Common Sense?

No one needs policies anymore.  Everything can be decided by using good ol’ common sense.

what-policy

A group calling itself Common Sense Calgary is telling Calgarians that “the same unions that backed the NDP provincially have now endorsed a slate of candidates to help continue their high-tax, high-spending, high-regulation doctrine at the city level.”  While it’s true that the Calgary and District Labour Council (an organization that’s been around since 1905) issued a flyer recommending certain candidates in the upcoming municipal election, there’s not a shred of evidence to show they did so at the NDP’s behest.

A nameless, faceless organization

Common Sense Calgary is a mystery.

Its website says it’s not affiliated with any party or candidate and it promotes “the values of honesty, transparency, trustworthiness, caring, service, and humility, and the principles of freedom, responsibility, and democratic accountability.”

Sadly, this devotion to honesty, transparency, and democratic accountability do not stretch to disclosing anything about the CSC other than the fact that its executive director, Megan Brown, was a policy advisor to the Wildrose and UCP parties and Linda Carlson, “a passionate advocate for conservative economic principles”, joined CSC’s board of directors (whoever they might be).

For all of its talk about being non-partisan, CSC is clearly against the incumbent mayor and many ward councillors.  It’s Facebook page bristles with shots at “Nenshi and his spend happy voting block [who] were busy hiking property taxes to pay for bike lanes, blue rings, Italian tile in their “Chamber of Secrets.”

The survey

CSC commissioned Pantheon Research to conduct a survey to “find out where the NDP and union candidates are at risk of winning seats, and which candidates are best placed to beat them and keep them out of city hall.”  Cue the red scare/Commie baiting crowd.

Pantheon polled 4887 Calgarians, the margin of error for each ward ranged from 4.6% to 6.1% (the margin of error for national pollsters like Mainstreet and Nanos sits around 3.1%), it provided no margin of error data for the mayoral race although a Facebook post says the margin of error in that poll was 1.4%.

But details like poll methodology and margins of error don’t matter to CSC voters.  They’re more interested in the colour coded charts which not so subtly tell them who to vote for.

Certain candidates are represented by blue bars while others (presumably the so-called NDP and union backed candidates) are represented by orange bars.  Even Naheed Nenshi who is synonymous with the colour purple is represented by an orange bar.

This colour coding works.  One voter lamented on Facebook that the “liberal” candidate (red) and the “NDP” candidate (orange) were leading in their ward.  Provincial parties do not run in municipal elections.     

Using “common sense” to make decisions means voters don’t need to waste time reading a candidate’s policies or thinking about his/her comments in a candidates’ debate.  They can simply default to the candidate identified for them by a faceless organization as the one best aligned with the conservative party’s cause, even in the context of a nonpartisan municipal election.

So, forget the fact that Bill Smith, the former president of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, wants to scrap the Green Line after 6 years of public consultation and risk losing $3 billion in provincial and federal support, vote blue.

Forget the fact that Chris Davis, the former president of the Calgary-Elbow Progressive Conservative constituency association, who is running in my ward muddies the difference between an operating budget and a capital budget when he disparages the City’s public art process, vote blue.

Most importantly forget the fact that municipal government is the only level of government where party politics aren’t relevant.  The Mayor is elected by Calgarians, not a political party, he has one vote out of 15 and cannot force his will on Council.  He does not have a party whip to smack recalcitrant counsellors upside the head if they vote against his proposals.  Councillors, unlike provincial and federal cabinet ministers, are not appointed by a party leader, they are not beholden to anyone but the people who elected them.

Forget all that.  Don’t think.  Vote blue.

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23 Responses to Common Sense?

  1. Morbeau says:

    Thank you.

  2. Keith McClary says:

    Common Sense Calgary: where are all their friends now?
    September 20, 2013
    “Common Sense Calgary, the newest advocacy group speaking out on the civic election campaign, has gone from having 11 publicly disclosed supporters to having seven to having zero.”
    http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/friends-of-common-sense-calgary-no-more

    I don’t remember them in that incarnation.

    • Keith, I *do* remember them in that incarnation. They got into a lot of trouble after they ran a full page ad supporting the development industry and defending what Nenshi calls the “sprawl subsidy”. The gist of the ad was that some people (the implication was gay couples) wouldn’t feel comfortable living in the suburbs but other folks should have an opportunity to live there and Nenshi would kill their dream of owning a single family home if he made the developers pay for the off-site infrastructure required to support their developments. Nenshi implemented the off-site levy after he was re-elected. It saved Calgarians approximately $33 million/year, people continued to move to the burbs and the development industry did not collapse notwithstanding their hair-on-fire rhetoric.

  3. Val Jobson says:

    Another piece of astroturf; has an article by people with CTF, CFIB and Macdonald of CSS
    http://www.commonsensecalgary.com/new_city_charters

    I can barely read their stuff on that awful blue background.

  4. Paul Pearlman says:

    Common sense sounds much like nonsense !!

    • Paul, you’re right. It’s amazing how many organizations are spouting nonsense under the guise of common sense. There’s another group called SaveCalgary that identified Nenshi, Evan Woolley, Gian-Carlo Carra, Druh Farrell and Diane Colley-Urquhart as “failing candidates.” Their spokesperson, Hadyn Place, says they’re not legally required to disclose their donors and they’re not subject to donation limits. This plus the fact that Bill Smith, Chris Davis, and I presume the other “blue” candidates refuse to disclose their donors until March 2018 means the voters don’t know who is supporting these candidates. Ironic, given their pitch for greater transparency and accountability.

  5. David Swann MD,MLA says:

    Brilliant and helpful Susan-many thanks!

  6. Don T says:

    Common Sense Calgary should be commended for lifting the veil of secrecy from the self interested unions and their greedy big Labour bosses.

    And Linda Carlson was a wildrose candidate in the last election.

    • Keith McClary says:

      “Linda Carlson was a wildrose candidate in the last election.”
      Thanks for lifting the veil of secrecy on that.

      • And CSC executive Rick Billington said CSC was originally funded by the Manning Centre. This affiliation with the Manning Centre is not disclosed on the CSC website.
        I’m not surprised conservative people support conservative candidates and progressive people support progressive candidates; what troubles me is the hypocrisy of billing yourself as a nonpartisan service bent on bringing transparency and accountability to the process but refusing to disclose your founders and donors.
        Incidentally, former CSC executive director Stephanie Kusie won Jason Kenney’s old seat and Rick Billington lost the conservative nomination to Bob Benzen for Harper’s old seat. The CSC is not a nonpartisan non-profit organization, it’s a conservative mouthpiece.

  7. Peter Allen says:

    As always a well written and well thought out piece, thank you.

    • Thanks Peter, the proliferation of conservative organizations trying to influence politics at all levels of government seems to be growing. When I started writing this post I was going to focus on the influence the Manning Centre has on UCP policy–given that the UCP leadership candidates are running on no policies and the UCP policy convention isn’t scheduled until next spring I was not surprised to hear that the Manning Centre has pre-empted the UCP policy development process by scheduling a “Networking Conference” (billed as a “generational opportunity to shape the future of politics in Alberta”) on Nov 18, 2017. This will give the conservative brain trust plenty of time to embed their ideas in the hearts and minds of the newly elected UCP servant-leader and his policy team.

  8. Common sense only works if you are in your common situations. Then it works really well.

  9. You’re right Paul. Merriam Webster defines common sense as sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. Developing policies and a vision for Calgary, the third largest city in Canada, requires more than “a simple perception of the situation or facts”.

  10. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Maybe people should ask about Bill Smith. What are his ties to the UCP? How will he fund the new arena in Calgary?

    • Dwayne, it looks like there are LOTS of questions we could ask about Bill Smith, starting with the two you’ve asked and moving on to questioning how his campaign got its hands on email addresses that were given to the UCP, not to Smith’s campaign. Smith says it was an error on the part of a third party contractor. I say a third party contractor cannot make up email addresses from thin air, they can only send email blasts to addresses provided to them by the campaigns who hire them.

  11. Carlos Beca says:

    Extreme Far Right strategies are so cuddly, even the names are so sweet.
    Jason Kenney is even cuddlier – he has no policies – one just has to trust him. Do not worry he will look after all of us. What a sweet man, amazing how some people are born so kind and giving. 🙂

  12. Carlos, you made me smile. But to get serious for just a minute…The political strategist Frank Luntz says “common sense” is the perfect political construct because no one really knows what it means, but they all say they know it when they see it. Not only that it supports any policy position and it’s virtually unassailable. It’s perfect, no?

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Well Frank Luntz knows exactly what he is talking about. It is perfect indeed. There is only one problem. Like bacteria, people adjust and find ways to battle back. It took us a while to figure out all this ‘invisible hand’, ‘inevitable’ and ‘globalization’ and others, but they have had their time and we are moving on. Imagine if we had no capacity to change.
      Thank you again

  13. Tammy Weiner says:

    I will tell you one thing, Chris Davis is the true agent of change in this campaign! He is going to win and he will change Woolley’s tax and spend policies, bulldoze the bike lanes, and stop spending on pet projects. The true agent of change, Chris Davis for City Council!

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