I was actively trying not to write anything about the Calgary municipal election, but after a couple of articles that I've read, I snapped and I have to.
I have to ask: how did the homebuilders become evil? I mean, I know how this all started, I've seen the video but why is this continuing after so many months? The homebuilders themselves have said nothing public for a couple of months. They’ve been nice, quiet neighbours, SO WHAT’S THE DEAL? Why is it everytime I pick up the paper, someone is saying something disparaging about them? Are any of the homebuilders running for a council position? Not that I’ve seen. So, why are they being so vehemently attacked?
In my opinion, the homebuilders are not inherently evil. They are businessmen. If you know me at all, you know I think businesspeople are generally okay people, but I don’t know these guys personally, so I am making an assumption. Others in this fine city however feel that the homebuilders are evil and push this idea onward. The video came out in, what, March? So it was a big deal in the spring but all has been quiet since then. The homebuilders do what they do, life seemed okay for awhile, then BAM! *political crosshairs*
So I ask again, why are they being targeted? Is it because they dared speak against his Purple Worship and have the funds to help others run their campaigns? That could be it. They're probably racist, too. * apparently I have sarcasm turned on today *
Alright, so I rewatched the nefarious video. From what I saw, Mr. Wenzel had notes on the various aldermen and candidates on a ward-by-ward basis and whether or not they were pro-industry or not. His concern was, this term is four years long, not three, so whomever is voted in should be business-minded. As he's speaking, he admits politics is not his game and he's never really had to pay attention before, but feels he does now. He tells the group how much they are allowed to donate to a candidate each year and encourages them to do so stipulating that, if they do not, they get what they deserve. (He touched on a point of legality. What a terrible person.) He also encourages them to donate money to the Manning Centre. He does bring up the whole “well how much is this going to cost me?” and says “well how much does not supporting candidates you believe in cost in the long run?” I'm paraphrasing.
Mr. Nenshi did say the Manning Centre needs to be investigated for accepting donations. Okay, why? Anyone can accept donations! I can accept donations. The Manning Centre is a non-profit corporation, not a charity. They don’t provide a donor with a charity tax receipt so they are playing above board. I would expect that from an organization named after Preston Manning.
Mr. Wenzel did the campaigning and fundraising for some candidates. If I were a candidate that received a donation from these guys, I'd thank him for making my job that much easier. Mr. Nenshi calls what happened in this video illegal and unethical, then uses this video to his advantage. He says “Look at this! Look at how horrible these people are! Quick, give me money to make sure they can't do this again! Vote for me!” He also hires an anti-oilsands lobby group to work for city hall (but that's a whole other issue.)
So what's the problem? Is this not what candidates do all the time? Why is it distasteful when businesses get together and plan an election strategy but not when campaign teams get together and try to win? If Cal Wenzel were an alderman and the homebuilders his campaign team, this video would never have been an issue. The meeting would have been considered “strategy.”
Because it was businesses, in this case homebuilders, it was called illegal and unethical and we’ve been told it’s not democracy. We also heard the Manning Centre needs to be investigated because they are accepting donations and shouldn’t be as they are a partisan political centre. Yes, they are. They are not a charity and don’t provide tax receipts. What the homebuilders did was express opinions and decide what they wish to do with their money. Mr. Wenzel even went so far as to say “you’re allowed to donate this much per year legally.” Wait, he provided some useful information. That’s horrible! And quite frankly, if Mr. Nenshi truly believed what was happening with the homebuilders or at the Manning Centre were illegal in anyway, why were the RCMP never called?
Some of the aldermen have jumped on this bandwagon as well, but it seems to be the aldermen that are buds with Mr. Nenshi. This is such a bad idea. The homebuilders and the city will have to work together once this election is over and if Mr. Nenshi and his Chosen Ones win, they’ll start on an antagonistic foot. How is this even remotely okay? The homebuilders have been made the “villain” and they'll not likely forget.
I’ve so far talked about past events. These aren’t even the events that irritated me. Well, they irritated me but they’re not what ticked me off. What actually tweaked me is what I read in the Calgary Sun yesterday. Apex Builders Group (a homebuilder) circulated a memo to its employees with regards to the election. In the memo, they put which candidates best suited the company’s interests by ward, that they're closing the office early on October 21st, and encouraged the employees to go and vote. They make no demands, the employees can still make whatever choice they wish (of course) and they're being asked to vote. Management was simply EXPRESSING THEIR OPINION. Now what annoyed me is this: Nenshi's demand on who the company supports.
I beg your pardon? It's none of his business. The memo was leaked and the Calgary Herald printed it. That's fine. Actually, it's not - because to me, they've done nothing wrong, but it's been printed and it can't be unseen. But, printed or not, Mr. Nenshi has no right to demand anything of the sort! He may as well have demanded to see who they’re going to vote for too!
Having now seen the leaked memo, Mr. Nenshi is glad to know which candidates are “development friendly.” He says it tells people who to avoid. Say what? So the entire election is based on this and this alone? There is only one platform topic in the Calgary municipal election? He’s decided to vilify some candidates because of someone’s opinion of them?
“Traitor child. I must despise you now.”
So often I see in papers and hear on the news how elections shouldn't be based on smear campaigns yet this is one of the biggest smear campaigns I've seen locally and for what reason? Because capitalists are tired of being taxed to death? Because capitalists are using their resources to their benefit?
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this but it is the first time I’ve seen it so plainly. I lived in Tofino, B.C. for a time and my husband was the financial controller for a fish farm. We were there long enough for a municipal and provincial election. The municipal election wasn’t that big a deal but the provincial was. We had to work towards a candidate that wouldn’t work towards taking jobs away. The fish farm (which isn’t terrible at all) was responsible for about 8% of employment in the area.
When it was time for the provincial election, we had to consider which candidate would best serve our interests and not take away our jobs. Guess who received corporate and personal donations (and our vote.) If we felt a candidate would work with environmentalist whack-jobs in an attempt to shut down fish farms and logging, we didn’t want to give them money or support of any sort. That would be counter-productive. Why support someone trying to shut down the industry that puts food on our plates, our friends plates, their family’s plates? The difference is, fish farms and the logging industry weren’t vilified for it. They were vilified for other reasons.
Now, let’s head back to Calgary. I assume the homebuilders would feel the same way as fish farmers or loggers. If someone is working against them and their industry in some fashion, they would try to stop it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Be it in taxes, policies or industry changes, if they feel there are candidates that work in their best interests, why would they not get together and say “yes, these are the people that will work with us. Let’s help them win.”
Nenshi and his cronies have to stop vilifying homebuilders. It's not productive. It's a waste of time and if he and his “friends” win, this will do nothing to further partnerships in the future. You can't call someone on the carpet today and expect him to be your best friend tomorrow. New communities have to be built, old communities have to be maintained and that means they have to meet face to face at some point. In a negotiation, I would put my money on the guy that's been doing the job, taking bids and running a business for 30 years over a university teacher who fluked his way into the mayor's seat 3 years ago.
Today I go and take a quick look and what do I see? Apex Builders standing by their memo. What do they say? “The intention of our memo was simply to engage our employees and to encourage them to get out and vote for the candidates that best represent their personal interests and beliefs.” In other words “here’s our opinion, go form your own. Yay if they match, but if they don’t, they don’t. VOTING is what matters” All of the candidates should be happy with that. It should never have come down to “now you know who to avoid.”
The fact that Nenshi even believes someone needed to be vilified to further his own career is despicable. He chose someone, a group of someones that haven’t even publicly engaged him for a number of months. I could understand it if he attacked Jon Lord or another mayoral candidate but not a group that’s not even in the running. It’s low, it’s petty and to me, it shows his true moral values. I didn’t vote for him before, based on this, I’m sure not voting for him now but you can bet the farm on October 21st, I’m voting for someone.
I hope I’ve engaged you and I encourage you to go and vote for the candidate that best represents your personal interests and beliefs.
I'm a Canadian classical liberal (individual freedoms are important) who photographs stuff. I also happen to have few opinions about a few things. Read my stuff, you'll see what else there is to me.