Is Calgary prepared for a Mayor Kenney?
Polls are showing there is a very real possibility that Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas could be Calgary’s next mayor after the October 18th election. We’ve compiled a list of 6 striking similarities between Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Calgary Mayoral Candidate Jeromy Farkas that begs the question: is Calgary prepared for a Mayor Kenney?
1. Failed to support evidence-based public health measures to keep Calgarians and local businesses safe from the COVID-19 pandemic
Alberta’s COVID-19 pandemic response has been a complete failure under Jason Kenney. (Source: Globe & Mail)
Alberta’s COVID-19 pandemic response under Premier Jason Kenney has been called the “worst policy and political failure since the conservatives were first elected in 1971.” Alberta hospitals are now overwhelmed with over 1,000 patients being treated for COVID-19 and ICUs are overcapacity. Kenney waited until the morning after the federal election to ask the federal government for military assistance to begin airlifting COVID-19 patients to be treated in other provinces.
Alberta’s preventable 4th wave of COVID-19 in Alberta has now hit a level where it's claiming as many as 34 lives per day, roughly on par with the second leading cause of death each year. People in Alberta are now dying from COVID-19 at about quadruple the rate as in the rest of Canada.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated Albertans are being penalized by mass cancellations of life-saving surgeries, tests and treatments including for cancer. Triage protocols have already begun where doctors will have to make on-the-spot decisions over who gets life-saving resources.
During the pandemic, Calgary City Council stepped in to fill the leadership vacuum left by Premier Kenney and local UCP MLAs by introducing City mask bylaws during the second and third waves of the pandemic. Councillor Jeromy Farkas voted against all of these public health protections including this September when he voted against Calgary’s new vaccine passport bylaw that made it mandatory for certain businesses to participate in the province’s vaccine passport system.
2. Never really had a job outside of politics
Jason Kenney has been a politician since his election as a Reform Party MP in 1997 under Preston Manning. Jeromy Farkas spent his pre-council years at the Manning Centre’s Political Action Committee. (Source: CBC)
Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney’s entire work life has existed only within the bubble of politics. He has never worked a job in the private sector. He began his first job at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation political action committee (PAC) and went straight to Parliament as a Reform Party MP where he has worked as a politician since 1997.
Councillor Jeromy Farkas’ résumé is strikingly thin for a candidate running to be the mayor of a city of over 1.3-million people with a $4-billion operating budget. Before being elected to City Council as a politician in 2017, Jeromy worked at the Manning Centre PAC run by the former Reform Party leader Preston Manning. While his years of involvement with the controversial PAC are unmentioned on his campaign website, the Manning Centre was most known for a leaked video that revealed plans with suburban developers to raise $1.1-million to elect a suburban developer-friendly slate of candidates in Calgary's 2013 municipal election.
3. Supported funding cuts to Calgary Police Service
Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld said the $12-million reduction was a significant hit to the service's budget. (Source: CBC)
In October 2019, Jason Kenney and the UCP cut $12-million from the Calgary Police Service’s budget while simultaneously increasing the Province’s education property tax bill on Calgarians.
Instead of defending Calgarians, Councillor Farkas supported the UCP cuts and even went so far as to retweet a photo of Jason Kenney away on a fishing trip with Alberta’s Finance Minister the very next day.
Councillor Farkas also oversaw the closure of the Victoria Park Police Station in his Ward 11 constituency during his term on City Council. The closure of the Victoria Park Station has been criticized by the community and has made Calgary the only major city in Canada without a “brick and mortar” downtown police presence.
4. Supported provincial funding cuts to Calgary and soaring debt
Jason Kenney’s “Blue Ribbon Panel”, which was endorsed by Councillor Jeromey Farkas, cost the City of Calgary $73-million in capital funding and the University of Calgary $25-million in operating cuts while Alberta’s debt has soared past $100-billion. (Source: Toronto Star)
In 2019, Jason Kenney and the UCP released their “Blue Ribbon Panel” plan touted as Kenney’s plan to reduce the provincial deficit. The plan has resulted in massive cuts for the City of Calgary including $73-million in funding for capital projects, a three-year funding delay on $100’s of millions for the Green Line LRT, and $25-million in funding cuts to the University of Calgary at the cost of reduced services and tuition hikes for students.
But rather than using this money to reduce the deficit, Jason Kenney gambled and lost $1-billion Alberta taxpayer dollars on Donald Trump’s failed re-election bid, $4.7-billion on a lackluster corporate tax cut, and continues to spend $30-million per year on the gaffe-plagued “Energy War Room”.
Despite all the cuts to municipalities and post-secondary, under Jason Kenney, Alberta’s debt has soared past $100-billion.
Councillor Jeromy Farkas wrote a glowing endorsement of Kenney’s “Blue Ribbon” plan and since then has done nothing to stand up to the province against cuts to the City of Calgary or local post-secondary institutions, nor has he taken issue with the provincial government over Alberta’s freshly accumulated debt under Jason Kenney.
5. Opposed Calgary’s Green Line LRT
The Green Line is Calgary's next light rail transit (LRT) line connecting North-Central Calgary communities to Southeast communities including through the Downtown and the Beltline. (Source: City of Calgary)
Jason Kenney and the UCP waged a long war against Calgary’s Green Line LRT project with plenty of mudslinging and political football that ultimately delayed the critical transit project by up to 2 years and added between $200-million to $800-million in extra costs.
As Ward 11 Councillor, Jeromy Farkas repeatedly voted against the project including the updated underground risk-reduced alignment broadly supported by businesses and residents both inside of his own ward and across the city.
6. Opposed supports for more women in the workforce
Jason Kenney cancelled Alberta’s $25-a-day childcare pilot and is now one of the last remaining premiers holding out on an agreement with the federal government for $10-a-day affordable childcare. (Source: CBC)
Jason Kenney cancelled Alberta’s $25-a-day plan for child care and has so far refused to sign an affordable $10-a-day daycare agreement with the federal government despite most other provinces including British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Yukon, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador signing on.
Alberta workforce participation for women with children is well below the national average and affordable childcare has been recognized as a means for overall higher workforce participation and GDP.
According to the latest statistics on the 2021 municipal election, women continue to be far outnumbered in municipal politics with only 27% of councillor candidates and 15% of the mayoral candidates. Councillor Jeromy Farkas, raised eyebrows during his Council term when he suggested the idea of elected officials taking parental leave was a “betrayal” of those who voted for them.
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