City councillors push for Calgary input on 'fair deal' panel

A number of Calgary councillors are hoping to secure a seat at the table as the province moves forward with what is being called the "fair deal" panel. 

"We want to see which of them would reduce our costs, which would allow us to reduce red tape and to potentially allow for taxpayers to be better protected through, say, a provincial constitution," said Coun. Jeromy Farkas. "So there's a lot of opportunity there."

Premier Jason Kenney introduced the panel on Saturday, saying it would study whether Alberta should withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan, establish its own police force and establish a provincial tax revenue agency, among other initiatives.

Farkas said some of the proposed measures may increase local costs and make it tougher to do business in Calgary.

"But at this point, the work hasn't been done. So it's been tough to say one way or another," he said. "So it's more about going to this conversation with eyes wide open and supporting the direction the province is taking and making sure that Calgarians have the best evidence to be able to make that decision."

Four councillors — Peter Demong, Joe Magliocca, Sean Chu and Farkas — backed the motion, and will attempt to convince their colleagues to add it as a matter of urgent business on Monday.

As introduced, the motion calls for council to endorse Saturday's mandate letter from the province, offer to assist the province with its work and conduct research and analysis on potential roles and impacts to Calgary.

"We should be looking at what the potential downsides, what the potential issues might be at play for the City of Calgary," Demong said. "And we should be looking at what kind of mitigations we should be looking at setting up for the city."

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday that initiatives proposed by the panel would likely increase costs for the city, saying the benefits of taking over control of pensions and policing would need to be obvious.