Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CTF platforms spur dialogue

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A local tax lobbyist has a full menu of platform ideas for municipal candidates mulling a run in the civic election this fall.

Colin Craig, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's prairie director, revealed 25 "menu items" Tuesday to help spur discussion among candidates.

"We're trying to be proactive, to do something positive," Craig said. "We've got a whole bunch of different ideas to help people working on their platforms. So by all means, we encourage them to help themselves and start integrating some of these ideas into their platforms."

Craig emphasized improving accountability and transparency at city hall and stabilizing labour and pension reforms.

"It's not reasonable for some city employees to be retiring in their 40s with a full pension while most people in the private sector don't even have a workplace pension. So instead of raising taxes to keep paying for those benefits, we should look at pension reform," Craig said.

Other ideas offered include incorporating evening meetings for city council to allow for more public interaction, having an independent panel review Winnipeg's photo radar program and ending the practice of giving severance pay to city employees who quit their jobs.

The Free Press contacted all the candidates registered for Winnipeg's mayoral race to get their comments on the CTF's policy menu and to get updates on their platform ideas. Six of the seven candidates responded; Michel Fillion wasn't available for comment.

 

Paula Havixbeck

Coun. Havixbeck said the CTF's policy menu included many good ideas, some of which she'd motioned in council before, such as scheduling occasional evening council meetings.

Havixbeck thought the CTF's suggestion for a freedom of information committee had merit. "I think this needs to be a working committee from Day one and it should meet monthly," Havixbeck said.

 

Brian Bowman

Bowman found the CTF's ideas to improve accountability "particularly interesting" considering his own open government and public engagement policy announcement last week.

"We've been talking about accountability for many years," said Bowman. "The key in this election is going to be who has the ability to actually get it done."

The privacy lawyer thought the CTF's labour and pension reform proposals still needed clarification.

"Obviously pensions should be fair not just to the taxpayer but to the employees," he said. "I'm not a fan of policies that would undermine existing contracts employees have with the city."

 

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

"The bulk of the recommendations pertaining to accountability are very interesting and many are being rolled into my campaign now," said Wasylycia-Leis of the CTF suggestions.

The former MLA and MP wants to see schedule and asset disclosure among all city councillors and already disclosed her own assets last week.

Wasylycia-Leis also had concerns about the CTF's labour and pension reform recommendations.

"From what I hear, the morale at city hall is at an all-time low and labour relations are already strained. I think the only way to go forward is in good faith and to not make policy decisions on a whim."

 

Gord Steeves

Steeves was open to integrating evening council meetings and stressed the need for tri-level meetings between governments.

"There are all these different levels of government that are taxing people and there's no accountability between governments," Steeves said.

 

Mike Vogiatzakis

"If I become mayor, I plan on having a very, very open-book policy," Vogiatzakis said. "As far as accountability, I plan on not having any secret council behind me to talk to."

 

Robert-Falcon Ouellette

"It's a good start, but it's a shame that we've come to the point in politics where you have to have so many rules to govern elected officials who should already be governing everyone," Falcon-Ouellette said of the CTF's suggestions to improve accountability.

"That should be one of the things that we don't have to talk about in our election."

jessica.botelho-urbanski @freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 18, 2014 B2

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