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Calgary mayor, Alberta justice minister spar on Twitter over police budget impacts

Click to play video: '‘He needs to get his own fiscal house in order’: Alberta justice minister responds to Nenshi'
‘He needs to get his own fiscal house in order’: Alberta justice minister responds to Nenshi
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer doesn’t mince his words when responding to Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi in a Twitter feud over the provincial budget. – Oct 29, 2019

The ripple effect of the UCP’s first provincial budget turned into a heated debate on Twitter Tuesday as Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer posted some choice words criticizing Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s and the city’s analysis of the budget.

During a council meeting on Monday, city finance officials outlined the various impacts of the budget — a major one being an expected $10-million hit to the Calgary Police Service as the province will now be taking a bigger chunk of the money that comes from fines.

According to Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld, the province used to take 26.7 per cent of ticket revenue, but now it will take 40 per cent. Neufeld also said the police service will have to spend an extra $1 million to train officers on cannabis enforcement and potentially spend an extra $2 million on biological casework.

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Click to play video: 'Calgarians impacted by gun violence raise concerns over police cuts'
Calgarians impacted by gun violence raise concerns over police cuts

In a tweet Tuesday responding to the city breakdown, Schweitzer criticized both Nenshi and the Trudeau government on their spending priorities.

“Trudeau’s mayor is out to lunch,” Schweitzer said.

“We made tough decisions in our budget but didn’t reduce police grants by one dollar. Unlike his friend in Ottawa, he should get his fiscal house in order.”

Speaking to the media on Tuesday afternoon, Schweitzer said he wouldn’t be “lectured by Mayor Nenshi on the funding priorities of this province.”

“He needs to get his own fiscal house in order and stop funding pet projects,” the justice minister said.

“We made justice a priority and we will continue to fund policing and we’ve done so.”

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Nenshi refused to speak to reporters on Tuesday in response to Schweitzer’s comments, with his office referring Global News to a tweet the mayor sent in response where he stood by the numbers presented by the chief of police.

“Perhaps rather than personal insults, you may wish to explain your budget,” Nenshi tweeted.

“You have increased your ‘admin fee’ on fines, [which] is about a $10-million cut to the police and increased fees for testing, another [$2-million] blow, plus a [$1-million] cut to cannabis funding, as per the chief.”
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In a meeting of the police commission on Tuesday, it was outlined the cuts would likely impact either police salary or benefits.

The commission also said Calgarians should expect response times to go up and there would be a decline in “proactive policing,” as well as fewer partnerships with community groups. The full extent of the funding shortfall won’t be known until the city presents its next budget, the commission said.

The City of Edmonton is also debating its options, saying they will likely have to either raise taxes or cut services as a solution.

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When asked why he called Nenshi “Trudeau’s mayor,” Schweitzer referenced recent media reports suggesting Nenshi may have been approached to act as a representative from the west in the federal cabinet.

“I am sorry Mayor Nenshi, Albertans spoke loud and clear: 70 per cent of Albertans voted for the Conservative government. They want a government to fight for Alberta and that’s what they intend to do,” Schweitzer said before rushing off.

Nenshi debunked those rumours on Monday, saying he wasn’t in any form of talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Nothing has been offered, nothing has been contemplated,” Nenshi said. “Certainly not on my part and I’m sure on the part of others as well.”

Click to play video: 'Could Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi bridge the western divide?'
Could Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi bridge the western divide?

“That said, it’s going to be important, as it has been in the past, that folks who are advocating for Calgary and for Alberta continue to do that advocacy. I’ve done it for many many years with federal politicians of all stripes and certainly, I’m not about to stop now.”

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Click to play video: 'Alberta cities concerned after policing budget shortfall, Calgary mayor spars with UCP minister on Twitter on issue'
Alberta cities concerned after policing budget shortfall, Calgary mayor spars with UCP minister on Twitter on issue

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