Bell: Calgary Mayor Gondek and council pals could soon get what they fear

Finally, the opportunity for political parties at the city hall level

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Fear at Calgary city hall.

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Not fear of the petition to dump Mayor Jyoti Gondek with the absurdly high number of signatures needed to show her the exit door.

No, it’s fear of something we could soon see come to pass and it could make next year’s city election very interesting.

Finally, the opportunity for political parties at the city hall level.

Not the provincial political parties. Not the federal political parties.

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That wouldn’t be allowed.

We’re talking about brand-new city political parties like on the coast with ABC Vancouver.

We’re talking about the chance for a well-financed, well-organized party in Calgary with a common-sense platform and a candidate for mayor and a candidate in each of the 14 wards.

Such a party could win a city council majority.

City political parties require the UCP government of Premier Danielle Smith to make a move and it is expected a move of some kind from the Smith government will be made.

Tyler Gandam is the mayor of Wetaskiwin and the president of the outfit representing Alberta’s cities, towns and villages.

Gandam says local governments don’t want city political parties, including Calgary and Edmonton.

Of course they don’t. They like things just the way they are.

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Gandam says right now local politicians stand for the best interests of the residents and businesses.

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They have independent points of view and open minds and freely collaborate with everyone on their council.

Local governments should be “safe spaces for conversation and dialogue” and “free of political vitriol” and your councillor’s politics don’t have an effect on the issues at the city level.

Buddy, drive down from Wetaskiwin to Calgary city hall, the Big Blue Playpen, admission to the goat rodeo is free.

Some in the press asked Gandam questions about Take Back Alberta.

How big a role are they playing? He doesn’t know.

Take Back Alberta or TBA describes itself as a pro-freedom, anti-elite grassroots movement.

Their detractors see them as unhinged dangerous souls needing the equivalent of a political exorcism.

Some people reportedly hear the words Take Back Alberta and experience spasms, fits of fury, night sweats, intestinal distress only an extended period of ranting on X can relieve.

Take Back Alberta’s founder David Parker seems to have been given larger-than-life status living rent-free in some skulls.

Take Back Alberta's David Parker
David Parker is shown at the UCP Annual General Meeting in Calgary on Saturday, November 4, 2023. Jim Wells/Postmedia

Questions this day were also asked about Vancouver and Montreal where they have city political parties.

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Have they had problems with their system?

Gandam, who doesn’t like local political parties, can’t say.

He didn’t speak to folks in Vancouver and Montreal.

Did he hear of any benefits those cities feel they’re getting from having local political parties?

He can’t say. Didn’t speak to them.

Did he have any examples where there was an impact on an issue because of city political parties?


The man says nobody has explained what problems city political parties fix.

The choice in a city election would be clear. You would know who you were voting for.

The candidate is there, the platform is there. You could put it up on your fridge.

The press would give plenty of coverage to these parties and where they stand.

There would be less of this routine where folks vote for somebody because their name is familiar.

There could well be less splitting of the vote among the challengers where some seat-warmers on council squeak back in with a low vote result.

And there is already politics at play.

In Calgary, a city union-bankrolled group with almost $2 million backed Gondek and candidates who have become the city council majority, nicknamed The Hateful Eight by their detractors.

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Calgary Municipal Building
Pictured is the Calgary Municipal Building on Monday, October 5, 2020. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

What is sad is the level of interest in the last election was so low many Calgarians didn’t even know about the union group until just days ago.

It was a big issue in the last election! Columns were written. Big headlines.

Anyway, this Gandam guy hasn’t heard of anybody in favour of local political parties.

Who’s that with their hand up?

Dan McLean, a Calgary councillor. He’s a big Yes.

Does he think a city political party with the right platform and candidates could carry the day?

“One hundred percent. People are yearning for some common-sense candidates. I think they’d win in a heartbeat.”

McLean doesn’t like the attitude he sees from those at city hall who say people are angry only because they’re told to be angry.

“That’s ridiculous. You’ve got to give people credit. They know their issues. They know what matters.”

McLean mentions a cartoon where Gondek is standing alone on Woke Island asking: Where did everyone go?

There’s a ship of voters sailing away.

With the right city political party, they have a destination.

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