Another Regina city councillor is having second thoughts over a motion that drew backlash from a number of people, including Saskatchewan’s premier.
The motion, which passed in executive committee by a 7-4 vote and is scheduled to go before city council this week, proposes to restrict energy companies from sponsoring or advertising with the city.
Ward 6 Coun. Dan LeBlanc, who brought forward the motion, now says he will support withdrawing the motion at council’s Jan. 27 meeting.
“It is clear that the community is very divided. I received a lot of positive feedback, but I also learned that many people are angry and anxious about my motion,” LeBlanc said Sunday in a Facebook post.
“Many of you believe in environmental responsibility, but said that this motion was ‘too much, too soon.’ I know residents are equally nervous about city council doing ‘too little, too late.’ We’ve got to strike the right balance — and this wasn’t it.”
Last week, Regina Mayor Sandra Masters, who voted against the motion, said the city could lose over $10 million in sponsorship money if it passes.
“We sell advertising on buses, we sell advertising on city land and we sell naming rights and sponsorship for activities,” Masters said.
“Council that voted in favour of this said that we don’t want that money, as a signal relative to environmentalism.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe blasted the motion, calling it “absurd.”
“This motion is a hypocritical attack on the hardworking workers and employers that fuel Saskatchewan’s economy and fund important community initiatives through voluntary sponsorships,” Moe said in an emailed statement following the executive committee vote.
“Should this motion pass Regina city council next week, our government will seriously consider the future of sponsorships to the City of Regina from provincial energy companies like SaskEnergy and SaskPower.”
Evraz and the Co-op Refinery are two energy companies in Andrew Scheer’s riding.
The federal MP said he was “outraged” when he heard about the motion.
“I thought it was a slap in the face and an insult to the hundreds of people who have lost their jobs at companies like Evraz,” Scheer told Global News.
“I met with union representation just before Christmas. They’re going through a lot of hurt and they would expect that their local politicians, their local representatives would stand up for them.”
Scheer said talk of walking back the motion is a positive step, but called it “ridiculous” that the motion was supported at all.
“It just shows how out of touch these councillors were,” said Scheer, adding that the response to a poll and petition on his Facebook page overwhelmingly supported the energy sector.
“It’s a good thing that they’ve come to the right position, but it shouldn’t have taken a public backlash for them to know how to represent their own constituents.”
A handful of other councillors who voted in favour of the motion are reconsidering their position.
Ward 8 Coun. Shanon Zachidniak said she doesn’t want to contribute to polarization and said there will be “an amendment to remove the ban on city fossil fuel advertising.”
Ward 9 Coun. Jason Mancinelli took to Facebook last Wednesday, saying he would change his vote come Jan. 27 if the wording behind the amendment continues to put the oil and gas industry in a negative light.
‘When I voted yes, it was a signal of a collaborative effort to get wording changed on a motion that was being drawn up, not an intention of a finished product,” Mancinelli told Global News in an interview on Monday.
“It was a shorthanded mistake that I’m sorry for.”
Ward 10 Coun. Landon Mohl says he will now vote against the motion on Wednesday after initially supporting it.
“When I prepare for Wednesday’s council meetings, I read every word in the agenda to adequately prepare so I can make an informed decision. Yesterday, when this fossil fuels amendment was suddenly added, I had very little time to decide or make an educated decision and I absolutely made the wrong decision,” Mohl said in a Facebook post the day after the executive council vote.
“I have heard loud and clear from the residents of Ward 10 and I will be voting against the motion at public city council next Wednesday!”
— With files from Jon Guignard and Katelyn Wilson