This Week At City Hall: A New Council

This Week at City HallLast night, I attended the official swearing in ceremony for our new council. I skipped this event last election because, under normal circumstances, violin renditions of God Save The Queen and a speech from the Lieutenant Governor about the importance of democracy isn’t the kind of thing that will motivate me to drag my ramshackle carcass down to city hall.

But, I thought, this was the election of ejections from council chambers, Twitter wars and hacking accusations, I’d better go to the swearing in ceremony because something unexpected might happen.

And damn me but something unexpected did happen: The musical act turned out to be the Harmony 2 Go Youth Barbershop Chorus. Never in a million years would I have guessed I’d spend 20 minutes of a Monday evening at council listening to barbershop music.

Don’t get me wrong. It didn’t bother me. I didn’t hate it. When I’m working, I listen to a steady stream of Tiki music, retro lounge and spy jazz. I could never accuse anyone of having taste in music that’s too old timey or out of touch.

And apparently, the Harmony 2 Go Youth Barbershop Chorus is a pretty big deal in barbershop circles. They’re the longest lived youth barbershop chorus in Canada and the only mixed (that’s boy-girl) youth barbershop chorus in the world. I totally respect all that and respect what they’re doing. I dig the Harmony 2 Go Youth Barbershop Chorus as artists. So they’re going to have to forgive me for where I’m taking this blog post next because I can’t help but wonder what this choice of music represents.

You know, in the grand scheme of things.

Oh, I realize the music probably wasn’t chosen to mean anything. But what if the coincidence of it being selected bears some cosmic significance? Certainly, I think it’d be fair to say that by virtue of Harmony 2 Go being the act that ushered this council into existence that this council has thus been born under the musical zodiac sign of Barbershop. And wouldn’t it then follow that bland, nostalgic, a cappella harmonies must therefore define the tone for this council’s term in office?

Well, not twenty minutes after Harmony 2 Go had packed up their melodies and moved on, it looked like my astrological predictions were coming true — like I was some kind of Mystic Meg of the prairies — as Michael Fougere in his first address as a freshly minted mayor spoke about the importance of having a council that sets aside their differences and works as a team. Sound familiar? It’s the same line about the importance of civility in debate that was a hallmark of Fiacco’s last few terms in office. And while being civil and getting work done is all well and good, there was certainly a sense that perhaps over the years things at council may have gotten a little too unanimous… if you know what I mean.

And frankly, despite there being a new mayor and five new councillors at city hall, this crew really doesn’t look like a dramatic departure from the status quo. Four of the five returning councillors stood behind Fougere at the press conference where he announced his intention to run for mayor. (Michael O’Donnell didn’t — to my recollection — attend this event.) And most of the new councillors have roots in the political establishment: Young is a former school trustee, Hawkins was briefly the president of the U of R and attempted to win a seat for the Sask Party, Burnett is a senior analyst with the Ministry of the Economy, and Flegel was councillor of his ward from 2003 to 2009. Only Fraser, who’s noted for his time with Carmichael Outreach, seems the odd man out.

And, with the loss of vivid characters like Pat Fiacco and Fred Clipsham, the council of 2012 looks like it could be decidedly less feisty.

And maybe that’s okay. Four years of council meetings that are light on drama will be less interesting to write about, sure. But at least they’ll end on time.

So, things won’t be punk rock like I was hoping.

They’ll be barbershop.

And that reminds me, I could totally use a haircut.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

9 thoughts on “This Week At City Hall: A New Council”

  1. O’Donnell has a life, that’s why.

    “Vivid”? Pat & Fred were “vivid”?

    Pls recommend some good tiki and spy jazz.

  2. Would you prefer I called them “colourful” or “larger-than-life”?

    Best stop for tiki is the Quiet Village podcast at For specific artists, I can’t recommend Lisa Ono highly enough. She’s a bossa nova singer but she has a Hawaiian album.

    For old school exotica, I’m partial to Gene Rains.

    And for spy jazz, try the compilations you can pick up at The Crime Lounge.

  3. Vivid? Mr. Fiacco perhaps, but “vivid” and Fred Clipsham? With all due respect to him, not really.
    I guess we’re all going to have to watch and see how the new crew comport themselves.

  4. You never interviewed Clipsham about delays to the waste plan. “Vivid” is putting it mildly.

  5. In re: the interview about recycling, perhaps “livid” might have been a better term. I know I am.

  6. Enjoyed your set Harmony 2 Go! And thanks for not getting offended by how I used barbershop as allegory fodder. Comparing our new council to old timey music was just too tempting.

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