St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse called for more civility in Canadian politics earlier this year in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulating him on his victory and inviting him to the city.
What would be a fairly standard letter of congratulations also included a strong rebuke of some of the tactics used in the last campaign.
Crouse said in the letter that he heard from many about attacks ads and negative campaigning. He implored the prime minister to avoid such tactics in the future.
“This was a despicable display of bullying, condescending comments and inappropriate displays of human behaviour; approaches that should not be allowed in a civil society.”
The letter was provided to the Gazette anonymously this past week in an unmarked envelope and included a note critical of the mayor. At the letter's conclusion, the mayor invites Harper to visit St. Albert for its 150th anniversary celebrations.
When asked about the letter, Crouse said he wanted to congratulate the prime minister, but felt it was important to balance his comments.
“I was trying to balance some feedback, which is what I heard throughout the campaign about the negative campaigning.”
Crouse said he believes all of the federal leaders in the last campaign crossed the line and created an atmosphere that is bad for good discourse.
“If you have it at the federal level and it works, it will happen at the provincial level, it will happen across Canada and it will happen at the municipal level,” he said. “You basically show children and society a particular style that causes you to win.”
Crouse said he doesn't think silence does anyone any good and he spoke out on an issue that concerned him and many others in St. Albert.
“What is the advantage of saying nothing? We have an obligation as leaders to give feedback to leaders and I look at it as an opportunity to give feedback.”
City Coun. Cam Mackay said he saw the letter and understands where the mayor was coming from.
“I think Nolan works pretty hard and he is a straight shooter and his heart was in the right place.”
While he is not critical of the mayor for reacting as he did, Mackay said his comments might have been better left unsaid.
The 150th anniversary committee also invited the prime minister to this year's celebrations. In a letter dated July 15, his office declined that invitation citing scheduling concerns.
Crouse's letter, which was copied to city council, city manager Bill Holtby and local member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber, did point out that Rathgeber had not engaged in similar tactics and ran a good campaign.
The Gazette contacted Rathgeber's office but did not receive a reply before press time.
View the letter here.