Oakville North Burlington Liberal Pam Damoff sets out why she should be re-elected

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

September 1st, 2021



Oakville North Burlington Liberal incumbent Pam Damoff spoke to the Gazette about her work representing the community, where she hopes to leave her mark on public service.

First elected in 2015 Pam Damoff is asking the people of Oakville North Burlington to send her back to Ottawa.

Damoff is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services. She was open and transparent about the Liberal administration’s shortcomings on boil-water advisories in Indigenous communities, the national conversation residential school discoveries have started, gun control as a public health concern, and the job she’s done so far.

Damoff spoke about lifting long-standing boil water advisories in Indigenous communities, a 2015 Trudeau campaign promise that  is  poised to be missed by years. Damoff was asked what message the Liberal government had for Indigenous people on the failure to lift long-term water boil advisories to reiterate their seriousness and commitment to the project. As with most comments on this topic so far by Liberal representatives, Damoff focuses on what has been accomplished rather than where the Liberals have come up short.

There are still boil water advisories in Indigenous communities.

“We’ve lifted 109 long-term drinking water advisories, right now there are 50 remaining in 31 communities. So, that includes 535 projects, 99 water treatment plants, and 436 upgrades that have been funded. So we’ve invested $4.27 billion to achieve clean drinking water. We prevented 188 short-term drinking water advisories from becoming long-term. So, we’ve done more than any other government in history to end long-term drinking water advisories.

“There is a plan in place for all of the remaining advisories to be lifted. One of the things that we want to ensure is that, first of all, we’re working with the community to the solution that they want for their problems. They are the ones that lift water advisories, not the federal government. So it’s up to the community itself to lift that long-term drink water advisory. And we’ll want to make sure that they also have the tools they need to ensure that when water advisories are lifted they have the people in the community to service, for example, water treatment plants. So it involves training, it involves working with the first nation to ensure that once they have clean drinking water that they can maintain that infrastructure. Every community has a plan in place to end their long-term drinking water advisory and a timeline,” said Damoff.

Damoff’s claim that it is the community who lifts water advisories, not the federal government, begs the question as to why Justin Trudeau would make such a promise in the first place. NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, was recently asked if he would write a blank check to solve boil water advisories and he asked if this question would even be raised if those without clean water lived in Toronto or Vancouver.

Canada has not legislated drinking water as a human right but has recognized a UN declaration on human rights to safe drinking water in 2012. Nine years later and there is a question of how valuable progress can be treated on what has been an abject failure.

Before the dissolving of Parliament, Bill C-230 was in progress to redress environmental racism, which encompasses boil-water advisories among other injustices, it would have been the first of its kind. Damoff said she planned to support the bill. The language of the bill called not only for urgent action against environmental racism but defined timelines and transparency. Due to the election call Bill C-230, which had made some progress, is dead and legislation will have to be re-introduced in the next Parliament.

Canada still needs to do better on Indigenous curriculum Damoff says, but adds the discovery of the mass graves in residential schools has opened the eyes of many Canadians and while the country has to do better going forward she says it has improved and young people are becoming more aware of Indigenous issues. Damoff alluded to reconciliation and discussed what that looks like in practical terms.

National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations addressing members of Parliament from the floor of the House of commons.

“I think listening to indigenous people, and recognizing that they are the first peoples of this country, and the days of the government determining what is best for indigenous people need to be over. We need to work in partnership with them and support them in the decisions they choose to make for their own people. So I think all of us can commit to learning more and being allies to indigenous peoples and supporting them. If you go back to the residential school site, each community just determines what is best for themselves, whether it’s searching for the graves, for example, whether it’s preserving residential school sites, which is what they’re doing at six nations at the former Mohawk Institute. In that situation, the government was able to provide funding to complete the restoration in partnership,” said Damoff.

When asked if all residential schools needed to be searched for mass graves Damoff said that is the decision of Indigenous communities and that she, and the government, will support them.

(Damoff asked the Gazette to include the residential school survivors phone number if we wrote about the topic, that number is: 1-866-925-4419)

Elsewhere, Damoff criticized the Conservative’s characterization of gun restrictions and said it’s time to treat firearms as a matter of public health. Damoff pointed to the gun lobby and member, Burlington Conservative candidate, Emily Brown, failing to take suicide into consideration among other alleged oversights.

“It’s time we start treating firearms as a public health issue and that’s what our government has been doing. 75% of people who died by firearms are dying by suicide. There are women that are terrorized by their partner, who has a firearm, who are often killed. There was a woman in North Burlington, if you recall, a few years ago who was killed by a former partner. The measures that we’ve taken include extended background checks, which will include social media history, a history of domestic violence, and several other measures.

“So, the Conservative’s focus is on guns and gangs, and we rightly need to take action on that so we restored funding that was cut under the Harper government.  We’ve also invested in police services and enhanced programs in the community to try to ensure that community organizations are in place to ensure people aren’t joining gangs in the first place.

Rifles seized by the Oakville detachment of the Regional Police

“So, a multi-pronged approach to preventing crime in the first place. Preventing guns from being smuggled in is an important part of that as is the ban on military-style assault rifles, like the kind used at the attack at École Polytechnique in 1989. One of the guns that we’re banning is the firearm that was used in that shooting, where women were targeted. And if you look up the perpetrator of that crime, he was a law-abiding gun owner. The man who killed people in the mosque in Quebec City had a legal firearm.

“So, you know, the rhetoric from the gun lobby, of which the Conservative candidate in Burlington is a part of, doesn’t take into account the devastating impact of firearms on families when someone uses their weapon to die by suicide. They will often say that well if you ban guns people will just use another method and if you talk to the emergency physicians, and people who deal with these things that are professionals in this area, they will tell you that firearms are deadly there’s no second chance. Most people who attempt suicide. If they’re not successful, they told us that they don’t try it again. So, you know, it’s just not true. The measures we put forward are supported by doctors and many others,” said Damoff.

Reflecting on her work serving the local community Damoff addressed COVID-19 response and support provided for residents, businesses, and not-for-profits. She also highlighted acquiring funding for summer jobs programs and cancer research.

Damoff has been a huge supporter of women who need help. She has a large group of young women who have worked in her Oakville office.

“During the pandemic, we provided support for residents and businesses who needed it. We provided support to not-for-profit organizations, like Halton’s Women’s Place and Goodfellow that help them to still be able to serve the public through an incredibly difficult time. Habitat for Humanity is another that I’m very proud to have in my riding and to support them. Funding for Canada Summer Jobs, when I was elected in 2015, because it was a new riding, the funding for Canada Summer Jobs that first year was only about $240,000 this past year it’s 2.5 million. We advocated strongly to get more funding for organizations and owners willing to support young people in their jobs. It’s a program that I’m proud of.

“In 2019 I was able to procure $115 million for cancer research and the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network. The federal government collaborates with the Terry Fox Research Institute and provides matching funding, the government’s contributing $150 million to that. And that’s a roadmap to cure cancer which is quite exciting. In the 2021 budget, there was $30 million for childhood cancer research and that was something that I’ve worked with families and survivors to, to provide funding for the number one killer of children,” said Damoff.

The implementation of a national affordable childcare program is where Damoff wants to leave her mark on public office if re-elected. Damoff wants to see through the fight against COVID-19 and combat the growing cost of living concerns in the community that is seeing housing become untenable.

Damoff, centre, has in the past taken part in the New Year’s Day Polar Dip – part of a climate change initiative.

“I really want to see implement a national affordable childcare program, Ontario is one province where we don’t have an agreement. But we know that childcare that costs $10 a day is not only good for the family but it’s good for the economy. And it will allow women to fully participate in the economy, and it will increase our GDP. So it’s good for everyone. And something I feel strongly about is affordable housing that was announced in our platform. I hear from a lot of young people who want to leave the community because they can’t afford to live here. So that’s something and then also finishing the fight against COVID-19 We’re not done.


“I know that climate change is top of mind for residents who I speak to, and one of the reasons I got into politics. So I think climate change needs to be top of mind, as does gun control, and childcare,” said Damoff.


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Temporary Drive Test Centre to be opened at Burlington GO September 7th

By Staff

August 30th, 2021



In the coming weeks, the Ontario government will open additional temporary road test centres in Burlington to increase the number of passenger road tests (class G2/G) available in areas where demand is highest.

These temporary road test centres will help increase testing capacity across the DriveTest network and help people who need a road test book sooner.

The province finally opened up additional Testing Centres. Burlington GO station is the location for the temporary location. Register on-line.

Throughout efforts to clear the backlog, the health and safety of DriveTest customers and staff will be of utmost concern. Customers will be required to wear face masks inside centres and during road tests, sanitize their hands, complete the Patron/customer screening developed by the province and share their “passed” results prior to the road test or admittance to the centre.

Starting Tuesday, September 7, 2021, DriveTest will offer class G2 and G road tests seven days a week between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., at temporary locations at Burlington GO Station

These sites are in addition to the temporary road test centres that opened in August 2021.

To book your road test, please visit DriveTest.ca – the only official channel for booking a road test. You should never give your driver’s licence to a third party or an unknown website. DriveTest will never charge you an additional fee to book or reschedule a road test.

The inability to complete road tests to qualify for their driver’s has been a serious issue for far too many young people who have found jobs but need to be able to drive.

The province failed to notice the significant increase in demand.

Finally some action.  The demand will be heavy expect delays.

Quick Facts

  • In addition to opening temporary centres, Ontario is hiring an additional 251 temporary driver examiners, extending weekday operating hours for passenger road testing and offering passenger road tests on Saturdays and Sundays at select locations to clear the backlog of road tests.
  • Because of the high demand for road test appointments, we are unable to prioritize customers with cancelled appointments. As measures to address capacity are implemented, additional road test appointments will be made available. Please continue to check DriveTest.ca for new blocks of road test appointments.
  • If your road test was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, you will have a credit on the system to rebook your test.
  • Road test applicants may be required to provide a contact phone number should contact tracing be required. Applicants may be required to keep vehicle windows open to ensure proper airflow.
  • All DriveTest staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment when serving customers, and driver examiners will also be equipped with face shields, sanitizer packages and seat covers when conducting road tests.
  • For inside services and road testing for other licence classes, customers will need to visit a permanent DriveTest location.
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Rivers on the role Canada has played in getting Afghan citizens out of the country before the Taliban gets their hands on them

By Ray Rivers

August 30th, 2021



“I want to take this opportunity to speak with our brothers, the Taliban,” said Monsef. “We call on you to ensure the safe and secure passage of any individual in Afghanistan out of the country. We call on you to immediately stop the violence, the genocide, the femicide, the destruction of infrastructure, including heritage buildings.” (Maryam Monsef, August 2021)


Maryam Monsef

The media and social media frenzy that followed that address by the federal minister responsible for the Status for Women, Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Maryam Monsef, was horrific.   She clearly had been chosen to speak to the new government in Afghanistan, given her Afghan Canadian nationality, as well as the special role she plays looking out for women and their human rights.

But it didn’t take long for Conservative Leader O’Toole and the conservative media to attack the minister for using the term ‘brothers’ which has a cultural significance they obviously don’t understand.   And of course it is election time.

To be clear, Canada ended its combat role in 2011 and it’s training role in 2014.  There were seven years since then for Afghans and Canadians in that country to leave.  Anyone living there should have understood the inevitability of a Taliban victory once Donald Trump demonstrated his ‘art-of-the-deal’ in February 2020, which sealed that country’s fate.

Canadian immigration officials admit they might have acted sooner or faster to short cut screening rules and allow more people to migrate here.  But what would be the public reaction had an ISIS-K terrorist slipped through the cracks?  Regardless that we rescued 3700 people, many Afghans were disappointed they couldn’t be airlifted.  Still, Canada has offered to eventually take in over 20,000 more refugees, making us one of the largest host nations.

Canadian armed forces were reluctant participants in Afghanistan – their role was to train the Afghan Army.

And we must remember that this was not Canada’s war of choice.  We only went there because the USA invoked NATO’s Article 5 following 9/11, albeit on the thinnest of rationales.    Still that demanded collective reaction by NATO.  And it was America that changed the war from a retaliatory strike against al Qaeda to the doomed nation-building project which mostly ended up as waste of time, money and lives.

And it was the Americans who managed the panicked exodus of extra-nationals and those Afghans who had helped them in the war effort, once the Taliban seized Kabul. Canada was a bit player and, no sooner had commercial flights stopped operating we, along with other minor players, were signaled to end our humanitarian evacuation.  And the situation as we have seen became increasingly dangerous as time went on.

The Taliban has committed before 98 nations that it will respect human rights, including the right for its citizens to be able to leave the country.  Once the US Marines leave the airport, commercial flights may resume, though few people expect the Taliban to stick to the letter of that agreement.

Thousands have already fled the borders to Pakistan or one of the other bordering nations.  That is how most people vacate a war zone, much as Minister Monsef’s family fled to Iran during the Soviet invasion, before ending up in Canada.

The ignorance of the critics damning the Minister for her use of the cultural term ‘brothers’ is indicative of how democracy in this country has deteriorated, particularly since the advent of social media where many people now look for their news.  And as the more traditional media has become politically polarized, alternated facts and outright mis-information, have made truth whatever you want it to be.  Yet, a democracy cannot continue to function in the absence of a well informed public – information is perhaps the most important pillar of our system of governance.

It was a big lie by the former president that the 2020 US election was stolen, which set off an insurrection, siege and the occupation of the US Congressional assembly, the heart of American democracy.   The image of a violent mob ransacking and defacing public buildings in places all around the world is not new – but this had never happened before at the Capitol.

It could have been a scene from Tehran or Kabul.  But it is what is becoming more commonplace in America precipitated from both the political right as well as the left.  Intolerance and disrespect have led to the breakdown of the great American society.  Society has been fractionalized along artificial lines of we and they, right and left, Republicans and Democrats.

With more protesters than supporters on hand for a visit to Bolton, ON – the Prime Minister’s handlers asked the OPP to escort their bus out of town.

And now we see civil discourse turning to confrontational, angry, violent protest here as well.  Hate charged articles in the Rebel and Toronto Sun are picked up and translated on social media so as to drive the wedge among all of us.  Erin O’Toole, to his credit, has spoken against these kind of demonstrations, but the people who support him were in the crowds in Bolton and Cambridge.  They made it a point to shout obscenities and racial insults and violently heckle to the point that one of the events had to be cancelled for the safety of the public.

And finally the Honourable Maryam Monsef, who has been beaten up by a highly partisan mob media may well lose her rural riding because of the bad press.  And that will just demonstrate that some of us anyway are no better than those people in that hell hole from which her parents saved her.  It just shows that you don’t have to be a woman in the Taliban’s Afghanistan to become a victim of hatred.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers



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Parks4People want Regional government to support turning the quarry into a park - in a couple of decades.

By Pepper Parr

August 30th, 2021



There is a Battle Royal taking place between two community groups where the focus is on what happens to the quarry on #2 Side Road west of Guelph Line.

The quarry has been there for decades during which time it provided the aggregate needed to build Burlington.

Nelson Aggregate has gone about as deep as they can go on the current site.

The quarry has reached the point where the open pit mine is close to being mined out.

Nelson Quarry has made an application to extend the area they can mine. People in the area are opposed.

Nelson Quarry took a significantly different approach to this second application. In 2012 their application was turned down based on the impact a new mine would have on the Jefferson Salamander.

The quarry people have identified an area that is a breeding ground for the salamander that is to be set aside for just that purpose.

The CORE group are opposed and they have worked diligently to raise finds and fight the good fight.

A second community group – Parks4People want the city to accept the offer of land that will be donated to the city when the extension of the land is also mined out.

THAT eventuality is decades away.

Both Parks4People and CORE are gathering signatures. The Parks4People have 3000 plus signatures – no word on what CORE has but it is understood to be quite close to the Parks 4People number.

The Gazette has done a number of story’s on the CORE group. Their web site is at: https://www.coreburlington.com/

Parks4People put together a presentation that is online at: https://www.parks4halton.com

Their argument is that –

Our parks are already packed

They provide a map that shows park use in Halton on an average weekend. The red shows maximum capacity.

They claim “ our park resources are already stretched thin” adding that with population projections through to the 2040’s “ set to explode” – “where will our children and their children play?”

If the data is correct – there would appear to be a problem on the horizon.

They want to see a plan for how Halton will meet the growing need for green space.

Nelson Aggregates has offered to turn the land over to the city and create a 1,000 acre park.

Turning a mined out quarry into a park is a great idea – it was done in St Mary’s Ontario and turned out to be very popular. The crunch comes when the details are made public,

The Parks4People claim “the mayor has rejected the offer outright. The local councillor has said Halton “doesn’t need a big park.”

Parks4People want Regional council to vote “yes” to parks.

Healthy debate and discussion over different views is a good thing.

The final page of the People4Parks ends with a Call to Action.  They want you to click on that box and support their position.  Something really interesting happens if you click on the box to show your support.  That’s a follow up story.

That little box is there for you to show your support. Interesting thing happens when you do click.

The final decision on this matter will be made by a Joint Tribunal that has a clear process and a time line.


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Black, African and Caribbean folk strut their stuff at the Pier

By Staff

August 29th, 2021



The third and last event put on by Bling Events International took place in Spencer \smith Park Saturday night.

You had to be there to get the full vibe – the pictures taken by Mozelle tell some of the story .

These live music events were in recognition and celebration of Black, African, Caribbean, Canadian appreciation month – which was a proclamation Carlene Ling (Event Organizer) requested and received through the Mayor’s office.

The events were not heavily promoted – people who were part of the communities being celebrated knew and they took part.

The objective was for people to get out and have some fun but not draw large crowds where the needed social distancing would become difficult.
Bling International put on a great show Saturday night at the Burlington Pier. Fun was had by all.



Good crowds but not huge crowds milling about in the cool evening air.

This looks like a Congo Line.

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This election is all about power - the voters get to decide who wields it

By Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2021



Elections are about power.

Those who have it want to keep it.

Those who don’t sometimes think they can get it and they do their very best to win power.

The current Prime Minister wanted a majority which would give him the power he wants to run the country the way he wants.

Karina Gould has a seat in this house – Emily Brown wants that seat – you the public get to decide which woman will represent you best. Remember they both take an ideology with them.

There was no need for this election but the Governor General decided to agree to his request to form a new Parliament.

Karina Gould wants to be part of that government Emily Brown thinks she can win the seat.

The public will decide – our role is to do what we can to ensure that the voting public is well informed.

The candidates may not like what we write – we aren’t writing for the candidates. We are writing for people who are going to decide who they want to represent them

Emily Brown brings a lot to the table. She thinks she can win and should she do so – she will want to be a Member of Cabinet.

The Conservatives see an opportunity and they are going to fight as hard as they can to win the seat.

Both Karina Gould and Emily Brown have impressive educational achievements.

This country had a tradition of politicians meeting with media.

The argument that she is too busy organizing her campaign office to meet with media is spurious at best.

Ms Brown speaks of supporting traditional family values – truth, honesty and decency.

Ms Brown was the child of a military family. One would have thought she would be defend the values her Father put on a uniform to ensure we kept the democracy we have.

The power is always in the hands of the people.  Those who want that power are obligated to to be transparent and accountable.  Going door to door is part of the process, meeting with media is another part.

We wish her the best – and hope that she chooses to be what she is telling us she is.

Should she win the seat and find herself sitting in the House of Commons she will be a force to contend with.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Not sure what Emily Brown will do for Burlington unless it comes to a shootout somewhere then she is the obvious choice

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 26th, 2021



Emily Brown is running a unique platform as the first Burlington candidate to bring gun rights and crime to the forefront of her concerns.

Brown has been unable to make the time to speak to the Gazette; we will be profiling the candidate and her campaign as comprehensively as we can with the resources available until we have the opportunity to actually interview the candidate.

As the Conservative candidate for Burlington she has appeared on conservative-centric youth shows and repeatedly hit out at the Trudeau administration for failing to be tough on crime and “attacking” law-abiding gun owners.

Emily Brown has won awards at numerous levels – a respected member of the gun community.

Brown, a long-time sport shooter, sits on the Board of the Ontario Provincial Sharpshooting Association, the Ontario Council of Shooters, the Canadian Trapshooting Association, as well as the Canadian University Shooting Federation, and has been endorsed by the National Firearms Associations as an advocate for the gun owning community.

Brown has lived in Burlington for the eight years and teaches mathematics at the Pilon school where her focus is on Business Math, Business Calculus and algebra.

In Twitter exchanges, Brown claimed “she is the gun lobby” and unequivocally stated gun control does not impact criminals.
“I have been a sport shooter for over 47 years. I AM the gun lobby. I know how ineffective gun control, bans, more legislation will be. Stand down.” Brown tweeted in a dispute on November 13th, 2020.

“The Liberal government and particularly this ‘public safety’ Minister have left Canadians unsafe in their homes and communities. Gun control does NOT impact criminals. Time to get tough on crime!” Brown tweeted on December 16th, 2020.

The Halton Regional Police Service announced recently that Halton region has maintained its position of having the lowest Crime Severity Index (CSI) of all Canadian municipalities with a population of 100,000 or more.

Brown stands with Conservative leader Erin O’Toole on repealing Bill C-21 and the OIC firearm bans, both have been bashed as punishing law-abiding gun owners by the Conservative representatives.

O’Toole objected to Trudeau’s proposed gun legislation as an attack on the rights and freedoms of Canadians saying it was a fact that the legislation would not save a single life. O’Toole proposed steering the conversation around guns to those illegally purchased and used this as an example of Trudeau being divisive, Brown has done the same.

Dismissing any effectiveness of gun owner legislation Brown instead has raised concerns about 3D printed firearms and firearms smuggled across the border. While Canadians share Brown’s concerns about smuggling most don’t have qualms with the banning of “assault-style weapons,”( a term O’Toole dismissed as “misleading” and “loaded,” but the one used for the available polling data) in a Global News poll from 2020. 9% of Canadians disagreed with the ban and an equal number strongly disagreed with the ban while over half strongly agreed with the ban and a total of about 80% agreed with the ban on some level.

Passionate about guns, Brown describes herself as the gun lobbyist in Ontario

Brown is passionate about gun owner rights but it remains to be seen how interested voters will be in this as a primary concern of their potential representative.

Brown speaks as well to a rise of crime in Burlington as well as human trafficking, calling it “rampant.”

“Human trafficking is rampant in Burlington, and happens right under citizens’ noses. I will be addressing it as the federal Conservative candidate here, and am happy to see your focus on it too. Conservatives at work for Canadians!” tweeted Brown on May 20, 2021.

The question of how important Burlington citizens see Brown’s focus on guns will likely extend to her safety concerns for the city. In a city often ranked among Canada’s safest citizens surely want to keep it that way but may have trouble identifying with Brown’s concerns, crime is increasing in Burlington at a moderate level.   The Halton Regional Police Service achieved an all-time high Weighted Clearance Rate of 56.41 per cent. This score is tops among Ontario’s ‘Big 12’ police services.

Brown’s claims about rampant child trafficking in Burlington could not be verified.

Brown wants to restore Canada’s international reputation.

Brown says she decided to run because she is really concerned about the state of Canada.

Among her other biggest issues are the economy on which she has reiterated O’Toole’s party message to balance the budget within ten years and championed the need for well-paying and reliable jobs for Canadians while supporting small businesses. Brown says when people earn good money they will be willing to spend which promotes activity and growth in the economy.

Divisiveness is a key concern, Brown says this is because she has friends who talk about separation as an option.

Brown also wants to restore Canada’s international reputation. She has hit out at Canada taking vaccines from third world countries through COVAX, a program in which her Burlington opponent, Liberal representative and Minister for International Development, Karina Gould is directly involved.

Emily Brown is a professor of Mathematics at the Pilon School of Business, Sheridan College, and obtained her Master’s degree in Calgary.

We hope to speak with the candidate soon and hear her expand on her platform so we can provide a more comprehensive picture.

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Liberal candidate for Burlington Karina Gould had a lot more to say about what the government did in the last Parliament

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 25th, 2021



In the second part of her interview with the Gazette, Burlington Liberal candidate, Karina Gould said she looks forward to what Canada can expect if the Liberal administration wins re-election.

Karina Gould rousing her troops on the campaign trail.

Gould discussed the snap election call, pandemic recovery, vaccine mandates and what the country will look like for those who refuse the vaccine, government role in internet censorship, Bill C-10, the cost of living, and environmental racism in Canada.

Much has been made about Justin Trudeau’s decision to call a snap election, surveys conducted by Gazette field reporters returned mixed reactions skewing negative.  The Leader of the Opposition blasted the decision as everything from a cynical power grab to a dereliction of duty. Gould defends the election call, assuring Canadians the dissolving of parliament will not hinder the response to a potential fourth COVID-19 wave or Afghanistan evacuation. Gould also thinks this is an important time for an election.

“It’s been a year and a half that we’ve been in the pandemic, our systems are in place, whether it’s income supports, we’ve extended those right through to the end of October. So everything is in place to respond at the federal level, the Public Health Agency of Canada is continuously involved with the provinces and territories in terms of pandemic response. And whether it’s the recovery hiring benefit, whether it’s the recovery benefit for people who still can’t go back to work, or whether it’s the rent subsidy, those programs already exist and are working and are extended beyond the election. So there’s nothing preventing us from responding to the fourth wave.

“When it comes to Afghanistan, Minister Garneau, Minister Mendicino, Minister Sajjan, and I are working on it on a daily basis. We also put together before the election the policy on bringing in 20,000 Afghan refugees, we already had our airlift set up. So there’s not a lot of major policy decisions that need to happen because that infrastructure was already in place before the election was called. Canada continues to be engaged and involved, and we’re still responding. And we’re responding very quickly to things as they’re evolving on the ground.

Chaos and fear at the Kandahar airport in Afghanistan while thousands wait for an airlift out of the country.

“I actually do think it’s an important time to have an election. There’s been a lot that’s happened over the last two years that was not anticipated. When we went to the polls in 2019. We brought in a whole lot of new programs that no party ran on in 2019. And so it’s a moment to say to Canadians ‘okay, we’ve turned the corner and the pandemic, you know, we’re the most vaccinated country in the world, yes, we’re concerned about a fourth wave. But we also want to set ourselves up for recovery. And these are the plans that we’re putting forward for recovery. Is this what you agree with? Is this what you want us to be doing right now?’ And so those are the questions that we’re asking Canadians,” said Gould.
Vaccine mandates are quickly becoming a dominant election issue with Justin Trudeau eager to paint Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s suggestion regular testing would be adequate for those who refuse the vaccine as dangerous. Gould took a bipartisan approach when speaking of what the future of Canada looks like for those who refuse vaccination without medical justification, pointing to Thursday’s dismissal of a Conservative MPP for refusing vaccination. Vaccine mandates will allow people to choose not to get the vaccine, but the choice to abstain will lead to fewer choices elsewhere.

“We’ve seen the Ontario Conservative Party saying, ‘if you’re not vaccinated, and you don’t have a legitimate medical reason, then you’re not part of our caucus.’ We saw one MPP, who was ejected from caucus on Thursday, said that if you’re not vaccinated without a legitimate medical reason, then you can’t come into work. So these are the kinds of questions that we’re asking ourselves, Canadians have stepped up in a huge way, right here in Burlington, I think over 80% of our population who’s eligible has gotten their vaccine. And so people have really stepped up to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community, and they want to get back to doing the things that they want to do.

The drive now is to get the unvaccinated to go for their needle .

“But we’ve seen that this is really becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We put in a mandate at the federal level to have all federal employees vaccinated to say, ‘if you’re going to take a train or a plane, you know, where you are in close quarters with other people, you need to be vaccinated.’ It’s everybody’s choice at the end of the day, whether they want to get vaccinated or not. But there may be some things they might not be able to do because they might be putting other people at risk. And that’s not fair to those people who have really done everything they can to protect themselves, their families, and their communities,” said Gould.

Bill C-10 has been the subject of Conservative criticism for infringing on free speech through internet censorship.  Gould says the bill is “nothing of the sort”. And adds that Conservatives supported Bill C-10, which she says is about updating the Broadcasting Act to include the internet and protect cultural identity, until they decided to take the line of censorship which “wasn’t even entirely accurate.”

Independent of Bill C-10 Gould didn’t dismiss the government playing a role in internet censorship, lamenting the lack of protection from hate speech online.

“When the conservatives were in power, they got rid of section 13 of the Human Rights Act. And section 13 protected Canadians from hate speech online. We think we need to bring something back, that protects people from hate speech online, you’re protected from hate speech, out on the street, right? In communal settings. But for some reason, there’s differentiation with what happens online. I think that’s a really old way of seeing things because, for people who’ve grown up with the internet, there’s no difference between what happens online and what happens offline. And so we’ve been hearing calls, particularly from minority groups, from Jewish groups, Muslim groups, black Canadians, Indigenous Canadians, the list goes on and on and on, that they need those protections for hate speech online because we’re seeing a rise in hate rhetoric. And so this is a really important conversation and debate to have. And you know, we already have those provisions in the offline world, there’s no reason we shouldn’t apply what we wouldn’t accept offline to be happening online,” said Gould.

Housing that people can afford is critical across the country.

Cost of living is always at the forefront of the national conversation for Canadians, O’Toole has called it a crisis, Gould pointed to a number of areas the Liberal government is helping combat growing affordability concerns. Gould mentioned the 2017 $40 billion National Housing strategy in response to Conservatives taking the federal government out of housing when in power. She alluded to building affordable units in Halton and making it easier to put a down payment on a home in metropolitan areas where the cost of living is higher. In the rental market, Gould pointed to foreign buyers tax on properties to potentially steady the soaring costs of rent. Gould also spoke about the $10 a day childcare, and as many of her Liberal colleagues she sees economic benefits in the investment.

“We’ve signed agreements with eight out of the 13 provinces and territories for $10 a day childcare. In our community, you can be paying between $1500 and $2000 a month for childcare for children, one to four, right. And so, on top of your mortgage, on top of your grocery bills, on top of all of these things, you basically are paying for a university education and the first four years of your child’s life, right?

“We’re helping out families, we’re getting more women into the workforce. And it’s really good for the economy. So this is a super, super important program. Unfortunately, the conservatives said if they get elected, they’re going to scrap it entirely. Once again, they’re demonstrating they’re not there for kids, they’re not there for families, and especially not there for women,” said Gould.

Bill C-130 to redress environmental racism made some progress under the Trudeau administration and if passed it would be the first of its kind. Gould spoke about how important it is to acknowledge environmental racism, which is particularly rampant among Indigenous communities who still suffer from boil water advisories, and exposure to unsafe environments such as Sarnia’s chemical valley where 60 chemical plants and oil refineries sit in a 15-mile-wide section outside town and cancer rates are high.

The Black Lives Matter statement was painted on the sidewalk in front of city hall. It was important.

“It’s hugely important. And I think it’s another lens that you have to put on policy, that and laws that you’re putting forward. The past year has brought racism to the forefront in a big way, which is good because we have to be dealing with it. It’s terrible that we’re still dealing with the realities of racism in 2021, but we’ve had a completely different conversation. And we need to have that conversation because it cannot be acceptable anymore. And it needs to be part of the conversation and every policy that we’re putting forward. And that’s why our government does gender-based analysis that looks at the inter-sectional discrimination that happen through all of our policies, and so whether it’s environmental, whether it’s economic, whether it’s social, we need to be taking all of that into account,” said Gould.

Gould’s final message to voters was that the Liberal government has had their backs through the pandemic and will have their backs through recovery.

“I think the most important thing they should have on their mind is that we need a government that’s going to be there for them for the recovery. We were there for them throughout the pandemic. We have their backs, and we’re going to have their backs as we get through to recovery. I really hope I can count on their support on September 20. I’m so passionate about Burlington, I love this community. I’m so proud of how we have responded to the pandemic here. I’m, like, blown away by the kindness, the generosity, the resilience of this community. And I really hope that I’ve earned their trust to continue serving them for the years,” said Gould.

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Was our reader wrong ? City hall thought so.

By Pepper Parr

August 26th,2021



We ran a story last week on small events that were taking place in the downtown core that were not very well promoted.

A trusted reader provided the information.

The Communications unit at city hall took exception and asked us to correct the story.

Their view was that:

None of the events in your post was organized by the Mayor or her office. The Mayor was also not at the Aug. 21 event and did not “open” the event as your post claims.

  • CRAFT Live Marquis Music Series is an extension of a Community Support Fund project which took place virtually over the winter on YouTube and YourTV. Bling Events International presented these live music events in recognition and celebration of Black, African, Caribbean, Canadian appreciation month – which was a proclamation Carlene Ling (Event Organizer) requested and received through the Mayor’s office. This means the Mayor endorsed it but was not the organizer
  • The event for Indigenous people was not promoted because we were in a different stage of the pandemic and there were very restrictive gathering numbers
  • The Islamic prayer was organized by the mosque with a three-day turnaround time. There was no time for a wide promotion

Most of these events are listed as “pop-up events.” The nature of pop-up events is that they are not intended to have a large promotional campaign and not intended to draw large crowds. These work quite well for our pandemic situation and precautions.

The communications people added:

About the Community Support Fund

The Community Support Fund program will join existing programs to provide financial support to residents and community groups who want to enrich and connect the Burlington community through sport, recreation, art and cultural experiences. The combined fund will simplify the funding process and make it easier for Burlington residents and community groups to access financial supports to enhance their community’s well being. The amalgamated Community Support Fund brings the Love my Neighborhood, Community Development Fund, The Neighborhood Matching Fund and the Arts and Culture Fund together temporarily during COVID-19 and is intended to create a sense of community.

This fund will help a variety of sport, recreation, art, and cultural events, programs and projects in Burlington neighbourhoods and communities. The fund supports two types of applications:

  • Community gatherings/Neighborhood parties/Health and fitness classes and similar events for an amount of up to $1,500 per application
  • Special projects for an amount of up to $5,000 per application

Applicants can apply for funding one-time per year. The program is designed to recognize the importance of supporting Burlington’s communities during these challenging times. By providing access to funding, the City is looking for innovative ideas to connect and enhance our community; events/activities that can offer exciting and meaningful opportunities to strengthen and nourish community spirit.

Did we get it wrong?  Was our reader misinformed.  We have worked with this reader for some time.

Here is what we published on the 23rd:

It appears that the Mayor is sponsoring or holding events in the downtown core but not telling very many people about them

That has some residents ticked.

Mayor Meed Ward just may be doing the right thing.

The Caribbean Association was giving it a go –

What the city doesn’t need is large crowds of people gathering to take part in an event. Tough to maintain social distancing under those circumstances.

Holding small pop-up type events does help give people something to do.

Our reporter toured the downtown area and on up to the Orchard and then on over to Bronte Creek Park and found few people outdoors – they heat was surely part of the reason for people staying home.

The Mayor opened Black/Caribbean month. Residents are complaining that no one was notified. “The only way I found” said our reader, “about last night was chatting with one of the girls involved. I was watching the BPAC music and she said I should come to City Hall on the 21st for a party. I asked if she was sure and she said Yes – the Mayor is putting it on.

“That’s when I went to the tourist office to dig a little deeper. They send out happenings in Burlington all the time.

“Marianne told me the last time, they didn’t want to advertise the prayer celebration for the indigenous kids, prayer for the Muslim family (hundreds of attendees), pride party… so as to keep the numbers down.

“Is that not selfish to the rest of Burlington?

Wasn’t much of a crowd..

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns got wind of the event and sent out a late notice. Our reader thought this should have been “virtual”

“Pretty much like all the rest of MMW’s “events”. If we can’t celebrate CANADA DAY (except virtually), how is it we can celebrate all these other days outdoors?

Our writer though that the downtown business people might have been able to benefit as well had there been more notice.

“Two Saturday ago”, continued our reader (who chose not to be identified) the same thing. Party at Spencer Smith Park put on by the mayor and nothing advertised so that we could all attend. I found out after the fact.

“I’m not sure if you are aware, but next Saturday it’s back at Spencer Smith again.”

There are times when the Mayor can’t win for trying. Managing public expectations is not a simple task.

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Reminder: Public School Board holding a Virtual Town Hall on Thursday

By Staff

August 25th, 2021



Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Regional Medical Officer of Health will lead off the Town Hall meeting

The Halton District School Board will be holding a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, starting at 7:00 pm

It is a live stream information session and will be available on the HDSB website where it will be streamed on the school board Facebook channel.

Dr Hamidah Megani Meghani, the Regional Medical Officer of Health will present first, then Board Staff members will answer answer questions that have been submitted.

A form for submitting questions was shared earlier and will be available during the live-stream.

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Join a list for a free tree to be planted in front of your house

By Staff

August 25th, 2021



Burlington residents can now request trees from the City

Burlington residents can now submit an online request form to join a list for a free tree to be planted on the right-of-way in front of their house, on City property.

Each request will receive a site visit to ensure the right type of tree is planted to ensure the tree will have the best chance of survival.

Many of these trees are on city property. You can be the beginning of something like this – talk to your neighbours – make the whole street look great.

Requests for tree planting are accepted at any time throughout the year. You can indicate your tree species preference at the time of form submission. Staff will try to accommodate resident requests; however, species choice is not guaranteed.

• Applications that are received between Jan. 1 and May 31 will be reviewed for planting within the same growing season on a first in, first out basis

Some of the older trees in Roseland are going to have to be replaced in the not too distant future

• Applications that are received between June 1 and Dec. 31 will be reviewed for planting the follow growing season on a first in, first out basis

Scheduling of tree planting will be determined by the location, suitability and availability of the chosen tree species, as well as the current number of requests.

To request a tree or learn more about the City’s forestry initiatives, visit burlington.ca/forestry.

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Ward 3 residents in for a bit of a treat.

By Staff

August 25th, 2021



Some nice news!

Expect to see Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan on hand with the new addition to his family.

Summer time – opportunities to get out and mix with people – wearings masks and keeping that social distance in mind at all times.


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Police taking their notes electronically - second service in Canada to do it this way.

By Staff

August 25th, 2021



The HRPS is the first police agency in Ontario, and only the second in Canada, to transition their members from traditional paper-based notes to electronic notes.

The days of hand written notes for Halton Regional Police are coming to an end. And yes – we know the police officer is American – haven’t been able to find a local police officer we can connect with.

Note-taking in the policing sector has not evolved in over 100 years, and we are proud to be adopting technology that the newest generation of officers expect and want,” says Deputy Chief Roger Wilkie.  “This is just one of the latest ways the HRPS is striving to optimize effectiveness and efficiency by purposefully harnessing innovative technology.”

Approximately one-third of HRPS sworn members have already received extensive training and successfully transitioned to eNotes using the Smart Squad application by Faction Four Systems Inc on Service-issued cellphones. All sworn members will be fully trained by early 2022.

The HRPS eNotes application has been customized and optimized to contain features that the Service recognizes as key to policing operations. As a result, it provides unparalleled efficiencies to officers on patrol. Officers are now more mobile, no longer constrained by limitations of paper notes or tied to the computer in their cruisers. Officers can now access and add to police databases and record systems from anywhere. Further, eNotes equips officers with a secure means to obtain audio statements and take supplementary photos or recordings. All of these new functions are bolstered by heightened transparency and credibility to officer notes, with time-stamped entries and increased legibility.

It will be interesting to see how this works out when a police officer has to take the stand to testify – will his (or her)  enotes be shown on a large computer screen where anyone in the court room can read them.


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City workers will be required to be vaccinated; access to city hall will have tighter COVID19 rules

By Staff

August 25th, 2021



The City of Burlington is preparing a COVID-19 Staff Vaccination Policy applicable to all City staff, regardless of work location.

This policy will require all City staff to show proof of vaccination, and provide reasonable time for staff who are not yet fully vaccinated time to do so, with some exceptions for those who are legally entitled to accommodation.

Rapid Antigen Testing for those City staff not yet vaccinated prior to entry into the workplace will also be required.

An update on this new policy will be brought to the September 9 Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee meeting.

City requiring all staff to be vaccinated – even if they are not working at city hall

At that committee meeting, the City will also be looking into a potential vaccine policy for the public entering City facilities to help protect staff and the public.

The health and safety of staff and residents continues to be a top priority for the City.

The City, as an employer, has an obligation under Ontario law to take all necessary precautions to protect its workers. The City will be encouraging contractors and partners of the City to do the same in order to protect our staff, their employees and the public we serve.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward supports the policy and said: “While science continues to support the effectiveness of vaccinations in this pandemic, we can understand there is some apprehension about a required proof of vaccine. It’s important to note this is not a new concept in Canadian society. Proof of vaccination against at least 9 different illnesses such as polio and meningitis has been mandatory for Ontario children attending public elementary school for many years.

“We are already seeing healthcare settings, post-secondary schools, private sector businesses and other municipalities across the country implementing these policies to help protect our communities and our health care capacities. Where there are special circumstances, exemptions are provided.

“Though you can still contract and spread COVID-19 after being vaccinated, we’ve heard from our local medical and health staff the infectious period is shorter and it’s less likely you’ll need hospital care. Currently in Ontario, more than 90% of people in hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.

“The City of Burlington is committed to the health and safety of its staff and visitors from the public who may interact with staff. The City will also be looking at a public policy that will come to Committee and Council in September – I look forward to that discussion with my Council colleagues and hearing from the community.”

City manager, Tim Commisso

City manager, Tim Commisso has had staff develop a policy that will go to Council September 9th. “Our number one goal throughout this pandemic” said Commisso “has been and continues to be focused on keeping all Burlington staff and residents safe while working to stop the spread of COVID-19. Bringing in a vaccination policy for our staff is another step we have taken to meet that goal.

He added: “The City will comply with its human rights and privacy obligations and accommodate employees who are legally entitled to accommodation, while protecting staff. I want to thank our staff for continuing to provide the valued City services to our residents during these trying times.”





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Waterfront hotel development: a stunning 30 and 35 storey complex that the developer calls 'sleek'

By Pepper Parr

August 25th, 2021



It will be as noisy as a virtual meeting can be.

The event takes place on September 8th, from  from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

It is billed as a virtual pre-application community meeting hosted by Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. for its proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel.

An architectural rendering of what the owners of the Waterfront Hotel want to build on the site once the existing building is demolished.

Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. (the “Owner”) is hosting a virtual pre-application community meeting to discuss a proposal to demolish the existing Waterfront Hotel Burlington building and replace it with a sleek and modern mixed-use development that will accommodate retail and service commercial uses at-grade that will frame the public realm, offices, a banquet facility and restaurants, hotel, and residential apartments.

In total, the proposed redevelopment will provide 557 apartments, a 130-room hotel, as well as commercial, office and other accessory uses all within two towers (35- and 30-storeys) inclusive of a 5-storey podium.

The city has not received an application and no decision has been made by the City.

This eight storey structure will be demolished if the developer can get his proposal for two buildings: a 30 and a 35 story structure can get past the Planning department and the Ontario Land Tribunal.

What the public will see is what the owners of the property would like to build on the land.

Public comments may be directed to the applicant on September 8th,

Once a complete application has been submitted the public will be notified, and comments will be received by city staff. This Consultation meeting is the first step in a comprehensive review of the draft proposal. The purpose of the consultation meeting is for the Owner to address key questions and obtain community feedback prior to the submission of any development applications.

During the meeting, the Owner will provide an overview of the proposal and City Staff will provide an overview of the development application review process and how the public can be involved.

There will also be a question and answer component about the various aspects of the proposal and the planning process. Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns will be in attendance to listen to the discussion.

Meeting Agenda:
Introductory comments by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns;
City Planning Staff Presentation on the Planning Process.
Review of Waterfront Hotel Study;
Owner Presentation on the Development Proposal
Comments and Questions & Answers with the public.

After the event, additional comments, questions, and feedback for the Owner can be directed to the planning consultant, Bousfields Inc., at esugden@bousfields.ca or 905-549-3005, ext. 259.

This development pre-application is separate from and not related to the City’s Waterfront Hotel Study which has established key policy directions for development on this site and is planned to continue later this year.

How to Join the Meeting

Participate On-Line via Zoom:

www.burlington.ca/2020lakeshore OR https://zoom.us/j/93677332408

Webinar ID: 936 7733 2408

Participate by Telephone:

1-647-374-4685 (audio only)

The Gazette will publish background material and just how things got to where they are today.

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NDP candidate uses Green Party data to advocate for Ranked ballots - Huh?

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 24th, 2021



My interview with Nick Page was lengthy and I was not able to convince my editor to run all of it in one story.

Page discussed the importance of expanding our healthcare system to cover such areas as dental, optometric, and pharmaceutical. Tying benefits to employment in the current system “screws” the lower class, said Page.

“Right now you can go to the dentist if you have a good job but if you don’t have a good job you neither have dental coverage or the money to pay the dentist, so you’re screwed. If you don’t have a good job, you don’t have optometry coverage in Ontario. And so by decoupling those from jobs, from having a good job, you help everyone out.

“You also help the businesses not have to pay for insurance employees like that, which is a big expense for some companies like smaller companies who still need to pay benefits to their employees. That’s a cost they don’t need to have, they only really have it because the government doesn’t come through. And it’s interesting because that came about from wage tax in the US back in World War Two. It was a way to get around wage taxes by giving people more benefits, and then it just kind of became how we do things,” said Page.

One of Justin Trudeau’s most often maligned broken election promises was his vow that the 2015 election would be the last under the first past the post system.”

Nick Page- Burlington NDP candidate

Page puts forward a case for a proportional representation using Green Party data – which he claims would lead to federal representation that would more accurately reflect the popular vote. Page also alludes to the use of ranked ballots which would theoretically diminish so-called “strategic voting,” particularly in conjunction with proportional representation. You would rank the candidates in order of preference so you don’t need to be dictated by who can win, and your vote would be more meaningfully represented in government.

“You have some of the people who are elected to government assigned to specific districts, and some of the people elected to government are assigned from a party list. And you do the normal voting in a district, probably with ranked voting to figure out who represents that district. And then you use the country-wide proportional ballots.

“So if, for example, the Green Party gets 8% across the country, it doesn’t all have to be focused on their one riding in Vancouver, or Victoria river is exactly to get a seat, they could have 8% votes across the country, and they’d get 8% of the seats, we would bump them up off their party list, and that way that 8% of people in our country would actually be listened to, they have a voice in government, as opposed to right now, where if after the 2015 election Trudeau only had, votes from like 38% of people, but he got to make all of the decisions because of how first past the post, but he should have had to work with people to make decisions after 2015,” said Page.

Page noted proportional representation may be the best opportunity to implement a government to deal with climate change.

“I don’t think any party with a majority would do what needs to be done to deal with climate change so I think proportional representation or some sort of voting change is what it’s going to take to get the environment under control,” said Page.

2019 federal election results

“In the 2019 federal election, the Green Party received 6.6% of the popular vote and scored 3 seats out of 337, based on the methodology outlined in the 2016 report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform under a proportional representation system the Green Party would have scored 22 seats from the same percentage of the popular vote. If we accept more Green Party seats at the table correlates to more climate change action then Page’s correlation between electoral reform and environmental action may have merit.”

In federal elections there are usually all candidate debates – that is not likely to happen this time around – the logistics of a virtual debate are very awkward.

Page did a podcast in which is sets out where he stands – worth a listen if you want to dive into what the New Democrats hope to achieve. Link here for what he has to say – runs just over five minutes.

The New Democrats have a very stringent set of rules in place when candidates come into contact with voters – don’t expect to see them at your front door all that often..


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NDP candidate has election signs vandalized - in Oakville no less

By Staff

August 24th, 2021



It happens every election.

Someone with more time on their hands than brains takes their uninformed opinion and decides to vandalize an election sign.
The candidate cries foul and those running against the candidate who took the hit resolve to run a clean campaign.

Two campaign signs – located on private property vandalized.

Two large Lenaee Dupuis election campaign signs were vandalized with the words “NO COMMIES” written in green spray paint across the Candidates name. The signs were located in Oakville on a Supporter’s residential property.

Lenaee Dupuis, the NDP Candidate for her home Riding of Oakville North-Burlington, posted a tweet on her Twitter account @lenaeeD following the news of the vandalism to her sign:

Lenaee Dupuis, the NDP Candidate for her home Riding of Oakville North-Burlington,

“I was so disappointed to see this uncalled for vandalism. I will fight fair and for good, and never would I expect this sort of behaviour from my supporters in the #oakvillenorthburlington riding.”

In her multiple tweets, Dupuis makes a pledge to the people of Oakville North-Burlington and is committed to having a positive election campaign. She asks the same of her Candidates, Liberal Pam Damoff, PPC Gilbert Jubinville and Conservative Hanan Rizkalla in her tweet. At time of posting, both Damoff and Rizkalla pledged the same.

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An application was received by the city for a Christmas market that would be set up on the Elgin promenade - no word on who made the application

By Pepper Parr

August 24th, 2021



An event application has been received by the city for a Christmas market that will make use of the Elgin Promenade from December 9th to 12th.

The White areas designate space that the applicants want to use for an annual Christmas Market. There would be live music on some of the evenings.

No one seems to know who submitted the application – the Gazette was told that it was not the BDBA Burlington Downtown Business association. The membership there must be just short of livid.

After a very tough year and a half a glimpse of hope and someone wants to set up shop and take business away from the downtown merchants?

Brian Dean – Executive Director Burlington Downtown Business Association working the phone.

Really nice idea – just not this year.

The merchants on Brant and John Street and other locations in the downtown core are just beginning to recover from the terrible winter, spring and early summer – this is not the time to kick these people in the shins and allow someone who doesn’t have any skin in the game come along and scoop the business.

Brian Dean, Chief guru of the Burlington Downtown Business Association must be howling.

No name that we can see on the document that were sent to people living in the immediate area identifying just who is behind the idea.

And not a peep so far from the Ward Councillor or the Mayor?

The Elgin Promenade is at the top right – the Elizabeth Street Parking lot stretched out behind.

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Stuart Miller on retiring: he made a difference while Director of Education

By Pepper Parr

August 24th, 2021



It turned out to be a more active and somewhat hectic term of office  for Stuart Miller who retired this month as the Halton District School Board Director of Education.

During the early part of his appointment the decision was made to hold a Program and Accommodation Review (PAR);  a process defined in a school board pupil accommodation review policy, undertaken by a school board to determine the future of a school or group of schools.

It proved to be contentious and divisive and ended up with the closing of two of the city’s seven high schools.

The Bateman high school parents put up a strong fight but the numbers were against them and the trustees did not see the pluses that the school had going for the students.

Miller’s tenure ended in the waning days of a pandemic that threw the education sector into a tail spin from which Miller said he doesn’t expect will come to an end for 18 months to a year.

With the active part of a career as an educator coming to an end Miller looks back at what he managed to achieve and has come to the conclusion that equity and inclusion are the words that sum up what education is about.

Miller is passionate about his view that every student is entitled to the best education we can give them.

“The pandemic highlighted where we are not meeting that challenge” said Miller

Stuart Miller listened to the students and tended to hear what they were saying.

Adding, “the classroom is what makes education real – the casual conversation between a teacher and a student doesn’t happen in a virtual setting.

“There are some subjects, some situations and some students who excel in a virtual setting but that doesn’t and should suggest that we need more virtual experiences.

“There are those that learn a little slower than others; being slower shouldn’t be a reason to be left behind.

Stuart Miller developed staff which was reflected in the classrooms.

“I was fortunate”, said Miller “to have a staff that loved what they do.  It was my good fortune to watch teachers grow into principals and some principals become Superintendents.

“The struggle for my staff during the pandemic “was to find ways to insert some normality into situations that were far from normal.  The mental health of our students is always a concern but this pandemic brought to the surface the struggles the students have.  We had to pivot and find the resources to deal with these situations that began to overwhelm us.

“In a classroom you spot the student who is struggling – in a virtual setting it is another matter.

“The classroom teachers let me see just how professional they are – they were thrown into a situation they were not trained for – in a matter of days they had to learn how to use new technology and come up with different ways to teach. They were no longer able to turn to the blackboard and illustrate – there were no blackboards in that virtual classroom.

“The technology we had at the beginning was pretty rudimentary – that changed over time and going virtual began to be a little easier. Most of the teachers were able to make the leap from a classroom full of students to a computer screen.

It was one of the toughest days of his tenure as Director of Education. He had to explain to the public what he felt had to be done and the best way to do it.

“The students watched as their teachers adapted and in the process learned that they too could adapt.  There were some positives.

During the last week serving as the Director of Education Miller wasn’t certain that the system would not have to once again fall back to a virtual setting – “if that does happen we will be much more prepared.”

Equity has always been an issue for Miller who will say that we are not there yet.  Inclusion is a large part of equity – Miller believes significant strides have been made

Miller talks about what was achieved with the PAR that closed two high schools and emphasizes the upside.

The students who went from Lester B. Pearson to M.M. Robinson had 20 additional course choices and 10 additional extra curricular offerings.

There are now Community Pathway programs at M.M. Robinson and Nelson.

Stuart Miller with Superintendent Terri Blackwell. His support and her drive resulted in one of the most desired high school programs and a shift in direction on how teaching took place.

Aldershot High School, which looked as if it might be closed. is now one of the “hot” schools in the system.  The iStem program that came out of the PAR is now consistently over subscribed and there are now iStem programs in Milton and Oakville.

A program they stumbled into proved to be one of the best things Stuart Miller did – when the opportunity was not much more than an idea Miller and his staff were able to research, build community support and create something that became a stellar program Board wide.

Before Miller got into education he was working with a private company in the food sector and earning $30k a year which was very good money in the 80’s.

He left that work to become a teacher for $18k a year.  “The difference was that I was very happy” said Miller

Stuart Miller is still a young man who will be around education for a long time yet.  There have been some job offers and there is an opportunity in the north with the Indigenous community that he is excited about.

Ward 5 trustee Amy Collard giving Director Miller a hard eye.

The Gazette found Miller to be very accessible. He would never duck an issue – he was quick to realize when he didn’t get it quite right.

He had a board of trustees that held him to account.  He will never forget the day that ward 5 trustee Amy Collard blind-sided him over his decision to close Bateman High  School.  She was passionate about keeping that school open and she wasn’t wrong.

We expect to hear more about Stuart Miller in the years ahead – the world of education isn’t finished with him yet – and he isn’t finished with education.

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Milton Mayor stands with Liberal candidate during campaign office opening

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 23rd, 2021



Things are changing in Milton.

Gord Krantz was a Conservative from the moment he drew his first breath a long long time ago. His next election will be his 21st.

Last week he stood beside Liberal candidate Adam Van Koeverden Main Street and said:

Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz standing with Liberal candidate Adam Van Kouverden during the opening of the campaign office.

“People are probably well aware I do not need a microphone, I have a built-in one. And of course I’ll be turning my microphone over to Adam in just very few moments. When Adam invited me here I accepted his invitation without any hesitation whatsoever. And one of the main reasons is just to say thank you for putting your name forward to run for public office, such as Adam has.

“This job is not easy. He goes around knocking on doors to find out what people are thinking. Hopefully most of it is good, some not and I’m well aware of that. Now, how do I know that my last election was my 21st election? ”

“Adam and I work well together” said Krantz. And if that isn’t an endorsement – then just what is an endorsement?

When Van Koeverden got the microphone he spoke about pandemic recovery in the form of his Sports for All Initiative, how Canada can afford $10 a day child care, where Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives really stand on abortion, mental health, and a disputed bill to ban conversion therapy.

One of the main reasons Van Koeverden got involved in public service he said “was to champion physical activity and recreation”. To those who know him as an Olympic Gold medalist this comes as little surprise. He cited this inspiration speaking about his new Community Sports for All Initiative which invests $80 million to help communities with the lowest sports participation recover from the pandemic. Van Koeverden’s focus on sport and activity is not to groom his kayaking successor – the Liberal candidate’s primary concern is health: physical and mental.

Adam Van Koeverden opening his campaign office on Main Street in Milton.

“Sport, physical activity and recreation represent physical health, mental health, social cohesion, and development. I’m not pushing competitive sport, I’m not pushing for more high-performance sport funding. What I’m pushing for is a change to how and why we fund sport in Canada, and that’s to achieve better health outcomes for Canadians. Sports are expensive in Canada.
“There are numerous barriers between access to physical activity and people, and it’s my obligation as an Olympic athlete as a champion for sport, and as a legislator to ensure that those opportunities to live your healthiest life, to learn physical literacy, and to develop, are universally available,” said Van Koeverden.

COVID-19 hit the entire sports and recreation sector hard. Van Koeverden cited “devastating” research from Canadian Tire Jumpstart indicating at least one of the four young women and girls involved in sport will not be returning post-pandemic, a figure representing 365,000 young women and girls. The study acknowledged lower but significant figures for boys as well.

While Adam Van Koeverden is not shy when it comes to talking about his Olympic achievements – and they were substantial – he is sincere about the need to introduce more sports activity at all age levels but especially young people.

Studies have shown youth have been at high risk of experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic, particularly relating to concerns about social ties. Mounting mental health issues and loss of prime developmental years demand a return to normalcy, and Van Koeverden suggests available community sport would play a part.

The program also focuses on inclusivity with Van Koeverden mentioning safe environments for racialized groups, LGBTQ plus groups, Indigenous youth, and people living with disabilities as a priority.

Van Koeverden tied $10 a day child care to pandemic recovery as well, and when pressed on expenses the Milton incumbent insisted the program pays for itself.

“It’s so important that women get back to work, and if they can get back to work by knowing that their little ones are in early learning and childcare programs which are good for their social development, good for their education and also affordable, and that’s a win-win-win. Programs like this pay for themselves because when women get back to work the economy benefits.

“COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain groups, that’s women, that’s racialized, that’s LGBTQ plus individuals, that’s lower-income families who were struggling before the pandemic, it’s small businesses and restaurant owners who haven’t been able to serve a meal in almost a year and a half. It’s been challenging, but our government’s been there for people who needed a helping hand, we’ve listened and we’re addressing any gaps found in our programs,” said Van Koeverden.

The Liberal candidate accused Conservative leader Erin O’Toole of “talking out of both sides of his mouth” on abortion. Van Koeverden acknowledges that while O’Toole may vote pro-choice himself he still needs support from the Campaign For Life Coalition, and other anti-abortion groups. Asserting it’s irrelevant if O’Toole is personally pro-choice if 81 of his MPs aren’t and a vote for O’Toole is a vote against pro-choice, regardless of where the federal candidate stands himself.

There was a time when we didn’t talk about these issues – today they are front and centre – but the divide between the political ideologies is still far too wide.

“O’Toole needs to stand up and say clearly that his party will not allow for any legislation that restricts access to women’s reproductive rights, women across the country need to hear that from them. There’s a lot of women who are considering voting Conservative but want to know that their rights, to safe and available abortion, will not be restricted. And we’re seeing it in New Brunswick where clinics are being closed and access is restricted.

“It’s not an all or nothing thing, just because O’Toole voted on a pro-choice level a couple of times to demonstrate that he’s pro-choice there’s a lot of gray area, and the gray area is going to far-right groups and social conservative groups to ask for their support and to tell them that he’ll act in their best interest, he’s talking outside of both of his both sides of his mouth,” Van Koeverden said.

Van Koeverden said he’s happy to hear conservatives talking about mental health but condemns more than half their caucus voting against a bill to ban conversion therapy as hypocritical.

“I’m a huge advocate for mental health and more funding for mental health, but they’re very selective about who gets these mental health services, because any conservative that voted against Bill C-6, which is a bill to make conversion therapy, and I don’t even like to use the word therapy because it’s not therapy, gay people don’t require therapy, they require love, what’s missing in that equation is compassion and empathy, and support, so they don’t feel like they’ve got to change.

The lasting impact of the pandemic will be the damage done to mental health. The first big step is accepting that people suffering from mental health issues are sick – not weak, and they need treatment.

“If any Conservative MP voted against Bill C-6, and then spoke up in the house about mental health services that is a very very clear contradiction and indicates they’re hypocrites because the group that is most vulnerable to things like suicide are disenfranchised LGBTQ plus youth who don’t have the support of their families and feel like outcasts in society. And those youth, and especially the youth who have been subjected to the horrible and horrendous practice of conversion practices, those youth are disproportionately likely to try to commit suicide. So if we’re going to be putting a five-point plan together as the leader of the Conservative Party has, and one of those pillars is to talk about mental health, I welcome that, but I say, mental health for everybody, not just people who vote Conservative. Especially groups that are disproportionately impacted by mental health issues and aren’t supported in many groups in society,” said Van Koeverden.

Bill C-6 on conversion therapy has been contentious, when the bill was debated Conservatives who voted against Bill C-6 asserted their issue was with the definition of conversion therapy. Many Conservative objectors began by stating they support banning conversion therapy but not the proposed legislation. For their part, Liberal members suggested they had been open to re-write the definition but the Conservatives had stalled and functionally squandered that opportunity.

O’Toole voted for Bill C-6 and his platform proposes to re-introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy with the amendment that the ban does not criminalize non-coercive conversations which addresses unclear language the Conservatives objected to.

Bill C6 amends the Criminal Code to, among other things, create the following offences:

(a) causing a person to undergo conversion therapy without the person’s consent;
(b) causing a child to undergo conversion therapy;
(c) doing anything for the purpose of removing a child from Canada with the intention that the child undergo conversion therapy outside Canada;
(d) promoting or advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy; and
(e) receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy.

It also amends the Criminal Code to authorize courts to order that advertisements for conversion therapy be disposed of.

Speaking to the public, Van Koeverden spoke about being there for his neighbors focusing on COVID-19 response, work done within the Region of Halton, and climate change as a top priority.

“I have a youth committee and they would never let me forget about climate change,” said Van Koeverden.

Adam Van Koeverden takes a selfie with part of his campaign team

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