Have the provincial Liberals found the candidate that can take the seat back from Jane McKenna ?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 11th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

If you are a true democrat there is nothing nicer than an election.

If you’re a candidate – the push for power and a chance to get things done that you believe need to be done can be quite a rush.

2022 is an election year for both city hall and the provincial legislature. And this time around we just might see people holding a seat at city hall thinking they rather like the seats in the Legislature.

The Liberals are out looking for a candidate – a number of people have been approached – two and maybe three council members.

Meed ward looking askance

Some Liberals thought she was too divisive.

Not, surprisingly, the Mayor, who we thought had her eyes on the seat that Jane McKenna currently holds, would be in the running.

Meed Ward could not walk away from the work she has set out for herself, and the city of course, after just one term as Mayor.

We were surprised to hear Liberals saying, not suggesting, that Meed Ward was too divisive. I didn’t see that one coming.

Stoltr - Kearns - Nisan at bus money

Councillors Stolte, Kearns and Nisan: were all three invited to look at Queen’s Park.  Two of them were.

The Liberals we are hearing from – no one is talking for attribution and the current President of the Burlington Provincial Liberal Association isn’t returning our calls, suggests to us that Lisa Kearns has indicated she could get used to travelling to Toronto for work.

I have been working on a sit down meeting with Kearns (she knows what I want to talk about)  for the best part of this week – we haven’t managed to line up dates that work for both of us.

Bit of cat and mouse going on.

While 2022 is well over a year away, in the world of politics you begin organizing and putting out the feelers to the financial people.

The day of the big big dollar donations is over – takes a lot of work to bring in those hundreds of $50 and $100 dollar donations.
In 2022 things will get a little rushed as well – the province will send us to the polls on October 3rd and the municipalities will do the same thing on the 24th of October.

Doug Ford finger pointing

Doug Ford – He just might have a deal for you.

Covid19 has messed up everything taking place – it will probably do the same with the provincial date.

If Doug Ford can get a bit of a break and get enough of us vaccinated before those variant strains of Covid19 begin to run rampant he would be smart to call a snap election.

Problem with that is we really haven’t seen very much in the way of smart thinking so far have we?

The scientist’s world-wide have gotten us to where we are and for that we should all be grateful.

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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Men are going to have to begin to listen and learn to hear what is being said

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Woman’s Day 2021

Is it going to be different this year? If it is, I suspect we will not be aware of it right away – social change works that way.

Sorry

It is a starting point.

Is the #meToo movement behind us? It shouldn’t be. It’s work is not done yet.

The shift is taking place, more women are now serving on the boards of major corporations. Women are now heading up some of those corporations.

Sexual harassment, which is not always that well defined, but that is no reason for not tackling the issue head on.

It isn’t enough for woman to be standing up and telling about how they were mis-treated – some of the behaviour they experienced WAS criminal. Some was misunderstood – that however does not let men off the hook.

Changes are taking place within the world of both men and woman. I can’t speak for the woman in this world – they are quite capable of speaking for themselves.

My thoughts today are – how do men adapt. Awkward question – but it too has to be addressed.

pink-high-heels-men

That is a painful experience

Wearing pink high heels one day a year isn’t going to do it. Mouthing a couple of words when you think you might be quoted isn’t going to work either.

Men are going to have to begin to listen and learn to hear what is being said.

Women are equal – truth be told they really are more equal than men. They actually get it and are forgiving enough to understand that many men don’t get it.

Being forgiven doesn’t mean you continue with the old habits. Those habits came out of the society we men were raised in and while that doesn’t excuse the behaviour it is enough to allow us to reflect on what did take place and to resolve that we have to change.

Start with simple honest respect and learning to say you are sorry.

Most of us have experiences in our past that we are not proud of; today could be the day we think about what we did and resolve to be different.

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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Rivers: My Conversation with the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

 

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

“I’ll slash funding for English TV and CBC News Network, and end funding for digital news.”

(Erin O’Toole – Feb 14, 2020)

He said it plain – no love wasted for the national broadcaster, even on Valentine’s Day.

Otoole hands out

Erin O’Toole – Defeated Andrew Scheer in the leadership contest – now he wants to form a government.

There were issues which I really wanted Erin O’Toole to clarify for me when I set out to request our interview. First, O’Toole has promised that his climate change plan would deliver faster carbon emission reductions than Mr. Trudeau’s plan. And he would do it without the provision of a carbon tax, which would be relegated to the dustbin in an O’Toole government. And he’d do all this while pushing for more oil pipelines and oil.

So what and where is it – this magic plan? Well it’s still a secret. It’s still being developed. It probably has to stay that way, until he becomes PM, so the NDP don’t take credit for inventing it should the Liberals implement it. The mind boggles.

Another issue is Mr. O’Toole’s preoccupation with firearms. It’s true he spent a good part of his life in the military, but he ended up as a flight navigator. You’d think he’d know more about a compass than a gun, so perhaps this is just pistol envy. Still he has made this a major plank in his platform.

He points out that the biggest trouble with today’s gun control is the lack of public education about guns. And then in one breath he declares that Canada’s firearms control system actually works really well, and efficiently.

And then in the next breath says that his top priority would be to scrap the existing Firearms Act. And he’d cancel the requirement for vendors to keep a record of who purchased guns. And while he was at it he’d also kill the legislation the Liberals recently introduced banning assault rifles, high capacity ammunition magazines and silencers.

otoole scratching head

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole figuring it out

That would mean potentially allowing powerful military-type weapons systems including the M16, AR-10, AR-15 and M4 firearms, onto our streets, or at least our gun cupboards. He has received an A grading by the lobbyist outfit CCFR (Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights).

O’Toole has gone after the Trudeau government for not doing more to stop the smuggling of firearms across the US border. And he may have the answer. Just make these weapons legal here as well, and smuggling would be unnecessary.

A third of his Tory membership are COVID action deniers. Or at least they want the governments to stop restricting economic activity and get back to normal, whatever that can be when this epidemic is killing our senior citizens and threatening to spread like wildfire. For example, Flamborough Glanbrook MP David Sweet, having himself come back, quilt-free, from a foreign vacation, says let it rip.

O”Toole himself is ignoring this growing chorus of voices around him who are telling him to be like Texas. You have to die from something anyway, right? But it does take a lot of courage to go after Trudeau for not doing enough to keep the virus out, when a sizeable chunk of his membership is saying let it be.

R B Bennett

It was the R. B. Bennet, a Conservative government that formed the CBC

Finally what is it with O’Toole’s promise to defund the CBC? It is a little difficult to appreciate why the federal Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has such a long standing animosity against Canada’s national broadcaster. After all, the CBC was a service originally initiated back in 1932 by R.B. Bennet, a conservative PM.

One might think the Tories object to the cost of the annual subsidy paid to the CBC, some $1.2 billion a year. But a sizeable subsidy is annually paid out to the other Canadian broadcasters, private though they are. And if it’s about the cost, why squash the English television and digital news services, ironically the only part of the corporation which brings in advertising dollars? It may actually cost more to kill the CBC than to keep it intact.

cbc The National

CBC – the country’s most trusted news source.

No question the other networks wouldn’t mind seeing the CBC gone. It’s still competition, even though they already have a much greater audience. But the CBC/Radio Canada is the most trusted news media in the country. And we are in the midst of a brave new world of fake news. One only needs to look south of the border and the role fake news played in the assault on the US Capitol.

In fact over 80% of Canadians support our national broadcaster and want to see the CBC continue and even expand its broadcasting agenda. So why would someone running for prime minister want to unstick the glue that in many ways keeps us all together, including our remote indigenous population and Francophone Canada.

otoole attacking

Erin O’Toole – knows how to fight back.

We do know that this contempt the Tories harbour for the national broadcaster goes back to the troubled relationship Mr Harper had with the media, and the CBC in particular. He even tried to set up his own news system and in the end the party turned to the right wing extremist paper, The Rebel. In fact a former director of the Rebel ended up running Andrew Scheer’s campaign.

Erin O’Toole, after being criticized for his party’s association with The Rebel, swore off giving any more interviews to that right wing rag. He must have sworn off the Burlington Gazette as well, because he and his office ignored my requests for an interview. I got an immediate automatic email thanking me for contacting him, both times, but then it was crickets. So we didn’t really have a discussion, but I’m still waiting for that phone to ring.

Rivers hand to face

 

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

 

Background links:

Let the Pandemic Roll –    David Sweet –     Recovery Plans

Trust in the Media –     Polling –     Anti-Choice –

The Rebel –    Climate Plan –     CCFR

O’Toole on Guns –     CBC –     CBC Public Support

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What were the individual Councillor contributions to the 2021 budget ?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Once the decision is made to settle on just what the tax rate for a year is going to be the politicians get to justify it.

Each brings their own perspective and point of view to the decision that has been made and want to ensure that their constituents are aware of the work they did and why they deserve their vote at the next election.

Burlington has a seven member Council.

In this article I want to focus on the role Councillors Stolte, Nisan and Mayor Meed Ward played in producing the tax rate.

The 4.14% increase is the city’s portion of the taxes collected and used to pay the bills and ensure that there are reserves in place to protect when there is a financial failure. That number is what matters to the people who pay the taxes.

The tax payment you send the city happens to include the tax rate set by the Region for their expenses and the tax rate the Boards of education set to keep the schools operating. The city collects all the money and sends the Regional levy to the Region and the school board levies to the school boards.

Nisan Lowville Feb 7 BEST

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan – served as Chair of the Committee that debated the city budget

The debating and bickering that takes place to arrive at a tax rate takes place at a Standing Committee. This year that committee was chaired by ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan. Mr. Nisan did not cover himself with glory while doing the task; he was difficult, less than fair to some of the Council members and tended to be authoritarian while doing the work.

He was acrimonious, discourteous and rude at times when the job of chair calls for a deft, mature understanding of the wishes of each Council member, drawing them out and letting a consensus come out of it all.

On far too many occasions it was clear that Nisan did not understand the numbers – he would say “that is nice to know” when it was actually essential that the Chair have a solid grip on what each number meant.

Director of Finance Joan Ford does a great job of providing the data ad her department does a good job of collecting the taxes as well. It's the spending side that is causing the long term financial stress. Ms Ford doesn't do the spending.

Chief Financial Officer Joan Ford; always ready willing and able to mentor members of Council

Burlington has a Chief Financial Officer, Joan Ford, who bends over backwards to explain what can at times be arcane and difficult to understand. She is always ready, willing and able to mentor the Chair – Nisan didn’t appreciate or take advantage of what was available to him.

Mr. Nisan has shown a preference for aligning himself with the Mayor and championing her wishes and aspirations rather than creating a path of his own.  It is hard to be certain just what Rory Nisan does stand for.

Like every other member of Council he will have to stand for re-election in 2022.  He doesn’t have a lot of time to let his constituents know and see who he really is and what he wants to get done.  Other than wanting to be the Mayor’s choice for Deputy Mayor – it is hard to point to something that has made a difference.  There was a splash pad set up in his ward – but that idea was put in motion by his predecessor.

The Mayor said at the beginning of the budget proceedings that the 4.99% increase budget Staff brought in was not going to fly – her target was 3.99% and she fought hard to get that number.

She didn’t have the support of enough of her council members to make it happen – some found the drive for that 3.99% was misplaced and that the purpose of the budget was to serve the needs of the citizens and not the aspirations of a politician.

Meed Ward, to her credit, realized the 3.99% was not going to happen. “The goal is not going to be met,” she said; “let it go” and she did, adding that there is no shame in aiming high.

The Mayor said on numerous occasions that her objective was to “leave more money in the pockets of the tax payers”. The words had a populist tinge.

Shana H&S Mar 3

Took positions that challenged what others were advocating; kept pushing for more transparency.

Councillor Stolte was the star of the budget debates – she consistently, but respectfully, challenged the views of her colleagues and questioned the Clerk on several of the decisions he made.

Saying:

“My comments in regard to whether or not to endorse the 2021 Operating Budget will be highlighted in two components today.

“In regard to the tax rate that we have landed on, I believe it is the result of a great deal of hard work by our Finance Department and this Council, and a great deal of effort to balance the needs of the community with solid financial stewardship and protection of City assets.

“There is still a great deal of work to be done within the City of Burlington to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and the financial inefficiencies that are inherent in an overly bureaucratic organization, but we have begun to see some positive changes in this regard and I look forward to the citizens of Burlington reaping the financial savings from these improvements in the future.

“The second component of my comments is in regard to the PROCESS involved when staff and Council are tasked to determine the priorities, sacrifices and compromises necessary to manage a city budget.

“It was mentioned earlier today that I had brought forward a Staff direction in March of 2020 that was unanimously supported by Council.  It stated to:

“Direct the Chief Financial Officer to plan a Council Workshop in June of 2020 with the subject matter of “Vision to Focus – Budget 2021”. The purpose being to allow staff and Council the opportunity to collaborate on high level priorities, values and vision leading into the 2021 budget process in an effort to concentrate the focus and priorities of Council.”

“Comments may be made that this plan was impacted due to COVID-19 but in hindsight, the 2021 budget still needed to be dealt with and the need to collaborate with Council on focus and priorities, at the start of that process, still should have happened.

“I am disappointed that another Budget cycle was completed without the benefit of a more collaborative Staff/Council process at the outset and I appeal to our City Manager to commit to ensuring that this process improvement is implemented for the next Budget cycle for 2022.

“Curiously, as we endeavored to land this Budget, further process and best practice challenges came to light.

“When we began this term of Council in early 2019 we were oriented to understand that we would receive recommendations from staff in regard to agenda items that needed to be discussed in private, behind closed doors.

“Over the last two years the regular practice has been for Council to receive advice that we “need” to move into Closed Session and this recommendation is always accepted by Council without debate, as merely a point of procedure.

“During the 2021 Operating Budget process I presented an amendment which became the topic of much debate with the City Clerk and City Manager’s Office.

“It was recommended by staff that this amendment be discussed in private, behind closed doors.

“I challenged this recommendation and it quickly came to light that this was a very rare occurrence for a Closed Meeting recommendation to be questioned by Council and I was informed that it was inappropriate for a Councillor to question a staff recommendation of this nature.

This is not how the municipal democratic process works … Staff’s role is to make their best professional recommendation and our role on Council is to assess this recommendation and concur or contest based on whether or not we believe the recommendation represents the best interests of the residents of Burlington.

“Ultimately, the decision on the Budget item was in the hands of Council, where it should be…but the process involved in this discussion was what was of concern.”

Stolte’s comments have the potential to bring about a change in the way council meetings are managed.  The doors need to be open as much as possible.

This Council worked very hard to produce a budget that met the needs of the tax payers and at the same time underlined the goals they had when they sought election to city Council.

There are lessons in the budget experience for every member of Council; hopefully they will take the time to reflect on what took place and learn from both the mistakes and the successes.

This council was supported by a well-tuned finance department who met every challenge put to them and then some.

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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What would a provincial election produce if it took place late summer when most of the vaccinations are done? Is the government preparing for such a day?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 26th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Is there a provincial election in the wind?

The province released a media background piece on some forthcoming legislation called Ontario Taking Steps to Make it Easier and Safer to Participate in Provincial Elections.

The media release explains that new legislation would help modernize the voting process in a COVID-19 environment by taking steps to make it easier and safer for people to vote, become a candidate, and protect provincial elections against outside influence and interference.

The Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021, would, if passed, help guard against threats such as the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, under-regulated third-party advertising, irregular campaign spending, and collusion.

doug-ford-1

Doug Ford – can he be re-elected?

“We strongly believe that Ontario voters should determine the outcome of elections, not big corporations or unions, American-style political action groups or other outside influences,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “That’s why we are proposing legislative action to protect Ontarians’ essential voice in campaigns and to make it easier to cast a vote safely in an advance poll or on election day. These amendments would help modernize Ontario’s electoral process and ensure it is updated to meet urgent challenges, including COVID-19.”

The proposed reforms build on the Ontario legislature’s 2016 decision to ban corporate and union donations to political parties and help ensure individuals remain at the centre of the electoral process.

To protect Ontario elections, 19 legislative amendments have been proposed to:

• Make it more convenient and safer for people to vote in a COVID-19 environment by increasing advance polling days from five to ten, changes first proposed by Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer;

• Double the amount individuals can donate to a candidate, constituency association, leadership contestant or party from $1,650 to $3,300 per year, protecting the essential voice of Ontarians in campaigns;

• Extend third-party advertising spending limits from six to 12 months before an election period and introduce a definition of collusion to help protect Ontario’s elections from outside influence and interference; and

• Clarify the rules that allow Members of Provincial Parliament to maintain individual social media accounts before, during and after a writ period, as well as pave the way for the legislature to set other social media rules.

Elections Ontario has reported that the scale of third-party advertising in Ontario is greater than at the federal level, and Ontario is the only province in Canada where third-party spending is counted in the millions of dollars, rather than in the thousands. In 2018, third parties spent over $5 million during the election period and the six months prior to the election.

“Each and every Ontarian is a driving force of our democracy – from casting their votes to volunteering on campaigns or putting one’s name on a ballot,” said Attorney General Downey. “We want to ensure that the electoral system continues to evolve to protect their central role as individuals and promote fairness in the electoral process for everyone.”

Andrea finger on cheek

She can draw the crows but hasn’t been able to translate those faces into voters.

Nice to know that they are keeping themselves busy at Queen’s Park.  One wonders how the current Progressive Conservative  government would fare if they had to face the electorate.  Lots to complain about  – but have you looked at the other two choices.  Andrea Horwath does not seem to be able to win an election.  A new leader could make a difference – is there anyone with real strength and profile on the NDP benches?  Look hard and let me know what you find.

As for the Liberals – their leader has yet to run for a seat in the Legislature.  Other taking a few cheap shots at the province for goofs on the Covid19 file, Del Duca hasn’t made much of a mark.

There is a group planning a policy convention – something the Liberals badly need if they are going to learn anything from the Kathryn Wynne disaster.  A good stiff broom is needed if the Liberals are going to be competitive.  If they can find a way to tap into and reflect what the people of Ontario really want they could form a government.

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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Is it time to at least think about looking for a different Prime Minister ?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

We are for the most part proud of the country we live in. Most of us were born here, many chose to come and many were invited to be here.

Think about the War Brides, or the Syrians who arrived at the airport to be greeted by the Prime Minister who was handing out winter coats.

We do not show our pride the way our friends to the South do. We seldom choose to wear a flag but we enjoy the feeling we get when we see those Olympians walking into a stadium bearing that flag.

We are for the most part a tolerant people. We respect the government that leads us and are quick to boot them out when they don’t live up to what we expect of them.

Justin Trudeau handiing out a coat tp Syrians

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau handing out winter coats to families arriving as refugees from Syria

So what to make of the Prime Minister we have? His lineage excited most of us – another Trudeau – that would be nice. Yes, there were and still are many who did not share my view of what Justin Trudeau was going to be able to do.

There are now reasons, too many of them, to ask – what happened.

We are going to get the vaccines we need – the when is the question and where they are going to come from is a huge concern.

It sounded as if every pharmaceutical country in the world had a contract with the government of Canada. We had so much in the way of vaccines in the pipe line that we were deciding who we were going to let have some of the vaccine we wouldn’t need.

COVAX, an organization Canada was part of putting in place a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and others. (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX.)

It was in place as a distributor of the vaccines that would be made available to the third world countries.

Goulds in House defending ranked

Karina Gould as a newly minted Minister for Democratic Institutions defending a decision not to go forward with a different approach to federal elections.

Karina Gould, a Member of Cabinet and currently serving as the International Development Minister was left carrying the ball again as she did her best to explain what COVAX was, the role Canada played in its creation and assuring Canadians that what Canada draws down at this point would be returned when we had a surplus.

Recall that Minister Gould once had to defend not going forward with something other than First Past the Post in future elections.  She had been Minister of Democratic Institutions for less than a month when she has handed that ball.

Now we learn that Canada is going to have to draw down some of the vaccines we need from COVAX. That is so embarrassing.

This gets added to the list of embarrassments that is getting pretty long.

There was that unfortunate trip to India, there was the shameful way MP Jody Wilson Raybould and Jane Phillpot were treated when they showed the courage to stand up for what they believed to be right and got tossed out of Cabinet for it. Turned out they were right as well.

Add to that the need now to find another Governor General because a mistake was made in the failure to fully vet the one we had.

Kevin Sneader McKinsey

Former McKinsey Consulting, Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader now the Ambassador to China. Another example of poor vetting.

And, the latest, learning that our Ambassador to China was the top man at McKinsey Consulting, Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader.  The firm that agreed to pay a $6 million fine for advising on how to best sell prescriptions of OxyCodone , the addictive drug that has been the responsible for the death of hundreds of young men and women from over dosing.

What is so galling is that we get told almost every time he speaks that we are going to have all the drugs we need and that everyone will be vaccinated by September.

Are we absolutely certain those vaccines are going to be in the hands of the provinces so that they can pass everything along to the provinces who will in turn get it into the hands of the Public Health Units who will oversee that actual vaccinations.

Did the people in Ottawa who were overseeing the purchasing of the vaccine take the steps needed to ensure that we had the supply we needed. Did they not realize that the vaccines being manufactured less than a half day drive way – in Detroit – were going to go to Americans. Goodness knows that country really really needs all the help it can get to dig themselves out of the hole their then President put them in.

Chrystia Freeland and PM

Chrystia Freeland, currently the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister.

Did someone not ask if there would be problems with the European Union that determines what goes where in Europe?

Was there not a risk analysis done – looking really hard at just what we were up against?

There is going to be a federal election soon. Justin Trudeau will look for a time when his image is going to be as good as he can make it and then we will be asked to re-elect him.

The choice for the Liberals is to hold a leadership convention very soon and choose Chrystia Freeland as Prime Minister and have her face the public.

She’s running the country now as it is.

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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Should Canada take a pass on the 2022 Chinese Olympic Winter Games ?

“The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”  (Article 2 of the Olympic Charter)

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

There is an open letter signed by parliamentarians from all of Canada’s political parties, indigenous leaders and human rights organizations demanding that, given China’s record of human rights abuses, the 2022 Olympic Winter Games must be relocated away from China.

Those abuses are so significant that the former and current US governments have labelled China’s actions with its minority Uighur population as genocide.

Hitler

Hitler hijacked the 1936 Olympic Games – would China do the same in 2022

Not relocating the games would be an unfortunate case of history repeating itself.  The 1936 Olympics were hijacked by Adolf Hitler.  Opponents of the Berlin games argued that allowing the Nazi regime to host the games would just embolden Hitler and allow him a propaganda victory.  Showcasing the international games would demonstrate to the German people that the rest of the world was OK with his policies of second class citizenship, ethnic cleansing and ultimately genocide (eventually) for Germany’s Jewish population.

In addition to the Canadian effort, there is group of 180 international human rights associations calling for a complete boycott of the games.  Boycotts are problematic, as history has shown, and they rarely work.   For example, after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan most western nations boycotted the 1980 Olympics which were being held in Moscow.  The games still went ahead; the Soviets continued to occupy Afghanistan for a decade thereafter; and the western athletes, whose careers were on the line, suffered the most.

coal China

Coal being shoveled off rail cars in China for use in generating plants

There is a long list of grievances which China’s president for life, Xi Jinping, has been ramping up over recent years.  Of course China has a terrible human rights record with respect to its treatment of the Uighur, Falun Gong, Hong Kong and Tibetan populations.   China has also replaced the US as the leading source of climate change emissions, and despite participating in the Paris climate agreement, the country is building more new coal burning power plants than the rest of the world combined.

The nation has been developing its military at break neck speed.  And with its now powerful navy has claimed sovereignty over the South China Sea which puts it on a collision course with any number of it neighbours and the USA.   And of course there is a long simmering cold war with India over their mountainous shared border.

China has threatened war and forced occupation of Taiwan, an island of 24 million people with a democratic government, and which has been independent since 1949.  And its history before that, except for a brief period post WWII, had been as a colony of Japan.  The USA may have no formal security treaty with Taiwan but has 30,000 troops stationed there.   So it is doubtful that the US would stand by and allow the Chinese to invade without a fight.

China wet market

Patrons at a wet market in Wuhan, China

It has been a year since we first heard of COVID, but World Health Organization (WHO) inspectors have finally been allowed to visit the birthplace of the virus which caused COVID 19.  Though, nobody really expects them to discover how this pandemic actually got started.  Chinese officials have sanitized the wet (seafood) market which they claim have been location zero.  And all of the Chinese citizens or officials who could have shed light on the situation have either been kept out of sight or been velcro-lipped.

The theories propagated by Chinese authorities are that the virus arrived in Wuhan aboard a load of American frozen food or that SARS-CoV-2 originated from a bat virus which transited through an infected pangolin to complete a zoonotic leap into the respiratory tract of an unsuspecting shopper in Wuhan’s extensive wet market.

But neither theory holds water.  For one thing neither bats nor pangolins were on sale at the Wuhan wet market at the time.  The closest candidate bat would have been a 7 hour train ride away but was probably too busy hanging upside down in its bat cave to make the journey.

Another theory, once advanced by former president Donald Trump, and largely dismissed because of that, is that there was an accidental leakage of the virus from the Wuhan Virology Laboratory.  Located just up the street from the wet market, this is China’s only Level 4 bio-safety laboratory with a mandate to study and experiment with these kinds of viruses.   And located behind its walls is the greatest collection of dangerous bat viruses ever assembled in one place.

The Chinese obviously deny this lab leak theory.  And the team of visiting WHO inspectors say it’s a long shot.  But this would not be the first time that WHO has been pressured by the Chinese.  And given the lack of transparency and all the secrecy, can one be sure all the inspectors have seen is a really thorough cover-up of the evidence?

For Canada there is another reason to avoid the games in China. Just ask our two Michaels who have been held in miserable captivity for over two years.  Their crimes were that they were valuable hostages which China’s strongman thought would make good trading fare for their Huawei executive whom we, in turn, continue to detain.   Australia has recently updated its travel advice for China to warn that authorities have detained foreigners on alleged national security grounds and that Australians may be at risk of arbitrary detention.

Olympics - Canada

The Canadian Olympic Team at Winter Olympic Games

The choice for Canada is pretty clear.  We need to work with other nations to convince the international Olympic committee to either cancel the games or shift the location to a more appropriate venue in keeping with the mandate, goals and the spirit of the Olympics.  Unless that happens Canada should boycott the games in Beijing and seek alternate venues and exhibitions for our athletes.

The last thing Canadians need to see on their television sets next February are our proud athletes marching through Beijing sporting a large maple leaf flag as they pass by prison cell holding one of our Michaels.

As a postscript China is now claiming it will sanction any nation which boycotts the games.  Seriously?

What would they do if the games are moved to a more acceptable location?

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers, born in Ontario earned an economics degree at the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Ottawa.  His 25 year stint with the federal government included time with Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture and the Post office.  Rivers is active in his community; has run for municipal and provincial office.

 

Background links:

About the Olympics –    Olympic Charter –     Wuhan Lab

A Lab Leak –     Was it the Lab –     More Lab Leaks

US and Wuhan Lab –     A Leak? –    Move the Games – 

Human Rights Groups –     All Parties Call for Moving Olympics – 

 

 

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With $250,000 in Hand and a Terms of Reference Document Waiting for the Nod from the City Solicitor - City Hall is Off and Running. Watch this one carefully

background graphic redBy Pepper Parr

February 11th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 3 of a four part series

What is the Burlington Lands Partnership?

The Burlington Lands Partnership (“BLP”) is a flexible, multi-dimensional and integrated approach that seeks to address multiple areas of municipal strategic land management including acquisition and development.

For the City, the BLP will initially focus on achieving tangible and measurable community benefits and returns in three areas: supporting economic growth and direct job creation, completing “city building” projects and delivering much needed affordable housing.

Oversight and strategic direction will be provided by a new steering committee that is ultimately accountable to Burlington City Council. The committee is proposed to consist of the Mayor, the City Manager, the Council member serving as current Chair of the Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee, key senior municipal staff, and representation from Burlington Economic Development (both the Board and staff).

Additional partner-based stakeholders such as community leaders, the heads of community organizations, and representatives of private corporations are proposed be part of smaller project specific task forces that are accountable and report out to the BLP Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee, which is the group that will look for partnership opportunities they can research, determine the risk and decide if there is enough in the way of benefits to the city to proceed.  If they come to consensus, they take their decision/recommendation to city Council where the decision to proceed will be made.

There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of public participation or opportunities for people to delegate.  The Steering Committee meetings will not be public.

Why is the Burlington Lands Partnership Needed?
• There are several strategically positioned and emerging municipal land development opportunities within Burlington, but there is no single entity that has the mandate and resources to realize the opportunities for the long-term benefit of the City.

• There is widespread support for the City to take a greater strategic role in targeting municipal land development in Burlington.

• Burlington has many active community organizations and not-for-profits which could engage in mutually beneficial partnerships to aid in developing communities within Burlington.

• A partnership in this form allows for the City, Burlington Economic Development (Burlington EcDev), and a coalition of public and private sector partners to pursue additional funding and strategic partnerships including but not limited to the Halton Region, Province of Ontario and Government of Canada.

The widespread support is not something that Gazette has heard of or become aware of and this council does not have a mandate to undertake something as large as what is being proposed..

Mandate of BLP

Throughout 2020, urbanMetrics was engaged by the City of Burlington to assess the viability, function and structure of a municipal corporation or other strategic land entity to facilitate the development of City owned lands with a focus on economic development and city building initiatives.

Parking lot CArolina and John June 2019

There was once a house on the corner of this property that was owned by the city. It was torn down to increase parking in the Caroline – John Street intersection. Little thought was given to creating a parking lot with a permeable surface to aid in rain water run off. City bureaucrats seldom have their ear to the ground and are rarely aware of what the public wants.

The study was undertaken in conjunction with a governance study conducted by MDB Insight to examine the role of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation. The recommended approach to a strategic land development entity, which was subsequently brought forward and recommended by the City Manager as the Burlington Land Partnership (BLP).

• The internal strategic real estate structure would involve Burlington EcDev, as well as other, potential partners, such as Halton Region, other public agencies, private industry and private and public institutions including not-for-profit community groups, as required.

• Oversite and strategic direction would be provided by a steering committee that would ultimately be accountable to Council. The City Manager, as staff lead, would be responsible for strategic managerial leadership and would serve as chair of the steering committee. Outside consulting expertise would be engaged as needed.

The mandate of the organization or partnership would be on leveraging real estate to:

o Maximise opportunities for economic growth and job creation;
o Develop and implement city building projects; and
o Create opportunities for the development of affordable housing.

Ultimately the BLP should have access to City staff and other resources to seek, identify and develop strategic land opportunities into viable projects; to direct the acquisition and disposition of related City lands; to undertake land and facility development visioning and design; to obtain necessary planning approvals; and to fully engage with outside partners.

• Initially, the BLP should be tasked with seeking, identifying and developing opportunities into viable strategic land projects. A number of opportunities have been presented through the urbanMetrics and Cresa studies. These, as well as others that may be identified in the future, need to be more formally prioritized and envisioned complete with detailed project plans, recommended by the BLP Steering Committee and approved by City Council.

• The BLP would be the first step towards the creation of a municipal development corporation, however this would not occur until 2023 (at the earliest) following a reporting to Council on the activities and accomplishments of the BLP in 2021/22.

• Establishing the BLP as a first step, achieves a good balance among the opportunities, the desire for augmented internal strategic land capabilities, the current resource capacity limitations and the need for due diligence and caution.

The longer term goal is to have the city getting into the the development business.  Is there a supportable collection of data that identifies the public buy in on an idea of this magnitude?  The is not a small potatoes idea.

After an initial start-up period of two years, the organization should be evaluated on an annual basis, with respect to achieving measurable results related to:

o Supporting job creation, business creation and economic expansion;
o Developing and implementation of community-wide “City building” projects;
o Realizing tangible affordable housing opportunities and increased housing supply;
o Fiscal impact (increased assessment base/taxes, development charges, other fees);
o Enhancing the profile of the City and contributing to the public identity of Best City to Live in Canada;
o Supporting the City’s 25-year Strategic Plan, Council’s Vision to Focus 4-year work plan and community planning and other land related policies; and
o Delivering value for money and cost effectiveness to Burlington taxpayers.

Bare bones Pier from high with trestle

The city basically built the Pier twice.

Seeing a set of benchmarks that would be used would certainly help the public decide if the idea has merit and serves the public and not the career aspirations of the bureaucratic cohort at city hall.

Remember the Pier.

BLP Working Groups

To be determined by the Steering Committee with approval by Council on a project- by-project basis as part of a separate project brief/plan.

Duration and Transition
The Burlington Land Partnership will function during an initial “pilot period” of two years including 2021 and 2022. A report on the strategic activities and outcomes of the BLP will be presented to Council prior to the end of their 2018-2022 terms and will include recommendations for consideration for the 2023-2026 term of Council.

The BLP represents a transitional approach that allows for the expansion of organizational capacity and a build-up of expertise that will in turn enable further consideration by Council of a formalized municipal development corporation (MDC) in line with other municipalities in Ontario and utilizing the powers allowed under the Municipal Act related to municipal corporations.

Overall, the Steering Committee will make recommendations to Council and decisions (where applicable) in the best interest of the City as a whole.

BLP steering terms 1

BLP steeriing terms 2

Agendas and Meeting Notes:
Agendas (including confidential materials as it related to property and legal matters) will be published ahead of meeting date, including attached documents required for discussion and decision making. Deadlines for attachments need to be respected to provide adequate time to read all required material to allow for comprehensive participation. If required, agenda items may be deferred at request of BLP member if materials are not distributed by deadlines.

BLP agendas and meeting notes will managed/prepared by the City Manager’s Office (CMO) and shared confidentially with Steering Committee members, City Clerk and Council Members.
blp steering terms 3

blp steering terms 4

The only thing left to do is order the new business cards.

Part 1 of a 4 part series.

Part 2 of a 4 part series

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What if there is a spiteful, vengeful streak?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper

February 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A regular eagle eyed reader who follows the Mayor on Twitter brought this to our attention.

MMW tweet re flag

He points out that the flag used in the tweet is not the correct version

He then adds that we cannot use his name saying “I don’t want to be in her bad books.” adding that “errors are errors.”

The unfortunate part of this is that there are people who feel they will be in the “bad books” of an elected official if they call them out on something.  This is really unhealthy for a democratic society.

What, though, if we have a Mayor who is spiteful with a vengeful streak?

What do you do then?

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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A Public Health Bylaw - isn't that a Regional issue ? Might it be related to air pollution?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 3rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was one of those walk-on items; a piece of city business that wasn’t on the agenda.

It came from the Mayor who did not appear to have consulted with her peers before the meeting.

There was a certain awkward silence, which is hard to pick up on when the meeting is virtual and you can’t always see all the players at the same time.

It was short; set out as a Staff Direction it read:

Direct the Executive Director of Legal Services to undertake a detailed review of the feasibility of enacting a city wide health protection bylaw to be funded from the Contingency Reserve fund and report back by Q2 of 2021.

My first reaction was – what is this all about? Don’t we have a Public Health Unit at the Region that focuses on public Health?

The motion wasn’t actually ready – Council took a few minutes break while the short paragraph was typed up and put up on the screen.

Kelven Gal Jan 14 a

Kelven Galbraith, Chair of a Standing Committee waiting for the Mayor to complete the writing of a Staff Direction

Kelvin Galbraith who was chair of the meeting asked if there were any questions. Rory Nisan, who seems to be the person that automatically supports whatever the mayor puts forward said he was very interested to see where this could go.

Angelo Bentivegna was next with his standard “two quick questions” approach. He wanted to know more especially about the “detailed” part and just how much of the Contingency Reserve fund was going to be used. He asked “how far are we going to get into this” and added that at this point he could not support the Staff Direction.

Council had just come out of a two hour CLOSED session on the Meridian Aldershot Quarry and were scheduled to do a hard stop at noon – with that hour just minutes away.
They needed to take a lunch break after which City Manager Tim Commisso spoke saying he felt that Bentivegna deserved a more detailed answer to his concerns.

Commisso pointed out that the Legal Services budget was not public. He seemed to be aware of what it was the Mayor wanted to bring forward and pointed out that Council can do whatever it wants to do.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman said he had concerns over the scope of what was before Council. He wanted to know who will do the actual work and noted that there is a Public Health Unit at the Region adding that he was not clear on just what was being done.

Nancy Shea Nicol

Nancy Shea Nicol, Executive Director Legal Services

At that point the Executive Director of Legal Services spoke saying she could put together a Terms of Reference document.

Commisso then said that this was something that was dealt with in the CLOSED session. Which CLOSED session?

Tom Commisso

City Manager Tim Commisso

Commisso was referring to the CLOSED session that had taken place earlier in the day relating to the Meridian Aldershot Quarry where Air Quality issues were part of the discussion.

We were aware that the city had included outside legal counsel with a background in environmental matters.

Commisso said there would be a specific lead role and that “Nancy will provide executive guidance that would provide a “consolidated approach”.

A muddy picture was getting muddier.

Councillor Stolte then spoke saying she wanted more information. She would later vote to move the matter to Council later in the month at which time the City Solicitor would have more information for them.

Councillor Kearns wanted to see a more honed in approach to whatever it was the Mayor wanted done. Reference was made to where this fit into the V2F document (Vision to Focus) by Kearns but not before she could say that she thought the city was lucky to have Nancy Shea Nicol on Staff (she is the Executive Director of Legal Services) because she was “an amazing person.”

Kearns wanted to know if this was an internal look at public health; did it include audio, smells – adding that the wording was obtuse and needed fine tuning and could be the equivalent to opening a Pandora’s box.

She wanted the matter deferred to Council.

mmw Jan 14 a

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Meed Ward then spoke saying that “we are constrained” about what we can say and that the public will not know what we are talking about and what can be shared with the public.

Withholding information is the beginning of a slippery slope that leads to deliberately hiding information from the public.

What the Mayor did not share when she spoke was that previously the Executive Director of Legal Services  had been asked to find lawyers with environmental experience.

Those lawyers are what we at the Gazette believe were speaking to Council in that CLOSED session.

In the fullness of time all the facts will come out. What we don’t want to hear is that the approach the Mayor has taken was what was best for the city.

Weeks before the 2018 election took place we said that of the three candidates running for the Office of Mayor Meed Ward was the only real choice.

And she is certainly in the process of making her mark on the city. She is also creating a profile of being bold and courageous and doing good things.

What is also being left is the view that she always knows best – this is not a view that is shared by most of her colleagues. The collaboration and a collective will of Council is not as evident as the Mayor would like it to be.

A Gazette reader recently made a comment that this Mayor wants everyone to know that She Is in Charge – democracies don’t work that way Your Worship.

What we will learn in the fullness of time is that Council will try and pass a city wide health protection bylaw that will relate to the quality of the air and what corporations will not be able to do when their product or the work they do releases pollutants into the environment.

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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Our Mad Premiers

 

“Ford threatened to shove an incendiary device into the “ying-yang” of any Pfizer executive if they did not give Ontario more coronavirus vaccines.” (CP24 – January 21, 2021).

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 24th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It would be funny if it wasn’t so deadly serious. Pfizer is reducing its shipments of COVID vaccine due to the need for a stoppage to upgrade its production facilities. So it is disappointing. But the company says it will still meet its commitment for total shipments by the end of March, and beyond.

That sounds reasonable given that its other customers will also suffer delays, including European nations where the our vaccine is actually being manufactured. And remember that hardly anyone had even heard of COVID last year at this time, so getting any kind and amount of vaccine here is a blessing.

Pfizer

The speed with which the vaccine was produced was impressive.

Ford scowl - cropped

Premier Doug Ford: not having a good day.

But that’s not good enough for Ontario’s fearsome premier who has called the Canadian president of Pfizer to complain, and is threatening to rent a truck and cross the land border to demand a million doses from newly installed US president Biden.

No doubt Ford’s demand would be well received, except that as bad as it is here with COVID, the US is worse. And does Ford really think Biden will give him a million doses when his biggest election promise was to inoculate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office.

Ford was largely responsible for the surge of COVID cases in Ontario. He loosened restrictions on social activity too rapidly in the late fall. But that he owns the surge hasn’t stopped him from casting about to lay the blame on someone else. In this case it is the Trudeau government and their contract with Pfizer. But it’s not the first time. He went after the Prime Minister over sloppy border control, though in that case rightfully so.

Not to be outdone in the crazy game is Ford’s BFF in Alberta, Jason Kenny, who has threatened to bypass the federal government and buy vaccine directly from…. somewhere. But his biggest headache today is that newly elected US president Biden has cancelled the Keystone oil pipeline, which Kenny was counting for extra cash on to help get Alberta out of its current hole.

Obama and Biden cancelled the pipeline back in 2015, but then Trump OK’d it again. Kenny must have thought Trump would win the US election because he poured $1.5 billion into the project and gave another $6 billion or so in loan guarantees. I guess he wasn’t reading the papers because everyone knew that Trump wouldn’t get re-elected, except Trump, of course.

Kenney + Trudeau

Not. the best of friends it would appear.

It was Biden’s election promise and Kenny went ballistic when the new president followed though on it. Kenny demanded Trudeau do everything but launch a nuclear missile on Washington to get him to change his mind But how could Canada apply trade sanctions over a pipeline permit that is entirely in the hands of the US president and over US territory? How does the PM ask Biden to compensate Alberta because its premier was betting that Biden wasn’t going to win.

There is a faint hope that some rules of the old NAFTA might still apply and help Kenny get some kind of compensation, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. There were a thousand jobs on the Canadian side building the pipeline to nowhere – the Jason Kenny line. Those jobs are gone and Albertans will likely eat the $1.5 billion and more.

Losing Keystone is not the end of the world. Oil production in Alberta will still continue unabated as will selling it to the US. Keystone was significant only because it would have allowed Alberta to export even more oil than it already does. So Alberta’s oil industry will continue to operate, it just won’t get bigger – at least not until the federally owned Trans Mountain pipeline twinning is operational.

Tesla 3

Tesla 3 – Take a ride in one – appreciate the near total silence.

But the reality is that fossil fuels are a dying proposition. Tesla sold almost a half million electric cars in the USA last year and now everybody is getting into the game. After all, gas powered vehicles cannot be sold in Norway after 2025, the UK by 2030 and Quebec and California after 2035. Does anyone other than Jason Kenny think the world needs another oil pipeline?

Jason Kenny might get some of his billions back by whining to Trudeau and Biden, and taking his case to NAFTA. But he won’t get Keystone back. There is no future for oil in Alberta, or anywhere, and the sooner Kenny comes to that realization the better for the people he serves.

Ontario should be glad that Doug Ford, as embarrassing as he can be, and not Jason Kenny is premier of this province. Now if only Ford could get our COVID numbers down.

 

Background links:

None of that Crap –    Trudeau Letter on Keystone –    How is it Going Jason

Keystone Options –    Raging Jason

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Regional Chair will attend the Police Services Board Closed session meeting on Thursday.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 20th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Clarification:

Mayor Burton resigned from the Halton Police Services Board on January 11, 2021. The Police
Services Act,  provides that the Head of Council is to be one of the members of
the Board unless he chooses not to serve. Regional Chair, Gary Carr has decided to assume the
vacant position. This is effective immediately upon swearing- in and does not require confirmation
by Council. The term is for the remainder of this term of Council, to expire November 14, 2022 or
when a successor is appointed.

There is probably going to be a change in the way the police services for the Region are going to be managed and led.

The Police Services Board has held 15 hours of meetings so far to determine what, if anything, they want to do with the current police chief who was out the country with the permission of Oakville Mayor Rob Burton who was the Chair of the Police Services Board.

Burton Rob - glancingf left

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton

Burton resigned as the Chair last week but is still a member of the Board.

There has been considerable public reaction to the decision the Chief made in asking for permission and then actually leaving the jurisdiction when the province was under a lock down.

Burton realized he was in a difficult position and had to resign as Chair.  His political future is something that we will look at later.

What to do with the Chief.  There are clearly some differences within the Board –  fire him? – how, when he had permission.

Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner talks with Sgt Davies, the man who heads up the accident reconstruction unit. The two of them would really like to see fewer accidents.

Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner talks with Sgt Davies, the man who heads up the accident reconstruction unit.

One of the options is to find a way to settle with the Chief – that will turn out to be an expensive option and one that will be hidden from the public.  There will be a statement about thanking the Chief for his service and wishing him well in the future.

If the Board decides to fire the Chief he will most certainly sue for wrongful dismissal.  That law suit will be public and that’s something the Region does not want.

The rank and file police are not happy people.  Their Chief was not there for them when they needed him.

Clayton Gillis, the president of the Halton Regional Police Association, said Saturday he has heard claims made by a whistle blower on Twitter. He said he doesn’t engage in the social media platform.

“From my conversation with the Chief and the statement he released yesterday, I know that he has described his travels as ‘personal business matters’ and a ‘property matter.’ I don’t know any other details or if the rumours … are accurate,” he said.

“We will be seeking a more transparent, fulsome answer to why he travelled beyond what’s been given as an answer thus far,” Gillis added.

The Police Services Board will be holding another meeting on Thursday (January 21st) that will like the previous two, in a CLOSED session.

What will be different is that Halton Region Chair Gary Carr will be attending.  His decision to become involved suggests that a decision will be made.

Don’t expect whatever decision is made to be made public on Thursday.

The decision made will be released to the public at a meeting that is open to the public on January 28th.  There will be a Special meeting on Thursday the 21st.  It will have one item on the agenda – electing a Chair and a Vice Chair for the 2101 term.  There may be other items discussed but they will be done in a Closed session.

There are two options before the Police Services Board.  Fire the chief or accept his resignation.  If the Board fires Tanner it will result in a legal claim for a lot of money.  Any claim would be made public and be messy  – the optics will not be good.

The best in the way of optics is to carve out a deal with Tanner to pay him to just go away.  The Board will not make whatever payment there might be public.  It will get buried somewhere in the Regional Budget.

Tanner was a good police Chief; he was one of the police officers who earned a degree in psychology at the University of Guelph.  He was a strong supporter of promoting women and putting them in positions where they could gain the experience to become leaders.

When he returned to Halton from Kingston where he was Chief it was a homecoming event.  He was given his old police badge, returning to a community that was both fond of and proud of the man,

He made the wrong decision and a series of circumstances may result in a career coming to an end.  This is the hard part of being transparent and accountable.

As for Burton – his future prospects are cloudy at best.  The result of the 2018 election for the office of Mayor are set out below.

The people who run election campaigns will tell you that Burton can be beaten.

The first column is the election day vote, the second is the advance vote, the third is the total and the fourth is the percentage

Rob Burton 19,236 3,682 22,918 49.64 %
Julia Hanna 16,565 2,866 19,431 42.09 %
John McLaughlin 3,345 471 3,816 8.27 %

Rob Burton could be toast as Mayor of Oakville as well.

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

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Political reputations and police careers badly damaged: resignations are required but be polite and call them retirements

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 13th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton Police Services Board will meet on Friday in a closed session.

The former Chair of the Board, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, gave up the Chair but is thought to still be a member of the Board.

Jeff Knoll, an Oakville Councillor and a member of the Police Services Board will serve as acting Chair during a meeting that will have legal counsel on hand to advise.

On December 21st, Premier Ford announced a lock-down to take effect Dec 26.

On December 22nd, Police Chief Stephen Tanner asked the then Chair Rob Burton for permission to leave the jurisdiction to travel to Florida on a private matter.

Burton gave permission and said at the time that he didn’t have a problem with the Chief being away.

On December 26th, Chief Tanner left for the United States.

On December 26th, the province invoked a shut down for 28 days.

There has been considerable demand for the Chief to be fired.

He asked for and was given permission to travel.

Can he be fired?

In order to lead a leader has to have the confidence and respect of the people  being led.

The rank and file of the Halton Police Service are said to be “outraged”.

Driving their feelings is the fact that the Chief was not on hand to meet with the family of a Detective Constable who died while on an observation assignment in Burlington.

One of the Deputy Chiefs met with the officer’s family.

Burton Rob - glancingf left

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton

Chief of Police Steve Tanner explains that Social Media is not the same as a 911 call

Chief of Police Steve Tanner

It is a messy situation created when a foolish decision was made by Burton.

Can the mess be cleaned up?

The retirement of the Chief and the former Chair will resolve the problems.

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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Rivers found that TV was reality last week; watches an insurrection live.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 13th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It seems that watching TV is about all there is to do during this lockdown.  I was looking for something exciting to watch on the channels last Wednesday and boy did I find it.  In fact I could swear I was only picking up one of those action movies on Netflix.

insurection 1a

Americans had never seen anything like this before.

It was pretty fast moving though I kept thinking that I could probably have done a better job on the script and with the staging.   Those police characters were getting walked over by the mob.  Where was the army?  After all, the last time the US Capitol got attacked it was by invading British troops in 1814.

And the invading squad seemed pretty authentic except for that nutter with the bull horns costume on his head.  And where was the superhero who also shows up at times like these?  I almost expected to see an Adam Schiff or Nancy Pelosi grab those invading bums by the scruff (or horns) and single handedly Sock!!! Pow!!! and Wham!!! them until they cried out UNCLE.

horned man

Rioter seen frequently on TV screens. Will be seen in a Court House in the near future -minus the horns.

And the script was America classic.  I mean by the time the army (National Guard) showed up, dressed to the nines in riot gear with gas masks, and everything you’d expect but armoured personal carriers, it was all but over.  Some of the clowns hung around thinking there might be a second scene to this movie – or maybe to give out autographs, but this movie, ‘insurrection’ was over.

The reality is that this attempted coup was far more serious than it seemed when sitting two metres from the TV screen.  For one thing it’s pretty clear it had been premeditated.  For his part Trump had primed his fans and this particular mob for weeks with his lies about the election.  He and his pal Rudy actually told them to march to the Capitol building and fight for him.  And there was something fishy about how long it took for federal troops to arrive.

The rioters were prepared for a serious occupation of the legislative building.  They brought an assortment  of assault weapons, Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs for distraction, wrist-tie straps for the hostages, and instruments to enable breaching the entrances.  This had to be a planned invasion of the Congress, a takeover of the government and a plan to capture the political representatives as hostages – or did they always carry this kind of weaponry with them when they travelled.

These people – the Proud Boys, Q-Anon and other right wing extremist and conspiracy theorists – were looking for trouble.   They were violent and aggressive.  Four people died in the melee including one police officer and a rioter whose laser weapon accidentally nuked his family jewels.   How do his kids explain to their classmates how their daddy died?

troops

The troops were not on hand at the beginning.

The capital police force was outnumbered eight to one and over 50 officers suffered serious injuries and beatings.  Their call for assistance from the DC National Guard was ignored by Trump’s hand picked military leaders until the fighting was pretty much over.   Members of the Senate and House of Representatives had to be sequestered for safety in a crowded room and mostly without face masks.  One 75 year old congresswomen has since been diagnosed with COVID as a result.

There was something about what I saw that made me think it could be a 1950’s movie.  Most of the folks on the screen were white, especially those in the mob.   Recall the way which the mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations last summer were handled by the authorities.  There was no shortage of military uniforms and tear gas on parade back then.

Of course the BLM protesters were neither armed nor were they trying to occupy the Congress.  They were just asking not to be killed wantonly by the police.  If ever anyone doubted white privilege, they’d just need to review the tape of the assault on the US legislation by the president’s men.

trump flags

Trump speaking to the rioters before they marched on the Capital

Trump tried and he failed.  Whether he is impeached or not, his future in US politics is over, and so is that of his family.  The House of Representatives is charging him with inciting an insurrection against the legislative branch of the US government.   It is very likely that he will have to face judgement in the US criminal system as well.

Trump may yet avoid judgement for this sedition or his tax evasion and other crimes.  Perhaps he’ll seek asylum somewhere in a nation more friendly to him.  There was an unsubstantiated report that a rioters who was arrested had requested a Russian translator – that should make anyone wonder about who this mob really was.

The FBI has warned more violence is likely on the way for inauguration day.  One can only wonder what Trump really meant when he promised to make America great again.   It certainly hasn’t improved television viewing.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers was born and raised in Ontario and earned a degree in economics at the University of Ontario.  He taught at a university in New Zealand for a period of time and then earned a Masters degree in economics at the University of Ottawa.  His 25 year stint with the federal government included time with Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture and the Post office.

After leaving the federal government he consulted for private sector and government clients.  Ray became Executive Director for an organic farm certification organization and then executive director of Clean Air Canada, an environmental emissions trading company.

Rivers completed his first historical novel The End of September in 2012.  This story about what might have happened had Quebecers voted for sovereignty association in that first referendum in 1980 is set in Ottawa and Montreal.

He has been active in his community including ratepayers groups, a food bank, environmental organizations, community journalism, policing and community associations and service clubs, churches, boy scouts, and community theatre.

Background links:

Capital Police –   White Lies Matter More –    Trump Limits Guard Role

Trump Lies     Trump and White Males 

Russian Translator –     Trump’s Team –      Trumps Incitement

National Guard and Trump

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Transparency and accountability get walloped by the Clerk's Office

background graphic redBy Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It will be a Receive and File report – no action will be taken unless there is a council member who asks for a change.

The purpose of the report in terms of the city’s current focus on its Vision is to:

• Building more citizen engagement, community health and culture
• Deliver customer centric services with a focus on efficiency and technology transformation

The report from the Clerk’s Office states that: “Accountability and transparency are key drivers in the Clerks Department. In working towards greater transparency there are small initiatives that have been completed during 2020 with respect to Council meetings.

“As these items touch upon how Council business is conducted, an information report has been provided to apprise Council and the public. The enhancements to accountability and transparency focus on the following areas:

Staff Directions – new public reporting process, with dates assigned to all deliverables.
• Declarations of Interest – creation of an online register.
• Increasing Clerks Department open data sets.

The Gazette will be doing an article on each of the three and will start with the approach the city is taking to the matter of declarations of pecuniary interests.

Galbraith slight smile

Councillor Galbraith is consistent in declaring his conflicts however we have not heard him say that he sent a notice to the Clerk.

The City is required by the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act to maintain a publicly available registry of all declarations of pecuniary interest made by members. The registry must include the original written declaration provided by the member of Council. At present, the City of Burlington maintains a register, however it is not posted publicly and is only available upon request.

That the city has basically hidden the public information on declarations of pecuniary interest and in the process appear to have defined their view of transparency and accountability.

The Council of 2010 and 2014 liked it that way, particularly the member for ward 4 at the time.

“The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, members of Council and local boards to declare any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in relation to a matter under consideration. A pecuniary interest relating to a matter is one where there is a reasonable likelihood or expectation of financial loss or gain by the member or related persons as defined in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

“The onus to declare a pecuniary interest rests with the member, and there is time dedicated for these declarations on every meeting agenda. Members must complete a written statement of pecuniary interest and submit it to the Clerk. All declarations of pecuniary interest are recorded in the meeting minutes.

Enhancements Planned
“Staff have made enhancements to the declarations of pecuniary interest process to improve customer service, ensure greater accountability and transparency and comply with legislation.

“Currently the statement form is a word document that must be printed and completed or completed electronically and emailed to the Clerk. Moving forward the statement form will be automated and made available through the City’s website as an online form.

“Completed forms will be sent directly to the Clerk, reducing time delays and manual intervention. Conflicts will be filed in the City’s agenda management system and will be publicly available following each meeting in a conflicts registry, available to the public by way of the City’s website, will improve customer service and public access to the information.”

We all know how easy it is to find what you are looking for on the city’s web site.

“The new process is expected to be implemented in January. Further communication of the process will be provided to members of Council and local boards. Previous declarations made from the beginning of the term will be reflected in the registry.”

Will there be an announcement when the Registry is up and running? Don’t hold your breath waiting for that one.

Kevin Arjoon

Kevin Arjoon City Clerk

Kevin Arjoon, City Clerk said: “Accountability and transparency are key drivers in the Clerks Department. In working towards greater transparency some smaller initiatives were completed in 2020. As they are associated with Council and the meeting process, staff have provided a report to inform Council and the public of the program changes.”

What’s missing in the Clerk’s department is a passion for really serving the needs and interests of the public. Does the phrase: “How can I help you”, ever pass over their lips.?

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It is our core values that will get us through 2021 - do we know what those values are?

opinionred 100x100By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

graphic 2021

It is going to be a tough year.

It will be a long haul.

There is of course much hope but there is also a lot to think about.

The way we have failed to take care of those seniors who live in long term care facilities is shameful. The lady in my life said this morning that it must be terrible for an older person who “has all their marbles” to sit in their room realizing that there aren’t enough people to really take care of them.

Lurking behind this is the fact that demographically there is a huge wave of people who will find themselves in long term care facilities who should be asking if they are going to be taken care of.

The look of their “sunset years” has been painted out for them – it is not a pretty picture.

The vaccines are now being produced and people are being vaccinated – why there isn’t more assurance as to when the needle will be put in their arm is disturbing.

The eve of the New Year has traditionally been a time to celebrate and look forward to great things ahead.

This year our thoughts may well be asking how we are going to get through what we are experiencing and perhaps looking more closely at our core values.

Reading that the Ontario Minister of Finance slipped out of the country to enjoy a vacation and basically lied to the public about where he was, and the Premier seems to have covered for him, points out just how big the divide is between the haves and the have-nots.

Rod Phillips is the Minister who is responsible for the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee – the one that is going to get the provincial economy back on track; his ‘follows his own rules’ attitude doesn’t leave us with a surge of confidence.

There are more questions than answers at this point. The challenge for us is to find the core values that make us the people we are and then to ensure that they prevail.

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Framework will guide vaccine prioritization - THIS is not what the public needs to hear

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

I am sure the ethical frame work, released by the province yesterday,  within which the distribution of vaccines will be distributed is important.

Did the public not expect that there would be one in place? This is not what the public wanted  to know.  People want to know when they will be getting their vaccinations.

long term care - meal

Are the long term care residents first?

People understand that the people working the front lines in the hospitals and those in long term care facilities are high, very high on the list.

I would not want to be the one who had to choose which came first.

It is after those two groups that the vast majority of the public fall into.

When does the 90 year old in good heath get vaccinated?

And where will she go for that vaccination?

We read that there is a shortage of nurses who will do the inoculation and that the people making the decisions are calling in retired nurses and students.

We are just doing that NOW?  That is work that should have been done months ago.

There is no rocket science in this.  We have population data and we know how many people can be vaccinated in an hour.  Do the math.

Halton has a very good student immunization rate - 93% of students are immunized.

Where are the young people on the schedule ?

The public understands that it takes time to set things up – the bureaucrats and the medical community have had the time to get this work  – March, April, May, June and July – when they knew there was going to be a second wave, and when it was becoming clear that a vaccine was going to be available.

Being told that the Ontario government has released an Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution which was developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to guide further vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province doesn’t quite cut it in terms of keeping a public informed.

long term care workers

Where are the front line workers on the inoculation schedule; the people at risk working for not much more than the minimum wage.

“This ethical framework is a clear demonstration of our commitment to Ontarians to be transparent,” said General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. “We know that people are eager to get vaccinated and this framework helps ensure that we do it in an ethical, effective and compassionate way.”

“Phase One of Ontario’s three-phase vaccine implementation plan began on December 15, 2020 at two hospital sites, and increased to 17 additional sites the following week, with the delivery of 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses. With Health Canada’s recent approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the province can expect about 50,000 additional doses before the end of the month.”

Couple of questions:  How many phases are there going to be and what are the dimensions of each phase ?

The people leading the program to get us all vaccinated as quickly as possible are not generating much in the way of public confidence.

We can do better than this. And we should be doing better than this.

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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Are We Waiting for a Miracle because we aren't very good at common sense ?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

December 30th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Premier Ford started an online petition to persuade the federal government to enhance border control, presumably to tighten quarantine and restrict flights from COVID hotspots. It may be a little unorthodox for a province to start a public petition, but he must have felt it was necessary.

Our federal government has a less than stellar history when it comes to border control. Failure to act earlier by closing the border and enforcing quarantine was responsible for bringing the virus into our communities in the first place.

But today most of the infection comes via community transmission. Alberta has a pilot program in place to either test or quarantine arriving passengers at its airports. Their records show that less than 2% of all arrivals are testing as positive. Of course, if all arrivals properly quarantined none of this should be a problem. But we know people cheat, even in New Zealand and Australia where the military confines arriving passengers into mandatory quarantine in dedicated hotels.

So bravo Mr. Ford. But before Ford goes all ballistic and accuses the federal government of sloppy border control, he should look in his own backyard. Ontario’s winter surge of COVID cases is almost entirely the result of half-hearted provincial policies. Having declared victory too early, last summer, Ford’s administration has now allowed the virus to spread even further into workplaces, grocery stores and gradually into schools.

Ford OPEN for business

That lifting of the lock-down in March was probably not the Premier’s best decision.

Ford’s enthusiasm in reopening the economy, pretending Ontario was back to some kind of near-normal was folly. Opening bars and restaurants, gyms and churches and expanding the allowed size of private gatherings have all contributed to the degree of sickness we now find.

The mixed messages and ever changing rules of the government’s COVID public health restrictions were proof that the authorities had no plan, were making it up on the run or just muddling through. And then there is the unfortunate hypocrisy, as for example, when one of the government’s senior ministers holidays in the Caribbean while the Premier lectures the rest of us to stay at home.

If Ford actually had a plan it would be ‘waiting for a miracle’ – the vaccine. And even with that his people have fumbled at getting it out of the starting gate. Ontario has the lowest rate of inoculations among all provinces. And stopping inoculations over the holiday period, as if waiting for Santa to return to the North Pole, has not helped the government’s credibility. Not that COVID ever takes a break!

Ford’s effort to restart the economy too early has set this province back, rather than move us ahead. It has turned out to be a short term gain for a much longer and more severe pain. He is fortunate that the federal government has been shouldering the vast majority of the costs of this pandemic. But we know there is only one taxpayer in this federation at the end of the day.

Sadly there is some question as to whether the vaccines will even stop the epidemic or just keep us from getting sick. A scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) has speculated that the virus may continue unabated to spread and mutate, perhaps to a variant which can evade the vaccine we’ve just taken and/or become even more deadly as happened with the Spanish Flu.

Halton has a very good student immunization rate - 93% of students are immunized.

The Teddy Bear makes it all bearable.

While we are waiting for our jab in the arm, shouldn’t our biggest effort be to eliminate the virus to (near) zero, the hard and proven way, as New Zealand and even China have done?

The truth is we really don’t know what these vaccines will accomplish, for how long they will protect and even whether there will be longer term undesirable consequences for those immunized. But assuming they do work as hoped, at current roll-out rates it may take close to a year to immunize enough people to allow us to safely get back to some kind of normal. By contrast New Zealand eliminated its viral contagion in seven weeks with an extensive and enforced stay-at-home lock down.

Mr. Ford’s current partial lockdown for 28 days, given the extent of infection transmission, particularly in the workplace, is not likely going to be enough. All of these half-hearted solutions have only led to COVID fatigue and rule breaking and ultimately to some kind of mental health crisis. And the task is not hopeless. Atlantic Canada has shown how it is possible to manage a contagion while the rest of the provinces have floundered.

In hindsight perhaps controlling this epidemic was too big a job to be left in the hands of the provincial governments and their health authorities. Perhaps the Prime Minister should have enacted the Emergency Act as he had offered to do at the outset of the crisis. After all, the feds are picking up the tab while we lock down and they could hardly have done a worse job with the miserable series of lock-downs. But then Mr. Ford might reasonably point out that the feds needed to have got their own house in order first – and he’d point to border control.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes from time to time about whatever is on his mind.  A former sheep farmer he has served as a federal bureaucrat for 25 years, ran for public office and lost. He was the founder of the first sustainability public interest group in Burlington.

 

Background links:

Ford’s Petition –   Ontario Vaccinations –   Acting Early

Ontario Mess –    Not Prepared –   Ontario Minister Holiday

WHO Scientist Doubts –    Alberta Airport Arrivals

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One nut case and one provincial cabinet minister who seem to think that the rules don't apply to them - great notes to end the year on

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 30th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

An Ontario politician who has already been charged once for disobeying COVID-19 rules is blatantly breaking them again.

MPP Randy Hillier posted a photo on Twitter Sunday showing himself and 14 other people at what appears to be a holiday celebration. He used the hashtag “#nomorelockdowns” to accompany the photo, which shows disregard for Ontario’s public health guidelines.

In another tweet, he confirmed the photo was taken Dec. 27.

Ontario has been in a province wide lockdown since Dec. 26, put in place to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus and ease the strain on the province’s health-care system.

Announcing the lockdown last week, Premier Doug Ford said it was a necessary measure to save hospitals from becoming overwhelmed in upcoming weeks. Currently, no indoor social gatherings are allowed, except for those with members of the same household.

Hillier Randy MPP

Randy Hillier, MPP for an Eastern Ontario riding had been expelled from the Tory Caucus, is still pushing back over the Covid rules.

Ontarians found guilty of hosting illegal private gatherings can face a fine ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, according to the Reopening Ontario Act.

In November, Hillier said on Twitter he was charged for his role organizing a large gathering at Queen’s Park in Toronto. He has opposed lockdowns and masks and has promoted a debunked pandemic conspiracy theory in the Ontario legislature.

Ford previously called the MPP “totally irresponsible” for the protest. The premier said he’s “never figured out” anti-maskers who believe COVID-19 is a hoax, saying, “this is a very serious virus we’re seeing … around the world, around our country.”

People on Twitter have called for Hillier to resign.

This comes after more than 40 local physicians signed an open letter to Hillier in December, fact-checking his incorrect claims about COVID-19.

“You are spreading misinformation that minimizes the seriousness of COVID-19 to support your personal anti- lockdown and anti-mask beliefs,” Dr. Jeanette Dietrich wrote.

“I urge the public to ignore you and heed the advice of trained health care professionals. Continue to practice social distancing, wear masks, and keep everyone safe.”

The above was picked up from Huffington Post Canada.

St Barts

Described as The Island for Billionaires St. Barts was the holiday destination for the province’s Minister of Finance while the rest of Ontario is under a month long lock down.

It gets worse. We learned today that the Ontario Minister of Finance, Rob Phillips,  had slipped out of the country early in December to the Caribbean island of St. Barts to celebrate the holidays in the sunny, sunny south.

Premier Ford, said he was not aware the Minister had left the county and ordered him to return immediately.

ROD pHILLIPS

Rod Phillips, was once the Minister of the Environment and moved into Finance. He was at one time the Chair of Post Media. His is going to have to get some media help to get out the mess he is in now.

The Minister did leave for his holiday, which had been planned sometime before the lock down was put in place.

While out of the country his staff was sending out tweets which implied that he was still in the country serving the public.

An example of really sick hypocrisy.

Durham Region, where Phillips’ constituency is located, entered into the “control” phase of Ontario’s tiered lockdown system in late November. Public health guidance for this phase says trips outside of the home “should only be for essential reasons.”

Tweets from Phillips’ official Twitter account reminded Ontarians on Christmas Eve to thank the “special heroes” making sacrifices during the pandemic.

“As we all make sacrifices this #Christmas, remember that some of our fellow citizens won’t even be home for Christmas dinner over Zoom,” the tweet reads.

“Thousands of front line heroes will be at work, looking out for us.”

stocks -

There was a time when Stocks were set up in public places where offenders against public morality formerly sat imprisoned, with their legs held fast beneath a heavy wooden yoke. It was never outlawed – just fell out of favour. Might be time to bring it back

Several photos of Phillips on public visits to small businesses and fundraisers were taken before his trip and were tweeted while he was abroad.

The only thing we haven’t heard from the Minister are the words “Let them eat cake”.

The Premier should think in terms of firing Phillips.

Dozens, perhaps hundreds of young people have had to cancel wedding plans because of the 10 person limit lock down requirement for gatherings of people.

With hundreds dying from Covid there are literally thousands who will not be able to attend funerals for the departed.

What I am looking for is a word stronger than ‘hypocrisy’. Putting Phillips in stocks on the lawn outside the Legislature might be an appropriate punishment.

The bigger damage is to the concept of public service which used to be something that was seen as noble. The giving of one’s self to serve the public, which is certainly what those thousands of hospital workers who care for those with COVID-19 are doing, gets trashed by people like Phillips.

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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Gazette reader claims governments no longer have the moral authority to tax

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

We are all in this together.

Is there a member of council who hasn’t used this phrase?

Perhaps Councillor Sharman.

A Gazette reader sent in a comment which we have edited for length and clarity.

His concern was what a tax increase next budget might look like. His view was that a 0% increase was necessary because there are hundreds, perhaps thousands who are not working because their jobs disappeared or because they have been infected with the Covid19 virus.

“ I think we have entered a new reality. The costs of this pandemic have overwhelmingly and been shouldered by the private sector–layoffs, reduced wages, business closures and bankruptcies, increased private debt.
Governments and their employees have largely been sheltered from the worst economic impacts of this pandemic; even before the pandemic, public sector workers were enjoying higher wages, benefits, and pensions than their private sector counterparts. In this environment, governments have no moral authority to go to workers in the private sector and raise their taxes further depressing their standard of living in order to maintain the incomes and benefits of workers in the public sector.

“It is clearly time for governments of all stripes, including the current free spenders on Brant Street, to start reducing their spending …”.

What about a 10% pay cut for the members of Council – the savings would be put into a fund that would be available to those retailers in the city who are taking it in the ear,

The 10% would apply to just the salary – not the gold plated pension or the benefits.

When compared to the council members in the other three Halton municipalities Burlington Councillors have a very sweet deal.

A 10% piece of the base salary would amount to $5000 each.  We are talking about just the city salary – our Councillor are also Regional Councillors and the source of the other half of their $100,000 a year pay cheque.

Such a gesture might restore some of the moral authority our reader thinks this council no longer has.

Can this be done – it wouldn’t be easy but it could be done.  There was a time when Marianne Meed Ward didn’t think free parking was a benefit she could accept and said she would return the value of that benefit to the city.

Not certain if the Meed Ward followed through on that every year she was a Council member.

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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