Into the Woods - a Koogle production on stage starting tomorrow

By Staff

May 26th, 2022



They are back – like everyone else in the business of attracting a public the Koogle Theatre has survived and is putting an event on stage – first performance is on Thursday.

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Nicole 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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Arrest made while fraudster was getting ready to collect $12,000 in a scam

By Staff

May 26th, 2022



Early in April , the Halton Regional Police Service responded to an emergency scam in progress at an address in Milton.

This type of fraud, often referred to as the “grandparent scam”, has been an ongoing trend across Halton Region resulting in dozens of community members being victimized.

Sergo Laine

The suspect was expected to show up to collect $12,000 cash fromthe  victim for the alleged and fabricated bail of her nephew, a theme often used by fraudsters throughout the GTA.

The suspect did show up and was placed under arrest by investigators and charged with Fraud Over $5000.

This same suspect was investigated further following this initial arrest, as it was believed that he was committing further fraudulent offences.

On May 19, 2022, investigators executed search warrants at a hotel in Mississauga and a Toronto storage facility. This same suspect was once again placed under arrest, and charged with 7 additional Criminal Code and Controlled Drug and Substance Act charges.

Sergo Laine (32 years) of Montreal is charged with:

• Fraud Over $5000
• Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Over $5000
• Possession of a Controlled Substance (3 counts)
• Possession of Identity Documents
• Possession of Counterfeit Mark

Laine was released on an Undertaking.

Police believe there may be other victims.

Investigators are asking anyone who has information or has been victimized by Laine to contact the Regional Fraud Unit – Intake Office at 905-825-4777 ext. 8741.

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

Emergency scams
These types of scams typically involve the victim receiving an unsolicited phone call regarding a loved one being in distress. The perpetrators falsely identify themselves as a loved one, or impersonate a police officer and/or other participants of the criminal justice system (such a lawyers, bailiffs, and “bondsman”), falsely claiming that the loved one is in police custody as a result of a specific incident.

They request a larger sum of money to have the supposed loved one released from custody, or to pay for associated bills/fines accrued as a result of the alleged incident. The funds requested can be in the form of a direct cash payment, bank transfers, various gift cards, and digital currency. While the scam is ongoing, and the payments are being made, the perpetrators will on occasion use the threat of a fictitious “gag order” to prevent the victim from discussing the matter with anyone else.

Tips to protect yourself
• Attempt to verify the caller’s identity – do not volunteer any information, and further ask very specific probing questions about the caller.
•Request to call back the initial caller – then independently find the number of the police service (or other purported agency in question) and call them directly to clarify the situation. If unsure, call your local police service and ask them for assistance.
• Attempt to directly call the loved one in question and clarify the matter with them.

Remember – Fraudsters will count on your good will to act quickly and help a loved one. Take your time and use above noted tips to protect yourself.

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Backing down on the public survey over the sale of a sports field is proving to be a little awkward

REVISED By Pepper Parr

May 25th, 2022


The city’s Communications department had some concerns about wording we used to describe what we referred to as a self inflicted wound. There are some subjects that are very sensitive and we decided to remove a phrase we used.  Other than that – the story stands.  We changed the date as well from the 20th to the 26th.

Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to.

The decision to get public feedback on the city decision to sell the sports field to the west of Central High school has, to be polite about it, hit a speed bump.

The words transparency and engagement seemed to have been lost by the city communications people.  They are now falling over themselves trying to back out of a survey that wasn’t thought out all that well.

The tweet on the right, sent out earlier today, is kind of embarrassing.

City Manager Tim Commisso is reported to be putting together a public meeting to pass along more in the way of information.  What isn’t clear at this point is – will it be a joint meeting with the Board of Education or is the city going to have to wear this one all by itself.

What is so perplexing is that the rush that has been behind all this just wasn’t necessary – these are self inflicted wounds – the people who put together the survey need to really think through what took place and look for different approaches to what is a serious problem.

There is a public that is confused and angry.

City manager Tim Commisso needs to get a grip on this issue. It is close to being totally out of control. There are tens of millions involved.

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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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Benefits of online betting - casino bonuses

By Dennis  Savoy

March 24th, 2022



Betting has existed since ancient times and there are more and more users every day.

It is a hobby of many people who like to taste their happiness and hope to win.

Over the years, the list of things to bet on has been expanding. Most often it is in a sport, but there are also events outside the sport, such as the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest and similar.

The Eurovision Song Contest is an event that has millions wagering on the outcome – online

With the development of betting and the expansion of betting offers, it is to be expected that the betting industry will not stop there and will work on it on a daily basis. With this hard work we got online betting. What is online betting?

Online betting is one of the novelties in the world of betting and it greatly facilitates our daily betting. Online betting can be accessed from many device that supports internet connection.

Many bookmakers have online betting on offer and their offer is large. There we have many games in which we can participate to bet and hope to win. They are working on the development and improvement of these games every day, and over the years of online betting, much progress has been made in design, graphics of games that look much more realistic today than before and troubleshooting bugs that are decreasing day by day.

In addition to the efforts invested in the development of online betting, we are also working on increasing the number of users and promotion. Today we can often see many advertisements on the internet that promote online betting and its benefits but this is not the only way to promote.

Online casino bonuses are today an everyday part of online betting where the user receives certain bonuses in the form of free money or spins that they will use in betting and potentially make a certain profit. Casino bonuses are a great form of promotion on the marketing side because they attract new and reward old loyal customers. Casino bonuses of course vary from bookmaker to bookmaker and we need to be careful here.

It is necessary to check all the conditions well before we agree to certain bonuses in order to avoid possible problems. For the best casino bonus there are many sites on the internet but don’t miss the only online casino bonus guide you need.

When we find the best betting offer it is usually necessary to sign up and add a bank account for winnings. After that we can leave the benefits of online betting and hope for winnings.

Benefits of online betting

    1. Accessibility
    2. Large selection of bookmakers and games
    3. Facilitated the process of payment and withdrawal of money
    4. Online bonuses

Online betting is growing very fast and there are more and more bookmakers offering it. As with everything on the internet, we should be careful and research each option well before betting, but after everything is over, an exciting adventure awaits us for sure.

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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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Backyard pools make a splash with Ontario property owners

By Staff

May 24th, 2022



More than 9,000 swimming pool permits issued in 2021 – up 33%

Swimming pools were obviously popular through 2021 according to MPAC’s analysis of Ontario home building permits.

High end of the market – expense doesn’t see to matter in many of the markets.

The counted 9,059 swimming pool permits issued in 2021, an increase of 33% over the previous year. This continues a trend that saw a 53% increase from 2019 to 2020.

“The pandemic likely continued to put a focus on the home,” says Carmelo Lipsi, Municipal Property Assesment Corporation (MPAC) Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer. “Whether it’s because people were staying close to home due to restrictions, or were uncertain about future travel, many property owners invested in a pool as part of creating a backyard oasis to enjoy with family or friends.”

The economy version – they work.

The City of Ottawa was Ontario’s swimming pool capital for the second straight year, with 1,372 pool permits in 2021, a 47% jump. The City of Hamilton was next with 566 permits, followed by the Town of Oakville (315) and the City of Burlington (293).

Top 10 Municipalities: Swimming Pool Building Permits 2021



City of Ottawa 1,372
City of Hamilton 566
Town of Oakville 315
City of Burlington 293
City of London 286
Town of Milton 196
City of Windsor 189
City of Kitchener 178
City of Cambridge 153
Town of Lakeshore 150

Percentage-wise, the City of Clarence-Rockland was the leader, with a 175% increase (88 permits, compared to 32 in 2020). The Town of Oakville was next with a 160% increase, followed by the Township of Tiny (136%) and the Township of Middlesex Centre (130%)

Add a wooden deck and you are about as Canadian as you can get.

Top 10 Municipalities: Swimming Pool Building Permits 2021 by Percentage Increase from 2020

City of Clarence-Rockland 175%
Town of Oakville 160%
Township of Tiny 136%
Township of Middlesex Centre 130%
Town of Amherstburg 119%
City of St. Thomas 114%
Town of Pelham 107%
Town of Fort Erie 100%
Township of Centre Wellington 93%
Township of Beckwith 90%

That is a lot of water – what will the impact on climate change be?

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How to remove Google from your life

By Staff

May 23rd, 2022


The Gazette uses Malwarebyte for much of our cyber security.  It has worked well for us in the past – we recommend it.  It is not free.

David Ruiz is a Pro-privacy, pro-security writer. Former journalist turned advocate turned cybersecurity defender. Still a little bit of each who writes for MAlwarebyteLabs.  The following is a piece he wrote early in May – well worth reading if who gets to use your personal information matters to you.

Swearing off a company used to be easier. Rude customer service, an unfortunate bout of food poisoning, even standing up for workers’ rights against the alleged involvement of a private company to order a country’s military to brutally quash a strike—almost every facet of an individual boycott could be satisfied by simply refusing to purchase a company’s products.

But such a move can be far more difficult to accomplish today, especially when you’re trying to sever your relationship with an Internet conglomerate. Tired of Facebook? Be sure to jump off Instagram and WhatsApp, too, which are both owned by the social media giant. Over Amazon? Good luck trying to navigate the web without landing on at least one site hosted by Amazon Web Services.

And what about Google?

The online behemoth has become so much more than a search engine, as it owns and produces hardware like Android phones, Google Pixel phones, Nest thermostats, and FitBit devices, while also operating Google Chrome, Google Mail, Google Calendar, Google Hangouts, YouTube, and Waze.

Saying goodbye to Google, then, isn’t as easy as refusing to buy an Android phone. It means likely changing several aspects of your life, including some that will affect the people around you.

Thankfully, this daunting task has already been taken on by the cybersecurity evangelist Carey Parker, who spoke recently on the Lock and Code podcast from Malwarebytes. According to Parker, it isn’t that he wanted to remove Google because he “hates” its products—if anything, he’s a fan. Instead, he wanted to start supporting other companies that will respect him and his data privacy.

“Google knows so much about us,” Parker said, explaining that Google makes the overwhelming majority of its revenue from online advertising, which it can only do because of how much data it collects from its users. “For me, it was about limiting as best I could how much information Google knows about me, removing as much as I can for things they already know about me, and then wanting to support companies who put privacy first.”

For anyone who has wanted to take a similar plunge into a Google-less life, here are some of the tips that Parker shared with us.
Start with the individual—Search, Chrome, and Android

Getting rid of everything Google product all at once could be a disaster, as there are simply too many services and products to track. Instead, Parker began the first steps of his experiment by only removing the products that directly affected him.

“I started with the easiest things—at least I think the easiest things,” Parker said. “The ones that have maybe the least tendrils into other things. They don’t affect anybody but yourself.”

For Parker, that meant removing and finding new providers for Google Search and the web browser Google Chrome. When it comes to stepping away from Android devices, Parker found that easy—he’s been using iPhones for years.

In finding an alternative to Google Search, Parker offered two suggestions: DuckDuckGo and the search engine Startpage, both of which claim to refuse any user data tracking for revenue purposes. Instead, the companies say they serve purely contextual ads based on the searches themselves—like showing ads for Nike and Adidas for anyone looking for shoes—and they do not record or keep data on users’ specific searches. In fact, Parker said, Startpage actually works with Google to deliver search results, but the company tells users that it refuses to collect user IP addresses, device information, and browsing history.

“You don’t have to track people to make money,” Parker said, “and Startpage is proof of that.”

In looking for a different, privacy-focused browser, Parker suggested his personal choice, Mozilla’s Firefox, and also the up-and-coming browser Brave.

Bigger shifts with Gmail and GCal

Having found different solutions for searching and browsing the Internet, Parker said he then focused his attention on finding alternatives to Google services that impact those around him.

“[Google Search and Google Chrome were] the first tier, and then, the next one, which is harder—a lot harder, because it involves other people—are Google email and Google calendar, Gmail and Gcal,” Parker said, “I’ve got shared calendars with my family and I am not going to expect them to drop Google like I am trying to do, so for that reason, I’m going to be stuck there for a little while, but I can minimize it.”

After researching the many options out there, Parker found two email providers—one that fulfills much of Google’s functionality and integration with a calendar function, and another that provides end-to-end encryption on messages sent and received between users of the same program.

The first suggestion is Fastmail. Fastmail, Parker said, is a for-profit email provider that users pay to use through a monthly subscription. The email provider also has a calendar solution that works directly with its main product. Even better, Parker said, is that Fastmail respects its users’ data.

“[Fastmail] explicitly say they don’t mine your data, and they are privacy-focused even if they’re not end-to-end encrypted by default,” Parker said. “It’s a really great service and it has the full suite of email, calendar and contacts, among other things. I use it for all my business stuff and some personal stuff.”

For user who wish to prioritize security, Parker suggested ProtonMail, which, by default, provides end-to-end encryption for all emails sent between ProtonMail users. That means that even if your emails get intercepted by a third party along route, those emails cannot be read by anyone other than you and your intended recipient.

More complexity with Google Drive and Google Docs

For users who want to take even more data out of Google’s view, there are just a couple final products to remove from the daily workflow. Those are the cloud storage service Google Drive and the cloud-based word processor Google Docs.

For each product, Parker encountered headaches and obstacles, but he managed to find alternatives that both respected his privacy and provided similar feature sets and functionality.

In finding a proper cloud storage platform, Parker recognized that some of the major players, such as Box and Dropbox, did not provide meaningful encryption for users’ data that would prevent the companies from scanning and gleaning information from user files.

Parker offered several suggestions depending on what users want most. If a user wants to securely send a private file to someone else, he recommended the online services Swiss Transfer and Mega, which can give users the option to set certain parameters on how they share a file, including how long a shareable link is active and whether the file requires a password to access.

For pure storage options, Parker recommended the service Sync.com because of its client-side encryption. Many of the cloud storage providers today, Parker explained, will promise to keep your data secure, but they will also hold the decryption keys to anything that you store on their servers.

“Machines will review the files that you have stored on these drives, either for advertising purposes or, a lot of times it’s for copyright violations,” Parker said. “They’ll look and see—are you trading movies or music with other people? And they’ll flag that and give you grief.”

But after extensive research, Parker found that Sync.com actually provided users with a type of encryption that the company cannot work around.

“[Sync.com is] end-to-end encrypted,” Parker said, “meaning that, even if behind the scenes, Sync.com uses Amazon Web Services, Amazon can’t see what my files are.”

As to finding an alternative to Google Docs, Parker said he struggled a great deal, simply because Google Docs works so well. After first trying to adopt a solution that Parker said is “secure, it’s private, it’s end-to-end encrypted—as far as checking boxes, it checks them,” Parker grew disappointed with the solution’s interface and its sluggish response time. Then, a second option called OnlyOffice was, as Parker put it, “not for the faint of heart” because of a high technical bar which could require renting out cloud servers.

The best, most accessible alternative, then, Parker said, is Skiff, which has an easy-to-use interface, but which only has a replacement for Google Docs, and not for the other, related tools, like Google Spreadsheets or Google Slides. Skiff’s tool can be found at Skiff.org.

Step by step

Taking Google out of your life can be a long and complex process, but it doesn’t have to be hard at the very beginning. And remember, if you ever start to doubt what you’re doing, think about what made you want to start the process. If you’re anything like Parker, you’re motivated to keep your data private and out of the hands of a company that is making money off of you and your browsing habits.

“At the end of the day, we are in an age of surveillance capitalism,” Parker said, “and Google is a publicly traded company with a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits for their shareholders. Absent privacy regulations in the United States, the financial incentives are just too great to ignore. That’s money off the table.”

Parker emphasized that until Google creates—and there’s no evidence this will happen—a version of its products that users can pay for with their own funds rather than with their own privacy, that users should assume that “at any moment, any Google product unfortunately can and probably will, somehow, monetize your data.”

As the saying goes, Parker said, “if the product is free, then you are probably the product.”


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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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Lot of yappity yap over just where things are with the Bateman high school property purchase.

By Pepper Parr

May 20th, 2022



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

It is monumentally expensive.

It brought about 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.  The issue was related to comments about the sale of the Bateman high school property n property.

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

A Gazette reader sent us a couple of tweets that were sent yesterday.

Here we have Lynne Crosby talking to someone with concerns and questions.. Civil enough

But then the following appears.

Were these meant to be assuring words?

Is Councillor Sharman offside on this?  He isn’t just a citizen with an opinion – he is a councillor with all kinds of inside information that a lot of people would like to hear him expand on.

Our faithful reader said: “My take is that the city has too much invested in this already to walk away. Look how they spent dollar after dollar for the pier to nowhere with no accessibility to the upper area for those who cannot walk up the stairs.

“Residents will never know the true cost of the Bateman project.

“Someone suggested to me that one of the reasons why so few people are entering the Municipal race is because they don’t want to have to work with our current Mayor, and presently no one is really challenging her.”

The social media types and their networks are going crazy over the Bateman high school and Central High school sports field matter.  Amidst all this there is chatter over it all being a done deal

Don’t think it is a done deal and there might be a chance that it will fall apart.



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Mother and son billet Ray and Jean Rivers in Ukraine in 2016 - in 2022 the Rivers help them get to Canada and and find work

By Pepper Parr

May 20th, 2022



Ukrainians celebrate Vyshyvanka Day annually on the third Thursday in May. So I went to visit Gazette columnist Ray Rivers at his home. A Vyshyvanka is a traditional festive Ukrainian outfit shirt, for men and dress for women, which is hand-made and embroidered. It represents the history of the once great nation of Ukraine before it was invaded and its’ people oppressed over the years.

Rivers is of Ukrainian decent and has visited the land of his grandparents a couple times. The last time he and his wife, Jean, went there for a month to teach English, French and western culture to school children in Cherkasy, a city just south of the nation’s capital Kyiv. Ray was also on assignment to visit and cover Canada’s effort at training the Ukraine military near the western city of Lviv.

It was a memorable trip, his best vacation ever, even though it was a working holiday. While covering the military story for the Gazette Ray discovered the home of his third cousin living nearby in a small village, the birthplace of his paternal grandparents just outside of Lviv.

While teaching Ray and Jean were billeted by a couple of families with children in the schools. Once the Russian invasion began on February 24, Jean contacted the families to let them know that they would be welcome to come to Canada and the River’s would sponsor them. Since males between 18 and 60 must stay to support Ukraine’s war effort and defend the country, the mother and children of both families had accepted the offer but so far only one has made the journey from Ukraine.

Artem listens carefully and then translates for his Mother The mother and son didn’t know much about Canada – they knew about Tim Hortons and hockey. Their plans? To return to Ukraine when the war is over – with no idea at all when that will be. They have adapted exceptionally well.

Mila and Artem were driven by Mila’s husband from Cherkasy to Lviv and then across the Polish border to Krakow. A friend of the Rivers’ daughter worked at the Canadian embassy in Berlin and was delighted to help expedite the voyage of these new refugees from Krakow to Berlin and accommodate them for the almost three months it took to obtain a Canadian visa to come to Canada. They finally arrived in Toronto after a tiring journey last weekend.

Their first week here was mostly taken up with completing all the red tape required for their stay here….SIN numbers and health cards and medical exams. Jean had mentioned on a local Carlisle Facebook group that the refugees were arriving and one of the Pollard Window family offered to employ Mila if she met their requirements.

From the left: Jean Rivers, an accomplished artist, Artem, Ray Rivers and Mila

After an interview, Mila, who has an excellent resume with experience in furniture design, but is still struggling with her English, was offered a position with the company and starts the day after Victoria Day.

Mila and Artem will be staying only a few blocks away from the Pollard factory with Ray and Jean’s daughter and her family. Artem, who is 16 and in his second last year of school in Ukraine is completing his year virtually and planning to attend regular school here in Ontario next school year.

At this stage nobody knows how long the war will last but they are hoping to return once it is over and will return to their native country that much the better for the experience of living and working in Canada and with an appreciation for the kindness and consideration we have all extened them during this very troubling period in their lives.

Related news story:

When the Rivers first met their house guests

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New Democrats make a late in the game announcement: They will regulate gas prices

By Pepper Parr

May 20th, 2022



First it was Doug Ford’s buck a beer – that didn’t really take off.

Then it was the Liberal buck a ride for transit – there wasn’t a lot of detail band it came across as gimmicky.

Then Andrea announced the NDP would regulate the price of gas — capping gas prices, outlawing gouging, and saving Ontarians money at the pumps.

They had my attention.

Then NDP leader Andrea Horwath got on her soap box and said:  “Every day, people are being gouged by oil and gas companies who are already making record profits,” said Horwath. “It’s time for Ontarians to get a break at the pumps. We’re going to cap gas prices and ban gouging — so you pay less.

“Ontarians need a government that will look out for them, not for their friends or giant corporations.”

She added: “Horwath and the NDP will regulate retail and wholesale mark-up of prices. The Ontario Energy Board will set a weekly price that includes reasonable profits for gas companies — not more.

“Four years ago Doug Ford promised to lower gas prices by 10 cents per litre. He has not. And the Ford and Del Duca scheme to temporarily lower the gas tax will only benefit gas stations — there’s no requirement that they pass that break on to drivers. Only Horwath and the NDP will get tough with oil companies and ensure permanent savings at the pump.

“Gas prices in Ontario have reached record highs, even though the cost of crude oil and refined products have not reached record highs.

“Gas prices are currently regulated in a number of provinces — it’s time Ontario did too.”

Nice election perk – is it enough to make her the Premier of the province – and if that happens – can she run a government ?

Something to think about,


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Burlington third on the list of 35 cities for average monthly rent rate: $2017 for a one bedroom

By Staff

May 20th, 2022



This hurts!

Average rent for all Canadian properties listed on Rentals.ca in April was $1,821 per month, an annual increase of 9 per cent from $1,676 per month in April 2021, according to the Rentals.ca and Bullpen Research & Consulting latest National Rent Report.

The April 2021 rent figure was the lowest national average rate over the last four years, with the monthly results in 2022 close to pre-pandemic rent levels. April 2022’s average rent is about $25 lower than the levels experienced the same month in 2020 and 2019.

Burlington came in third on the list of 35 cities for average monthly rent in April for a one-bedroom home at $2,017 and eighth for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $2,261.

Rates are high, inventory very tight – the rental market is likely to stay this way for a while.

Year over year, average monthly rent in April for a one-bedroom in Burlington was up 15.9 per cent and up 11.8 per cent for a two-bedroom.
Toronto finished second on the list of 35 cities for average monthly rent in April for a one-bedroom at $2,065 and for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $2,849.

Year over year, average monthly rent in April for a one-bedroom in Toronto was up 13 per cent and up 17.2 per cent for a two-bedroom. Month over month, average rent in Toronto was up 2.1 per cent for a one-bedroom and up 2.6 per cent for a two-bedroom.

Average rents in Toronto and Etobicoke for condo rentals and apartments were up annually by 15 per cent to $2,303 and $2,173 respectively;

Hamilton average rents increased 11 per cent to $1,790; and Mississauga, and London rents rose 7 per cent to $2,070 and $1,581, respectively.

Ontario had the second highest average rents at $2,093 per month (median: $2,000).

Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research & Consulting said:“Average rental rates for single-family homes, townhouses and condominium apartments have experienced strong month-over-month growth as demand increases for higher-end properties. Big city rents are surging with Vancouver and Toronto leading the way. A return to the office, high gas prices, and rising interest rates are all fuelling demand for centrally located rental offerings.”

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I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE on at the Drury Lane Theatre June 3rd to 26th

By Staff

May 20th, 2022



If you make it through the provincial election there is light hearted relieve for you.

Burlington’s Drury Lane Theatre is bringing I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE to the stage.

The production begins Friday, June 3rd and shows continue through Sunday, June 26th.

I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE is the longest running off-Broadway revue in history. This celebration of the mating game takes on the truths and myths behind the contemporary conundrum known as “the relationship.” Act I explores the journey from dating and waiting to love and marriage, while Act II reveals the agonies and triumphs of in-laws and newborns, trips in the family car and pick-up techniques of the geriatric set. This hilarious revue pays tribute to those who have loved and lost, to those who have fallen on their face at the portal of romance, and to those who have dared to ask, “Say, what are you doing Saturday night?”

Invite your favourite person to join you in the comfortable cabaret setting at The Loft at Drury Lane on New Street. Enjoy a beverage from our licensed bar while watching the show and celebrate your own “perfect” relationships! Tickets are on sale at www.DruryLane.ca and by calling our Box Office at 905-637-3979.



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