Monday, April 20, 2020

Email to Mayor Krog calling for the immediate establishment of an arms-length independent Special Commission
on a Post-COVID Nanaimo

From: Frank Murphy 
Subject: Post-COVID Nanaimo
Date: April 16, 2020

Hi Leonard, I hope you are well and safe from this awful pandemic.
You couldn’t have imagined of course that something like this would happen while you were at the helm of our city council. We’ll be in this uncharted territory for some time.
An op-ed in the Globe and Mail caught my eye a few days ago. It was written by Carleton University associate professor and author (Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Made History) Andrew Cohen. It explored ways in which Canada at the federal level might best emerge from this crisis. It called for the establishment of "a blue-ribbon commission on the economy and social welfare to plan for post COVID19 reconstruction and renewal.”
"We need to find answers, as Franklin Roosevelt did in the Great Depression. His New Deal famously established the National Recovery Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps… National commissions are not new to us... Mackenzie King’s establishment of the Committee on Reconstruction in 1941, which was led by Cyril James, principal of McGill University. While the government fought the war, the committee planned the peace. It did excellent work.
Commissions have shaped Canada’s thinking on identity (bilingualism and biculturalism) in the 1960s and on economic renewal in the 1980s. The Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada, led by the gifted Donald Macdonald, brought us free trade, among other policies.”
Here in Nanaimo let's establish an independent Special Commission on a Post-COVID Nanaimo.
Consistent with all the successful commissions mentioned above is that they have been extra-governmental. They have operated at arms-length from government, guided by terms-of-reference and by anticipated deliverables laid out by government. The independence of and the careful selection of the leader of these commissions are clearly two central reasons that they have been able to deliver practical and insightful transitional policy recommendations.
Let’s base the Special Commission on a Post-COVID Nanaimo on these principles. Leaders of previous commissions have often come from the judiciary. There’s no better example than the leadership brought to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by Justice Murray Sinclair. Here in Nanaimo, proven city-builders like  former VIU VP Dave Witty who brings proven leadership and the key ability to holistically engage across all the municipal disciplines comes to mind. Similarly, Victoria architect Franc D’Ambrosio, another proven city-builder and lead on the award-winning 2008 Downtown Urban Design Plan and Guidelines initiative.
Meanwhile, stay safe and well,

— Frank

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