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Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference

This week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is holding its annual conference.

FCM provides grants, training, and networking opportunities. It is a great resource for enhancing service to residents.

FCM is also a lobbying organisation. It makes sure that the federal government hears about municipal needs and perspectives.

This year’s FCM Conference is being held in Quebec City. The conference made recent Alberta news. Medicine Hat City Council voted to boycott it in response Quebec’s opposition to pipelines. Several people have asked me if Grande Prairie is joining this boycott.

I’m not aware of any other Alberta municipalities following Medicine Hat's lead. Here is a statement from the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) President about the importance of this conference.

A boycott of Quebec City doesn’t make sense from a political perspective. Mayor Labeaume of Quebec City has been a vocal advocate for Energy East and other pipeline projects. He deserves thanks for this public position he has maintained. Boycotting a strong ally municipality doesn’t make sense.

A boycott also doesn't make sense from a pragmatic perspective. Municipal politicians across the country are vocally opposed to Canadian energy projects. Engaging with them is important. They need to know that Canadian energy is vital to our economy and to federal funding of their municipality. They also need to know about Canadian energy's contribution to environmental care and human rights.

But no matter what information gets presented, some will remain opposed to Canadian energy. We need to ensure that theirs aren't the only municipal voices heard by federal decision makers. Those who support Canadian Energy need to ensure they also have a seat at the table.

Councillors from Grande Prairie will be attending this conference. I will be one of them. Following are my reasons for doing so.


A fundamental job of Council is to advocate for our community to senior levels of government. The Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, and opposition MPs (including the Leader of the Opposition) attend FCM. It is also attended by many municipal and provincial officials who have gained national voices. This conference provides an opportunity to talk to these people.

There are many federal issues that municipalities advocate for. However, the biggest current federal need for Grande Prairie is support of our energy sector. It is vital to our economy and the prosperity of many of our residents. Supporting Canadian Energy will be the focus of my advocacy efforts this week. Some of the advocacy work I’ll be taking part in:

  • Working a booth at the trade show. The Resource Communities of Canada Coalition (RCCC) will have a booth at the Conference Tradeshow. The purpose of this booth is to create dialogue about the importance of Canadian Energy and its environmental track record. I’ll be spending shifts manning this booth.

  • Making our presence known to federal leaders. All the federal party leaders will be addressing the conference. When they do, I'll be in the front rows with many others wearing “Support Canadian Energy” shirts.

  • Attending workshops. Throughout the conference, there will be workshops held on various topics. Some will touch on the Canadian energy sector. I’ll be attending to show my support.

  • Networking: Throughout the week, I'll have many informal conversations with federal and municipal leaders. I'll be making my support of Canadian energy known in these conversations.

  • Elections. Councillor Clayton from Grande Prairie and Councillor Balsom from Wood Buffalo are running for FCM director positions. I will be helping their campaigns. I want to ensure that Canada’s primary resource communities are well represented within FCM.


This conference is where FCM receives direction for the year. This happens through voting. Every elected representative in attendance gets one vote. This means that municipalities with less Councillors in attendance receive less say.

There are two matters that get voted on at the FCM conference:

  • Resolutions: FCM undertakes significant advocacy work with the federal government. The positions it lobbies for are based on resolutions approved at the annual conference. I’ll be voting for resolutions which align with Grande Prairie’s priorities. I’ll also be voting against resolutions which have little or no relevance to our community.

  • Directors: I’m eligible to vote for two Director positions. As mentioned above, I’ll be voting for Councillors from Grande Prairie and Wood Buffalo to become FCM directors.


I’ll also be working hard at FCM to gather ideas to bring back to Grande Prairie. There are some excellent opportunities available. They include:

  • Learning Tours. We can signup for two tours of various projects in Quebec City. I'm signed up for a tour of the the Videotron Centre. This tour will explain the innovative procurement practices used to deliver this major project under budget. I’m also signed up for a policing tour. It will explore how police in Quebec City are working with social agencies in interactions with people in crises. I’ll be joining other learning tours if spots open up.

  • Trade Show. The FCM conference includes a trade show. It features companies, non-profits, and government agencies offering services to municipalities. I’ll be at it to learn about services which may be good for Grande Prairie. I’ll also use this opportunity to seek out expert advice to some of the questions and challenges I’ve come across in my work on Council.

  • Workshops. The conference has many workshops put on by expert panels of speakers. I’m especially looking forward to one that will explore best practices in snow removal. I'm also excited for a recycling workshop. It will explain how some municipalities are adapting their recycling programs to changes in world recycling markets.

  • Networking: I’ll be meeting Councillors from across the country. I'll be asking them about what is working well or what is challenging in their community. Additionally, there are several communities that have caught my eye based on work they are doing. I’ve reached out to Councillors from them to setup a coffee for me to learn more about what they are up to.


I’m primarily attending FCM because it helps me do my job as a Councillor. It provides advocacy opportunities. It also helps me learn how to better serve residents.

However, I am also attending due to Council policy.

In Grande Prairie, at the end of their terms, outgoing Councils set policies which incoming Councils follow. There are two reasons for this practice: 1) experienced Councillors know the job better than newly elected Councillors, and 2) if the community doesn’t like the new policies, it has an opportunity to say so during the campaign and to not re-elect Councillors who supported them. One Council policy outlines what events Councillors are expected to attend. Our previous Council unanimously passed an amendment to this policy which makes FCM Conference a Mandatory Event for Councillors.

The current Council also recently adopted a Code of Conduct. It demands that Councillors follow Council policy. I'd be in breach of our Code of Conduct if I missed FCM without good cause.

When Council reviews its Event Attendance Policy, I do not yet know if I will support FCM’s inclusion as a Mandatory Event. However, while this policy exists, I will follow it to the best of my ability.

That’s my take on the FCM Conference. I welcome any thoughts or questions you might have.

Thanks for reading!