Click below for our take on the most shocking moment of the election so far.
Today, the Mount Royal College Students Association and CBC hosted a Mayoralty Debate where all nine candidates for mayor attended. At these debates, you never really know what's going to happen and there's always a chance that someone will deliver a knockout punch, which will grab media headlines. There was no knockout punch, but David Bertram deserves kudos for standing up to intolerance.
To quickly recap, a member of the audience complained that the Tourism Calgary, an agency partially funded by the city, had promoted Calgary as a friendly destination for gay and lesbian tourists prior to the North American Outgames, which were held in Calgary earlier this year. The Mayor, to our astonishment, did not defend Tourism Calgary, but went to great pains to distance himself from their actions (i.e. advertising to the gay community). In fact, he actually said that if the decision were up to him, he would not have ran the same advertisement. David Bertram, on the other hand, spoke passionately about diversity and the positive economic impact that reaching out to gay and lesbian tourists had on our city.
At the Better Calgary Campaign, we believe a vibrant city is a city the celebrates and promotes diversity. We are profoundly disappointed that Mayor Bronconnier, when faced with the opportunity to stand up and defend Tourism Calgary's admirable attempt to reach out to the gay and lesbian community, couldn't bring himself to do the right thing. We expected better.
As for the rest of the debate, a few interesting points:
- Alnoor Kassam is clearly the only candidate who is presenting a serious challenge to Mayor Bronconnier. He was particularly impressive on his answers with respect to ethics and campaign finance reform. He also handled potentially troublesome questions about his background forthrightly and with grace.
- Bronconnier avoided answering the question as to whether the West LRT should be rerouted to Mount Royal College. Kassam argued that Mount Royal College should be served by bus rapid transit rather than delay construction of the West LRT. Most of the other candidates were supportive of revisiting the alignment of the West LRT.
- Bronconnier, for the first time that we can remember, mentioned the words inclusionary zoning. He suggested that the city should consider having all new developments include affordable housing. We were unable to find any details of this proposal on his website and hope that he publishes specific details about this proposal.
- The Mayor's ill thought-out secondary suite plan was universally panned by the other candidates. The Mayor's plan would have the taxpayers give $25,000 to homeowners to build suites (which would still be outlawed in most of the city) in their house provided that they agree to rent it out for 20 years.
You can listen to the debate (and Chima and Naheed's questions) at : http://www.cbc.ca/eyeopener/index.html