‘It’s a bro­ken process’

Coun­cil­lor wants more info on gen­der par­ity in hir­ing you re­ally need all th­ese voices around the ta­ble. Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 31, 2017

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It’s 2017, and like moves made by the Trudeau gov­ern­ment on gen­der par­ity, Coun. Diane Col­ley-Urquhart wants the city to col­lect more in­for­ma­tion from pub­lic board ap­pli­cants so that coun­cil can keep di­ver­sity in mind when mak­ing ap­point­ments.

The Ward 13 coun­cil­lor said she was frus­trated over the week­end af­ter look­ing at hun­dreds of re­sumés for vol­un­teer board po­si­tions. She wasn’t able to dis­cern gen­der, an im­por­tant fac­tor in her de­ci­sion-mak­ing process when it comes to pin­point­ing a bal­ance on boards.

“It’s a bro­ken process,” she said. “It’s too lit­tle too late, which is why I’m re­luc­tant to do any ap­point­ments un­til the work is done.”

Col­ley-Urquhart said hav­ing di­verse boards that rep­re­sent the pub­lic, and not just po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests, is a part of good democ­racy.

She said gen­der and iden­ti­ties are more com­pli­cated now, and through her back­ground as part of the hu­man rights com­mis­sion she knows the city could be ask­ing for more in­for­ma­tion, like eth­nic­ity and gen­der — al­though some of it is op­tional.

“You re­ally need all th­ese voices around the ta­ble,” said Col­ley-Urquhart. She gave the ex­am­ple of ap­point­ing some­one from the LGBTQ com­mu­nity as a po­lice com­mis­sioner.

Last year, coun­cil sifted through more than 440 ap­pli­ca­tions from the pub­lic to sit on vol­un­teer boards, but this year, only 289 stepped for­ward to par­tic­i­pate. This is a con­cern for Col­ley-Urquhart who be­lieves peo­ple from the pub­lic were ea­ger to come for­ward be­cause of how coun­cil­lors treated vol­un­teers on the coun­cil com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee.

The City of Cal­gary didn’t make any­one avail­able to com­ment on the ac­cu­racy of th­ese fig­ures, or whether last year’s ap­pli­ca­tion pe­riod was on par with years prior.

“I’m sad that my no­tice of mo­tion failed by coun­cil when I wanted a to­tal re­view of the coun­cil com­pen­sa­tion re­view com­mit­tee, and how those peo­ple were treated,” said Col­ley-Urquhart.

“When you see how those peo­ple were treated when they came for­ward to coun­cil, which was to­tally un­ac­cept­able, that’s a fun­da­men­tal prob­lem.”

Coun. Jyoti Gon­dek, who was a mem­ber of the City of Cal­gary’s Plan­ning Com­mis­sion for four years be­fore run­ning in Ward 3, said there could be a dip in num­bers be­cause of the elec­tion.

“We’ve got to look at skill sets com­bined with peo­ple’s per­spec­tives and ex­pe­ri­ences,” she said. “I know my­self, the one thing I do is I don’t look at names un­til I look at ex­pe­ri­ence and qual­i­fi­ca­tions — it’s crit­i­cal.”

She her­self stood down from her role when she de­cided to run, like more than 80 other peo­ple who sought roles at city hall for the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

Coun. Jeromy Farkas said he per­son­ally thinks there were fewer ap­pli­cants be­cause of the elec­tion year, but he’s also seen a cul­ture from city coun­cil, such as the use of so­cial me­dia dur­ing pre­sen­ta­tions and tweet­ing about pre­sen­ters, as pos­si­ble de­ter­rents.

“It’s a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors,” Farkas said. metroLIFE

Coun. Diane Col­ley-Urquhart


Ward 13 Coun. Diane Col­ley-urquhart waves to the crowd be­fore be­ing sworn into Cal­gary city coun­cil on Oct. 23. She be­lieves di­ver­sity in of­fice is vi­tal.

Swiss com­pany ex­presses in­ter­est in buy­ing Cana­dian com­edy gi­ant Just for Laughs.

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