Friday, 27 December 2019

Rebuttal to George Brookman Herald Column Dec 19 , 2919

With due respect to Mr. Brookman, an entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, while I agree with his wishes for optimism, I cannot disagree more with his assessment of the current situation at Calgary’s City Hall.

Mr. Brookman’s idea that we should compensate Councillors in a way that would entice more people to stand for office is totally out of sync with what politicians tell you when they enter the race for office. When they knock on your door to solicit your votes it is always about how they will serve you, never is the subject of compensation mentioned. However once elected, we have seen that they will approve salary increases and huge pensions for themselves, despite the fact that their own appointed citizens panel disagree with them., His other argument against limited terms is also wrong when he believes that individuals must be given at least 12 years to learn on the job and that they would be more knowledgeable as time goes by.  People get elected because they are supposed to be more knowledgeable than ordinary citizens. That they have ideas to make things better and that is why they seek to represent them

The Institute for Public Sector Accountability (IPSA) has always advocated a two term limit of eight years with the possibility of being re-elected after sitting out one term of four years. A two term limit of eight years is ample to make your mark if you are so qualified to represent the citizens, It is not the place to learn and be paid by the taxpayer; especially when the salaries, pensions and transition allowances are tied to the number of years on Council.

 Given his view that ‘if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’; in Calgary this is debatable. We have seen hundreds of thousands of dollar in salaries, and pensions and yet what we have is a ‘zoo’. The talent that he supports has been vastly lacking in recent years. The results and tax increases clearly supports this assertion.
Mr. Brookman has in the past advocated for a 1% tax to finance arenas, and other huge expenditures. Perhaps he should look at IPSA’s proposed policies to change the Market Value Assessment system, change the disparity in business and residential taxes. It is suggested that instead of continuously trying to take money from the taxpayer to make the City better, he may look at alternative ways to finance these projects, like the proposed IPSA use of Tax Free Municipal Bonds which would give citizens an opportunity to really own these arenas and other facilities, instead of paying higher taxes.
I agree that we have to be optimistic, but it is hard for most Calgarians to feel that way when the roof is falling on many people’s heads. While not entirely Council’s fault, much of it could have been avoided with new ideas. As his friend says: “Same old George, always toeing the party line, always trying to sugar-coat the facts. Why can’t he admit that he’s living in the past and that he should just stop trying to tell us all how good things are.”
Not speculating that Mr. Brookman may be running for office at the next election, what worries me is that people trying to select candidates for the next elections may harbor Mr. Brookmans’ 20th century views - that is not optimistic.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Conservatives Moving Forward

After a failed federal election and a departing leader, it is time for the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) to look inwardly and decide how to proceed in the future. For too long conservatives have fought against themselves and failed to win the last election which was handed to them on a platter. Let the reflection begin.
When Stephen Harper left the party, although he had lost the elections to a vacuous Trudeau, the party itself was in good shape. However the choice of a new leader was hampered by the division between small ‘c’ conservatives and social conservatives. The party in a very narrow vote gave the leadership to Andrew Scheer. In my opinion, Scheer never had the leadership qualities required to lead the party. Given his role as the Speaker of the House he did not have the qualities of a front bench Minister who had the opportunity to fight against the opposition in the House. He continued his role of House conciliator in the campaign and allowed Trudeau to define him instead of the other way round.
The current CPC is still too embroiled in a definition of conservatism. For those who still lament the ‘progressive’ side, they should get over it. Progressive has nothing to do with progress. Instead we should look at defining conservatism as being pragmatic and embrace what many see as a new approach to conservatism.
New conservatism is to embrace economic policies that reflect the new realities of the 21st century, as well as new mores in society. This means that we must embrace pragmatic environmental policies that address real environmental solutions and not focus on taxes and the redistribution of wealth. The economic policies should focus more on making family life more affordable; help make employment more accessible through a focus on training and apprentices rather than expensive education at Universities who have become bastions of indoctrination. Reduce the exploding costs of the welfare state and instead focus on reducing and eventually eliminating subsidies to corporations as well as placing caps on deductions and eliminating boutique tax policies while lowering tax rates.
As for Canadian values they should be reflected in our immigration policies, and move away from the disastrous approach to multiculturalism. More importantly, let us address the elephant in the room in a pragmatic way that will allow for a bigger tent party. Social values must not be the center piece of the new conservatism. Instead we must value freedom of speech and association. We can accommodate both sides. Conservatives, by nature, are law abiding citizens, we therefore will guarantee that existing laws will be respected and supported. By the same token we must understand that there are others in the party who have religious beliefs that must be respected. In a big tent party we can have both beliefs. While recognizing that we have a duty to protect the LBGTQ community, we can also respect the religious values of others. That also means that attending a parade is not a prerequisite to lead a country.
Furthermore the CPC must recognize that Canada is a vast country with a diverse population with different views and economic goals. The Liberal government has succeeded in dividing the country between East and West, and the CPC should focus in dismantling these barriers. One of the failures of the party was the inability to make a breakthrough in the GTA, and Quebec, Cities have become bastions of liberalism, because they are populated by the liberal elite. The movement of population from rural to urban is rising, and it will continue to affect the vote in large cities. The party must also attract more women.
The next leader will have to address these issues in a very short time, because with a minority government, an election could be called within the next two years. The CPC must ensure that a new leader reflects the new realities of the political environment. While I do not have any one in mind, I will venture to seek for a bi-lingual female candidate, who can embrace new conservatism ideas, while uniting the party. The leader must be able to stand up for pragmatic conservative ideas, and not cower to the liberal media desires of making conservatives look like Liberals. There are differences in ideology, and a leader should clearly articulate them without fear.
Offense is the best form of defense. The last election was lost because the CPC was unable to capitalize on the governments many mistakes. Despite the possible problems experienced by Trump -impeachment, and Boris - a Scottish separation, it would be wise to follow their example, because their style and policies seem to be winning conservative support. It is imperative that the next CPC leader ensures that there are no skeletons in her closet, because ‘those who live in glass houses cannot throw stones’ and the next election will be decided on how and who can throw the bigger stones.