Political heavy weights to be in Burlington September 6 - all female.

Event 100By Pepper Parr

August 31, 2014



A Fundraiser for the Judy LaMarsh Fund honouring the contributions of four great women in the advancement of women in Canadian politics will take place at the Holiday Inn on the South Service Road on September 6, 2014
Cost: $75 regular, $50 for Laurier/Victory Club members, and students. Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.liberal.ca/


The Honourable Paddy Torsney, Permanent Observer to the United Nations for the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Permanent Observer to the United Nations for the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Permanent Observer to the United Nations for the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

What is remarkable about the event is the invited guests:

The Honourable Paddy Torsney; Member of Parliament, Burlington, 1993-2006
The Honourable Bonnie Brown; Member of Parliament, Oakville, 1993-2008
The Honourable Senator Betty Kennedy; Senator, Ontario, 2000-2001
The Honourable Beth Phinney; Member of Parliament, Hamilton Mountain, 1988-2005

The Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MP for St. Paul’s Toronto will be speaking.

This event is the 20th that Paddy Torsney has sponsored in Burlington. Torsney was the woman that gave federal Liberal candidate Karina Gould the political bug.

For Torsney it was all about breaking barriers and paving the political path for women in Halton, Hamilton and across Canada.  After losing the 2006 election to Mike Wallace Paddy Torsney worked as a lobbyist in Toronto and Ottawa and then accepted an appointment as the Permanent Observer to the United Nations for the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Torsney is also a member of the Privy Council.


Return to the Front page

Understanding social media: Is it for you - and how do you make it work? Burchill offers some tips.

Everyone tells me I need to use Social Media and I guess they’re right – but I find it confusing and it takes a lot of time which is the one thing I don’t have.
James Burchill, one of the city’s most shameless self-promoters, which is what has made him the success he is explains that “one of the main reasons this important task doesn’t get done is simply because it takes time. Let’s let him tell his story.

marketingmoneymojoBBy James Burchill

August 31, 2014



Social Media is time sensitive – if you’re going to do it – you have to do it right. Social media updates, these micro messages (while short) still require time to plan, to write, to consider the overall strategy (more on that later) and time to publish.

Time management and performance studies show an interruption costs us about 15 minutes of lost time before we are able to regain our former productivity. Assuming you had to stop 3 times a day and tweet, and 2 times a day to update your Facebook page, that’s 1 ¼ hrs just there — 17% of your day.

Think about it, add a little buffer to this and you’ll easily spend 20% of your time on this task … that’s easily ONE DAY PER WEEK spent on social media!

We can all write, they teach us this basic skill from a very early age but documenting your required groceries, or penning a letter to Aunt Maggy is not the same as crafting compelling copy for business use.

And being able to perform when required and ‘get creative’ takes practice and training. You’ve heard of writer’s block, – it’s a real phenomenon and professional writers have techniques to combat this wasteful problem.

All professional writing is not created equal.Then there’s the issue that all professional writing is not created equal. I’ll let you in on a secret, within the hallowed halls of writers there exists a snobbery; a class system of sorts. At the risk of having ink spilled on me at the next writers ball, some writers craft content to inform, others to compel. Persuading your prospects and client to engage and interact with you is key.

If all you needed is time and the ability to write well then you are good to go – but it isn’t that simple. In fact it is quite complex.  You need to know about the technology too. You need to know how to leverage the various platforms properly and ensure you don’t goof or post to early or too late. You need skills to make these byzantine platforms turn chaos into a symphony of concordant content.

Simply put, you need to know how to use the tools. And to keep things interesting, the programmers behind these tools keep changing the game! Blink and you’ll miss an update or some other neat new function.

It requires an overall integrated marketing strategy; working in a vacuum sucks – literally.

Creating any marketing messages and syndicating them at random is a recipe for failure. And if you imagine social media is all hip, cool and “off the cuff” then you are dancing with disaster.

Better to think of your marketing messages as sled dogs, they all need to be pulling in the same direction to gain traction and make head way.
It does yields results, if you do it right. And outsourcing the task gets it done on time and as agreed. You get results – guaranteed.
And further to this, the actual efforts yield, SEO lift, increased exposure and legitimate back-links to your target URL are huge values. SEO means Search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization - just what does that mean and why would I want this?You also get additional results in the SERPS (Search Engines Results Page) listings – and any time you can secure another top 10 slot, it’s a space your competition cannot.

Google’s mandate has always been to provide the best answer (content) to those searching. Google is always updating its algorithms to single out and better reward unique content. So if you thought re-hashed, spun, or scraped content would work … Think again.

It becomes clear that making social media work for you means getting help. OK I’m biased because this is service my team and I offer our clients, so I’m not going to get into magical numbers that “prove” how much of a good deal it is to outsource. But if you sit down and really look at all the twiddly bits & pieces that go into this task each day/week/month … it adds up quickly and outsourcing costs a fraction of the typical annual salary equivalent.

Leads generated from social media content marketing are more likely to convert into business. The science behind this is solid and speaks to millions of years of behaviour. Think crowd sourcing, social proof, ‘monkey see, monkey do’ and a myriad of other psychological precepts.

Social Marketing content gets found – the first part of a successful online marketing strategy.

Social Marketing content gets shared – necessary for your message to move through the market.

Social Marketing content works 24/7/365. You pay once for its creation and syndication and it just keeps on working. The same can be said about articles too, the Return in Investment (ROI) is amazing!

Burchill James CJames Burchill is the founder of the Social Fusion Network that sponsores a monthly get together where people network and do some great business.  SFN is about connecting, promoting and supporting local business using social media and in-person networking events. It’s FREE to join your local SFN and membership includes all our chapters. He also sponsors the semi annual mini-trade show at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Learn more  



Return to the Front page

Ward 6 election debate to be held September 24 at Hayden High - 7 pm.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 31, 2014



People get the government they deserve.

If voters do their homework and read the election material they can arrive at a conclusion and decide who they want to vote for. The voters usually get it right.

However, the voters need information – and they are entitled to quite a bit more than what appears on the handouts candidates give people at the door.

Burlington doesn’t have much in the way of a tradition of pulling candidates together and letting them debate each other.

Given that it looks as if the Mayor is going to be acclaimed – because he has done such a great job? – some of the steam has gone out of our municipal election.

Most people don’t fully appreciate that the men and women they elect to council are also our Regional representatives. Given the disastrous flood damage August 4th – there are people in this city wondering just what the Region has done and what they are doing now about the consistent flooding in wards 4 and 5. Many in ward 6 also wonder what the Region has in mind for the Air Park.

Gazette logo Black and redThere are some good races. Ward 6 is perhaps the best example – with seven people having declared themselves for the seat held by Blair Lancaster – which she won by just a couple of hundred votes

The Burlington Gazette will be hosting a debate amongst the ward 6 candidates.


The following invitation was sent to all the candidates who have declared their candidacy.

TO: Burlington Ward 6 City and Regional Councillor Candidates:

It appears that the current battle for Ward 6 Councillor may be the most contentious in many years—and rightly so. There are many serious issues in this Ward and each of you has a pressing need to make your positions on these understood.
After numerous requests and a great deal of consideration, The Burlington Gazette has agreed to host a Ward 6 – All Candidates Debate.

We have secured the beautiful theatre at Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School on Wednesday, September 24th from 7pm. to 10 pm., for this event.

I will be moderating the debate; the format is quite simple. Each candidate will be provided two minutes for opening remarks and two minutes for closing remarks – the order of these will be determined by a random drawing of your names, in your presence, immediately prior to the debate at 6:45 pm.

I have recruited a panel of experienced journalists who will create and direct questions to each candidate. You will be given a limited amount of time for a direct response to the question asked of you. That will be followed by a period of time for an all-candidate debate on the question.

The debate itself will conclude at 9:15pm., after which we will take questions from the audience until 10 pm. I will direct and monitor the questions from the floor to maintain a civil and respectful evening for all participants.

You are encouraged to bring your supporters – as well as your marketing material, which you may wish to distribute before and after the event. The Gazette will be promoting this event and we anticipate that each of you will want to do the same.

I’m certain you’ll agree that this debate will provide you with an unsurpassed opportunity to reach the critical mass of concerned constituents and active voters, in the most efficient and powerful manner.

In order to set up the theatre to accommodate everyone, we need to know that you will be participating and the estimated number in your group of supporters who might attend. If you choose not to attend please advise us – no later than Friday, September 12, 2014.

I wish each of you success in your campaign endeavours.

Pepper Parr
Burlington Gazette

The Hayden High School theatre will hold 220 people – the debate just might turn out to be the primo event in this election cycle. Several of the candidates are excellent speakers.



Return to the Front page

Ice bucket dunking is bad for ALS fund raising - it went for $2.5 million to $70 - how can that be bad?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 25, 2014

My neighbour Rob, who is prone to stunts, pranks and practical jokes ,sent me an Ice Bucket Challenge. Jeez I thought, I’m going to have to do this or he won’t loan me his drill anymore and he does have a snow blower. So I was gearing myself up to walk across the street and submit myself to the dunking.

The President of the United States can duck these things – but I was pretty sure I had to go along with the gag. My one condition was that the event be filmed and the kids be on hand.

Then I came across the missive from School board chair and Ward 6 candidate Jennifer Hlusko who was passing along a piece form Macleans magazine.

Why the Ice Bucket Challenge is bad for you
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is bad … The marketing gimmick is very clever. It is short, immediately understandable, and like the most popular forms of slacktivism, it is easy to do, entertaining to watch, and narcissistically self-promoting. As a result, the ALS Association has received more than $70 million so far, compared to only $2.5 million during last year’s campaign.
We, as individuals and as a society, have finite resources to donate to medical research and other worthy causes. When we decide where to spend our charitable dollars, we need to consider three factors:
1. Where is the greatest need?
2. Where will my dollars have the greatest influence?
3. What is the most urgent problem?
The ALS challenge fails all three of these test.

Hlusko H&S

Did the School Board Chair get dunked?

How did increasing ALS donations from $2.5 million to $70 million get defined as a failure. The people who went along with the dunking will send their donation and probably not cut back somewhere else.

The beauty of the human hearts is the way it can expand to meet the need.
Hlusko needs to think about an “expanded heart” procedure – and please – lighten up.

Return to the Front page

The local disaster committee will announce its chair on Wednesdayand roll out the committee structure on September 3.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 25, 2014


It is coming together. It’s taking a little longer than many people had hoped but it looks as if they are going to do it right – right from the get go.

There will be a media release on Wednesday announcing who the chair is going to be along with additional information on just what the local Disaster Relief Committee can do and can’t do.

BCG Mulholland

Colleen Mulholland,BCF president, is stick handling the biggest project her organization has been asked to do. They are going to give her a T-shirt.

On the following Wednesday, September 3, there will be a Roll Out event at a location in the east end where the full program will be explained along with the procedures people need to follow.

While the Burlington Community Foundation (BCF) has not yet announced a theme, based on the words BCF President Colleen Mulholland uses continually “Above and Beyond” just might be the call.

“This is a huge problem and there are hundreds of people who are hurting – hurting badly” explained Mulholland who is getting by on around four hours of sleep each night.

She is pumped over the size of the challenge and is stretching her team to the limit.
The BCF has encountered a number of desperate situations where they have had to dip into their own coffers to help out.

Their Annual Golf Tournament, being held September 4th, will be asking people to dig deep into those pockets.
A “portal” is being set up on the BCF web site that will have all the forms; all the details and answers to all the questions they think people will be asking.

That team leading this event are covering all the bases. There will be T-shirts for volunteers to wear; there will be coin boxes at every possible retail location. Great opportunity for the Burlington Downtown Business Association to show what they can do – and hopefully both malls are on board as well as all the supermarkets.

This stuff works – but you have to work to make I happen.

BCF Mulholland - Baker

Sandra Baker on the left talks with Burlington Community Foundation president Colleen Mulholland during days when things were not nearly as hectic.

On Friday – donations sent via the United Way collection point were at $140,000 but come Monday morning there was just $141,600.00
More is needed – that Above and Beyond call to action is vital.

In the very near future major donations will begin to flow in – but this is a grass roots effort – this is community helping community. We too are Samaritans – or we can be if we choose to do be.

Return to the Front page

“We're looking to give you the best Friday night you've ever had.” - Cirque September 19th

Event 100


By Pepper Parr

April 19, 2014

We got our first look at what a No Vacancy event was about last year when Selina Jane Eckersall hosted an illustration event at the Waterfront Hotel. It was a little longer than the average movie but it came close to rocking the socks off the Burlington arts community.



Selina Jane Eckersall points out a location that will be active the No Vacancy Night.  Hundreds of people will be crawling through Village Square.

It took place at a time when the arts and culture community was beginning to create a presence for itself. The city had accepted the Cultural Action Plan prepared by Jeremy Freiburger and while they weren’t able to act on very much of the plan they did re-allocate a staff member from Parks and Recreation to co-ordinate events that were cultural in nature. This kind of work was being done by the Parks and Recreation department where the culture was more athletic than artistic.

BG_Ad2The No Vacancy event was a critical success and is being repeated this year with a much bigger venue and a more exciting program. Selina Jane Eckersall sums it up with the comment: “We’re looking to give you the best Friday night you’ve ever had.”

There will be 30 unbelievably talented contemporary artists who will transform a variety of spaces inside Village Square into an art experience that will have a lasting impact. “This incredible walking contemporary multi-artist exhibition will feature the best of contemporary installation art from Southern Ontario.”

“Village Square will be buzzing with activity as people explore the alleys and walkways and enter spaces they haven’t explored before. We will also have performance and street art throughout the square and a pop-up art market that will be open until midnight. Burlington has never had an art event quite like this and it is going to be a wondrous experience.”

Half of Pine Street will be closed to traffic and all the space available to No Vacancy in Village Square has been allocated.


Selina xxx Eckersall points to one of the locations for some of the "installation art" that will be on display for less than four hours September 19 - a not to be missed event.

Selina Jane  Eckersall points to one of the locations for some of the “installation art” that will be on display for less than four hours September 19 – a not to be missed event.

The artists doing the installations are being paid – a bit of a first for Burlington. In the past artists have been asked to donate to various causes – when they themselves are a cause. The beer garden profits will be used to pay the artists that are putting up the installations.

Eckersall is putting on a much bigger event this year and giving the Village Square some life – something it has needed for some time.  The longer term plan for No Vacancy is to be quite ambitious. They have organized themselves as an Ontario Not for Profit Corporation and have gotten charitable status in Ontario and are going after federal charitable status.

Later in the year they will apply for Trillium Funding (that’s where a lot of your lottery money goes) so they can develop the much more robust program they have wanted to put in place for some time.  “We want to open minds and push people out of their comfort zone just a bit and we feel that we need a bigger presence in the city, which is why we are looking for a place, where we can be seen and the work of the artists we want to highlight can also be seen.”

“We would like to find a building somewhere or work with someone who has space –visibility is key to what we are setting out to do. What we want to create is a facility that is part studio, part media lab and part gallery” said Eckersall.  “One of the bigger challenges is to come up with a business model that can result in an operation that is sustainable – we are still working at that”, she added.

“We would really like to find a van we could use to transport some of the material involved. Installation art tends to be quite large.”

Eckersall says she has “no idea how many people are going to show up on September 19th – it could be anywhere between 500 and 5000.” The event will run from 7 pm to 2 am and as Eckersall says : “A night of incredible art installation in Burlington.”

All the space in Village Square have been allocated and the artists are busy working on the fun stuff. Administratively Eckersall is dealing with permits, contracts, and insurance.

There is going to be a “pop up” market. If there are artists out there that are looking for a venue to sell some stuff – touch base.

Eckersall says the event is all about “Art that makes your heart beat faster.”


Return to the Front page

Infinate Daydreams, till the 24th at the Art Gallery of Burlington. Still time to include your pictures.

theartsBy Staff

August 12, 2014


We are a little late getting this to you – the Art Gallery of Burlington issued a Call for photo submissions for the ‘Infinite Daydreams: Reflections on the Sublime Imaginary’ exhibit.

AGB Skyline clouds dor AGB pieceThe AGB says: “The exhibition explores how we respond to the sublime in nature – that sense of wonder, power and beauty we feel looking out at blue skies filled with clouds over the lake’s horizon. This is hard to capture in one photo, so we need lots!”

To be a part of a photo installation in the gallery, please send our guest curators:

– one photo of the sky over the lake, or

– one of the horizon

Photos will be added to the exhibition throughout the summer.

Email photos in .jpg format along with your name to infinitedaydreams1@gmail.com

The exhibit runs until August 24th – new material is added regularly.


Return to the Front page

Prince of the realm receives Book of Best Wishes from citizens of Burlington on his first birthday.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 21, 2014


He will begin his second year of life on Tuesday. HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, the fourth in line to the Throne and the person, who will at some point become the Monarch of Canada, is also the recipient of a handsomely bound Book of Best Wishes from the people of Burlington.

The idea for the Book of Best Wishes came from the community and was made real by a small committee of four people: Joe Veitch, Susan Fraser, Selina McCall and publisher of the Burlington Gazette Pepper Parr.

Once the fundamentals were in place the group met with the Mayor to get a buy in at that level.  While the initiative came from the community, it was important for the city to be onside.  The Mayor loved the idea – “cool” he said, and then suggested that the signing period be extended a few days to include Canada Day.

RR books in for restoration

No fancy “apps” in the classic binding business. Our binder is in the business of restoring ancient volumes and making presentation copies of original work. We are looking forward to their doing our binding for 50 years and then some.

Joe Veitch recruited the volunteers needed to be at the tables, where people could sign the sheets and write their greeting.

Final banner

This banner, which stood 7 feet high was set out wherever the public was invited to sign the Book of Best Wishes. The challenge now is for the “trust” running this project, to determine what the picture will be for next year. Joan Krygsman and Selina McCaul, designed the banner.

First time out on this project, we learned a lot of lessons – almost everything ended up costing more than we had planned.

Many wondered why they couldn’t see the finished product, when they were signing. We had people at a number of places on the same day – and we didn’t know how many signatures we were going to manage to collect – and thus didn’t know how thick the book was going to be.

Special metal plates had to be made for the gold embossing that was to be stamped into the leather.  We would set the type, send it to the book binder, who would have the metal plate made.  We had to do some guessing as to how many signatures might be collected – that would determine the thickness of the book and also the size of the plate that had to be made.

The book couldn’t be shown to anyone until it was bound and it couldn’t be bound until all the pages with signatures had been collected..

To get around this problem we endured the expense of having a demonstration copy made – a book bound the way the actual version was to be bound, but with blank pages inside.

One doesn’t just send a book to a Prince.  Anything of any significance that gets sent to members of the Royal family, goes through the offices of the Governor General at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.  Rideau Hall, home of the Governor General has staff that communicates with the various members of the Royal family – well not the Dukes or Princes or the Duchesses personally – but with their staff.  All this communication is bound by more protocol than you can imagine.

Because the Book of Best Wishes was a new idea, it took a bit of talking to convince Rideau Hall to go along with us; it wasn’t until they saw a picture of a sample binding that they understood just what we had in mind.

Resident signing Best Wishes Royal Reading

Citizens signing the Book of Best Wishes at the Burlington Library on New Street.

The Mayor convinced us to set up in Spencer Smith Park on Canada Day – that worked out very well.

RR Keith and Parr with pages

Burlington Gazette publisher Pepper Parr works with binder Keith Felton on the way pages will be gathered together for binding into the first Book of Best Wishes being sent to HRH Prince George Alexander Louis to celebrate his first birthday.

The volume was ready in a few days and shipped to Ottawa where it had to be x-rayed before it could be accepted and then sent off to Kensington Palace where the Prince will celebrate his very first birthday.

We have no idea if the Prince will actually see the book – who knows how Royal Families work, but we believe that the parents will see and handle the book – and perhaps wonder just where Burlington is anyway.

The project has been organized as a “trust” so that its members can replicate themselves and ensure that a Book of Best Wishes is sent to the Prince every birthday of his life.

There is more to the project – stay tuned.

Return to the Front page

What does Milton know that Burlington never figured out – getting a university in the right place.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 16, 2014


Burlington got the McMaster University DeGroote campus but it doesn’t seem to make all that much of a difference to the city – stuck out in a field the way it is.

The campus was supposed to be located in downtown Burlington but like many things planned for the downtown core – that one got away.

Halton regional council voted Wednesday of last week to throw its support behind Wilfrid Laurier University’s efforts to establish a full service campus, adjacent to the Mattamy National Cycling Centre (Milton velodrome).

Milton velodrome under construction

Velodrome construction: site has room for a full scale campus if the province goes along with Wilfred Laurier University setting up a satellite campus. seems to be a better deal than Burlington got with McMaster.

The campus would provide a range of undergraduate, liberal arts, science and professional programs and a full range of student services for approx. 2,500 students.

Milton has pledged to donate 150 acres of land to Laurier for a new campus including 100 acres of protected land and 50 acres within the proposed 400-acre Milton Education Village (west of Tremaine Road, between Derry Rd. and Britannia Rd.)

Burlington has never managed to exercise the clout it should have at the Regional level.  Chair Gary Carr is reported to have said to one candidate for municipal office that Burlington doesn’t seem to fully appreciate the role it can play and gets out-muscled by both Oakville and Milton.  The leadership needed by Burlington at the Region just never seems to materialize.

Burlington Council members often go to the Region with different agendas and objectives – frequently not as a team with a consistent objective.  We saw that with the Beachway issue.

John Taylor who is experiencing a full-scale snit over the advocacy for safe bike lanes on New Street when the re-surfacing of that road takes place in the near future, argues that the Burlington city council does not pull together all that often.  Others argue that because it is a small council – 7 people – it develops a sense of collegiality but at the same time allows each council member to go their own way.

The council members tend to get very territorial as well and fail to recognize that while they are elected to represent a specific ward they are also in place to look after the interests of the city as a whole.

At one city council workshop Councillor Craven spoke in favour of rules that would keep council members out of the turf of another council member.  Councillor Meed Ward gave did her best to set him straight on just what the role of a council member is.

Councillor Taylor found himself stepping in for a ward 1 resident in the Beachway who had no water for nine months (don’t ask why – it gets complicated in the Beachway).  Councillor Craven was livid.

As much as Mayor Goldring would like to believe that he heads up – doesn’t lead – a collective that is working towards the same goal – it isn’t so.

Milton had no problem agreeing on the donation of a large piece of property in a prime location – 2500 students.  Imagine something like that happening to Burlington?



Return to the Front page

Three policies for the Premier to Consider: improve democracy, make education truly public and look at the way we tax the public.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 29, 2014


 Premier Wynne made a number of commitments during the recent Ontario election.  Here are three more I think she needs to look at.

1: Improve Democracy

 Traditionally the candidate with the highest number of electoral votes wins the election.  This works well when there are only two political parties but not so well in our multiparty system.  The last provincial election provides an example, where Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals won a majority government with 58 seats but with less than 40% of the vote.  This vote splitting among the parties is pretty common place, as Stephen Harper and Jean Chretien also won majorities with less than 40% of the popular vote.


Is the way we count the ballots working for us?

Some jurisdictions have introduced proportional representation, a complicated system engineered to moderate the political advantage of vote splitting.  However, voters in referenda recently in B.C., as well as Ontario rejected a move to that system.

Another option involves use of a preferential ballot whereby voters rank their electoral choices in priority. If no candidate gets 51% of the total vote, then the second ballot choices are counted until someone wins, etc.  The federal Liberals passed a motion at one of their policy conventions to introduce this system should they form government.

With preferential balloting the winning candidate will always have the support of over half of the voters as their first or second priority choice.  There should be fewer minority governments as a result, since the impact of third parties in splitting votes will be diminished.  And policies may tend to become more moderate as parties opt to please a broad swath of the public rather than just their own partisan base.

The province also needs to consider implementing electronic voting via the internet to encourage greater voter participation. Less than 60% turnout in a general election is unhealthy for a nation and province that prides itself on government by the people.  Australia makes voting compulsory with legal penalties for failing to exercise your franchise.

Electronic voting should also reduce the the high cost of elections and facilitate quicker results.  Finally, government may find it useful to include referenda questions on delicate issues as guidance in policy setting, a practice rarely used in Canada.  And as for trust-worthy, well, we trust the internet for our banking, don’t we?.

2. Make Public Education Truly Public

 There is a condition in the Canadian constitution, originating from the British North America Act of 1867, which enables provinces to retain Catholic schools as part of their educational system.  That clause was added at the insistence of Quebec, which ironically has now eliminated its own Catholic schools, as indeed has Newfoundland.

Somehow when the political parties in the last election talked about cost cutting the elephant in the room was our redundant Catholic education system.  Duplication at the board level, under-utilized classrooms in older areas, four school buses when there could be two – these are just the most glaring examples of waste.

Classroom - young kids

Is a separate and a public education system something Ontario can afford? Doesn’t exist in most of the other provinces.

Public education is a great equalizer in our society.  We may not all be born equal but the class room is a wonderful place for children coming from income, ethnic and religiously diverse households to grow together, better understanding each other and each other’s point of view.  Hopefully that provides a formula for a more tolerant, understanding and competitive future for our youth.

3. Raise Taxes to Stem the Red

Ontario has the lowest cost-of-services delivery of any jurisdiction in Canada.  Yet we are still running a deficit and our debt is piling up.  It’s obvious we need to fix the revenue side of the balance sheet.  And that means taxes.

There has been lot of talk about carbon taxes.  B.C. and Quebec generate revenue in addition to encouraging energy conservation, though these taxes.  In the case of B.C. the tax is revenue-neutral, offset by reductions in other taxes.  And revenue neutral is not going to help us with the bottom line, is it?

Road tolls have also been bandied about and the 407, though being the greatest rip-off ever invented by man, is a system that works.  Applying that formula to all divided highways and charging a reasonable toll would bring in a lot of revenue, in addition to helping the motorist better understand the value of the time they spend commuting.

Inheritance tax

Are inheritance taxes something the government wants to bring back? Great cry from the wealthy if that ever happens.

Is it time to bring back inheritance taxes?  It’s not like the deceased will complain about paying death taxes.  Why is it that we don’t tax lottery and gaming winnings as income?


Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

 Background links:

Catholic Schools     More Schools       Even More Schools      Even More

Return to the Front page

Bateman graduate wins art scholarship – Sarah Tom off to Sheridan with $1500 in her pocket.

theartsBy Staff

June 28, 2014


Burlington’s  Art in Action Studio Tour decided a number of years ago to create a scholarship for an art student in the Region and this year awarded the $1500 award to Sarah Tom, a Robert Bateman High School student who will be attending Sheridan College in September for Visual & Creative Studies.

Along with the scholarship is free admission as a participant in the Art in Action tour the first weekend of November

Tom Sara Art in Action winner 2014

Darlene Throop, on the right, presents Bateman High School students Sarah Tom with the 2014 Art in Action $1500. scholarship.

The award was presented to Ms Tom at the Robert Bateman Commencement, June 26th where Darlene Throop ( Art in Action Scholarship Chair) handed out this year’s Scholarship.

There were seven talented applicants from four schools; two from the public sector and two from the separate sector – all pursuing an arts focused future.

Tom Sarak digital art

Sarah Tom uses an interesting approach to normal portrait work – reflects a generation that is more digital than their predecessors.

The public is invited to take part in the fall at the Pre Tour Show on October 19th, at Teresa Seaton’s Studio & Gallery, 654 Spring Gardens Road.

Assante Wealth Management, TD Canada Trust, ICCC/Rustol,  Just Cremations & Burial, Keith Strong, Sheri Sutherland, Royal LePage, Ardent Motor, Smiths Funeral Home, Rob McKichan at Royal LePAge,  The Healing Path, Dr. Beth Nixon,  Coulter Building Consultants Ltd, Corby Custom Framing and Burlington Toyota Scion were financial supporters of both he tour and the scholarship program.



Return to the Front page

Freeman Station settles onto its foundation with a 2014 Loonie embeddeed in the sill plate.

News 100 blueBy Staff

June 24, 2014


Great day in Burlington history.

Step 1 Being lowred onto the concrete foundation June 24-14Step 2 Loonie that was put inAfter learning that the citizens of the city have paid for their pier twice, the good folks who remit their taxes on time, can take some pleasure in knowing that the Freeman Station is now sitting on its foundation and within day the construction crews will begin their work on the innards of the building.

Step 3 inches away from baseDuring the process of lowering the station onto the foundation, a 2014 Loonie was placed on top of the sill plate prior to the station being lowered.

James Smith, a candidate for the ward 5 council seat said “for some reason 2014 Loonies are hard to come by, but we did get one, and the people who move the station next can reclaim it.”

Step 4 In placeThat can happen when the railway station gets moved to its rightful location on the Beachway, where the railway track bed is now used as a walking path.



Return to the Front page

Email lists – Getting permission – and just when does no mean no?

JumarketingmoneymojoBne 20, 2014


James Burchill is not big on bureaucracy.  He doesn’t like getting tangled up on loose ends.  Define the target, aim, pull the trigger tends to be the Burchill modus operandi.   Here he gets on about having permission to email people.

 By James Burchill

Quick everyone … July 1st is fast approaching and we need to ask everyone we can think of whether we have permission to email them in the future.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Way to go genius … that’s going to cost you dearly.



Implied permission is still a legit way to connect via email UNTIL JULY 1st 2017 that’s 3 YEARS FROM NOW!

You’re basically going to burn your email list if you approach things this way. If you ask everyone in a frantic rush for permission you will get maybe 10% say yes. The rest WILL NOT.

This is not news … it’s typically been this way in the past. If you try and get a list to give you consent to sell them stuff – they usual say no … about 9 out of 10 people do anyway.

So stop with the knee-jerk reactions and think this through. Sure, the days of spamming people are over. Nope you can’t rent a list and sell stuff to them post July 1st without getting some grief … millions of it if you’re found wanting!

But, if you have a list and have been emailing it for a while and you have a pre-existing relationship with people that PRE-DATES July 1st then you have 3 MORE YEARS to move from IMPLIED CONSENT to EXPLICIT CONSENT.

And guess what … there are many wrinkles in the “law” that need ironing out before the REAL DROP DEAD DATE of JULY 1ST 2017.

You do not need to be scaring, spooking or generally giving your list the option to tell you to “go away!” … and if you keep asking them, well it serves you right because they will tell you to ***** off!

Stop being such a “fraidy-cat” and man-up. Email permission is getting a face lift for sure, and you should NOT SPAM PEOPLE but you certainly don’t need to commit email suicide either. Begin slowly converting the implied to the explicit by offering them a valuable report or “ethical bribe” that helps them solve a problem you’re in the market to remedy. Then you are totally on side with Bill C-28 and can email all you like.

Why the rant today? Well I’ve seen so many emails begging me for permission to stay connected … are you kidding me? Get real. This approach is wrong and frankly sends out the worst kind of desperate signals to people. So when I got yet another “whiny … please can we stay friends …” type email I lost it.

All ranting aside, seriously … stop shooting yourself in the foot. Work to convert (implied consent) people on your list by emailing them converting (explicit) offers … and USE THE NEXT 3 YEARS TO DO IT!

Again to be clear … you have 3 years to convert implicit to explicit permission and frankly if you can’t figure out a cool way to do that within your business sector … well I’d say maybe you don’t deserve an email list.

Burchill James C

James Burchill runs the Burlington Social Fusion Network that meets regularly at the Ivy Bar and Kitchen.

Return to the Front page

Is it right for a citizen to get SLAPPED around when they express an opinion that is honestly held?

BackgrounderBy: Peter Jacobsen Toby Mendel Shane Moffatt Cara Faith Zwibel

Originally published on Friday,  November 8 2013 in the Toronto Star

Freedom of expression and democracy are being undermined in Ontario. A panel of experts convened by the Ontario government in 2010 found that the threat of abusive lawsuits claiming massive damages, especially for defamation, is deterring “significant numbers” of Ontarians from speaking out on issues of important public interest.

However, there is now hope that action will be taken to address this problem, as the province’s political parties find themselves in rare agreement that it is high time to deal with this threat through strong legislation.

Courtroom - Canadian

A court room is an expensive place to be – is this the place where justice gets done.

Known as SLAPPs (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation), these dubious lawsuits are often brought by deep-pocketed companies with the specific aim of silencing resource-poor defendants. And they are very effective. The defendants, usually ordinary citizens or public interest groups, naturally feel threatened by the prospect of massive legal fees, disruption of their activities and the possibility of large damage awards. Even when the lawsuits have no merit whatsoever, they often result in a chill on free speech.

Comments on a wide range of public interest issues have attracted SLAPP suits in the past. These include reporting on environmental violations by large companies, exposing corruption and other forms of wrongdoing, and criticizing the behaviour of powerful individuals. In other words, SLAPPs are an attack on democracy. They undermine the ability of civil society and private individuals to act as watchdogs over the powerful.

Unfortunately, the threat of facing a SLAPP suit in Ontario is very real today. Greenpeace Canada is currently fighting a $7-million lawsuit brought by logging giant Resolute Forest Products. Dylan Powell, founder of small environmental NGO Marineland Animal Defence, currently faces a $1.5-million SLAPP from Marineland. The issue of SLAPPs first gained prominence in Ontario when Big Bay Point residents were hit with multimillion-dollar lawsuits by developers.

We need legislative protection from these chilling lawsuits. Anti-SLAPP legislation may affirm a legal presumption in favour of the protection of speech on matters that are of public interest, or engage public participation. If the defendant can demonstrate that his or her statements fall within the scope of this presumption, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff who must show that the case has substantial merit, that it is unlikely that any defence would succeed and that, on balance, the harm it has suffered outweighs the harm that would be done to the public interest if the case were to proceed.

Anti-SLAPP legislation has already been adopted in Quebec and most U.S. states. It’s now time for Ontario to follow suit. Important steps have been taken in this regard, specifically in the form of Bill 83, submitted by the Attorney General to the Ontario legislature in May 2013 – the first government-sponsored anti-SLAPP bill in Ontario.

This follows the first ever Ontarian anti-SLAPP bill, put forward by Andrea Horwath of the NDP as a private member’s bill in 2008. The Progressive Conservatives have also voiced support for this type of legislation, noting that abusive lawsuits represent a serious waste of taxpayer dollars.

Despite these positive steps forward, we are concerned about whether there is sufficient political will to see this through. The parties must not delay in adopting legislation that will champion the human rights of ordinary Ontarians, allow for robust debate on matters of public interest, save taxpayer money and uphold confidence in our legal system and our democracy.

Our organizations, along with more than 150 environmental organizations, free speech groups and unions, call on the Ontario legislature to pass anti-SLAPP legislation as a matter of priority. No less than 64 municipalities and the Ontario Bar Association have also supported anti-SLAPP legislation. It is time to protect Ontarians’ right to free expression.

Peter Jacobsen is Chair of the Canadian Issues Committee of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression; Toby Mendel is Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy;  Shane Moffatt is Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Canada; Cara Faith Zwibel is Director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Bill 183, the legislation that was to create anti-SLAPP legislation that would become law died on the Order Paper when the Legislature was dissolved for the provincial election.

Return to the Front page

Art centre takes on a new name and attaches a promise to it: Art Gallery of Burlington, creativity will live there.

theartsBy Pepper Parr

May 25, 2014


It was an interesting week for the arts. The Arts and Cultural Collective got closer to what its mission will be while the Performing Arts Centre released its program for the 2014/15 season to more than acceptable comment.

Not to be outdone, the former Burlington Art Centre decided to go for a whole new look and re-branded themselves and will forever after be known as the Art Gallery of Burlington – AGB; the place where Creativity Lives.

AGB logo with colour graphic

The arch in the A is supposed to signify the Skyway bridge – sure – with art the view is always in the eye of the beholder.

The BAC, old acronym for the Burlington Arts Centre, made it a bit difficult for many people to figure out which was which.  While the BAC – oops, that’s  the AGB now, had a much stronger pedigree and “involved” more people, there was still the sense that the building on Lakeshore road needed a stronger look and an identity that made it stand out.

The BAC board put together a very strong presentation during the budget cycle and got the funding they needed to do the re-brand.  They brought in John Duff to do the work.

The new name reflects their identity as a centre for art and supporting artists in the  community and the evolution of the place as a multi-faceted gallery.  For the past several years, the gallery administrators have been working to increase the profile and quality of their exhibitions and promote their acclaimed collection of Canadian contemporary ceramics.  Today, they are positioned to host national and international exhibitions, tour their ceramics collection and further develop their award winning educational programs.

The Art Gallery of Burlington also brought in a new curator, Denis Longchamps, who uses the title Director of Programs, has some very clear ideas on the direction he feels the gallery should be going in.

The Art Gallery of Burlington has gone so far as to attach a promise to their brand – to embrace and celebrate creativity and integrate the gallery into the community at large.  Delivery on this promise includes the promotion of three key messages:

  1. Art Gallery  providing the highest quality, stimulating exhibitions and contemporary ceramics collection
  2. Programs   that embrace the qualities of creativity, inspiration and supporting artistic development
  3. Outreach  that takes the AGB beyond its brick and mortar and into the community with partner events, school programs, city initiatives and connecting through Art Etc Gallery Shop

The tag line, CREATIVITY Lives Here!  is the first example of how the Art Gallery of Burlington is going to define itself an operate.

In a letter to the membership President Ian Ross said: “We are increasing our investment in exhibitions, responding to emerging artists, celebrating our national-significant ceramics collection, enhancing creativity in our educational programs, and reaching throughout our community and forming new partnerships.”

Putting meat on the bones of that statement means that the AGB is committed to celebrating and promoting the innovative and imaginative elements in all that they do and in all that they are.  Creativity will be the foundation seen in – Programming – Education – Partnerships – Membership – Strategy.

Founded by a number of guilds, the Art Gallery of Burlington has come up with a way to end the confusion as to who they are – Performing Arts Centre and Burlington Art Centre – PAC or BAC was confusing, but it will take more than a new name to get the message across.

What the public has not seen is the strength, energy and vision of two new staff members who are adding to the strength of the team that was already in place.

Leslie Page who runs the educational side, Johnathan Smith who has built the ceramics collection into what it is today are now joined by Kim Varian, Director of Enterprise and Dennis Longchamps, Director of Programs.  This team is what will make the difference.

BAC aerialThe ceramics collection needs a home; a place where it can be properly and effectively displayed.  Right now it gets scattered about the gallery with hundreds of pieces stacked on shelves in a storeroom.

Many at city hall have wondered if the land the gallery sits on is the most effective use of that piece of property.  Heard aloud were the words: “great place for a high end condo” and indeed it would be.  Selling the site would free up some money to build the kind of location an art gallery needs to display its ceramics collection.

More on the new team members, the ceramics collection and where the Art Gallery of Burlington might take the city in a future article.


Return to the Front page

Protesters prevent pipe line crews from inspecting a line that will carry oil from the Alberta tar sands to Montreal – via Burlington.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 21, 2014


It may have moved from  top of mind ‘for a lot of people but a local chapter of the Council of Canadians activists, local residents, allies and First Nations blockaded the access road to an exposed section of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline Tuesday morning.

The blockade was to be twelve hours in length as a symbolic gesture; one hour for every thousand anomalies Enbridge has reported to exist on the line.

Line 9 demonstration May 20-14

Enbridge inspection workers were prevented from getting to their work site on Tuesday by protesters demonstrating against the National Energy Board decision to approve the direction of the flow through the line.

Line 9 - integrity dig

Integrity digs are when crews dig up the soil covering the pipe and inspecting it for cracks and possible leaks. They are checking on the “integrity” of the line and its ability to transport a product.

Thepress release from the blockade states that “Line 9 has at least 12961 structural weaknesses along its length. And yet, Enbridge is only doing a few hundred integrity digs. Enbridge has been denying the problems with the pipe for years, and they still refuse to do the hydrostatic testing requested by the province. Are we really supposed to simply trust Enbridge when they tell us that this time they’ll do it right?”

Many of the blockaders point to the disastrous spill from Enbridge’s line 6b into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010, where millions of litres of oil spilled and have so far proven impossible to clean up. They also point out testimony at the NEB that Line 9 has a 90% chance of catastrophic failure in the initial years after its operation is changed.

Line 9 - tar sands sign

For the Line 9 protesters the issue is transporting oil from the tar sands in Alberta through a pipe line that runs through Burlington.

This public demonstration in Burlington is the first seen since the National Energy Board approved the reversing of the flow in Line 9.  There were a significant number of conditions attached to the approval, one of which was a number of digs to determine the condition of the line that is almost 40 years old.


Return to the Front page

Insight Burlington survey – doing just fine. Want in? Read on – Leah wants to hear from you.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 24, 2014


See it as a Jeff Fielding legacy.  It was a good, if expensive idea, and hopefully it will get used by Pat Moyle, the incoming interim city manager and whoever the city hires as its full time city manager later in the year.

Fielding was a believer in listening to what the public had to say and he wanted to hear opinions but didn’t like the time most of the processes for gathering opinion took.

A chum of his, Angus Reid, sold him on the idea of using an electronic service ($100,000 a year) and he signed the city on for a three year deal.

It took some time to get the public to go with the idea and the number of participants isn’t as high as Fielding wanted them to be.  There was always a little suspicion on the part of some people that the city would “know” who they were.  The city can never know who you are personally.  They don’t have access to that level of information – it isn’t on city computers.

The service is one that is run out of Vancouver – the city just creates the questions and the Vancouver people run the questionnaire.  Right now the city is looking into how people get information from the city.  There is a website – terrible thing – try finding something on it.

There is the three times a year magazine that is more puff and fluff than any really useful information.  There is the annual community report that is – how does one put this – selective in what they say about different projects and issues in the city.  Nice layout and design – but it doesn’t tell people anything they didn’t already know something about.  It doesn’t delve into the issues. And there are issues.

There are the full-page advertisements in the newspaper; then there are the newsletters that Council members send out.  I’ve yet to read an opinion in one of those newsletters that is the least bit controversial.  Pablum for the most part – just plain bland.  Voters want to know what their council members think.  They would like to be educated on the issues – not placated by men and woman who want to do everything they can to assure their re-election.

The most recent Insight Burlington survey tries to dig a little deeper on how people get their information about the city.  It begins with:

Hello Insight Burlington Community

This survey is about how the city communicates with residents.

It is very important for us to learn about where you get your information from on services, upcoming events or neighbourhood meetings. Are the tools we use effective? Is the information easy for you to understand?

Connecting with more people in the community is important to us and we need to learn from you, on where to focus our efforts.

This survey required about seven minutes.  What was intriguing about the questionnaire was the way the person taking the survey manipulated information on the screen.

The data base that holds all the information on each participant knows if you own a home or live in an apartment; knows if you are male or female and your age.  They have a rough idea of your income and the postal code you live in.  But they don’t know WHO you are.

So- when they have the results of this survey they MAY know (the results haven’t been tabulated yet) for example that people over 60 prefer the newspaper and no one really like the Community report.  And, again, for example that no one manages to get very much from the city web site.

If you want to take part in future surveys – email Leah Bisutti – Email Me –  and she will direct you to the right place on the city web site.

Insight April 2014 # 3

The way one answered this question was really cool. You just dragged the question into the order you wanted the information to appear and if you wanted to change your mind you just clicked on the little buttons to move things up and down. while it took less than seven minutes to complete the survey – you might find yourself playing with it for a while.

Insight April 2014 #1

The layout is neat, clean and clear. It is very easy to understand and it allows you to change your mind.

Insight April 2014 #2

The green progress at the bar tells you how far along you are in the questionnaire process


Return to the Front page

Pythons’ Pit finalists announced: presentations at DeGroote on Saturday.

Private Sector AANews 100 redBy Staff

April 23, 2014


The Pythons are back.  This annual event created by the Rotary Clubs of Burlington is an occasion for entrepreneurs in the commercial world and students at high schools who think they have good commercial ideas to get some of the technical help they need as well as some capital to grow the business idea.

Pythons’ Pit provides an avenue for creative, entrepreneurial residents and students of Halton Region and beyond to pitch their business concepts and product ideas in front of a live audience and a panel of real business moguls from the community. Open Category applicants can win up to $150,000 in start-up capital and a package of in-kind professional services to help launch the business. High School applicants can win cash prizes up to $2,500 or a bursary of up to $5,000.

Entrepreuners - person stepping ahead -graphic

The Pythons look for that person will a bold idea and a vision; those that step forward and show initiative and drive. These are the people that keep an economy growing.

There are two categories Open and High school students.

The Open Category entries this year are:

GymChum – Aydin Betez

Country Basics – Ted & Lisa West

V.M. Enterprises – Vincent Marchese

Tetra Biologicals Inc. – Bruce Robinson & Thurkathipana Navaneethan

Ranggo – Noha Abdelaziz & Peter Basil

Finalists in the High School Category are:

NORSAF Technologies – Jack Greenburg, Garth Webb Secondary School

Smart Tasks – Jennifer Palfi: Bishop Reding High School

Smart Tap – Jessy Kang; Abbey Park Secondary School

Fashion on Wheels – Nita Stranaghan & Katie Henderson; Georgetown District High School

Cyclo-Charger – Mark Suan: Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School

Leading the event as Emcee this year is Connie  Smith, well know local television personality.  The program is brought to the community by McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business.  Presenting sponsors are: Royal Bank and the MNP Group

Students winners last year were:

Ryan Muil, a Grade 12 student at Christ the King Catholic Secondary School in Georgetown, won first place and $2,500 for his already successful company Muil-E’s Hot Sauce, that Ryan founded when he was just twelve years old.

Jasmine Mercer, a Grade 11 student at Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School in Burlington, won second place and $1,000 for her Mobilization of Restaurant Software – an application she developed, which offers solutions to problems Jasmine encountered while working in the restaurant industry.


Return to the Front page

Nelson Youth Centre to benefit from bank donation.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 4, 2014


It’s hard to keep up with the different colours used by the corporate community and community organizations to signify interest in what they are doing. I think it all started with that American pop song: “Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree” to celebrate the return of a person who wasn’t at all sure he would be welcome.

I thought that pink was taken by the CIBC bank  people and their Run for the Cure to raise funds for  cancer treatment but pink is also being used to recognize International Day of Pink


Set in the east end of the city on New Street the Nelson Youth Centre has been serving youth since the 1980’s

Each year on the second Wednesday of April, millions of people wear pink to remember that positive actions make a difference. On Wednesday April 9th, RBC will make a donation to the Nelson Youth Centre in Burlington to support their efforts to eliminate bullying and discrimination.

Nelson Youth Centre is an accredited Children’s Mental Health Centre that offers treatment programs for at-risk youth in Halton. Reconnecting Youth is a community based program focused on helping youth develop effective social/emotional skills, coping strategies and effective learning skills to transition into adulthood and become successful and independent. The program works with youth, families, schools and the community and provides mental treatment and support for youth between the ages of 14-17 who are experiencing moderate to severe mental health issues which significantly impacts their ability to cope.

 Day of Pink is an international day against bullying and discrimination supported by RBC.  Last year, more than 16,000 RBC employees wore pink to show support for this great cause; this year the bank is  encouraging employees to wear pink and in Halton South we are also making a donation to the Nelson Youth Centre in Burlington.

The Nelson Youth Centre has a program called Reconnecting Youth that provides individual and group counseling for youth struggling with self-esteem, social/emotional issues and poor peer relationship issues.

Next week we will take a look at the people and programs at Nelson.

Return to the Front page

New rules to govern cell phone contracts – nothing about lower prices.

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 2, 2014


Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Consumer Services and Consumer Protection Initiatives got herself out in front of a microphone earlier today and passed on what she thought was good news – and good news it was – assuming what she said is true, true, true.

Tracy MacCharles

The Minister of Consumer Services and Consumer Protection Initiatives told us how we were going to be protected from cell phone contract abuse – from the offices of a cell phone provider.

Which is a nice way of saying the prices aren’t coming down but you will know just how high – try sky high – those prices are going to be when you sign up.

That the Minister delivered her comment at the offices of Wind Mobil gives you a sense of who has the clout; had she been out on a street corner with people who had their phones next to their ears and talked to them about what works and doesn’t work – this might have been a different story.

So for now we have to go with what the Minister said in that controlled environment the politicians like.

Eight out of every 10 Ontario families have a wireless services agreement but most of us don’t really understand the contracts we sign: the terms and conditions, what’s included in the agreed upon monthly fee, and what will cost extra.

Thus the new Wireless Services Agreements Act now in effect, brings long-awaited improvements to the marketplace. Ontario consumers can now expect clearer, easier-to-understand information, and fewer surprises when they enter into, or amend, cell phone and wireless services contracts.

Requiring plain language contracts;

Requiring that contracts clearly outline which services come with the basic fee, and which would result in extra charges;

Requiring that providers get a customer’s explicit consent before amending, renewing or extending a fixed-term contract;

Enforcing a cap on cancellation fees, making it less expensive for consumers to walk away from contracts; and

Allowing a consumer to cancel a contract at no cost after two years.

Cell phone usersWhat can consumers do if they think their contract was not properly made — or they feel they are paying for services they didn’t contract for?  Under our new law, providers who do not comply with the rules must give consumers who cancel their contracts a full refund for up to a year of service.

Cell phone users - crowdIf a provider charges for services after a contract is improperly amended, a consumer is entitled to get that money back. 

The act also addresses advertising by wireless services providers. Providers must now show the minimum monthly costs in ads – if they are advertising any costs – and the most prominent price must be the all-inclusive price.

Keeping up with all these rules and the services being provided to protect us can be daunting.  The government has launched a new program (yes, another one) called Consumer Protection Ontario; an awareness program that will link together all of the consumer protection activities of the Ontario government with a common identifier.

Provincially mandated administrative authorities – such as the Real Estate Council of Ontario, the Electrical Safety Authority, and Technical Standards and Safety Authority, will help the people of Ontario know where they can turn to get information about their consumer concerns.

The Stronger Protection for Ontario Consumers Act gave provides more effective rules to help people who have to deal with door-to-door transactions, dealing with debt settlement companies, or in real estate transactions.

The province is going to modernize Ontario’s Condominium Act, so that the 1.3 million people in this province who live in a condo will have up-to-date legislation that reflects the reality of condo life today – including proper qualifications for managers and increased consumer protection for owners.

They are also continuing to explore home inspector qualification to increase the level of confidence people have when they buy a home – they need to be sure that their pre-purchase inspection has been done by someone with appropriate credentials.

Tow truck with car

Protection from tow truck drivers – now that is something useful.

Do you get the sense that we have a government working hard to convince us that they are out there doing everything they can to protect us – which many of us wanted them to do when they were thinking through how to get out of those gas plants they decided not to complete – that was a $1 billion ouch.


Return to the Front page