May 24th, 2019

Actions speak louder than words

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on May 10, 2019.

Kudos to city council for unanimously deciding to boycott the national conference of municipalities in Quebec City.

Apart from sending a message to Quebec and the federal government about its opposition to pipelines and the impact that is having on us, it also sends a message to Hatters.

Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi has criticized Medicine Hat’s council’s decision, but then his city is not in the business of oil and gas.

Nenshi is on the record as saying he believes there are better ways to send a message to Quebec about Alberta’s energy sector.

In fact, four years ago when the NDP were elected to form the provincial government, Rachel Notley spoke convincingly of the need to try a different tactic, a softer approach, with the rest of Canada. She tried that for four years and it did not work very well.

In the end actions speak louder than words.

It is interesting to note Nenshi considered boycotting the conference though because of Quebec’s plan to ban religious symbols. That struck a chord for him while lack of pipelines did not.

“I was thinking of not going because of this horrible, racist law that is underway in Quebec. But then I thought about it and went, you know what, for me, it makes much more sense to engage with people and to be there and to talk about the things that I believe in and the things that I want to stand for. So I’m going,” Nenshi is quoted in a news story as saying.

Regardless of where you stand on the idea of banning the wearing of religious symbols this is an issue of “religious” symbols and has nothing to do with “race.”

Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. are religions not races. It could be argued Quebec plans infringe on expressions of religion but not expressions on race. There are Christians throughout the world representing many different races just as there are Muslims and Hindus of many races.

Nenshi and Duane Bratt, a Mount Royal University political science professor, who has commented on Medicine Hat council’s decision, both failed to acknowledge that Medicine Hat depends on oil and gas revenues for the city budget. We have been disproportionately affected compared to other municipalities.

Clugston and council are not only talking the talk they are walking the walk. You can’t increase property taxes, ask staff to reduce costs and accept no wage increases if council carries on spending as though oil and gas revenues continue to flowing.

Calgary has one of the highest rates of empty buildings in its downtown core. Residential property taxes are being increased to subsidize the commercial property tax loss. Perhaps there is a need is Calgary to have its council lead by example too.

Bratt called Medicine Hat’s decision a “stunt” and told our city council to focus on garbage and transit. Perhaps he was not aware that Medicine Hat is in the oil and gas industry.

It is also worth remembering many of the people flying off to Quebec City for this conference are people who are very vocal about climate change and the need to reduce our carbon footprint.

Why then do they jet off at great expense and contribute to carbon emissions in the process? Whatever happened to video conferencing to cut down on air travel and carbon emissions?

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions, email her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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