Letter to the Editor: The 2016 Municipal Transparency Challenge

Dear Editor,

After reading through the financial wasteland of the CBRM one simple fact became abundantly clear, both mayoral candidates have failed to address the elephant in the the room. That of course being our massively over-sized municipal government. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the real reason we have extremely high taxes.

Cecil Clarke and Rankin MacSween

Cecil Clarke (l) and Rankin MacSween (r).

On this issue both Clarke and MacSween are two sides of the same coin. With Cecil Clarke it will be business as usual. Rankin MacSween, on the other hand, is promoting the use of a feather to knock down a brick wall. His tax reduction plan will quickly be neutralized by increases in assessments. Actual dollar savings to taxpayers will be equal to a rounding error.

We have, of course, confronted Mayor Clarke on this over-sized government issue at various meetings. Each time we met he rejected outright any notion of serious cost cutting measures. He felt we could solve our financial problems buy removing the property caps.

We attempted to raise this issue with Mayoral Candidate Rankin MacSween. Oddly, he refused to meet with us. Having access to this candidate may be a problem for some.

Both Rankin MacSween and Mayor Clarke need to sit down and read the Municipal Government Act. The MGA gives the mayor and council sweeping powers in terms of maintaining the viability of the municipality. The idea that municipal staff has some authority over the direction of the municipality is a complete fallacy and not supported by the MGA.

Layoffs in wealthy Alberta should have been the final wake up call for the CBRM. No one criticized the oil companies for being prudent as commodity prices plummeted. The layoffs had to take place and all involved understood why: long term sustainability. No local political leader to date has demonstrated an understanding of this simple concept. The CBRM has become an out of control charity funded by an aging population that is in decline. Unfortunately, the courage and depth of someone like Frank McKenna will not be found during this election cycle.

Neither mayoral candidate has given any significant details on transparency. We challenged the Clarke administration on this very issue and won. We won because taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent. (See N.S. FOIPOP Review Office for details) [Letter attached below]

So our proposal to Rankin MacSween and Cecil Clarke is quite simple. At least 10 days prior to the election, release the names, salaries and expenses of all municipal staff to the public. Use the last annual reporting period. Both parties may use their associated websites for conveyance. Once voters see this document you will have no problem getting support for serious fiscal adjustments. Let’s see if one of these gentlemen is willing to stand up for the 99 percent of the population not on the municipal payroll. Voters are watching – the clock is ticking.

Yours Truly,


Joe Bushell

(Taxpayers helping Taxpayers)



Note: Following a successful appeal, the applicant received the requested information from the CBRM.


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