Is Mayor Meed Ward considering a run for the office of Regional Chair ?

By Pepper Parr

June 5th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With the Ontario election over and Doug Ford in place until 2026, running the province with little in the way of an opposition party, our eyes turn to the municipal election in October.

Look for a move on the part of Councillor Sharman to indicate that he will run for the office of Mayor.

Jane McKenna, MPP when the photo was taken, at a Freeman Station event with a friend.

A comment made, at a Joseph Brant Museum event last week, by someone who would know, that Mayor Meed Ward might consider (is considering) running for the office of Regional Chair where she would be running against Jane McKenna who gave up her seat at Queen’s Park to run for the office that Gary Carr doesn’t appear to want any more.

Carr moved from Milton into downtown Burlington recently.

Meed Ward has let the very strong support she had when she became mayor dwindle away; it will take more than we think this Mayor has to pull that support back.

Meed Ward has changed the way municipal government works in Burlington – too many, the changes were not all that beneficial.

The biggest thing Meed Ward brought was hope – and then she dashed that hope by making herself the focal point.

As a Councillor for ward 2 between 2010 and 2014 Marianne Med Ward made a significant difference – she brought hope to the hearts of those who wanted to keep the Burlington they had.

Politics is both an art and a science. The better politicians have a strong survival instinct – Meed Ward may have figured out that her political life can be extended by moving to the Regional level and then on to the provincial level where she has always wanted to end up.

 

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Stephen White sets out what went right and what went wrong.

By Stephen White

June 3rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Compare the 2022 provincial election results in Burlington with those of 2018 and some interesting trends emerge.

In 2018, the PC’s won 25,500 votes, and 40% of the vote. This time around they won roughly 22,200 votes and 42.5% of the vote. However, the Liberals went from 15,000 votes to roughly 15,400 votes and garnered less than 30% of the vote. The NDP vote totally collapsed. They went from 18,000 votes in 2018 to just over 9,200, and 28% of the popular vote to 17.6%. 63,737 residents voted in Burlington in 2018. I would be interested to see what the final tally is this time round.

The key messages:

1) a lot of residents didn’t bother to vote. I went by two polling stations during the day at schools and there was little traffic.

2) the private sector union vote went solidly PC. Witness the gains in Windsor, Hamilton and Brampton.

3) electors haven’t forgotten, or forgiven, the Liberals for the mess created by Kathleen Wynne.

4) the NDP is increasingly tied to special interests and public sector unions. They have continually failed to make inroads with moderate voters who don’t like and don’t support their policies or style. Even with a superlative local candidate like Andrew Drummond they couldn’t hold their vote.

5) given the lack of viable alternatives offered by either the Liberals or NDP the electorate opted for the status quo.

The Liberals need to find a much better leader, and not one tied to the Wynne government’s sorry legacy. They also need smarter policies, not $1 a day transit fares that are untethered to reality and amount to little more than half-baked promises.

The NDP need to hit the re-set button and hard. WOKE messaging, critical race theory, EDI “happy talk” and “word salads” don’t resonate with voters who want practical policies and viable alternatives. That’s why they lost the private sector union vote. Jobs matter.

As for the PCs, they really need to engage their base and start listening to the public. Add the residents who didn’t vote, supporters like me who parked their vote with New Blue, and the potential of two new energized leaders by the time 2026 rolls around, and the future isn’t entirely smooth sailing.

Stephen White is a life long resident of Burlington who teaches at Sheridan College and consults in the Human Resources sector

 

 

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Some additional comment on the public meeting on the Bateman matter

By Pepper Parr

May 31st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The reader who has asked, for good reasons, to be left as an anonymous writer explains why the City Manager is fronting the Public Information meeting this evening.

There is still very little information from the city Communications department other than that the event is taking place and here is how you can take part.

A big site with loads of potential has become a big problem

The reason why Tim Commisso, city Manager, will host the upcoming Community Updates tomorrow is due to the need to follow the City’s governance processes.

In the case of the Bateman situation, the City under the direction of the City Manager must present what recommendations may be considered for the elected City Council for approval.

What will the City manager put on the table this evening?

That would require a written report that citizens could read and form opinions. There is no written report.

In other words, the City negotiates to derive their recommendations but can’t approve their recommendations. City Council must ensure public input is received prior to making any approval decision associated with the recommendation from City staff. The known exception relates to legal matters associated which typically have already been made but are now appealed to a higher authority or which were not made in a timely fashion as dictated by published guidelines issued by the higher authority.

In our case, City Council has yet to receive a recommendation from City staff. As such City staff may present what has been received and to seek public feedback on the same. Any decision sought from City Council is unlikely to be made prior the end of session in mid-July and instead be postponed until after the Municipal election in October by the newly elected City Council.

The same goes for HDSB matters. The Director of Education presents recommendations for the elected Board of Trustees approval. In other words, the HDSB staff under the Director negotiates to derive their recommendations, but can’t approve their recommendations.

To do otherwise opens the doors to a conflict of interest. The elected members guard the purse and ensure that the rules of governance are followed.

It is up to each member of the public to be vigilant to ensure that changes to any rules of governance do not negatively compromise the public as a result of proposed recommendations made by the HDSB, the City or the Province.

The Municipal electorate has to be satisfied as to the steps already been taken by City staff on a matter which enhances the City delivery of services to the community in a cost effective manner. Likewise, the HDSB electorate has to be satisfied as to the steps already taken which enhances the delivery of education services in a cost effective manner.

This meeting is taking place because there has been so much blow back from citizens; something had to be done – so the City Manager is going to explain what has and what he expect will take place.

At the risk of being rude – the people of Burlington can read – provide a detailed report on what the options are, what the expenses are and what the long term contribution to the city will be.

Then let Council get input from staff and then make a decision.

The problem with this, a traditional and accepted practice in the municipal world, is that this project has become something several members of Council want and they are going to do everything possible in order to show what they are capable of.

What they are capable of is the mess the public is looking at.

The event this evening is being recorded and we are told will be available for view “soon” after the meeting.

The meeting details are:

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Either Miriam Manaa or Andrew Drummond should be elected for the constituency of Burlington

By Pepper Parr

May 30th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Editorial Opinion

The public has listened to what the politicians have had to say since May 3rd.

It is now time for the voters to decide what they want in the way of political leadership.

The Gazette has watched the candidates for some time; years in the case of Andrew Drummond, about a year and a half for Miriam Manaa and about three months for Natalie Pierre.

It is our view that Ontario needs a Premier over whom there is some ongoing control and we advocate for a minority government. It is clear that the Progressive Conservatism have a strong lead provincially and will form the next government.

The Gazette believes that either Liberal Miriam Manaa or New Democrat Andrew Drummond would serve the public well.

Liberal candidate Miriam Manaa

Manaa has some experience working with elected members – those who belittle her work experience do not understand just what elected officials do. Manaa was not at a desk licking envelopes; she was doing case work and working closely with a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Drummond is a stronger policy person than Manaa and he has a significant amount of experience in a very competitive industry.

If elected Manaa would bring some of the Burlington diversity to the legislature.

Andrew Drummond candidate for the New Democratic Party

If elected Drummond would bring strong policy chops to the job.

Both would serve the people in the Burlington constituency well once they settle in.

As impressed as we were with Natalie Pierre, the Progressive Conservatives have not earned the right to have their candidate sent to Queen’s Park.

Natalie Pierre, Progressive Conservative candidate

We see it as unfortunate that a political party would flout the traditional practice of putting their candidates before the public and listening to what they have to say,

The public never had the chance to learn more about the woman. They appear to have taken the position that the PCs have it in the bag and the public de damned.

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Young columnist not impressed with the way politics is done in Burlington

By Pepper Parr

May 30th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We are fortunate to have a young person writing a column for us.

Connor Fraser, a graduate student at the University of Toronto writes once a month (weèd like more)

He has been tasked with writing on subject and doing his best to reflect the views of his demographic and his peers.

In the past he has written about his chances of actually being able to buy a house when he reaches that stage in his life.

His next column is due after the provincial election.

In going over what he has planned he made the following comments about the provincial election and the way Burlington has handled it.

“Regarding the race in Burlington, I think the PC will likely win but I’m disappointed by the character of the campaigns, especially the candidate selection process held by each party.

“Not much transparency or opportunity for debate within the Liberal nomination race, and zero within PC. No chance for the Liberal nominees to debate each other beyond a pre-written, 5 min speech.

“There should have been more debates, too. Only one chamber of commerce debate – which was more of a Q&A session from what I heard. What about a good old fashioned debate, I think the people of Burlington deserve a few different events/venues to observe the major issues being dissected.

“Overall, a very sad, tired looking affair.”

A little more about this young man.

Connor Fraser

Connor was born in Hamilton in 1997, is a long-time resident of Aldershot. He attended Waterdown Montessori School, Glenview Public School, Burlington Christian Academy and Aldershot High School, graduating in 2015. Passionate about the issues facing Burlington, Connor has volunteered for several local organizations and advocated to municipal leaders on building transit oriented, walkable communities. His career goal is to help Burlington – and Canada – navigate the challenges of transitioning towards a just and inclusive low-energy economy.

 In 2020, Connor completed undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, with a B.A.Sc. in Engineering Science and a major in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

 Between 2018 and 2019, he worked as a member of the technology development team at Microchip Corporation (North San Jose, California) where he contributed to the design of computer memory for FPGA chips. While pursuing engineering studies, Connor volunteered for the U of T Human Powered Vehicles Design Team as a machinist and led the design of a rollover detection system for high-speed tricycles. During the summer of 2013, 2015 and 2017, Connor lived in Quebec thanks to support from the YMCA Student Work Summer Exchange, and the Explore Program and is decently proficient in spoken French.

 Connor has returned to U of T to enrol in the dual Master of Global Affairs and Master of Business Administration program.

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

By Ray Rivers

May 28th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Better the devil you know

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

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

Andrea Horwath – a safer conservative choice?

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

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

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

 

 

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What will the province look like on Friday June 3rd

By Pepper Parr

May 27th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

Put a different way – How bad could it be?

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

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

Who will form the Opposition?

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

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

Wishful thinking?

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

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

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

Will this happen?

Polls are never accurate – but they are an indicator.

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

May 26th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

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

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

What is Councillor Nisan up to?

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

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

Brecknock and Nisan go back some distance.

Councillor Stolte will not be sending Nisan a Christmas card.

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

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

Sharman filed his papers on the 6th.

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

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burlington has been and could be better than this.

 

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

By Ray Rivers

May 23rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

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

Andrea Horwath – working the crowd

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ford is running on his record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ford has a habit of repeating his mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier Ford – happy at this point.

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

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Rivers still sees this election as Doug Ford's to lose.

By Ray Rivers

May 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Mike Schreiner – Green Party

There were a couple of political debates this past week. The four main party leaders met in North Bay to stake out their promises for northern Ontario. And there were no surprises, nobody fell on their face, and despite the odd jab there were no knock-out punches. If I had to pick a debate winner it would have been Green Party leader Mike Schreiner – methodical, pointed, passionate and considered – it is a shame he wasn’t leading a party with a better chance of winning seats.

On the topic of debates, I also tuned into the federal Conservative leadership debate. It was fun, a kind of cross between a political blood-fest and a gong show. The game show host, also known as moderator, had a lot of fun tossing out hoops for the contestants to step through.

But the contest is really Poilievre vs the Charest/Brown tag team.

And if ever there was a need for fact checking, it is the stuff that the eloquent Mr. Poilievre is spouting. For example, he seems to have discovered a ‘new economics’ which no reputable economist can agree with. To be sure he speaks with conviction and sounds credible – but it mostly is rubbish. Still, if you say a lie often enough, some people will believe it.

And if you were looking for how these wannabe leaders were going to handle climate change that was the wrong channel to watch. Even Jean Charest, my former boss when he was Canada’s minister of the environment in the Mulroney government, didn’t spend anytime on the topic.

And I know he understands the science – I had written a few of his speeches and briefing notes.

The Ontario leaders’ debate was set in the north, a geographical construct which has been afflicted with climate change induced forest-fires and floods. Yet, I had to listen hard to hear mention of… let alone any promises to mitigate climate change. True enough, the opposition parties talked about Increased public transportation and support for electric vehicles (EV). But there was little from the governing Tory leader, other than boasting about some new investment for manufacturing EVs.

Doug Ford – Premier of the province pointing to what he saw as positive Covid19 numbers,

Mr. Ford renewed his promise for a road to the ring of fire and its precious metals. But even as he was bragging about landing a $5 billion lithium car battery plant to Windsor, the company was contemplating cancelling for lack of an assurance of electric power. Following the debate Ford promised a billion dollar new electricity line to Windsor from somewhere. Perhaps he shouldn’t have cancelled all those renewable energy projects.

The Green Party delivered their detailed party platform this week, promising a whacking $65 billion in new spending to transition the province to a “new climate economy”. It’s easy to make promises if you’ll never have to deliver. The party also has plans to make the province’s top doctor independent, to provide more affordable housing and a spattering of other social policies. The party would reinstate the environmental commissioner, a position which Mr. Ford axed early in his administration. And to that end Dianne Saxe, the last commissioner, is running for the Greens in the Toronto riding of University–Rosedale.

Steven Del Duca hoping to revive the Liberal Party fortunes

The Liberals released their platform earlier in the week with some interesting sound bites primarily intended for the ear of those struggling McDonalds-frequenting working class folks. After all, if buck-a-beer got Ford elected…. Del Duca plans to raise the HST exemption, or at least the provincial portion, on fast foods up to $20. He will also offer $1 a ride transit across the province for a limited time and will take the $10 billion the Tories have allocated for Hwy 413 and spend it on renovating schools. He would cap all class sizes to a maximum of 20 students and hire a bunch of teachers to make that happen. Like the other opposition parties the Liberals would end for-profit private long term care and guarantee all workers 10 sick days a year as well some kind of employee benefit package.

The NDP were the first party to actually lay out a complete policy platform and their plans dive deep into what they consider has been broken in the province since they last were in government. So rent control is back with a vengeance. Horwath is promising equity in auto insurance rates and to speed up implementation of the new child care agreement. Her party would be adding more renewable energy, fixing long term and other health care, and even speeding up development of the ‘ring of fire’. The NDP detailed election platform is only a little easier to read than War and Peace, which means that most voters will not bother. Still in the small print on page 85 there is a promise to “create a Mixed Member Proportional Voting system”.

Andrea Horwath _leader of the New Democrats

The Tories consider their last budget, implementation of which was deferred until after the election, as their policy platform – that and odd sporadic announcements they’ll make throughout the campaign to keep/bring voters in their camp. And given that their poll numbers haven’t moved much since they called the vote, they’re probably safe in doing that. Ford’s main promises include more privately operated long term beds, more highways and more auto manufacturing in the province.

The Ford nation is headed for another strong majority if the polls are right. So, Mr. Ford couldn’t be blamed for spending these nice warm days till election day at his cottage, confident he’s got it in the bag. Not that I am saying he’s doing, that mind you. And, of course, that could all change with the final leaders’ debate this Monday night. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.

With a candidate in every riding this new party is doing surprisingly well – they could eat away at some of the PC core vote

Then there are the other two even more right wing parties, Jim and Belinda Karahalios’ ‘New Blue’ and Derek Sloan’s ‘Ontario Party’. Together their polling is close to that of the Green Party, so they could be a insignificant factor if the radical/reactionary conservatives shift their support away from the Tories to the ‘real’ right wing. Still these are fledgling political outfits and it’ll be amazing if they end with more than the one seat each they have today. But nobody should forget the success of the Reform Party.

One of these four will be Premier – could it be a government with just a minority of seats in the legislature?

On the other side of the ideological aisle the Liberals, NDP and Greens all compete for pretty much the same political base but each with their own fine tuned refinements. And with three parties on the left and three on the right, perhaps it is time to consider proportional representation after all. But you’d have to vote for the NDP or Greens to see that happen this election. In any case it is unfortunate that these new ‘bluer than Ford’ parties have not been invited to all the electoral debates during this election. They are putting a lot of effort and money into winning hearts and souls of the voters and we should be able to hear what they are proposing even if they are new to the political game.

Ray Rivers is a retired federal civil servant who has been politically active in the Burlington community.  He has a degree in economics and has been writing a column for the Gazette for the past seven years.  when the election is over he will return to writing his second book

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Two of Aldershot's best go up against Oakville Mayor Rob Burton

By Staff

May 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tom Muir, a committed advocate for stronger public voices at the planning table sent a note to Oakville Mayor Rob Burton on planning matters.  Burton responded saying:

Tom, all four parties with seats in the Legislature have embraced in their platforms the call for a million and a half new housing units over the next ten years, effectively double or triple what has been planned and financed out to 2031. One might expect significant changes to urban planning processes in the name of the supposed need for haste.

Greg Woodruff, an Aldershot resident who has run, unsuccessfully for both Regional Chair and Mayor of Burlington responded to Burton:

Hello Rob,
Whatever “changes” you imagine in the urban planning process – if you imagine required infinite growth on the same land area …

If your entire city was of single family houses, then knock them down for duplexes.

If your entire city was duplexes, then knock them down for 4 floor apartments.

If your entire city was 4 floor apartments, then knock them down for 12 stores.

And if your entire city was 12 story apartments, knock them down for 50 stores.

Instead of all that building and knocking down – why not jump to the 50 story buildings?

Why can there be no reasonable or nuanced building? Because if you concede infinite sustainable growth – every single location’s destiny is a building as high as technology allows.

And once you conceded that – there is no sensible limit to the building in any one location.

In his comment Mayor Rob Burton, BA, MS, signed off as Head of Council & CEO.

I thought the city manager was the CEO – with authority delegated to him by Council. Am I wrong?

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Burlington Chamber of Commerce seems to have forgotten the reason for having democratically elected legislators

By Pepper Parr

May 15th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In an earlier news report we asked: Why did the Burlington Chamber of Commerce decide the Burlington candidate for the New Blue Party would not be permitted to take part in the Chamber’s Question and Answer session on May 19th?

We now know why.

They were told that they did not poll at least 5% of the vote in the last election.  True – they didn’t exist in the last election.

They do not have a member sitting in the Legislature – not completely true.  The New Party is represented in the Legislature by Belinda Karahalios  who was at one point a member of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Belinda Karahalios was elected as the MPP for Cambridge.  In July of 2020 she was expelled from the PC caucus after she voted against Bill 195.

The bill was in its third reading, and would allow the government of Premier Doug Ford to extend or amend some emergency orders a month at a time for up to two years without consulting the legislature.

When she was booted out of the PC party,  Karahalios crossed the floor of the Legislature and declared herself a member representing the New Blue Party.   Crossing the floor is nothing knew – it happens federally and provincially.

The spirit of a democratic  society is to accept a party that is representative of the community; the New Blue party has 124 people nominated and running election campaigns across the province.  To put it more bluntly – the New Blue have a candidate running in every riding in the province as do the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives.  The Liberal Party has 122 candidates.

Allison McKenzie: New Blue candidate for Burlington,

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce needs to take another hard look at the decision they have made and welcome Allison McKenzie, candidate as the candidate for the New Blue Party in Burlington.

Personally, I am not a fan of the party and most of the positions they have taken.

I am a fan and a strong believer in fairness and openness.  The New Blue belong at the table.

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

 

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Rivers makes an early election call - leaves some, but not much, room for an upset. Four more years for Doug

By Ray Rivers

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

When the results are all tabulated sometime after June 2nd, Doug Ford will be back in power as Premier according to today’s poll numbers.

The 2022 election has just begun but already the consensus is that it’s Ford’s to lose. Mr. Ford has travelled a long and rocky road since he first became premier. Still while things look good now for his reelection, as others have found, in politics anything can happen.

Poll positions the day the election started.

Ford’s popularity dropped like a stone almost right after his 2018 election victory. His personal vendetta against Toronto city council, arbitrarily slashing their representation was petty and abusive. His cancellation of renewable energy and other environmental initiatives were irrational and costly. His war against teachers was mean and retrogressive. And his failed campaign against the revenue-neutral carbon tax was a complete waste of energy and tax payers’ money.

Ford took the limelight in briefing Ontario about what needed to be done during the pandemic,

The arrival of COVID saved Ford’s premiership. He took the limelight in briefing Ontario about what needed to be done during the pandemic, though he misplayed his hand on at least a couple occasions.  Other premiers, like Alberta’s Jason Kenny, made Ford look good. And the pandemic forced Ford to work cooperatively with the federal government which ended up serving both of their interests. After all, the feds did the heavy lifting – provided the vaccines and massive subsidies to just about everyone. That federal support was largely responsible for keeping the province from falling into a huge deficit which would have made today’s economic recovery difficult.

Ontario’s jobless rate has fallen to 5.3%, even below what it was pre-pandemic. Strong economic growth is a good thing for a governing party at election time. And further driving that growth is the massive near $20 billion provincial deficit forecast for this year. It seems that Ford’s earlier preoccupation with deficit has been put on hold, or forgotten, these days. Still, with a bit of luck and good management he’ll be able to claim that the province in on track to balance its budget in a only a couple years from now.

Incumbency, particularly during the pandemic has been working for governments facing re-election. And the pandemic is not yet over. Besides voters tend to reward first term governments with a second term, unless they have been really bad to them. And you can’t be all bad when you’re handing out gifts, even if that means bribing people by giving them back their own money – cutting gas taxes and eliminating license plate fees. What’s not to like about getting back two year’s worth of licence fees?

Andrea Horwath: the fourth and probably the last time,

As for Ford’s opponents. Andrea Horwath is leading her party for the fourth and probably the last time, and it’s not apparent that she’s learned much from her previous losing campaigns. Her most recent attack ads, especially at her Liberal opponent, appear desperate. Clearly she’s just trying to hang on to those Liberal voters who supported her last time. But attack ads are more likely to turn them away.

And attack ads don’t replace a solid policy platform. In fact her policy cupboard is pretty scant and so yesterday,  implementing two of her main planks, universal dental and pharmacare, will be redundant and probably a waste of money since the federal government is planning its own nation-wide programs before long. And her performance as opposition leader was barely noticed. She may be the most trusted political leader in Canada but she has been one of the least vocal opposition leaders over the last four years.

Stephen Del Duca; a relative unknown with a swimming pool problem

Stephen Del Duca is a relative unknown for most people. Having held a couple of ministerial posts under the Wynne government he lost his own seat in the last election and now leads a party which doesn’t even hold party status in the legislature – leading it from outside of the legislature. And he did himself no favour when he got into hot water with local authorities over building his backyard swimming pool. But unlike Horwath he has been taking political risks with his ongoing stream of policy pronouncements – though some, like re-introducing Grade 13, do not appear to have been well vetted.

Del Duca is a fighter In the game of politics, and he is willing to take risks which might get the public’s attention, for better or worse. Still, for an aspiring politician any news is good news. He provides a sharp contrast to the more cautious Horwath, something his rising poll numbers are beginning to reflect. Whatever he’s doing seems to be working.

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner has been an effective and rational voice at Queen’s Park but nobody will put money on the Green Party winning anything but Mr. Schreiner’s own seat after the dust settles for June 2nd. The Green’s mainstay is protecting the environment, including climate change mitigation, but the other two opposition parties also claim that as one of their priorities. And that provides an alternative to Doug Ford’s conservatives, who have shown little regard for things environmental, climate change in particular.

The opposition parties all support carbon taxation of some sort, and Horwath has even mused about bringing back the emissions cap and trade program which Ford killed almost immediately after winning last time. They support subsidies for electric vehicles to make them more price competitive, so new car buyers will make the shift away from gas guzzlers. And for some reason education and health care have also become right/left issues, with the opposition parties wanting to see smaller class sizes in schools and the end of private, for-profit, long term care.

The highway Doug Ford will build if he wins – because the Progressive Conservatives don’t think climate change is not a winning issue.

Everybody is promising more affordable housing. But only Ford’s plan has some detail and that involves ramping up urban sprawl into the rural landscape in the GTA. Ford clearly sees the Greenbelt as a land reserve just waiting for new development, rather than a natural endowment for future generations. Consequently it should be no surprise that his proposed new highways projects would run through a good part of the Greenbelt.

As the campaign kicks off, the PCs with 35-40% of Ontario voters backing them, are almost 10 percentage points ahead of the second place Liberals. And when translated to seats that should produce a solid majority for Mr. Ford.

That means that the three main opposition parties will be competing for almost 60% of decided voters. Should the Tories stumble enough to lose that majority seat count, either the Liberals or NDP might be asked to form a minority government. But none of the opposition parties are interested in supporting a Ford minority.

Although there is always someone saying it’s time to unite the left, personalities and tribal party loyalty never allows that to happen. Horwath hopes that her attack ads against Del Duca might give her the edge. But this could backfire since attack ads often say more about the attacker than the victim. Besides all the NDP supporters I know would prefer to win by promoting what they stand for, and not just attacking the the other candidate. More more like Gandhi and less like Putin.

And if Del Duca were to respond to those ads in kind, the anti-Ford crowd might well decide that neither party deserves their support, and just stay home on voting day. And that would ensure another four years for Mr. Ford and his Progressive Conservatives.

Ray Rivers will be with us every Monday until May 30th.

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Covering an active election and a simmering one at the same time.

By Pepper Parr

May 7th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Covering a provincial level election that is critical in terms of the leadership the province will have June 2nd while at the same time covering the municipal election that will take place in October is simmering in the background will certainly draw heavily on our limited resources

Our participation and coverage is going to be at the local level.

Jason Octavio will be doing interviews with people in Burlington to get a sense as to what people are thinking and what they want for the province.

Ray Rivers – coming out of retirement

Ray Rivers returns with his column that will appear on Monday’s for the next four weeks and will compliment what Jason reports on.

Our readers will do what they always do – comment at length and with enthusiasm.

All that starts on Monday.

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The public person and the real person - which version of Rory Nisan do you like?

By Pepper Parr

May 4th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

The one thing a politician cannot and should not even try to do is position themselves as an open, honest person and then do things that do not measure up to the image they set out.

Rory Nisan described himself as a diplomat during his campaign. He was not a diplomat. He was around diplomatic events and worked with very senior members of the government setting up meetings that involved senior people from other counties.

He had a good blue suit, took order and was polite.

The blue suit might still exist but the rest of the traits aren’t being seen these days.

Nisan decided that the health of his new child was at some risk if he attended council meetings.

He has chosen to work from home.

I personally disagree with the position he took – the Council Chamber is probably the safest place in town to be – but – if Rory Nisan thinks his child might be at risk he has the right to work from home – and to be fair, as a responsible parent he is doing the right thing.

What wasn’t so right however was an event that took place on May 2nd.

Nisan used some of the time to meet with his campaign team in an outdoor setting

Rory Nisan with his campaign team on May 2nd, 2022  The optics don’t fit the image.

Most of his team is unmasked, as is Nisan.

That picture just does not jibe with the way Nisan has worked to portray himself.

Going to be interesting to hear what he has to say on some of the positions he has taken on matter of city business.

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

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Who should lead the province? A minority Progressive Conservative government looks like the best choice

By Pepper Parr

April 30th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

The players in the provincial election that will begin on Wednesday are moving into the campaign offices during the weekend.

Burlington is caught up in the mini scandal over a Council member giving away information discussed in a Closed Session of Council and being sanctioned for her behaviour.

The attention being given the Integrity Commission report is going to have to be directed to the election of the next provincial government – where there are very real and very critical decisions to be made.

The manner in which the province has handled the pandemic and the approach they are taking to climate change are troubling.  In the past, Conservative parties have hidden their candidates and relied on their membership base to keep them in office.

Natalie Pierre – appointed not nominated but the Progressive Conservative candidate nevertheless.

This time around Natalie Pierre will be seen and heard today as the Progressive Conservatives open their campaign office.  How much the public sees and hears from her after that is questionable.

The same gang that managed the campaign of Emily Brown, is running the Natalie Pierre campaign.

In Brown they had a candidate who could have given Karina Gould a much more serious run – but the campaign directors wouldn’t let the public see or hear her – other than at political party events and the Chamber of Commerce debate.

Mariam Manaa – the Liberal candidate who won the nomination race to be the candidate.

However, there is a change taking place in Burlington that may well put Mariam Manaa, the Liberal candidate into a seat in the Legislature.

What is not yet clear is just how many Muslims there are in Burlington.

Manaa defeated Andrea Grebenc for the nomination to the surprise of many.  The number of votes the winner of a nomination receives is never made public so we don’t know just how many more votes Manaa got.

Statistics Canada has released new population numbers.  I expect that they will show a significant increase in the number of Muslims – those will all be Manaa votes.

Burlington has for a long time been a Conservative and a conservative city.  That day may be gone.  Karina Gould showed that Liberals can win and get re-elected as well.

Putting a Liberal in at Queen’s Park is the first step to getting Ontario the government it needs.

Don’t take that to mean that the province needs a Liberal government.  My view is that Stephen Del Duca would have difficulty putting together a government – is he going to win his own seat? and Andrea Horwath would not know how to lead a government.

Andrew Drummond – NDP candidate running for the third time.

Andrew Drummond, the NDP candidate in Burlington would be a fine MPP.

The choice for Ontario in my view is a minority Progressive Conservative government.  Doug Ford is his own worst enemy.  With a hobble on his ankle his government will get the province through two to three years during which the New Democrats can find the leader they need and the public can get a look at what kind of talent the Liberals were able to get elected.

It is going to be a short campaign, probably pretty rough as well.  Power is not easily taken away from those who hold it and there are a lot of wealthy vested interests that will do whatever they think is necessary to keep what they have.

We are in a time when huge changes are taking place.  Covid has whacked our economy; the hospitality sector came close to being wiped out.  The way organizations and corporations manage their employees is going through a change and the most recent climate change prediction talked in terms of years not decades.

How different Ontario looks on the morning of June 3rd is something that will get decided by the people in the province who think about what we are up against and then get out and vote.

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

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Roland Tanner lets it rip: council is more toxic, more dysfunctional and more vile than the council that went before it.

By Pepper Parr

April 29th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ten years ago, as a result of the Shape Burlington Report – the Gazette was born.

Since that time a number of “alternative” media have been created.

The Gazette was the first on-line newspaper to be accepted as a member of the Ontario Press Council which is now the National Newsmedia Council.

Roland Tanner as a candidate

Roland Tanner, a failed 2018 election candidate and his friend Joel McLeod created the 905er, a podcast that sees the 905 as its market – which is major undertaking.

Earlier this week Tanner got himself all wound up over the Statement Mayor Marianne Meed Ward issued – the result was a rant of staggering proportions.

We have excerpted parts of the 30 minute rant – click HERE if you want the full Monty.

“ It’s obviously down to councils to agree or disagree with the recommendations for the Integrity Commissioner” said Tanner who went on to say:

The issue I really took exception to was statement that that it took courage for the two councillors Rory Nisan and Kelven Galbraith to request an investigation. And I cannot see that; you know, if there is an example of punching down by the strong side of council on the weaker side, this is it.

Shawna Stolte was on her own; she has the sympathy of at least one other counsellor but she was basically alone in this campaign for increased openness and against what she claims is the overuse of closed session meetings.

And here we have the gang; the rest of council to a large extent, using every tool that they can to shut her up and ultimately to force her out of what would certainly be quite an easy re-election campaign.

What I find to primly ironic is that Meed Ward, who for the best part of a decade, was a one person outsider on Council, who put up with some really atrocious behaviour from other counsellors.

There is an issue here with openness and transparency, which was a core tenant of what this council was supposed to be about.

We’re going to in camera, we don’t know necessarily why, we have a vague idea. We don’t know what was discussed what was decided.

The Mayor doesn’t address that at all in her statement. She doesn’t go to say yeah, you know what, she’s right (meaning Stolte). We should be more open about these things. But we aren’t we’re going to address that but we are going to stick to the rules: and she has to be penalized for it.

Shawna Stolte – Councillor for ward 4.

No, it was How dare she? How dare she? The meeting was supposed to be a secret.

I found it a bit sanctimonious her praising Counsellors Rory Nissan and Kevin Galbraith. I’m going to quote directly from the statement

“It took courage for Counsellors Rory Nissan and Kevin Galbraith to request an investigation. They knew the report and their identities would be public. They’ve received unwarranted criticism for doing exactly what the code requires of all members of council to hold each other accountable to our obligations under the code and the legislative provisions of the Ontario Municipal act that all members of council swear an oath of office to uphold.”

So my question is Why was her name not on the complaint that was made? Where was her leadership on this?

You know, this idea that there’s been a breach of public trust and that the city has been harmed by this.

No, it hasn’t remotely been harmed by anything that was revealed by Shawna Stolte – what was revealed was so piddling and inconsequential – basically Stolte gave the address of a house to a constituent – everybody knew, and a number that is not actually a number. It was a number of a much bigger thing. And the whole point of that number is that there is a number that has to be secret, and that is quite rightly protected,

Marianne Meed Ward as Mayor

The Mayor comes into to say there’s a breach of public trust, because counsel can no longer be confident that what they bring forward in a confidential session will remain so that compromises their ability to have robust discussions, or to make the best decisions for the community a community loses.

At this point Joel McLeod cuts in and said: Now I have an issue with this because we don’t know that they were talking about. It’s this arrogance that council knows what’s best. So therefore the council can just do what it wants.

Tanner returns saying “People are rightfully upset with how Stolte was treated. She is a she is very much a beloved counsellor, a counsellor that people respect and people say she’s in it for the right reasons. She’s in it to make the community better for her neighbours. She just wants to make them better. And a lot of people are viewing her as one of the good guys.

Counsel is being viewed as bullies in the story. And I would argue that the rest of council has breached public trust because people understand what they say.

Why is the purchase of Bateman so secretive? Why is it that everything has to be done behind closed doors? The simple question of why do we need to buy this building has not been satisfied to the public satisfaction

 

An impressive piece of land, lots of ideas on how it can be used – not much in the way of information on what it is going to cost. Removing the asbestos from the buildings is going to expensive

 

The is the conceptual plan show who will be using what part of the Bateman high school site. Council, the City manager and the city solicitor have taken the position that all of this has to be discussed in a Closed session of Council.

Nobody knows what are we going to do with it? Why do we need this in our inventory as a city and why are we going to go into city reserves to get it? And that’s something that probably, may not the best way to do it. But someone has a valid point say that people deserve to know this. And if people say, Well, I don’t care if it’s a Brock University, Brock gets a teacher’s college. Library gets another branch.

You know, it suits the ward five Councillor because it’s in his ward, suits the city because they get to say, hey, we’ve got a university in our city.

And if you want to build a legacy project, the best way to do that is to try not to talk about the money that’s involved because legacy projects are always expensive.

They have to answer to the public for the decisions they’re making. Decisions that are made in private are not in the best interest of the public.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward during the session of council at which the Integrity Commission report was received.

In her closing statement the Mayor said I stand by all the decisions we have made in closed session and look forward to in the details of the two matters that led to the breach of confidentiality can be made public, that time will come in a matter of months for both I welcome the opportunity to provide my take and explain my vote to the community.

Here’s my issue with this in camera.

They say yeah, we’re gonna buy Robert Bateman for this price. Except here’s the thing everyone’s gonna say, really? Is this a good deal? Is this going to last longer than the pride sidewalks outside of the Halton Catholic school board because, you know we dipped into reserve funds for that and that didn’t even last a year.

This patronizing tone of just wait, see, we’ll talk we’ll tell you later. What will tell you eventually? No, we’re adults, we’re supposed to be informed citizens here. You don’t make the decisions for you. We get to tell you how we want you to vote.

This is where you get to with a culture of secrecy at City Halls. And it’s not just counsellors and mentors who are part of that; staff are part of it too. Because very often, the interests of counsellors keeping things quiet and the interest of staff keeping things quiet, come together.
We are reliant on counsellors like Shawna Stolte who are willing to lose a career over it because they want to serve the public to stand up for us for years and years and years.

Roland Tanner delegating at city council

So God dammit in Burlington, you shape up; you have made a fool of yourself. You have damaged public trust, but not because of the actions Shawna Stolte took but because of the disgraceful way you’ve treated a decent counsellor who is nobody’s rebel, who is nobody’s troublemaker, but who will certainly put the interests of what she feels the public interest ahead of her career and ahead of the careers of people who are just trying to build legacies so that they can point election time to look what a nice thing we bought, you will give me your vote.

If we’re talking about a new type of council after 2018, with a new tone, my God, that’s gone.

This council is more toxic, more dysfunctional and more vile than the council that went before it. And boy, is that saying something?

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Unaffordable housing is bad for everyone: many don’t want to discuss real solutions

By Connor Fraser,

April 28th ,2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

 

Everyone is keenly aware of how unaffordable housing has become in our community and across other regions of the province. Many young people are now facing the reality of never being able to own in the region where they grew up. They are making tough decisions to live farther and farther away from work, and endure gruelling commutes that will impact their mental health and the environment. Darrell Bricker of Ipsos Public Affairs observed in a recent interview for the Ontario 360 Initiative that the outlook of Ontarians (and in particular young Ontarians) for their futures, has darkened, driven in large part by declining housing affordability.

While on the surface it may seem like just another issue, unaffordability has been created by diverse and complicated factors. Its costs are moreover sinister and threaten the future quality of life for all Ontarians.

There are very few locations where new single detached homes are being built – it is all high rise for Burlington going forward.

Since the 1960’s municipal zoning bylaws have set us on a collision course with this problem. Vast tracts of land are “locked up” with low-density, single-detached designations. Any attempt to introduce higher density (even modest 3 or 4 storey multi-units) are met with arguments of “neighbourhood character preservation” and ferocious opposition from existing homeowners. While “NIMBYs” perpetuate the problem and are convenient scapegoats, they are not responsible for decades-old zoning bylaws.

I am genuinely concerned that we have not learned any lessons in Ontario. Low-density urban sprawl continues at breakneck speeds. New development must be encouraged, but with an eye for much higher density and transit-oriented communities.

This connects with the second and perhaps most sinister and intractable cause of unaffordable housing: Significant numbers of Ontarian’s want low-density housing. The Anglo-American mindset romanticizes fierce independence and individualism. Unless you’ve got a driveway and your own tiny patch of grass, you’re not successful. Ironically, many of my friends who complain about skyrocketing prices are adamant in their desire to own a single-detached house. It’s understandable that many keenly aspire to a goal that was attainable for older generations – but I think it’s more important to realize that those goals may have been unsustainable. Regretfully, convincing so many that fulfilling lives may still exist within higher density settings (take Quebec as a good example) is a politically suicidal task.

The costs of unaffordable housing are immense. The future economic growth (and in turn quality of life and government services) of Ontario and Burlington relies upon attracting top employees and firms. Many investments have been made to transform Toronto and the GTA into a technology hub and take advantage of the intangible economy. Expensive housing and long commutes threaten that transformation. They are major obstacles to those considering whether to make Ontario their home. If you’re someone opposed to urban intensification in Burlington or elsewhere, consider that in 30 – 40 years you’ll likely need and want timely and effective healthcare services. Who’s going to pay for it if those who would’ve lived here and created value with their talent, have been driven from the province by unaffordability, thereby crippling the tax base?

Pierre Poilievre: targeting his message to people who are angry.

Rising home prices also open the door for populist leaders on the fringes of the political spectrum to gain power by capitalizing on anger. Under normal circumstances, such individuals would never be considered for public office. The federal Conservative leadership race has already seen examples of candidates trying to exploit anger over house prices and inflation for political gain.

I don’t see this problem being resolved in the near future. The composition of infrastructure changes very slowly, many aspire to live in low-density settings, and there are limited options for English-speaking young people in Canada: This is a slight simplification, but all the best jobs are in Toronto or Vancouver.

At the very least, the province must intervene by overriding municipal zoning bylaws to promote “missing middle” 3-4 storey multi-unit housing. Furthermore, the province could become more aggressive with mandating that all new development be higher density and transit oriented.

Could Perth, ON close to Ottawa with a lovely idyllic setting be made a larger community? The locals wouldn’t buy it

Other options that should be explored include actively building out secondary urban centres within Canada, and making these locations attractive to live. Even within Ontario, there are many regions that might be targeted for significant growth, such as Windsor and Thunder Bay. With a limited number of serious economic hubs compared to the United States, we risk over-concentrating demand for housing to an extent that local actors cannot solve.

The ultimate solution to this problem is compromise. On one hand, those in existing neighbourhoods should reflect that low-density housing was always an unsustainable, exclusive and very costly goal. Moreover, young people and those hoping to start families should reflect that remaining attached to an unsustainable ideal is going to make their lives unnecessarily difficult and unhappy. For the simple reason that many are unwilling to compromise, unaffordable housing is here to stay.

Connor Fraser is a post graduate student at the University of Toronto enrolled in the dual Master of Global Affairs and Master of Business Administration program.

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It's a matter of trust and competency - not much of it around this past couple of weeks

By Pepper Parr

April 26th 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Reports that are going to Council meeting as a Standing Committee are always published about 10 days before the meeting.

The report on the comments from a Closed Meeting Investigation were put on the city web site sometime after 7:00 pm on Friday.  Bad optics but optics are no longer a concern for this council or this administration.

The respected law firm, Aird and Berlis were brought in because someone filed a request with the city Clerk asking for an investigation – basically to determine if the city was following the rules about going into a Closes session.

The four dates that were investigated related to those occasions when the Integrity Commissioner was asked by Councillors Nisan and Galbraith to determine of Councillor has breached the Code of Conduct.

Few would argue that she did not – she certainly did and has accepted the consequences of her decision.

What the public wants to know is – did the city tell its citizens enough about why they went into CLosed and what they talked about during the meetings.

The Integrity commented that the could improve on what it tells the public.

The public will get an answer to that question; it may not be as fulsome as they expected and would like to see.

In their report Air & Berlus conclude that on each of the four occasions complaints were based on the city met the rules as set out in the Municipal Act – and they site chapter and verse to back up their conclusions.

It goes before Council on May 4th as a Receive and File Report .  All Aird and Berlis were asked to do is advise on whether or not they had the right to go into Closed.

Getting that answer, which we already know has cost the taxpayers $15,000.

Marianne Meed Ward in September of 2018 asking the public to trust her

During the discussion on the Integrity Commissions report Councillor Galbraith made this statement.  He said Staff can submit a report and ask that it be discussed in a Closed session of Council.  He added that it is Council that determines whether or not they actually go into Closed.  They have to vote on that – each time.

Burlington’s city council is beginning to look foolish, incompetent and lacking a clear sense of direction.

Mayor Meed Ward said in a lengthy Statement she released on her tweet account that trust in this council has to be maintained.  She could not have been more right.

In the 2014 election Marianne Meed Ward asked citizens not for their vote – but for their trust.  And they gave it to her and were impressed enough to make her Mayor.

She has lost that trust – the skills. the integrity and the spunk to win it back do not appear to exist.

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

 

 

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There are a lot of questions to be asked: are there going to be any answers from either Council or the Administration?

By Pepper Parr

April 14th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

A matter of major significance is now going to be discussed in public at city council on Tuesday the 19th.

Getting it on the table has not been easy – there were far too many people at both the Council level and the administration level who wanted the Integrity Commissioner’s report discussed in a Closed Session of Council.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

Councillor Stolte, the subject of the Integrity report, has to be recognized for taking the high road and setting out her position and the why of what she did. There are numerous concerns.

How will Council handle the report? The Integrity Commissioner will present the document and be on hand to answer questions.

Will the Councillors ask any questions?

And there are a lot of questions to be asked.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan above and ward 1 Councillor Kelven Galbraith

Of the two council members who filed the report: who approached who? Did Nisan call Galbraith or was it vice versa? Realize that Councillor Nisan doesn’t want to leave his home – Covid19 fears.

Councillors are seldom at their office in city hall this past year – so there is no opportunity for the kind of casual conversation and the open exchange of views and collaboration that Stolte sees as vital.

There is concern over an email that Stolte sent to a constituent – how did Nisan and Galbraith get their hands on that email?

Who influenced who at City Hall? What role did the City Manager play?

What role did the City Clerk play? What was the level of collusion between the Mayor and the City manager ?

Will there be public delegations?

Who is going to ask the hard questions?

There is an investigation underway by the Investigator of Closed meetings about the practices used in Burlington.

Does that report not have a bearing on what has taken place?

The meeting on the 19th is scheduled as a virtual meeting – which is unfortunate.

The calendar doesn’t’ work and permit genuine public participation. City Hall is closed Friday and Monday. The public saw the report for the first time at 6:00 am this morning.

It will take time to digest and understand what the issue is – and there is an issue.

People don’t gather as much as they used to – the current Covid19 wave is impacting a lot of people. Councillor Sharman is reported to have become infected.

The concern that many have is that the Integrity report will be read into the record and no one will ask any questions – hoping that is Council and the administration go mute and that this will then all just go away.

Democracy doesn’t work that way.

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

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