While the sense of western alienation is growing in Canada, the M.D. of Bonnyville has gotten involved to try and get the message across the country.
The M.D. did not renew their membership in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in November because they felt the national lobbying agency was not representing the interests of rural Alberta.
Reeve Greg Sawchuk spoke about the decision at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta conference a couple weeks ago, asking other communities if they feel represented or not.
“I asked them the same questions I asked our council and that was, do you feel as though FCM advocated on our behalf prior to the election? And do you feel as though if you take away the location of the conference, do you feel as though the agenda, the study tours – recognizing it is a big city – is it actually relevant to your municipality? It actually got a fair amount of support from some of the reeves and mayors there. And I think I made a lot feel uncomfortable as well. In the meantime, we’re going to sit back and we’re going to watch and see what FCM does,” said Reeve Greg Sawchuk on The Morning After.
When the M.D. passed the motion, Sawchuk it allowed them time to discuss the next steps and see how FCM would respond.
He said the message was heard in Ottawa.
FCM created a Western Economic Solutions Taskforce which will consist of municipal leaders from western Canada having conversations between the municipal and federal orders of government to ensure the perspectives of western communities are voiced, and to drive new solutions on how to best support them through this economic crisis, FCM said in a press release.
“They reached out to us. I talked to the President on the phone for about half an hour. And then we he wanted to meet with us in Edmonton…he said normally that they don’t come up to the fall convention for our RMA but because they recognize there was a bit of an outcry from Alberta they would come out and they ended up meeting with about 20 municipalities.
“We had him for probably about 40 minutes. And we were able to get across our point in regards to our region, and the issues we’re facing here, and how we felt that FCM just weren’t advocating on our behalf…they made no mention of natural resources. We tried to explain to them that we’re at this point where it’s nearly desperation that we’re trying to put across in regards to our industry. As we’ve seen since the election even more companies pulling out,” said Sawchuk.
Sawchuk said because population ties heavily to influence in FCM, perhaps the money the municipality is saving by discontinuing their membership, roughly $40,000, could be spent to talk up the area’s key resource.
“Maybe we’ll put the money towards having you folks come out and we’ll show you around and show you what our oil industry actually looks like out here. Take them out to visit Imperial and OSUM. It’s unlike anything that you see on the national media.”
The M.D. of Bonnvyille attended the FCM conference in Quebec City earlier this year.