Heavy rains predicted from weather system coming north from Gulf of Mexico

News 100 redBy Staff

October 25th, 2019



Flood conditions - yellowConservation Halton advises that an incoming weather system from the Gulf of Mexico is forecasted to bring a significant accumulation of rainfall this weekend, beginning late in the evening on Saturday and lasting into the overnight period and until mid-day Sunday.

Rainfall amounts of approximately 30 to 50 mm are anticipated for our immediate area.

rainfall - umbrellaThe forecasted precipitation will result in increased water levels and flows within our rivers and streams over the next several days. The combination of slippery and unstable banks and cool water temperatures will create hazardous conditions close to any river, stream or other water bodies.

Widespread flooding is not anticipated. Our reservoirs are at our seasonal holding levels and have storage capacity available. However, fast flowing water and flooding of low lying areas and natural floodplains may be expected. Localized flooding may occur where leaf litter blocks storm sewers. Municipalities, emergency services and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should be on the alert.

Conservation Halton is asking all residents and children to keep a safe distance from all watercourses and structures such as bridges, culverts and dams. Elevated water levels, fast flowing water, and slippery conditions along stream banks continue to make these locations extremely dangerous. Please alert children in your care of these imminent dangers.

Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream flow and weather conditions and will issue further messages as necessary. This Flood Outlook Statement will be in effect through Tuesday October 29th, 2019.

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The importance of looking after the caregiver.

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 25th, 2019

Parents/guardians are invited to attend a free evening presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 aimed at addressing the importance of looking after themselves as caregivers in order to look after their loved ones.

The presentation by Michele Sparling is titled “Putting ‘Self’ in Caregiving – How Looking After you Helps You Look After Them”.

Seniors - caring for them

Who is taking care of the care-giver?

In this session, parents/guardians and caregivers will hear why self-care is an important part of the regimen of care, what it is, what it is not, and one family’s story of finding room to breathe and reset, in order to be there for their loved ones.

Presented by Community & Parent Partners for Kids (C.A.P.P. for Kids), the event runs from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Gary Allan High School/New Street Education Centre (3250 New St., Burlington). There will be community displays from 6:45 – 7 p.m.

Michele Sparling is a Partner at Innovative HR and has 30 years of in depth experience as a results-oriented senior human resources professional. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration, and a Master of Industrial Relations. She is trained in mediation, facilitation, ASIST, Mental Health First Aid, and as a SocioPsychological Health and Safety Advisor. Michele and her family have lived in the Oakville community for 23 years.

C.A.P.P. for Kids is a partnership between Halton Region, Halton District School Board, Halton Catholic District School Board, Reach Out Centre for Kids (ROCK), Our Kids Network, Halton Regional Police Service, Ontario Early Years, Burlington Public Library, City of Burlington, and the Halton Multicultural Council.

For more information about this event, email capp4kids@gmail.com.

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Is amalgamation off the table? Looks that way.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2019



The Minister of Municipalities and Housing has said that “After careful consideration of the feedback we heard through the course of the review, our government stands firm in its commitment to partnering with municipalities without pursuing a top-down approach. We will provide municipalities with the resources to support local decision-making.”

Does that mean any amalgamation of the four municipalities in Halton is off the table? Looks that way – but let’s see how this rolls out in the months ahead.

We love B Prov Rev

The We Love Burlington team made a lot of noise and were surely part of the decision the province made to pull back on the idea of amalgamation.

The government added that they are putting serious dollars on the table – they are “providing up to $143 million to municipalities to help them lower costs and improve services for local residents over the long term. Funding will be available to all 444 municipalities so they can find smarter, more efficient ways to operate and focus spending on vital programs and services for Ontarians.

“Municipalities deliver a wide range of services that people rely on every day, like transit, water and wastewater, and parks and recreation.

“Municipalities are the level of government closest to the people, but every community is different – one size doesn’t fit all,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This investment in communities will support municipal transformation efforts to make sure they are delivering efficient, effective and modern services that best meet the unique needs of their residents.”

“Earlier this year, the government conducted a review of Ontario’s eight regional governments and Simcoe County. Throughout this extensive review, the government heard that local communities should decide what is best for them in terms of governance, decision-making and service delivery.”

Related news story:

What did We Love Burlington have to say?

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Toronto Raptors; a 2019-20 Preview. Defending Jurassic Park

sportsred 100x100By Otto Rachaele

October 24th 2019



They made one of the biggest moves in the off-season a year ago, trading away a franchise favorite for a shot at the title. Already one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors shocked many by swapping DeMar DeRozen for Kawhi Leonard. Unless you were living under a rock, you know how the story played out. Chances are you also know that Leonard, who was named Finals MVP, returned home to LA to play for his home town Clippers. So where does that leave the Raptors in defense of their first ever NBA Championship?

Raptors ring 2019

The members of the NBA Championship team were given their 2019 rings. Biggest most expensive sports ring ever created. Each player got a ring with their name and number on it.

For the previous two championships, it had been heavily assumed that the defending champion Golden State Warriors would once again repeat as champions, however, such is not the case with the Raptors this season. In fact, they are not even favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2020 Finals. Oddshark.com has the Raptors at +3300, with four other teams from their conference ranked ahead, including the Brooklyn Nets who are without Kevin Durant.

The Milwaukee Bucks are favored to win the Eastern Conference, with the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics rounding out the teams with the best chance to represent in the NBA Finals.

With Leonard and DeRozen over on the West Coast, the Raptors are once again in search of a player who can be the face of the franchise. A five time All-Star and the longest tenured active player, Kyle Lowry can still be a solid starter for the Raptors but may no longer be considered one of the team’s go to players. That title will most likely be passed 2019 NBA Most Improved Player, Pascal Siakam. As their second best scorer and rebounder last season, Siakam has doubled his scoring in each of his three seasons and should be capable of averaging at least twenty points a night this season.

As for the rest of the starting five, Coach Nick Nurse may juggle time between Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.

Fred Van Vleet

Fred VanVleet proved, during the Raptors championship run, that he was capable of playing big minutes and hitting big shots.

Among the second wave of players coming off the bench, Fred VanVleet proved, during the Raptors championship run, that he was capable of playing big minutes and hitting big shots. While new additions Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will add to the depth, they weren’t the blockbuster additions that other teams made during free agency. If Toronto hopes to remain competitive this season, they will need players like Patrick McCaw, Chris Boucher and Cameron Payne to step up and play valuable minutes.

At 32-9 last season, the Toronto Raptors were tied for the third best home record in the league something that will not only come into play again this season for visiting teams, but also for oddsmakers and NBA bettors.

As with many professional sports the variety of betting options for professional basketball has plentiful picks and parlays to choose from. The most popular NBA betting options are point spreads and over/under. Last season, the Raptors covered the spread in 48% of their games and should you have taken the over, you would have come ahead 52% of the time.

Masai RAptor

Masai Ujiri did what he had to do to bring a NBA Championship to Toronto. He took a chance and was rewarded for doing so.

GM Masai Ujiri did what he had to do to bring a NBA Championship to Toronto. He took a chance and was rewarded for doing so. Unfortunately now the bar is set much higher and the reality is, the current makeup of the team is not capable of reaching that bar, at least not at this point. With all of the big name players holding contracts that will expire next summer, the refurbishing of the lineup may begin sooner than later if the team struggles.

Don’t be surprised to see the Raptors continue their playoff streak to eight years, but don’t expect Jurassic Park to be open in June. Will the Raptors get a second Championship ring?

Otto Rachaele is a dedicated sports fan, more of a Raptors fan actually who understands the Gaming business.  He is located in Burlington and gets into Toronto for every Raptors game.

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Good technology puts information in the hands of the public.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2019



The city council in place now looks at technology a lot differently than the council that served from 2010 to 2018.

That cohort was not comfortable with technology, were unable to make it work for them and didn’t know how to direct staff to make it work for the citizens.

The new council has members that know a lot more than many of the people in the IT departments. Lisa Kerns will rattle off data and phrases that most people don’t quite get. Part of it is some showing off – but she usually knows what she is talking about.

Getting information into the hands of the public, at least for those who want to know the what and why of what’s happening, is easily done if good data applications are put in place.

There is now a source of almost everything you might want to know about developments taking place in the city.

Development mapYou can adjust the size of the map.

Then by clicking on on any one of the red dots you get a short summary of who is doing the development and links to the city’s planning department which then gives you a list of all the studies that were done.

There is also a link to the developers web site.

Most of what you need is at your finger tips – no more scooting around from place to place to gather information on a single development.

A good step forward..

Try it – the Development sites is part of the Get Involved city web site.



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Action Plans - can they be turned into concrete plans that can be defended if they are challenged by the development community?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2019



The people in the planning department and those in communications were about to learn if they had put together a program that would bridge the gap between what was planned and what was actually achieved.

Sticky notes

Each of the yellow “notes” were an idea, a comment that would be reviewed by planning staff.

Planner with resident

Planning staff floated through the room ready to answer questions. There were a lot of questions.

It was complex.

The city has an Official Plan, it is required to have an Official Plan and it is required to update that Plan.

In 2018 the city approved an Official Plan and sent it off to the Region.

City plans have to comply with the Regional Official Plan.

That plan got called the “approved” Official Plan.

Then the city held an election and a new council was in place along with a new Mayor who believes she was elected to make some changes.

Development map

Each red dot is a development proposal – the planning department couldn’t keep up with the applications.

Development applications were being submitted to the Planning department at a brutal rate.  Staff could not keep up with the volume but the rules of the planning game are that anything that is submitted to the Planning department has to be considered.

The city needed to put a halt or at least slow down the rate at which development applications were being submitted.

They imposed an Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) which put a halt to the approval of any new developments within a specific area. That area was defined as the Urban Growth Centre.

The new city council and the new Mayor then directed Staff to re-write the “approved” Official Plan and ensure that there was plenty of opportunity for public input.

Concept sheet

The audience was given choices that the consultants said could be revised, added to or merged with other ideas. There was nothing that couldn’t be out on the table.

That is what got 75 people at an Action Plan meeting last night at the Lions Club Wednesday evening plus another 75 people for an afternoon meeting – to look at what the city had collected in the way of information and ideas at a meeting that took place in August.

Lisa Keerns with ward resident

Lisa Kearns, on the left, the ward Councillor in discussion with a resident.

Table group

Couples worked diligently on the documents they were given and asked challenging questions throughout the evening.

There was criteria, there were principles, there were precincts and there were ideas – they called them concepts that they wanted the public to look at, debate, discuss and provide whatever was on their minds as feedback to the planners and the consultants.

The afternoon and evening sessions of the Action Plan meetings were considerably different. The Gazette did not attend the afternoon session, which we were told worked quite well.

The people at the evening session kept going off script – they had all kinds of questions that were not directly related to what the facilitators were trying to get across.

MacDonald + Enns

Planner Allison Enns with Director of Planning Heather MacDonald on the right.

On two occasions the Director of Planning had to go to the front of the room and quietly explain some of the decisions that were being made.

The evening session wanted to know why the Waterfront Hotel property was not being included in the discussions –same with what has come to be known as the “football”, that property between Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road that has to 24 storeys plus application in the hands of the planners.

There were very some pretty sound reasons for not including those two pieces of land. It wasn’t at all certain that the audience understood just what those reasons were.

It was a solid two and a half hours of people who care about their city and do not want to see the downtown core become a collection of high rise towers with nothing but wind tunnels at the street level.

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Another survey? How many can we swallow? This time it is SoM

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 23rd, 2019



We are being surveyed to death.

The city seems to have several surveys on the go at the same time. There are three they want you to respond to – soon.

These surveys aren’t all that short. Useful – but is there not a limit as to how many surveys can be put before the public?

The Sound of Music is asking for your views on what they do as a Festival and what they want to do. They need public input for the funding report they will put before council. They are too late to get anything from the public trough this year.


The musicians who didn’t make it to the big stages – they got some space on the streets of the city.

For those who do the SoM survey – their names will be entered into a draw for a full weekend VIP Pass to the free festival, June 18-21.

SoM survey graphic

A closer look at some of the questions and a little condition at the end of the questionnaire gives rise to some concern.

Why is a survey respondent “consenting to receive email communications from the survey author’s organization based on the information collected.

Who is the survey author’s organization?

We live in a time where personal information is both a valuable commodity and something we need to be vigilant about protecting.

In our communications with the Sound of Music and its board we have found them to be very adverse to being open and transparent with their dealings with media.  In a phrase – we don’t trust them.

So when they ask you you: “Please provide us with a small amount of personal information. Your city and state is purely for data capture. We use your contact information to enter you into the VIP Package draw. You will not be added to our mailing list, or any receive any further marketing. This is simply to contact you should you win our VIP Package draw.”

And when they add: “By entering my personal information, I consent to receive email communications from the survey author’s organization based on the information collected.” my eyebrows arch.

Set out below is a part of the survey.  You decide if you want to respond.

SoM questions some

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A delegation from Burlington takes to the streets of Itabashi, Japan and does a deep cultural dive while there.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 23rd, 2019


This story has been revised.  A reader pointed out to us that the Mayor did provide a very detailed report on her trip to France for the D Day remembrance. A link to that report is now included.

Our Mayor is in Japan.

MMW in costume - Japan

The mayor has gone rogue – taken to Japanese fashion.

She has been there since October 15th and will return on Friday.

She is part of a delegation that is celebrating our 30th anniversary of the Twinning of Burlington with Itabashi, Japan.

Attending with the Mayor and one of her daughters. The Mayor is picking up the cost of her daughter’s travel expenses.

The city manager and at least one staff member and Ward 6 Councillor Rory Nisan is part of the delegation.  Members of the Mundialization committee are also part of the delegation.

Commisso and Mayor in Japan

Mayor Meed Ward marching through the streets of Itabashi, Japan with city manager Tim Commisso doing his best to keep up.

Other than the recognition and the celebration of the twinning relationship there is no clearly stated reason for the trip.

There has been some discussion about possible business opportunities with different Japanese cities.

When the Mayor returns she has said she will tell us all about the trip.

When Mayor Meed Ward took part in the 75th Anniversary of the D Day landings in France the public was given a very detailed report that included how much was spent.  That report can be found HERE

The Mayor did report on what she spent – the sums were reasonable and acceptable. She took one of her staff members with her and they shared a room.

There is very little in the way of news from the Mayor directly – there are a number of pictures posted on one of her social media pages.

We share those with you and wish the Mayor safe travel as she prepares to return to Burlington, ranked as Canada’s best community and best place to raise a family. It is a city where people, nature and businesses thrive.

MMW on a lunch break

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward enjoying a Japanese delicacy with Councillor Nisan in the background wondering perhaps if he too will be fed.

Rory Nisan - in a kitchen

Councillor Rory Nisan taking part in what may be a cooking class.

Mmw in the kitchen

The Mayor is on the right. There was no detail provided on the pictures.



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Journalist, broadcaster and historian to talk about her book on Mary and Christopher Pratt - a couple that left a significant mark on Canadian art.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

October 23rd, 2019



Carol Bishop-Gwyn, is a journalist, broadcaster and historian of the arts who has written an enthralling chronicle of the eventful lives, the indelible works, and the colourful relationship of artists Mary and Christopher Pratt.

Pratt art - boat

An early screen print – Boat in Sand, 1961 is in the National Gallery’s collection.

Ross King explains the book this way: “Christopher Pratt has left a truly indelible mark on the Canadian art canvas. Bishop-Gwyn’s remarkable double portrait of Canada’s first couple of painting explores the lives of Mary and Christopher Pratt with the insight and sympathy of a friend and insider, and the wide lens and forensic scrutiny of an historian.

“Along the way we learn of the passions, tragedies and rivalries behind two extraordinary bodies of work.”

In Art and Rivalry,  Carol Bishop-Gwyn delves into the the lives of Christopher and Mary Pratt, Canada’s most renowned contemporary artists.  Their once supportive relationship ended in scandal, divorce, and a furious competition for dominance in Canadian Art. Their never-before-told story offers insight into the role of art and artists in our society.

Gwyn book on PrattThe Provincial flag of Newfoundland and Labrador, was designed by Pratt and adopted in 1980.

Nfld flagAdmission is free–please register at this link or by contacting us at (905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com.

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Ashley Worobec: Set a goal, chase a dream, keep at it day after day…… and here I am, only 2 weeks away from the NYC Marathon!

sportsgold 100x100By Ashley Worobec

October 23rd, 2019



My taper is in full effect and I’m enjoying the decrease in mileage.

Oct 20th run

My run last Sunday.

My longest run this week was 21km (I rounded up to 21.1km to make it an “official” half marathon distance), and it’s amazing to me that it actually felt like no problem. Just a few short months ago, a 21km run was quite daunting, and now here I am over the hump of marathon training, and 21km feels like a relatively easy effort.

It’s just incredible how our bodies can adapt to the demands placed on them, and how a challenge like this can be achieved with hard work and consistency. That’s what I hope people are gleaning from these training reports – that anything is possible! Set a goal, chase a dream, keep at it day after day…… and here I am, only 2 weeks away from the NYC Marathon!

I’ve been excitedly looking into the logistics of the actual race day, and you may find this part interesting. As you can imagine, it’s a challenge for race organizers to get more than 52,000 runners to Staten Island to the starting line! A few months ago, athletes were required to choose their race day transportation, the choice being a ferry or a bus. I chose the midtown Manhattan bus pickup, simply because the pickup location was closer to my hotel and it seemed like a warmer option, as I’m always cold and who knows what New York in November will bring weather-wise.

I’ve been assigned to a 6am bus pickup, and according to the website, the ride to Staten Island could take upwards of 90 minutes, depending on traffic. I am thankful that November 3rd happens to be the day after the Fall-back time change, so my 6:00am pickup will actually feel more like 7am. Once we arrive on Staten Island, we are separated into three Athlete’s Village areas – blue, orange, and green (I’m blue). At that point, we wait.

I am in the first wave of athletes, as I met the marathon’s time standard qualification rather than taking my chances in the general population lottery, so my start time is 9:40am. There are 4 waves; 9:40, 10:10, 10:40, and 11:10am; each wave will consist of roughly 13,000 runners.

post race poncho

Prized piece of post race loot. Proudly worn by marathoners.

We have also been asked to choose between a bag-check option and a post-race poncho, of which I chose the latter. This means that whatever I take with me to Staten Island will need to be left behind or carried on my person during the marathon; I will be wearing warm clothes over my running gear that will go into the charitable donation bins provided (these clothes are known in running circles as “throw-aways”), and anything I’ll want to eat during my wait will need to be brought with me as well.

There is food provided in the athlete’s village, but with a nervous pre-marathon stomach, I don’t want to leave anything to chance and I’ll be bringing some foods that I’m familiar with and know that my body can handle before a run. In exchange for this no-bag-check inconvenience, when I get to the finish line I will get the post-race poncho that is legendary in the marathoning world. Apparently this poncho is full-length and fleece-lined, and will be exactly what I’ll need to keep myself warm on the 2-mile walk from the finish line in Central Park back to my hotel room.

leader board

The app that tracks Ashley’s progress.

The NYC Marathon app- my data is live on there now. There is an option for people to track my progress on race day- the app will send alerts as I move along the race course. This “athlete tracking” is also what my husband will use to hopefully catch a few glimpses of me at various points along the race, as he navigates the NYC subway system.


Something to keep her hair out of her face while running.

The hat photo I’ve included here is simply because I’m starting to plan what I’ll wear during the race (weather-dependent of course), and I always, always, always wear a hat – it keeps my hair out of my face and the sweat out of my eyes. I’m really hoping November 3rd isn’t too cold and that I’ll be able to get away with this hat rather than a toque!

White habs toqueEditor’s note:  We are thinking about trying to convince Ashley to wear a toque – which we will donate.  A nice white toque with a Montreal Canadiens crest on it.  Do you think she will wear it?

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Where were you when the votes were being counted?

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 22nd, 2019



Some people made watching the election results come in an event. There were groups of Canadians around the world gathering to watch Facebook pages where the CBC was streaming the results live.

Ward 6 city councillor Bentivegna managed to coax a CBC reporter to his home where friends and family got together to eat and talk and analyze what they were seeing.  There was Angelo and his family on national TV.

Each of the campaigns met once the polls closed and waited for the results.

The Karina Gould Liberals celebrated at Emma’s Back Porch.

Mountsberg 5

Political columnist Ray Rivers keeping an eye on proof reader Jan Mowbray and Publisher Pepper Parr. Photo credit: Jean Rivers

The Gazette editorial team had to both watch the result play out and think how they were going to cover each of the three campaigns that were taking place in Burlington – the city is covered by three different ridings. One riding, Burlington, is just the city; Milton includes the northern part of the city while Oakville North Burlington includes both the city of Burlington and the Town of Oakville.

The television networks focus on the bigger picture, offering glimpses of what is taking place in each of the ridings.

The CBC decision desk announced that Justin Trudeau was going to be the Prime Minister, then added later that he would have just a minority of the votes that were Liberal – which meant cozying up with one of the other political parties.

CBC did an outstanding job on both the analysis and the graphics that were available to the viewers.
The talent gathered around the television studio was impressive. Peter Mansbidge was there sitting beside Bob Rae – both men had great insights into what had taken place in the past.

The At Issue Team was on hand with Chantel Hebert providing an inside look at might be expected from Quebec. Turned out we shouldn’t expect all that much from the BLOC party. They made it very clear they were in Ottawa to protect the interest of Quebeckers – the federation wasn’t of all that much interest to them.

The people who write for and put the Gazette together were both viewers and journalists – we were both watching, taking it all in and deciding how we wanted to cover the win in each of the three ridings that include parts of Burlington.

Earlier in the day I predicted what the election results would be. A loyal but critical Gazette reader sent me a note saying: “Remind me please in January not to follow and bet on your Super Bowl tip. One for three in your election predictions!”  And that is why you never see me at a race track.

Mountsberg 6

Political columnist Ray Rivers reacting to the news that Jodi Wilson Raybould had been elected in British Columbia. Photo credit: Jean Rivers

We decided to have some fun and created a Burlington Gazette Mountsberg Bureau and argued the merits of each of the wins and losses across the country as the results rolled in.

I thought the Jodi Wilson Raybould win was great; Rivers didn’t share my enthusiasm. He thought the SNC-Lavalin issue was off the table completely and on that he might be right; the BLOC doesn’t want to be part of that one. I still think the Prime Minister mis-handled that problem.

We all agreed that Prime Minister Trudeau may not have had all that much interest in changing the way the votes are counted. Jagmeet Singh is in the House ready to ensure that the change gets made.

Interesting times ahead.

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How the way we choose our leaders has alienated West from East divided the country.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 22nd, 2019



As the final results were coming to an end the CBC switched to final comments by the leaders. For a brief moment I thought CBC had picked up the feed from those horrible debates where the leaders talked all over one another. Nobody obviously had coordinated their appearance so at one point all three of these guys were on the screen at the same time and the tough decision at the CBC was who would be given voice.


Jagmeet Singh – holds the balance of power in Ottawa.

Trudeau gave a prime ministerial address about national unity, though what else could he say after the big wipe out in the west. Singh fell back on his stump speech, about this fictional kid suffering from some ailment and worrying about how his parents were going to be able to afford the drugs.

Scheer was combative, couldn’t wait for that next election and he’ll be ready – because it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you get to be PM. And being 30 plus seats behind the Liberals he knows the knives are out.

The most important take away message from Monday night is how our electoral system is failing us as a nation:

1. The BLOC had only about 1% more of the popular vote than the Green Party (7.7% vs 6.5) but won 32 seats to the Greens’ 3;

2. The NDP had more than twice the popular support across Canada than the BLOC but ended up winning 8 fewer seats;

3. The Conservatives won the popular vote yet lost the election.

Raitt thumbs up

Lisa Raitt lost to a newcomer and now leaves the political arena.

Our FPP system is unrepresentative and unfair. Of perhaps lesser consequence, we sadly watched knowledgeable and experienced politicians, such as Lisa Raitt and Ralph Goodale get burned just because they were running for the ‘wrong’ political party in the wrong geographic area.

Four years ago Justin Trudeau promised to change our electoral system. But the parliamentary committee he created took on a life of its own and ended up recommending a mixed member proportional (MMP) system. That is currently the most popular and workable electoral system globally, but since the electoral reform committee demanded a referendum the recommendation got shelved.

The fact is that every referendum on MMP in Canada has failed so far, largely because, like gun control and climate change, attempts at rational discussion eventually degenerates into partisan positioning. And even if the parties stopped bickering it would still take a monumental effort to educate and possibly convince Canadians to opt for this relatively more complex, though inherently more fair, electoral system.

It is no secret that Trudeau would have preferred keeping the first-past-the-post (FPP) system coupled with a preferential ballot. So it is unclear why he just didn’t implement that. After all, he had obtained a mandate for electoral change in the 2015 election. Had he brought in the new ballot it is most likely Trudeau would have won another majority in Monday’s election.

The second take-away of the election result is that these are some of the most polarizing times we’ve seen in this country. The rise in western alienation over oil has helped to spawn a renewed enthusiasm in Quebec for national sovereignty. Further, Alberta politicians have insulted Quebec over the equalization formula, using it to attempt to blackmail the province into accepting a highly unpopular pipeline.

Quebec pipeline

The pipe line that will never be – it would get western oil to eastern Canada.

The west really needs to take some time to read the tea leaves. First of all, they should understand that fossil fuels have no long term future. Building a pipeline with a forty year life when almost nobody will be burning oil in twenty is a totally irrational policy. So it’s time to get on with diversification.

Trudeau undoubtedly knows that about pipelines, but he is willing to compromise his principles as the cost of governing all Canadians. Yes, that love is unrequited. In fact Trudeau is irrationally hated in the west, much as his father was. And these folks are willing to let their animosity for the Liberal party rule out any chance of being involved in decisions that will affect them. Cutting themselves out of the governing party is cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

So this may be the time for tough love to come back for Alberta and Sask. To survive as a minority government Trudeau will be forced to act on his four year old promise to end the subsidies the oil companies get. And that will mean tougher times for unsustainable petroleum operations and speed up coming to grips with the future.


Rachel Notley, a New Democrat who lost the a renewed Conservative party in Western Canada called the United Conservative Party.

Albertans still don’t get it that Liberals only agreed to allow the TMX expansion go ahead because former premier Notley imposed a carbon tax and other measures to reduce the province’s longer term climate changing emissions. Should the Liberal’s political survival depend on now cancelling that project, who would be there to represent Alberta’s interest in Cabinet?

Justin scheer debate

They bickered and did everything they could to diminish each other: Just Trudeau and Andrew Scheer.

This was a difficult election. The Liberals didn’t really have a platform, running on their record, more of the same, and topping up with some new goodies. The Tories had a short list of things they would do, but then they also promised a number of cuts only at the eleventh hour – but none of that measured up to what you’d call a platform. They were convinced that attacking and smearing Trudeau’s character with lies and made up stuff was all they needed to do to win.

In the end one would have to say that climate change became the dominant issue of the election. Two thirds of all votes went to parties which were committed to take action on the climate. The carbon tax is here to stay, as is the ban on oil shipping off the northern coast of BC, and as is the new environmental approval process and a plan to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The Conservatives are a western based party, spun off largely from the former Reform party. They may offer some lip service to reducing our carbon foot print but they were not prepared to do anything serious to reduce Canada’s dependence on fossil fuels or its place in our economy. And that is the biggest reason Andrew Scheer lost.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, 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


Background links:

MMP –    Preferential Ballot – 

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That Koeverden win: What will it mean for Milton and the country? Could turn out to be a lot more than many expected.

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 22nd, 2019



When you take more than 50% of the vote from a former Cabinet Minister who has been elected in the riding three times – you have done something significant.

After that – what’s next for Adam van Koeverden?

News anal REDTurns out he has known the Prime Minister personally for more than 15 years; the two men appear to work together very well.

Koeverden has to first learn to become a Parliamentarian and to establish his own network; learn the ropes and figure out where he can shine.

AVK with medals

Four Olympic medals and two world championships to his credit.

A successful four Olympic medal winner would make sports an obvious place to dig in.

Turns out that Koeverden has some well-developed views on housing issues and some solutions to the affordability problem the country faces.

Adam was raised in the co-op housing community; a form of housing in which you are a member of a co-op and you have the right to a residence with the understanding that you will be part of the team that maintains the property.

The residents never have any equity in the housing. The equity stays with the co-operative organization.

Co-op housing

Co-op housing is attractive, well built and not subject to unfair rent increases.

In most co-ops there is a membership fee but that isn’t a huge amount of money – and when you leave the co-op you get your membership money back.

Co-ops have to limit their membership to a number that is a bit above the number of housing units they have. Just about every co-op in the country has a long membership waiting list.

Well managed co-ops work – the problem is that many are not that well managed.

In Canada many of the co-ops are organized by people from the same nationality. People from the Scandinavian countries have been very successful at forming co-ops and running them very effectively.

Keoverden believes that co-ops are the solution to Canada’s affordable housing crisis.

At one point CMHC Canada Mortgage and Housing pumped millions into the co-op community.  They moved away from those programs about a decade ago.

Reviving this form of housing is something Adam will want to advocate. It might be something the government with a fresh mandate might adopt – it certainly has potential.

Co-op numbers

The Co-op community is bigger than many realize.

The downside is that Canadians have been raised to believe that a normal life is to get an education, marry, have children, buy a starter house, fix it up and when you need more space for more children you do an upgrade.

That was the deal in the 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s. It isn’t the deal today.

There would have to be a huge educational job to convince Canadians to give up on the idea of ever “owning” a home and instead settle for having the kind of space you need and know that your rent is not going to increase every year.

Expect to hear a lot from the Canadian Co-op Housing Federation on this issue.

AVK in his kayak

The strength of character and the discipline to win at the Olympic level will serve K well- it will pay dividends for Milton as well

Whether it is sports or co-ops housing Adam Kovererden is going to have an impact . Time will tell where it is going to be.

What will all this mean for Milton? We are going to have to wait and see how Kovererden decides how best he can serve the community because once he sets his mind on something he usually succeeds – just count the medals.

Previous news stories:

It did get him elected

Background links:

For more information on co-op housing CLICK here

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Getting returned to the House of Commons was the easy part of the job - now Karina Gould has to come up with a solution to the way we elect the federal politicians.

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 22nd, 2019



What does the Karina Gould win in Burlington tell us and what can we expect from her in the 24 to 36 months ahead of us before there is another federal election?

News anal REDThere are all kinds of problems the Liberals have with the people in Western Canada – and they will get resolved in some way – enough to keep the country together is another matter.

Let’s talk about what this election tells us about ourselves.

The 6.5% of the vote that Gareth Williams got for the Greens is more than disappointing. He got less than 5000 votes.

Gould - pregnant 2018

Gould didn’t miss much in the way of work time while pregnant. The son became a feature on those occasions hat she took the child to work.

Did Burlingtonians not care all that much about the state of the environment? Or was the concern over the threat from Jane Michael, the Conservative candidate, so strong that every progressive vote went to Gould to ensure that Michael didn’t win the seat?

Despite the hundreds of negative comments made about Michael and her decision not to take part in debates where she would have to defend her positions she did take 33% of the vote. 23,467 were prepared to accept the way Michael ran as a candidate. Proof positive that there is a solid vote that is not Liberal in Burlington. Was it a Catholic vote or a Conservative vote?

We heard from a number of strong Conservatives who were embarrassed with their candidate and deeply disturbed by the way she got the nomination in the first place.

How Burlington overcomes that divide is something Gould is going to have to work on. Good luck on that one. The responsible, decent Conservatives are going to have to find people who truly represent them if there is to be any change.

Gareth Williams looking sideways

Despite putting forward a very credible case for the Greens Gareth Williams was not able to pull in much in the way of voter support.

Back to that environmental vote. Gareth Williams did a very good job of setting out the Green Party case. He just didn’t get the buy-in he deserved.

The New Democrats selected a nice lady to carry their banner. It takes more than nice to win an election.

What does Karina Gould do now?

Gould in white - witness

Karina Gould at a Parliamentary committee.

We are all but guaranteed to have a lot of discussion about the way we choose who is to represent us in the House of Commons. Gould was the Minister of Democratic Institutions. Prior to her appointment the Liberals had not been able to make any progress on getting a buy-in from the other political parties and basically gave up on the idea.

Gould was brought in to ensure that the job the previous Minister, MP Maryam Monsef, wasn’t able to do didn’t get any worse than it was.

Karina Gould found herself standing before the national media in front of the doors to the House of Commons Chamber explaining that there would not be any change to the way Canadians chose their federal leaders.

Will the Prime Minister keep her in the portfolio – he should. Will she be able to craft a response to the problem and get a solid buy-in from her Cabinet colleagues? Hopefully yes for the sake of the country.

The New Democrats will work at making this their issue and pressing the Liberals to do something soon.  The Liberals need at last 16 of those votes to get their Speech from the Throne and the next budget passed.  Gould has her work cut out for her on this file.

Walkers and Dundas housing

This was the last major greenfield site in Burlington – there is nothing affordable being built.

There are other demanding tasks that Gould will need to focus on. Building housing that is affordable is vital. Gould can certainly support the case for building housing that people, especially younger people, can afford so they can remain in Burlington where housing is far from affordable.

Finally, Gould has some reaching out work to do. She has been very good at it. Her support for One Burlington was a good start. Helping those conservatives that need a home where their values are respected is a bigger job than Karina Gould can do – it will take time.

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Liberals clean up in Halton - win in Burlington, Oakville North Burlington and Milton.

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 22nd, 2019



There is little doubt where the people of Halton sent their vote.

Damoff in the House

Pam Damoff more than held her seat in Oakville North Burlington.

Gould - wide moth touching finger

Karina Gould held her seat.

Adam van K H&S

Adam van Kovererden won mote than 50% of the vote in Milton.

It was a solid Liberal vote in Burlington, Oakville North Burlington and Milton where Karina Gould won the seat. Pam Damoff did much better than we expected in Oakville North Burlington and Adam van Koeverden got more than 50% of the vote to send Lisa Raitt home for a long rest.

The Liberals didn’t do quite as well nationally. They will have to work with the New Democrats who took 24 seats 7.1% of the vote if they are to succeed in keeping the confidence of the House of Commons. The country can expect another election within two years – 36 months at best.

The Liberals needed 170 seats to form a government – they won 154. They need 16 seats from somewhere. They aren’t going to get anything from the BLOC who won 32 seats in Quebec.

Where to from here?  Expect the government to come though with a change in the way we choose the winners – we may have seen the last First Past the Post election in this country.

The Trans Mountain pipeline extension will get built and we should see some changes in the way health care is covered.


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Neighbourhood Community Matching Fund program opens: deadline for submissions is February 24, 2020.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

October 22nd, 2019



Burlington has a Neighbourhood Community Matching Fund (NCMF) with up to $10,000 available for each project.

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 24, 2020.

Created to inspire residents to champion community-led projects, the goal of the NCMF is to improve neighbourhoods by creating a sense of belonging and community pride, while building meaningful connections.

Burlington residents, brought together by a common goal or neighbourhood boundaries, are encouraged to submit ideas that help make our City a better place to live and play. Inspired by the unique needs of residents and community groups, projects can increase walkability, promote beautification, encourage recreational activity, build social connections and improve safety or accessibility.

Anyone interested in applying for funds is encouraged to visit burlington.ca/matchingfund to learn more about the application process, guidelines and past projects.

Lakeshore ball park - matching grant winners

Griffen Gervais, second from the left, explains to his pals what has to be done to fix up the local ball park.

How the fund works
The NCMF provides up to $10,000 in city funding to support selected neighbourhood and community group led projects in Burlington. Approved projects receive up to 50 per cent of the funding for the project from the City. The neighbourhood or community group will match this funding with an equal contribution made up through any combination of volunteer hours, donated services, donated materials and supplies or other funds raised, such as cash donations.

Some very good projects have been funded using the NCMF program. There is a ball diamond that was in really rough shape next to Lakeshore Public school. Griffen Gervais and a bunch of his friends (with a lot of help from their parents) approached the city and got the funding they wanted.

Backstop Lakesh PS

It was a pretty rough looking ball diamond – Griffen Gervais and his buddies did the work needed to get city funding.

The program does work; the amount available has been increased and staff within Parks and Recreation come close to bending over backwards to make what people want to do possible.

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Can Burlington have better elections? Can the candidates improve their game?

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2019



The electioneering is over.

Now the citizens of the country get to choose who should lead at the federal government level.

May and Justin debating

This is what a debate is about. Why can’t we have stuff like this in Burlington during our elections?

I suspect that we are in for a bumpy ride and some big surprises – which should come as no surprise.
What do we know now about the candidates that wanted to represent Burlington in Ottawa? Not much more than they wanted to tell us unfortunately because for the most part we really didn’t grill these men and women.

There were no debates – we did the usual Burlington polite thing.

Burlington doesn’t appear to be very comfortable with holding people accountable for what they do.

Debates, when they are moderated properly, give audiences a chance to see the candidates in action; see how they respond to the thrust and parry of a debate.

Candidates and potential candidates need to know that there is a bar of expectations they have to reach. You have to be good, really good, if you want to represent Burlington in Ottawa.

Debates bring out the best in candidates and they put a spotlight on the flaws. The public is entitled to that level of transparency. If someone believes they have what it takes to represent the public – show us.

Unfortunately, Burlington has never had an organization that will take on that role. Cogeco doesn’t want to offend anyone – all they want to do is ensure that their cable TV license is never put at risk.

The Chamber of Commerce isn’t much better – they seem proud of their Q&A approach to candidates: Never rock the Boat, and for heaven’s sake don’t disrupt – bad for business.

ECoB debate at Baptist on New

Church halls were filled – the public wants to hear what candidates have to say.

ECoB has done some very good work. They televised the municipal events that took place and drew crowds that filled church halls. It was evident that the public wanted more.

The ECoB events made it clear that it was time to look for stronger moderators; people with more depth and the capacity to push the candidates.

What isn’t immediately evident is that you get better representation when you push. A look at what Burlington has at the provincial level and what it has been offered at the federal level on the Conservative side of the political spectrum xxx

One can only wonder what John Robarts, probably the best Premier the province has ever had, would think of what we have done to the Conservative reputation.

A long time Gazette reader told us of a time when there were “ratepayer” groups throughout the city that communicated with the school board and city council. Those parents aged and their children grew up and the world changed.

The pressure on households is much different these days; parents don’t have as much time. In most households both parents work, and there are a lot more single parent families. Also, government is much more complex and the needs of the community are greater.

Students face an environment that is a lot different than the one their parents experienced. We also have a community that was nowhere as large as it is today – the baby boomers are moving into retirement and the millennials have made it clear that at least some of them expect to be at the table.

The bureaucracy is different as well – it doesn’t respond the way it used to; the pace is different, development is much more aggressive and the relationship between the electors and the elected isn’t what it could be.

These are changing times – and we are going to have to adapt. How well we adapt will determine whether Burlington really is the “best place to raise a family. It is a city where people, nature and businesses thrive.”

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Can innovative farming technology make a difference to the agriculture sector in Burlington?

News 100 greenBy Daniel St George

October 21st, 2019



This is the Escarpment we are talking about. Our country, our rural country - forever.

This is the Escarpment where there are farms that thrive. Enough to make farming viable ? No one really knows.

Burlington has a large rural area that makes up close to half of the city’s geographic area – much of it is excellent land that could support profitable and sustainable agriculture. Much of it is owned by developers who rent it out on terms that are not all that beneficial for farmers.

Despite those limitations there are a number of very productive farms that can make use of some of the innovative technologies to make farming better, smarter, and more efficient.

When used in the right way, it can also help drive transformational change across the food value chain to address the most challenging agriculture and food problems facing our planet. At least that is the promise from most of today’s ag-tech companies.

The biggest risk is that this promise, is just that, a promise. Technology today is not moving the needle far enough to meet farmers’ expectations and address the biggest challenges our planet is facing now and in the future. Challenges such as climate change, population growth and changing consumer demands.

Farming tractor ancient

Tractors like this were used across Canada. There was once a huge debate on whether or not rubber tires could replace those steel wheels. This machine was driven by steam fired by a wooden furnace.

Innovation in agriculture has helped farmers and growers throughout time, from horse-drawn tilling machines to automated tractors. The rate of this innovation over the last 10-20 years has exploded, and the number of agribusiness start-ups has followed suit.

Globally, investments in the agribusiness and food sectors have tripled since 2004. Agriculture technology has become a global phenomenon, with start-ups growing by over 80 percent each year since 2012.

In Canada, farm income has risen each year since 2003, except for a brief downturn in 2018. In a recent study by RBC in Canada, the study found that the sector could contribute up to $51 billion to the economy by 2030, through boosting technology investments, building new skills and addressing labor shortages.

The real question is not necessarily how we can get more and better technologies into the hands of farmers. Instead we should ask ourselves how we can better aggregate these technologies across farms at scale, combine disparate data sets and drive insights to improve key metrics such as yield, and to improve crop planning and variety, including growing conditions such as soil quality.

However, Innovation is also a double edged sword
Every day farmers are bombarded by offers of new technological advances and innovative solutions. These include everything from farm management systems to soil sensors and innovative farm machinery.

tractor automatedThis ongoing innovation is increasing the complexity of purchasing decisions and farmers are often wondering whether the value is really there. Not to mention, many of these technologies are often too expensive, especially for farmers who own small to medium sized farms. In addition, many farmers find they do not get the full value from these technologies as they often only utilize a small portion of the functionality that the solution is capable of.

For example, in a recent research paper in the journal for Agriculture Systems, it mentions that data collected by farm technologies is heavily under-utilized, and there are significant challenges with data quality and availability, as well as a lack of integration between technologies.

A recent comment by a farmer who uses an automated self-drive tractor says, “It hasn’t really improved productivity on the farm, and it hasn’t allowed me to relax because I still have to keep an eye on it. It’s a lot harder than we think to apply technology to farming in a way that truly helps farmers. That’s the challenge.”

Large companies are squeezing margins and farmers are feeling the pinch. The food value chain has become a fragmented set of silos with different players all wanting a piece of the pie. And farmers are the ones who are suffering. Without an economically sustainable farm, many of the global challenges we face today will never be addressed.

How do we then overcome this problem? How can we utilize technology to move the needle further and do farmers bear responsibility for driving this change? What role do other organizations play such as cooperatives, food manufacturers, governments and trading companies?

Innovation paired with foresight can yield world-changing results
The world faces a challenge in providing enough food to feed its growing population. The current rate of agricultural productivity is not sufficient to feed a predicted population of 9.1 billion people by 2050.

To solve this and other future challenges, agriculture needs orchestrated innovation. When used in the right areas and for the right purposes, innovation can move the needle significantly to address these fundamental macro-challenges.

Farm supermarket shelf

The problem facing the farm community is getting their product onto these shelves in a sustainable, profitable way. The farm and the supermarket operate in separate silos.

Traditionally, the food value chain has resembled a relatively linear model, from research (e.g. seed and varieties) and production to harvest, process, packaging, distribution, and sales. The value chain is made of companies who play specific parts within the system but often not across its entirety.

Often, these companies don’t share information and compartmentalize expertise and knowledge along the value chain. This lack of collaboration limits their insight.

When innovators’ focus narrows, the technology they invent might end up hurting farmers and consumers or only help a select few, rather than helping achieve a greater good. Innovative foresight to leverage technology and apply it in the right areas to drive value is critically important.

A three-pronged road to innovation grounded in data, collaboration, and sustainability.

How can agricultural innovation ensure that new technology minimizes the risks and maximizes the benefits?

The answer lies in three fundamental areas:

1. Connecting disparate data sets across the value chain to drive greater insights—such as digital farming platforms.

2. Creating ecosystems of organizational partners to share data and best practices and to work together on uncovering exponential rates of productivity and farming yield using ecosystem-driven business models.

3. Designing business models that drive value back into the farm, while at the same time being sustainable and economically viable—with a focus on farmers and growers.

Who can address the macro-challenges we face globally and what are digital farming platforms?

What types of ecosystems do we need and how can we develop a more vertical-integrated value chain?

And who is going to get it all started?

Daniel St. George





Daniel St. George is a Senior Managing Consultant, Digital Strategy in the Agribusiness Sector.

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Mayor and City Manager dance through the streets of a Japanese city.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 20th, 2019



There is just one thing you have to do today.

Well, actually two.

First get out and vote and hope that we get it right and get a government that can solve the mammoth problems ahead of us.

Second – enjoy the photograph set out below.

It is of Mayor Meed Ward and some city staff who are currently in Japan – as part of a mundialization delegation.

Commisso and Mayor in Japan

City manager and the Mayor dancing through the streets of Japan.

It looks as if they are dancing through the street – City Manager Tim Commisso, the man in the middle staring into the camera, looks very uncomfortable.

Tim Commisso is never going to forgive me for publishing the picture.

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Jane Michael - the most divisive federal candidate seen in several decades who could win the seat.

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 20th, 2019



What to say about Jane Michael, the Conservative Party candidate whose name will be on the ballet you are handed on Monday?

Jane Michael

Jane Michael

Jane Elizabeth Michael chose not to take part in the BurlingtonGreen all candidates debate; she chose not to participate in the videos that were done about each candidate, she chose not to take part in the session at Nelson High School where all the candidates met with the students.

We are advised that she did take part in the Chamber of Commerce question session where she is reported to have had difficulty with several of the questions and asked to have more than one of them repeated to her.

The Gazette has had more than two dozen comments made on Michael and more than five separate emails from people who were very concerned about the candidate and her past performances while a member of the Halton District Catholic School Board where she served as Chair for a period of time.

Michael was sanctioned by that Board for behavior that was never set out.

Her federal nomination was described as questionable by a number of people who wanted a nomination meeting – not a decision by the federal party on who the candidate should be.

There is a very damaging couple of paragraphs in Patrick Brown’s book Take Down in which he explains why Michael did not get the provincial nomination when he ran against Jane Michael.

Michael from Brown book

Photograph of the page from Patrick Brown’s book Take Down.

Her public position on and votes against initiatives to stop bullying against LGBTQ kids and vaccinating young girls for HPV is a matter of public record as are the bankruptcies.

The hard line social conservative stance on homosexuality, politicizing it and dividing the community with it are consistent worrying concerns brought up again and again.

The Gazette runs into people at different events who are politically active – we have yet to hear one person have anything positive to say about Jane Michael. Many of these people are lifelong dyed in the wool Conservatives.
Michael would not make herself available for an interview with the Gazette.

Our past experience with Michael led us to the conclusion that she is a very strong Catholic with views that are some distance from the mainstream.

Described as homophobic by some, and a right to life advocate on the issue of abortion.

Political candidates are supposed to have views they are prepared to debate and support publicly.

There are those who will claim that Burlington is a Conservative community and that 40% of the vote- which is often more than enough to win the seat, goes to the Conservative party almost automatically.

Most of those in the other political parties’ will never say publicly that they fear that silent Tory vote will tick off Michael name on the ballot just because it is there.

There is a lot of gossip on line – Reddit seems to be where most of it sits – that stuff has to be taken with more than one grain of salt. However, we’ve never seen this much written negative comment about one candidate.

Burlington has five people running for the seat in the House of Commons – they fear that Michael just might have enough in the way of baked in party support that will get her to the House of Commons.

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