Introduction to FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities)

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1 FCM REPORT FOR 2015 Introduction to FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) The 2015 edition of the FCM Annual Conference and Trade Show was held at the Shaw Convention Center in Edmonton from the evening of Thursday June 4 until mid day on Monday, June 8. Councillors Greg Gillespie and Ken Krause and I attended the Convention and the Trade Show, participated in workshops and went on Study Tours which featured municipally relevant themes in Edmonton and area. What is FCM? Following is clipped from the FCM website: The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is the national voice of Canadian municipal governments, dedicated to improving the quality of life in all communities by promoting strong, effective and accountable municipal governments. FCM represents the interests of all municipalities on policy and program matters within federal jurisdiction. Members include Canada s largest cities, small urban and rural communities. The president and vice-presidents of FCM are elected by member municipalities and serve on the FCM Executive Committee. The current FCM President is Brad Woodside, Mayor of the City of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Benefits of FCM The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has access to federal decision-making processes and is consulted by the federal government on many issues. FCM is able to reinforce and advance Toronto s position regarding the need for federal revenue sharing and a national policy agenda for urban issues. FCM's advocacy efforts have contributed to initiatives such as: The introduction of Canada's Gas Tax Fund totalling $2 billion annually. The City of Toronto currently receives $154 million annually; An increase in the GST rebate to 100% for municipalities, totalling $700 million nation-wide. In 2012, the City of Toronto received $82.4 million; National funding of $1.4 billion for affordable housing projects. The City of Toronto will receive $229.8 million between 2009 and 2014; Legislation making the Gas Tax Fund permanent in 2011; and The securing of federal funding through the $150 million Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, announced by the Government of Canada in March 2012.

2 Committees and Forums The FCM Board of Directors annually establishes standing committees and forums to advance issues of interest to FCM members, facilitate debate, and provide the FCM Board with recommendations on priority policy and program issues. These committees are comprised of both Board members and other municipal elected officials. Committee appointments are based on municipal preferences and experience, as well as the need to balance regional, community size and gender representation on each committee. Membership in FCM is composed of all sizes of municipalities from across Canada delegates attended this Convention to discuss common issues and needs. 99% of Alberta municipalities are members. In my opinion, FCM is very similar to the Cooperatives which were formed in Western Canada-in numbers there is strength. Municipalities large and small, rural and urban all face the same challenge-that of providing services to residents with funds coming from taxes. Under the Canadian Tax System, for every federal tax dollar collected, the federal government gets 50 cents, provincial governments get 42 cents and municipal government gets the remaining 8 cents. Municipal governments are the front line of making their communities work. FCM is continually promoting the idea of getting more of that tax dollar for local governments to allow them to deal with local needs. Please see the FCM power point presentation which summarizes the Conference. Federal Election 2015 With 2015 being a Federal Election year, there was a great deal of emphasis on the upcoming election. The Liberals, New Democrats and Green party all sent their leaders (Trudeau, Mulcair, May) to address FCM. Prime Minister Harper did not attend as he was participating in a G8 Conference in Germany. However, he sent a video message and the PC address was given by The Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance. One of the non-political Keynote speakers was Bruce Anderson, a private pollster, who outlined his view of the fall election. Following is a newspaper article summarizing his presentation.

3 Local battlegrounds will be key in toss up federal election, pollster says By Brent Wittmeier, Edmonton Journal June 7, 2015 EDMONTON - In a tightening three-way race to a fall federal election, politicians who ignore local quality-of-life concerns in favour of economic issues do so at their own peril, a pollster told Canada s big-city leaders Sunday in Edmonton. Bruce Anderson unveiled new data in a presentation to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, suggesting Canadians prioritize well-being over economy. The chairman of Abacus Data and a frequent political pundit, Anderson s keynote speech at the Shaw Conference Centre capped the four-day session in which mayors stressed the need for affordable housing and transit funding, listening to public pledges and private pitches from Finance Minister Joe Oliver, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Green party Leader Elizabeth May. Anderson s latest poll fit with those talks, suggesting quality of life is experienced more locally than nationally. Three quarters of those polled believe that where they live is above average, Anderson said, with 35 per cent believing their home is either among the best places in the country or else the world. And while Canadians consistently prioritize economic opportunity, quality of life trumps economic conditions by 87 to 13 per cent. Federal politicians should stress how economics affects quality of life, rather than macro-economic policy, Anderson concluded. While they ll talk about the economy and defence and security and so on, quality of life is the most important thing for the vast, vast majority, Anderson said. The economy is an issue in service of quality of life, not the other way around. Anderson stressed that politicians need to pay attention to how they mesh local and national messaging. In Atlantic and rural Canada, for instance, the economy is a higher-than-average concern. In the Prairies, Quebec and urban centres, roads and transit are higher concerns. Anderson also spent time forecasting into the four months leading up to October s federal election. While the race now appears to be a toss up, polls increasingly show an appetite for change. Demand has risen since last year, even two months ago, showing early predictions of a long and boring race to be mistaken.

4 In the 40 years that I ve been following politics, this is the most unpredictable situation that I can recall ever seeing, he said. There are fewer voters who say I m attached to a particular idea and there s no chance I ll change my mind. Three of every four voters are currently undecided, Anderson said, meaning each of the three parties has the potential to win a resounding majority government. Parties are simultaneously experiencing a deterioration of decided voters, with the Conservatives leading the pack with just nine per cent. At the same time, more voters are willing to consider other options. A full 56 per cent would consider the federal NDP, five points more than the Liberals and 11 more than the Conservatives. The Conservatives appear to be bleeding older supporters to the NDP, Anderson said, a surprise his firm hopes to explore further in upcoming polls. A provincial NDP win might have something to do with an NDP upswing, Anderson said, but interest in Conservative strategic points is waning. Taxes has largely stagnated, while terror and safety has dropped, meaning the Conservatives may need to emphasize to issues like retirement and security. The Conservatives also face potential pitfalls in the ongoing Mike Duffy trial and Senate scandals, but the NDP might be tested on its vows to abolish the upper chamber. If (change is) the conversation that the country s going to have, all the parties better show up with their A game and their best ideas, Anderson said. Nobody better be assuming that because of something you ve done in the past, voters are going to reward you. That s not how elections work anymore, if ever they did. Asked about the three main leaders in a question and answer period, Anderson said Prime Minister Stephen Harper might not be particularly loved, but he s far from the most hated and is likely neither a boon nor an anchor for the Conservatives. Trudeau isn t disliked but discounted for his inexperience. But Anderson said the Liberal leader s positives are all atmospheric, generating optimism and projecting well. Mulcair, the least known of the three outside of Quebec, benefits from the progressive, tactile quality of the NDP brand, though those who pay attention to him see him as strong. I think all three of these people, it would be a mistake to underestimate them, Anderson said. They re all going to campaign effectively, differently, heading into the fall. One of the workshops I attended was hosted by the Cement Association of Canada. Titled "Facing the Future: Building Resilience in the Age of Climate Change", this presentation showed how 15 Canadian Cities were preparing (or not) for climate change challenges. It follows below. Good afternoon,

5 Thank you for attending the Cement Association of Canada s study tour Facing the Future: Building Resilience in the Age of Climate Change last Saturday. It was a great pleasure for me to welcome you to our session and I hope you found it both enjoyable and informative. With municipalities large and small coming to grips with the challenge of more frequent extreme weather events, we felt that Dr. Blair Feltmate s ground-breaking study on the preparedness of fifteen Canadian cities to limit flood damages would be timely and relevant. I am pleased to attach a copy of his presentation. I look forward to seeing you again in the future. Sincerely, Michael McSweeney President and CEO Cement Association of Canada Please see the CAC Study Tour Attachment In My Opinion As I sat through the presentations and speeches, there seemed to be a theme which bothers me greatly. That is the rise of the increased influence on government by large cities (10 cities in Canada contain 53% of the Canadian population). Now cities have always been heavy influences on federal (and provincial governments) but there has always been a significant presence by rural Canada. Rural Canada has always been mentioned in government communiqués, in legislation and in government representation on committees. I left the conference with the uneasy feeling that we rural representatives are watching our influence slip away. To be sure, our membership in FCM is very important as is our participation in our Alberta contingent to FCM. If we don't provide our opinions and support to our rural FCM representatives, I fear that future rural residents will be lost in the shuffle as large "urbans" decide our governments direction. Don Gregorwich Reeve, Camrose County

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