Babel-on-the-Bay: The tiny, tidy minds of reformers.

Reading about the recent report on political reform for our cities from the University of Manitoba, reminded me of my old friend David Crombie. It was almost 50 years ago that he was still a nascent conservative and teaching at Ryerson and I was handling communications for the Ontario Liberals. We had some spirited and ...

Alberta Politics: Wildrose-style insurgency smacked down in St. Albert as progressive Cathy Heron elected as mayor

PHOTOS: St. Albert Mayor-elect Cathy Heron with the author of this blog post last night at her victory celebration. Below: Newly elected councillors Natalie Joly, Ken MacKay, Ray Watkins, Jacqui Hansen, and re-elected incumbent Wes Brodhead. ST. ALBERT, Alberta Let’s start with the basic score: Cathy Heron, widely perceived as the most progressive candidate for ...

Babel-on-the-Bay: Cole considers claiming the mayor’s chair.

The Toronto Star’s columnist on city issues, Edward Keenan, thinks black activist Desmond Cole would bring some excitement to the race for mayor next year. He thinks that the race would be a bit of a snooze without Cole. When you consider that the main contenders so far are incumbent Mayor John Tory and wannabe ...

Babel-on-the-Bay: Two NDPers on bicycles.

Reading a fatuous op-ed in the Toronto Star the other morning was funnier than the comics. It was signed by two city councillors who are New Democratic party supporters. And it was not just the superficial treatment of the subject and the bad editing that was funny. This was a highly biased opinion piece by ...

Song of the Watermelon: Vancouver By-Election Endorsements

Just in case anyone is wondering how I will vote in this Saturday’s Vancouver municipal by-election, here’s the plan: City Council: Pete Fry (Green Party) School Board: Judy Zaichkowsky (Green Party) Allan Wong (Vision Vancouver) Mike Lombardi (Vision Vancouver) Erica Jaaf (OneCity) Estrellita Gonzalez (Green Party) Janet Fraser (Green Party) Diana Day (COPE) Carrie Bercic ...

Scripturient: The dogshit dilemma

We have a problem with dogshit. Well, all municipalities do, of course, but ours is increasingly evident: it’s everywhere. And with the growing popularity of pets and our growing population, it’s becoming worse.* How do we deal with it? We pick it up, of course, as we dispose of it in our own garbage bins ...

Babel-on-the-Bay: Hepburn’s humour.

Columnist Bob Hepburn must be weaning off the writing habit as he continues for his 30th year at the Toronto Star. Luckily, he has not lost his sense of humour. He wrote a couple weeks ago that the media should not ignore former Toronto Councillor Doug Ford. And then he wrote more recently that Toronto ...

Babel-on-the-Bay: Toronto’s Tory talks the talk.

It was Doug Ford’s challenge. He actually asked Toronto Mayor John Tory to rename Etobicoke’s Centennial Stadium after his late brother Rob. It is very hard to say whether Tory—considering that Doug Ford says he will challenge him for the mayoralty next year—was baiting a trap or just proving Ford is an egotistical ass. Now ...

Alberta Politics: Thinking about St. Albert’s aspirants for the mayor’s office: You can elect a candidate, but you can’t make him work

PHOTOS: City Councillor Cathy Heron, who is running for mayor of St. Albert, on the campaign trail. Below: Councillor Cam MacKay, who is also seeking the mayor’s job, fishing in Winnipeg in 2016, a screenshot of a social media post he published, and former councillor Malcolm Parker, the third mayoral candidate in the Oct. 16 ...

Alberta Politics: FOI filings show Councillor Sheena Hughes’ controversial comments didn’t end with her ‘sack of hammers’ remark

PHOTOS: A screenshot taken from the City of St. Albert video of the Feb. 17, 2015, City Council meeting, showing Councillor Sheena Hughes speaking about changes to the School Site Allocation Agreement, which she found unsatisfactory. Below: Councillor Cam MacKay, Councillor Bob Russell, George Cuff, author of the provincial municipal inspection report made public in ...

Babel-on-the-Bay: In search of leadership.

This is not as simple as Diogenes with his lamp, searching for an honest man. There are many possibilities in life for leadership and many who believe they can fill the need. In Canada, we tend to assume that when the need arises, a leader will step forward. We could not be more wrong in ...

Alberta Politics: The game’s afoot! The time is now to demand candidates reveal their donors, not after the Oct. 16 municipal election

PHOTOS: St. Albert’s renowned city hall, designed by Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal, formally known as St. Albert Place. Below: The three candidates for mayor who are now now officially in the race, Cathy Heron, Cam MacKay and Malcolm Parker. ST. ALBERT, Alberta Is it just my imagination, or does the number of people seeking public ...

Scripturient: True Integrity? Not The Block…

There’s an interesting article online called, 13 Traits of People With True Integrity that opens with the (unintentionally?) funny line: Integrity, for those who are not familiar, is quite important. After you guffaw at that bit, the author continues, “People who have a strong sense of integrity are sadly a rare breed. However, there are ...

Scripturient: Montaigne and The Block

I do love reading Michel de Montaigne.  And writing about him. In 2014 alone, I wrote ten separate posts about him and his famous book, Essays. But since then, my reading habits moved on to other writers and topics. I hadn’t actually been reading Montaigne in the past few years, but recently while sorting some ...

Scripturient: Why not to run for council

A recent article shared with me on Facebook, titled “Five Terrible Reasons to Run for Municipal Office” lists many – but far from all – of the reasons people should not run for office. It’s a good read and, since the silly season will be on us soon enough (some of The Block are already ...

Scripturient: Why are they called The Block?

Seven members of our council are collectively referred to as “The Block” in common parlance. A fitting nickname for a group that includes its leader, the deputy mayor, Brian Saunderson, his five core minions (all newly elected to council this term), and one veteran wannabe (nicknamed the “pledge” in frat house terms). Most folks assume ...

Babel-on-the-Bay: What is the price of one child?

Children are returning to school at this time of year. In our wisdom, we Canadians have two types of school boards. (This is where our wannabe politicians hang out.) We have a Catholic Board and a public board. The Catholic board must be the junior kindergarten of politics. It is where the wannabe politicians go ...

Babel-on-the-Bay: Fear of Ford.

Is he, or isn’t he? Is Doug Ford running for the mayoralty in Toronto next year or for the Progressive Conservatives in the provincial election? And who cares anyway? Oddly enough that is a matter that is mainly of concern to provincial politicians. Incumbent Mayor John Tory, who wants another term, could care less. The ...

Babel-on-the-Bay: Leadership Lost.

One of many theories in politics is that the aspiring politico needs to pick a cause. Years ago, I heard a newspaper reporter advise a young Liberal to latch on to environmental issues. It was an emerging issue at the time and he took the advice and went on to a number of years in ...

Scripturient: The work of politics

Politics is like many other skills, jobs and pastimes in that it requires work to succeed. Hard work, sometimes, for some folk, and easy for others, but always it requires attention, study, and focus. It isn’t something you can do when you’re not paying attention or even when you’re napping at the table (no matter ...

Scripturient: The symphony of government

A good government in operation is like a symphony: disparate parts, dozens of different instruments and performers, each in their own space and place, all working together under the benign management of a conductor. When working in harmony, they are a delight to hear and see. There’s no “me” in a symphony: it’s the result ...

Scripturient: Betrayal by the Block, again

Monday night, The Block will engage in their favourite political activity: betraying the public trust. In fact, it’s the only political activity they’ve engaged in this term, in which the public has been concerned. Everything else they’ve done has been to further their own personal agendas or entitlement. But Monday, they’re doing it up in ...

Scripturient: Taking credit for the work of others

A short while ago, I received an unsolicited email from the interim (and soon to be departing) CAO, John Brown, with the subject, “Ideas. Observations. Musings  . Opinions  . Facts ?” (yes, written just like that…). Although he says he never reads my blog, it inspired me to write this post. He wrote (copied in its ...

Alberta Politics: Judge dismisses bid to have St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse removed from office

PHOTOS: St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse. Below: Mayoral candidates Cam MacKay and Cathy Heron. ST. ALBERT, Alberta An Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice yesterday dismissed an application by a St. Albert resident to have Mayor Nolan Crouse removed from office based on allegations the mayor had violated provisions of the Municipal Governance Act dealing ...

Alberta Politics: Has St. Albert councillor’s mayoral campaign forgotten the incumbent mayor isn’t seeking reelection?

PHOTOS: St. Albert City Councillor Cam MacKay, who is running for mayor of the municipality northwest of Edmonton. Below: Mayoral candidate Cathy Heron, also a city councillor, St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse, and Councillor Sheena Hughes. ST. ALBERT, Alberta Have the key players in City Councillor Cam MacKay’s campaign to become mayor of St. Albert ...