When Sheila Fougere was first elected in 1999, she was the lone woman amongst 23 men. We've made progress---there are now nine women on council and most, Fougere included, are better politicians and more intelligent than their male counterparts.
Fougere demonstrates a wide-ranging understanding of the political issues and processes facing Halifax, and is remarkably candid about her views. Regardless of what one thinks of her politics, she is obviously capable, and has a real shot at getting elected as mayor in October.
Still, Fougere will forever be associated with her insistence that the Commonwealth Games bid effort continue, even after the province had pulled the plug on it. She now has a nuanced explanation of the Games collapse, but it comes off as after-the-fact rationalizing. Likewise, she takes credit for the tax reform effort which, if implemented, will adversely affect many residents in her district.
On the plus side, Fougere was an ardent campaigner against the Chebucto Road widening project and practically single-handedly created the Bikeways initiative. The council majority overruled her on the former and refuses to properly fund the latter, but Fougere has raised the profile of both issues, which can only be a good thing for future debate.
Grade: C Sheila's Cell: 452-3209
WHAT WE SAID IN 2007 (Grade: B)
"Fougere has announced she will be running against Peter Kelly in the 2008 election, fo’ sho’. Fougere got particularly steamed after the Commonwealth Games fiasco when Kelly arbitrarily decided to pull Halifax out of the running without consulting council first. Fougere had some unkind words for the mayor about how the decision was made."
“I was annoyed and frustrated,” she writes, “when political expediency trumped political process to torpedo the Games. There was still a two month time line to work on the final bid. This was highjacked…a total disregard for the democratic process.”The good news, Fougere is an experienced councillor with some perspective, and has a knack for cutting to the point. The bad news, like David Hendsbee, she was on vacation during budget deliberation time. Gah."
"Remarks: Her grade could have been higher. But the budget vacation timing just doesn’t sit well."
WHAT WE SAID IN 2000 (Grade A-)
"Comments: Head of the Class. She, more than any other councilor, has the ability to cut through red tape and get results. She’s like Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight: enthusiastic, articulate, and hard working. Fougere has served on almost 15 committees and has the knack- always refreshing in a council with a patented focus- for elucidating the practical side of an issue. Married to a police office, she will sometimes declare a conflict of interest when policing matters arise. She’s the first woman on council- in the last election, we voted in all men; bother she and Uteck were by-elected. Our secret fantasy? That she’ll run for Mayor next time around.
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Excellent piece. Thanks, Maggie.
"Who brought the sandwiches?....oh....right"