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Jeromy Farkas: The ‘real-change’ mayoral candidate

Farkas says his record has been consistent, “advocating for financial responsibility, for transparency and for economic opportunity.”

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Jeromy Farkas, one of the 27 candidates running for Calgary’s mayoral seat, says he hopes to bring “real change” to city hall if elected.

The Western Standard Editorial Board sat down with Farkas this week and spoke at length about his focus on change.

“I’m running for mayor to bring about real change. I think after the last 10 years, we’ve seen our city struggle with lack of opportunity, we’ve witnesses the economy crumble, we’ve seen overspending at city hall, increasing tax bills, we’ve seen the city hall establishment become out of touch, and I think I offer something that the other candidates don’t,” Farkas said.

Calling his plan “realistic and achievable” Farkas points to his experience gained in serving as Ward 11 councillor since 2017 and his humble upbringing in SE Calgary by his immigrant parents.

“The reason why I’m running for mayor is economic opportunity,” Farkas said.

“A lot of doors were closed to my father and my mother, but they worked their butts off to make sure those doors were open to me.”

Farkas shared his three points of focus – financial responsibility, transparency, and support for our essential services — police officers, firefighters – and those that work at city hall.

When asked what he hears at the doors on the campaign trail, Farkas said Calgarians are “sick and tired of the overspending, entitlement, and secrecy at city hall.”

In comparing his platform to that of his toughest opponent, Farkas said he and Jyoti Gondek “have very different visions for the city.”

“One a is big-spending, big-government, entitled approach,” while he proposes giving the “power back to the people and to get city hall working for Calgarians again,” adding his plan is to get spending and taxes under control in Calgary.

When asked whether he felt Nenshi would come forward with support for Gondek, Farkas replied that he wishes Nenshi well but believes “his policies and decisions have been bad for Calgarians.”

“We can’t afford four more years of the same.”

Farkas voiced concerns over union support for Gondek and said he believes the unions are looking to go “all out on a plan to take over city council and buy the mayor’s chair.”

He affirmed he “can’t be bought” and said he repeatedly “stood up to Nenshi and his free-spending ways.”

When discussing the unions’ push back against Farkas as mayor, he said he believes there’s a big difference between the “backroom-big-money” union bosses and the “everyday folks” who are doing the work at city hall.

“Many people who work at the city have reached out to me to say they disagree with their wages going to fund attack ads against me or funding my opponent (Gondek) and they’ve actually written cheques and donations of support because they want to help level the playing field.”

On the challenge of cleaning up the city’s downtown and getting more people into the core, Farkas said his first plan is bring the police back downtown stating, “Calgary is the only major north American city without a downtown station.”

He also plans to invest in more preventative, proactive measures around mental health, addiction and social supports, focusing on recovery and treatment.

“I think it’s about being thoughtful and strategic, and actually giving that investment to the boots on the ground, but, to be clear, not to give a blank cheque to the police and make sure they are held accountable and spending money wisely.”

Revitalizing the downtown comes down to “city hall creating an environment for business and people to succeed,” said Farkas, highlighting the need for people to feel safe, for flood mitigation as well as creating affordability for businesses citing high operating costs, property taxes and parking fees.

Farkas is also advocating for a rail-link connecting downtown to the Calgary International Airport making the downtown “more accessible.”

When asked where he would find fiscal savings at city hall, Farkas said he is looking at a four-year tax freeze he believes it’s “achievable and realistic.”

Farkas also looks to target cuts to certain “non-essential” areas such as arts and communications, as well as looking to do away with the “big spend” on pension and benefits liabilities.

“Over the last 10-years there has been a 60% increase on that pension and benefit line item and that’s why I led by example,” Farkas said of his decision to turn down his “golden” pension when he became councillor four years ago and committed to do so again if elected Calgary’s next mayor.

“I’d like to see them (pensions) eliminated for councillors and a more reasonably-defined contribution model brought in.”

He also plans to hold the line on wage increases at city hall, pointing out a 4% increase in the past 10 years.

When asked how he plans to work with Kenney and the provincial government, Farkas said, “I don’t answer to Nenshi, I don’t answer to Kenney, I don’t answer to Trudeau, I don’t answer to the Queen of England. I answer to the people who voted for me.”

Farkas credits his “flexibility as an independent not running on any party label” and said he would support the provincial government when “I think they get it right” and will oppose them when he thinks they don’t. He added he won’t be “beholden” to any establishment and said he represents the people who voted for him.

Whether dealing with a Kenney government or potentially a Notley government in two years, Farkas says he plans to hold the line and “seek to find common ground with the provincial government.”

When asked whether he would reverse the current mandatory vaccine policy at city hall, Farkas said “I think city hall needs to stay in its lane,” confirming he was against the mandates to begin with.

“That’s why I didn’t support the city implementing its own vaccine passport system, because it further confused and convoluted the issue.”

He informed the editorial board of a motion he brought forward that was unsuccessful in reversing the mandate, but if elected plans to work with the new council to revisit the topic. He also pointed out the mandate has a “sunset clause” that would see the bylaw end December 31.

Although some critics say Farkas can be overly oppositional, he rejected the claim and says his record has been consistent, “advocating for financial responsibility, for transparency and for economic opportunity.”

Farkas said his “no” vote isn’t because he is trying to be contrarian, but said he wasn’t about to “aid and abet a city council and administration whose agenda is so extreme and out of touch with everyday Calgarians.”

He also has no plans to explore adding wards or additional staff and said he believes it would add to the “overspending, divisiveness, waste and secrecy” and suggested an independent citizen committee that overlooked wards and elections would be in the “best interest” of taxpayers.

Although stating he was opposed to some of the terms of the Green Line and the arena project, Farkas plans to move forward with the deals already in place.

“In this town, a handshake means something. We’re now in a position where we’re locked in to these projects and the train has left the station, so it becomes about executing what has been agreed to,” Farkas said.

On the development front, Farkas compared Calgary to Edmonton saying our neighbours to the north work together better, are more “strategic” and look at their developments as if “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and suggested Calgary needs to take a similar approach.

The editorial board asked Farkas for his thoughts on high voter turnout at advance-polls.  He acknowledged he knows it’s a close race but feels voters are looking for change and based on what he’s hearing, people are “sick and tired of the overspending and secrecy.”

“I happen to think this election is about change verses more of the same and I’m ready to bring this to city hall.”

Calgary’s municipal election is Monday October 18. Click here to find out when, where and how to vote.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Lee Morrison

    October 16, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Not if he wants to get elected.

  2. Ryun Kenney

    October 16, 2021 at 8:17 am

    No talk of vaxxine mandates?? Forcing medical procedures under duress?? Free choice.. Does Farkas support this??

  3. Mars Hill

    October 15, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    I’m a native Albertan, lived in Calgary since 1969, without being hyperbolic I’d say this is the most important civic election I’ve seen. Calgary has the opportunity to lead Alberta and to some extent Canada to a ‘golden age’ (might be a bit hyperbolic in saying that). Make sure you vote and encourage friends and family to vote. GO CALGARY GO!!!

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Sask Polytech ditches vax policy but burdens unvaxxed with testing costs

The Justice Centre is unsatisfied with the response of Sask Polytech and reiterated its intention to pursue legal action against the institution and against the University of Saskatchewan over its requirement for staff and students to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

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By LEE HARDING

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is unsatisfied with the decision of Saskatchewan Polytech to reverse its vaccination requirement for staff and students because the institute does not recognize natural immunity and imposes testing costs on the unvaccinated.

On November 19, the Justice Centre sent Sask Polytech and the University of Saskatchewan letters demanding they reverse their requirement that all staff and students be vaccinated by January 1, 2022. 

On December 1, Sask Polytech reversed its “vaccinated only” policy but now requires unvaccinated staff and students to comply with testing three times a week at their own expense. In a press release, the Justice Centre called this “unacceptable.”

“Such testing requirements for students are even greater than the Saskatchewan government’s requirements for employees of its ministries. Sask Poly has also failed to recognize the compelling scientific evidence of natural immunity for those who have already recovered from Covid-19 and have proof of antibodies,” reads a JCCF press release on Saturday.

“Testing costs, which could exceed $200 per week, mean that only the wealthy and privileged can bear the burden,” stated Andre Memauri, the Justice Centre’s Saskatoon-based lawyer.

“Sask Poly, which has chosen to impose discriminatory testing requirements for staff and students, has the ability to acquire these tests at wholesale cost.”

The Justice Centre said it would commence legal proceedings against Sask Poly in the Court of Queen’s Bench unless Sask Poly immediately absorbs the testing costs and recognizes natural immunity. 

On October 28, the U of S and Sask Polytech announced mandatory vaccinations for all students, staff and faculty, removing the alternative of twice weekly testing which had been in place since the start of the school year. The Justice Centre will also commence legal action against the U of S for refusing unvaccinated students. 

On November 26, Global News reported a 19-year-old student was hospitalized briefly with breathing problems after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The student’s mother, Michelle Marciniuk, publicly called for the university to reconsider its policy.

The U of S’ policy includes exemptions on medical and religious grounds in accordance with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. But according to the Justice Centre, the university usually rejects exemption requests or does not respond to them for several weeks. Besides this, the university has made itself the arbiter of faith considerations for religious exemptions. Medical exemptions have become a difficult document for patients to receive in Canada, due to regulatory pressure on physicians not to provide them based on their medical judgement except in very rare circumstances.

The U of S crowns itself for academic freedom, diversity, equality, human dignity and a healthy work and learning environment, yet it has harshly terminated faculty for speaking on the hallmark principle of informed consent for Covid-19 vaccination of children,” stated Andre Memauri, a U of S alum. 

“Now, the U of S seeks to exclude and villainize those who decide for various reasons not to be vaccinated…Without question, our community has been through a great deal of difficulty and it requires these institutions to lead as vessels of science not ideology…The Justice Centre demands both schools follow the science and adopt policies that bring students together in the most safe and lawful manner.”

The letters sent to both schools from the Justice Centre on November 19 warned that the schools are seeking to deprive students from education on the basis of vaccination status, contrary to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Sections 2(a), 7, and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Harding is a Western Standard contributor based in Saskatchewan

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CRA wants more tax filers to file online

The government’s own research shows millions of paper filers resist change.

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The taxman is angry that too many Canadians are still filing by mail, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The government’s own research shows millions of paper filers resist change.

“Those who submit their taxes by mail most often say they use paper rather than filing electronically because it is simply how they prefer to do it, e.g. they do it out of habit, because ‘it’s what they are comfortable with,’ they like it, etcetera,” said a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) report.

“Just 13% cite security issues.”

Data show of 30.5 million tax returns filed this year a total 2.7 million or 9% were filed on paper. Millions of taxpayers, a total 4,234,772 including Internet filers, demanded refunds be paid by mailed cheque instead of direct deposit.

The CRA complained it would be “more timely and efficient” if all taxpayers used the Internet. The Agency spends $6.9 million annually mailing T1 general tax forms alone.

“There is still a sizable proportion of taxpayers who are conducting their business with the Canada Revenue Agency through paper rather than taking advantage of digital services which are much more timely and efficient,” said the report.

Research showed typical paper filers were working age men under 55 who completed their own return without a tax preparer, had a university degree, earned more than $80,000 a year and were more likely than other Canadians to prefer in-person teller service rather than online banking.

“The most important factor influencing why respondents file by paper instead of online is disinterest,” wrote researchers, who added: “Apathy is a barrier. Fifty percent of likely switchers say they are simply not interested in switching. Therefore the agency will have to demonstrate the value of switching.”

Findings were based on questionnaires with 2,000 taxpayers who filed returns by mail. The Agency paid Earnscliffe Strategy Group $130,061 for the survey.

The research follows a failed 2012 campaign to have all Canadians use direct deposit for payment of tax refunds and benefit cheques. The attempt by the Receiver General of Canada, the federal office responsible for processing payments, was intended to save costs. Paper cheques cost 82¢ apiece to process compared to 13¢ for electronic transfers, by official estimate.

An estimated 13% of taxpayers refused to surrender bank account information to the Receiver General. “Cheque recipients have become harder to engage,” said a 2020 Department of Public Works survey.

“A few have a general distrust of the Government of Canada’s ability to protect data,” wrote researchers. A total 23 percent of Atlantic residents said they wouldn’t rely on the government to protect their privacy, followed by 22% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 21% in Ontario, 19% in Alberta, 18% in BC and 12% in Québec.

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WATCH: Alberta Oil drives Guilbeault to meeting with Nixon

Federal Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault’s tour of Alberta has already kicked off with a whiff of hypocrisy.

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Attended by a sizable entourage, Guilbeault exited his black gasoline-powered SUV and hustled into the McDougall Centre in Calgary for a meeting with Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon.  

Guilbeault has dedicated most of his career to telling Canadians they need to transition from petrochemically fueled transportation. During this meeting though, Guilbeault chose not to find an utilize an electric-powered SUV in order to demonstrate his environmental virtue. With the resources of the entire federal government behind him, one would have thought that Guilbeault could have arranged appropriate transportation for his cross-Canada tour.  

It’s almost as if electric vehicles are still not ready for mainstream use yet. 

At least Guilbeault contributed to the Western economy with his conspicuous consumption of local petrochemical products.  

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