Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Joe Connelly's kick-off speech?

Calgary's list of mayoral candidates is probably one of the worst-kept secrets. For months, everyone has pretty much had a pretty good idea who was going to be running. 

So when Ward 6 Ald. Joe Connelly put out a press release Tuesday alerting people about a Wednesday press conference, it was pretty transparent Cowboy Joe — who isn't much of a cowboy — would be tossing his Smithbilt into the ring.

It was made even more plain when http://joeformayor.ca made the rounds. The partially completed website, with photo placeholders and Latin filler text was made the butt of jokes on Twitter, leading to one wag to dub Joe "Quick Draw Connelly." 

Not surprisingly, the website was taken down, but not before someone sent me a copy of what looks suspiciously like the sort of thing a mayoral candidate would say at a campaign kickoff.

Full of flowery language about western values, and the shining beacon Calgary can be, it is what can be expected so far away from the Oct. 18 election date.

I imagine he will be rolling out actual policy planks at a later date.

But as far as the (possible) speech goes, if you weren't planning on attending the kickoff Wednesday, have a read:

Calgarians inherently have a work hard, play hard attitude. We know Calgary is the city where successful and significant business deals can still be done on a handshake. We are a city where the quality of life is a beacon to people around the world who choose to call this place home. 

A place rooted in a rich history of western values that gave us our strong foundation of today. A place where, when we find ourselves riding through hell, well, we just keep riding. A city of people who do not give up, who see their world as a glass half full, and who know how to fill it to the brim. 

It is this fiercely proud Calgary heritage that I chose to adopt when I travelled from Toronto as a young and adventurous 19 year old. My plan was to spend 3 days here before settling into the west coast region where I thought I wanted to earn my education, build my career and eventually raise a family. But then I experienced this great city. I tasted a quality of life that is the envy of so many. Calgary afforded me opportunity after opportunity to excel as an entrepreneur, to develop as a senior executive and most recently, prior to Alderman, to serve as Vice President of Tourism Calgary. It was the tourism industry where I experienced first-hand the famous reputation Calgary enjoys on the world stage. 

I was successful because Calgary is successful. Because Calgary offers an environment that nurtures and rewards those with passion and ambition. 

My commitment to this city grew day after day, and I came to realize that this was not a stop along the way, but the place I would choose to earn my Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Calgary, and pursue a successful and rewarding career. 

However, while my passion for my home is unwavering, I do see tiny cracks forming in Calgary’s foundation that have the potential to tarnish our city. Small cracks that can turn into irreversible damage if we do not have the courage to make the changes needed to restore our strength and reputation as a world-recognized city. 

It was at this point I realized that I could not be an armchair critic nor simply complain about the hotly-debated issues of the day. I looked at it as an opportunity to make Calgary a better place by getting involved. That’s when I made my next career move into municipal politics and was elected Alderman of Ward Six in 2007, successfully defeating a two-term incumbent with one of the largest upsets in Calgary’s history. 

I remain that fiercely proud Calgarian. I enjoy the lifestyle that this city exudes, and I want to lead it through its next phase with Calgarians on the team. 

Today I am asking you to imagine, with me, what your Calgary of tomorrow looks like. To author the next chapters of our future together. To join me as we build a city that makes us all proud to call home. 

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cameras move crime into the shadows:

Still waiting for a section for my columns on the Calgary Sun site, but until then, I will be posting here:

The cameras are up and running, but I don't hear any crooks shaking in their size 10s.
Yes, the long-awaited CCTV pilot project finally got the "Lights, camera ... action!" from the city, and high-crime areas in the core are now under the watchful Big Brother eye.
Expect to hear about some new high-crime areas in the core in a couple of weeks.
Feeling safe yet? Didn't think so.
In a year, don't expect to be feeling any safer.
Crime will still exist in the core -- drugs still dealt and property still vandalized.
After much debate over the safety of the downtown core, the year-long pilot started last week, deemed as a "new tool for post-incident investigation, evidence gathering and law enforcement."
Bylaw boss Bill Bruce also called the cameras potential deterrent to crooks.
Deterring them from doing business where the cameras are, perhaps.
That the cameras can be moved to other areas should crime trends warrant won't do much to help, but then again, neither would putting a camera on every street corner in the city.
As has been said many times before, London has one of the highest concentrations of CCTV cams anywhere, and its violent crime rate is nothing to be proud of.
CCTV is nothing new to this city, as anyone who has been in a C-Train station knows, and countless businesses use some form of camera surveillance.
In 2008, as of just before Christmas, there were about 250 commercial robberies, and 2,500 commercial break-ins for the year, according to police stats and the clearance rates for both are less than stellar.
Bank robbers are repeatedly caught on camera wearing no more of a disguise than a pair of cheap sunglasses.
So much for the notion of deterrence.
As far as transit security goes, despite being able to glean evidence for use in making arrests and gathering evidence in a couple of recent murders, the presence of CCTV has not helped improve public perception of the safety of the C-Train system.
You would think the cameras' touted ability to keep crooks at bay and provide evidence in the event of a serious crime would make people feel safe.
You'd be wrong.
In survey after survey, LRT platforms and parking lots are deemed among the top concerns of Calgarians, despite the fact the system has had some form of video surveillance since 1983.
In the most recent police commission survey, LRT platform and parking safety came second behind illegal gang activity as the issue citizens are "extremely concerned" about.
But people feel a better job is being done at addressing the gang problem, according to the survey.
And all cameras on platforms have done is move crime just into the shadows, into areas where there are no cameras.
Just take a walk around the corner from some of the downtown platforms and you're likely to be offered a host of illicit treats.
The city has obviously done its due diligence in trying to ensure the privacy of citizens is ensured, as it would have needed the approval of the provincial watchdog to go ahead with such a project.
But as Privacy Commissioner Frank Work noted in this paper a year ago, widespread surveillance is a drastic response to a crisis situation.
Calgary's declining crime rate would indicate we are not in a crisis situation, he said.
But members of city council are well-known for their drastic responses even without a crisis brewing.
So sure, bring in the cameras, just don't expect any movie magic or happy endings.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's been a while since I've posted on here, but in an attempt to shamelessly link to the company which signs my cheques, here are a few recent tomes I've written for the Calgary Sun.

More posts to follow, as well as some pieces I was hoping to write, but would have been long dead by the time my Monday or Tuesday pieces came along.

Here you will find my thoughts on the need for increased police presence on Calgary transit, particularly the LRT system.

Here you will find my reaction to trespassing charges being laid against members of the Campus Pro-Life club at the University of Calgary. 

Here is my salute to some members of Calgary city council, who are not doing the right thing, but doing the next best thing when they say they'll donate their pay hikes to charity or back to the city.

And here I offer a critique of the Calgary city manager's office renovations during some tough economic times. Especially interesting that he recently told other city departments to prepare for budgetary restraint.

Stay tuned for further updates.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I know it's been a rather long time since I actually posted something. And I'm still not sure what to write about. I should probably blog here. But that again would require something to write about that would be of interest to the general public.

So anyway, until I am struck by some kind of inspiration, here are Four things.

Four jobs I have had:
1) Video Store Lackey
2) Coffee Shop Manager
3) News Anchor
4) Reporter

Four places you have lived:
1) Edmonton
2) Sherwood Park
3) Airdrie
4) Calgary

Four T.V. Shows I watch:
1) The Office
2) Prison Break
3) 24
4) Heroes

Four places you have been on vacation:
1) Ottawa
2) Toronto
3) Vegas/Disneyland
4) Vancouver/Victoria

Four Web sites you visit daily
1) www.warrenkinsella.com
2) www.calgarysun.com
3) www.macleans.ca
4) news.bbc.co.uk

Four of my favourite foods:
1) Steak
2) Ribs
3) Mango
4) French Toast

Four essential reads:
1) Trainspotting
2) Road Work
3) On the Road
4) Macbeth

Four Essential Spins
1) Revolver
2) Definitely Maybe
3) Closer (Joy Division)
4) Entroducing...

Four places I would rather be right now:
1) At home
2) In Edmonton
3) In New York
4) Kuala Lumpur

Thursday, November 02, 2006


This is the first in what will hopefully be a long-standing and frequently updated blog, although I'm not yet sure what exactly I'll be writing about. Life, pop culture, politics, it may all end up on here.

For now, be sure to check out this for actual news that I write for a living, including the Signs of the Times web doc I produced with much help and technical support from Sun photog Kevin Udahl, who took some great pictures.