Councilor Iwanchuk gave her reasons for re-election, talked about development in Ward 3 and explained to us why the budget process was as messy as it was.
You can listen to the MP3 of the show below.
Councilor Iwanchuk gave her reasons for re-election, talked about development in Ward 3 and explained to us why the budget process was as messy as it was.
You can listen to the MP3 of the show below.
This election series is dragging on as long as the GOP nomination race. I had hoped the series would have been done by now but I’ve been sick with the leg again (still). The medication is taking a lot out of me.
Well we onto Ward 3, a race that has become far less interesting with it looking like Mike San Miguel won’t be running again. So there will be no Iwanchuk/San Miguel III, something that political pundits all over the city will miss watching.
Ann Iwanchuk won in a 2011 by-election and won in 2012 against Mike San Miguel. Some people feel that San Miguel would have won if he hadn’t put out a poorly thought out attack ad on the last week of the campaign. He may have but the attack ad went out and Iwanchuk won.
This is how close the election was. Ann Iwanchuk was driving the #11 car.
(okay, that was actually Denny Hamlin winning the 2016 Daytona 500 but you get the point… it was a close race).
With Mike San Miguel not running again, Ann Iwanchuk should have a clear path to re-election. If I was thinking about running against her, I hope I’d have someone to talk me out of it. Here is why.
So if you want to waste a couple of months of your life and $15,000 so you run against her, here is how I would do it:
You are basically reduced to door knocking and hoping your well liked incumbent thinks the election is in November of 2017. Good luck with that.
It’s going to be a boring election in Ward 3 no matter who runs against Ann Iwanchuk. While I have heard of one person considering a run, by the time the summer comes along, I could see her run for re-election be uncontested.
I havenâ€™t done one of these in a long while but here are the highlights from todayâ€™s City Council meeting.
There you go. Â Short and almost sweet. Â Councillors then retired upstairs where they had an executive meeting that was in-camera (closed door).
I chose not to write anything about the lockout because as soon as it lifted, I got several versions of the in-camera discussions and to be honest, the stories shocked me. Â Instead I put together some excellent posts, columns and articles from other people observing the lockout. Â
The first comes from October 10th and is by University of Saskatchewan law professor Keir Valance who said back then that the lockout was illegal. Â He was right.
More importantly, though, the lockout may well be illegal, and so may be the City’s unilateral changes to the pension plan. And the Union quickly brought an application before the Labour Relations Board, arguing exactly that.
On Sept. 26, 2014, the Labour Relations Board issued an interim Order (LRB File No. 211-14). That Order didn’t end the lockout, but it did prevent the City from implementing any further unilateral changes to the pension plan. On October 14th, the City and the ATU are back in front of the Board to argue about the legality of the changes to the pension plan and to the legality of the lockout.
The language that potentially renders the City’s actions illegal is the same now, under the new
Saskatchewan Employment Act (“SEA”), as it was under the now-repealed Trade Union Act. Section 6-62(1)(l)(i) of the SEA reads:
6-62(1)It is an unfair labour practice for an employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, to do any of the following:
(l) to declare or cause a lockout or to make or threaten any changes in wages, hours, conditions or tenure of employment, benefits or privileges while:
(i) any application is pending before the Board…
[“Pending” means that the hearing of the application has begun but the Board has not yet rendered a decision, so an Employer or Union could not, for instance, file a frivolous application just to prevent a lockout or strike.]
Unfortunately for the City, there was an Unfair Labour Practice (“ULP”) application pending before the Labour Relations Board when the lockout notice was issued. It appears the ULP was unrelated to the lockout – it related to discipline of a bus driver and was heard back in May – but the language in the SEA doesn’t say a “related” application, or anything of the sort. It says any application.
In order for the lockout and the pension plan changes to be legal, the City has to convince the Labour Relations Board that when the SEA says “any application”, the statute really means “any related application”. That flies in the face of the plain wording of the legislation. However, in fairness to the City’s position, most of the time the ULPs in such situations are related either to the lockout itself, or to the collective bargaining process that was underway. The intention of s. 6-62(1)(l) is to ensure that employers don’t “raise the stakes” on a ULP by trying to place economic pressure on a Union that has decided to pursue its rights before the Board. It’s about protecting the integrity of the Board’s process, and not allowing the rule of law to be undermined by economic power.
Still, the Board can’t simply decide what it thinks the law should be. It’s got to operate within the terms of the legislation that gives it its authority (the SEA). Without getting into the intricacies of statutory interpretation, the City would have to have some strong evidence that the Legislature somehow did not intend for the statute to mean what it says it means. That’s not impossible. But the Union has in its favour the fact that the Legislature could have changed the language of the statute when it implemented the SEA – but didn’t.
Okay, so it got weird from the start. Â I knew that law and when I probed members of council about it, they started telling me that the city didnâ€™t like the law and it was ruining their strategy so the Board would have to overturn it. Â When I brought up voices like Valance, they looked at me like I was mad. Â Again, kind of weird.
Oh yeah, there is also this sentence from Valance from that post
Ironically, had the City waited two weeks, there would have been no question that the lockout had been properly issued – because the outstanding ULP was decided on October 3, 2014.
Saskatoon City Council wasted over $1 million of â€œratepayersâ€ (you know those of us they are trying to protect) money because they could not wait two week? Â Think about that for a while. Â If they had waited two weeks, it would have been a legal lockout and they probably would have won. Â
So now the Mayor wants a judicial review on the ruling. Â According to Valance, that stands little chance of succeeding.
If the City pursues judicial review of the LRB decision, the question will be whether the LRB’s interpretation of the SEA was “reasonable”. In my view, it was (though I hasten to add we still don’t have the Board’s written reasons for why it ruled as it did). The Board has the jurisdiction, responsibility, and expertise to interpret its governing statute. It’s owed deference in its decision. And in my view, finding in the City’s favour would have flown in the face of the plain language of the legislation, and would have flown in the face of the fact that the Legislature has apparently – at least twice – refused to change the section in question.
Whether ss. 6-62(1)(l) and 6-63(1)(b) are good or bad for labour relations is not the point. That’s for the Legislature to decide. And the Legislature has decided at least three times (in 1944 when it proclaimed The Trade Union Act, 1944; in 1993; and in 2013) that these sections were to stay. It should be up to the Legislature to change them.
So letâ€™s get Les MacPhersonâ€™s take on itÂ as he arrived at many of the same conclusions as Valance and also the Labour Relations Board (and might as well toss this in there, the Government of Saskatchewan in 1944, 1993, and in 2013)
I find myself mystified by this transit fiasco.
I’m no lawyer, but, to me, at least, it seems crystal clear that the lockout was illegal in the first place. The labour act says there can be no strike or lockout with a pending grievance before the labour board. There was a pending grievance before the labour board, filed by the union in June. On the face of it, the lockout was illegal.
City lawyers argued that the grievance was not relevant to negotiations. Except the act doesn’t say anything about relevance to negotiations. It says “any” grievance. The city, unwisely, was betting the board would read into well-established law what isn’t there. For that to happen would be almost freakishly rare.
The city further argued that the grievance was not really pending because the board had not started formal hearings. Except the act doesn’t say anything about whether hearings have started. It just says there can be no strike or lockout if a grievance is pending. Again, the city gambled that the board would interpret the law to mean what it doesn’t say. Losing this bet will cost Saskatoon taxpayers into the seven figures in refunded wages for lockedout bus drivers, for refunds on transit passes and for legal costs. For the damage done to those who rely on transit to get to work, to get to the store, to get the kids to daycare, there is no accounting.
The city argued that the law as it is invites labour turmoil. Any looming strike or lockout, otherwise perfectly legitimate, could be thwarted by filing a bogus grievance. Maybe so, ruled the labour board, but the law is the law. There are many legislated restrictions on strikes and lockouts, the ruling explained. This is one of them.
“It is not for this board to rewrite the Saskatchewan Employment Act in the fashion suggested by the city.” The city should not have to go to the labour board to be told the law is the law.
By appealing this decision, the city now will be asking the Court of Queen’s Bench to rewrite the law. Why the court would be any more likely than the board to do so, no one has explained. The board is appointed by a Saskatchewan Party government, and not because it is labour-friendly.
As for the labour turmoil predicted by city solicitor Patricia Warwick if the decision is allowed to stand, I wouldn’t bet on that, either. The prohibition on a strike or lockout when a grievance is pending is nothing new. It has been a part of Saskatchewan labour legislation since 1944, and has remained in place after multiple revisions and amendments in the decades since. The idea is to prevent undue pressure on the board while it adjudicates a grievance. Why a law in place for 70 years suddenly would cause labour turmoil is no more clear to me than it was to the labour board.
He summarizes with this
To me, it looks like council got lousy advice. On a case that might have gone either way, an expensive defeat is bearable. In this case, council was advised to gamble taxpayers’ money on a crazy long shot for something it could have had anyway, and legally, in two weeks. If I were the client here, I would be angry.
What kind of shocks me in this whole thing is that the city has several solicitors to draw advice from. Â They also have a lawyer on Council (Tiffany Paulsen) and someone who is a labour expert (Ann Iwanchuk) who also overlooked or ignored the act. Â There are also some other councillors who bragged to me about their knowledge of the labour act and were 100% confident that this was a legal lockout. Â How did the all get it wrong?Â
What goes on in that bunker where everyone gets it wrong and is utterly shocked when a ruling where all of these outside voices are saying you are going to lose goes against you? Â
There is a weird reality that council puts itself in sometimes. Â Remember snow removal when council voted against residential snow clearing. Â Then it snowed a bunch that winter and in an â€œemergency debateâ€ on it, many of them played the victims and used phrases like â€œunder siegeâ€ and seemed shocked that it snows in Saskatoon in the winter. Â The city wasnâ€™t under siege but as councillors they were. Â It was all about them. Â Then the mayor starts to lecture manager who do not have the funds to do snow removal to do a daily press conference because it must be a misunderstanding right?
The same thing happened with the outrage over roads. Â The city for over a decade (it started when Atch was elected) cut back on road repair and maintenance. Â What happened? Â The roads fell apart and again council acted as it they were victims of this. Now we have the same thing. Â A hashtag, website, new pylons (no I am not talking about new politicians but actual pylons with â€œBuilding Better Roadsâ€ on them) and congratulatory radio ads about doing what other cities just do, maintain the roads. Â I donâ€™t get it but it is a weird group dynamic. Â There are some intelligent members on council but for whatever reason the sum of the whole is far less then the total of the parts and the result is a very, very low functioning city council and we as a city suffer because of it.
Given the fiasco involving route cancellations that greeted riders on the first day of a new school year, it’s difficult to take seriously the City of Saskatoon’s commitment to developing a bus rapid transit system, improve services to meet the demands of growth and lessen the urban carbon footprint.
City Hall seems to be pinning the blame in part on a shortage of qualified heavy duty mechanics in the market, as well as an inability to reach a contract with its transit employees, which is forcing it to advertise for mechanics at wage rates based on the expired 2012 contract.
A month after transit director Bob Howe apologized to commuters after cancelling seven routes because too many buses needed repairs for short-staffed mechanics to fix them all, and described the situation as an “anomaly,” frustrated university students and high schoolers on Tuesday saw the cancellation of direct routes to campus, downtown and many high schools.
In addition, no buses will be added to the busiest routes at peak travel times, and transit officials advise commuters to avoid peak morning and evening trips if possible. It’s those who are trying to get to work or school on time, and return home afterward, who are creating the “peaks,” and it’s transit’s job to accommodate their needs, not the other way around.
The cancellations and delays in the implementation of new routes were announced on Friday, before the Labour Day long weekend. Transit users, who have had to cope in recent years with frequent changes to routes and services, can’t be blamed for questioning why the city cannot seem to get its act together on managing the service properly.
“We have been in an environment of labour uncertainty for the last number of months which has proven to be challenging,” noted the city’s news release on Friday.
Yet, what isn’t clear is what role Saskatoon’s policy of buying second-hand buses that other cities don’t want is playing in creating the demand for more mechanics and a repair backlog that had rendered the transit service unable to field a full complement of buses for its routes.
Mr. Howe says transit has sent as many buses as possible to be repaired by private companies. Given that the problem has been obvious for at least a month, when the previous route cancellations occurred, when did the city began to contract out the work?
Surely, transit officials should have known long before Friday that they lacked enough buses and told the public, instead of waiting until the last possible moment to disclose the fact. This is far from acceptable customer service and effective issues management.
Mr. Howe said in July that transit was upgrading its aging fleet and expects to get five new buses this fall. It’s now obvious that the decrepitude of his 158-bus fleet has reached a point where even more replacements are needed soon, making council’s decision to use for the new commuter bridge the funding slated for bus replacements seem unwise.
When it comes to transit, Saskatoon talks a better game than it delivers.
Excellent editorial but I have one bone to pick with it. I am not even sure City Hall talks a good game about transit. Â If anything the message that I have heard from City Council at budget time is that transit is a burden on the city as they transfer more costs onto riders.
I have written about our aging fleet before but it is worth repeating. Â Some of our busses are so old that people travel to Saskatoon just to ride of them like rolling museum pieces. Â They shouldnâ€™t be repaired by Saskatoon Transit but the Western Development Museum. Â Instead of replacing them, Saskatoon City Council is building a bridge for cars.
It is to be expected. Â With the retirement of Myles Heidt and the defeat of Bev Dubois, there are no councillors who are strong on public transit. Â Unlike Calgary and Edmonton who both feature mayors who use and advocate for public transit, I am unaware of any councillors who actually use it. Â Maybe that explains some of the problems that we have.
The other problem is the Saskatchewan government contributes nothing to the bottom line of our transit in cities. Â Whereas Manitoba pays for almost half of Winnipegâ€™s transit costs (and injects capital for BRT), we get nothing except some money for Access Transit. Â Arguably that money is spent on STC which is still needed but it means that Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and Regina are some of the few cities that are left trying to provide funding for transit with no help. Â While I agree that council has handled this poorly (again), a big part of the blame lands with governments going back to the Blakeney era that ignored public transit in the cities.
The StarPhoenix asks some hard questions about the new City of Saskatoon governance model that seems to more about the lifestyle of the councillors than it is about being good for the city.
When city council holds its next meeting a week from today, it will be the first such meeting in nearly two months after city hall adopted a new governance model that has cut council meetings in half to once a month.
Only a couple of voices on council expressed skepticism over the new system, while most heralded the change as making council’s activities more accessible.
However, there’s reason for Saskatoon residents to doubt whether the new system will improve how the city is run and increase people’s access to decisions and those who make them.
The StarPhoenix examined governance formats in seven other western Canadian cities and found little similarity to Saskatoon’s new model.
Few other municipalities hold council meetings just once a month and, of those that do, appearances can be deceiving.
Regina, for example, generally holds council meetings once a month, but held 23 meetings in 2013 and has held 10 so far this year.
Will Saskatoon’s new approach be flexible and allow for special meetings to be called to address urgent issues?
None of the other councils studied held all the major committee meetings on a single day of the week the way Saskatoon city hall plans to on Mondays (or Tuesdays after a long weekend).
Supporters say the new system will allow people greater access to committee meetings, which will now be held in council chambers and broadcast on the city’s website.
Why hold all the committees on the same day, though? That would seem to limit accessibility – particularly for those who happen to be busy on Mondays.
Is the real motivation access for residents, or convenience for councillors and administrators?
City officials cited Regina, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton as the inspiration for the new system, but Saskatoon’s new approach bears little resemblance to the latter two Alberta cities. Both Edmonton and Calgary hold multiple council meetings each month, making one wonder if Saskatoon is really making an effective transition to becoming a big city.
I agree with questions that The StarPhoenix is asking. Â From the start I have said that this is about the convenience of City Councillors who want to streamline their work load, make themselves less accountable, and make it far harder for the lowly public to participate or communicate with their elected officials. Â Saskatoon City Council took this new arrangement so seriously that they actually drew names from a hat to fulfill one of the committee memberships. Â You canâ€™t do that and tell anyone that you take governance seriously.
Iâ€™ll give The StarPhoenix the last word.
No one can credibly argue these changes came about due to public pressure or through extensive consultation with voters.
It’s now up to the new model’s supporters to communicate how and why the new system is working and to be candid and admit when it’s failing the citizens who are paying for it.
Otherwise, Saskatoon residents will quite correctly feel they’ve been bamboozled and watched democracy get eroded by those who should be defending it.
Over the last couple of weeks I have seen three minor accidents along the northbound lane on Idylwyld South. Â All three have been minor and have “exchanged paint” to use the old NASCAR phrase. Â They have been caused by someone trying to brake or avoid a massive pothole around a manhole cover which had been created but not repaired by a City of Saskatoon crew.
Today while caught in traffic along there, Wendy and I watched a man who was going no faster than 20 kph hit the pothole, blow his tire and bend his rim on a pothole that had been there for weeks.
Whenever I talk to any of you about potholes, I get told, “report it on the website”. Â When a pothole in on one of the major thoroughfares in this city, driven by police, fire, city crews and even you as councillors, one should not have to report a pothole to the city, it should be fixed like it would be in any other city in Canada. Â Especially when the pothole was created as part of a sewer upgrade*.
I have heard many stories this summer of Saskatoonians travelling to other cities and hearing apologies for the state of their roads while those same people are going, “this is so much better than the roads we have have in Saskatoon”. Â Some of the ways people have described our roads are “war torn”, “goat trails,” and most of all “unsafe”.
They are unsafe to our tires, our rims, and our suspensions. Â They are also unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. Â It’s embarrassing that you as a group has allowed our streets to get to this point.
It’s not like you don’t know this would happen. Â The 2012 Roads Reports and reports before that ask for more money and tell you each year that unless we have more money, this is going to happen. Â You kept telling people how you heard about their concerns regarding roads on the doorsteps. Â Instead you gave a small increase and congratulated yourselves on the back despite knowing it wasn’t enough. Â Road repair costs rise about 15% each year but Council decides to give about .5% of an increase each year leading to a very big and unsafe gap in services. Â You hope to have enough money budgeted to bring hold the status quo by 2020. Â By that time there may not be any roads left and the yearly amount needed to fix our roads will be much, much higher. Â
Maybe city crews can’t find the potholes because street cleaning in this city takes months. Â On Friday I was in City Park and they were finally cleaning it. Â It was July 12! Â Two months citizens of City Park have had to deal with gravel strewn and dirty streets because again, the City of Saskatoon won’t pay for the equipment needed to clean our streets. Â We have such a short summer, you would think this would be a priority but it isn’t. Â An email from another ward councillor today showed that much of that ward hadn’t been cleaned yet so don’t feel back City Park. Â The quality of street sweeping is poor to say the least. Â Talking to councillors in others wards I hear the same thing. Â Locally I heard the sweepers but to be honest, our roads are marginally cleaner.
Sure we have the lowest taxes of any city our size in Canada but at the end of the day there is a reason for that, no city can maintain it’s infrastructure at the current rate of funding. Â We may as well have Prosperity Saskatoon but we have roads that failing and a bridge that is a laughing stock of the country. Â Instead of fixing what we have, all you can talk about is how we need to build more stuff (that needs to be maintained) so we can grow to a city of 1 million people.
While we are talking about growing to a city of a million people; here is a little bit of information you might find useful, Â cities can’t grow themselves. Â It’s the national and provincial economies that decide that. Â It took Calgary 45 years to grow from 250,000 to a million people yet for some reason, we need to start building today. Â Hence the $30 million extra for addition lanes on the north commuter bridge that your own city administration recommended against. Â Then again, who am I to question policy made out of a campaign promise?
Our provincial economy is far different than Alberta’s oil based economy. Â The amount of head office oversight that a potash mine takes compared to thousands of oil wells all over the province is miniscule. Â We may be overjoyed by BHP Billiton moving it’s Canadian head office to Saskatoon but look at the result, a couple of stories of downtown office space. Â It’s not a reflection of Saskatoon, it’s a reflection of the economy of the province we live in.
Combine that with a city council that just can’t get that quality of life matter in a city and you have a place where companies won’t be able to attract talent to and if they can, they won’t be able to keep it. Â Most of the cities that are growing in Canada have higher taxes because a) growth costs b) you need to have great public amenities to have a city that top talent wants to live in. Â
Eventually we are going to have to make a decision as a city. Â If we keep on this path with crumbling roads and infrastructure many will just choose to leave. Â For those that are left, we are going to have to borrow heavily to pay for the stuff that should have been paid for al along just like Toronto has had to do. Â You can’t run old buses, garbage trucks, and city vehicles forever. Â Eventually something is going to have to give and then you have to start paying for bills of broken equipment, water pipes, and roads. Â When those bills come due, it’s over whelming.
Council needs to stop playing politics and start doing their fiduciary responsibility for the citizens of Saskatoon and start taking proper care of our infrastructure and city. Â If they don’t, the only good news is that they won’t need to spend so much time worrying about it because we will find another group of public servants that will.
* I shouldn’t be that surprised by a city crew not repairing a pothole. Â I had to personally intervene several years ago while a city run backhoe hit a car and was about to drive off. Â The utility cut took a couple of years to get fixed. Â I also listened to Saskatoon Light & Power crews lie about a pole failure while I was working downtown where they went home for the weekend and left a power pole in a hole without any supports. Â The weather warmed up and it fell over. Â We aren’t hiring the best and the brightest.
So after spending last night at City Hall waiting for the election results to be made public, here are my thoughts.
The race for Saskatoon City Council race is well underway with fundraisers, door knocking and quips on Twitter breaking out all over the place. Dave Hutton does have the definite candidates list on City Hall Notebook but I decided to create a page myself to keep track of the campaigns). I have my biases and will disclose them. Later on this summer I will offer up some endorsements in Ward 1 (where I live), Ward 2 (which I have long had a special affinity for) and perhaps Ward 6 (where I will work) once I have had a chance to talk to candidates and had a chance to review campaign platforms (umm, some platforms would be helpful).
This year I am going to do something different in that I am going to give up the blog (and access to my Twitter feed) for any candidate that wants to use it to reach out on. Iâ€™ll create an account for them, give access to them, and let them talk about whatever issues they want. If you are interested, let me know at email@example.com.
The lowdown: Darren Hill will be running for his third term as Ward 1 city councillor. He will be challenged on the right by Carol Reynolds who ran against hill in the last election and long time candidate and Ward 7 Public School trustee Robin Bellamey (who lives in Ward 8). While Reynolds and Bellamey both say that represent the right, Hill is a fiscal conservative as well which means there isnâ€™t a lot of room to run in a ward that probably is is more comfortable with the centre. I am going to predict a Hill victory again.
The lowdown: Long time councillor Pat Lorje is running again in Ward 1 and her opponent is Marcel Petite. Petite is the executive director of the Core Neighborhood Youth Co-op and outside of a closed Facebook page, he hasnâ€™t said a lot online. I expect Lorje to win by a large margin.
The lowdown: Mike San Miguel has been running hard in this ward since narrowly losing to Iwanchuk in the by-election. Of course on the flip side, Ann Iwanchuk won by around 15% and itâ€™s really hard to defeat an incumbent yet at the same time Iwanchuk in a by-election with a low voter turnout. I have a lot of respect for both candidates which mean in the end Ward 3 wins. It should be a great race.
The lowdown: Shaw ran hard against Myles Heidt three years ago and narrowly lost to him. Shaw is an environmental geochemist, head of the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee and local activist while his opponent Davies is the spokesperson for MD Ambulance and involved in Synergy 8. This will be another really close race.
The lowdown: I am not sure why anyone would run against Donauer in Ward 5. He won in the by-election to replace Gordon Wyant, votes to the right of most issues, and does an excellent job of communicating with his constituents in a riding that traditionally votes Conservative/Saskatchewan Party. James Ford is a progressive and according to his website will be releasing his platform based on the feedback he gets from constituents.
The lowdown: This isnâ€™t expected to be a close race. Clark, a popular two term incumbent is a centre/left candidate is a part of the city where centre/left is how they vote. He is probably one of the more astute thinkers on council which means that when he makes a statement or decision, itâ€™s defensible (even if you donâ€™t agree with it). My prediction is that Clark wins big.
The lowdown: Loewen beat Bzowey to win the ward after Bob Pringle stepped down. Like Ward 3, this will be a rematch between a popular incumbent and challenger. While Bzowey has been spending a lot of money in and around the ward with name recognition, Loewen is very popular in the ward and has a motivated campaign team. My feeling is that with both the advantage of incumbency and a good ground game, she will win again.
The lowdown: Glen Penner grew tired of winning all of those elections and has retired. Ainsley Robertson who ran in the Ward 5 by-election before narrowly losing to Randy Donauer and Eric Olauson who ran in Ward 3 before withdrawing are both running in their home of Ward 8. Karen Rooney, registered nurse is also running in the ward.
The lowdown: The question isnâ€™t if Paulsen will win (she will), its if she will win by acclamation (again).
The lowdown: Dubois is another long term councillor being challenged for the second time by Mark Horseman. Horseman is a data analyst at the University of Saskatchewan and long time Conservative Party activist. I keep hearing rumours of other jumping into the race so itâ€™s too soon to start thinking about what will happen.
Saskatoon should request an exemption to a large-scale free-trade agreement being negotiated between Canada and Europe, a city committee agreed.
City councillors, sitting as an executive committee, voted 5-4 Monday to seek a permanent exemption to the proposed Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, a free trade and economic integration pact between Canada and the 27 European Union countries that is in the final stages of negotiation.
The resolution still requires council approval in February and will face some difficulty with two right-of-centre councillors, Coun. Myles Heidt and Coun. Randy Donauer, absent at the committee Tuesday.
I know this will die in council with Heidt and Donauerâ€™s return but stillâ€¦
Access to government procurement at federal, provincial, municipal, regional and local governments, as well as Crown corporations and utilities, is Europeâ€™s main goal in the pact. Saskatoon has seen interest from European firms on a small number of major infrastructure projects, including the $300-million Circle Drive South project, which drew a bid from a Spanish firm.
Cities only have to be concerned about the effect on construction contracts, not the takeover of city-owned utilities, according to a briefing from provincial officials, Jordan said
â€œIâ€™m confident from the information Iâ€™ve received thereâ€™s not much need to be concerned about that aspect of it,â€ [Michael] Jordan said.
Okay, at least the city managers are thinking clearly on this one.
Coun. Charlie Clark questioned if the private sector could challenge the city to open up municipally operated services such as Access Transit, the lift-equipped bus service, or if city hall could no longer enact a local food first policy or a bottled water ban under the agreement.
â€œThereâ€™s enough unknowns about how this could impact the city and because we donâ€™t have a seat at the table itâ€™s best to request an exemption,â€ Clark said. â€œI think that as a democratically-elected city council we should make sure we can make the decisions we need to make to protect citizens and thereâ€™s no real benefits from what I can see for cities to be included â€” so itâ€™s easier to be excluded.â€
Can local municipalities actually be excluded under international trade agreements? The truth is that on big projects like the bridges that we are building are being designed and built by international firms because of their complexity and scope and the consolidation of international design and engineering firms (which as a city we benefit from). I also hate the idea that we need to protect local companies from international competition. The reason we need to protect them is that we think as the city grows, they arenâ€™t good enough. Sometimes they wonâ€™t be good enough (which is why international firms exist and why there has been increased consolidation around the super engineering firms) but protecting them from competition doesnâ€™t make them any better either.
Of course all of this was grandstanding because the city doesnâ€™t even have a local procurement policy.
The bigger impact is the New West Partnership which will open up construction contracts over $200,000 to companies across the west. It will have a far greater impact on small and medium businesses in this province than CETA will, yet that passed.