Saturday, October 06, 2012

On blurred lines

In today's Leader-Post, John Hopkins responds to this week's column. But while he tries to point some fingers away from the Regina Chamber of Commerce, he only raises larger issues as to the relationship between the Chamber and the City.

In effect, Hopkins argues that it wasn't the Chamber that copied the City's "Regina Votes" theme, but the other way around. (Which is difficult to verify, as archives seem to be rather sparse in trying to track down the history of both sites.)

But of course, that doesn't address the use of what's unmistakably a City logo (and indeed, now an updated one) on the Chamber's site. And more importantly, it simply feeds into the concern that we have no way of knowing where our public institutions end and where the Chamber's influence begins.

If the current city administration has indeed copied an election theme from the Chamber, and doesn't see any concern with the Chamber in turn splashing its logo on an advocacy site, all at the same time that the City hawks the Chamber-backed stadium project in the middle of an election campaign which should determine whether or not Regina residents actually want to push ahead...well, that looks all the worse to me as a matter of overall perception and electoral fairness, even if it shifts a bit of the immediate blame from the Chamber to the City.

At higher levels of government, similar issues are resolved by drawing clear lines between general administration, electoral oversight and campaigning. But this year's campaign is only highlighting a glaring absence of similar protections at the municipal level. And if the Chamber genuinely doesn't see why anybody would be concerned, that probably signals that it sees itself as benefitting from a city administration which hasn't addressed the issue.

[Edit: fixed typo, wording.]

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