Party politics a municipal distraction

This week a group known as Red Deer First announced that it would have as many as eight candidates running on the same platform for spots on council in the 2013 civic election.

This week a group known as Red Deer First announced that it would have as many as eight candidates running on the same platform for spots on council in the 2013 civic election.

That platform includes the all-too-familiar conservative ideas of fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability and safer streets.

Whether by accident or design, Calvin Goulet-Jones is the group’s bellwether. He announced his intention to run for council earlier this year, and he is the first candidate to declare his affiliation with Red Deer First.

In his first interview about the group, Goulet-Jones takes great pains to reassure Red Deerians that Red Deer First is just a group of individuals who share the same message, not a political party, which many consider to be anathema in the intimate world of municipal politics.

However, the group’s slick poster and flashy logo, coupled with the candidates’ plans to share resources and cheer each other on during the election, don’t exactly support his claim.

Goulet-Jones goes on to deny that Red Deer First’s goal is to gain control of council. It just wants to hold it accountable on behalf of the citizens. In fact, Red Deer First will make it easier for those citizens to choose city councillors, he says, because it can be challenging to figure out what people stand for when there are 25 names on a ballot.

Apparently, Red Deer First doesn’t give Red Deer voters much credit, either.

Goulet-Jones’s denial that Red Deer First seeks power not for itself but for the masses is disingenuous.

There is another word that more accurately describes Red Deer First’s goal: domination.

Red Deer First is nothing more than a thinly veiled political party that seeks to dominate the city’s political landscape for years to come.

The party wants to ensure that the city’s policies as well as its councillors conform to its conservative definition of “common sense.”

What’s worse is that Red Deer First is counting on voters to bite at its offer of greater power over a “community serving council,” when it really intends to keep any power it attains for itself to further dominate and exploit Red Deerians.

Red Deer First’s claim that the current council is unaccountable and fiscally irresponsible and that it is the cure smacks of self-righteousness.

Think of the totalitarian system that city council would become if Red Deer First elected enough members to hold the majority on council.

Debate would be stifled or eliminated outright in an atmosphere based on the principles of exclusion, segregation and division.

Votes would become perfunctory as councillors voted “NO” in lockstep with the party’s platform, which vows to cut deep to ensure the city lives within it means.

There is a certain terror in the neurotic, conflict-free council that Red Deer First envisions.

As Goulet-Jones readily admits, there are ideas that he would love to take to council, but they are not in the Red Deer First platform, so he won’t.

What is truly frightening is that Goulet-Jones says that he is fine with that. Presumably, he will bury those ideas deep within his subconscious to avoid calling into question the established order or his desire to be a team player.

Of course, the prospect of Red Deer First winning the majority of seats on council in the 2013 civic election is far from certain this early in the race.

Its current slate — all faceless, nameless conservative clones with the exception of Goulet-Jones, will face an experienced list of challengers. Paul Harris, Dianne Wyntjes, Lynne Mulder and Buck Buchanan are seeking re-election. Councillors Tara Veer, Frank Wong and Chris Stephan have not confirmed their intentions. Lawrence Lee, a third-term public school board trustee, and student Matt Chapin are also in the race. More candidates are certain to join in the coming months.

Red Deer First will also have to face Red Deer voters, and they are not the innocent dupes the group believes them to be. Red Deer voters will see through Red Deer First’s attempt to rob them of their political power.

Instead, they will seek out free-thinking candidates who promote innovative ideas and show a willingness to make connections with their fellow councillors in interesting ways, freeing up the city to focus on growing in refreshing directions.

Party politics may be a necessary evil at the provincial and federal levels of government, but it’s an unnecessary distraction at the municipal level.

Cameron Kennedy is an Advocate editor.

Just Posted

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. Veer said city workers do their best to keep the city looking good, but need volunteer help to get rid of litter that has blown into bushes onto road sides over the winter. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec premier argues province has power to amend constitution in letter to Trudeau

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault has written a letter to Prime… Continue reading

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police officers during a banned protest in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Saturday, May, 15, 2021. Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris where riot police countered organizers who said they would defy a ban on the protest, ordered on the grounds that it risked turning violent. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French riot police fired tear gas and used water… Continue reading

Photo by The Associated Press
NYC Pride parade bans police; Gay officers ‘disheartened’

NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of New York City’s Pride events said… Continue reading

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Most Read