Rivers: We are left with a bad taste on our palates, leaving the question of where do we go from here?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 2nd, 2018



We are left with a bad taste on our palates, leaving the question of where do we go from here?

Just as I predicted. President Trump had called NAFTA the worst trade deal in history – and now it is history. Well in name anyway, though it is essentially intact and newly re-minted as the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Some are calling this eleventh hour agreement a win-win-win. After all Canada has successfully fought off a pre-emptive strike on our time tested agricultural supply management system. Yes, we’ve lost some ground in the ability limit dairy and other sector imports, which will likely result in more American agricultural goods on our shelves. But then supply management was never about trade protectionism – it was about farm income stability.

Trudeau on USMCABut even though we minimized the potential damage, Canada still took another hit to its economic and social sovereignty. And the US appears to won little and lost nothing, compared to where we all were in NAFTA. So we have no reason to be popping champagne corks on this side of the 49th. When the mouse and the elephant take each other to bed, we should understand how it is going to turn out.

But the biggest disappointment was with the process and the negotiating tactics of the other side in this last round. If the illegal tariffs on steel and aluminum were intended to scare us, they did. But the artificial deadlines, threats and verbal abuse were untoward and over the top.

The process came to an end because Trump ran out of time, given the upcoming congressional elections around the corner and so much else on his plate. Otherwise we’d still be in Washington, though never Ottawa nor Mexico City. And the irony is that the US Congress may not even approve the deal, particularly if the Democrats win the House. Though it appears Canada and Mexico will ratify the agreement, even if somewhat reluctantly.

Trump looking hardish at Trudeau

BFF – Best Friends Forever ? President Donald Trump sizing up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada and the USA are supposed to be best of friends with the longest undefended continuous land border anywhere. Our relationship has always been characterized by RESPECT. Even when Nixon was bombing the hell out of Vietnam and Trudeau the senior was criticizing him for that, and allowing American draft dodgers into this country. There was civility between our leaders – despite how they felt about each other in private.

At the end of the day there is no question that the economies of all three nations have benefited from the enhanced trade, if not real free trade, which resulted from NAFTA. Trump’s denial of that reality reflects his ignorance of these matters and is an outright falsehood. But then he lives in that never-never land he calls America First.

His style, behaviour, and his disregard of international diplomacy have cast a pall on what should be a glorious celebration of the renewal of, arguably, the second most successful trading partnership ever (after the EU). And his outlandish bullying of his two closest and natural trading partners has left a bad taste on all of our national palates, leaving the question of where do we go from here? When is the next surprise coming?

The military tactic of divide and conquer is how you fight a war, not re-negotiate a trade deal with your friends. It was an insult to both of his trading partners for them to be treated as vassals. Nobody needs to be told that America’s economy is large, but a breakdown of trade in autos even between Canada and the US would have hurt them too. Was this so-called disastrous NAFTA really that bad a deal for the US, that it survived the terms of three other presidents and has contributed to the current US economic boom?

In the end there will be little difference in the implementation between NAFTA and USMCA. The US gained little so all the fuss was much a do about not much. But Canada and Mexico will have a new perspective when it comes to dealing with their neighbour in the future, or at least the future until Trump is history himself. The America we used to know – the brand we admired for the last century has been damaged, though hopefully not forever.

Trump being laughed at the UN

President Trump pauses while the world laughs at his comments at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. He wasn’t telling a joke – he was the joke.

Our first trade agreement, the Canada-US deal was negotiated between friends singing about their smiling Irish eyes. But Trump doesn’t have friends. Men are seen as competitors and women as sex objects. It is jokingly said that his closest buddies are Colonel Sanders and Ronald McDonald, though one is dead and the other a cartoon character. But insulting the chief insulter is unhelpful. He doesn’t get it, as when the whole world laughed at him during the ridiculous presentation of his accomplishments at the UN last week.

It is doubtful anyone but North Korea’s Kim would have been able to do a better job than Freeland and Trudeau, negotiating almost thanklessly in that hard place. We didn’t win anything in our transition from NAFTA to USMCA, but at least we didn’t lose much. This entire exercise was about fulfilling a false campaign promise by an out-of-touch wanna-be who miraculously became the most powerful man on earth. For him it’ll always have to be a win-lose-lose.

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


Background links:

USMCA –    US View –    Canadian Perspective

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This is either very stupid or there is a political game being played by the city administration.


SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 1st, 2018


The short video mention in this article does not appear in a re-issued version of City Talk.

City Talk logoWith what is proving to be a tight race for the office of Mayor one has to ask why the city would publish its most recent edition of City Talk and feature the Mayor in a video as the lead article.

If there was ever a reason to complain to the Elections Officer – this is it.

Rogers hockey with Mayor

It is a very short video – 38 seconds but it will pull at the heart strings of those dedicated to the healthy city everyone wants.

Someone at city hall is either very stupid or there is a political game being played by the administration.

With most documents issued the final sign off is that of the City Manger.  We understand he is currently out of the country.  He might want to stay out of the country.

We are not providing a link to the article in City Talk – no one should add to the malfeasance.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.



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Turns out there was nothing crooked about the provincial government deficit - other than it was far too big.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 28th, 2018



There is a 2004 provincial law on the books which mandates that the provincial auditor general (AG), an independent officer of the legislature, conduct a detailed audit prior to a provincial election in order that any incoming government should not have to do what Premier Ford has just done – commission his own financial review.

Ford with documents

Premier Ford with the budget.

As it turns out Ford’s team, headed by former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell conceded that the AG’s audit was correct. There had been a $5 billion dollar dispute over deficit numbers between former premier Wynne and the provincial auditor. And Campbell determined that this was due to a change in accounting practices being demanded by the AG. The dispute centered on the AG wanting to change how pension surplus and costs borne by a crown corporation are accounted.

But there was no payola by the Libs to their friends. There was no sign of corruption committed by Liberal politicians with their sticky fingers in the public cookie jar. There was only one set of books and they hadn’t been cooked by the Premier’s folks. In short there was no wrongdoing. If there was any conspicuous money wasted it would have been by Ford conducting his own unnecessary review at public expense – but that is another story.

Auditor General - Ontario

Bonnie Lysyk, provincial auditor general.

Of course, Kathleen Wynne was wrong. She should have listened to the AG, despite her own counsel and her obvious desire to minimize the deficit numbers for political advantage. It was the AG’s job to prepare the official audit and her results should have been the final ones. But as a consequence of the dispute the amount of the deficit became a distraction and allowed Wynne’s opponents to cast doubt and throw false aspersions on her and the entire Liberal financial record.

That turned out to be unfortunate for her and all those Liberal candidates who must have had doors slammed in their faces on the campaign trail. No question, that controversy helped propel Mr. Ford into office on a totally unjustified claim that the Liberals were dirty and crooked. Though he was on the road to winning anyway. And there was a huge deficit number to deal with for which none of the political leaders had a plan. So the NDP stuck with Wynne’s smaller numbers and Ford didn’t even bother developing a financial platform, his expensive promises were so obscene.


$3 billion for thee 99 year lease on the 407 toll road

Some folks would argue that Ontario has a spending problem, the conclusion of another study completed for Mr. Ford by consulting firm Ernst and Young. The solution, most likely dictated by Mr. Ford, himself, is the beginning of a season of fire-sales, selling off crown assets like the LCBO and maybe other infrastructure. That is an historical Tory practice. To balance his 1999 budget Mike Harris gave a 99 year lease for $3 billion on the 407 highway.

Others say we have an income problem. We don’t charge people enough for all the services we provide. And of course getting rid of the cap and trade carbon tax has just made it worse. Ernst and Young suggested that we need to drop universality of public programs – make those who can afford the services pay. But we already have a progressive income tax which means that those with an ability to pay do so in higher taxes.

For example our provincial health tax already addresses people’s fair contribution to the health care system. Perhaps we need to augment the progressivity to help pay for OHIP plus rather than just adding to debt, though. The Ernst and Young report notes that the biggest rise in costs over the last fifteen years has been in education and health services. These are ongoing and systemic variable costs. It is not clear how the one-time income from selling capital assets like the LCBO will secure future finding for these areas.

The one thing Ford’s studies and even the AG’s report confirmed is that there was no wrongdoing by the Liberals in their fifteen years of governance. That doesn’t mean there weren’t mistakes like the gas plant fiasco, but there was nothing criminal. That means that Doug Ford was wrong to accuse the Liberals of criminal wrong doing, as he seemed to do when he accused them of giving contracts to their Liberal friends.

And for all of that misinformation during the campaign and even afterwards, Ford owes the former premier and the people of Ontario an apology. Though instead of being contrite for his outrageous behaviour, Mr. Ford appears to be taking a page out of the US president’s playbook. Much like Trump, Ford is holding rallies, presumably to prolong his victory celebration and build his following. He won the election, Wynne lost, isn’t it time he moved on. Wynne is being a good loser, why can’t he be a good winner?

Ford Fest 2018

Ford Fest – held in Vaughan this year.

At his last rally, the so-called Ford-fest or Ford-stock, last weekend, with five thousand cheering fans on hand, rockstar Doug couldn’t help himself from going way over the top. He over-spoke that the previous government had committed the “largest financial cover-up in history”. And the response to that piece of hatred was predictable – his flash mob couldn’t restrain themselves from chanting an enthusiastic Trumpian “Lock her up”.

Seriously? What has happened to civility in this country, fair play and sense of justice? Didn’t Premier Ford just make a public statement on hate speech. Do the bullies in that Ford flash mob, and their leader, really think the former premier should get jail time for using an arguably inappropriate set of budgetary statistics in her campaign for re-election. It’s not like she was a drug dealer, crack cocaine addict or drunk driver.

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



Background links:

Ernst and Young –     Auditor General –     Pre-election Report

Ford-Fest –     Hate Speech

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ECoB debates are proving to be just what the public wanted.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 22, 2018



There was some doubt in the minds of many that the ECoB initiative to hold debates in every ward of the city would actually work.

Did people care enough to attend a debate?

Could the space in which to hold the debates be found?

Could the costs be covered?

Those doubts disappeared when the public began streaming into Bateman high school on Wednesday evening; they were further dispelled when the audience at the theatre in Hayden high school was very close to full on the Thursday.

Links to the video of the two debates so far are shown below.

ECOB logoThe EcoB people thought it would be a good idea to hand out information on how to vote to the people attending the debates. They asked the city for copies of the instruction sheet they had.

Can’t do that said the City Clerk who is also thee Returning Officer for the municipal elections.

In an email exchange of views Clerk Angela Morgan said to the ECoB people:

City Clerk Angela Morgan fails to ensure media alerted to Special Council meeting. Her communications people dropped the ball as well.

City Clerk Angela Morgan fails to ensure media alerted to Special Council meeting. Her communications people dropped the ball as well.

“As the Returning Officer for the election, I fully support community organized debates however, my role is to ensure that all events association with the City of Burlington Clerks department are completely impartial.

“I have received numerous complaints and concerns from members of the public about the ECOB specifically that they are not impartial and the organization is vocally supporting specific candidates.

“Given these concerns, we cannot permit the City of Burlington logo or materials to be distributed at these events.”

That is just poppy-cock.  Someone needs to explain to the Clerk just what her job is – she is a public civil servant.

Will the City Clerk have the decency to view those debates and determine for herself if they were impartial?
Morgan got complaints – it is the right of any citizen to file a complaint (it would be nice to see the actual complaints with the names redacted – our suspicion is that there are perhaps five – maybe ten).

Resident at Bateman debatte

As more and more people arrived – additional chairs had to be set out.

For the 500 people who attended the two debates so far there is an opportunity for you to help the City Clerk understand that she needs to hear both sides.

Her email address is: Angela Morgan angela.morgan@burlington.ca

Let her know what you think.

The incumbent candidate for ward 5 sent out his limp excuse for not attending but then ensured that he had people on site handing out his literature.

The incumbent for ward six also handed out literature – she did her distribution outside the school. What she had her people hand out should get her a phone call from the with the city’s Ombudsman.

Angelo and Ken White

Angelo Bentivegna and Ken White participating in the ward 6 debate. Kinsey Schurm also participated – Incumbent Lancaster did not.

Two of the seven scheduled debates are on line. You can see and hear every blessed word that was said. You decide if the debates were impartial – and be sure to let the City Clerk know what YOU think.

Ward 5 debate on Wednesday September 19th

Ward 6 debate on Thursday September 20th

Just click on the red type that will get you to the debate – they run for close to two hours but you can skip forward and back.

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There was a time back when municipal politicians were part-time civil servants, doing their political duty out of love for their community - is that day gone?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 22, 2018



I wonder if Mr. Ford has changed his view of unelected judges now that an appeal tribunal has sided with the premier and stayed the Superior Court decision against him. Ford may be unfair but apparently didn’t violate anyone’s freedom of expression in the appeal panel’s view. It will be up to a proper court of appeal to make the final decision, but what’s the point now?

Toronto’s municipal election will go ahead with 25 Councillors and that likely means there will be no need for the premier to invoke the notwithstanding clause. For every hundred thousand Toronto residents there will be a Councillor in City Hall just as there is an MP in Ottawa and an MPP at Queen’s Park. That is among the lowest level of representation in the country regardless of order of government.

Ford - dumb thoughtful

A thoughtful Premier?

But reducing the number of Councillors should also serve to strengthen the position of Toronto Council and its mayor, vis-a-vis the provincial level of government. To start with each Councillor will have been elected by the same number of residents as was the Premier. If Mr. Ford had hoped that by cutting numbers city officials would become more compliant to the whims of the province or beholden to him, he hadn’t really thought this through.

Then there is the obvious. Fewer Councillors will result in a city government less in touch with its various communities, and especially those of diverse demographics. And as for the twenty-five million dollars of savings over four years – that’ll get lost once the inevitable salary increases and extra staff are added. “Remember the Amalgamation” should be the battle cry every time somebody mentions those imaginary cost savings from reducing the number of politicians.

Fewer politicians’ means more responsibility for those remaining and that will lead to more pay, sure as night follows day. There was a time back when municipal politicians were part-time civil servants, doing their political duty more out of love for their community than for the pay or the opportunity to climb the ladder to a higher office.

Now just look at the nearly one dozen aspiring candidates running for full-time Councillor in Burlington’s Ward One. And check your Adam Smith. Simple economics tell us that when the number of wannabe public officials exceeds the number of positions like this, the price (remuneration) is already too high.

Click to view report

Few realized how big an impact this report was going to have; some want it re-written.

Growth brings prosperity we’ve been told. But urban growth, leading to high density development, is also a huge issue in Burlington’s elections this year. Which is why Burlington’s mayor trucked off to Queen’s Park to ask for relief from a decade old band aid, known as Places to Grow – intended to mask a generation of poor urban planning. Like a bandage it just covers, but doesn’t actually heal the wound.

And since he had the ear of the new government Mayor Goldring popped the notion that his city should annex Waterdown. His argument was based on the proximity of Waterdown and how its future development would have significant ramifications for Burlington. Besides Mr. Ford had just demonstrated that there is no such thing as impossible, so why not grab that little bit of tax base from Hamilton.

Goldring campaign picture

Did Mayor Goldring throw a Hail Mary pass or did he really think through what he proposed to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Cynics might say that Burlington’s mayor was only trying to inject some life into an uninspiring campaign for re-election. But he certainly created an impression and precipitated a reaction from the Hamilton crowd. Some of Hamilton’s Councillors, blind-sided by this proposal suggested that Hamilton should in turn annex all of Burlington. Good for the goose….

I recall an interview prior to his election victory in 1995 where Mike Harris talked about the ideal sized community, choosing his own North Bay as an example. But his perspective changed once he got convinced by his bureaucrats that 850 municipalities were way too many communities for them to get their heads around. And getting down to some 400 would be better. Better for whom?

So forced amalgamation became a means to that end. The clarion call was that lumping communities together would somehow result in lower costs. Economies of scale would kick in and yield big savings. But that didn’t happened, and certainly not in Toronto or Hamilton. Seems the problem was what we call dis economies of scale – the new cities were too large.

In the case of Hamilton none of the constituent municipalities were looking for an amalgamated hook-up with old steel town. So it was going to have to be a shot gun marriage. And that is what they got. But before they arrived at the alter some of the local authorities got to check out their potential partners like any forward thinking couple would do.

Waterdown sign

Is it a fit? Where will the idea go?

East Flamborough and Burlington had fallen in love for each other but never quite made it to the sack to consummate their relationship, barred from the bedroom by the premier dog-in-the-manger. Even though the sparks of requited love were abounding Harris knew Hamilton needed lots of suburban tax revenue to pay for his downloading of social services.

And Hamiltonian’s already were paying the highest taxes in the province, so he couldn’t let any part of the former region elope with another well-heeled partner. McGuinty, though winning Hamilton seats as the anti-amalgamation candidate refused to unscramble the omelet called Hamilton. But who knows, perhaps Mr. Ford will.

Oh how much fun it can be for grown-up people to act like children, playing risk or one of those other political board games, and re-enacting the 19th century European wars. I wonder if Premier Ford had as much fun re-engineering and gerrymandering the wards in the City of Toronto – swatting all those lefties off the game board.

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


Background links:

Waterdown Annexation –   Response to Goldring –     25 Member Council

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The ward 6 debate takes place this evening - Lancaster, the incumbent will not attend.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 20th, 2018


The following are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of Pepper Parr, publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

The second ECoB debate takes place in ward 6 this evening where there are three candidates; the incumbent Blair Lancaster, her strongest opponent in the 2014 race Angelo Bentivegna and Ken White a first time candidate.

The debate is to take place in the theatre in Hayden high school. Event starts at 7:00 pm with the doors opening at 6:30 pm

The event will be moderated by Deb Tymstra a popular Cogeco TV personality who has produced several programs and is a regular interviewer on The Issue.

Unfortunately, Lancaster has announced that she will not attend, because, she claims, the debate’s facilitator, is extremely biased. “While ECOB initially responded positively to my request to change the facilitator, they immediately went on to share information about my private correspondence with the Burlington Gazette—to discredit me and my concerns.   The Gazette then proceeded to write an article citing threats of violence against me. (The article Lancaster is concerned about are attached below.)

Lancaster, a two term member of city council was a member of the Shape Burlington report that was one of the attempt to get city staff and council to be more responsive to citizen concerns.  Lancaster did little to advocate for any real changes.

Considered part of the more reactionary wing of the current council Lancaster has a couple of achievements that need to be remembered. Her decision to work with ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward (she is now a candidate for the mayoralty) on saving the Freeman Station – they succeeded. The station is close to complete and is expected to be open to the public on a regular basis soon.

Were it not for the efforts of Lancaster and Meed Ward the Freeman station would be kindling burned in a fire place somewhere.

They had every reason to be smiling. Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster pose with five members of the Friends of Freeman Station after the Council meeting that approved the entering into of a Joint Venture that would have the Friends moving the station and taking on the task of renovating the building.

They had every reason to be smiling. Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster pose with five members of the Friends of Freeman Station after the Council meeting that approved the entering into of a Joint Venture that would have the Friends moving the station and taking on the task of renovating the building.

Lancaster brought another significant issue before council during the current term. Lancaster realized that the city was losing a couple of the long term care facilities – the Mt. Nemo operation was moving to Hamilton –and there was no land available for new facilities.

With a growing seniors population there is going to be a desperate need at some time in the near future.

Lancaster thought that long term care facilities could be built on land that was zoned as Employment Lands. She argued that the patient staff/resident ratio made these facilities significant employers and as such could be built in the Employment Lands the city has.

She didn’t get the traction the idea deserved.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about - civic engagement

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about – civic engagement

She has a tendency to rely on Councillor Sharman, who sits next to her at council, for advice and direction.

She didn’t cover herself in glory on the air park matter. She was far too close to the owner of the Air Park at a time when the city was involved in expensive court proceedings

Lancaster can be scrappy at times and gets dramatic on occasion.

The evening she gave a demonstration on the use of Epi pens was a bit of a flop; the expert in the room politely told Lancaster that she wasn’t demonstrating the use of the pen properly..

Angelo Bentivegna came a close second to Lancaster in the 2014 election. There were 10 candidates in the race then. Lancaster took exception to the debate being sponsored by the Gazette. She has always had difficulty with media – it goes back to her days as a beauty queen.

To her credit she did tell the publisher of the Gazette after the debate that she thought the event was fair to all the candidates.

Bentivegna has done little since the 2014 election. In his campaign literature he said he “will create a ratepayers association in each community of ward 6 (Rural, Alton Village, Millcroft, and Headon Forest) to engage citizens in what’s happening in their area long before the ink dries!”


Ward 6 candidate Angelo Bentivegna

There isn’t a reason in the world why B couldn’t have formed those association the day after the last election. Saying you are going to involve people and actually doing so are two different things.

The  Bentivegna family worked hard to make a wonderful contribution to the Joseph Brant hospital.

In December 2009, Diane, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor and began a regime of chemotherapy and radiation proved to be successful. The family wanted do something special to thank our physicians, nurses, caregivers and the hospital.  They decided to raise funds to purchase  State of the Art Digital Mammography unit with a Biopsy attachment.

The goal to reach was $450,000.00. In 2012 they raised $75,000.00. In 2013 they raised $101,000.00 plus $88,000.00 on a Bobby Orr autographed Bruins color Corvette.

In 2014 they raised the balance to achieve our goal: $450,000. The equipment was purchased,  delivered and installed at Joseph Brant Hospital in 2014.

Bee covers all the bases in his campaign literature – but other than delegating on the signage that was to be permitted by candidates for council seats the Gazette hasn’t seen much of him.

Budget public Angelo Benivenuto and Carol Gottlob

Angelo Bentivegna and Carol Gottlob at a 2015 city budget meeting.

He did appear at a presentation of a city budget one evening during a snow storm when there were more people at the ice pad next door than there were in the room the budget was being explained.

Bentivegna was available for media interviews during his 2014 campaign – he has chosen not to be interviewed by the Gazette this time around. That puts him in the same camp at Lancaster, Sharman and Dennison – not the right side of the political spectrum to be on in this campaign.

In his campaign literature Bentivegna lists his issues.  He includes the schools which has nothing to do with the city, as a former educator one would have thought he would know that.

Taxes: We need to focus on industrial and commercial opportunities to reduce the dependency on raising residential taxes. Taxes over the last two terms have been excessive to say the least…4.3% this past year alone! This council spends our money recklessly. They have demonstrated throughout their term of office that this trend will continue!

Our city is reactive, when it comes to compliance, as to who follows the rules and who doesn’t. Our city leaves a ton of money on the table…would you…I will work to recapture lost revenues!

Traffic: Every day I hear from our residents…Please help us move traffic around our city!Our roads get busier and busier each day, drive any major road north to south or west to east and vice versa. Intensification added to Ward 6 and to our city needs to be planned better! We need to incorporate with help from developers (community benefits..section 37) and resident input, solutions to move traffic flow smarter, easier, and timely…

The Transit System: Put Transit where the cars are!!!! Transit needs to be easy for users…needs to be frequent and reliable…needs to be simple to use, even if you are not a transit user! We need to develop a trust in the system…a trust the allows frequency, on time and reliable service when we need it! Let’s create a workable plan and work with our stakeholders to lure riders.

OP & Development: I am not against development, we need it to become sustainable and to attract people and Jobs to our city…What I am against is ” the “NEW” way we do business in our City. Our Official Plan & our Zoning Bylaws moving forward will not only act as guidelines, but they will now become targets for amendments! There was a time when an ‘amendment” was a change to fill a need that was somewhat minor or insignificant…now amendments are serious “ASKS”…10 stories to 17 stories…is that the “NEW NORMAL”.

Rural: We need to actively revisit our Official Plan to give our farmers and rural residents the tools that create flexibility to effectively manage their lands for the future. Together we can make this a positive economic issue in our City.

Seniors: In the next twenty years our senior population will double. We need to have more places for seniors to interact and stay connected in our City. We need to design all inclusive amenities that allow seniors to stay connected & comfortable with aging.

Our schools: How will our schools stay viable and at capacity in the future. What will happen to the school buildings that may struggle or lay empty. Now is the time to work cooperatively with our province, region, and school boards……City Council as a whole needs to voice a collective opinion. I said this during my last campaign in 2014 and we still need to pay attention to these issues looking forward.

Recreational Facilities: A need to re-examine how we can be more productive in our arenas, parks, gyms and libraries. We are not maximizing potential revenues from our City owned facilities. We have an opportunity to be creative in partnering with the private sector to find ways to increase revenues and reduce overhead.


Ken White delegating at city council.

Ken White is an Alton Village resident. He takes a very tough approach to what he thinks a new council will do.  He is for firing the city manager

Alton skating - two boys + dad

A Do it Yourself community hockey rink that White was instrumental in creating.

White has been active in his community – that involvement had him out late at night flooding a do-it-yourself hockey rink.

White, unfortunately, got himself on the wrong side of the city’s Heritage Advisory committee who found they had to send him a cease and desist letter when he was linking an idea he had for heritage fund raising to the Heritage Advisory web site.  At the time his wife was on the Board of that Advisory committee – hashtag awkward.

Among the issues he wants to promote:

Responsible development:
The future of our fine city is in our hands and right now Burlington is in crisis. The choices we make today will have far-reaching impact and it is critically important that every decision be thoroughly examined, well balanced and sustainable. We want growth, prosperity and advancement, but never at a reckless pace and never at the expense – or exclusive benefit – of any one stakeholder.

“I for one do not want to sit on the sidelines and watch as potentially poor decisions bring on deterioration of the services, lifestyle and values we currently embrace”, Ken explains. “I am committed to be part of the solution, where growth is measured, analyzed for the common good and always well planned.” Today, we are already well ahead of provincially mandated intensification goals. Accelerated high rise development without corresponding infrastructure improvement will be harmful in the long term and we will all pay through skyrocketing taxation.

Responsible development.

Every one of us is responsible for making sure that our voices are heard and our opinions considered.

We also expect prudence, fiscal restraint, transparency and accountability.

It is troubling to see that these expectations are not currently being met by our City. Burlington’s budget increases have averaged almost 4% a year since 2014. The City’s “human resource” cost is now $141,000 per employee. With the new Joseph Brant Museum being built at an incredible cost of $650 per square foot, the existing City Council has demonstrated a total lack of restraint or prudence.

As a financial executive, Ken finds these statistics an assault to the principles of his profession. That’s why he advocates changes that would help the City operate in a manner resembling a responsible, successful business – thereby holding the line on tax increases.

Consider just a few of ideas on his low-cost, high-impact slate:

Improve efficiency by appointing a City Manager who would receive a modest base salary supplemented by a variable compensation for meeting aggressive cost-cutting goals.

Engage an independent body to investigate where the City wastes money and where it performs well. The province’s Auditor General is very effective at keeping both politicians and government employees thinking twice before spending money on White Elephants.

The Joseph Brant Museum is being built at a cost of $650 per square foot. While I support a greatly expanded museum for a City of Burlington’s size the construction costs alone exceed the cost of buying a house in Millcroft at less than $500 per square foot including the land!

The time for accountability is now.

Every proposal for a zoning change, development project or building permit must receive the City’s approval. That stipulation gives City Council enormous influence.

Existing Council has failed to exert that influence to the benefit of our children’s education. Its unparalleled access to School Boards is an indirect lever to ensure responsible planning, yet Council has refused to voice their opinion or speak on behalf of their constituents. Even the City Manager was silent while he sat on the Halton District School Board’s Program Accommodation Review (PAR).

The HDSB has chosen to close two high schools with one just outside Ward 6. Frank Hayden High School in Alton Village has 16 portables while, 3.8 kms away, Lester B Pearson is being closed. School Board Trustees are voting favourably to build a new $23 Million Administration Centre. Councillor Meed Ward took her fight to Queen’s Park and won the right to keep Central High School open. The rest of Burlington Council, including Blair Lancaster, voted to NOT send a letter to the Provincial government to stop the closures of more schools.

Other municipalities in Ontario demand that their School Boards and developers provide a cogent plan with respect to where, how and how many children are going to be schooled when a building or subdivision is approved. Acceptable development demands intelligence.

Burlington needs to step up and take its zoning responsibilities seriously.

Deb Tymstra

Deb Tymstra will moderate the ward 6 debate

Those are the ward 6 candidates – two of them will be debating this evening.

Deb Tymstra will be moderating.

Related articles:

Defending dumb decision

Lancaster announces she won’t show up at the debate.


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The full two hour ward 5 candidates debate is now on line.

council 100x100By Staff

September 20th, 2018



If you weren’t able to make it to the ward 5 council member candidates debates last night you can hear every blessed word that was said.

Candidates att table on stage

The four candidates that took part are: from the left Xin Yi Zhang, Daniel Roukema, Wendy Moraghan and Mary Alice St. James. Paul Sharman, the incumbent chose not to attend.

Mark Carr

ECoB debate moderator Mark Carr

Mark Carr moderated.

Here’s the LINK.

It runs close to two hours.

The debate was organized by ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington – an organization you might want to learn more about.

Related article:

Ward 5 ECoB debate – Councillor Sharman chose not to take part.

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Gazette editorial cartoonist announced - has the Mayor in his sights.

The Gazette has its own editorial cartoonist.

Mike Allen, a Burlington resident who draws, teaches guitar and works in the music equipment business will be providing a visual look at events in the city of Burlington.

Sept 20-18

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Lisa Bull gives her side of the story on the Steve Cussons opinion piece.

opinionviolet 100x100By Lisa Bull

September 18th, 2018



Hello All – As the “accused” in the article that is linked below (and another PAR “expert” and Committee member) I thought it only fair that I have a chance to respond. Not that I expect to change any minds that have been made up about what “really” happened but to share my perspective. As most intelligent adults know, there are always multiple sides to every story and there is no such thing as a “true” account. Accounts can only represent the perspective of the person sharing them. So – here’s mine.

PAR banner

Collard and Miller

Ward 5 trustee Amy Collard giving Director of Education Stuart Miller the evil eye.

As anyone who followed the PAR process knows it was wrought with conflict, misinformation and confusion from the start. And, this continued right until the night of the final vote to determine which, if any schools in Burlington would be closed. The tension of the night was palpable – it was clearly felt by the Trustees and all of us who attended in the gallery. I came to the evening hopeful. I knew that our Trustee – Amy Collard – was planning on bringing forward a motion to introduce some alternate solutions to closing Robert Bateman (the full motion is posted on the Save Bateman Facebook site) I – like many of the community members were hopeful that the other Trustees might be willing to give this motion a chance. Ms Collard had shared her planned motion with her colleagues in advance of the meeting so they knew it was coming.

I thought her brave, innovative and courageous for wanting to try AGAIN to look at another option other than closing a school. However, it became clear very quickly that none of the other Trustees were interested in this. Much confusion began to take place as ms Collard tried to introduce her motion. The Chair was incredibly rude to Ms Collard during this process and other Trustees – including Leah Reynolds appeared to be working hard to vote against Ms Collard’s right to be even being able to introduce the motion. All of this can be seen on the video tape of the evening. As I sat with a friend and fellow Bateman parent – in awe of what was going on in front of us – we noticed that Councillor Meed Ward was furiously typing away on her I-Pad in front of us. She was making no attempt to shield her notes and we weren’t standing our our chairs or peering over her shoulder to read.

What she was writing was clear as day and right in front of us. Was she saying “CLOSE BATEMAN?”. Of course not.

But, what she appeared to be doing was providing very directive advice to Ms Reynold on how to stop Amy Collard’s ability to make a motion and then to stop the motion itself. At first, my friend and I couldn’t believe what we were reading.

While the photos posted on social media were a bit blurry, the messages we read Councillor Meed Ward typing were perfectly clear. They included:

Reynolds with Roberts rules

Was trustee Leah Reynolds getting instructions from PARC member and ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. The evidence suggest that might have been the case.

” DON’T VOTE IN FAVOR! “(caps on in original) Let it go – done your job”

“Do not support (uphold) the Chair’s ruling to allow the amendment”

“Okay – you have done your job”

I still have the photos and am happy to share if someone wants to invest time in having them enhanced.

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong?

However, from our perspective, it appeared very clear that Councillor Meed Ward was a/ telling Ms Reynolds how to act, vote and speak and b/ that she was attempting to influence the outcome of a critical Board vote.

In my experience as a member of the PAR Committee I’d tried at least once to collaborate on an effort to stop all school closures. I’d tried to bring the whole Committee together to write a letter to the Provincial government as a group and while most all of the other school reps agreed to this, Ms Ward and the other rep from Central waited until the last minute and then decided not to work together with the Committee.

This lead me to believe that Councillor Meed Ward was focused solely on keeping Central open and had no interest in working with others to keep all schools open.

MMW typing

Marianne Meed Ward at her iPad.

I add this only to explain that I had every reason to believe that Ms Meed Ward was working with Ms Reynolds to shut down any attempt to save Bateman from closure.

Was I right in my assessment on the night of the vote? Councillor Meed Ward argues that I was not, She argues that she was merely trying to help Ms Reynold navigate Robert’s Rules. I can tell you that from what I saw, her notes appeared to go far beyond this. I suspect that the full “truth” will never be known.

I made the decision to share this information publically because I was shocked by what I saw. As someone who lives in Ward Two I was already incredibly disappointed in Ms Reynolds decision to go back on her campaign promise of “Close No Schools” and felt that the communication between her and Councillor Meed Ward was unacceptable.

I know that Councillor Meed Ward has a small but strong core of avid supporters who will defend her and her conduct until the end. And, in our democratic society they will soon have their right to show that support by voting for her. I, on the other hand, will show my support for leaders who I believe have demonstrated a commitment and a willingness to support to ALL citizens of Burlington.

Packed - it was that packed

Lisa Bull in the purple scarf – Steve Cussons is to her left – short grey hair at a packed public meeting on the closing of two of the city’s two high schools.

One final thought for you all. I’m currently dealing with a serious health issue. And, while all of the activity around PAR and the election seemed so important and so critical months ago and inspired so much passion, rage and anger I am learning – unfortunately the hard way – that these issues, while are important, are certainly not the most important things in life.

So I leave this discussion by genuinely wishing everyone all the best.




Related opinion piece:

The opinion piece Lisa Bull is responding to.

Meed Ward and Reynolds 2014 election nightEditor’s note:  The Gazette did ask Meed Ward for a copy of all the notes that were sent from her to trustee Leah Reynolds.  There was no response.  We are in the process of getting all the photographs taken and having them enhanced so that what was photographed can be seen by the public.

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The quaintness Burlington longs for will be in the part of Waterdown the city wants to annex.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 19th, 2018



There is another way of looking at the idea the Mayor has of annexing parts of Waterdown.

There is a real drive to keep Brant Street the way it was in the 60’s and 70’s; small, quiet, slightly quaint.

The picture got over-developed (pun intended) when the city approved a 24 storey structure opposite city hall. ‘There goes the neighbourhood’ would certainly apply in this situation.

high profile 421

The Burlington the city is going to get …

Waterdown- street 1

The Burlington many had hoped the city would be. We couldn’t keep what we have – so we are going after parts of Waterdown.

In a Scott Radley radio broadcast – the link to that is HERE, made it pretty clear that Mayor Goldring had not really thought this one through.

To not even advise Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger beforehand is an insult and just plain bad politics.
Goldring’s rationale appeared to be that annexing Waterdown would “help alleviate the growth pressure on Burlington” Goldring sees a natural affinity between Burlington and Waterdown and thought that this was an idea to at least consider.

Eisenberger didn’t see it that way. Hamilton has invested more than $50 million in Waterdown and didn’t take kindly to the Mayor of Burlington grabbing the tax revenue and development charges that are generated by developers and tax payers in Waterdown.

Scott Radley

In the Scott Radley radio program, on which the interviews took place, Goldring said that no one at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs thought it was an outrageous idea.

Eisenberger, trying to be polite, thought that he was owed an apology for the way Goldring “completely blind-sided” him.

“This sounds like an idea that Goldring just threw up in the air without thinking it through. I don’t know where this is coming from.” Said Eisenberger.

LaSalle Pacillion

Hamilton just might take the property back when the lease expires.

It probably puts the kibosh on Burlington’s efforts to buy the water lots that are part of the LaSalle Park and owned by Hamilton. They just may have a very nasty surprise for us..

Eisenberger pointed out that he saw Goldring as a huge supporter of intensification and that what Burlington was doing amounted to the tail wagging the dog – he could have added that the dog just might decide to bite.
Hamilton has 165 hectares of land that it is ready to develop; and there are 5000 residential properties currently in various stages of development.

Eisenberger thought that at a minimum there should have been some analysis and research done before putting an idea like this on the table.

Messy messy. To get back to that quaint feeling that many in Burlington want to keep – it seems to be something that is now gone putting the Emerald and St Luke communities at considerable risk.

The quaintness that Burlington wants will be in Waterdown where the streets are a lot more vibrant than anything Burlington has.

Look at the Waterdown street scrapes.

waterdown street plumbing

waterdown 3







Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

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The end of Burlington as you know it - thank Mayor Goldring

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 19th, 2019



It is called connecting the dots.

Mayor Goldring determines that he is in trouble with his election campaign.


What has he done?

Mayor Goldring is Chair of an AMO committee (Association of Municipalities of Ontario)

He gets together with other Mayors, most of whom are east and north of Burlington.

He comes up with the idea of meeting with the Minister of Municipal Affairs asking him to ease up on the Places to Grow legislation which requires municipalities to create more housing and jobs.

The Mayor meets with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and some of his staff who, according to Mayor Goldring, had no objections to his suggestion that Burlington be permitted to annex parts of Waterdown.
Goldring doesn’t say how much of Waterdown he wants to annex.

Goldring doesn’t inform Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger

Fred Eisenberger

Fred Eisenberger – thinks the idea was a flyer crafted on the back of a napkin.

Eisenberger is not impressed. He calls the idea a flyer that was written on the back of a napkin.

While all this local nonsense is going on the Premier of the Province has made it very clear that he wants less local government and is ramming legislation through to get a bill passed that would let him reduce Toronto city council from 47 members to 25.

Holding a session of the Legislature at mid-night would qualify as ramming.

Premier Doug Ford has said he will use a section of the Constitution  to impose his will on municipalities.

Doug Ford finger pointing

What will Doug Ford do with the idea of Burlington annexing part of Waterdown.

The province can order a municipal level of government to do anything he wishes

Watch for what Doug Ford does with the subject that Rick Goldring put on the table.

Doug Ford will order Burlington and Hamilton to merge and become one municipality.

Premier Harris forced the amalgamation of the Toronto suburbs into the mega city that is now Toronto.

The end of Burlington as you know it will have been brought about by Rick Goldring.

Burlington sign

The sign might get an upgrade.

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Just who will be on the stage when the ward 5 debate takes place Wednesday evening at Bateman high school?

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 17th, 2018


The following are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of Pepper Parr, publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

There are five candidates in ward five running for the city council seat.

The incumbent, Paul Sharman, who has served two terms as a city Councillor finds that he is unable to attend a public meeting at which he would debate with the other four candidates.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

Councillor Sharman just doesn’t like community organizations he does not control; never has never will. A community organization has mobilized itself to organize the debates but the Councillor does not think they are legitimate enough for his liking.

During his decision to run for office in 2010 Sharman first filed nomination papers for the role of Mayor. He had not lived in Burlington all that long, had not done all that much as a person active in his community. Sharman was a member of the committee that produced the Shape Burlington report, he was also a member of the city council that endorsed the report which he then forgot about.

During his first term of office Sharman was a fire cracker. One more than one occasion he has put a senior staff member in their place.

He was the driving force behind the 0% tax increase for 2011.

He was the driving force behind getting something done with the Lakeshore Village Plaza that was close to a dump; shabby and to a considerable degree unoccupied.

Sharman worked hard to get something done. He managed to help craft a Staff Direction that got the Economic Development Corporation involved. That resulted in hugely successful community engagement event where all kids of ideas were brought to the surface and city hall got a better idea as to what the residents were looking for.

The owner of the proper was persuaded to attend the public meeting. His firm had hired planners, architects and specialists to do the studies city hall needs before they accept a development application.

That’s when the proverbial hit the fan. What the property owner’s planner put before a public meeting was close to outrageous.

Lakeside village plaza proposal

The proposed Lakeshore Village Plaza development. The city planners have yet to issue their report on the proposal.

It was never very clear just how in sync Sharman was with his constituents. At the two public meetings we watched him he seemed more defensive about the project and said it was now in the hands of the planning department staff who would prepare a report for city council.

The Gazette did learn that the city planners want much more in the way of park space and they want to see the skating pad and the park to the north of the site included in the development.

Sharman is on record as saying the development is too expansive. Many residents wanted to hear Sharman say that it was far far too large and that he would not be supporting what he had seen.

Sharman gets no brownie points for his early position on the work a community group did to save the Freeman Station. His comments to the late Jane Irwin when she was pleading for the time they needed to find a location for the structure were dismissive, embarrassing and shameful.

He argued against a pilot program that would have made transit free for seniors one day of each week. Oakville did a pilot that proved to be very successful and resulted in increased transit use overall. Sharman argued that the data wasn’t conclusive.

Sharman is an account by profession – what matters most to him is ensuring the right data is at hand to make a sound decision. It took the Gazette a couple of years to realize that the longer Sharman kept asking for data the longer it meant he didn’t have to make a decision.

Sharman puzzled LVP

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

The one tool missing in the Sharman toolkit is an executive capacity to make a decision.

His relationships with people are awkward. His treatment of a former Director of Transit deserved to be investigated; his relationship with a member of the planning department was well outside the limits of a member of council and a city employee. There are rules that set out what is acceptable.

There are two women running for the ward 5 council seat: Mary Alice St. James and Wendy Moraghan.

St. James is a retired elementary school principal who is known, liked and respected within the community.
She has been a tireless community activist on the Blue Water development; that was turned down by staff.

The developer appealed the staff decision to the LPAT. The appeal was lost.

St James talking to seniors

A slid campaigner – appreciated by the seniors.

St. James knows the issues. She is tireless when it comes to connecting with residents; the senior’s love her. She offers to play card games with the seniors, go for walks with those who want to lose some weight.

She can talk – she can talk – to the point that on occasion she loses her listener.

She was an active participant in the Shoreacres character study. She has attended Ontario Municipal Board hearings.

Mary Alice - pointing

Mary Alice St. James attending the anniversary of a school she served as principal.

Ms St. James does not live in the ward she wants to represent. She is about two football field length west if the ward boundary. This is not material. While it is preferable that a candidate live in a riding, what matters is the quality of the candidate. Insisting that your candidate of choice live in the ward is pretty provincial. The current Mayor did not live in ward 5 when he was the council member for that ward.

St. James maintains a web site, an email address and she tweets.

Web site: https://www.stjamesward5.com/
Email: stjamesward5@gmail.com
Facebook: Mary-Alice St. James – Ward 5 councillor
Twitter: @14marocks

Wendy Moraghan is a former police officer with 30+ years’ experience. Her career was focused for the most part on community relations tasks.

Moraghan with seniors

Detective Constable Wendy Moraghan with some of her friends at a meeting of seniors who were learning how to detect counterfeit money.

Our first interaction with Detective Constable was on an occasion when she was running a meeting for seniors that had several Bank of Canada staffers explaining how to detect counterfeit currency.

Events like this are a way for people that need to use walkers to get out of the house.

The men taking part in the event were quite taken with the attractive blonde police officer who was kind and attentive. One commented that if he was looking for girlfriend she would be his choice. We wrote up the meeting to reflect the mood of the room. The Detective Constable took exception and proclaimed that she was a married woman.

It was suggested to us by senior levels of the police service that it was important to maintain good relationships and would we consider removing the article. There was no threat – a decent woman didn’t appreciate the article – it wasn’t important enough to insist that it remain.

When we learned that Ms Moraghan was running for public office – she called us – and asked if there was going to be a problem with the past. None whatsoever. Ms Moraghan will have to get used to a different level of involvement with her constituent should she win.

Wendy M on Paul in group setting

Councillor Sharman defending a point of view while being peppered with questions from candidate Wendy Moraghan.

So far she has been very much ‘in your face’ with Mr. Sharman. She is strongly opposed to the proposed Lakeshore Village Plaza. She presses him for answers and doesn’t tolerate his practice of skirting around an issue (No pun intended.)

While police officers are in place to serve the public they don’t often actually engage with the public outside of police duties. That’s the nature of police work.

Wendy Moraghan H&S

Wendy Moraghan is a candidate for the ward 5 seat on city council.

Unfortunately that leaves people like Moraghan out of the loop on local matters. That is not so suggest the Ms Moraghan doesn’t know all that much about what is going on in the city.

She is an avid environmentalist. To the best of our knowledge we have never seen or heard of Moraghan making a delegation at city hall.

Moraghan is the Chair of the Willow Foundation. Established in 2002, The Willow Foundation is a non-profit registered charitable organization governed by a volunteer board of directors. The Foundation enhances the lives of seniors and adults with disabilities living in Halton Region’s three long-term care homes through a variety of programs and activities. From weekly ‘Artist Corner’ to Zumba classes, from our annual Strawberry Social to Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony we bring our residents a variety of social, arts and physical fitness programs.

Moraghan is about as local as a girl can get. Attended Pineland public school, Nelson high school, worked at Canadian Tire in the summers, was a member of the Burlington Teen tour band.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendymoraghanward5/
Web site: https://www.wendymoraghan.ca/

Daniel Roukema and Xin Yi Zhang are fringe candidates. Mr. Roukema has said elsewhere that he is not certain he will take part in the debate.

Daniel Roukema

Daniel Roukema works in the Immigration sector and is a candidate for the ward 5 seat on city council.

Mr. Roukema was in touch with the Gazette yesterday demanding to know why we had published his home address. We explained that we took our information from the city’s web site. We find it difficult to understand why a candidate running for public office would not want the public to know that they lived in the ward.

Roukema maintains a web site that sets out his campaign. It can be found at:


email: electdaniel@roukema.ca

xyz 2

Xin Yi Zhang is an Information Technology specialist and a candidate for the ward 5 city council seat.

Mr. Xin Yi Zhang is also a fringe candidate. We were unable to find the time to talk to him – our fault not his. This candidate has a web site: www.electxyz.com. He can bee reached by email at: electxyz@gmail.com

While the subject of what is going to happen to the high school the debate is taking place in will not be part of the ward level debate – it will be the 800 lb. elephant in the room. Given the plans that are in place now, Bateman will be closed by the time the election after this one takes places.

Bateman parents are desperate for a solution – moving the programs and the students from Bateman to Nelson high school is not seen as a solution; they see it as disruption and expense that isn’t necessary. They are not necessarily wrong – but that train left the station without them when the debate was really intense and the Bateman parents assumed Central was going to be closed and they were safe.

The ward 5 debate that is taking place is your opportunity to ask questions and decide for yourself which of the five you want to represent you at city hall.

ECOB logoECoB – the Engaged Citizens of Burlington has gone to considerable length to make this debate happen despite the efforts of the current city Councillor to shut it down.

Councillor Sharman has said he will not attend the ECoB debate but will take part in the candidate Meet and Greet Burlington Green is sponsoring. That event is at a location that doesn’t have any public transit. The debate that will take place is between the candidates for Mayor.

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The human side of politics - it can hurt.

opiniongreen 100x100By Shannon Gillies

September 18th, 2018


Shannon Gillies was a candidate in the 2010 municipal election.  She was new to political theatre – all she had was some ideas and a conviction that the Burlington she cared about was undergoing a change which she didn’t think all that many people wanted.

Little did Gillies know than that the change she sensed in 2010 would mushroom and result in a 24 story structure opposite city hall – and that was just a starting point.

Gillies write the Gazette with these comments:

“We’re at that point in the municipal election season where things start to get nasty and the gloves come off. Suggestions are made about candidates being in it for themselves, or for developers, and not for residents. Nasty comments from anonymous accounts are made on Twitter. Facebook posts are shared about how our city is being ruined which riles up the others and they all tsk tsk about it over their lattes without really knowing the facts.

“What people tend to forget at this heated point in the process is that candidates are human beings and they’re rarely up to anything nefarious. Every single one of them is a human being. It doesn’t make someone a bad person just because he or she has a different opinions and views and approaches than you. No one runs for office because they want to ruin their city.

“I’ve been there. Eight years ago, I was a total rookie and had no idea what I was doing. What I did know, is that I wanted to make my community better. I thought our downtown was dull and frankly, quite crappy and I wanted to make it better, so I decided to run for council. Unfortunately, no one knew who I was, I didn’t have much community experience, I was too shy to knock on every door, voters didn’t agree with my views, and I lost. That’s fine. I deserved to lose. That’s how elections should work.

“What people should know is that running a campaign is hard. There is an unimaginable amount of learning in a short amount of time. Campaigns are also emotionally draining, physically exhausting, and can take a real toll on a marriage. I’m always fascinated that so many people think that taking contributions from developers is a huge sin. I would’ve gladly taken anyone’s money! Anyone who thinks someone would work his or her butt off and sacrifice their family for months only to sell their integrity for $750 or $1000 dollars over a four year period is a fool. But I digress. Instead, I spent over $10,000 of my own money, which my husband still hasn’t quite forgiven me for.

“The absolute worst part of running for council, and what I wasn’t prepared for, was the condescension and the cruelty. I was told on numerous occasions that my campaign was “a good experience” for me or told with a patronizing smile that maybe I should try running for school trustee instead. Someone said I shouldn’t have worn a pink suit for my campaign photo. I was told I didn’t exactly look like a Councillor and was asked on numerous occasions why I didn’t have children. Lack of experience aside, I was employed, nearly forty years old, university-educated, knew my stuff, and was adequately articulate. These comments were unwarranted. But alas, that’s politics.

During the campaign there was a personal family matter that kept me away from the city. I considered dropping out of the race but decided to stick it out. I tried my best to complete the endless number of questionnaires that candidates receive from various community groups but was completely overwhelmed. I couldn’t get to the doors. I didn’t have a team and was doing everything myself.

I had to be at a hospital feeling very distressed – someone close to me was  big health challenge. It was an awful time. One day, while I was in a waiting room at the hospital, trying to catch up on campaign matters on my laptop, I got an email suggesting I was in bed with developers (I think because I had written something that was pro-intensification), and that I hated trees.

What?! Have you seen my yard? I love trees!

“The angry email ended with a wish that I have a miserable life and not ever enjoy a successful career in politics. In retrospect, it was a dumb comment I should have ignored, but at the time, under the circumstances, it caused me to run to my car in an underground lot and break into tears. I couldn’t understand how people could be so awful. I know better now.

“My point is that we’re all stuck on this earth together and we need to be kind. It’s fine to have political disagreements and we should absolutely have political disagreements. But let’s just remember that all candidates are human beings, with lives separate from election campaigns, and are made out of flesh and blood, not steel.”

Shannon GilliesShannon Gillies is a frequent contributor to the Gazette. We welcome he insight and candidness. Besides the trees on her property Shannon has a couple of rabbits about the house. She looks just fine in a pink suit.


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An open letter to Burlington Residents regarding incorrect info being promoted about Marianne Meed Ward & Leah Reynolds regarding school closures in Burlington.

opinionred 100x100By Steve Cussons

September 17th, 2018



With the Municipal Election looming and the volume of untruths in this election I find myself compelled to present my expert opinion on this issue. I say expert as I was a very active member of the PARC representing Aldershot HS and community and attended every single meeting including those at the Board after the vote was made.

The first untruth is that Marianne Meed Ward had an unfair influence during the par process because of her position as Councillor. I can emphatically state the she had no more influence than myself and the other 12 community members of the PARC. In fact her professionalism added important value to an otherwise difficult process. More importantly the committee as a whole had no real power in the whole process other than to provide recommendations to Board.

PARC with options on the walls

Members of the Halton District School Board PARC committee meeting in a formal session.

Unlike some committee members Marianne always kept her composure even when being attacked by fellow committee members. She was elected by the school council where her children attend just like six other members that were put on the committee. Marianne disclosed up front to the Board of her role as Councillor in the city and was told she was still quite welcome to join the committee. The other seven community members like myself were randomly chosen by the Board as we had put our names in the hat to be part of the PARC. Our mandate was to represent our respective communities and to bring forward to the committee ideas comments and concerns of our respective communities. I know each of us did exactly that, no more no less and this included reasons for not closing schools and reasons for closing various schools.

Many members put forth recommendations to close schools other than their own based on feedback from their community. So to suggest that Marianne had any more ability to move a certain objective forward than any of the other members is just plain false.

MMW typing

PARC member Marianne Meed Ward typing on her computer.

The other major untruth being circulated for months and I believe will be ramped us as the election draws closer is that on June 07 the night of the final vote to close Bateman &Lester B Pearson Marianne Meed Ward and Trustee Leah Reynolds colluded to help close Bateman. This is an outright lie and I am an expert as I sat beside Marianne that evening and was in discussion with her about the motion on floor which had nothing to do with the vote to close Bateman but a different motion all together.

The rules were so uncertain that not only did the board require some guidance from legal counsel and then actually had to go in. private session to try and sort out the protocol.

Marianne provided Trustee Reynolds with her interpretation of the ruling as she saw it as Trustee Reynolds was an active participant in the motion. What bothers me more is that Lisa Bull the PARC Representative sitting right behind Marianne and myself took the totally unethical first step of capturing images of Marianne’s private laptop screen she was using to capture the texting.

Reynolds with Roberts rules

Leah Reynolds being observed by HDSB vice chair Kim

Then to take it one step further posts it on social media suggesting the conversation was about how to vote to close Bateman and plying Trustee Reynolds with direction. I am appalled the a fellow member would stoop to such low and yet the media has never question the ethics of this. I have a timestamp of the moment the images were snapped and they were at least an hour before the vote to close Bateman.

It was confirmed that all the Trustees that evening were receiving mobile communications from constituents and others for various reasons and I input and this was a normal practice allowed at these meetings. The fact they needed very specific lawyers experts in procedural matters to assist in deciphering what the was the correct process and then have to go into private session should be obvious why someone like Marianne with years of this type of process being City Council would be stepping in to assist Trustee Leah as she happened to be the Trustee in the ward she represents on City Council and the Trustee of the school where her children attended.

Lisa Bull shocked

Lisa Bull

There was no collusion but there was certainly unethical behaviour by Lisa Bull a fellow PARC member and then to be exaggerated and pushed as truth in social media by many others in the community unhappy with the decisions.

In summary it is sad that we have had to close to schools but to defame individuals that continually put out an earnest effort to help our communities in so many ways is so wrong. I am not running for any office, my school did not close but I pride myself in ethical behaviour and will stand up when I factually know untruths are being made to hurt others I respect.

I am ready to debate any one on the facts of the PARC process and the specific night of the vote to close two schools.


Steve Cussons AldershotSteve Cussons is an Aldershot resident and a business man who operates a modern printing company..

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Ray Rivers wonders if the Premier of Ontario can run the city of Toronto from the provincial legislature - beginning to look that way.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 16th, 2018



It was a disgraceful display, such petulance, like a spoiled child. No I’m not talking about the unruly New Democrats who got booted out of Queen’s Park for protesting the other day. That was pretty poor behaviour alright, making noise, banging their desks like trained seals clapping flippers before a crowd in an aquarium.

But the really disgraceful behaviour came from that vengeful school yard bully we elected as our Premier, determined to roll over the rights of the people of Toronto.

We call it liberal democracy – government based on the recognition of individual rights and freedoms and the rule of law. It’s not a partisan title and all of our political parties claim to subscribe to a classical liberal philosophy, and the Conservatives most of all. Democracy, but with due regard for the rights of the individual.

Canada’s provincial premiers rule with virtually no checks on the power they wield, so long as they control a majority of the seats in parliament. Despite the debates, committees, and opposition delaying tactics they will pass pretty much every bill they introduce. More than a guide, the constitution and charter of rights are there to constrain the near absolute power of a majority government from trampling over the rights of others.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford

And trampling is what Doug Ford is doing with his 13th hour intervention into the municipal election in Toronto. That was the verdict of recent Superior Court justice, a judge who knows more than a little about matters constitutional. Mr. Ford has confirmed this by moving to override the court decision with the so-called ‘notwithstanding clause’, Section 33 of the constitution. His legal appeal of the ruling is effectively moot, though, since his intention is clear – he doesn’t care about those people or, their rights.

The notwithstanding clause is unique to Canadian politics. Americans have no such provision in their constitution, for example, and so the courts are the final authority there. Only Saskatchewan and Quebec have ever invoked the clause – a couple of times each, a couple of decades ago. There is a 5 year sunset clause and no jurisdiction has re-authorized this extraordinary constitutional provision.

The architects of our constitution have felt the need to weigh in. Jean Chretien, Bill Davis, and even Brian Mulroney, father of Ontario’s Attorney General, have condemned Ford’s plans. They are clear, Section 33 should never be used – but if it is, there had better be a pretty good reason.

A military invasion, an insurrection or something of that ilk comes to mind. Quebec once over-rode the rights of non-francophone small businesses by demanding the prominence of French in commercial signage. It argued that this would help it in its efforts to preserve the use of French in the province, and it probably has.

Toronto city councillor Doug Ford (L) and his brother, Mayor Rob Ford (L) react to the gallery after the mayor and an unidentified member of his staff captured images of the gallery during a special council meeting at City Hall in Toronto November 18, 2013. The Toronto city council may further curb the powers of embattled Mayor Rob Ford on Monday, slashing his office budget and offering his staff a chance to transfer to new jobs. (Aaron Harris/Reuters)

Toronto city Councillor Doug Ford (L) and his brother, the late Rob Ford

But we all know why Ford is ramming though his unconstitutional Toronto council seating plan – It’s personal. The Ford brothers felt offended that not every crazy idea they had was accepted by council when the dynamic duo roamed City Hall. And then Ford lost out on the last mayor’s race to John Tory. Oh and his ferris wheel idea crashed big time.

And it’s political too. Using the federal ridings as ward boundaries runs roughshod over the various smaller communities. So he believes it will serve to muffle those lefties who oppose his hidden agenda, which will be revealed in due course. Seriously, life would be easier for him if those potential opponents were out of the way.

Ford with Tory

Toronto Mayor John Tory with Ontario Premier Doug Ford. The body language says it all.

After all Ford has mused about moving some city services, like transit, to Queen’s Park, why not all of city government? Who says you can’t be mayor and premier in one? Eat your heart out John Tory. First Ford took his job as party leader and then premier. Now he’ll push Tory out of the mayor’s chair and run the council himself, the playpen he really covets.

We have no reason to believe that Ford is being purely vindictive, though there is considerable poison on his tongue when he speaks of the lefty councillors. And there is no question that the province has the authority to manage the size and operation of city councils. But his timing, in the middle of an election is more than a little problematic, unless his bigger ambition is in play.

Ford would be more credible if only he had a single shred of evidence that fewer politicians would make better government. When the judge asked for proof that a smaller city council would be more effective, he was met with silence from the government side…’crickets’ he called it. Ford doesn’t need analysis; his touchstone is his ideology. Fewer politicians good, evidence-based decision making bad. He doesn’t care that dinner is on the table, he wants his dessert now.

What’s not child’s play is how Ford Nation is also changing the rules in order to ram legislation through the legislature without the traditional kind of debate and due process we’re used to. That means that the only official opposition party, the NDP, will be virtually powerless to slow down or amend – even if they can’t stop poorly conceived legislation, like the one slashing Toronto’s council in half.

Doug Ford with wife

The wife

Vic clapping in Ford face

The sycophant

Toronto had spent four years carefully considering its expanded ward structure and then Ford trashed all of that work in a heartbeat based on his gut feel. He doesn’t need analysis to justify his actions and he doesn’t need some unelected judge, appointed by the federal government, to tell him what is right and wrong. After all he was elected for a four year term by 40 percent of the voters in the last election.

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


Background links:

Ford’s Bill –     Canadian Charter of Rights –     Undermining Canada’s Constitution

Amnesty Comment –    Globe Editorial –     Andrew Coyne –

Davis Comment –     Consolidating Power

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Calderbank: Can Successful Cities Ever Be Truly Affordable? What Burlington Can Do To Address Its Affordability Challenges

opinionviolet 100x100By Kimberly Calderbank

September 15th, 2018



Burlington is a vibrant city. We have a beautiful waterfront, scenic parks, safe neighbourhoods, great schools, access to some of Ontario’s top festivals and events, and successful businesses. Unfortunately, what makes Burlington such a desirable place to live also makes it expensive. We have seen house prices and rents skyrocket in recent years to the point of making our city un-affordable, especially for first-time home buyers, newcomers to Canada, young families, and seniors.

Spencer Smith PArk from the west

Spencer Smith Park – there was a time when it was weed filled space. It took foresight and community involvement to get this park to where it is today.

Right now, the average price of a detached house in Burlington is about $1 million, up 13 percent over this time last year. The average price of a town home is $578,000, up 6 percent from last year. The average price of a 2-bedroom condo is $434,000 which is actually down 5 percent which could possibly be attributed to a recent increase in supply.

What exactly is the definition of affordable housing? One figure often used by Councillors and city staff when referring to “affordable” units in new developments is about $362,000, but this definition is rather meaningless, because for someone with a family income of about $50,000, the affordability threshold is almost half that. A more reliable definition of affordable housing is housing with a market price (for purchase or rent) that is affordable to households of low and moderate income, spending no more than 30 percent of their gross household income on housing, without government assistance.

For a household of three or more people with a gross family income of about $130,000, the maximum purchase price for a home considered to be affordable would be $456,000 (based on a maximum monthly home ownership cost of about $3,300). As residents of Burlington, you and I both know that you can’t buy many family homes here for that price, and a detached house under $500,000 would be hard to find.

A significant challenge to Burlington’s housing affordability is that we are running out of property on which to build new subdivisions with detached houses while maintaining and protecting our agricultural areas.

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

Half of the city’s land mass is the Escarpment where other than three settlement areas residential development is not permitted.

Municipal, regional, and provincial policies, such as land use policies set out in Official Plans, help ensure an adequate range and mix of housing for complete and healthy communities while fulfilling the provincial mandate to “grow in place”. These policies can also provide us with some tools to address affordability.

One tool municipalities could decide to use is inclusionary zoning. This enables cities to set out guidelines for affordable housing units to be built in residential developments of 10 units or more. Another policy tool is Section 37 of the Planning Act. If a property owner wishes to build something that does not comply with zoning regulations, such as height and/or density limits, the owner may voluntarily agree to provide “community benefits” in exchange for approval—benefits negotiated by councilors and planning staff. Lately, it seems there hasn’t been enough thought put into exactly which types of benefits would be as valuable to the Community as the extra height/density is to builders.

For example, a recent community benefit listed for one of the development proposals at Brant and James took the form of discounts on condo units. Considering the high price of units, a $50,000 discount would unlikely make a dent in affordability. We can do better than that. How about allocating Section 37 funds to Halton Region to be used for the provision affordable housing or to go towards the building of purpose-built rental housing?

We have a huge opportunity here to collaborate and negotiate with builders and grassroots, community-led organizations such as the Halton Community Benefits Network, in consultation with residents, to determine which community benefits are most needed. Our councilor should be consulting with residents before these proposals even come to the table, not after, to determine community priorities.

At election time, candidates will tell you that we have been growing too fast and over developing. However, regional housing stats prove otherwise. In 2017, only 594 new units were added in the entire city of Burlington—a low number compared to Oakville which added about 2300 new units, and Milton which added over 1100. In addition to the tens of thousands of detached homes we already have in Burlington, we’ll need to add more apartments, condos, and town homes.


A proposed back to back townhouse development.

A denser urban area does not necessarily mean less expensive housing but very often, it can. Increasing the supply of homes for purchase and for rent while providing a wide range of housing options are both essential to affordability. Town homes are especially needed in Burlington as a more affordable housing option (both for purchase and for rent) for families. Only 2.2 percent of new builds in 2017 were town homes, while nearly 87 percent were apartment/condo-type units. We will need to shift this balance if we’re serious about attracting more young families to Burlington.

Burlington is growing from a suburban to an urban Community. As much as we’d like things to stay the same, we must consider the needs of all members of our community, now, and in the future. The challenge of managing and sustaining our city’s rapid growth is also an opportunity to improve the quality of life for many residents, especially in terms of affordability. Let’s continue to attract new residents to our welcoming, vibrant, and inclusive community with diverse neighbourhoods and affordable housing options for everyone who would like to call Burlington home.

Calderback in blackKimberly Calderbank is a candidate for the Ward 2 city council seat.  She is one of ten people seeking the job.

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An open letter to Ward 6 residents - please vote on October 22nd

opinionred 100x100By Staff

September 14th, 2018



There is a resident in ward six who is so concerned about the level of public interest in the October municipal election that she has printed up a couple of thousand notices that she is going to distribute door to door.

Krista Richards is a ward six resident.  She has some questions for her neighbours.

Did you know that there are over 22,000 registered voters in our Ward?

Did you know that in 2014 just approximately 5,000 actually voted?

Did you know the results of the municipal election for Ward Councillor was a difference of 600 votes?

Did you know if you are registered you could vote online?

Vote ward 6 1Vote ward 6 2If you are registered to vote you will get your voter card by October 1. If not, you can contact City Hall.
You can use your id # on that card to vote in early voting, or simply click away from your table while the kids have breakfast, or watching a hockey game, all from the comfort of your own home. Online voting begins October 1st- 17th .

Our little Ward does not get much attention from City Hall. It is very much a commuter area, with many of use driving our cars to other municipalities to work, working long hours, and taking care of kids, parents and community. Many of have a hard time getting to the polls on Election Day. I know.

However being able to vote online has taken the stress away. No more planning and having Murphy’s law take over.

The last municipal election had 10 candidates for Ward 6 Councillor. There are only 3 in the 2018 election. Perhaps, we would have had a proper voice for our Ward. Imagine, less than 1% made the difference in who stood for us while important decisions were made about our Ward and our City.

Who stood for us when Alton Village parking and snow clearing became a safety hazard? Who stood for us when a condo community was approved with less parking than originally planned causing more chaos.

Who stood for us when the land of the northwest side of Walkers and Dundas that was not supposed to be developed suddenly changed. These are just a few examples. The answer… NO ONE!

Please take the time to have your voice heard. There is no reason for so few folks in our area to cast their ballot, when voting cannot be any easier. The apathy towards not participating in City elections has hurt us. As Ward 6 residents and all the residents of Burlington. So many bad decisions have been made at City Hall, that we will all suffer, for generations to come.

Do some reading and find out what is going on at City Hall. You may find it as disturbing as I do.
I urge you to not let less than 20% of the residents of our Ward make the decision for the rest of us. Please make sure you are registered to vote. Vote on line and have your voice heard.

We need a voice at the table in City Hall.

Thank you, your neighbour.

I am not affiliated with any campaign. I am simply concerned.

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That raffle ticket kerfuffle - it was telling and no one came out of it smelling like roses.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 14th, 2018



There was a time in Burlington when people behaved quite a bit differently than they do today.

It was a more genteel community. People knew each other and the city’s rural roots were still part of the way people looked at things. One of the most influential organizations in the community was the Horticulture Society. Burlington was a produce community that send apples, pepper, pears, cantaloupe around the world.

There was a spur railway line that the engineers backed their train into to load on barrels of produce that got rushed to Montreal where it was loaded on ships.


There was a time when Burlington shipped its produce around the world; the railways did great business hauling fruit and vegetables from area farms. It was a more polite society as well

The Grant Trunk Railway had two tracks coming into Burlington property that is now a walking path along the edge of the lake.

City council was there to help and for the most part it did. Roly Bird and Walter Mulkewich and were Mayors that saw things a little differently than the current crop.

There was a small incident earlier in the week that highlighted the kind of Burlington we have become.

Gareth Williams who is running for the ward 3 city council seat became aware that Rory Nisan, who is also running for the seat, had planned a community BBQ at which raffle tickets were going to be sold.

Gareth Williams

Ward 3 candidate Gareth Williams

Gareth talked to people at the Clerk’s Office – the city Clerk is the election Returning office.

He asked if the sale of raffle tickets was permitted and was told what the rules are.

If you want to sell raffle tickets you need a permit to do so from the city.

In an older more genteel Burlington Gareth Williams would have called Rory Nisan and advised him as to what the rules were; instead he waited, arranged for one of his team to attend the event and take pictures of the table with the raffle tickets on it and made them available to media.

rory shot

Ward 3 candidate Rory Nisan

When the Gazette got the media release from Gareth we called Rory Nisan and asked some questions. Nisan admitted they had screwed up and were doing everything to repair the damage. We asked Nisan if he was going to issue a statement. At first he wasn’t sure but thought about it and said he would issue a statement – which he did.

It was less than a fulsome statement. Nisan referred to documents that were not crystal clear on just what the rules were.

Nisan’s response was not a fulsome, unequivocal apology for not ensuring that what his campaign was doing was onside. It fell a little short of what was expected from a Canadian diplomat.

The Clerk’s Office didn’t cover itself in glory on this disappointing situation. They were aware that someone was offside. It didn’t take a rocket scientists to figure out if questions were coming from a ward 3 candidate that the concern was in ward 3.

City Clerk Angela Morgan fails to ensure media alerted to Special Council meeting. Her communications people dropped the ball as well.

City Clerk Angela Morgan serving as Returning Officer in the 2010 election.

Would it have been too much to ask the Returning Officer to issue a bulletin to all candidate explaining the rules? Something along the lines of – it has come to our attention that etc. etc.

When this election is over there are some very hard questions to be put to the Returning Officer: Which part of the democratic process are you having difficulty with?

The city administration adds a tag line to every media release they send out.

“Burlington is one of Canada’s best and most livable cities, a place where people, nature and business thrive.”

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher

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Councillor Sharman continues to embarrass himself - there is still time for him to do a course correction.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Staff

September 14th, 2018



It is silly and embarrassing.

The pettiness and rancor that have become part of the process of determining who is going to represent the people of ward 5 at city council next on December 3rd when the new council is sown in.

ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington have worked hard to organize debates at the ward level. This is something Burlington has not had for well over more than a decade.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Paul Sharman, the incumbent who was first elected in 2010, re-elected in 2014 rather easily is in a tough battle this time around.

He has decided not to take part in the ward debate that has been organized.

His reason? “My very presence at your event will provide the opportunity for you to load the questions and to create the kind disrespectful behaviour we have experienced over the last 10 months.

“Therefore it will be better for everyone that I will not be present.”

Mr. Sharman, an accountant by training, knows full well that ECoB was incorporated as a non-profit corporation. He also knows that ECoB will not have anything to do with the questions that are asked by the moderator other than to collect the questions written out by the public when they are in the auditorium.

To suggest that ECoB has an opportunity to load the questions is just plain sleazy.

Wendy up against Paul 1

Ward 5 candidate Wendy Moraghan in conversation with incumbent Paul Sharman

Sharman has a battle in front of him; the chatter on social media is pretty vicious and Sharman is adding to it.

Why he doesn’t talk about his accomplishments, and there are some, is beyond this observer.

In 2011 Sharman literally pushed through a 0% tax increase – something that has not been seen since then.
With that notch in his belt he went on to be close to abusive with delegators. It was a path he chose to take – it has not served him or his constituents well.

Sharman claims ECoB avoided the question of whether or not ECOB is a) actually an organization and b) whether you are simply organizing a public forum or one that will be characterized by the regular ECoB tactics of divisiveness and c) who is funding these activities.

As to the ECoB funding – they are donations made by citizens who attended the public meetings. There were more than 50 people who were dropping $20 bills into a box and several that wrote healthy cheques.

At the first ECoB organizational meeting a citizen said he was in the room representing people from his community and that he had a signed cheque in his pocket – he wanted to know who to make it out to.

There is still time for Paul Sharman to do a course correction. The ward 5 debate is on Wednesday, September 19th at the Bateman high school. You will get to see Paul Sharman or an empty chair with his name on it.


Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher

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Rick Craven at his worst ... To sully his own reputation like this is disappointing.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 10th, 2018



So it has come to this.

One had hoped that he might go quietly into the night – but that is obviously not going to happen.
Councillor Rick Craven published a vitriolic screed about why he could not support Marianne Meed Ward as Mayor.


Craven and Meed Ward couldn’t get further apart – bad blood between the two of them.

There was never any doubt that he was not going to support her. The bad blood between the two of them was evident almost before Meed Ward became a council member.

For Craven to come out publicly against Meed Ward at this point in the campaign is very telling – Craven realizes that she has traction and that the incumbent Mayor is in serious trouble.

We have inserted our own editorial comments alongside what Craven wrote. This kind of cheap garbage cannot be left to stand without some comment.

In his Facebook comments Craven said:

Meed Ward for Mayor – I don’t think so.

There’s one fundamental fact about this election that I hope Burlington voters understand.

The mayor of Burlington has no power.

Under the rules set up by the Province we have what is known as a “weak mayor” system. The only power the mayor has is the power to call a meeting and the power to declare an emergency. That’s it! Everything else must negotiated with the other members of Council. This requires skill, diplomacy, care and compromise; traits that Marianne Meed Ward has failed to demonstrate.

Diplomacy, care and compromise are not exactly skill sets that Craven has demonstrated in the eight years the Gazette has watched him

Her inability to pass most of her major proposals is clear evidence that she has no interest in negotiating with her council colleagues. It’s all about her. She thinks she has all the answers and the rest of Council can simply go to hell.

Meed Ward supporters will argue that her routine 6-1 losses result from the fact that the rest of us simply don’t get it and that she is usually right and the rest of us are usually wrong.


The six other members of council are mostly wrong and Meed Ward mostly right? Surely the average Burlington voter knows that this is simply not probable.

Meed Ward supporters will tell you that the 6 to 1 losses are a badge of courage. I think they are a testament to failure. They are a testament to her inability to get along with others in authority.

So, Meed Ward can make all the promises she likes: promises that sound good and appeal to the disappointed, the angry and the worried in our City, but her record would suggest that she simply does not have the skill to get her agenda passed. She is too adversarial.

She is not a consensus builder.

I’m not the only one who believes this.

Columnist and former City Councillor Joan Little wrote “She’s smart, but not well liked by colleagues – a big minus at the mayor level”.

Joan also wrote “Meed Ward has a sharp mind and a lot to offer, but is disliked by many colleagues, and a mayor needs council support. For that reason she’d likely be ineffective.”

The Burlington Gazette wrote “One must admit that Meed Ward does run on – frequently. She has no friends on Council.”

Craven never recognizes the Gazette for what it is: a credentialed newspaper that is published on a web site. However, now that it serves his purpose, Craven quotes us.

Burlington once had a mayor who thought he was smarter than the rest of us and didn’t need to consider Council’s views. During his four years in office Cam Jackson caused a lot of problems at City Hall. Little was accomplished and 17 senior staff left the City taking decades of expertise with them. Today, we call the Cam Jackson term “the lost years”.

I have worked with Marianne Meed Ward for 8 years. I cannot support her for mayor. Today, I have outlined just one of the many reasons. We don’t need another Cam.

Rick Craven did not work with Marianne Meed Ward – he sat beside her and never missed a chance to belittle her, diminish her and disrespect her.

His personal behaviour to the woman was shameful. Much of what we know about that behaviour is confidential – we were asked to keep it confidential and will respect that request. We do want to add that Rick Craven has represented the city on the Police Services Board for the eight years we have been following him. Connect the dots.

Let us just leave it at that.

Craven said he: “Fully expects to be vilified for this in social media by Meed Ward supporters, but it can’t be helped. This election is too important. I cannot remain silent.” Indeed, when it comes to Meed Ward Rick Craven cannot remain silent. It is Craven at his worst which is unfortunate because during his time as the Councillor for Ward 1 he did a lot for the Aldershot community.

To sully his own reputation like this is disappointing.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.


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