Federal parties bash each other in YYC Matters survey, Nenshi says

The YYC Matters results are in, and an unexpected takeaway for Mayor Naheed Nenshi was how much effort the parties devoted to criticizing each other.

The survey is intended to inform Calgary voters about where the political parties stand on issues affecting the city's future, and all of the party answers were received by Thursday.

But in a press conference on Friday, Nenshi noted that some parties seemed more focused on their opponents than on policy.

"The New Democrats and Conservatives, I believe, use the names of other parties in their results more than the name of their own party," Nenshi said.

The survey's questions related to issues such as the economic recovery, housing, the energy industry, immigration, transit and infrastructure projects.

It was conceptualized as a way to keep Alberta votes from being taken for granted by political parties, as the province tends to lean conservatively.

"While sometimes it feels here in Calgary like the results of a federal election are kind of a foregone conclusion, it's really important to get the parties on record in terms of what they are planning on saying and doing," Nenshi said.

The mayor says some of the answers, which can be read on the city's website, seem to reflect the larger election campaign going on as opposed to focusing on what Calgary needs.

"Citizens have been telling me, 'listen, we don't want this gotcha politics. We actually want to focus on what changes are going to happen in my life and in the life of my community based on whom we elect,'" Nenshi said.

Differentiated by arts funding, transit, energy policies

The city releases the survey answers so Calgarians can see the parties' "Calgary" strategy before they head to the polls for the Oct. 21 federal election, Nenshi says.

While the city is still analyzing all of the responses, it will not make any recommendations on whom Calgarians should vote for regarding issues important to Calgary, but Nenshi did offer his opinion about some of the survey answers. 

He says the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens all say in the survey they'll support additional federal dollars to expand the city's next LRT line. However, the Conservative Party will not commit to further funding for the Green Line.

"I was actually very surprised by the Conservative Party response on this one," Nenshi said. "They suggested that we should just magically be able to build more train for less money."

But Nenshi also notes the Conservatives had the best answer in regards to supporting Calgary's recovery and responsible energy industry.

"They made a commitment to improve the regulatory process for infrastructure assessment and approvals and work with municipalities to do so.… We need clarity to build out projects like flood mitigation and, of course, pipelines," he said.

According to their response, the Conservatives would prioritize job creation in Calgary by standing up for the energy sector and cutting taxes.

The party reiterated its pledge to repeal the carbon tax and the controversial Bill C-69, which governs megaproject approval and came into law in August.

However, the Conservatives have come out against new funding for the Green Line LRT, saying the proposed length of the train route has decreased while the expense has ballooned.

"Bluntly put, decisions have been made by [city] council which prevent the communities that need the train the most from getting it," the party said in its response.

The party also refrained from committing any funding to Arts Commons.

The Liberals, meanwhile, emphasized the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and efforts to help Calgary with flood mitigation. 

The Liberals also pledged to help fund "one-third of the Arts Commons building project" to the tune of $80 million.

The party stated that it plans on continuing to invest in public transit, saying "this will mean an additional $3 billion more per year in stable, predictable funding for our cities' transit needs, on top of transfers through the federal Gas Tax Fund."