Calgary·New

Calgary city council will discuss its own 'fair deal' question

Calgary voters may have yet another question to weigh during this October's municipal election.

Committee wants council to decide next week whether to add another plebiscite question

Calgary voters may have yet another question to weigh during this October's municipal election.

City council has already approved holding a plebiscite on whether to return fluoride to the city's drinking water supply.

On Thursday, council's intergovernmental affairs committee voted to send a possible question on a fair deal for Calgary taxpayers to next week's council meeting for consideration.

The committee didn't make any recommendation on whether to support or reject a second plebiscite question.

The possible wording:  "Should Calgary city council advocate for a fair deal for Calgary taxpayers from the Government of Alberta? Yes or no?"

Strengthen next council

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Calgarians send up to $5 billion a year more to the provincial government than they receive back.

So he said getting an indication of how voters feel about that situation could strengthen the next city council's hand in dealing with the government.

Nenshi recently called the idea of such a plebiscite "political mischief."

It's essentially a retort to the referendum question the province is tacking onto this fall's municipal elections.

The Kenney government question: Should section 36(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982, Parliament and the government of Canada's commitment to the principle of making equalization payments, be removed from the constitution?

Nenshi told reporters that the province's question is "crass politics."

'Waste of time and money'

He said Premier Jason Kenney has talked in the past about seeking a fair deal for Alberta.

But Nenshi said what Albertans will be voting on instead is about equalization, a program that ensures all Canadians get comparable levels of public services.

"I think it's a ridiculous waste of time and money but it certainly, given the question they've come up with, puts us in a different position," said Nenshi.

Nenshi said he thought the government was trying to influence the results of the municipal election by trying to boost support for candidates aligned with the UCP government.

But now he feels the referendum may backfire, given Premier Kenney's recent low polling numbers.

"It may end up being a referendum on the premier and on the provincial government. It may have the opposite impact."

If city council supports adding a second city plebiscite question to its ballot, that will lengthen the list of things voters will have in front of them on Oct. 18.

They'll be choosing a new mayor and council as well as electing public/separate school board trustees.

The province has its referendum question and is asking voters to choose potential provincial nominees for vacancies in the Senate.
 

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