The City of Calgary wants to know what the next provincial government can do for them.
Members of the City’s Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) committee discussed Wednesday their upcoming YYC Matters submission prior to the May provincial election.
In prior years, Calgary city council has asked the provincial and federal parties where they stand on certain issues. They’ve then made that information available to Calgarians to help inform them prior to elections.
Jeremy Clarke with the City of Calgary’s intergovernmental and corporate strategy team said that this year’s campaign would be strictly information based. It won’t include a party survey that has been tied to prior election years.
“This year’s communications will focus less on benefits to the corporation and more on benefits to Calgarians,” Clarke told the committee.
There are five primary themes for this year’s YYC Matters campaign and they expect to drill down into more specific areas. The five themes are based on city council’s priorities and aligned with the priorities of their external partners, Clarke said.
“YYC Matters must be nonpartisan and avoid even the perception of trying to influence voters or election outcomes,” Clarke said.
“Mitigating this risk requires us to be careful about the way our communications are framed, and to monitor the discourse. It’s easy to avoid endorsing a party or candidate but we also need to avoid positions that are strongly associated with a party or activity.”
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said the city should be very specific in the asks it has of the provincial governments – whomever forms it in the next election. He asked why it wouldn’t include a party scan – and find out from the parties what they’re willing to give Calgary.
“This is going to be a very tight race. We are the battleground,” Carra said.
“Why would we not assert our asks as clearly as possible and really encourage both parties to give us what we’re asking for, and to use this political moment to get what we want.
“I think that that’s not a partisan thing to do. That’s just good politics.”
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said they know, as councillors, the survey fatigue that comes during election time. She said she asked administration if they really wanted to just get canned responses from the parties.
“I think the bigger point here was to make sure that Calgarians understood that a provincial election means that a municipality may or may not get the things it needs,” she said.
After the meeting, IGA committee chair, Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong, said he’s seen those canned responses in the past three provincial elections. Though, he doesn’t know if a new approach will result in a different response.
“You don’t actually get a legitimate ‘this is what we’re going to do for the City of Calgary,’” he said.
“It’s more of a generic context. So, I’m all in favour of trying new things if it’ll get us better results.”
Demong said there would be further refinement of the admin-presented strategic themes to then engage in conversations with provincial candidates about what they’d be doing for Calgary.
The provincial election is expected on May 29, 2023.