Voting in the 2021 Municipal Elections is already underway. In ten days, Albertans will elect new municipal governments. This often under-appreciated order of government’s importance cannot be understated. For this Friday Focus, I’ll dive into what provincial governments can do to empower municipalities and how the UCP uses a phoney referendum to tip the scales of the municipal elections.
Municipalities know what their citizens need and are held accountable by voters, just like any other order of government. Therefore, limiting municipal governments’ power is anti-democratic. It’s merely just an indirect way of silencing the voters who elect them.
Recognizing this, the Alberta Liberals were the first party to call for city charters to give Edmonton and Calgary more autonomy. The NDP eventually followed our lead by implementing very limited city charters. However, these deals did relatively little for cities. Even that was too much for the UCP, who ripped up the city charter deals and massively slashed funding to municipalities.
City charters are not the only way successive Alberta governments have let down municipalities. A few examples are unfair revenue sharing, downloading problems such as homelessness and infrastructure costs, and unpredictable provincial funding models that make budget management unnecessarily tricky. Provincial governments expect municipalities to do a lot of the work in building this province. They should have the power and resources to do so.
The news this week was, unfortunately, very similar to the last several weeks. The UCP’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and internal political intrigue dominated news coverage. However, a significant positive new development did occur: Canada observed its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
This critically important day is an opportunity to raise awareness around Canada’s tragic past concerning residential schools and the urgent need to address systemic inequalities faced by Indigenous peoples. While it is essential to have a national day of awareness, reconciliation is an ongoing process that should happen every day.
In that spirit, for this Friday Focus, I am sharing my statement on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and the Alberta Liberal 2019 platform, which proposed bold new reforms on Indigenous issues. I encourage all of you to take the time to learn more about Indigenous matters from leaders and activists from Indigenous communities. Then, through knowledge and compassion, we can work together towards a more just relationship between Canada and First Nations.
September 31, 2021 (Calgary, AB): Liberal Interim Leader John Roggeveen issues the following statement in recognition of the 1st National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
“I invite Albertans to observe the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Today is a day to reflect on the horrific practices of residential schools in Alberta and across Canada and to honour the survivors, their communities, and those who did not make it home. It is also an opportunity for us all to learn more about this terrible part of Canada’s past while reflecting on ways to move towards an equitable and just relationship with Indigenous peoples.
“In Alberta, there were 25 residential schools that attempted to destroy Indigenous culture and way of life by separating children from their families and communities. This dark and hateful practice has a continuing impact not only on survivors but communities and families through intergenerational trauma. This in turn contributes to the gross inequalities faced by Indigenous peoples.
“All levels of government must listen to Indigenous peoples and work together to further the cause of reconciliation. The Alberta Liberal Party supports measures such as expanded Indigenous representation in the legislature, Indigenous-run child protection offices, and a comprehensive curriculum in our schools on the history of colonialism.
“On behalf of the Alberta Liberals, I encourage all Albertans to take today to learn more about the history of residential schools, to spread awareness by wearing an orange shirt and reflect on how they can play a part in reconciliation.
“Every child matters.”