Wednesday 8 June 2011

Hinton Mayor Goes to Edmonton

I had promised in the comments of my last posting that I would respond to some questions and comments. I had this lonnnggg post all planned where I was going to give several scenarios about holding two positions (at least one being an elected one) and the ramifications from that. It’s long overdue, ironically due to my working two jobs; a paying one and a volunteer role managing my husband’s campaign.

So this will be shorter than I initially planned and limited to responding to my good friend Rhys; who left these questions:

When does it become unethical to be a party's representative\candidate and a municipal politician at the same time?

Or is that just if you're a party's leader -- not a lowly candidate in a riding, say?

Rhys hits on a key distinction relevant to the Glenn Taylor situation. He has been “elected” to two positions. If he had been a part-time plumber and elected leader of the Alberta Party, likely no one would have cared other than maybe his plumbing customers. As it is he is paid by the taxpayers of Hinton. Will they know or care if his attention is elsewhere? Are they okay with paying him when he might actually be doing work the Party at the time?

More to Rhys’ point though; he is asking at what level of candidacy and at what point does it become unethical. I’ve done some digging and there are indeed a few people who sit on town councils and have been elected as candidates for provincial political parties.

I think we need to examine what the expectations are for those candidates to fulfill their roles. Some may not anticipate doing anything until an election is actually called. Others may do some campaigning on evenings and weekends. If it is the latter; I think they would have to be very cautious of making a crystal clear distinction between their elected duties and their candidacy efforts. For example; if they attend a meeting as a councilor and are selling memberships to their respective party… then yes, that’s out of bounds in my opinion.

To be very open about this, past Alberta Party leaders have held or kept their other jobs and its never been an issue. Partly because their jobs weren’t elected positions. But more importantly there were none of the huge expectations of the current incarnation of the party.

I think Glenn Taylor’s situation boils down to two things:

- What are the expectations of the Alberta Party members
- Can he maintain a crystal clear distinction between his two roles

If the members are happy with a part-time leader then so be it. If they had expected a leader who can do the summer BBQ circuit, fundraising, attend CA formation meetings, attend caucus meetings and much, much more… well then they will be very disappointed.

As fate would have it; Glenn Taylor today provided us with an example of how his two roles conflict.

This picture was posted on Twitter today along with this comment.
@NDPview: #abparty ldr Taylor uses Town of Hinton vehicle to visit MLA Taylor at #ableg all afternoon. Naughty ldr.

Apparently Glenn Taylor went to the Alberta Legislature today to meet with Dave Taylor. It seems quite obvious he drove a vehicle belonging to the town of Hinton. Now is this a vehicle for his own personal use? Is it shared with other members of council?

Hmmm and there "all afternoon"? I wonder who is going to pick up the cost of the parking ticket?

Seems Mr. Taylor is creating more questions than he is answering.


  1. I'd advise you to not get your political news from anonymous Twitter accounts with a grand total of eight total tweets. You've embarrassed yourself yet again Jane. You might want to let the half-life of the latest hare-brained rumour that catches your fancy to at least play out for a couple of hours (or at least, you know, make some calls) before sticking your foot in your mouth.

    He's in talks with Fortis negotiating a new contract for Hinton. Today and tomorrow. A meeting that was booked by the town months ago. Amazing, I know.

    Also, and I'm just spitballing here, but this seems like one of those really important reasons why Glenn Taylor didn't immediately resign, despite the hysterical calls for it from some of the more ridiculous political bloggers out there.



  2. Duncan,

    I never stated he was in Edmonton purely for the Alberta Party. In fact I made a point of saying "apparently", because when I wrote this I didn't know for a fact he had lunch with Dave Taylor.

    Thanks for your concern though.


  3. It's an interesting question and It will be interesting to see how the two jobs are balanced.

    I'm not sure there's one right answer and I know a lot of politicians have taken a lot of different approaches. Some are compelled, some are political decisions, some are the result of different political cultures.

    Here in Canada, to go from MLA to MP or vice versa, you have to resign your seat. No chance of the backup plan there. In other places like France, it's not uncommon to have two roles simultaneously. The now notorious Dominique Strauss-Kahn served as Mayor (and then Deputy-Mayor of Sarcelles) while also being Minister of Finance and elected in the French legislature.

    No question though, there's no taste for such double dipping on this side of the Atlantic. Richard Magnus ran for Mayor of Calgary in 2001 and was widely attacked for running for that job while collecting his MLA salary.

    Probably a direct result of this, Kent Hehr took a different approach nine years later. He kept doing his day job, but to avoid any appearance of impropriety donated his MLA salary to charities during his run for the Calgary mayoralty (he originally just tried to turn down his salary but the I believe Speaker nixed that).

    Glenn Taylor will be doing the reverse - running for MLA from the Mayor's seat, but I think Kent's logic was sound and suspect the same would be a good approach for the new Alberta Party leader. I don't know his financial situation and whether that would be possible, but it would be a good way to avoid looking like he's having his cake and eating it too, while still doing the job he was elected to do less than a year ago.

  4. ..and meanwhile, back at the Alberta Party, our 'part time leader' has so far dramatically failed to inspire anything. Opponents of the party need only do what our 'leader' is doing - nothing. While the intentions of the party were good it is now already well on its way down the road of distant memories.

    Glenn, Chris, other senior members - heart of the party - hello? Are you out there?