Flames arena backer calls public debate “a poison pill”

Calgary city councillor Jeff Davison, the main public official advocating for a new Flames arena, has provided his latest thoughts on the process he hopes to see for getting one approved, and man, does he have feels aplenty:

“I wouldn’t see public debate as necessary in terms of this deal,” says the councillor.

“We’ve done our homework to do engagement up front. Engagement shouldn’t be used as a poison pill.

“And frankly, a lot of the people who want to engage after the fact want to shut projects down. They just want their vote to say: No, I still oppose this.”

That is definitely a bold policy position to take, telling your constituents that you don’t want to hear from them, because they might disagree with you! Did Davison temper his statements at all to admit that the public might have some role in democratic decision-making? Let’s find out!

“At the end of the day, through the channels that are already available to us, rather than just public debate people can call their councillor and they do.

“People can talk about it in the community and they do. People can engage where engagement has been available to them and they have.”

There we go: You can call your elected officials, and you can complain on Facebook. It’s 2019, people, what do you want, the right to make public decision by casting votes on broken pottery?

Davison’s view that democracy is about having your say on election day and then shutting up is actually a somewhat common one, at least among people who were voted in on election day and would now like everyone to shut up. Most memorably, then–New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani rejected proposals for a public referendum on building the Yankees a new stadium as representing “the absence of leadership”; though Giuliani also once said that “freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do,” so maybe he’s not exactly the go-to guy for dictionary definitions here.

Anyway, Davison also hinted that any Flames arena deal would include “a couple hundred million dollars being put into a public facility the city owns,” which if “a couple” means “two” would be a hell of a lot less than the Flames owners’ last proposal, but it’s probably best for Calgarians to believe it when they see it. And then if they don’t like it, call their councillors! That Jeff Davison seems like an open-minded fellow, I bet his staff will be happy to give their messages all the attention they deserve.

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7 comments on “Flames arena backer calls public debate “a poison pill”

  1. Not sure the Councillor is using “Poison Pill” correctly. Normally it’s used to make an otherwise popular idea, unpopular, so it won’t pass. Like adding an open air hog slaughtering facility to the new Flames Arena.

  2. Ah, Jeff Davison…

    I believe I have mentioned before that the Flames majority owner is Murray Edwards, Chairman of Canadian National Resources Ltd, who recently made his country of residence the UK in order to avoid paying Canadian income tax (despite still residing in Calgary).

    This is Councillor Davison’s bio:


    And look! There it is….

    From 1999 to 2009 I held various exploration and communications roles at Canadian Natural, one of Canada’s largest oil and gas producers. From 2009 to 2012 I was Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Poynt Corp., were I focused on building brand and expanding the company’s international audience. Since 2012, I have been consulting for several companies including Getty Images where I managed global integrated marketing efforts for multiple brands and products. In addition, I am the Co‐Founder and Managing Partner of a Calgary / Los Angeles based private media production company and a Founder and Senior Partner with a privately held strategic acquisition corporation.

    Anyone else thinking he may still be working in the ‘communications’ dept of his former employer instead of his current constituents?

    1. Oh, and if you were wondering how things went for chief negotiator Davison at his POST CNRL job….


    2. Holy crap — and this is the guy they picked to be on the arena negotiating team, but not Nenshi?

      My faith in Canadians as a more evolved life form just suffered a possibly fatal blow.

      1. Mine too.

        One of the questions I posed to Mayor Nenshi via email is why Councillor Davison was not flagged by council as a non arms length negotiator with respect to dealing with the Flames… While he presumably no longer works for the Flames majority owner (though we don’t know who his consultancy clients might be), in my view he should still be excluded from negotiating with his former employer while theoretically representing the interests of Calgary taxpayers.

        I am not a Calgary resident, of course, so I don’t know that I will get an answer… but if I do I will share what I learn…

      2. … and apologies, in the first post the true corporate name is Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, not National resources… I keep confusing them with the railroad company….

  3. “It’s 2019, people, what do you want, the right to make public decision by casting votes on broken pottery?”

    Only if we get to ostracize someone.

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