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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities Fédération canadienne des municipalités

The Muni-Tweets at the FCM 2011 Tweet Up!

Devon Councillor Groat with
Calgary Mayor Nenshi
FCM 2011
It is the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) that provides a singularly strong voice for all levels of municipal government.  From infrastructure to immigrant settlement, the FCM provides incredible resources for municipal leaders.  The various policy and learning agendas of the FCM stretch across all issues from coast to coast to coast.  The networking opportunities are as unique as the geography of Canada.  There are few organizations that deliver move value, and by the way, fewer still that can possibly create a powerful voice to be brought forward to the table with other levels of government.  In short, the FCM cannot be ignored.

Devon Councillor Gordon Groat
with the Leader of the Opposition
the Honourable Bob Rae
While cutting edge technologies are part and parcel of the learning environment of FCM conferences, the vendors provide a welcome overview of what, in fact, could be technologically possible with some creativity and vision.  The assembly of this knowledge and evidence of actionable policy options provides a fertile training ground for municipal leaders no matter if they are brand new to politics or if they have decades of service.  The FCM, simply stated, is good for everyone.

I know that I learned a great deal at FCM and got to meet with old friends and make new friends.  Bob Rae was there, so was Jack Layton and Elizabeth May.  Time with the Calgary Mayor and Council was time well spent.  I met with Mayors, Reeves, and Councillors from all across our nation and had the chance to discuss exciting initiatives.

I'm pleased to say that the FCM is a tremendous organization and their work is absolutely indispensible.  I can't begin to underscore the value of FCM.  While our Councillors are not entitled to go every year due to the expense, in those years where I am not able to receive municipal assistance, I am determined to attend and shall gladly pay my own way for as long as I am in office.  The value is just as immense as the opportunity is great. 

Councillor Groat with Members
of the Charlottetown F.D. on their
Zodiac Fire Boat
I was very excited to see Atlantic Canada we invested in a family vacation to see the region once the conference was over.  Our investment took us across Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, and Prince Edward Island,   I also invested quite a bit of my time speaking with municipal officials from across Nova Scotia and PEI while we were out touring.  I visited Town Halls, Fire Departments, and even had the chance to visit some Army Troops of the Prince Edward Island Regiment.  I do this because it's a lot of fun to get to know new people and learn how they do things.  

I have found, in my life, that it is far better and quite often easier to learn great new things from other people.  To take something that works and bring it back home.  I also learned the seafood really is legendary in Atlantic Canada.  We had such a great time meeting people across Atlantic Canada that we came away from the experience entirely smitten with the region and the people.  
Urban waste collection station

Different regions of the country approach things with a different perspective.  For instance, how do we welcome visitors to our region, or how do we handle waste management and what systems do we use to collect waste on the street?  Sometimes things that are taken for granted in some parts of the country are interesting and seem refreshing to other parts of the country.  Canada is definitely a vast land, it's no wonder the unique characteristics of different areas are wonderful and interesting to people from other parts of the country.

1st Special Services Force
I wanted to spend some time at the important national historic site called the Halifax Citadel.  One of the last great fixed fortification feats of engineering constructed in North America.  It was every bit as magnificent as I had imagined.  Being that I'm a Canadian who is a veteran of the United States Army (yes, I'm a dual citizen), I found it fascinating that modern day Special Forces in Canada were born during World War II with an interesting unit made up of brave soldiers mostly from Alberta and Montana.  Say What?  Yes... The 1st Special Service Force a.k.a. the Devil's Brigade, was one of the first Special Forces units deployed in World War II and it was made up of Canadians and Americans serving and fighting in the same unit.    

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