Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stadium Trumps Platform Issues

Good afternoon my friends, my family and my followers (some of you are all three in fact). I've been contemplating about what to write about today. Tomorrow being Remembrance Day would have been an easy topic but too much of my time recently has been spent on doing media interviews on the Occupy Nova Scotia eviction last year (not that I mind, media folks, I don't; I appreciate your interest and your time) so I've decided to go in a different direction today. Yesterday I came across this article about the new Mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality, Mike Savage and his decision to champion for a stadium; yes, champion.

First off I want to say that I like Mike; yes, corny but true. Like many I had and still have some pre-conceived notions about him but I would be lying if I didn't say that after meeting him that some of those notions have been shattered or changed for the better. Time will tell if he lives up to the title of career politician (whatever that might mean to you) or if he will shatter stereotypes and bring some much needed change to HRM.

So, back to the stadium and some thoughts. The first thing that struck me was the fact that this was even a conversation. As a candidate in the election I feel I was pretty well informed on the election and I do not recall a stadium being mentioned during any campaigning (except from some rather entertaining Twitter followers @Seahawk17). You can imagine my surprise to see that this is now not only a priority for our new mayor, but he intends to champion it! What happened to all those platform issues? How about the OurHRMAlliance's Seven Solutions? Where is the discussion on tax reform? When will the loss of downtown businesses become a priority?

I want to take a minute to address something before getting too far into this post; I am not opposed to a stadium (not necessarily supportive of it either). A stadium will do for HRM exactly what I expected Mike to do for HRM: create economic prosperity. Mike is no stranger to business or to politics and his experience in both bode well for such a venture. The prospective economic gains for the municipality are real when it comes to a stadium and I think Mike has the business sense and the political connection to make it happen and make it work. Dexter is just mad that the Federal government probably likes Mike Savage more than they do him; you screwed up Darryl and people just don't respect you anymore and the NDP are on the way out in the next provincial election. 

Back to the issue, the stadium. Where did this come from? Was I in the dark somehow? I like to think of myself as well informed but yet here we are. Our new mayor and council have not even had their first official session yet and here we have Mayor Savage championing for a stadium already. People didn't ask for a stadium, they asked for transparency; they didn't ask for entertainment, they asked for arts and culture. I think a stadium is the wrong item to be championing for before you've even sat in council.

Like I said, I'm not opposed to the stadium, I see the positive benefits that it will bring to the economy and to HRM in general. My problem is that this is the first big 'issue' to be championed for by our new Mayor. A sport stadium trumps accountability, transparency, homelessness, poverty, income disparity, affordable housing, tax reform, transit and infrastructure, arts and culture and every other major and important platform that Mike and his counterparts ran on. How did a stadium become more important than governing?

I'm a little disappointed that this is the first big move to be looked at and to garner media attention. I'm not quite ready to write off Mayor Savage yet; I won't let this (perceived) error in judgment of what is important to the residents of HRM define the next four years; I give you the benefit of the doubt Mr Savage because, as I said, I like Mike and I want to believe that you're not going to live up to that terrible stereo-type of career politician; I want to believe you believed in those crucial and important issues you 'championed' on to become our new Mayor.