum
“This submission ignores the reality that accredited persons have access to more than the two-hour period when the leaders are involved on stage in debating. As noted above, no accredited press have direct access to the leaders during that period. If all one gets from accreditation is the ‘privilege’ of sitting in a room with some 258 other journalists watching the televised broadcast of the six leaders debating, then one must wonder why anyone would apply to be accredited rather than watching from the comfort of one’s office or home.
In section 54 Justice Zinn states, “The Commission’s Executive Director in his affidavit provides the answer. The benefit of accreditation, and perhaps the sole benefit, is access to the media scrum.”
#FireJessAllen trends again on Twitter as The Social host who called hockey players 'white boys', 'bullies' clarifies
Comments made on an episode of CTV’s The Social yesterday have received heavy online backlash following comments made by one of their correspondents regarding Don Cherry’s firing, though the centre of the controversy has clarified some of her statements.
Former Maclean’s magazine editor and TV talk show co-host Jessica Allen was at the receiving end of plenty of online backlash following comments made about Don Cherry, and the “altar of hockey” which Canada worships, going on to say that the “white boy” hockey players could have used their parents’ money to instead, travel the world.
“Maybe it’s because of where I grew up, and going to a couple different universities. In my mind, in my experience, who does. They all tended to be white boys, who weren’t very nice, they weren’t very thoughtful they were often bullies, their parents were able to afford to spend $5000 a year on minor hockey. You could do other things than spend time in an arena, you could go on a trip and learn about the world. See other things. The world is a big place, maybe get outside of that bubble.”
The comments prompted swift replies from many upset hockey moms nationwide, who felt as though Allen was making sweeping generalizations about their sons, and undermining the importance and sense of community that many small towns across Canada have attached to the game.
During the controversy, CTV did not reply to TPM‘s request for comment, though Allen went on the air the next day and decided to clear the air.
“It turns out I struck a nerve with many people when I spoke of personal experiences with specific people who were hockey players — white, not typically kind or thoughtful, and typically bullies, from affluent families. I wish these experiences didn’t happen, and they no way negate the positive experiences that millions in this country have had with hockey,” said Allen.
“My lived experiences certainly don’t negate how much good the sport does for communities and families across the country. Rest assured hockey families, I wasn’t speaking about your sons and daughters, who I’m sure aren’t bullies, and I’m sure love hockey as much as you do,” Allen continued, before rattling off examples of the positive effects it has had in her family.
“I was speaking about my own lived experiences, often negative experiences with those who played the sport, and how they led to me being conflicted with hockey being so closely bound with our national identity.
Allen’s comments may not have gone over as well as she had hoped, though, as many perceived her comments as doubling down.
This prompted the Twitter hashtags #FireJessAllen and #FireJessicaAllen to trend for the better part of Thursday.
Though Allen attempted to clarify that she was speaking about her own experiences, it seems as though she may have struck the same nerve twice.
“Sometimes a scandal isn’t just a scandal, but a biopsy of a society,” said the British author Douglas Murray earlier this year. This apercu was coined in his reporting on the scandal that involved the indomitable philosopher, Roger Scruton, who was fired from his position in the British government for things he never said. This was the product of the crafty editing skills of George Eaton, who distorted Scruton’s responses to make him look like all kinds of politically incorrect bugaboos.
Though the context and character are different, Murray’s phrase can apply to the non-ceremonial ousting of Canada’s beloved curmudgeon, Don Cherry. His defenestration carries with it all the great features of the perfect cancelling. One of them is perhaps the most aggravating: false outrage over things that a few years ago might have disturbed the overly sensitive, but the effects would have been momentary. It would have blown over after a day or two. People would have quickly gained their composure and moved on and left the octogenarian to his work, which many Canadians enjoy. And yes, his cantankerous demeanour is among the many reasons why this has been the case for decades.
But, unfortunately, the culture we’re living in rewards outrage to the point that people will pursue it for the sake of social validation and to feed their own egomania; they’re supposed compassion for the “violated” comes off so contrived and convenient as to be nauseating. Particularly since the things upon which they train their sights are often as frivolous as a sports broadcaster expressing his concerns over people not wearing poppies. One can’t help but take notice of the façade being showcased by many, since if we were to suggest that they do something that would actually make their outrage worthwhile—such as donating property to an immigrant Cherry ostensibly violated—they’d likely disappear quickly from their podium of virtue. When Cherry was on his show earlier this week, Tucker Carlson said that these people are “fascists” with no feelings and are using their “outrage” to “exert power.”
We certainly can argue over the applicability of the word “fascist,” but the gist of what Carlson said is accurate. With the most cursory reading of the avalanche of denouncements, it’d not be far-fetched to assert that many deep down aren’t really that appalled by Don Cherry’s comments. For with the advent of social media, these people have developed even more of an addiction to attaining instant approval from their peers and, upon seeing where the wind is blowing, have shifted their focus to satisfying this addiction through the pursuit of superficial causes they likely weren’t interested in until an hour ago.
What this has created is a generation of moral narcissists who engage in performative outrage, treating takedowns of old-timers like Don Cherry as some great act of bravery and something for which they are owed adulation. They operate in a non-existent universe in which they have had no moments of indiscretion, and they arrogantly impose their new standards of perfection onto people for offences past and present. In a sober-minded world, they’d likely be left standing on a corner rambling like a crazed wing nut and attract only a few supporters. But social media provides them with an obsequious, like-minded tribe who will readily applaud their every utterance and provide them with a constant dose of self-satisfaction.
In a new article for the Atlantic with the fitting title, “The Dark Psychology of Social Networks,” Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell provide one of the most insightful analyses of this social malaise. They argue that people have become susceptible to this contagion of “fake outrage” as social media has transformed “communication into a public performance.” The lack of intimacy in the Twittersphere makes interaction with others entirely based upon outdoing the next person with their “grandstanding” and scrutinizing of others instead of actually making an attempt to connect with people by productive, two-way communication. “ Nuance and truth are casualties in this competition to gain the approval of an audience,” they observe. “Grandstanders scrutinize every word spoken by their opponents—and sometimes even their friends—for the potential to evoke public outrage. Context collapses. The intent of the speaker is ignored.”
With the immediate consumption of mass information, people have lost touch with ideas and principles that have long sustained civil society and have come to see little value in learning about them, while becoming obsessed with dim-witted fights. “Even though they have unprecedented access to all that has ever been written and digitized,” Haidt and Rose-Stockwell write, “members of Gen Z (those born after 1995 or so) may find themselves less familiar with the accumulated wisdom of humanity than any recent generation, and therefore more prone to embrace ideas that bring social prestige within their immediate network yet are ultimately misguided.”
These people deprive themselves of the timeless values that would restrain them—such as reason, curiosity, truth, giving others the benefit of the doubt, decency, pluralism, among others.
People, such as those on The Social, instead become dog whistle specialists, who are incredibly precise when it comes to reading minds and confirming one’s motives without any further questions. They then claim it as evidence of a much larger crisis, though the only ones really “taking offence” are the cultural elitists in the major metropolitans and their Twitter legion of moral narcissists desperate to profit off of outrage.
Don Cherry is only the latest casualty of this insidious enterprise.