What a fractured City Council looks like

By Pepper Parr

May 29th, 2022



The negotiations taking place for the purchase of the Robert Bateman High School property is raising a lot of questions. The public want answers.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward is doing what a good Mayor should do; take questions and give brief, to the point and informative answers
One of the questions the Mayor handled was as follows:

Q: I’ve seen reports in some media outlets that have said this acquisition will cost $50 million — is that true?

The Mayor replies:

This does not reflect the actual dollar figure.

Mayor Meed Ward

She them segways into a report from the Integrity Commissioner, who did find that information made during a public Council meeting was made public by ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte for which she was docked five days pay.

What the sanctioning has to do with the question asked is hard to figure out.

The Mayor continues:

The following sections from the Integrity Commissioner report are relevant:

• [43] We find that the Councillor’s statement, although not actually disclosing real dollar amounts discussed in closed session, is fairly perceived as revealing confidential information, risks misleading the public, and compromises the ability of any other member of Council to contradict or correct the information.

• [44] The fact that the information does not reflect the specific actual dollar figure is not an answer which justifies the apparent breach. If such were the case, confidentiality of closed discussion could be breached with impunity simply by mis- stating facts and information subject to closed session deliberations.

• [45] Accordingly we find that the Councillor’s reference to an actual dollar figure, where by implication the only source of that information is closed session, constitutes a contravention of the confidentiality provisions of the Code.

The public wanted an answer on the cost of the purchase but the Mayor chose to deflect and blame the Council member for the public confusion.

It is this kind of behaviour that has resulted in a fractured council.

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Rivers concludes that Ford will glide back as Premier - the public seems to want the devil they know

By Ray Rivers

May 28th, 2022



Ontario’s election is more about us, the voters, than the political leadership candidates or their parties.  The pandemic, which is not over yet; the vicious war raging in Ukraine; home affordability and rising gasoline prices at the pumps; another mass shooting and the impending illegality of a woman’s choice to family planning south of the border are uncertainties weighing on the electors before they even enter the voting booth.

Doug Ford: Rivers thinks he is going to get it done

And when we are overloaded with anxiety we most often choose the devil we know to lead us again, as the expression goes.  So it should be no surprise that the polls have Doug Ford’s PCs winning a majority of the seats to form the government for the next four years.  One would think that Mr. Ford’s significant lead in popular support is a testament to his governance since the last election.

But after objectively reviewing his record, as I have in previous columns, that would be a hard case to make.   Perhaps it is Ford’s competition for the job of premier that helps him stand out by contrast.  Liberal leader Steven Del Duca is still an unknown quantity, even after those years as a cabinet minister, and has failed to distinguish himself in this race. The Liberal’s second place standing in the polls likely has more to do with them than their leader.  They are, after all, the natural alternative governing party to the PCs, and the one voters will likely turn to when disaffection sets in with the current crowd ruling the roost at Queen’s Park.

Stephen Del Duca: a bit of a policy wonk who has yet to really connect with the public

And at least on one issue Del Duca and his NDP counterpart are at the other end of the spectrum from Ford.  That is when it comes to climate change.  If one discounts the unlikely scenario of Mr. Putin starting a nuclear war, global warming is the most critical existential crisis we will see in our lifetimes.  And that is not a scare tactic.  We are already experiencing the horrible consequences of global warming and we know it’ll only get worse.

We have seen Mr. Ford kill clean renewable energy projects by the hundreds simply because he doesn’t like wind and solar generation.  Ironically that has led to a potential shortfall in electricity generating capacity and is threatening the prized $2.5 B investment LG had been planning for a battery production facility in Windsor.  So much for Ontario being open for business.

Better the devil you know

Then there was the fight against the carbon tax and the lowering of Ontario’s climate goals, which, regardless, are unlikely to be met.   But most telling was the recent court case over this government’s climate policies by some young plaintiffs.  Future generations will be most affected after all.  Unbelievably, Ford’s witnesses tried to argue that climate change is just a hoax, and the case should be dismissed on those grounds.  That is very telling of Mr. Ford and where he can be expected to lead this province once he is re-elected.

After a crisis, as we’ve experienced with the pandemic, electors sometimes look for a fresh face.  But sometimes they prefer to stick with what they know, a kind of don’t rock the boat phenomenon.  That is what Ontario voters will be doing on election day this week, barring a miracle.  Mr. Ford represents the safe choice in their minds, the conservative voice of stability and steady as she goes.

Andrea Horwath – a safer conservative choice?

And yet of all the parties, the NDP and Andrea Horwath might more appropriately be seen as the safe choice – the conservative option.  She and her party have crafted their platform over a number of years, and while they have included some bold ideas, such as eliminating for-profit long term care, most policies are seasoned and reasoned.    Currently polling in third place, the NDP is still expected to form the official opposition thanks to voting splits.

Mr. Ford knows he’s going to win so he’s playing it safe.  He’s presumably instructed PC candidates to skip the all-candidate debates, where they might actually stumble and tell voters what they really think about abortion, gun control, private education, vaccination and masking – it’s all about ‘hear no evil, believe no evil’.  But what is amazing is how tolerant voters are in accepting that situation.

Are the most conservative among us comfortable voting for a candidate who has been velcro-lipped, and a party which has shared so little of where it is going over the next four years?   If Justin Trudeau tried to do this, there would be howls from the media, and everyone would be labelling him ‘arrogant’.



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Liberal Mariam Manaa: direct, focused, fully aware of what is ahead of her if she wins.  She will be there to listen. 'That's the job'

By Pepper Parr

May 28th, 2022


Mariam Manaa, Liberal candidate for Burlington in the June 2nd provincial election

The Gazette interviewed Manaa when she was seeking the Liberal nomination – it was a contested nomination and she came out on top.

Other than the Chamber of Commerce event there was never a chance for the public to hear all the candidates – that was the result of the Progressive Conservative Party deciding that their candidates would not take part and instead rely on Premier Doug Ford’s coat tails to get elected.

Candidate Manaa listening

Our interview with Mariam Manaa yesterday gave us a look at some of the experience she has in the world of politics and public service.

As a young woman she was invited to be part of the Youth Council that Oakville North Burlington Liberal Pam Damoff created.  Young people had the opportunity to gain some self-confidence and learn just how a Member of Parliament works.

She was seen as a smart cookie by Damoff who hired her to work in Ottawa as part of her team.

Manaa picked up a lot of really solid background on the processes that are involved in getting legislation passed. She also picked up a lot of the lingo used by the political set. “I worked on the hill for a period of time” said Manaa.

When that opportunity came to an end she was then asked by Burlington Member of Parliament Karina Gould to do some case work for her in Burlington.  Work with a member of Cabinet is a big deal for up and coming politicians.

She spent two years with Gould.

This is as good as it gets when getting ready to seek public office.

In our conversation with Manaa she didn’t say all that much about the Liberal policy for the province – what she talked about was the campaigning – that essential door to door work – meeting people and listening to their concerns.

Every politicians will tell you they love going door to door – some are much better than others at it.

Candidates meet on the door step: NDP Andrew Drummond, Liberal Marian Manaa

Early in the campaign Manaa and the team with her knocked on a door that was opened by the NDP candidate Andrew Drummond.

He was as surprised as she was

During the last long weekend Manaa said she knocked on 4000 doors during the three days.

I asked her a question that a gentleman should not ask a woman – how much weight have you lost during the campaign.  She came back with “I don’t know if I lost any weight but I can tell you I have muscled up quite a bit.”

Manaa is direct, focused, empathetic, fully aware of what is ahead of her if she wins.  She is not a policy wonk – she is there to serve.

How will you serve the people of Burlington if you are elected.  “I will do what I have learned to do – listen to what they have to say.

“When people get to an MPP’s office they are usually at the end of their rope.  They have tired everything else and often as a last resort they visit the politician and see if they can help.

“That’s the job” said Manaa

She stresses that if she is elected she will see herself as being elected to serve all the people of the city.

And with that, a quick handshake, and she was off to knock on new doors

This is an election where two of the candidates are new to the election game.

Progressive Conservative Natalie Pierre and Liberal Mariam Manaa have never served as elected officials and this is their first election.

There are three fringe candidates. New Blue candidate Allison McKenzie, Green Party candidate Kyle Hutton and an Ontario Party candidate we have not heard from

Andrew Drummond has never served; this is his third attempt to get elected as a New Democrat.

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This is still a tight race - weather will play a role on election day; getting the vote to the polls will be a deciding factor.

By Staff

May 28th, 2022



It is still anyone’s to win in Burlington.

The three mainline parties are still close to each other.

The undecided vote is still quite high a sixth of those we interviewed.

Jason Octavo has been interviewing people at Burlington Central, supermarkets, LCBO stores and Spencer Smith Park

Today he will include the Farmer’s Market.

The candidates are out knocking on doors and getting ready to pull out their vote on election day.


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What will the province look like on Friday June 3rd

By Pepper Parr

May 27th, 2022



What will the province look like on Friday June 3rd?

Put a different way – How bad could it be?

Has Doug Ford changed? And if he has – how much? Building the 413 is not a change – its the same old Doug.

Province wide the polls say that Doug Ford will be returned as Premier.

Who will form the Opposition?

The polls again suggest that the New Democrats will continue to be the Opposition

What the polls are also telling us is that Steve Del Duca may not win his own seat.

Wishful thinking?

The New Democrats will be deeply disappointed about not being able to form a government and will need to think about their leadership.

Leadership for the Liberals will have to come out of whatever they have in the way of members sitting in the Legislature.

There is a better than even chance that Del Duca will lose his seat.

Will this happen?

Polls are never accurate – but they are an indicator.

The challenge for the people of Ontario is to find some way to limit how much damage Doug Ford can do.  A Progressive Conservative government would serve Ontario well.

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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Data from city survey on Bateman high school limited but has merit

By Staff

May 26th, 2022



There weren’t that many participants taking part in the survey the city put out and then withdrew two days later but the data they collected does have merit.

The city wanted to know how people felt about the city selling a sports field to the Board of Education, and how people felt about the city buying the Bateman High school site and then renting part of what they bought to Brock University.

The results will surprise a lot of people – especially the ward 2 councillor who thought selling the sports field was close to a travesty.

The results:

There is some additional data if this kind of thing turns your crank Click HERE for that data.

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Burlington Drug Investigation Leads to 3 Arrests and Seizure of Firearm

By Staff

May 26, 2022



The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) – 3 District Street Crime Unit has concluded a drug trafficking investigation in Burlington.  Three male suspects were arrested as a result of the week-long investigation.

On May 25, 2022, a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) search warrant was executed at a residence in Burlington.  Two suspects were arrested outside the residence in a parking lot while the third was arrested inside the premise.

Yahya Yusuf (31) of Burlington has been charged with:

  • Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm
  • Knowledge of Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm
  • Possession of a Prohibited Firearm with Ammunition
  • Careless Storage of a Firearm
  • Tamper with Serial Number
  • Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose (2 counts)
  • Possession of a Weapon Obtained by the Commission of an Offence
  • Careless Storage of Ammunition
  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Over $5000 (2 counts)
  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Under $5000
  • Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking – Cocaine (2 counts), Fentanyl and Oxycodone
  • Breach Release Order

Abdirahman Adan (23) of Burlington has been charged with:

  • Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm
  • Knowledge of Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm
  • Possession of a Prohibited Firearm with Ammunition
  • Careless Storage of a Firearm
  • Tamper with Serial Number
  • Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose (2 counts)
  • Possession of a Weapon Obtained by the Commission of an Offence
  • Careless Storage of Ammunition
  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Over $5000 (2 counts)
  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Under $5000
  • Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking – Cocaine (2 counts), Fentanyl and Oxycodone

Ali Mohamud Ali (28) of Calgary has been charged with:

  • Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm
  • Knowledge of Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm
  • Possession of a Prohibited Firearm with Ammunition
  • Careless Storage of a Firearm
  • Tamper with Serial Number
  • Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose
  • Possession of a Weapon Obtained by the Commission of an Offence
  • Careless Storage of Ammunition
  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Over $5000
  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Under $5000
  • Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking – Cocaine, Fentanyl and Oxycodone
  • Obstruct Police

All three accused were held in custody pending a bail hearing.

As a result of the search warrant, the following items were seized (see attached photo):

  • A loaded Colt 38 Special Revolver with the serial number partially defaced
  • 41 rounds of ammunition
  • 147.4 grams of cocaine
  • 29.2 grams of fentanyl
  • 76 oxycodone pills
  • Over $11,000 cash
  • 2 stolen licence plates
  • 7 digital scales
  • 9 cellular telephones
  • 1 kg of cutting agent
  • 1 flick knife

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Det. Scott Heyerman of the 3 District Street Crime Unit at 905-825-4777 ext. 2342.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. “See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.

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Natalie Pierre has things to say and values that matter - much of the public won't get to hear them.

By Pepper Parr

May 26th, 2020



Word that we hear is that the Progressive Conservatives are getting some serious blow back on the decision to pull their candidate from debates as they campaign door to door.

The decision to pull the candidates from public debates was decided by the people running the provincial campaign.

In Burlington the PC’s stayed away from the Chamber of Commerce debate – which was surprising.  If there was ever a venue that was tailor made for the PC’s – it has to be the Chamber of Commerce.

The traditional focus for the Conservative community has always been – respect for law and order; being responsible for yourself; financially prudent and supporting the social institutions.

This country has had some great Conservative leaders.

Good graphics, a strong visual presence – all things a well funded campaign can afford.. That strong voice they advertise turned out to be close to mute.

In my short interview with Nicole Pierre I was impressed, especially with her empathy for people and the problems they face.

She didn’t bring much in the way of political experience to the table but she struck me as being sharp enough to pick up how the Legislature works and how to serve the community she would represent.

I find myself wondering how she felt about being told that she would not be taking part in debates.  I didn’t see Natalie as a woman who does what she is told to do if she thinks it is wrong or stupid.

In the event that she wins – and it is a very tight race in Burlington, how does she present herself as a person who is there to serve when she wasn’t prepared to let the voters hear what she had to say – even if she was just parroting the party line.

Elections are a part of our culture for which we have paid a very high price for – the cost in lives is set out in stone at the cenotaph with the names of the men who were lost.

To not campaign and take a sincere part in an election – the event those men gave their lives for is an insult.

Natalie Pierre – a decent candidate; someone who they could be proud of; someone who would reflect their values. Might have been false advertising.

Will we be seeing Natalie Pierre and the rest of the Burlington Progressive Conservative Party leadership on November 11th with poppy’s in their lapels?

The people who went along with the decision to keep the candidate in a bubble should be ashamed of themselves.

Should the PC’s win it will be due to some sharp practices that will find their way into how a Progressive government performs.

There is a woman, a senior, that I cross paths with from time to time, who used to complain about how big an embarrassment Jane McKenna was, hoping that the party would come up with a decent candidate.

This time around they found a decent candidate; someone who they could be proud of; someone who would reflect their values.  I wonder what the senior will say to me when we cross paths next ?

Are elections now just about winning with maybe a wink at values and the hope that the voters won’t understand what the politicians are saying.  The issues are complex – the responsibility is to explain them – which is something I thought Natalie Pierre was going to be good at.

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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The tight race for the next Burlington MPP might be opening up a little.

By Pepper Parr

May 26th, 2022



The Tory vote seems to be coming out of the woods.

What was a very tight race appears to be opening up.

The undecided and not voting are very high.

Undecided may be waiting to be convinced.

The number not planning on voting is disturbing – as a % of the number of people interviewed amounts to 18.6%   When you combine the Not voting with the undecided the number is 36.9%

We started asking the undecided if they were leaning towards a political party of candidate – there was no pattern that we could discern

The Gazette will be out surveying every second day until May 31st.

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City council nominations now less than a trickle - look for more after the provincial election

By Pepper Parr

May 26th, 2022



Is there another hat about to be thrown into the ring for the ward 2 Council seat?   And is there a third candidate waiting until after the provincial election?

Sabrina Alcala – a teacher at Central High School is rumoured to be thinking about ward 2 being better than a classroom.

What is Councillor Nisan up to?

Ms Alcala was involved in the Rory Nisan campaign in 2018 . No love lost between Nisan and Kearns. Is Alcala a ghost candidate? Wonder what that is all about.  Political hanky panky?

We are seeing something similar in ward 4 where Tony Brecknock has filed nomination papers for the ward seat held by Shawna Stolte.

Brecknock and Nisan go back some distance.

Councillor Stolte will not be sending Nisan a Christmas card.

There are a lot of hard feelings floating around the seventh floor of city hall where all the Councillors have an office and an administrative assistant.  Mayor Meed Ward gets the credit for creating some of the divisiveness and a knock for not working out the differences with Council members and creating a stronger team where differences are respected.

First day for nominations attracted five of the seven members of Council – Stolte and Sharman were the exceptions.

Sharman filed his papers on the 6th.

Between now and the provincial election don’t expect much in the way of new nominations. Look for something from Stolte once the next report from the Investigator of CLOSED meetings of Council is turned in; expected early in June .

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

Their first report from the Investigator, determined that the four occasions  Council went into a CLOSED session that were suspect by some, met the letter of the law. During the meeting there was some suggestion that the spirit of the law was not being met.

And that of course is the issue – while Stolte knew she was wrong in what she did – she does not believe she was wrong with what she was trying to do.

Council and the Office of the Clerk have improved significantly on how they report when they come out of a CLOSED session, which was the point Stolte wanted to make.

Councillor Galbraith, was one of the two that filed complaints with the Integrity Commissioner, has been trying very hard to make amends with Councillor Stolte.

It was a council with five new members that the public trusted; the best they have been able to do is squabble and create two groupings that are unable to cooperate fully. Mayor says it ain’t so.

What is most disappointing is how a Council that brought so much promise and hope to the business of the city has become petty, two faced, disingenuous and something of a disappointment to many.

Burlington is facing some very tough issues, the provincial policy that requires the city to grow has stretched everything including the leadership ability of Council and the leadership within the Planning department.

Each red dot is a development application that is somewhere in the process of getting approval. The vast majority are high rise buildings that require much more time and expertise for the planners to bring forward a recommendation.

The changes in senior staff in the Planning department have left that group of people, who have had to work very hard to keep up with the flow of new development applications, close to leaderless.

The developers are taking cases to the Ontario Land Tribunal before there is even a recommendation from the planners.

This very poor ethical behaviour is not being done by all the developers – but enough of them to really gum up the works.

There is a tonne of money to be made; it has drawn experienced developers into the Burlington market.

The opportunity to create a city that maintains its character is being chipped away little by little.

More is needed in the way of leadership from the office of the city manager and that of the Mayor.

Burlington has been and could be better than this.


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Polls are seldom right - but they are an indication of what voters are thinking. The number of undecided tells us someting

By Pepper Parr

May 26th, 2022



What will the province look like on Friday June 3rd?

Put a different way – How bad could it be?

Province wide the polls say that Doug Ford will be returned at Premier.

Who will form the Opposition?

The polls again suggest that the New Democrats will continue to be the Opposition

Steve Del Duca: Risks losing his seat – Liberals will have to find a new leader.

What the polls are also telling is that Steve Del Duca may not win his own seat leaving the Opposition leaderless.

The New Democrats will be deeply disappointed about not being able to form a government and will need to think about their leadership.

The leadership of the Liberals will have to come out of whatever they have in the way of members sitting in the Legislature.

Will this happen?

The Gazette survey results show a very tight race

Polls are never accurate – but they are an indicator.

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The winner of a very tight race for the Burlington seat in the provincial legislature is now up to the undecided voters

By Staff

May 26th, 2022



For the past three weeks the Gazette has had a reporter out on the streets of the city asking about the provincial election.

He asked the following xx questions

Question 1: Do you know there’s going to be an election in June?
Question 2: Do you know anything about the issues? 

Question 3: Are you going to vote (if not, why)?
Question 4: Would you like to say who you will vote for?

The number of undecided responses was higher than we expected – so we have added a 5th questions asking people is there a political party they are favouring

The latest results are set out below.






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On the campaign trail with NDP candidate with Andrew Drummond

By Jason Octavo

May 24th, 2022



The purpose of an election is to get more votes than anyone else and be able to form a government and serve the needs of the public that elected you.

That is what every politician will say and get in that line about it being an honour to serve the public.

Elections are something more than that. Most of the people running for public office love meeting people at their doorsteps, and listening.

NDP candidate Andrew Drummond

NDP candidate, Andrew Drummond and his team were working the streets of the Mount Forest part of the city hoping to meet people face to face and have conversations trying to convince them to vote for him.

The NDP is doing much better this time around. Last election, they had 216 signs around the neighborhood. This time, they have 366 signs.

The candidate never knows who will answer the door and what they will say. They may use the occasion to take a strip off the hide of the candidate or assure them that their vote is solid.

On the doorstep – soliciting a vote.

Drummond and his team have been going door to door for about two and a half hours every day since March.

For those who answered the doorbell, Drummond was ready with the NDP policy and how their leader Andrea Horwath was going to change the way government works and how voters will benefit.

If their is no answer to the door knock – a flyer would be left in the mailbox.

One house that was approached had a sign at the front of their door saying that a registered nurse lives here and that anyone from the PC party should stay away.

One person Andrew spoke to was a single mother of two children. She worries about housing and child care. She also thinks that candidates tend to break their promises and that people are struggling.

Another person was 72 years old and retired. He said that not too long ago, he had his rent doubled. Despite his age, he has been raising his kids for 30 years. He doesn’t believe that Doug Ford will live up to his promise of lowering gas prices if he gets re-elected as Premier.

Drummond knows where his support is. He has grown that support in the years he has been a candidate; the belief this time is that he has the numbers to get a majority in Burlington.

The last person Drummond spoke to on the time I was tagging along told him that he and his team “are doing much better.”

A campaign gives a candidate a small peek into the lives of the people they want to represent – it tells them as well if they are talking to the needs of those people.

The data – this what had been done up to the 20th of May

Campaign offices are filled with charts and data that show where the strength is and what the vote potential is – the task next week will be to get that vote out on election day.

Campaigns are hard work. Everyone loses some weight; everyone is committed – the enthusiasm is high.  It all comes to a couple of hours on the evening of Thursday June 2nd.

The tradition used to be that everyone gathered at the campaign office – workers and supporters – to watch the ballot counts come in.

The anticipation – the disappointment and the fear that it might not go their way is part of the evening.

Some contests get stretched out until the early hours – sometime everything is put on hold while the Returning Officer (the person who oversees the vote count that comes in from each polling station and deals with the problems) – there are always problems.

Jasmine Attfield, the Drummond campaign manager has decided that the candidate will not be at the office until the results are known.

Losing hurts – there is only one winner and in the game of politics – to the winner go the spoils.

The practice in Canadian politics is for the losers to drive over to the office of the winning candidate – congratulate them and then go back to your team and make the best of the evening.

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Race for the Burlington seat is still very tight. Undecided voters quite large

By Staff

May 23rd, 2022



Data collected locally suggests that the Burlington seat is still very much up for grabs.

Jason Octavo, a Sheridan College Journalism student about to graduate this year, has been spending hours outside supermarket and LCBO stores – inside malls and in Spencer Smith Park. North and south of the QEW.

By the time the survey work is completed he will have interviewed more than 750 asking the following questions:

Question 1: Do you know there’s going to be an election in June?
Question 2: Do you know anything about the issues? 

Question 3: Are you going to vote (if not, why)?
Question 4: Would you like to say who you will vote for?

We have added a 5th question: Is there a political party or candidate that you are favouring?

Are the numbers relevant, do they mean anything?  They are certainly quite different than the province wide numbers where the Progressive Conservatives have a clear lead.

That province wide sentiment is quite a bit different than what is taking place in Burlington.

Impressive data – can the solid 2018 results be improved – enough to win the seat?

The decision making in Burlington is informed by the significant number of New Blue Party signs that are showing up – especially in the rural part of the city;  the size of the Muslim vote and if it will turn out for the Liberal candidate.  And will the NDP vote locally continue to grow from the record vote level in the last provincial election.  They have raised more money than ever this time around and have a spacious office set up with a motivated team of volunteers.

The Progressive Conservatives did themselves no favours when they pulled their candidates province wide from taking part in debate or interviews.

They see themselves as leading and don’t want to have a candidate say something that will blow up in their faces. There is very little being said by PC candidates on social media.

Everything comes from the Premier and so far none of the other candidates have been able to lay a glove on him.

Will voters be disgusted with the way they have been treated? Not the base vote for certain. Winning is all that counts.  The voter be damned.

Octavo will be in the field up to May 31st – if there is a break in the news flow on something that could shift voter sentiments he will back back out until the day before the election.

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Rivers on the debate: Ford doesn’t have a platform; doesn’t need one. Winning at this point

By Ray Rivers

May 23rd, 2022



The Ontario leaders election debate took place this past week. And the undisputed winner was the party which, if people were listening, should do a lot better than they ever have – but probably won’t. The Green Party’s Mike Schreiner was eloquent, articulate, passionate and to the point, and challenged the front runner, Doug Ford, as the other opposition leaders only wish they could have done.

Andrea Horwath – working the crowd

Andrea Horwath did herself no favours talking over-the-top of the other leaders. And when it was her turn to speak, mostly avoided the question while recounting tales of meeting people on the street – accounts which are probably just scripted fiction. And when she finally got to the point of a question, used the opportunity to attack the wrong enemy, her Liberal opponent.

It was clear Horwath was still fighting Kathleen Wynne and the 2018 election. She looked desperate and caused Mr. Del Duca to note that every time she attacked him, Doug Ford would smile. There is little light between the policies of the three left-of-centre opposition parties, so if they really care about those issues, their natural political opponent is the Tory in the house.

Del Duca was calm and factual but somewhat robotic as he kept getting gut punched by Doug Ford

Del Duca was calm and factual but somewhat robotic as he kept getting gut punched by Doug Ford and his notebook of imaginary numbers. Del Duca was a little plastic, but at least he didn’t tirade. It’s not clear how the debate will affect his party’s standing, but without a knock out and/or Ford knocking himself out, it’s a long shot for any of these opposition politicians.

Ford probably could have skipped the debate, he’s so far ahead in the polls. But he showed up with his notebook. Candidates had been asked not to bring notes, but Ford is the front runner and he is the Premier, so he can do as he pleases.  Ford appeared calm throughout, even when attacked; exuding positivity and optimism, confident that he was on the right track even if it was a railway built in the 50’s and 60’s.

The moderation at TVO studios could have been better. Steve Paikin warned that he would shut off microphones if the contestants misbehaved. But he never followed through on his threat, even when it seemed chaos was at the door. Besides, the confrontational debate format, itself, is partly to blame for encouraging over-talking. Finally, the studio venue clearly hadn’t been COVID-proofed, since two of the debaters tested positive immediately afterwards.

Ford is running on his record

Ford is running on his record as incumbents typically do. So what is that record? It’s not unfair to say that of all the candidates running in 2018 Mr. Ford was not the most qualified. His ‘bull-in-the-china-shop’ gambit at the start of his reign disclosed a clear lack of understanding of the roles of the province and federal government, not to mention the energy and climate files.

He came out of the gate, and without a shred of evidence, accused Wynne of corruption and fiddling the books. So he set up an elaborate audit to find out the real numbers. And the real numbers were pretty much what Wynne had presented except for where she disagreed with the provincial auditor general (AG) on a couple of points. It was all show and an embarrassing waste of time and money. Why didn’t someone in his entourage tell him that the independent AG was mandated to review the provincial books prior to each election, so he wouldn’t have to do it?

Ford’s early government was highly visceral, he governed from his gut with bearings set to his ideological predisposition. He declared war on Toronto City Hall, his old stomping grounds. He went after the Liberal federal government, unions (teachers and nurses in particular) and just about everything environmental. And his nihilist environmental attitude rang up a costly sum. According to a study by Environmental Defence his dismantling of climate change policies has cost taxpayers of this province over $10 billion since the 2018 election.

Most of those financial impacts included the loss of expected income from the greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, Ontario’s alternative to the carbon tax. But there were real damage payments made, including $30 million to the giant US based Koch brothers. Then he wasted $30 million foolishly fighting the federal government over the carbon tax in the courts. And, while claiming he was saving hydro rate payers money by cancelling renewable energy contracts, actually cost us all almost a half of a billion dollars. Heck, even Tesla received $125,000 in legal compensation.

Ford acted too slowly with respect to measures that would stop viral transmission.

Ford’s early polling numbers dropped like a power line in an ice storm, reflecting his dismal performance in his first years as Premier. But Ontario rallied to its premier when the pandemic scared us all, and Ford and the prime minister were our solace during those early stressful days. Ford makes much of his fight to get personal protection equipment (PPE) supplies into Ontario, and the failure of the previous Liberal government to maintain inventories. But that doesn’t explain why his government had left those inventories empty during the first two years of his premiership.

Ford acted too slowly with respect to measures that would stop viral transmission and save lives in long term care (LTC). Although he inherited a troubled long term care program, the decision to have his ministry forego spot inspections of facilities just made the problem worse. And instead of actually implementing his ‘iron ring’ he allowed LTC staff to float among various facilities for way too long, inadvertently spreading the virus. His failures in LTC finally became apparent when he had to ask the federal government to send in the army.

Ford has a habit of repeating his mistakes

Ford on several occasions ignored the advice of the provincial science table and dropped restrictions prematurely or failed to tighten them early enough, thereby contributing to another wave. His refusal to re-instate the sick leave provision of the former government meant that workers would continue to show up at their jobs sick and spread the disease. And Ford had a habit of repeating his mistake – jumping the gun rather than waiting for lower and safer infection transmission rates before removing social distancing restrictions.

Each new case of COVID represented an additional cost to society, manifest in hospital and other health care expenses, lost income for those affected, lost economic productivity, and the very real personal costs of sickness, and sometimes death. Most of the financial costs were picked up by the federal government, but as we know there really is only one taxpayer.

Mr. Ford is proud of the jobs in new electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing he will be bringing to Ontario. That is a huge accomplishment, but these investments are also federally funded and likely would have been brought forward regardless which political party was in power in Ontario. And it is remarkable that Ontario has been able to attract EV production when Ford had been so hostile to the sector, killing the EV purchase grants, tearing out GO parking lot charging stations, and cancelling requirements for EV charging in buildings.

The promise of extracting valuable metals and rare earths from the so-called ring of fire, clearly helped attract a new battery manufacturing facility. But the province has still not built the road or rail connections it had promised back during the 2018 election. And, more recently, issues are looming around electricity supply for those industries.

Ford’s government is big on replacing renewable energy with natural gas, even as the rest of the world is trying to stop using gas. He spent $3 billion buying gas powered electricity plants which will almost ensure that the province will miss its climate change goals and drag Canada’s effort down with it. Natural gas is more destructive as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and yet Mr. Ford has doubled gas use for electricity over his term in office.

Even though we are still kind-of in the pandemic, we’d all like to think it was a lifetime ago. And Ford’s earlier antics are even further away in our minds. So the number one election issue is something called affordability. There is no precise economic definition for affordability but that doesn’t matter to someone filling their tank, paying their mortgage or looking to buy meat at the grocers.

A public wish and a badly needed solution – what will a new government be able to deliver?

And polls show that when it comes to affordability, the word in Ontario can be abbreviated to just plain FORD – even if he is paying you with your own and your children’s money. He talks a good story about lower gas and electricity prices. And didn’t he just return all the money you paid in licence fees? So Mr. Ford is projected to win with as much as a 10 seat majority.

That could still change if strategic voting comes to pass but there is little sign of that happening this election. Both main opposition leaders know they’ll lose, but they’d rather lose than be nice to each other. So they’ll both be running for second place rather than first.

Premier Ford – happy at this point.

And the big truth is that both Horwath and Del Duca blew their chances to impress the voters at the leaders’ debate. Horwath’s platform is stale and Del Duca’s piece meal. And Ford, just like the first time he ran, doesn’t even have a platform. But he doesn’t need one because the opposition parties are playing Ford’s game, almost aping the big man, but not topping his non-campaign promises of affordability and the good life, as he smiles on.

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On the Bateman high school purchase - Sharman tweets 'Failure is a possibility'

By Pepper Parr

May 22th, 2022


There is just something not quite right about the sale and purchase of the Bateman High School property.

It is monumentally expensive.

The paucity of public information resulted in the sanctioning of a council member based on a complaint by two other Council members.

Councillor Stolte was docked five days’ pay for talking publicly about something that was discussed in a CLOSED session of Council – a no no in the municipal world.

Councillors Nisan and Galbraith filed a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner.

Then there is an announcement that there will be a l and swap – the city would sell the sports field to the west of Central High school – the proceeds of that sale would go towards paying for the Bateman property owned by the public Board of Education.

The city announces that there will be public engagement – before that a short survey.

Short survey has a short life – the cit y pulls the survey and provides some detail on a public meeting.

That gets the social media close to the boiling point.  Those networks are going crazy over the Bateman high school and Central High school sports field matter,

Lynne Crosby, a frequent Tweeter, makes a comment – the city picks up on it …

… then ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman puts in a few words.


So failure is a possibility?





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Burlington election race is very tight

By Jason Octavo

May 18th, 2022



The Gazette assigned a reporter to learn how people in Burlington are handling the election for the next provincial government.

The assignment was to approach people and ask four questions:

Q1 Do you know there is going to be an election in June?

Q2 Do you know anything about the issues?

Q3 Are you going to vote? (If not – why note)

Q4 Would you like to say who you will vote for?

We captured the following additional data:

Male or female

Under 40 – over 40

Do they live in Burlington?

The interviews took place at GO stations, outside supermarkets, outside LCBO retail outlets, in Spencer Smith Park and the malls.

The results to date.

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Resident feedback wanted on Robert Bateman High School proposals

By Staff

May 18th, 2022



The City of Burlington is looking for residents’ feedback on a proposed land transaction with the Halton District School Board (HDSB) and leasing arrangements with the HDSB and Brock University for the City’s planned acquisition of the Robert Bateman High School building and property.

The proposed transaction with the HDSB would see the City transfer ownership of approximately five acres of City owned-land (sports field at Central High School) to the HDSB as a component of a land exchange for the Robert Bateman site.

The sports field beside Central High school is owned by the city. Selling it to the school board frees up some cash that can be applied to the purchase of the Bateman location. It is a complex deal with a number of players that may not have had the benefit of some some take our time second thought. Some are wondering – why the rush? One pressure point is that Brock wants to be in the space they are renting – when? Tight timeline.

The City owned-land in question is located near Burlington Central High School and includes the high school football field and running track.

The HDSB has wanted to own the sports field beside Burlington Central High School for some time; that desire is consistent with the HDSB’s long-term intention to continue operating Burlington Central High School as a school. This land exchange component will advance the City’s efforts to secure the Robert Bateman site in continued public ownership, ensuring that the Robert Bateman site is available for continued educational and community-oriented uses.

Feedback will also be sought on proposed leasing agreements with the HDSB that wants to use some of the space and Brock University that wants to locate one of its departments in Burlington.

Both leases are expected to be long-term but not to exceed 25 years.

Burlington City Council directed staff to gather feedback from the public on these proposals. Public feedback can be provided at the City’s online engagement portal, Get Involved Burlington.  The time frame for getting sufficient public feedback is short.

The site is a big one; the plans to re-purpose the location from a local high school to a multi-use site that would pull together local residents, a unit of Brock University, a public library and a number of gymnasiums with lots of space left over.

A considerable amount of controversy is expected from the downtown community where there isn’t all that much open space to begin with. The 100th anniversary event was planned to take place on the sports field in June of 2023.  Will that space still be available to the public once it is in school board hands?

Any thought of a community centre with a pool in that part of town would be lost.  With three towers planned for Ghent and Brant, a short walk from the sports field, residents wonder if they are going to be locked out of creating more in the way of public amenities.

Click for the Link to Get Involve

This engagement opportunity will be open to Burlington residents until June 13, 2022.

Following public input, staff will report back to Burlington Council with a final report and recommendations at the June 21, 2022 Council meeting.

Some background:

In June 2021, HDSB announced that it has declared Robert Bateman High School surplus to its needs.

In December 2021, Council provided direction to staff to submit a formal offer to purchase the Robert Bateman High School site

On Feb. 3, 2022, Burlington City Council endorsed next steps to advance the potential acquisition of the Robert Bateman High School site from the HDSB.

Shortly after, also in June 2021, the City of Burlington announced that an expression of interest would be submitted to the HDSB to purchase the Robert Bateman site through a partnership with Brock University.

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Public school board to purchase the city owned sports field next to Central High School - that is part of a bigger story

By Staff

May 18th, 2022



The Halton District School Board put out the following media release.

The Halton District School Board is advancing a land transaction with the City of Burlington that would see the exchange of the City-owned sports field at Burlington Central High School (1433 Baldwin St, Burlington), with the sale of the former Robert Bateman High School (5151 New St, Burlington).

The school will own the sports field once the negotiations are complete

The parcel of land adjacent to Burlington Central High School is approximately five acres and includes the sports field and track to the west of the school. The Board’s purchase of this land ensures the continued operation of Burlington Central High School by the HDSB for the foreseeable future.

In June 2021, HDSB trustees approved a plan to declare the former Robert Bateman High School facility surplus to its needs and retain an interest in a portion of the facility to relocate the Burlington Gary Allan Learning Centre. In September 2021, the City of Burlington expressed interest and submitted their formal offer on Feb. 3, 2022, which was accepted by the Board.

This opportunity to acquire the area at Burlington Central H.S. presented itself to the Board and the City as part of the negotiation process, where the land exchange was incorporated as part of the final offer. This was supported by the Board, as it advances its long-term facility accommodation strategy in Burlington. The Board sought Ministry of Education approval and received a positive response to proceed with the transaction.

The outcome of this transaction addresses key objectives for the HDSB and the City by ensuring  important educational and community programs continue to be offered within Burlington.

The Board looks forward to continuing to work with the City of Burlington on this matter.

The acquisition of the sports field is related to the Robert Bateman High School land transaction.

The bigger story is that the city had to find a way to lessen the public pressure on a price tag that was being floated and resulting in a lot of indigestion.  Whatever the city gets for the sports field will lower the cost of the Bateman site.

The city is gearing up another engagement effort to get some grease on a very squeaky wheel.


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Marina issues: First it was insurance - now its a crane operator strike. The question some are asking - what do you do with a drunken sailor?

By Pepper Parr

May 17th, 2022



There will be a detailed report on how council and city staff will do their best to get boats into the water at the LaSalle Park Marina. For today – look at what the issues were and how Council worked their way through what is a messy problem.

The major issue was not being able to get insurance coverage.

What made their situation just that more dicey was the strike by crane operators.

One of the things that about this story is that information slips out in bits and pieces.

We did not know that the LaSalle Park Marina Association (LPMA) pays the city a license fee of $159,000 a year for the wave break. What does the city do with that money? Do they put it back into the hydro reserve fund it was taken from?

While Tim Commisso, city manager doesn’t want to operate a marina – one of the stipulations from the insurers the city uses is that the city must have control over the marina if the city insurance policy is to include the marina.

City Solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol

Council looked to City Solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol to determine just what ‘control over the marina’ means.

While the city knows a lot about policy and process the Parks and Recreation people realize that they don’t know all that much about the day to day problems that crop up at a marina.

The solution they appear to be edging towards is having all the marina volunteers become city volunteers who would then be given some training. Those volunteers would run the marina as city volunteers.

Will it fly? That depends on the strength of the relationship between the city and the insurance company. City is big big client – some wiggle room might be found.

Another boat is hoisted out of the yard and lowered into the water as the LaSalle Park Marina opens for another season.  Just not this year – mid June at the earliest.

The marina is a profitable operation. They have 210 slips – with 160 of them rented – they are profitable.  The longer term hope for the operation was to have 310 slips and a decent restaurant on the site.

As important to anyone is – getting the boats in the water and to do that they need to find an independent crane operator with equipment big enough to hoist those boats off their cradles and into the water.

One boat has been sold – the owner apparently can’t get his boat out of the yard it is in.

Everyone has spoken about how whatever arrangement is worked out that the city will be revenue neutral. Not a dime of public money gets put into the operation of the marina.

The LPMA turns out to have a decent reserve fund of its own. They reported that they run a profit most years – something in the order of $64,000 annually. Last year was an exception.

Given that the marina association has a reserve ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte wondered if the LPMA would have some of that reserve used to secure any expenses the city did run up?

City treasurer Joan Ford told Council that any expenses that did crop up would be recorded in a new, separate account. What kind of expense might be recorded in that account?

Council learned that the city was hiring outside legal council to advise on what the legal issues were. The cost of those lawyers would be one that the city would pay and look to the LPMA for reimbursement.

Stolte put forward an amendment to a motion that was being considered. She wanted some of that LPMA reserve money set aside as a security for those unexpected expenses.  It went nowhere – Stolte couldn’t get a seconder. When asked if he would second the motion Councillor Galbraith took a pass. Smart man – no need for him to rustle the feathers of an influential group in his ward.

The Gazette has learned that one of the two slip and fall law suits took place on the docks late at night.

We don’t yet know just who made the claim and what the particulars of the claim are.

We do know that $97,500 has been spent by the LPMA defending the claim with a settlement on either of the claims nowhere in sight.

What is that phrase ”What do you do with a drunken sailor…”

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