By AUMA President Barry Morishita
This column was posted on auma.ca on May 8, 2019.
For the past several weeks, I have heard a lot of chatter about municipalities considering boycotting the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference taking place in Quebec, including the City of Medicine Hat, who recently announced their decision not to attend.
While I respect their decision, it is unfortunate they have chosen to forego the event based on the comments made by Quebec Premier Francois Legault. We should not assume Premier Legault’s words hold true for the municipal leaders in Quebec. There are many times municipalities in our province disagree with the provincial government. In fact, much of the advocacy work we do at AUMA is based on trying to get our own government to understand the municipal perspective, to acknowledge our role, to realize how the decisions they make impact our communities, and that the provincial voice is not our voice.
Attending FCM in Quebec is an opportunity to have peer-to-peer conversations with leaders across Canada about responsible resource development – both renewable and non-renewable. It’s not just about oil and gas. It’s not just about pipelines. AUMA, along with Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), and other municipal associations across Canada are coming together to coordinate the Support Canadian Energy campaign as part of the FCM conference. We are doing this to set the framework for us to engage in two-way conversations with other leaders across the country, not only to hear the Alberta perspective, but for us to hear their perspectives as well.
A respectful debate cannot happen if we are not all at the table. We cannot learn and understand from each other if we shut down the conversation before it can even occur. Boycotting FCM is taking a firm position and saying there is no interest in participating in respectful debate in pursuit of achieving a common understanding about how resource development – not just oil and gas – benefits and impacts our communities.
From my travels last summer, I saw how different the communities are within the province, and yet in many ways we are the same. The same is true in communities across this country. We all have unique perspectives that are important to share, and some of those perspectives will differ greatly. But we need to understand those differences so we can create an understanding of how we – as municipal leaders – can support a responsible energy industry that benefits our communities and Canada as a whole.
That the FCM conference is in Quebec is merely location. What is key is coming together to have these conversations, regardless of where they occur. We need to build bridges, not walls. Everything that happens in Canada happens in our communities, and it is important we have a role in the conversations regarding all resource development.
I invite anyone who wishes to discuss this to contact me at email@example.com or call me at 403-363-9224.