Medicine Hat, AB- It was a light agenda coming into Monday’s city council meeting.
But a last minute addition included a major motion brought up by councillor Brian Varga.
In a unanimous decision, council decided that they would not be attending the upcoming Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference (FCM) at the end of the month.
Saying that they don’t want to support the conference’s host province.
“It’s in Quebec city so we thought that since they are giving us such a hard time on our oil reserves and shipping oil that way or gas that way, that it just wasn’t in our favour as a council because we’re in the oil and gas industry to send some more money there and deposit some money in their economy.” Said Varga. “So we thought the best way to do it was to hit them in the pocket books and even though it’s a small, small amount compared to the overall picture, it’s a little bit at least from us to show a little bit of non support for what their doing to Alberta.”
Mayor Ted Clugston said that he approached the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association president, Barry Morishita, who is also the mayor of Brooks, to have the whole province not attend the conference.
“I kind of lobbed the balloon to him that perhaps the entire province and AUMA should lead the charge on a motion like this. And I think they considered it frankly." Said Clugston. "But they came back to me and, even two months ago, maybe even three, that the position of the Alberta urban municipality was to go in force and that all the municipalities across Alberta should go to Quebec City and sit in the front row and when Justin Trudeau speaks, just make the presence of Alberta know.”
Multiple councillors repeated that this is not a protest against the FCM, just Quebec.
One councillor said during the meeting that the cost for the eight councillors and Clugston to attend would be about $4,000 each. Medicine Hat tax dollars they don’t want to give the Quebec economy.
Clugston acknowledged that this could be upset the FCM, who can give loans and grants for municipal projects, but says it’s a risk the council is willing to take
“It may backfire on the municipality. But I mean, this municipality and this council and previous council have never been to take a stance against, be it the provincial government or now the federal government.”
Clugston added that Quebec isn’t the only host the council would boycott.
“And I’m going to cause a little more controversy, had it been held in Vancouver this year as well, we may have done the same thing. But Saskatoon, probably not.”
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