John Mar is a born and raised Calgarian. His family has mining operations in Northern Ontario, and he was an RCMP. He was also the former president of the Scarborough Community Association. He is the current alderman for Ward 8 (youngest on council), and sits on a variety of committees including the Calgary Police Commission and is involved in the 10 year plan to end homelessness.
Why are running for alderman in Ward 8?
Mar is running for re-election and believes that there is still work to be done to finish some of the projects that he is involved in. That includes the West LRT and helping Meals on Wheels.
“I want to see these continued and finalized,” says Mar.
What does the city look like 100 years from now?
“I think you’re going to see huge technological changes that we cannot fathom,” Mar told CalgaryPolitics.com.
Mar also adds that there will be new ways we think about transportation. We will be a major player on the world stage, and we may no longer be a resource based economy anymore.
Is social media an important driving force, or is it still the voting demographic and the hot issues that dictate the election?
Mar is unsure of what the impact and presence social media has on the election. His intuition tells him that he does not believe social media is as effective right now.
“I’ll let you know on the 19th of October,” Mar suggests.
Multimedia on the other hand can maximize voters because things like radio and print are still mainstream, according to Mar. That differs from Twitter, where the total number of users in Calgary compared to the total population is like a “drop in the bucket.”
What was one thing the city did right this term?
“I think the city did more than one thing right this term,” Mar suggests.
However, Mar believes the policing strategy that council took was by far the most significant achievement this council could make.
“It put boots on the streets, and we got the funding and training for 336 new police officers,” Mar remarks. “There are 78 new police officers in Ward 8.”
Mar believes that policing is the most significant thing a city could do, and is the number one responsibility of any government.
What does your platform include in terms of Aboriginal issues?
Mar believes his platform is inclusive, and Aboriginals are just like any other citizens.
“To me, you’re a Calgarian, an Albertan, a Canadian,” says Mar.
With CCTVs and the public behavior bylaw, do you believe the city has a place for dictating and monitoring the conduct of its citizens?
Mar talked about how a breach of the peace was an arrestable offense under the Criminal Code. As well, discretionary power is given to law enforcement agencies, and they are being used appropriately.
Mar also cites the social contract that the public and government have with each other. Mar says you cannot just have anybody doing whatever they want if they want to live peacefully with everyone else.
For Mar, police officers are just using different technologies to solve crime, and CCTVs were never intended to be a deterrent, but rather as an eye witness.
“I don’t think [the police] are going out of their way to target people,” says Mar.
Is increased funding for police service justified even though Canada has seen a drop in crime?
Mar says while crime rates have fallen overall in Canada, Calgary still ranks low in terms of police to population ratio.
“As a member of the Calgary Police Commission and a former RCMP officer, crime and safety continues to be a major priority for me and the people of Ward 8,” Mar told CalgaryPolitics.com.
He believes that despite what statistics may show, public safety should and will always the top priority of any government.
Let’s say there was a potential for a drug clinic or halfway house being built in a community in Ward 8. How would you handle this and would you try to push it to another location?
While Mar says he does not have a problem with methadone clinics, the biggest concern is the planning rationale. Mar also says there are more social care agencies in ward 8 than anywhere else in the city.
“We’ve very welcoming, but we have to make sure they’re properly located,” says Mar.
Mar says he helped the Mustard Seed when it came down to certain land use applications, which then Alderman Madeline King was against. He said it was very controversial and got unanimous support from council after being elected to help the Mustard Seed.
“Every decision is done on a case by case basis based on a planning rationale,” says Mar.