By Joel McNally
While a jet engine generator probably isn’t on Calgary’s horizon, Calgary mayoral candidates had it out over other university and municipal issues.
The Students’ Union and the Political Students’ Association hosted a mayoral candidates’ forum on Wed., Sept. 26, moderated by Jeff Collins of CBC Radio One’s Calgary Eyeopener. Of 19 candidates, 13 attended, including frontrunners Alderman Dave Bronconnier, MLA Richard Magnus and former Alderman Ray Clark. Alan Hunter and Alderman Bev Longstaff were scheduled to attend but cancelled at the last minute.
"I feel that [Bev Longstaff] doesn’t care enough about students," said forum co-organizer and SU Vice-President External Oliver Bladek. "She made a conscious choice not to show up. I’m personally disappointed, but it’s her campaign to win or lose."
Despite many candidates and limited time, the candidates remained orderly and the large crowd of onlookers was lively.
"It was great to see a majority of the candidates show up, that students asked tough questions," said Bladek. "It showed the potential mayors of Calgary have a genuine interest and compassion for issues surrounding students."
Hotly debated issues included the fate of Enmax Corporation and the question of government transparency, prompted by the City’s recent closed-door decision to sell the corporation.
Bronconnier expressed a desire to halt the Enmax sale due to lack of consultation.
"There was no public input whatsoever," he stated. "[The city said] the public wouldn’t understand it, it was too complicated."
Magnus, however, defended the decision to sell Enmax.
"Enmax, with their own numbers [was] a $300 million asset base prior to deregulation," he pointed out.
Many candidates addressed public transit as an issue that appealed to students. In one response, Bronconnier referred to an idea similar to the proposed U-pass.
"We embarked upon a program earlier this year with SAIT to provide students with a bus pass for $35 per semester," he said. "I would like to encourage you to get the U of C involved in that program because I would like to see it expanded to not only the U of C, but also to Mount Royal College."
Not all of the candidate responses were as serious or relevant.
When questioned on strategies for combatting homelessness, Derek Wolkin referred to the practice of providing downtown shelters as "crazy" and "stupid."
"If you want to get your crack," he declared, "you should have to do more than just roll over to the next door neighbour."
More absurd were Doug Service’s contentions when asked if his plan for flat rate electricity would lead to abuse and pollution.
"My generator that I proposed 12 years ago is a jet engine generator that [uses] hydrogen," he claimed. "You can formulate hydrogen from sewer gas and when you fuel that generator you produce pure water."