It is Sunday, June 24 at the time of this writing. I scrolled through the Big Lakes County and Town of High Prairie websites looking for reports on all benefits realized after attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Halifax.
The annual taxpayer-funding holiday for councillors and selected staff occurred May 31 to June 3. Nine from the county, two from the town, attended at an estimated cost of $59,411.
A question: is it fair to expect the councillors and staff to file a decent report and post it on their websites so the people who paid for the trip can be informed?
I would suggest it is.
Has any report ever been posted on the websites of the town or county after the FCM? I think not.
Don’t you think council and staff should be ready and willing to tell their voters what a wonderful job they did in Halifax, and how their $60,000 was well spent?
The first day of the conference, I sent e-mails to each county councillor. I simply asked how many attended, and for each to disclose their claims. Only two responded: David Marx and Don Charrois.
What does that tell the taxpayers of the county?
Marx provided an estimated cost for me [$4,300] and promised disclosure at the end of June or early July.
Charrois phoned to tell me he did not attend, but declined to provide a reason. Fair enough. It is his choice.
I later discovered that Fern Welch also did not attend.
The e-mail response from Donald Bissell did not even remotely reply to the two simple questions I asked.
Given only two of nine responded, one can conclude there seems to be a general unwillingness from the majority at the county to respond.
On May 30, I contacted the FCM office in Toronto. I asked them to provide me with a list of the workshops, sessions, and tours the town and county councillors attended. Here is the response:
“We do not provide the attendance list or who attends workshops, but you are free to contact them yourself to have more information about what they are planning to do during the conference.”
This is a nice way of saying, “Screw you! We will not disclose this information, and we have no intentions of disclosing this information.”
What a nice little secret society to belong to!
Doesn’t the FCM exist in part to hold our federal government accountable, to hold them in check to ensure transparency and accountability?
What’s good for the FCM is not good for the taxpayer. Nice load of manure that FCM feeds the people. No disclosure on the simplest of requests.
And make no mistake. The FCM knows what each councillor attended. You do have to register for these sessions and tours, you know.
The FCM. Not standing for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, but for Freedom [to disclose] Councillors’ Missions.
What the FCM told us is it was none of our damn business what the councillors did in Halifax.
That, people is, very sad. Very, very sad for an organization that claims to be fighting and lobbying for the people.
How secret is the FCM? The response provided to me was from the media department. No name was attached.