Tuesday, August 03, 2010

This Week in Calgary: Barb Higgins Jumps Into the Field

At this point, it might be easier to report on who isn't running for Mayor of Calgary, because a very crowded field has yet another contender:

Calling herself a fiscal conservative, long-time CTV news anchor Barb Higgins announced Wednesday she's joining the race to become Calgary's next mayor.

"I have researched and written the news but I've had to stay neutral and I have made the decision to jump into municipal politics because I don't want to stay neutral anymore," she announced to reporters gathered in a hotel ballroom.

"We have a great city, a well-run city, but new thinking will only come from new people."

Despite earlier denials about her mayoral intentions, Higgins said she only started seriously exploring her candidacy two weeks ago. She abruptly resigned last week from the Calgary CTV News at 6 anchor desk she shared with co-host Darrel Janz for 21 years.

Depending on how you define "credible", there are now up to a dozen credible candidates in the field. On name recognition alone, Higgins and Alderman Ric McIver are clearly out in front of the pack (it's far too early to talk about committed support in polls). While The race won't heat up until after Labour Day, the next month will be critical for the 10 men in that pack, since it's unlikely more than 1 or 2 of them will be able to break free and give the front runners a run. I'd expect a few of them to drop out if they feel they're not gaining traction.

If none of them do break free, then a Higgins-McIver race would be an intriguing contest. McIver has been running for at least 5 years, so he's got the money and volunteers in place. Right wing groups in Calgary will line up behind him, but that certainly doesn't guarantee anything in a city which, counter intuitively, tends to elect Liberal mayors.

Higgins is better known than anyone else in the race, yet she remains the election's biggest unknown. She's a late comer to the contest, it's unclear what kind of organization she has (there are rumours of Rob Love being involved), and she's untested in the political arena. No one really knows where she sits on the political spectrum, though her first press conference suggests the campaign may turn into her defending Bronconnier's record, while McIver attacks it.

As they say, there's still a lot of baseball to be played. But Higgins' entry is a curve ball that has completely changed the dynamics of this race.

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  • Will Barbie have enough time to run the city and enjoy her ballroom dancing competitions?

    By Blogger bocanut, at 10:20 a.m.  

  • I always wonder about people with zero political experience who decide they're ready for the top job - like Ignatieff in 2006.

    I mean, what if Lanny MacDonald decided he wanted to be mayor? At least Higgins has followed the news closely in her role, but being mayor is a big job.

    I expect her to crash and burn under the scrutiny of a campaign.

    By Anonymous Deb, at 1:03 p.m.  

  • Commodification and a linkage to the sale of goods permeates every aspect of our culture. Politicians have simply become another good to be marketed and sold to an unwary public that has been hypnotized by a consumer culture, public relations campaigns, and more generally, propaganda. One naturally wonders why people living in a technologically advanced society still feel the atavistic and tribalistic need to follow and/or worship a leader, chief, or big man. Perhaps individual alienation coupled with a massification of society (i.e., mass psychology, collective movements) are the origins of the modern hero cult that symbolizes a truncated social evolution.

    The following is off topic. Please don't hate me.

    We seem to live in a vertically integrated, hierarchical society where there is an attempt to control information in a top down fashion and where the mainstream media organizations act as 'gatekeepers' or 'filters'(See for example:'The New Media Monopoly' by Ben H. Bagdikian and/or 'Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy Of The Mass Media' by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky). It also appears that the CBC is now acting as an information censor, deleting entire web pages along with viewer comments as well as simply not posting viewer comments deemed 'politically sensitive'(This has happened more than once. A recent CBC webpage along with viewer comments that was deleted has subsequently been recovered by Wikipedia and appears at 'Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II--Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.). It would also appear that in todays Canada one can honestly say what one wants as long as there are not too many people around to hear what you have to say. The following is the post sent to CBC and not published.

    1. a. "Despite whatever theories strategists may spin, the defense budget is now, to a large degree, a jobs program. It is also a cash cow that provides billions of dollars for corporations, lobbyists, and special interest groups."--Ronald Steel, 'Temptations of a Superpower'. See also: 'Canada to buy 65 F-35 fighter planes for $9B', The Calgary Herald, Saturday, July 17, 2010.

    b. "When a country decides to invest in arms, rather than in education, housing, the environment, and health services for its people, it is depriving a whole generation of its right to prosperity and happiness."--Oscar Arias Sanchez, 1987 Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

    c. "In India, Buddhist aspirants used to visit burning grounds and watch the corpses of those whose families couldn't afford a cremation rot away. This they did to terrify the greed and possessiveness out of themselves. After that they turned their minds toward thoughts of ideal individuals and ideal societies."

    2. The global armaments industry, a permanent war economy, and international military Keynesianism illustrate that public subsidies and the visible hand of state protection have long ago supplanted risk taking and Adam Smith's 'invisible hand'. Taxpayers' money covers all the risks of weapons development and sales, and the weapons industries are provided with contracted markets, complete with cost overrun guarantees. For the F-35 the cost per plane ranging from $80-$135 million is now more than 50% higher than 9 years ago when development began. "Some large-scale military hardware projects, like the F-35, seem to be nothing more than fishing trips designed to test the waters for new equipment and make as much money as possible."--Global Times, 'F-35 Has Become A Clumsy White Elephant', 21:57, March 24, 2010. (To be continued . . . )

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:46 p.m.  

  • continued from above:

    3. The crude juvenile attempt to alter text (now linked to DND computers at CFB Cold Lake Alberta) at the Wikipedia website is itself straight out of '1984', a real time version of doublethink and memory holes. "We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?" As was stated long ago, 'where populations cannot be disciplined by force, they must be subjected to subtler forms of ideological control.'

    The following is an example of text sent to a CBC website as a viewer comment, that was deleted along with the entire CBC webpage, and then subsequently recovered:

    "Technical analysis of the PAK-FA, . . . , shows that its aerodynamic performance and agility will exceed that of all United States built combat aircraft currently in service or planned, with the exception of the yet to be defined 'sixth generation fighter', which at best is 15-20 years away from initial operational capability (IOC).

    "The arrival of the PAK-FA therefore also irrevocably enforces the end of the operational usefulness of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, defined around a 1990s technology threat spectrum, in the traditional fighter roles of air superiority, air defence and tactical strike in contested air space."--by Dr. Carlo Kopp, SMAIAA, MIEEE, PEng and Peter Goon, BE(MECH), FTE(USNTPS)

    And there you have it, some very dangerous ideas indeed, all publicly available, yet neither widely distributed nor actively discussed in the mainstream media.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:22 p.m.  

  • So ... Calgary is a great, well-run city, so we need new thinking?

    Is she saying that we should adopt new thinking so that things change, and we're no longer a great, well-run city?

    I totally agree with Deb. How does a news anchor suddenly decide she's qualified for top job? Do a term as alderman, Barb!

    And the chances of a journalist being a conservative (and not already appointed to the Senate) is slim, so I doubt she's that. Especially if she's planning on defending Super McSpendy Bronconnier's record.

    My vote is already a lock for McIver. City Council was constantly being reckless with our money, and he was the only alderman to consistently vote like he had a normal number of chromosomes.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 9:22 p.m.  

  • McIver is supported by Craig Chandlier... that alone is reason enough to not vote for him. Seriously, anyone who that loon thinks is just peachy should never be allowed within spitting distance of any public office let alone mayor.

    The guy has just been running for mayor the entire time he's been in office. They call him Dr. No because that's all he's ever done... say "no". He's had the luxury of just sitting on his ass opposing everything so that when this election came he could invariably flail around like an epileptic chicken and yell about how he opposed "travesty" X. He's never had to be responsible... to own... anything.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:10 a.m.  

  • These two candidates are supported by the Conservatives. Mr. McIver helped with the booking of city hall property for the anti-coalition rally, if I'm not mistaken.

    Other mayoral candidates, such as Bob Hawkesworth, do not get equal time in the local media.

    Anon Deux
    (Neutral Observer)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:40 a.m.  

  • Didn't Ralph Klein...a reporter, get the job of mayor without previous experience? Now he had the advantage of being a white male good ole boy drunk, but look where he ended up.

    Barb has something many of the other candidates don't. Years of credible face recognition time with the general population of Calgary, not just those in her riding. She has public speaking down pat, another factor in presenting an image to the public. She's repped at many public events for many different areas of the city demographic. She's done investigative pieces, she knows who the shakers and movers are at municipal, provincial and federal levels. She's covered years of city elections and situations. She's got a pipeline to the local media.

    I don't think she's a hapless newbie. I know I won't be voting for buds of Chandler and other Harper butt kissers, so I'll see what she brings to it.

    By Blogger Niles, at 1:59 p.m.  

  • Cannot imagine supporting a candidate who has the backing of Chandler.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:21 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:37 p.m.  

  • Ralph Klein was a city hall reporter. He covered council meetings and sat in them day in and day out. He was on the beat. As news anchor, Ms. Higgins reported on council and politics through the rather large CTV media filter.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:45 a.m.  

  • I'm not sure the Klein comparison is completely valid - as mentioned above, there's a difference between being a beat reporter and reading the news. And Rick Bell's run for mayor ended in a spectacular burst of flames when he tried it, so it's not like Calgarians neccesarily have a love affair with journalist mayors.

    And, of course, Ralph Klein was such a unique politician that I think it's foolish to compare anyone to him, especially Higgins.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:09 p.m.  

  • I also let Craig Chandler influence who I vote for, so I'm not voting for McIver either.

    I'm glad we have Chandler to do our thinking for us!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:38 a.m.  

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