This is no surprise. They were also suspiciously silent when it came out that Cal Wenzel and a bunch of his pals had ponied up over a million dollars to the Manning Centre to build a slate of candidates that would be "friendly" to their interests in the next city council.
Their most recent attack on Nenshi began this week, with the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation publishing an "exposé" of how the City of Calgary had spent money with the Pembina Institute. According to the CTF, the City spent somewhere on the order of $113,552 (which, frankly, is barely one professional consultant salary) annually with the Pembina Institute. Apparently, this is a big bad thing. I will note that CTF says nothing of whether the city has spent money with other "think tank" consultancy organizations or not, but they are certainly vocal about complaining that money was spent with the Pembina Institute.
The funny part about the whole thing is that CTF tips their hand in their interview with the CBC:
But Fildebrandt said it’s hard to imagine the city hiring the right-leaning Fraser Institute to consult on something such as property tax reform.In short, whether Fildebrandt admits it or not, he's really complaining because he doesn't like the political stripe of the Pembina Institute's positions.
A closer look at the documents that the CTF recovered from the city reveals something much more significant about the spending with Pembina that calls into question the CTF's complaint:
1) The documents retrieved show spending with the Pembina Institute starting in 2007 through 2012.
2) Over half of the spending took place before the October 2010 civic election put Nenshi into the Mayor's chair ... which means that the process started under developer darling Dave Bronconnier's tenure as Mayor.
Take a close look at the following summary of invoices from CTF's FOIP documents:
If we take a raw average across the full five years, the annual average spend with Pembina was $60,003.59; If we chop off 2007 and 2012 as the outlier times the average spend jumps to $87,182.34.
One can just imagine the outcry if the City of Calgary paid the Fraser Institute to write a report on building a competitive business environment or property tax reform. The contents of the report might contain excellent data and recommendations, but that is to miss the point. Groups engaged in political debate – even the non-partisan – should never receive a penny of taxpayer’s cash.
The Manning Centre is a non-profit corporation that focuses on political, conservative-oriented activities. As such, it is not a registered charity and donations are not eligible for tax receipts. Activities such as research and education, which are classified as charitable, are undertaken by the Manning Foundation – a registered charity.