Rivers: After the Debates…Confusion

“We make a lot of television in Canada. Some of it is brilliant and some of it is mediocre. The worst of it is truly, truly awful. This botched election debate is down at the bottom of the list; an indictment of everyone involved from the host to every politician who attempted to speak during the shambles.” (John Doyle – Globe and Mail)

By Ray Rivers

September 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Debates in French were better. In fact they couldn’t have been worse than that horror show last Thursday. What went wrong? We could start by the debaters. There were too many.

Green Party leader Annamie Paul

Did we really need to see the Green Party leader at the debates when she has zero chance of ever leading a government, let alone winning more than Elizabeth May’s seat again. The party is polling at about 3% and imploding into a legal fight over the choice of its leader. Her voice is important, like everyone else. But in a league of potential PMs she is out of her league.

The Bloc leader’s stated goal is to tear Canada apart. And his party’s popular support is currently sitting at around the 6% mark, given that he is a Quebec only politician. While Annamie Paul may have a delusional ambition of becoming Canada’s next PM, Yves-François Blanchet takes pride in saying he never wants to be PM. So why was he invited?

Maxime Bernier on his way to being sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Harper government – he is now the leader of the People’s Party of Canada.

Meanwhile People’s Party (PPC) was not invited, even though his party is now polling in fourth place, ahead of the Bloc Quebecois and almost double that of the Greens. Of course there are no PPC MP’s in the House and Bernier would probably need to get vaccinated to appear with the others, something anathema to his party’s platform. Still, he should not be dismissed if the Greens are invited. After all, the Reform party before him came from relative obscurity to opposition in a single election.

Moderating a leaders’ debate takes skill and patience and none of that was present in the English debate unlike the other two held in the French language. It was pathetically unprofessional, on the one hand encouraging the debaters to go at it, then cutting them off before they could finish their sentences – allowing anyone interrupting them to take over the floor. And as most have observed the moderator tended to favour the other parties over the Liberals, the Bloc being the sole exception.

Jagmeet Singh leader of the New Democrats

The most cringeworthy moments were when Jagmeet Singh opened his mouth. Singh’s election platform is best described as nothing more than broad generalized notions and aspirations dotted with sob stories of all the poor people he met on the street. As in that old song – anything the Libs are doing he can do better – he can do anything better than them.

He is promising to pay for his promises by taxing Jeff Bezos and other billionaires, regardless that Bezos is not even Canadian. He is also looking to eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel sector estimated at $18B, something Trudeau had promised to do back in 2015. Though that would be the proverbial drop in the bucket given the hundreds of billions he includes In his spending plan.

Singh, comes from a well-to-do family which sent him off for private schooling in the USA and then paid for his law schooling. Yet he is constantly comparing his life to that of poorer Canadians and indigenous folks. Justin Trudeau may have been a drama teacher but he could learn a lot about acting from Singh.

You can either attract first time voters or steal those from other parties to build up an electoral base. Mr. Singh has targeted Trudeau Liberals and is appealing to them with often inaccurate and half truth drive-by attacks on the Liberal leader. He recently accused the Liberals of talking about a national child care program for 30 years but failing to deliver, for example. Yet he conveniently forgot that Paul Martin’s pan-national program was killed by Jack Layton’s motion of non-confidence only 15 years ago.

Erin O’Toole leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons

Erin O’Toole has a tough road ahead of him given the party he leads, though he is still polling well. His dramatic shift to a more central position on key issues will encourage voters, fed up with Mr. Trudeau, to vote for him. But he is also losing the hard right faction of his party to Mr. Bernier, who is gradually improving in the polls. Quebec premier’s endorsement of O’Toole may only strengthen that erosion, though Quebec is still a wild card.

And O’Toole like the other leaders and the media keeps asking why we are having this election. And Mr. Trudeau has not really given a satisfactory response to that question. But most folks suspect it was political opportunism to call an election while his popular support was high with the Tories still in the formative stage of redefining themselves.

One benefit of this election, however, is that Canadians are having a healthy debate about a number of issues, primarily climate change. If the Tories don’t win the most seats and claim the right to govern, which they might still do, they will have been given direction on what they need to do fashion policies for the next election.

The Liberals, whether they form the next government or not should have learned a couple of lessons. First they should not call an election, even if in minority, unless they are forced to by the opposition. Second they need to redouble their efforts at phasing out Canada’s fossil fuel sector, starting with ending their subsidization.

Third, when the Liberals do next call an election they need to be better organized and have a good reason for that call. And they actually have a pretty good record of accomplishments, which most of us seem to have overlooked:

1. The problem-free legalization of cannabis and decriminalization of all the people once involved;
2. Over-achievement of the 20% goal of poverty reduction;
3. The first significant federal action on reducing our carbon footprint, including a carbon tax, a cessation of new pipelines and the prohibited sale of new gas vehicles 2035; and
4. Commencing the long road towards indigenous reconciliation.

Justin Trudeau in the political race of his life – if he wins just a minority it might be the end of a political career.

But as Mr. Trudeau ponders his future in the last days before an election which still might see him out of power, he needs to reflect why he gave up on his promise of electoral reform. Over half of all Canadians support parties which promote progressive social and economic policies.

Yet our first-past-the-post system might well allow the Tories to sneak up the middle and win seats with only 30% of voter support while the lefties argue among themselves about who can target even higher emission reductions.

Implementing electoral reform would have been and still might be Trudeau’s greatest accomplishment.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly 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:

The Debate –

Liberal Platform –    Singh’s Lifestyle –

Who Won the Debate –

Climate Crisis –

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Photo op that becomes a political statement

Pepper Parr

September 14th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Journalists call them – photo ops.

Those occasions when a developer or a politician want to ensure that their picture is in the paper.

They are part of the media world.

There are times when a photo op is more than a picture of an event or an occasion.

The occasion yesterday was the raising of the Terry Fox Flag at city hall to mark the beginning of the 2021 fund raising campaign.

Traditionally the Mayor is on hand along with members of the Terry Fox campaign and, on occasion, a member of council.

There was a political statement being made during the raising of the Terry Fox flag at city hall earlier this week.

While Paul Sharman advocates for the Terry Fox initiative –is there anyone in Burlington who doesn’t – it is unusual for him to take part in events like this.

But there he was, standing behind the mayor.

And if that isn’t a photo op with meaning then nothing is: Sharman is in the race should the job of Mayor be in play.

The tribe that Marianne Meed Ward created when she first ran in ward 2 as a council member certainly did grow.  That growth seems to have stalled.  There are members of council that no longer support every initiative she comes up with.  She is no longer assured the a majority vote at Council.

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Reader takes exception to language used on part of the city web site

By Perry Bowker

September 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Mr Bowker sent us a note, saying: “I finally lost my temper. You are welcome to publish my thoughts.
Perry had received a note from the Get Involved section of the city web site, probably because he asked to have his name placed on a list of people who wanted regular updates.

I was dismayed to see the authors of this e-letter carelessly parroting the social media falsehoods about Ryerson. I know it is fashionable to jump on the bandwagon to lynch this man in absentia, but I expect more from representatives of my city.

The name of the school will be changed.

To wit, “mass graves” – this phrase deliberately invokes the image of bodies piled into a hole in the ground. Even the indigenous people are careful to describe what has been found as multiple unmarked graves, and caution against assuming they are all indigenous children who were killed at the schools.

Next: “Ryerson was also instrumental in the design of Canada’s residential school system.” Hardly. Ryerson was instrumental in designing the Ontario public education system, for the benefit of all Ontarians including the indigenous band of which he was an honorary member.

He was long dead before later governments of the day created residential schools as we now know them.

This careless and casual misuse of known historical facts does no credit to our collective efforts to reconcile with our indigenous fellow Canadians.

My vote. Rename, or more properly, re-launch Ryerson Park with proper respect for what the man stood for and where we are today.

Related news story:

HDSB trustee rationale for changing the name of a school

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What if the pandemic never ends?

By Pepper Parr

September 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What if the pandemic never ends?

What if we are going to experience one version of the Covid19 virus after another?

Where are the variants coming from – indeed, where did the virus first exist. There are far far too many counties that do not have aggressive vaccination programs.

We are currently dealing with the Delta version.  Given that less than 40% of the world’s population is getting vaccinated it is not that outrageous to suggest that there will be other, perhaps more dangerous variants.

Will we experience decades of limitations on what we can do?  As a society can we cope with that kind of a situation?

Segments of the population have very strong feelings about the current federal leadership.

The anti-vaxers are close to rioting on a daily basis.  Our human rights are being limited and we are tolerating that for the “better good” – but how long are we prepared to put up with that.

Are we going to find ourselves being inoculated a couple of times each year against the latest variant?

Ontario certainly doesn’t have the leadership it needs to get us through this – and the alternatives don’t inspire all that much confidence.

Societies go through immense change with situations like this.

The Western world became a much different place at the end of WW II – we saw decades of growth and prosperity the like of which human society has not seen since the Enlightments.

The scientists have delivered – and they might be able to continue to deliver at the same level.

But the world is made up of people, driven by their emotions and best interests for the most part.

Are we descending into a different Dark Age.

Do we have the capacity to overcome what we are faced with?

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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At a Statutory meeting last night the public got to see how changes get made - dozens had wanted to delegate and didn't know how

By Pepper Parr

September 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is a certain amount of satisfaction watching a political leader evolve.

They don’t all manage to grow into real leaders able to listen and to hear.

Marianne Meed Ward was just a citizen when this picture was taken – now she is on the other side of the podium. committee.

A number of years ago when Marianne Meed Ward was the council member for ward 2 she came to the realization that people were not aware of what was going on in their communities. A development was being proposed, notices were sent out but to a limited number of people. Meed Ward decided to do something about that and the practice now is to send notices to people within a 120 metre radius of a development.

During a meeting last night when there was a Statutory meeting about the Oval Court development a number of people complained that they had not received the notice of the meeting.

A staff member was asked if notices could be sent to a wider radius – he commented on possible limitations within the Planning Act.
Watching the web cast you could see the Mayor thinking it through – thinking perhaps about how she could arrange to have Statutory meeting notices sent to a larger area.

Watch for something like that in the months ahead.

Later in the same meeting as council members were preparing to wrap it up for the day – it was approaching 10:00 pm, the Mayor took a moment to comment on what things used to be like when development applications were filed..

There would be a Notice of a development application.

There was no such things as a pre-application meeting.

The application would be submitted and then things went quiet – not a word.

Then a Statutory meeting was called. The Planning Act required those meetings.

Council required a report from Staff with a recommendation on the development. They could say yes – it looks good or it is not a good development application and does not represent good planning.

What Meed Ward found amazing at the time was that the Staff Report would be submitted at the same time the Statutory meeting took place.

Whatever comments the public wanted to make during the Statutory meeting was irrelevant – the Staff report had already been written.

That said Meed Ward was the way things were done.

Councillors had been away from the business of getting things done for six weeks – it was a slow start plagued by technical issues. Delegations to the Statutoy meeting were coming in at a surprising clip – getting the equipment to work was a challenge.

Last night there was a Statutory meeting on the Oval Court development. There were some technical problems and it turned out that a lot of people wanted to delegate and found that they were not able to do so.

Again there were technical problems.

The Statutory meeting was very unsatisfactory to both the residents, staff and Council members.

But the meeting had taken place.

Mark Simeoni, Director of Community Planning, told Council that a Statutory meeting was mandated – a meeting must be held and it must be advertised and held in public.

He however added that there was nothing in the Act that said the city was limited to just one Statutory meeting.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward: All the ideas, all the things she wanted to do while a member of Council can now be advanced as Mayor.

Expect the lawyers who were watching the web cast to be searching through their copies of the Planning Act to see if that was true.
This is a different council, breaking the practices of the past and finding new more effective ways to get things done.

Mayor Meed Ward is far from perfect – she has a lot of growing to do yet – but it is interesting to watch her as she thinks something through, makes a note and comes back to it later on.

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School board will rename Ryerson school - city will rename the abutting park

By Staff

September 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board wants ideas from the public on the renaming of Ryerson Public School.

The city wants idea from the public on renaming the park that abuts the school.

Could they not create a joint committee and come up with a single name ?

Not on your life – there is too much political upside for all the politicians to share this one.

The school will be renamed – as will the park that abuts the property.

The decision to dump the name of Egerton Ryerson was done very very quickly – basically on one delegation from an Indigenous parent.

The statue of Ryerson was toppled shortly after it was splattered with paint. The head of the statue ended up on an Indigenous reserve at the end of a pole.

There is tonnes of research on just what Ryerson did and didn’t do but those documents aren’t going to get much attention.

This is classic rush to judgement and lets pile on a good thing.

Community members are encouraged to submit a suggestion for the new name of the school by Sept. 24

In a media release the HDSB said: “Ryerson Public School was named after Egerton Ryerson for his contributions to the Ontario education system, however, Ryerson was also instrumental to the design of Canada’s residential school system.

Students, families and community members are encouraged to submit suggestions for a new name for the school between Sept. 7 – 24, 2021.

The HDSB recognizes the significance of naming a new school as an opportunity to:

• reflect the geography, history, local environment, culture or traditions of the community;
• consider equity, diversity and inclusion in the school community;
• name a renowned person of historical significance to the Halton community, or a real person whose contribution to society or humanity is recognized and valued across Canada.

Suggestions can be made:

• By completing the online form
• By fax — 905-335-4447
• By mail — Communications Dept., Halton District School Board,
PO Box 5005 STN LCD 1, Burlington, ON L7R 3Z2

Suggestions will be accepted until Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

Each name that is submitted will be reviewed by a committee which will include parent/guardian representation. A shortlist of names will be prepared and presented to the Board of Trustees who will select the final name at one of the regularly scheduled Board meetings in November 2021.

The selected name for the school will be announced in a news release and posted on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca) and social media.

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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Will the hospitality sector begin standing up for their clients?

By Pepper Parr

September 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

So – there is going to be a vaccine passport. Took the Premier long enough to get a wiggle on. He is right however – why isn’t there a federally issued Covid19 Passport?

Being able to prove that you are vaccinated is critical. Getting everyone fully vaccinated is proving a little difficult but we are at close to 80% and with the need to have that passport to be able to get into a restaurant or an event will push the number to, ideally 95%.

Provision has been made for the exceptions.

For those who don’t want to get vaccinated there are limits to what they can do in a public setting.

The one that really galls me is this. I have to be able to show that I have been fully vaccinated but the person taking my order in a restaurant, but the person serving the food and the person cooking the food does not have to prove they are vaccinated.

I was in a restaurant in Guelph talking with the owner and he said that he could not ask his employees if they were vaccinated.

Really?

That restaurant owner wants me to have a meal in his restaurant but he isn’t prepared to ensure that his staff is Covid free.

I want to go to a restaurant that has the courage to put a sign on the front door saying all their staff are vaccinated.

Those that aren’t – tell them not to bother coming to work until they are vaccinated. What about their human rights? What about my right to stay alive?

There is something wrong with a set up that requires me to be vaccinated in order to be served but does not require the server to be vaccinated.

If the restaurants want our business, which many of us really want to give them, then let those restaurants step up and be bold enough to make it clear they are watching out for us.

Restaurants turned to the city for help and they were given help. A lot of taxpayer money was shoveled out the door to help the hospitality sector and most people were happy to see this done.

Our Council members urged us to support the hospitality sector and to begin shopping locally.

I’d like to see those in the hospitality sector looking out for me while I dine in their establishments.

I’d also like to see the Burlington Downtown Business Association counseling their members to care for the people that they want to attract.

There is a film crew using the third floor of the building my office is in.   I rent office space on the third floor.  Every member of the film crew is masked.

Juliana Robertson

Juliana Robertson, a paramedic by training, asked me to come to the table she had set up so that she could put a little stick up my nostril to ensure that I was not infected even though I told her I have been fully vaccinated.

Sorry she said – you have to do this. I surely had the right to go to my office and do my work.  I decided not to challenge her right to “invade my privacy” She asked me to wait 10 minutes for the results and then told me I was good to go.

Robertson runs Reel Medics in Motion – her market is the film production companies  doing their filming in Hamilton. She is the Medic/Covid Supervisor on the Ghosts of Christmas Past production.  She does the Covid testing and is the first responder for anyone hurt on the film set.

It would be really nice if the hospitality sector was as conscientious.

 

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 on the role Canada has played in getting Afghan citizens out of the country before the Taliban gets their hands on them

By Ray Rivers

August 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

“I want to take this opportunity to speak with our brothers, the Taliban,” said Monsef. “We call on you to ensure the safe and secure passage of any individual in Afghanistan out of the country. We call on you to immediately stop the violence, the genocide, the femicide, the destruction of infrastructure, including heritage buildings.” (Maryam Monsef, August 2021)

 

Maryam Monsef

The media and social media frenzy that followed that address by the federal minister responsible for the Status for Women, Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Maryam Monsef, was horrific.   She clearly had been chosen to speak to the new government in Afghanistan, given her Afghan Canadian nationality, as well as the special role she plays looking out for women and their human rights.

But it didn’t take long for Conservative Leader O’Toole and the conservative media to attack the minister for using the term ‘brothers’ which has a cultural significance they obviously don’t understand.   And of course it is election time.

To be clear, Canada ended its combat role in 2011 and it’s training role in 2014.  There were seven years since then for Afghans and Canadians in that country to leave.  Anyone living there should have understood the inevitability of a Taliban victory once Donald Trump demonstrated his ‘art-of-the-deal’ in February 2020, which sealed that country’s fate.

Canadian immigration officials admit they might have acted sooner or faster to short cut screening rules and allow more people to migrate here.  But what would be the public reaction had an ISIS-K terrorist slipped through the cracks?  Regardless that we rescued 3700 people, many Afghans were disappointed they couldn’t be airlifted.  Still, Canada has offered to eventually take in over 20,000 more refugees, making us one of the largest host nations.

Canadian armed forces were reluctant participants in Afghanistan – their role was to train the Afghan Army.

And we must remember that this was not Canada’s war of choice.  We only went there because the USA invoked NATO’s Article 5 following 9/11, albeit on the thinnest of rationales.    Still that demanded collective reaction by NATO.  And it was America that changed the war from a retaliatory strike against al Qaeda to the doomed nation-building project which mostly ended up as waste of time, money and lives.

And it was the Americans who managed the panicked exodus of extra-nationals and those Afghans who had helped them in the war effort, once the Taliban seized Kabul. Canada was a bit player and, no sooner had commercial flights stopped operating we, along with other minor players, were signaled to end our humanitarian evacuation.  And the situation as we have seen became increasingly dangerous as time went on.

The Taliban has committed before 98 nations that it will respect human rights, including the right for its citizens to be able to leave the country.  Once the US Marines leave the airport, commercial flights may resume, though few people expect the Taliban to stick to the letter of that agreement.

Thousands have already fled the borders to Pakistan or one of the other bordering nations.  That is how most people vacate a war zone, much as Minister Monsef’s family fled to Iran during the Soviet invasion, before ending up in Canada.

The ignorance of the critics damning the Minister for her use of the cultural term ‘brothers’ is indicative of how democracy in this country has deteriorated, particularly since the advent of social media where many people now look for their news.  And as the more traditional media has become politically polarized, alternated facts and outright mis-information, have made truth whatever you want it to be.  Yet, a democracy cannot continue to function in the absence of a well informed public – information is perhaps the most important pillar of our system of governance.

It was a big lie by the former president that the 2020 US election was stolen, which set off an insurrection, siege and the occupation of the US Congressional assembly, the heart of American democracy.   The image of a violent mob ransacking and defacing public buildings in places all around the world is not new – but this had never happened before at the Capitol.

It could have been a scene from Tehran or Kabul.  But it is what is becoming more commonplace in America precipitated from both the political right as well as the left.  Intolerance and disrespect have led to the breakdown of the great American society.  Society has been fractionalized along artificial lines of we and they, right and left, Republicans and Democrats.

With more protesters than supporters on hand for a visit to Bolton, ON – the Prime Minister’s handlers asked the OPP to escort their bus out of town.

And now we see civil discourse turning to confrontational, angry, violent protest here as well.  Hate charged articles in the Rebel and Toronto Sun are picked up and translated on social media so as to drive the wedge among all of us.  Erin O’Toole, to his credit, has spoken against these kind of demonstrations, but the people who support him were in the crowds in Bolton and Cambridge.  They made it a point to shout obscenities and racial insults and violently heckle to the point that one of the events had to be cancelled for the safety of the public.

And finally the Honourable Maryam Monsef, who has been beaten up by a highly partisan mob media may well lose her rural riding because of the bad press.  And that will just demonstrate that some of us anyway are no better than those people in that hell hole from which her parents saved her.  It just shows that you don’t have to be a woman in the Taliban’s Afghanistan to become a victim of hatred.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly 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

 

 

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This election is all about power - the voters get to decide who wields it

By Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Elections are about power.

Those who have it want to keep it.

Those who don’t sometimes think they can get it and they do their very best to win power.

The current Prime Minister wanted a majority which would give him the power he wants to run the country the way he wants.

Karina Gould has a seat in this house – Emily Brown wants that seat – you the public get to decide which woman will represent you best. Remember they both take an ideology with them.

There was no need for this election but the Governor General decided to agree to his request to form a new Parliament.

Karina Gould wants to be part of that government Emily Brown thinks she can win the seat.

The public will decide – our role is to do what we can to ensure that the voting public is well informed.

The candidates may not like what we write – we aren’t writing for the candidates. We are writing for people who are going to decide who they want to represent them

Emily Brown brings a lot to the table. She thinks she can win and should she do so – she will want to be a Member of Cabinet.

The Conservatives see an opportunity and they are going to fight as hard as they can to win the seat.

Both Karina Gould and Emily Brown have impressive educational achievements.

This country had a tradition of politicians meeting with media.

The argument that she is too busy organizing her campaign office to meet with media is spurious at best.

Ms Brown speaks of supporting traditional family values – truth, honesty and decency.

Ms Brown was the child of a military family. One would have thought she would be defend the values her Father put on a uniform to ensure we kept the democracy we have.

The power is always in the hands of the people.  Those who want that power are obligated to to be transparent and accountable.  Going door to door is part of the process, meeting with media is another part.

We wish her the best – and hope that she chooses to be what she is telling us she is.

Should she win the seat and find herself sitting in the House of Commons she will be a force to contend with.

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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Trying to interview Emily Brown, Conservative Candidate for Burlington

By Pepper Parr

August 28th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We ran a piece on Burlington Conservative candidate Emily Brown that generated a lot of blow back from several of our readers.

Burlington Conservative candidate Emily Brown

As publisher I asked Ryan O’Dowd to send me a list of all the contacts he had with Ms Brown and her responses to his email and telephone calls.

That list is set out below:

On August 17th I received the contact information for Emily Brown. I received it at the same time I received Karina Gould’s contact information and I sent emails to both candidates on August 17th, 20 minutes apart from each other. Here is the email I sent Emily:

 “Good morning, Emily,

 Ryan O’Dowd with the Burlington Gazette here, I’m hoping we can meet for an interview sometime this week to discuss your platform and the key issues of the election.

I look forward to speaking with you, let me know the time and date that works best.

Thanks for your time,

 Ryan”

On August 18th I followed up by phone. I called Emily Brown three times and did not receive an answer.

On August 19th I spoke to Emily Brown and she could not commit to a time period(I tried to arrange an interview that afternoon) but she asked for interview questions to be emailed to her and said she would provide her availability, she did not.

I sent her the following shortly after the phone call:

“Good morning, Emily,

 Ryan here with the Burlington Gazette, we spoke on the phone this morning. I’m hoping I can drop by the office for a brief chat this afternoon if that works for you.

I look forward to speaking with you.

Thanks,

Ryan”

I called to follow up on August 24th, she answered on my second attempt.

Brown said she could not take an interview all week as they were discussing strategy at her office. I asked her about the following week and she made no firm commitment.

I said I would follow up with her next week and fully intend to but at this point we needed to begin covering Emily Brown so my publisher made the decision to go ahead with what we had.

We will talk to Emily Brown whenever she chooses to make herself available.  Our belief is that informed people can make informed decisions; our role is to inform people.

As credentialed media we adhere to the view of the National Newsmedia Council that a strong democracy is possible when those who strive to lead are transparent and held accountable.

 

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NDP candidate uses Green Party data to advocate for Ranked ballots - Huh?

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 24th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

My interview with Nick Page was lengthy and I was not able to convince my editor to run all of it in one story.

Page discussed the importance of expanding our healthcare system to cover such areas as dental, optometric, and pharmaceutical. Tying benefits to employment in the current system “screws” the lower class, said Page.

“Right now you can go to the dentist if you have a good job but if you don’t have a good job you neither have dental coverage or the money to pay the dentist, so you’re screwed. If you don’t have a good job, you don’t have optometry coverage in Ontario. And so by decoupling those from jobs, from having a good job, you help everyone out.

“You also help the businesses not have to pay for insurance employees like that, which is a big expense for some companies like smaller companies who still need to pay benefits to their employees. That’s a cost they don’t need to have, they only really have it because the government doesn’t come through. And it’s interesting because that came about from wage tax in the US back in World War Two. It was a way to get around wage taxes by giving people more benefits, and then it just kind of became how we do things,” said Page.

One of Justin Trudeau’s most often maligned broken election promises was his vow that the 2015 election would be the last under the first past the post system.”

Nick Page- Burlington NDP candidate

Page puts forward a case for a proportional representation using Green Party data – which he claims would lead to federal representation that would more accurately reflect the popular vote. Page also alludes to the use of ranked ballots which would theoretically diminish so-called “strategic voting,” particularly in conjunction with proportional representation. You would rank the candidates in order of preference so you don’t need to be dictated by who can win, and your vote would be more meaningfully represented in government.

“You have some of the people who are elected to government assigned to specific districts, and some of the people elected to government are assigned from a party list. And you do the normal voting in a district, probably with ranked voting to figure out who represents that district. And then you use the country-wide proportional ballots.

“So if, for example, the Green Party gets 8% across the country, it doesn’t all have to be focused on their one riding in Vancouver, or Victoria river is exactly to get a seat, they could have 8% votes across the country, and they’d get 8% of the seats, we would bump them up off their party list, and that way that 8% of people in our country would actually be listened to, they have a voice in government, as opposed to right now, where if after the 2015 election Trudeau only had, votes from like 38% of people, but he got to make all of the decisions because of how first past the post, but he should have had to work with people to make decisions after 2015,” said Page.

Page noted proportional representation may be the best opportunity to implement a government to deal with climate change.

“I don’t think any party with a majority would do what needs to be done to deal with climate change so I think proportional representation or some sort of voting change is what it’s going to take to get the environment under control,” said Page.

2019 federal election results

“In the 2019 federal election, the Green Party received 6.6% of the popular vote and scored 3 seats out of 337, based on the methodology outlined in the 2016 report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform under a proportional representation system the Green Party would have scored 22 seats from the same percentage of the popular vote. If we accept more Green Party seats at the table correlates to more climate change action then Page’s correlation between electoral reform and environmental action may have merit.”

In federal elections there are usually all candidate debates – that is not likely to happen this time around – the logistics of a virtual debate are very awkward.

Page did a podcast in which is sets out where he stands – worth a listen if you want to dive into what the New Democrats hope to achieve. Link here for what he has to say – runs just over five minutes.

The New Democrats have a very stringent set of rules in place when candidates come into contact with voters – don’t expect to see them at your front door all that often..

 

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Rivers on the Torys: The Compromise Party

By Ray Rivers

August 20th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Ray Rivers has done a background piece on two of the political parties; this is his third with a fourth to come.

Erin O’Toole isn’t just fighting Justin Trudeau and the other federal leaders. In many respects, he’s also battling many in his own party – which is never good at election time. (Gary Mason, Globe and Mail)

The Conservative party is almost twenty years old, but like any teenager it hasn’t figured out what it wants to be when it grows up. It was born out a desperate compromise between prairie libertarians and eastern red Tories. And the reds got the short end of the stick.

Disgraced in the minds of some; revered in the minds of thousands

It wasn’t the first marriage of convenience for the Tories and the birthing of a new political entity. Western progressives had joined with this party back in 1942. Conservatives have deep roots in the founding of Canada and had been led by the now mostly disgraced John A. Macdonald and their strength was in the east. The merger helped bridge a national east-west political divide thus creating a truly national political party to rival the Liberals.

Today, ironically the new Conservatives are more western but less progressive than they ever have been. Stephen Harper, the father of the new right wing Conservative party had a clear focus on his adopted province of Alberta and its oil, and paid precious little attention to the rest of the country. And his successor Andrew Scheer did his best to further divide the nation, mainly on energy matters.

Erin O’Toole – leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition

Erin O’Toole is an eastern boy, born in Montreal and raised in Ontario where he sits as an eastern Ontario member. From a western perspective he’s another one of them easterners, just not as bad as Trudeau. They will vote for him but only because he represents their tribe and they have no other preferred option. Even O’Toole’s catering to the right wing of the party with promises of restoring assault weapons, killing the CBC and allowing MPs to introduce anti choice legislation has not made him more acceptable.

And O’Toole’s turnaround on the carbon tax must have hurt. Only a matter of weeks after the court decision he proposed a kind of loyalty card, actually rewarding people for using hydrocarbons, instead of taxing them. It is an insult to anyone who seriously understands and cares about global warming. But it sure looks like a carbon tax, and the oil sector must be worried about what is coming next.

The Tories are the only political party which is still obsessed with how and what women do with their bodies, O’Toole’s personal pro-choice stand must confound his membership, especially the evangelicals. Yet, strangely, he is willing to let MP’s propose anti-choice legislation.

Mr. O’Toole has put on his skates when it comes to mandatory vaccines for key sectors (health, education workers) and activities (travel, dining). He has adopted the line of the country’s conservative premiers that individual rights trump collective health and safety. He would like everyone to get vaccinated but he’d settle for an occasional test if they aren’t. Is a swab up the nose less invasive than a jab in the arm?

Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper

But it is perhaps on the economy where deficit fighting Conservatives, like father Harper, are shaking their heads. His campaign is promising to print more money than the other parties combined, though it’s hard to say since the platform has not been costed. Imagine a Tory promising to cancel the GST, pay half the salary of new workers with tax money, refund restaurant customers half the cost of their meals.

And O’Toole and Andrew Sheer were part of the minority government all party agreement to dump the billions of new spending on wage subsidies and other pandemic relief over the last two years. All the parties own the deficit and the new debt now. Still, it’s not the first time this party, which claims the title of ‘fiscal hawks’ is dishing out money to win the hearts of the electorate, just like those nasty ‘tax and spend’ left of centre parties.

Former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney

Brian Mulroney never once balanced his budget. And Harper ran the biggest pre-COVID deficit in history, constructing an artificial lake on the shore of Lake Ontario with some of the money. And there were the pre-election handouts by Mike Harris ($200) and Ralph Klein ($400) paralleling the $500 Trudeau doled out to seniors recently.

O’Toole would axe the federal child care program which has already got the support and signatures of 8 provincial and territorial partners. He’d replace it with another tax credit which is of little use to someone on minimum wages, for example. As usual, tax credits favour those who are better off, even if the credits are graduated as he proposes.

It is a telling moment that the new premier designate of Nova Scotia, Tim Houston, a self confessed red Tory had not joined the federal Conservatives, and had shunned any linkages to the party’s federal leader or help from the party. His was an upset victory, overturning the incumbent Liberals in that province and providing evidence that we can have safe voting during a pandemic election, and that not all incumbents get returned,

And that pretty much sums up Erin O’Toole, a compromise candidate representing a compromised and conflicted political party. There is nothing wrong with compromise per se. And all of the parties have had some share of challenges managing themselves. Just look at the Green Party today.

So the question voters need to ask is whether this Conservative party can best deal with our national priorities. In order to get back towards some kind of pre-COVID normal, we know that anyone who can, should be vaccinated or isolated until this is over. O’Toole’s trade off between individual rights and collective public health will just prolong the epidemic, rather than shorten it.

On the biggest existential threat facing humanity, global warming, what he is proposing is too little and too late. For example his carbon tax would max out at $50, well before what the other parties are promoting. Canadians cannot solve the global climate crisis by ourselves, but as a member of the wealthiest club of nations, we have to show leadership and do our part.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – fighting for a majority government – is it within his grasp?

And finally on the economic plan, O’Toole has some very interesting public funding ideas which would benefit some who have been disadvantaged by the COVID crisis. It is hard to judge these in a vacuum to ensure we are not just constructing another artificial lake.

For probably the first time ever, the public has greater confidence in the Liberals ability to manage the economy and recovery than the Tories, according to a recent poll. Perhaps it has to do with the troubled times we’re in. And maybe it’s because Mr. Trudeau, better than Mr. O’Toole, has got his act together, has more experience, or has his Liberal team working with ,rather than against him.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly 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

 

 

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Gazette reporter covering northern part of the city gets a mixed reaction to a possible election call

By Staff

August 14th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2 of a two part story on what the people of Burlington feel about an election call

With the whiff of an election in the air, the Gazette decided to send a team of reporters out into the streets to hear what the public had to say.

The team, made up of Max Bowder and Ryan O’Dowd, covered all six wards and approached people asking:

Do you think there should be a federal election?

Depending on the answer they followed up with:

Why or why not.

Bowder covered the Northen part of the city – everything north of Fairview.

We asked the team to get as many responses as possible – we wanted some depth to what people thought – thus the length.  Some people didn’t want to give names; some locations were better than others.  Bowder was asked to leave the library where he was interviewing people

The responses Bowder got were:   Good idea to call for an election: 7

Bad idea to call for an election: 28

No opinion: 7

Individually here are his results.

No, I don’t think it is necessary and I won’t vote for him – male

No, we have enough problems – Steve, male

When looking for man/woman on the street interviews you go to where there are people – supermarkets and LCBO outlets.

No, when the election is called, it takes priority away from covid and instead on what’s best for the candidate … with low vaccine rates it is not a good time and we should want to wait until 90% of the country is vaccinated – Samir, male

No, with everything else going on, it’s just the wrong timing – Male

I don’t know if it’s the best time for it because I think there is still two years before they are required call an election, so I guess no – female

I don’t really have an opinion on it – female

No because I think it’s a political maneuver on his part (Justin Trudeau), I just heard on the news how much it will cost for the election, 610 million dollars! I mean, we are in huge debt as it is – female

Absolutely he should – female

That would be nice, politically it’s something I don’t really … I could go on for a long time with this so that why I can’t give you a straight answer for that one to be honest … I just don’t argue about politics with other people – Dave, Male,

No, I’m not really sure – female

No, I think he (Justin Trudeau) thinks he could win; I’m worried he could win again. – female

No, I feel like he (Justin Trudeau) will lose if he does it. – male

No, there’s enough going on right now, we don’t need to go to the polls. – female

No, I think he should do something else, focus on getting people back on track. We’ll see what happens, I wouldn’t be surprised because He’s taking advantage of the opportunity and again why not?  – Gabe, female, ward 5

No definitely not – female

Uh its ok – female

No, too many things going on – Chris, male

I don’t know I guess so? You know what in all honesty I don’t know about that – Christina, female

No, our intent should be trying to get us out of this – female

Sure, not really, I think it’s time for change, I don’t know if he will win – female, Oakville

No, because there is too much going on, there’s too much covid and everything – female

Yes, actually I think he should be governing … but if Hes (Justin Trudeau) trying to win back a majority, I don’t know … my personal feelings, I hope he gets voted out- Julius, male, North Carolina

I don’t know enough to comment. For politicians it is [for liberals] think they will get a majority, that’s what I’m guessing – Ray, male Oakville

Uuuhhhhhh no, I don’t know – male

No, too expensive no question … he (Justin Trudeau) should focus on the economy you know, we gotta get people back to work – Mark, male

Doesn’t matter, I’m indifferent – Donna, female

No, Well I’m a conservative sooo, in the middle of a pandemic it does make a whole lot a sense to the prime minister, it’s a waste of twenty million dollars. – Dave, male

No, sorry I don’t understand – female

No, He’s (Justin Trudeau) only calling an election at this time because you know He’s kinda favored right now and he doesn’t get my vote – Victoria, female

I do, I think that what He’s done in over the pandemic and uh just what he has been doing as a prime minister I think gives him the right to say what he sees happening and I trust his judgement on that, and I think what are people waiting for? I don’t understand that, for things to get better? For things to get smoother? for the pandemic to go away. I don’t believe that’s going to happen I think if the newspapers could stop talking about the fourth pandemic, I think things are going to go into more and more chaos, I think H

He’s really done a great job. He’s made mistakes of course he has but who the hell is going to take over for him (Justin Trudeau)!? –  Margo, female, ward 4

Honestly, he (Justin Trudeau) has to call it sometime so why not tomorrow? – Racheal, female

I don’t know, probably not because of covid it’s not worth it even if he gets a majority – Cindy, Female Oakville

I think so, Hes (Justin Trudeau) in a good position to… if he can do it, he should – Stu, male

Yea it is, he should try to get a majority – male

I wouldn’t think so with all of this happening do you really think people are in the mood to go out and vote? – female

No timing is not the best … well there’s the pandemic and everything’s really confusing – Debbie, female,

Um for him (Justin Trudeau) it’s the right choice – Dick, male

No, there is more pressing issues like the huge amount of debt the government has put on the country’s books, both for your generation and mine, none of the political parties are discussing how to pay back the debt, – Tom, male

Either way probably not, no great concerns, I just don’t know that it is necessary, that’s more than the whole thing. I think things are going as well as they can given the, excuse my language, shit storm. We’re just in survival mode as a country and a civilization. – Steve, male

No, there’s bigger issues going on right now, Steve(different one), male

No, not the time Eyaz, male

No, I think its just poor timing with covid and everything and I’m not the fan of our prime minister, I don’t agree with a lot of what he’s done – Paul, male

I haven’t really thought of it – female

Uh that’s a good question I don’t know, at this point no, probably not. I don’t know why they are doing it well I do know but its up to them I guess. – female

No because I think there is too much going on right now. – Jennifer , female

No, its not the time. – female

We have a follow up report on what Ryan O’Dowd learned in the Southern part of the city.

Max Bowder reporrts: “Most people feel that this is not the best time to have an election while in the middle of COVID and there are other things The Prime Minister can be focusing on such as the economy. Many also believe the Prime Minister is only calling this election, hoping win back a majority government for his handling of the pandemic.”

Max Bowder is a second year journalism student at Sheridan College.  He is part of a team with the Gazette on the Local Journalism Initiative funded by the federal government.  Before enrolling at Sheridan Max volunteered in a community in Argentina  where he worked with young people.  He is a Burlington resident who helps out on the family farm in Milton.

 

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That Urban Growth Boundary - what's the big deal - it was a big deal and it looks like the Mayor pulled it off

By Pepper Parr

August 13th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington and development have for the past five years been in one of those awkward relationships.

The city wants development, the developers want to build – the problem has been what kind of development and where.

It became a menage a trois when the province said that we had to grow – big time. More housing for more people with not much in the way of space for the traditional single family house with a nice back yard that made Burlington what it is today.

Those that live in the southern part of the city didn’t want to see dozens of high rise towers taking over.

The developers wanted their buildings to be in the downtown core where the pricey condos were being built.

The argument got intense from about 2015 to the 2018 election when the issue was the boundary for the Urban Growth Centre.

Set out below is the boundary that was in place when the current city council was elected.

The Urban Growth Boundary that is in the Official Plan that is in force now went through a number of changes. The colours define the different precincts the city is divided into. A precinct is an area that has zoning and development rules unique to that area.

Marianne Meed Ward convinced people that she could get hat boundary changed and while the fight isn’t over yet – there are new Urban Growth Centre boundaries in place and once the Official Plan gets completely approved – it is currently in the hands of the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs – where it is expected to be approved – all it has to do is get through the appeals process – there are 40 some odd organizations appealing – it becomes the law of the land.

Meed Ward was adamant from day 1 – the boundary has to be changed.

This is what the Urban Growth Centre boundary is going to look like.

Boundaries for the Urban Growth Centre that are part of the approved but not in force Official Plan.

Now slide back up and look at what was in place before a new city council set out to make a change

A huge difference – and the credit for much of it belongs to the Mayor. She was thee one who pushed and pushed and did her best not to budge an inch.

It was no small feat.

Meed Ward did not do this alone – what she did was lead the five newcomers to council, who for the most part were on her side when they were first elected, and then supported what she was setting out to do.

The Gazette has a number of differences with how this first term Mayor has handled and portrayed herself; Lord Acton had it right when he said:  “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Time will tell if Marianne Meed Ward can catch herself before she falls. None of this should take away from what she did in getting that Urban Growth Boundary moved north,

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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2SLGBTQIA+: An acronym that does not help the Pride Community

By Pepper Parr

August 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The definition appeared in a media release from the city’s communications department.

I had never seen something like this before.

2SLGBTQIA+ (TwoSpirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual)

This expansion of the acronym to refer to the community has gone too far.

The symbols are important -let’s not demean them with acronyms that lead to ridicule.

The fight to get the Pride community the respect it deserves has been long and hard; it has taken decades to get to the point where the community is recognized and not shunned, dismissed, shamed and hurt.

The political leadership has once again gotten over-enthusiastic and in the process hurt the people she chooses to speak for.

The Pride Community can speak for itself.

Gazette readers are commenting – some examples.

Brave step – smart move. One in every ward in the fullness of time.

Agreed (name withheld).  “I do not have the time of day for this passive aggressive approach orchestrated by the mayor. She created the survey (not staff). Now there are 2 rainbow crosswalks in Ward 2 and not one of them is in front of city hall. She will hide behind the survey results but we all know what her goal was.”

Another reader wrote:  “I was surprised to see the latest permutation of inclusivity symbols in this article (2SLGB….+). While I am fully in favour of demonstrations of support for people struggling to find their identity, there is a danger of going to extremes to include more and more subsets until everyone finds their own personal home. And let’s not forget there is another axis of identity being explored these days based on race, heritage, language and age. At some point our whole view of our society becomes a jumble of alphanumeric compartments that render it meaningless, while activists in each group clamor for special attention. Thus we become divided, not united.”

What the Halton Regional Police Service did was dignified and appropriate.

Let’s continue to raise the Pride flag and when we see instances of discrimination personally do everything we can to put a stop to it.
Support the Pride Community the way you would like your community to be supported.

Why the city communications department went to the lengths it did is both surprising and disappointing.

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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No reason for a federal election this year - maybe not even next year

By Pepper Parr

August 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We ran a piece yesterday announcing the Green Party candidate whose people suggested that an election call might come as early as next week.

The next election isn’t due until sometime in 2023.

There is no valid reason to call an election at this time. The country is doing just fine with the current minority Liberal government.

The Conservative Opposition cannot get itself elected; the federal New Democrats couldn’t from a government in the very unlikely event that they did get elected.

The federal Green Party may not be a political party if they continue with the internal squabbles.

The only reason for an election is the Prime Minister wanting a majority government.

David Peterson called an unnecessary election in 1990 because he thought he would win. Ran a terrible campaign and lost.

David Peterson tried that stunt in 1990 and it cost him the government he had.

Governor General Mary Simon

Canada has a new Governor General – what little we have seen of Mary Simon suggests she might suggest that the Prime Minister go back to his office and think about it should he decide to pay her a visit asking that she dissolve parliament.

When the Liberal Caucus meets (virtually) are there Members of Parliament with the courage to tell the Prime Minister that an election now is a mistake.

Given the polls we are seeing there is no certainty that the Liberals could win a majority.

Ending up with another minority would be reason enough for Justin Trudeau to offer his resignation.

 

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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Burlington residents and businesses dealing with Covid well with logical action and strong optimism

Max Bowder: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington is a city full of young families which means I am always surrounded by selfless people willing to help each other in their time of need.

Many Burlington businesses are in a time of need, especially the hospitality sector. Others are glad to be back at work with an economy that is opening up and shifting away from the risk of having to shut down – again. Some don’t see another huge spike in Covid cases.

Value Village is back to where it was before the pandemic hit the city.

“We have been reopened since June 17… we are now back to business as usual,” said Value Village manager Beau Kowanetz.

In an attempt to help small businesses, the business Burlington Economic Development Team has supported business with website development and access to grants.

Clothing stores needed to adapt to online purchasing because all trade shows were shut down.

Carol Boyko, owner of the Bocana Boutique is putting in 16 hour days and learning to use the internet to advertise.

“We’re doing virtual zoom meetings to look at new clothing collections … that’s an issue on its own because you cannot feel and touch the merchandise,” said Bocana Boutique owner Carol Boyko.

Boyko has had to put in 16 hour days in order to keep her business alive while learning all about online advertising.

Though difficult as it was her resolve is better than ever and although she is praying and is optimistic about not going into lockdown again, she has contingency plans ready for if businesses are forced to close. .

The reason I think Burlington has done so well is because the people of this city have a great, rare universally shared mentality that I have not seen since visiting Argentina where I worked for a short period of time.

People in this city do not look for someone to blame for the problems; something that is easily done in societies that are divided by opinions. Burlingtonians don’t think of problems that have to be changed by someone but rather people in this city analyze the issue, ask what needs to be done to get through it and diligently and patiently surmount the issue without panic turning instead to hard work.

Being in Burlington means being in a place that is peaceful but also where my responsibilities are not too far away. Burlington is a city that lets me enjoy the seclusion of the country and wilderness but also where I can become more active in my community, find stable work and conveniently attend college.

Burlington as I see it is a city that has maintained its spirit, optimism and its joys; it shows the same spirits of the people who looks past excuses and focus on solutions.

When Covid hit Burlington the people were disappointed that our lives had come to a stop but they were not surprised; they watched the news and knew it was only a matter of time – unlike so many in the United States who rejected reality or looked for someone to blame.

The Burlington Food Bank provides food for families that have been financially damaged by the pandemic. Citizens donate to keep the operation going.healthy

I see Burlington as a city of people who give care to its family and support to those who need it and are doing everything that needs to be done to end the pandemic soon.

Burlington residents have found themselves coping quite well with the pandemic – they feel they have it better than most.

“I think we’ve been doing very well, said parent Amy Cohen.

“Parents are looking forward to in-class learning for their children in the fall and with a keen sense of returning to normalcy.

“Parents enjoy taking their children out to Orchard Community Park and allowing kids to play at the water parks and not wearing masks but still keeping socially distanced and limited people on playground at a time.

The Orchard as a community has pulled together to get families through a problem they never expected to have to deal with.

With people coming out to be vaccinated in large numbers and the city slowly but surely opening up, residents are seeing the end in sight believing the pandemic to be over soon.

With the majority of residents vaccinated and plans to have their children vaccinated as soon as Covid19 vaccines are approved for younger ages.

“I think [the schools] are doing the best they can, given the amount of notice they have been given,” Cohen continued.

Max Bowder is a second year journalism student at Sheridan College.  He is part of a team with the Gazette on the Local Journalism Initiative funded by the federal government.  Before enrolling at Sheridan Max volunteered in a community in Argentina  where he worked with young people.  He is a Burlington resident who helps out on the family farm in Milton.

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The Evolving New Democratic Party - with a new federal leader on the horizon

By Ray Rivers

August 11th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

It’s been sixty years since the New Democratic Party was formed. Surely that must make them the old democratic party by now. In all that time they only once become the second party in Parliament. And that was only after their charismatic leader, Jack Layton, had catered to the separatists, promising to ignore a Supreme Court ruling and let Quebec separate on a 51% sovereignty vote.

The NDP’s socialist roots go back to Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas, who introduced Canada’s first universal medical care system. Douglas’ party merged with the Canadian Labour Conference in 1961 to become the NDP which also made them a labour movement, at least for unionized workers.

NDP’s socialist roots go back to Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas, who introduced Canada’s first universal medical care system.

More recently the NDP has tried to become the other green party, despite the potential conflicts between environmental conservation goals and jobs in the resource and energy sectors. And after a half century of marriage between labour and the socialists other cracks have developed. Some labour leaders have become frustrated being tied to a a party which was unlikely to ever become government, and so shifted their support to the Liberals.

The party faced a major crisis in the 60s and 70s when a determined group of members, called the Waffle, sought a more aggressive policy shift towards socialism and economic nationalism in Canada. Fearing a loss of the Quebec NDP wing, they also called for greater accommodation for Quebec’s sovereignty demands. The Waffle was booted out of the party. Still some of its ideas found their way into Liberal government policy at the time, such as the Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA).

A little over a decade later the Mulroney government replaced FIRA with the more welcoming Investment Canada. The folly of that move became particularly clear last year when this country was struggling to find COVID vaccines. Toronto based Connaught Labs, which had been a world leader in the development and manufacture of vaccines was gone, it’s technical know-how exported and its trained research staff relocated elsewhere.

Much of what the Manifesto called for has taken place – except for the elimination of fossil fuels

The Leap Manifesto presented another milestone issue for the party. In 2015 about 60 representatives from Canada’s Indigenous rights, social, environmental, faith-based and labour movements came together over two days to identify 15 policy actions for the future. Though the initiative was non-partisan, it had been driven by social and climate activists Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, both with deep roots in the NDP.

LEAP was so well conceived and written that, within a couple weeks of its creation, over 25,000 Canadians had endorsed it. Yet, during the 2015 federal election NDP leader Mulcair shunned the initiative, thinking it was too radical, even as his party was endorsing LEAP riding by riding. Today almost all of the LEAP demands have been adopted, at least in principle, by the current Liberal government and some are even accepted by the Conservatives.

He was a powerful leader of the Opposition – but did not have the vision the country wanted and lost an election he thought he had in the bag. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Tom Mulcair had been an effective opposition leader but his lack of vision set the party back from the break-though which early polling in the 2015 election had promised. Jagmeet Singh, who replaced him, is an articulate politician but has not been able to bring the party back from its third place, though his class baiting has won him some support.

Singh’s problem is that the Liberals have learned to overtake the NDP on some key progressive policies. For example, when Singh promised an NDP government would ban single use plastics by 2022, Trudeau announced he would start the process in 2021. It is hard to determine how much the NDP does in fact influence government policy, though the Liberals mostly have to rely on the NDP to keep them in office.

Even should the Green Party collapse within itself, as it appears to be doing, the NDP are unlikely to supplant the Liberals, at least so long as Mr. Trudeau avoids something like another sponsorship scandal. And while Trudeau’s image and likability may have become tarnished over his last five years in office, as happens to all politicians, Canadians do not seem in a hurry to replace him in these scary times we are living through.

The LEAP project, now retired, can claim credit for stimulating debate and placing so many of its priorities into action. It was ultimately endorsed by the NDP and its ridings, despite the concern of the Alberta contingent over the language on fossil fuels. Today the NDP is looking south of the border for its inspiration, and is trying to develop a Canadian Green New Deal.

Jagmeet Singh chose to prop up the minority Liberals; there wasn’t much else he could do.

Whatever else Mr. Singh has accomplished by propping up the minority Liberals over the last couple years, he has failed to get Mr. Trudeau to move forward on some key socially progressive priorities, like universal pharmacare, a basic annual income and proportional electoral representation. Unless his party improves its position in the upcoming federal election, his leadership may well be at issue.

A strong mind, an incredible political pedigree and now a willingness to run for public office.

Avi Lewis, one of the instigators of the LEAP project, has thrown his hat into the ring to run for the NDP in the upcoming election. Lewis hails from a political heritage, including his father Stephen and grandfather David, which rivals that of Justin Trudeau. If Lewis wins his seat nobody should be surprised to see him advance to leadership in the NDP and to challenge Trudeau for the top job in the country. Maybe the party could even change its name, dropping the amateurish sounding ‘New” given how long it has been around.

There was a time when Pierre Trudeau and Ed Broadband mulled a political merger between the parties. But that idea was anathema to the western NDP movers and shakers at the time and nothing came of it. So unfortunately for both parties in Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a vote for the NDP will end up being another vote on the left which the Liberals won’t get. And that makes it just like a vote for the opposition Tories.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly 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:

NDP –  

Leap –    More Leap –      Unions –      NDP Constitution

Jagmeet Singh –    Waffle –   Avi Lewis

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The Foundation for the province we have today was put in place by a man who said: 'Bland can be Beautiful'

 

By Ray Rivers

August 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

If he hadn’t been politically assassinated by his own caucus, Patrick Brown might have become the 26th premier of Ontario and perhaps formed it’s first truly Progressive Conservative government since Bill Davis.

Bill Davis: A moderate conservative in his time and what the province needs in these troubling times.

Davis, referred to himself as bland. He was a moderate conservative from all accounts. He seemed more comfortable with colleagues like Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Pierre Trudeau, John Tory and Bob Rae, than right wingers from his own party like Mike Harris or Doug Ford, for example.

Davis was a careful master of compromise between progress and conservation. He understood that when it comes to policy, it’s more important to do what in the public interest than to defend your ideology. And he clearly believed when it came to delivering his messages that bland beat bragging and bravado hands down.

Davis will always be the education premier to me, even though he was education minister proper only during my formative years of schooling. But he was far more than the person who modernized and expanded the provincial education system. To those who remember him, he was considered one of Canada’s best loved provincial premiers, vying for that spot with Alberta’s Peter Lougheed.

The Davis decision to kill the construction of the Spadina Expressway into the downtown core of Toronto was a brilliant political stroke.

Davis also expanded health care, implemented regional government, initiated GO service, killed the Spadina Expressway, and made the Ontario civil service bilingual. Moreover Davis played a key role in repatriating Canada’s constitution while doing more than his part keeping the country together during those early years of living with Quebec’s separatist government.

Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter and Bill Davis met often. The Cardinal and the Premier, according to provincial myth decided to extend catholic schools into high school over cognac and good cigars.

Trying to please all people usually means that you displease some. Davis’ decision to enable full secondary schooling by the Catholic church upset more people than it satisfied, and his successor lost the next election because of that error in judgement. His rationalization of Ontario’s municipalities led to an unprecedented level of urban sprawl which today is choking Ontario’s roads.

Building coal-fired electrical power plants was a mistake that took several decades and a change of government to correct. And in all his 13 years in office Davis never managed to balance his budget, even during relative boom times, averaging $2 billion in dept annually as the net debt to GDP grew from 2% to 15.2% during his tenure.

But Davis’ leadership style is what perhaps made him such a respected, if not loved, premier. There was no ‘we ‘or ‘they’ in his world, and he imparted a positive vibe of optimism to us all. He showed that it is possible to govern progressively, to meet the needs of an evolving society even when you are a conservative. And for that alone we should all take a moment to remember him.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly 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:

Remembering Davis –      Bill Davis     Big Blue –

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Lee Smith: Burlington's police chief for 40 years; he saw it all.

Who Knew 100x100 2015By Mark Gillies

January 18, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Burlington is using the month of August to celebrate local history. Sometime ago the Gazette published a series of articles by Mark Gillies, a lifelong Burlingtonian. It is appropriate to re-publish the stories about the people who built this city.

A Burlington History Maker, Like No Other
His name was Lee Joseph Smith, another outstanding citizen of Burlington, and just like Spencer Smith, this individual also made a huge impact on why so many of us choose to live here. What did this man do? As in so many cases with Burlington’s history makers, they have not been properly recognized.

Pic 1 Lee Smith

Chief Lee Joseph Smith, (1885 – 1973). Was this man Canada’s greatest Police Chief ever?

Most residents will not know his name, or at best, barely remember who Lee Smith was, but by the time you finish reading this four part feature, you will better understand this man’s contributions to the safety and protection of our local society. This is for you Lee. This is your story.

Farm Boy joins The Northwest Mounted Police
Lee was born July 26, 1885 in London, Ontario, but spent most of his boyhood years growing up on the family’s market garden farm in Saltfleet Township, which is the Stoney Creek area of Wentworth County. When Lee was 21 years of age, in 1906, he made a decision that was about to change his life, and not knowing it at the time, this same decision would eventually affect the residents of Burlington, even to this day.

Pic 2 Northwest Mounted Police Officer

Here is a typical Northwest Mounted Police officer in full dress uniform around 1911. Lee would have worn a “Mountie” uniform exactly like this one, and then climb onto his horse and head out on patrol.

His decision was to serve the public in law enforcement. Lee joined the Northwest Mounted Police, where they promptly sent him out west, where Lee patrolled on horseback throughout the wild desolate prairie lands of Alberta, only 1 year into becoming a province.

Later, Lee transferred to the Brandon, Manitoba detachment as a result of his outstanding service, having been promoted to detective. When Police Commissioner Aylesworth Bowen Perry introduced annual training classes, Lee was selected as one of his first instructors. No doubt about it, Lee Smith was a good as it gets; a rising star who undoubtedly was destined to one day become a future Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Officer Smith while out west had some skirmishes and even took a few bullets, fired upon by local rowdies, but the young man survived, and continued to serve faithfully, and grow as a highly respected police officer.

Boy meets Girl
While posted to the Brandon detachment, Lee met his future wife to be. Her name was Alma Edith Mackenzie a lovely young lady from Woodstock, New Brunswick. Alma was a student studying at the Brandon Baptist College. When Alma was 21 years old, she and Lee tied the knot in Brandon on September 27, 1911. The newly wedded couple lived and worked in Brandon until 1914, when personal tragedy struck back home in Ontario.

Lee, after serving with the Mounties for eight rugged years, felt it best if he resigned, and return to his home area of Hamilton with his bride Alma, after receiving the tragic news his younger sister Annie Katherine, at the age of 26, had died on May 17, 1914, from tuberculosis. Annie had painfully suffered for several years with the dreaded disease. The family was grief stricken. Lee, a compassionate man, felt he had completely let his family down with his long absence from home, and racked with guilt, now wanted to be closer to his family, especially at this very difficult and sad time. Home for good, Lee needed to find work as soon as possible. Then he heard about a possible opening as a constable in Burlington.

Lee Smith finds employment in Burlington as a Night Constable
Lee was hired as a replacement night constable a few weeks after his sister’s death in the spring of 1914. Burlington, at that time, had a population of around 2,000 people during World War 1. Most of the young men from town and the surrounding farms had already gone off to war. If you think about it, if about half the population were children, and ½ of the adults were female, this only leaves 500 adult men in town. Burlington did its part, and we sent 300 over to Europe. Only 200 elderly men remained behind. Who was going to keep us safe? The Town Council had recently gone through a series of unsuccessful attempts to hire other men who did not work out to be the kind of Burlington police officer they wanted patrolling the streets after dark.

Lee Smith’s interview was impressive, and Lee was selected to be their new man of law and order. Lee continued to be exceptional at police work putting his Northwest Mounted Police training to good use. Sometime in 1916 Burlington’s first Chief Constable, Charles Tufgar, 36, who lived on Ontario Street, unexpectedly resigned. Lee Smith, without any hesitation by Town Council was promoted to Burlington’s Chief Constable. Town Council wanted to make sure their “all-star officer” didn’t one day suddenly resign, with ambitions to move up the ladder with another police department. As it was, Lee was not about to leave. The Chief strongly believed in loyalty to the Mayor, the Town Council, and the residents of Burlington he served. The truth was Lee and Alma loved Burlington.

The new Chief delivers his first report to Town Council
It was the duty of the Police Chief to provide the Town Council with an annual update of the activities and concerns of the Police Department during the first week of January. In the Chief’s first report in 1917, he acknowledged the resignation of Chief Charles Tufgar, and he also informed the town’s Council they were without the services of a night constable.

The Chief reported that in 1916 there were 475 cases that went to Court. During that same year, the Chief had found 43 doors were unlocked, and advised those residents to have them secured. The Chief reported that Burlington had 5 fires, and 24 accidents were attended. There were two cases of aggravated assault, 76 overnight lodgers, three house break ins, two charges of abusive language, 14 thefts, four common assaults, 12 disorderly conducts, 11 vagrancy charges, 1 trespassing charge, two stolen horses, 49 warnings issued for small offences, 161 local complaints received and investigated, three charges of residents not having a proper license, five charges of riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, three charges of property damage, 3 cruelty to animal charges, one charge for not having sleigh bells, 286 aliens were registered, seven charges laid for being an alien enemy, 14 charges for drunkenness and breach of the OTA, and seven charges laid for breach of the Motor Vehicle Act.

There were 11 arrests outside of points. The Chief also reported that 29 children had not attended school and the parents had been contacted. A total of $1206.20 in fines was collected. Visitations to the two pool rooms and the moving picture theatre were deemed satisfactory and managed properly. The Chief was referring to Burlington’s new Crystal Theatre located on Brant Street, opposite Ontario Street.

The following year in June 1918, the Crystal Theatre featured the two classic blockbuster silent films, “Birth of a Nation” and “Intolerance”, complete with an in-house orchestra. The Chief concluded by saying, “I highly appreciate the valuable assistance given me by Mayor and Council, also that of the Special Constables and other Town officials during the year.” No doubt about it, the Chief had a very busy year in 1916.

The Chief expands his Police Department & hires more officers
When Lee Smith became Chief Constable, he was responsible for additional duties other than police work. It was also Lee’s job to do all the janitorial duties, such as washing windows, sweeping the floor, cleaning washrooms, and to do minor repairs around the municipal office. Lee was receiving $17.80 each week, and that was after his raise, when he was promoted to Chief. This was thought to be good pay back then.

One day, the Town Council under the leadership of Mayor Maxwell Smith, himself a man of great vision, innovation and entrepreneurship, decided that Lee could use some help as the town tried to modernize, so later that year in 1916 Town Council presented Lee with a telephone for his office, something long overdue, since telephones had been in use since their invention around 1877, almost 40 years earlier.

That wasn’t all that changed for the better. The following year in 1917, affable Bert Dunham was hired as a special constable, and it was decided Bert was to work every other Sunday for $2.00 a day. Bert and his wife Ida who had seven young children were living in a very small house at the corner of Pine and Elizabeth Street; and for the Dunham family, this new source of money was greatly welcomed. Lee knew that Bert needed the extra money and this was his way of helping out when he hired Bert for the job.

One thing about Lee J Smith, he really knew people. Bert was grateful for the work, and he wasn’t going to let the compassionate Chief down. Now, Lee was no longer on call seven days a week, but still came pretty close to around the clock duty. Lee not only worked days, but he also worked nights, and it was decided another constable was needed for the still vacant night shift.

Allan Mitchell, a Scottish born family man who was about 50 years old, also could use another job, after hitting some tough times, and like Bert, Allan could use the extra money to augment his irregular income. The Chief puzzled over how Allan would labour during the day with his various odd jobs, and then still work all night. Regardless of how Allan was going to make it work, he was hired as a night constable by Chief Smith, and this brought about some more badly needed relief for this completely overworked Police Chief.

Pic 3 Adolphus Smith

Here is a very dapper Adolphus Smith sporting a fashionable bowler hat, with his wife Susan and daughter Annie around 1918 at their home 2091 Maria Street, near the corner of Martha Street. Doll, as he was known, was the older brother of Chief Smith, and Burlington’s first motorcycle officer.

A Police motorcycle, automobile accidents & possible nepotism
The Burlington Police Department grew to 4 officers in late 1919 when Chief Smith hired his older brother Adolphus as a new Burlington police officer. Adolphus was better known by everyone as “Doll”.  During World War 1, fighting against Germany, Adolphus was probably not the best name to be known by, so Doll thought this shortened version of his name worked better. Doll Smith, a woodworker by trade was working at a munitions plant in Hamilton during World War 1.

Pic 4 Car Accident Highway 2 1923

This accident occurred on the Lakeshore when the driver was heading towards Bronte. The impact was severe enough to snap the power line pole.

When the war ended, Doll who was married, with a young daughter to raise, was soon to face unemployment and began looking for work. As it turned out, Chief Smith, a man with uncanny vision, had been thinking of a way to patrol the Lakeshore Road area. This road was becoming busier all the time, now that automobiles were becoming more prevalent, and wouldn’t you just know it, automobile accidents were starting to happen, a new phenomenon for the department. The population had increased to close to 2700 people. The population was getting close to a 50% increase over wartime numbers in town.  Chief Smith, with virtually no real budget to work with managed to locate a free motorcycle for his department.

The Chief discovered that British World War 1 surplus motorcycles under the Imperial Gift plan, a program set up for all Members of the British Commonwealth to receive some of Britain’s military surplus, on a ruling established by the British Parliament on June 4, 1919 was put into effect. Chief Smith was elated and quickly sent in his application for one slightly used battle scarred motorcycle. When the machine arrived later that year, Constable Smith was assigned as Burlington’s first motorcycle officer.

Pic 5 1918 Matchless

Chief Smith secured a war surplus motorcycle similar to this 1918 Matchless, and assigned his brother to patrol the busy Lakeshore Road, the main thoroughfare for automobiles, trucks, carriages, wagons, bicyclists and pedestrians between Toronto and Hamilton from 1919 to 1930.

Doll patrolled the Lakeshore Road all the way to Toronto and back. Either Doll was hooked on riding a motorcycle, or he thought Burlington was far bigger than it actually was; whatever the reason, this is what Doll did for a few years. Doll left the department in the late 1920s to ride for the Ontario Highway Patrol, and in 1930 he moved over to the Ontario Provincial Police, when they hired 70 constables to begin their own motorcycle division. Doll was one of the OPP’s first motorcycle officers hired, and remained an OPP motorcycle officer patrolling Highways 8 and 20, right through to the Niagara area, until his retirement in 1950.

What about the nepotism? It wasn’t to be a problem. Not many people in that day could even drive an automobile, and far less could operate a motorcycle. Adolphus Smith already new how to ride, or so he claimed. Doll just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Adolphus Smith passed away in 1975 at 92 years of age.

The Ontario Temperance Act
Just when Lee Smith received his promotion to Chief, Ontario went bone dry in 1916. The Ontario Temperance Act (OTA) was enacted and this new law, designed with good intentions, prohibited alcohol sales. The OTA was in force until the Act was repealed in 1927. Needless to say, the Chief and his three officers were kept busy trying to enforce this unpopular law. Quite possibly, Chief Tufgar may have been provoked into his resignation over opposition to this legislation. The Temperance Act was that controversial.

The story of Burlington’s most famous Chief of Police was told in for parts.  The Gazette is re-publishing parts 1 and 4.  Links to parts 2 and 3 are linked below.

Part 2

Part 3

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