Saskatoon·SASKATOON VOTES

Mayoral candidate Rob Norris touts 'safer Saskatoon,' lambastes 'passive' Charlie Clark

Norris is a former Sask. Party MLA and cabinet minister. Ex-premier Brad Wall has already endorsed him, while current Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark has yet to announce his intentions.

Current mayor Charlie Clark has yet to announce his fall election intentions

Former Sask. Party MLA Rob Norris confirmed Thursday he's running for mayor of Saskatoon. (Don Somers/CBC)

Former Sask. Party MLA Rob Norris declared Thursday that he is running for mayor of Saskatoon in a speech that cited a safer city as his top priority and frequently criticized current mayor Charlie Clark for being too "passive."

"Charlie Clark has profoundly failed the people of Saskatoon when it comes to making this city safe," Norris said at his launch event in front of The Cave restaurant on Eighth Street E.

"[Clark's] tenure as mayor will be remembered by, in fact marred by, record cases of arson, senseless murders, violent crimes and families on edge. Businesses [are] questioning whether they want to continue to do business in Saskatoon."

Clark has not yet declared if he will seek a second term as mayor in the Nov. 9 municipal election. 

In a statement shared with CBC news shortly before Norris' announcement, Clark said, "Right now my full attention is on providing leadership during a challenging period in our city," referring to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Clark said citizens haven't told him they want electioneering to start now, "considering the election is over four months away."

"I will be announcing my intentions at a later time," he said.

Norris said Clark will have to be measured against whether life has become more affordable or not in the last four years. Norris pointed to planned property tax increases in 2020 and 2021, and said Saskatoon should go back to single-year budget cycles in order to be more "flexible" during tough economic times.

Norris singled out the city's low-emissions energy plan — once slated to cost as much as $19 billion (assuming all elements of it went forward) — as a hard "carbon bill" sell to taxpayers. He said "Charlie Clark and company" voted down a new neighbourhood development worth $1 billion.

"We need some fresh eyes and fresh perspective in city hall," Norris said. 

Current Mayor Charlie Clark has yet to announce his plans. (Matt Garand/CBC)

In a statement after Norris' speech, Clark said the four-month lead-up to the election will give "plenty of time to address specific issues."

"My focus right now is to prepare for a council meeting on Monday as well as to continue working on keeping the city in as strong a position as possible as we adapt to the challenges of COVID-19," Clark said.

Norris has already garnered one notable, if not surprising, backer: former Sask. Party premier Brad Wall.

"Seems like a great choice for mayor," Wall tweeted of Norris Thursday.

Against defunding police

Norris said he does not support the idea of defunding the police (to which one person attending the speech cheered "Right on!").

"How is it that we're going to improve recruitment opportunities, that is, bring in more people from newcomer communities, First Nations, have more women, have a more reflective police service, if we start talking about defunding it?" Norris said.

Asked about the historic lack of diversity on city council, Norris said he has been encouraging people from a variety of backgrounds to join him in running for local office. 

Broadly speaking, "we need to look at options for ensuring that our city council reflects the dynamic nature of Saskatoon," he said. 

Specifically, Norris said he supports increasing the number of seats on the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners.

Norris did not say exactly how he plans to campaign in the age of COVID-19 but said safety is top-of-mind. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

All-platform journalist for CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

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