Council's feathers ruffled by requests from MP
MP explains rationale for requests for one-on-one meetings, town documents
Greatwest Article Template Double Click to Edit Details Write the text of the Article Below this Box
Town of St. Paul mayor and council expressed some doubts at their Aug. 13 regular meeting on why MP Brian Storseth had made requests for one-on-one meetings with councillors and for various town documents.
Coun. Norm Noel brought to the attention of council that MP Brian Storseth had approached him with a request for a one-on-one meeting.
“I felt very uncomfortable with one-on-one meetings because I know we deal with things as a council,” he said. Councillors Pat Gratton, Ken Kwiatkowski and Danny White confirmed they had also received similar requests, while Coun. Don Padlesky said he had received a call from the MP, but not actually spoken to him.
Mayor Glenn Andersen said he didn’t know what the MP’s reasoning would be for having a one-on-one meeting with councillors. “If you’re going to do a presentation, it should be with council as a whole.” He later noted he thought it was interesting that he, as the mayor, hadn’t received an invitation to have a one-on-one meeting, and also noted that the MP had just approached council as a whole two weeks before.
Kwiatkowski said he had an issue with the fact that there was no clear agenda. “It doesn’t seem like a proper thing to do. A red flag went up in my mind anyhow.” He also noted he didn’t want to get “stuck” in the middle of anything.
Councillors expressed they were not interested in meeting individually with Storseth.
Storseth, for his part, told the Journal he strove to meet with municipal leaders on a regular basis. “It’s pretty common practices. There’s nothing untoward about it.” He said he had already had individual meetings with some of the County of St. Paul councillors and reeve and had recently met with the MD of Bonnyville and Cold Lake councils.
When he attends municipalities’ council meetings, the time for each councillor to ask a question or two is limited. “Sometimes, it’s nice to build a rapport and relationship with these guys.”
Storseth said he was “shocked” by a phone call from the mayor prior to the town council meeting, saying that the council would only meet the MP as a group, with Storseth calling it an issue of freedom of speech.
“I was a town councillor - I wouldn’t let anyone tell me I couldn’t represent my constituents to other levels of government,” he said.
In an interview with the Journal, Andersen said after he heard the MP had set up meetings with individual councillors, he gathered council for a pre-council meeting and asked, “What do you think this means?” The councillors decided at that meeting that they wanted Andersen to phone back and tell Storseth’s office that they’d rather meet as a group. “It wasn’t me telling them anything, it was them telling me,” he said, a statement which White confirmed.
Andersen raised another issue of concern during the town council meeting, that Storseth’s staff had requested various documents from the town, including 2011 and 2012 capital budgets, the 2012 tax assessment, financial statements for 2011 and the 2012 operating budget. This was all public information, and anyone could ask for it, the mayor noted, but he questioned the reasoning for the request.
“Why would an MP need this information?” asked Andersen, asking what Storseth was planning to do with these documents.
He wondered aloud if these questions were directed to the Town of St. Paul alone, or if other municipalities had fielded similar requests from the MP, stating his feeling was, “Obviously, he has something against the Town of St. Paul.”
“This is almost like looking for something, and why, I don’t know,” said Kwiatkowski.
Padlesky suggested that administration should write a letter to contact other municipalities within the constituency if they have had similar requests and a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Council agreed administration should write to other municipalities.
Andersen said he thought council’s July meeting with the MP went well, but that when the questions started coming from Storseth’s office requesting various documents afterwards, he said he started thinking, “There’s something wrong here.”
For his part, Storseth said he is requesting information from northeast Alberta communities, including the MD of Bonnyville, the Town of Bonnyville, the County of St. Paul and the Town of St. Paul, as well as Lac La Biche, even though it is not part of his constituency.
He would like to see this data compiled and show that there “is a projected capital deficit for the constituency as a whole. We know that this is area is growing, we know that this area is going to boom more.” The information will be compiled and put together to come up with a 10-year capital plan and to give him the background knowledge to lobby more effectively for infrastructure dollars, “all basic things that I’d have been happy to discuss with mayor and council,” he said, adding that this is if they had chosen to speak or meet with him.
“It’s my opinion that the people of St. Paul are better served when all levels of government work together,” he said.
In order to post comments on our web site, you must validate your email address. An email was sent to you when you registered that included an activation link. If you have not yet done so, please click on the link to activate your account.
If you did not receive your activation email, please click here to have it resent.