Citizen suggests pulling the Downtown Core out of the Mobility Hub Process

opinionandcommentBy Rory Nisan

September 10, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Part of what makes Burlington arguably the best suburb in the GTA is that, almost anywhere in the city, you are no more than twenty minutes from the Escarpment or the lake. Nature is at your doorstep, as is the culture of the downtown mixed with the expansive views of the water.

As many readers know, a provincial mandate to increase the city’s population combined with the decision to not build north of the Dundas/407 barrier means that Burlington will be growing “up” rather than “out”.

One of the prime places to just enjoy the city is on the north side of Lakeshore looking out over ther lake. This could be a social spot in almost anyone of the prime tourist destinations in Europe or North America - buit it is right here in Burlington.

One of the prime places to just enjoy the city is on the north side of Lakeshore looking out over the lake. When the weather is right – seats are hard to get.

The city’s plans for this growth have focused on “mobility hubs” around our three GO Train stations and, more controversially, the downtown corridor. The latter was destined to be the toughest sell: the downtown is not a true hub of mobility in 2017. The truth is that the downtown is a place people want to live for the lake, the restaurants and night life and the culture, not because it is a starting point for transportation to other destinations. Unlike the other three, the downtown is, by its nature, a destination hub first, a transportation one second.

There is an agenda to grow in the downtown core, and while it may in fact be good for the city as a whole, a bit of cognitive dissonance is required to buy into the mobility hub rationale.

When I attended a meeting about this downtown mobility hub this past Thursday, it was not surprising that the Art Gallery of Burlington’s largest hall was filled with interested and sometimes concerned local downtown residents.

Presentations from consultants began shortly after 7 pm, and it wasn’t long before the anxiety of the audience became evident. They did not wait long before interrupting the consultants to ask questions. After responding to a few of them, the consultants understandably implored the audience to let them get through their slides before taking any more.

However, when they finished a few minutes later, they handed workbooks out to the audience and left the microphone, taking no questions in front of the audience. Instead, city staff were deployed to the tables to answer questions in a small group format.

This conveniently prevented the consultants or the city from having to answer questions in front of the packed hall. The city staff patiently and diligently listened to attendees, responding to concerns and asking them to make their views known through the workbooks.

Concept 1 full build out looking north

Resident suggest that if “residential condo towers dominate the downtown core, the beauty of the area will be lost and the development initiative will become counterproductive.

I’m not sure what the consultants’ roles were, other than to fend off potentially embarrassing questions. They presented from prepared remarks for about half an hour and then we didn’t see them again.

Their job was, as is often the case, more about “having a consultation” than actually consulting. While the efforts of the city’s employees to answer queries was welcomed, at some point the city’s leadership will have to stand up and take some heat from area residents. Otherwise, a sense that they were not heard will prevail, and the social licence required for such a large remaking of the downtown will not be given.

Most of the attention focused on the many maps provided, outlining different districts that were often non-contiguous. It became unwieldy trying to understand what the consequences would be at the street level. Still, there was a lot of thought put into the detailed maps and it works as a basis for further discussion.

Several residents wondered whether views of the lake would be further blocked by high rises. The answer: quite possibly. The Old Lakeshore Road Precinct is marked for mid- and high-rises up to 15 storeys.

Rahoons Persian Eatery at Village Square won Best Overall Award.

Rahoons Persian Eatery at Village Square has won awards for its menu and service. One of the city’s most under utilized locations.

As an uptown resident, I want to see the downtown to become an even better destination for all Burlington residents to enjoy. Having more people in the core, if done right, can lead to more thriving businesses and great energy. The downtown looks great on a sunny summer or fall weekend, but it’s a bit of a ghost town in the winter. I see the Village Square as a test of the vibrancy of the downtown. It is a beautiful business centre, reminiscent of the romantic squares of Europe but it has yet to become the thriving destination it deserves to be.

That being said, while adding residents to the core is important for business and culture, if residential condo towers dominate the downtown core, the beauty of the area will be lost and the development initiative will become counterproductive. This is a real risk — one need only look down the QEW to the cold condos along the lake in Toronto.

This would be exacerbated if the City is serious about making the downtown a commuter area — that will attract investors rather than residents and we then risk the high vacancy rates predominant in Vancouver.

We need a made-in-Burlington solution for the downtown and the first step would be more transparency from the City’s planners and leadership on its vision for the area and real consultation with decision-makers, not outside consultants.

The first step should be to pull the downtown core out of the Mobility Hub process in recognition that this area is unique from the real mobility hubs and needs special attention. We are not talking about building a mobility hub around the John Street Bus Terminal. We are talking about permanently altering the character of the downtown area. It’s time to get serious.

There was a time when LAkeshore was known as Water Street and traffic was a little slower. But Burlington isn't a sleepy little town anymore - traffic has toi be controlled.

There was a time when Lakeshore was known as Water Street and traffic was a little slower.

Rory Nisan is a long-time Burlington resident and Lester B. Pearson High School alumnus. He has been an active member of the Save Pearson community organization.

 

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Gazette to be held accountable by National Newsmedia Council.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 9th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Gazette is a member of the National NewsMedia Council

We became members when the organization it was known as the Ontario Press Council – at that time we were one of the earlier online newspaper accepted into member unanimously by the Board of Directors at that time.

We pay an annual fee to be members – it isn’t cheap.

The National NewsMedia Council (NNC) does not impose its own code of practice. Instead, it expects members to adhere to their own or some generally-accepted code of journalistic standards, practice and ethics.

nnc logo with glassesIn considering a complaint, the NNC has regard for a cascading set of criteria that includes the news organization’s own code of conduct; generally-accepted national and regional journalistic standards; standards such as those of the Canadian Press and the Canadian Association of Journalists; such legal or ethical guidelines as appropriate; and any other considerations deemed valid by the Board.

The NNC promotes media ethics and responsible journalism through our mediation services, pre-publication advising, and outreach.

One of the prime purposes of the NNC is the provision of a place people can go to and air complaints they have about how media has treated them.

This is a valuable public service that is needed – media have to be held to account.

The NNC works diligently to get both sides of the story and they issue a statement that can be either:

An upheld complaint.
Dismissed complaints.
Dismissed with reservations.
Resolved due to corrective action taken.

As NNC members the Gazette is expected to publish any decision made to the Council.

NNC landing

National Newsmedia Council advertisement that promotes the purpose of the Council.

In the past several months there have been two complains made to the NNC about material published in the Gazette.

Both relate to the closing of two of the city’s seven high schools – and in each case the matter came from the Bateman community.

The fist was a complaint that we violated our privacy policy – which we in fact did. We published the name of an individual who has chosen a pen name rather than his own in a comment he made related to a Gazette article.

We later learned that the individual was a member of a Board of Education Advisory committee who we felt was hiding behind the pen name rather than letting readers of his comments know where his thinking was comment from.

We were asked by the NNC to apologize for braking our own rules which we did and that matter was closed.

Since then the Gazette has announced that it is in the process of changing its privacy policy; quite what form that policy change will take has not yet been determined.

We want to provide a form for people to air their views. We regret that frequently some people use a pen name and attempt to”game” the process. A number of news organizations have given up on a comments section. We are not prepared to go quite that far.

The second complaint is much more complex – it relates to a matter of fairness and just how much we did to ensure that we were fair and complete in our reporting.

The prime concern appears to be that we did not name the person we were reporting about but that anyone could read between the lines and determine who it was. Perception and reality are not the same thing.

Unhappy parentIn our conversations with staff at the NNC they understand and appreciate that the closing of a high school is a very emotional issue and feelings come to the surface quickly. The situation at Bateman is very, very hard for many of the parents who have children in the Community Pathways Program to deal with.

We won’t comment further on this until the National Newsmedia Council has issued their decision, which we are advised will be before the end of the month. We hope at that time that we can name the individual, publish the content of the complaint and the Council decision which we will abide by.

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Mike Wallace wants the Mayor's Chain of Office - tapping people on the shoulder all over the city.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 6th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ken, an intelligent citizen who comments in the Gazette from time to time, made an interesting comment earlier this week.

Burlington Citizens are in charge of their future, he said. “If the people of Burlington want to build to accommodate more people then let’s see how the voting goes in 2018.”

That election is more than a year away but some of the ducks are already being lined up.

Goldring tweet

Cute – why doesn’t the man just come out and say that on May 1, 2018 he expect to file nomination papers.

There are three who covet the Mayor’s chain of office: The current occupant who has said in a very coy way that he is in the race.

Mike Wallace has been telling anyone who will give him 15 seconds of their time that he too is in the race.

And we assume the ward 2 council member Marianne Meed Ward is still in the race. She was running for Mayor when she ran in 2010. Meed Ward had run previously in Ward 1 against Councillor Craven.

Mike Wallace was a member of council for a number of years and expected to be the Mayoral candidate but found himself in a federal election where he won and was off to Ottawa.

Greg Woodruff, an Aldershot resident, has run some numbers based on the votes he got when he ran against Regional Chair Gary Carr and figured out that he has a chance of winning. Will he toss his hat in the ring? Who knows?

meed-ward-planning-2

Meed Ward loves her job; she revels in pulling people together. During her first term of office she spent her annual postage allotment in a couple of months – she was mailing everything to almost everyone.

At the Mayoral level there is an interesting situation. Meed Ward has her tribe’ they will stand by her – the question is – does she have enough people in the other five wards that will be with her?. If she has – and she seems to believe she does – then the question becomes this – is her vote bigger than what Wallace and the Mayor have to split?

The Meed Ward vote is not going to go to either Wallace or the Mayor. Those two will have to share what Meed Ward doesn’t get.

Mayor at Wallace election HQ Oct 2015

The Mayor spent the night of the federal election watching he vote come in at Mike Wallace’s headquarters.

Mike must feel that he can pull in more of the vote that Meed Ward doesn’t get than the Mayor can.

Wallace and Gould

Wallace congratulating Gould on her defeating him for the Burlington federal seat – it will be interesting if Wallace becomes Mayor and has to deal regularly with the woman that beat him.

Mike has profile, he has been around a long time and he wants the job – close to desperately.

The Mayor chose to go the photo op route – he couldn’t sustain the approach his Chief of Staff Frank McKeough developed for him during his first term.

The Mayor has gone through four Staff Chief’s. He hasn’t delivered on any of his environmental issues – still no private tree bylaw – and he hasn’t been identified with an issue that the public is fully in support of. And he seems to have to cling to the New Street Road diet.

Meed Ward is described as “divisive” – she is focused. She knows where she stands and sticks by her decisions. There isn’t the understanding of the economics of land values that the job needs.

Often, whenever ward 1 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward appears at events with the Mayor she sounds more "mayoral" than the man who wears the chain of office.

Often, whenever ward 1 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward appears at events with the Mayor she sounds more “mayoral” than the man who wears the chain of office.

Should she win her first two years will be hectic – she will want to do everything at the same time. Meed Ward believes she will be a great Mayor. Whether she is not will become evident in the third and fourth year of her first term.

At the council level – no one is going to beat Craven in Ward 1; Leah Reynolds was being primed for the ward 2 seat by Meed Ward but the fiasco with the texts sent between the two during the school closing debate might put a wrinkle in those plans

There is a credible candidate for ward 3 – the issue there is whether or not John Taylor is ready to retire. He has deep deep support in the community but 30 years is a long time. At some point the harness has to be put away – and if Taylor likes the look of the candidate he might decide to support the person and mentor him during the first term.

The potential candidate was raised in the ward and currently holds a very important job at another level of government.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison the day he announced the sale of Cedar Spring. his health club operation.

Ward 4? Can Dennison be beaten – Of course he can but not by a candidate who comes into the race late in the game and doesn’t have a team or the funding. Dennison has name recognition – some think the recognition is past its best before date.

Ward 5 – Sharman holds sway there and there doesn’t appear to be any one in the trenches prepared to do the work to take him on.

There is hope for a change in ward 6 – there is at least one very credible candidate who would do a superb job of representing the residents. Career options are a family issue there.

Do a head count at the council level: Craven, Dennison and Sharman are close to a given. If the right people are elected in wards 2, 3 and 6 – and Meed Ward is Mayor – Burlington will be a much different city.

We thought we saw it that way in 2014 and we were dead wrong. No predictions at this point – but the possibilities are intriguing.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written by the publisher.

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Rivers gets the gift that keeps on giving - comments on an $8 million ask.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 1, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It’s the gift that keeps on giving – for journalists anyway. I’m talking about Mike Duffy who has put himself back into the spot light by suing the Canadian government, RCMP and Senate for close to $8 million in total. One would think that once he had been acquitted on all 31 charges the RCMP had filed against him, the man would count his lucky stars and lay low.

Mike Duffy, toasting - on the public's dime?

Mike Duffy, toasting – on the public’s dime?

But not the Duff. Never shy of being a spectacle, he actually thinks we tax payers owe him something. First of all, being a senator is hardly a real job in any meaningful sense of the word. Even after Mr. Trudeau has tried to make that body of political hacks appear non-partisan, it is still a political body without a functional rationale. All the PM has done is further emasculate it – which is probably a good thing. And besides, when it comes to being owed salary, it wasn’t like Duffy was ever known for doing anything but attending Conservative party rallies.

Second, Mr. Duffy accepted the senate seat for PEI even though he wasn’t qualified. He apparently had pointed out that he really didn’t live there. But when it was PEI or nothing, he went for the lie and used his vacant cottage there as his pretext.

And then there were the expense claims. That he had to return bags of money is a pretty clear indication that even Duffy knew he was in the wrong. Sure the Senate rules may be fuzzy about entitlements for expenses, but he should have known he had been pulling a fast one.

Duffy + Judge

Mike Duffy and the Judge who sent him home.

He was a lucky man to find a judge who obviously felt sorry for him. Or perhaps, as was suggested in his decision, the judge needed to make the point that the RCMP had missed the real perpetrators – Mr. Harper and his henchmen in the Senate and the Prime Minister’s Office. And though Duffy was mainly just a patsy in the whole messy Senate-gate that is hardly an excuse.

So while Duffy may have been set free, nobody really believed that he was innocent. Except for Duffy, that is. So having been expelled from the Senate, he felt he was still owed his back pay and that riled the man. Whether righteous indignation or greed, or both, Duffy believes, that obtaining lots of taxpayer money will restore a reputation that he never had.

Duffy and the PM

Mike Duffy with Stephen Harper when he was Prime Minister; it was a contentious relationship.

It was the same argument that Omar Khadr, the former self-confessed terrorist, used to extract over $10 million from the taxpayers. He needed a big chunk of change to restore his reputation. What reputation? Duffy, was a retired journalist who was put into the Senate on a lie. His biggest contribution was in raising funds for the Conservative party, and he used his position to reward himself.

The RCMP had been suitably chastised for doing the PM’s bidding, instead of upholding the law of the land. And so they dropped the rest of the investigations against the other errant senators who had also padded their expense claims. And that was that bit of justice done.

In our post-Khadr Canada would anyone bet that those senators don’t also start suing for ‘damages’ to their reputations? And that would make the Senate even more a waste of money than it already is.

MikeDuffy smiling

Smiles – much to be happy about.

As for Duffy, if he gets his Senate back pay reinstated, he’d be lucky. But when going to court can be akin to rolling the dice at a casino, who knows? I recall watching former PM Mulroney following his admission of accepting envelopes of cash from that slimy Karlheinz Schreiiber character.

Going to court on this ridiculous $8 million claim might make good theatre and a nice diversion, but I’m guessing it would do as much good for Duffy’s reputation as the Oliiphant Commission did for Mulroney. And on the upside, were this matter actually allowed to go to court, Mr. Duffy might finally have to face real justice.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Duffy’s Lawsuit –   Justice in the Trial –     Eight Million Cool Ones

Mulroney’s Inquiry –     Senate-Gate

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Silencing the words you don't like and don't want to hear.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

August 30th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Donald Trump calls out the traditional media, labelling them ‘fake news’- all except Fox News, that is. It’s almost like he is preparing a justification for shutting them down.

MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 10: Presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures after Carly Fiorina says she met with Russian President Putin at a one on one meeting, during the Republican Presidential Debate sponsored by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal at the Milwaukee Theatre November 10, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The fourth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top eight candidates, and another for four other candidates lower in the current polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

It is almost unprecedented for the CEO of America to be demeaning the nation’s time-tested news networks and it is worrisome. Isn’t that a tyrant’s prelude to quashing any opposition and to avoiding criticism?

At one point Trump shut down the cameras at the regular White House press briefings and at another he actually banned CNN and some other media, while allowing other media outlets in.

Bracken being arrested

Fred Bracken being arrested in Fort Erie for trespassing

Somewhat related, back here in Canada the municipality of Fort Erie has also been trying to muffle a critic. Local resident, Fred Bracken, was banned from showing up at town hall for a whole year. He had been complaining about the council’s approval of a medical-marijuana facility situated across the street from his house, and let them know how he really felt about it.

Fred Bracken taking pictures

Fred Bracken filming at a public meeting.

Perhaps he’d watched too many episodes of Miami Vice or was worried that his neighbourhood might become a druggy hangout.  But it sounds like the issue became personal and a bit more entangled since he was apparently also being sued by one of the Councillors.

As we know things can get hot in the shark tank of municipal politics and Mr Bracken apparently got a little loud and boisterous one day. And that was too much for a council short on patience and tolerance. So they banned him under Ontario’s archaic Trespass Act when he refused a command to turn off his video camera. They argued that workplace security was in jeopardy by his very presence and called our Mr. Brachen a threat.

And just as well Fred had that camera running because that tape, in court, let the judge see what was really happening. And the judge agreed with him. While Fred may have been angry and annoying, he was neither violent nor a danger to anyone in the Council Chambers. So the judge rescinded the trespass order claiming the council had violated his Charter rights.

I used to post ‘no trespassing’ signs around my farm in Ottawa to keep the fox hunters and their dogs away from my sheep. But then that was my farm. I always figured that public property belonged to the public and that a public council meeting should be open to the public. I mean who pays for these politicians salaries and the venue where they jawbone about public matters.

Fred Bracken had every right to attend a public meeting dealing with matters of governance concerning his interests. He had been a victim of a town council, full of their own self-entitlement as government, trying to shut him up. It was no different than what Donald Trump had been trying to do, nor what we expect to happen in a banana republic or Russia.

When people who have been denied their constitutional rights seek recompense it can get expensive. Omar  Khadr got $10 million out of court settlement because the former Conservative government had left him to defend himself in a foreign country.

The Judge who heard the Fred Bracken case ordered the city of Fort Erie to pay him $4000. It will be interesting to see if the good people of Fort Erie decide they no longer want to pay for the mistakes of their politicians’ big mistake or even if they will decide it is easier to just clean house.

Rivers looking to his leftRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Trump Media Blocking –    More Trump Media –    Trump Media Attack

Ontario Trespass Act –   Fort Erie –    More Fort Erie –    Even More Fort Erie

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Minimum wage increase: Who benefits? Can we afford it? Can we afford not to pay people at least a living wage?

opinionandcommentBy David Goodings

August 24th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Cindy (not her real name) is a woman of about forty with a winning smile and a full head of long brown hair.

She has been working at minimum wage jobs for many years, often juggling several jobs at the same time. You have to be tough to survive in today’s world of precarious employment and Cindy is a survivor. A few months ago while talking about her present life and her struggle to make ends meet, Cindy was asked what it would be like to make $15 an hour. “That would be awesome,” she replied matter-of-factly. “That would be pretty sweet, I think.” [1]

Isabella Daley is another woman in her forties, well educated and highly articulate, with a wry sense of humour. She knows how tough it is to raise her children (and her condescending cat) while employed at minimum wage jobs. In a candid video produced for Living Wage Hamilton she imagines how her life would change if she were paid a living wage, currently $15.85 per hour in Hamilton. Not only would she be able to pay the rent and utility bills, she could do something for her toothache before it became unbearable, and let her daughter have a friend come for dinner. Isabella knows well what it is like to be one of the “working poor”. [2]

The Ontario Government’s proposed legislation, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017, includes raising the minimum wage to $14.00 in January, 2018 and to $15.00 a year later. It will be warmly welcomed by Cindy and Isabella and hundreds of thousands of other people as roughly 30 percent of Ontario’s workers are paid less than $15.00 an hour. [3] The government is also legislating that part-time workers be paid the same as full-time workers, and is allowing employees two paid emergency days and five unpaid ones each year.

As expected, the business community, represented by the Chambers of Commerce, is sounding the alarm about catastrophic job losses and dire effects on the economy. One recent study [4] predicts that approximately 185,000 jobs will be put at risk across the province. However, job losses on this scale are, literally, unbelievable as there is abundant evidence from past experience in the US and Canada that minimum wage increases have almost no effect on overall employment. A recent article in the Toronto Star [5] cites research in the US that examined 22 federal minimum wage increases between 1938 and 2009. It found “no correlation between those increases and lower employment levels.” A similar Canadian study [6] covering the years from 1983 to 2012 “found almost no evidence of any connection whatsoever between higher minimum wage levels and employment levels in Canada.”

So, who benefits from keeping the minimum wage low? First, executive officers and shareholders of large corporations—the source of about half of minimum wage jobs in Ontario. For example, the Weston family’s conglomerate, Loblaw Companies Ltd. which includes Loblaws, No Frills and Shoppers Drug Mart, estimates that raising the minimum wage to $15 will cost $190 million in additional wages. But last year the company paid shareholders $1.1 billion, almost 6 times the cost of the wage increase. [7] It looks as though the business community is asking Cindy and Isabella to accept “poverty wages” in order to make the executives and shareholders a bit wealthier.

Secondly, let’s consider the case of small businesses such as restaurants and independent retailers. The owners may respond by laying off employees or reducing their hours, or by raising prices, all of which have consequences for the successful running of their businesses. Alternatively, they may be able to absorb some of the cost of increased wages, or will eliminate jobs through automation. In any event it is very unlikely that the owners will feel much hardship from having to adjust their business models.

Corporations and small business owners should also be aware that when their employees receive fair wages they tend to be more productive, have better morale and better health, and are less likely to leave for another job. Businesses may also benefit from the fact that minimum wage workers spend almost all their wages locally.

Thus the debate on raising the minimum wage comes down to a straightforward choice: significantly improve the lives of Cindy and Isabella and thousands of other people like them, or maintain the financial returns of shareholders, executives and business owners. Fortunately the Liberal Government is in no doubt about what is the right thing to do.

Goodings DavidDavid Goodings was born in Toronto and studied mathematics and physics at University of Toronto and Cambridge.  He was a Professor of physics at McMaster University for thirty years and has been a resident of Burlington since 2001.  He is an active member of Poverty Free Halton and Living Wage Halton. Married to Judy for 37 years which may be why his favourite piano piece is:  Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Fats Waller.


Sources:
[1] Working on the Edge, a video on precarious employment: www.livingwagehalton.ca

[2] Isabella Daley video, What a living wage would mean to me, on youtube.com

[3] Why politics drives a minimum wage wedge, Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star, May 31, 2017

[4] Bill 148 causing greatest chaos among business community in over a decade: chamber president, Kathy Yanchus, Burlington Post, August 17, 2017.

[5] Minimum wage hike won’t bring ‘doom and gloom’, economists say. Open letter by 40 Canadian economists endorses proposed provincial wage increase. Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Toronto Star, July 4, 2017.

[6] Wage Mythology. The minimum wage and the impact on jobs in Canada, 1983-2012, by Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford. Report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, October 2014

[7] Yes, Mr. Weston, you can afford a living wage, Angella MacEwen and Cole Eisen, Hamilton Spectator, August 14, 2017

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Board of trustees in need of some help learning what their jobs are and how to pull together as a team. This isn't a sewing circle.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 22, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

This article has had a correction, Pearson will not open in September of 2018

The Going Back to School process has begun – the school supplies are being bought and fresh new clothing is being chosen.

News Analysis

Parents are learning what the fashion trend is going to be this year and the first timers are going to get a chance to learn what it is like to take a bus to school.

All seven high schools will open this year; it will be different next year.

The Board of trustees voted to close two of the city’s seven high schools: Lester B. Pearson will not open in September of 2018 and Bateman high school will not open in September of 2020.

Protesters PARC

At first it was Central high school parents fighting to keep their school open. They put forward very compelling arguments and they were taken off the recommendation list.

Bateman parents

Bateman high school was put on the recommended for closing list when Central high school was taken off the list.

Lester Pearson at Upper Middle and Headon

Lester B. Pearson parents were never able to get the kind of traction they needed to change the minds of the trustees. Ward 3 trustee Andrea Grebenc who attended Pearson said she could not find a reason for voting to keep the school open.

Both high school parent groups filed a request for an Administrative Review of the decision the trustees made– that review looks at the process used to make the decision – not the merits of the decision.

The parents had to file a request for the Administrative Review within 30 days of the decision – both met the July 7th deadline; the Board Administration had 30 days to respond to the request for a review – they did that by August 7th. The Ministry of Education now has 30 days to decide if there is any merit in the request for a review and to consider the position taken by the Board.

That gets us to sometime in the middle of September.

It would be a little naïve to expect any changes.

The Halton District school Board has been hit with Administrative Reviews before – the end result then was no change.

There is a very unhappy public in Burlington; parents are unhappy with the way the city failed to take a position on closing schools; many feel that the process used to make the decision was so flawed that the trustees should have taken the option that was available to them – and that was not to close any of the high schools at this time until there has been an opportunity for an in depth look at just what the problem is and if there is any likelihood of a change in the number of students that are going to attend high schools.

Burlington was in a situation where one high school was at 135% capacity (Hayden) while another was at about the 65% (Pearson) capacity level. That situation was the result of the traditional feeder schools for Pearson were filling Hayden instead.

The Program Accommodation Review process was new to the people of Burlington, new to the school board as well and in hindsight many people realize that it should have been done differently.

The school board trustees didn’t really deliver on their mandate – they took a hands off approach to the issue during the PAR process and then got swamped with the more than 50 delegations they had to deal with.

Kelly Amos, the chair of the school board was flummoxed on several occasions when it as clear she was in over her head with the process. At one critical meeting she had legal counsel for the Board giving her one opinion and a parliamentarian who had been brought in to provide advice and direction giving her a different opinion.

Collard and Miller

Ward 5 school board trustee Amy Collard livid with the decision made by the Director of Education wears her feelings.

One parent made the both astute and disturbing observation that the school board gave less time to deciding whether or not to close high schools than the city did on what to do with the Freeman station – which is now doing quite nicely in its new location.

The biggest problem the public has is the quality of the current school board. With the exception of Ward 5 trustee Amy Collard, the Burlington trustees are not delivering on the mandate they were given when they were elected.

Trustees Miller, Amos - Graves

From the right: Vice chair Graves and Chair Amos – who along with the other trustees are expected to hold the Director of Education Stuart Miller on the left accountable – something they don’t appear to know how to do.

They don’t know their jobs; they don’t ask hard questions; they don’t really hold the Board staff or its Director of Education truly accountable.

While the trustees may be nice people their job is to ask the probing questions. They have chosen to be nice and operate as what has become a bit of a clique that has a tremendous opportunity to make a significant difference but instead chose to take a pass.

Expect to see a lot of different names on the Burlington ballot in the October 2018 municipal elections.

Burlington can do better than what we have.

MMW + Leah Reynolds

Leah Reynolds on the right. She gets by with a little help from her friends. City Councillor Meed Ward on the left.

We have a board where a trustee – Leah Reynolds – feels it is acceptable to receive text notes and advice on her computer from a member of the PAR, Marianne Meed Ward, who is also a city Councillor, who many believe expects the trustee to replace her should the council member run for the office of Mayor.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the behaviour of these two women, but Chair Amos pointed out that it was not against the code of conduct.

What the Chair failed to realize is that the letter of the law is important and relevant – it is however the spirit of the law that should prevail.

Of the 11 trustees on the Board of Education – four come from Burlington. Collard was the only one to vote against the closing of Bateman High school. Collard and Papin voted against the closing of Pearson.

four-trustees

From the left- trustees Papin, Reynolds, Ehl Harrison and Grebenc sat in on most of the Program Accommodation Review committee meetings as observers. There was no opportunity or occasion for them to make their views known at that point in the process.

The remaining seven members of the Board voted for the closing of both high schools. It is a little unsettling to realize that it was possible for trustees who do not represent the voters of Burlington to vote for the closing of high schools in Burlington even if the Burlington trustees had voted to keep them open.

There was not much in the way of a common cause between the four Burlington trustees. Three of the four bought into the Director’s recommendation to close the two high schools.

The sense that those trustees are keeping those seats warm while they battle for you is something that belongs in your Santa Clause and Easter Bunny box.

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Liberals take a swipe at PC leader Patrick Brown - Gazette reader takes a swipe at theLiberals

News 100 blueBy Staff

August 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Facts, opinions and political speeches – they are certainly not the same thing.

The Liberals have set up a media feature they call Facts Still Matter that they use to hammer almost everything Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown says.

So far the Conservatives have not come up with a way to counter the Liberal hammering.

The Gazette has not been successful in getting through to the Conservatives for comment and reaction.

In the most recent Facts Still Matter the Liberals maintain that;

patrick-brown smiling

Leader of the Progressive Conservative opposition Patrick Brown

Patrick Brown delivered a doozy of a speech to the Stratford Chamber of Commerce yesterday, littered with 19 false claims. This is a new record for a single speech, even for Brown!

Not only did Patrick Brown, in a very Trump-like manner, call our fact checks “alternative facts”, even though they are always credibly sourced, but he doubled down on his outright opposition to a $15 minimum wage in Ontario.

He then moved on to spread misinformation about healthcare, the economy, workplaces, and infrastructure just to name a few. If he wants to give speeches to Chambers of Commerce in Ontario, Patrick Brown needs to remember that Facts Still Matter in Ontario, and Ontarians deserve to hear it.

He Claimed: “[Ontario] is subsidized by other provinces…and no Liberal spin or alternative facts can hide that” and “No one wants to settle for a province that is a have-not Ontario”

Fact: He can use all the Trump lines he wants but that doesn’t change the truth. In 2016-17 Ontario paid $6.9 billion into the equalization program and only received $2.3 billion from it. In addition, according to the Mowat Centre, “Ontarians have consistently contributed more to the federal government in total tax revenue than they have received in federal spending in return.”

He Claimed: “Our credit rating is worse than Quebec”

Fact: This isn’t true. Moody’s and Fitch have the same rating and while S&P’s rating is higher for Quebec,

Ontario credit rating

The Brown statement does have some merit; Quebec,s credit rating is a touch higher than Ontario’s.

(Source: https://www.ofina.on.ca/ir/rating.htm, https://www.finances.gouv.qc.ca/en/Financement_Quebec61.asp)

He Claimed: “You can see your economy sliding”

Fact: Ontario has led the G7 in economic growth for the past 3 years.
(Source: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2017/07/ontarios-economic-growth-continues-to-lead-g7-countries.html)

He claimed: “She’s giving free hydro to Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.”

Fact: We’ve seen this one from Patrick Brown before. The last time the provincial Conservatives were in power, they spent $900 million importing electricity over two years just to keep the lights on. Given our position of strength, Ontario is a net exporter now, benefitting ratepayers to the tune of $230 million in 2015.
(Source: Independent Electricity System Operator)

He claimed: “The day after…they proceeded with 1100 more contracts.”

Fact: Wrong. Todd Smith, Patrick Brown’s very own PC energy critic, was on the Agenda with Steve Paikin on March 6th, 2017, admitting this was entirely inaccurate.
Here’s the exchange:

Steve Paikin: “But they’re not signing any new contracts. So the tweet says she signs the next round of bad energy contracts tomorrow is inaccurate, right?”

Todd Smith: “Yeah, Okay. I’ll say that’s inaccurate.”

(Source: https://tvo.org/video/programs/the-agenda-with-steve-paikin/wynnes-power-play, https://www.ieso.ca/sector-participants/feed-in-tariff-program/overview)

Hydro towers - BurlingtonHe claimed: “You could see hydro rates spike by as much as 61 percent after the election.”

Fact: Wrong. The Fair Hydro Plan is already reducing electricity bills by 25 per cent on average for families, small businesses and farms. Lower-income Ontarians and those living in eligible rural and northern communities are receiving even greater reductions, as much as 40 to 50 per cent.

As part of this plan, rate increases will be held to the rate of inflation for four years.

(Source: https://news.ontario.ca/mei/en/2017/05/ontario-passes-legislation-to-lower-electricity-bills-by-25-per-cent.html)

He claimed: “And we’re seeing, we’re seeing hundreds of millions of dollars of [greenhouse] investment flee to Michigan and Ohio, because of hydro”

Fact: The greenhouse industry is actually expanding here in Ontario. Just this March, Greenhill Produce announced a new $100-million development in Lambton County that will create up to 300 new jobs. NatureFresh Farms is also building a $400-million distribution centre in Leamington. Both new investments build on the nearly 3,000 acres and 81,000 jobs already here. The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers also says the industry has grown here by 150 acres a year.
(Source: https://www.lfpress.com/2017/03/14/chatham-kent-operator-looks-north-to-lambton-county)

He claimed: “What’s the point of having these [changing workplaces review] consultations if you already made up your mind?”

Fact: The all-party committee, which includes Conservative MPPs, is meeting next week to debate amendments.
(Source: https://www.ontla.on.ca/web/committee-proceedings/committee_business_agendas.do?locale=en&BillID=4963+&CommID=144&BusinessType=Bill&detailPage=agendas)

He claimed: “I just came back from the municipal conference in Ottawa—the Association of Municipalities of Ontario—they talked about this huge infrastructure deficit”.

Fact: Whether it’s last week’s announcement that we are expanding Highway 26 in Collingwood, laying the first track for the Eglinton Crosstown in Toronto, or reaching a major milestone through the ground breaking of the Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Wellington County, we continue to make record infrastructure investments in communities across Ontario. Patrick – use this handy website to check your facts!
(Source: https://www.ontario.ca/page/building-ontario)

He claimed: “The Auditor General said we could be seeing cost overruns of 25 percent, because we don’t measure outcomes, we don’t measure performance.”

Fact: We know that AFP delivery costs less than the traditional way of delivering large, complex projects – in fact, the model has saved the province $6.6 billion! We know this because every year since 2013 we’ve had independent, 3rd party organizations review the performance of our projects. What have they found? 96% of our projects were completed on budget.
(Source: https://www.infrastructureontario.ca/Third-Party-Reports/)

He claimed: “You might have not have heard this but they cut the amount of medical emergency positions by 50 recently…It means we’re going to have less physicians to the province of Ontario”.

Fact: Since 2003, the number of physicians practicing in the province has increased by over 34 per cent, which is more than 7,300 additional doctors practicing in our health system today.

(Source: Ministry of Health)

He claimed: “They fired 1700 nurses over the last year and a half”.

Fact: Since taking office in 2003, more than 28,949 nurses have begun working in Ontario, including 11,000 registered nurses. In fact, in 2016 the number of nurses employed in nursing increased for the twelfth consecutive year showing our clear, consistent commitment to improving health care in Ontario.

(Source: Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care)

Some of the Liberal responses are a little on the tepid side.

What wasn’t tepid by any definition was a comment from a Gazette reader who pointed out that:

Wynne Kathleen - looking guilty gas plant hearingLiberals telling provincial Conservative leader Patrick Brown that facts still matter?
Pot, I would like you to meet Kettle.

Email deletions, high level bureaucrats on charges for elections bribery and the Premier did not but “should have or ought to have known,” what her operatives were doing on her behalf.

Never mentioned Carbon Tax during election but introduced as perhaps the second largest tax grab in provincial history along with serious inflationary pressure down the road.

Green Energy costs Ontario more than any other jurisdiction in NA for electricity.

Sold the furniture to pay the rent, OPG. Now we own the 4th largest Coal burning source in NA.

Sweetheart union settlements a year before the contracts are due to buy labour peace and election support for 2018.

Cost of staying in a provincial park has increased nearly 100% in 10 years.

I could go on but I have to go to work so I can afford all these new Taxes, I mean Revenue tools.

Ouch!

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There is a new player in the provincial election next June who could change the direction of Ontario's growth.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 8th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is less than a year away. In June of 2018 we will elect a provincial government.

The provincial Liberals have been in office since 2003 and are described by many as tired and no longer have that edge one needs to govern a province the size of Ontario.

All that raw power has to be transformed into electricity homes and office buildings can use. Trasnformers are not cheap - so Burlington Hydro has to borrow some money to pay for the transformer that will get placed along tremaine Road.

Katherine Wynne decided to sell part of Hydro to raise the money for needed infrastructure projects. Many thought she had made a serious mistake.

Hydro rates bother a lot of people and the selling of a significant part of Hydro One is seen as close to criminal by many.

The attention being paid to the upgrading of our infrastructure – roads, rails – and the building of hospitals has been admirable. Will all that be enough?

Wynne put immense pressure on the federal government to improve the Canada Pension Plan by creating an Ontario pension plan – the federal government caved in and improved the federal plan – something every Canadian can be grateful for.

The raising of the minimum wage to $15 an hour suggests the Wynne government hasn’t completely lost touch with what the province needs. The pressure from the private sector is immense – Loblaws is lobbying her fiercely.

patrick-brown smiling

Patrick Brown is going to have a Joe Clarke experience.

Keeping the provincial economy sound and maintaining the NAFTA agreement with an American president who wants to tear it up before he gets committed to either a mental health institution or a prison is not a small matter. Something well beyond the capacity of Patrick Brown.

When deciding who you want to run the government, being angry and wanting to get rid of what you have, requires a look at what the options are. The pickings aren’t all that inviting.

Andrea Horwath hasn’t excited anyone other than the limited NDP base and the support for her there isn’t exactly overwhelming. And there doesn’t appear to be a number two within the NDP ranks.

Patrick Brown struggles to define just what it is he wants to do – and seems to have an edition of his platform that is tailored for whichever part of the province he is in.

In Burlington it has been difficult to get a sense of what the Conservative candidate, Jane McKenna, has to say or to even get a look at her.

The Gazette has reached out to the Conservative’s in Burlington – they haven’t been returning calls.

Brown is still learning his way as the Conservative party leader – he should be aware that he isn’t going to hold that job for all that long.

Mulroney Catherine

When she was a speaker at the federal Conservative leadership convention earlier in the year it was evident what the Mulroney game plan was – Caroline was headed for the leadership o the provincial Tories.

The game changer is Brian Mulroney’s daughter Caroline, who has been nominated to run as the Conservative candidate in York–Simcoe, north of Toronto. She appears to have a home in Forest Hill, a very tony part of Toronto and a home in a township within the York Simcoe riding.

The team guiding the Caroline Mulroney nomination campaign are keeping her away from national media while they woo the locals. The sitting member for York Simcoe, is the longest serving female member of the provincial legislature and has thrown her support behind Mulroney.

Caroline Mulroney did not decide to enter provincial politics to sit as a back bencher at Queen’s Park. That is not the way the Mulroney’s do business

She will win the York – Simcoe seat and while she has zilch legislative experience the pressure on Brown to put her in his shadow Cabinet is something he will not be able to resist. Should he win the provincial election, which is a big assumption, the pressure to put her in his Cabinet will be even stronger.

The Mulroney’s are going to do to Patrick Brown what they did to Joe Clarke.

It will not take too long for Caroline Mulroney to outshine Patrick Brown and begin the move to ousting the poor man when there is a leadership convention.

Jane McKenna, who has been particularly adroit at figuring out where the power is in a room, will find herself warming up to Ms Mulroney as quickly as she possibly can.

Caroline Mulroney - arms crossed

She has a strong profile: Caroline Mulroney is a lawyer, has experience in the financial sector and the required philanthropic foundation.

Ms Mulroney is in this for the long term. Should she find herself on the Opposition benches the goal will be the same – to gain the leadership of the Conservative party in Ontario.

So what the public wants to do is look very carefully as Caroline Mulroney – is this the woman that is going to restore the Progressive Conservatives to power in Ontario?

Patrick Brown might, and this is a small might, defeat Kathryn Wynne. She is a formidable campaigner and she does not like to lose. She also believes that Ontario has done well by the Liberal government she has led.

These are all small matters – Catherine Mulroney is going to lead the Ontario Progressive Conservative party and will at some point defeat the Liberals.

Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney and daughter Caroline arrive at the church for the state funeral for the late Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney and daughter Caroline arrive at the church for the state funeral for the late Jim Flaherty.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Wynne might prevail and get back in but 2018 will be her last election and there is no one on the Liberal front bench that can take the leadership and defeat Ms Mulroney.

The only thing in the woman’s way is any stupid mistake she could make. Highly unlikely – her Father will be up to his ears in her campaign and he will call in every favour he has and then some.

An opportunity to create a Mulroney dynasty is too much for Brian Mulroney to take a pass on.

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Spoiler alert! Columnist Ray Rivers is on vacation.

Rivers 100x100By Staff

August 4, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

Rivers reading a newspaper Jan 3-15

 

Ray is taking what he feels is a much needed and well earned break to re-fresh and get some work done on his next book which has the working title of The Draft Dodger.

He has found a publisher interested in this most recent book.

He will return to these pages immediately after Labour Day.

Ray Rivers, shamelessly flogs his book every opportunity he gets.

Ray Rivers, shamelessly flogs his book every opportunity he gets.

Rivers published The End of September in 2012.

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Rivers pontificates on the fate of the federal New Democrats; likes the look of Charlie Angus

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 28, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In a first-past-the-post parliamentary system only two political parties will ever predominate. That potentially limits the development of ideas and policies since the tendency is for the parties to become entrenched. We see this in spades south of the border where their famous time-honoured arcane system of checks and balances has devolved into little more than a battleground for partisan bickering over established positions.

That is where third parties come in – to generate new ideas and expand the discussion. Of course a proportional representative electoral system is natural habitat for third parties. But we’ve also seen the successful co-operation and contribution of third parties during times of minority government. In fact these were periods where some of our best legislation has been created.

Third parties, especially those with little hope of ever having to actually govern, can push the envelope of what is possible and make the unimaginable imaginable. That is how we got universal national health care. But once a mainstream party adopts a good out-of-the-box idea it gets the credit and power, and the third party continues to linger in the shadows. That is the story of Canada’s NDP. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride.

Layton_Quebec

Jack Layton took Quebec with his Orange Wave but died before he got a chance to really wide that wave.

Jack Layton tried to change that scenario. Coming up to the 2011 election, Layton sold his soul to the Quebec separatists, all but promising them political sovereignty. And it worked. Disillusioned with the Bloc Quebecois and not inclined to support Harper or Ignatieff, voters in that province went Orange (NDP) in droves, and almost as a protest vote. For the first time in their 50 year history – and beyond their wildest dreams – the New Democrats got into the game as Canada’s official opposition.

Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair stands in the House of Commons during Question Period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Wednesday December 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair one of the best Opposition speakers the House has seen in some time. He reminded one of the great John George Diefenbaker with a beard instead of jowls.

Thomas Mulcair, replacing Layton, chose his own version of the ‘Third Way’, the political philosophy that led to Tony Blair’s string of victories in the UK. There is no right or left only the correct, the Third Way. So while he may have planned to govern from the left, he campaigned from the middle – campaigning as if he were Stephen Harper light. And he lost in a political arena filled with voters wanting a change from the previous decade of ho-hum, nasty and back-from-the-past.

So at the first gathering of the faithful, the NDP rank and file showed Mulcair the door as the party once again sought to discover its old activist self. Fresh from the pen, the elite radical left tossed the Leap Manifesto and its visions for a carbon-free Canada onto the table, as a starting point. The NDP had come home to the fringe after its brief sojourn in the big leagues.

So there are four candidates in a race even more subdued than the Tories just ran. There is less oxygen in the room now when they meet. Already a couple of potential candidates have dropped out, some have been disqualified by the onerous rules, and a whole raft of potential candidates are sitting it out. The truth is Justin Trudeau has stolen their traditional place as Canada’s left-of centre party, at least for now, and the NDP needs to go back to the drawing board… and maybe change their name.

The NDP was an experiment from the beginning, a 60’s merger between a populist agrarian-based socialist party, the CCF, and a large labour movement, the Canadian Labour Congress. After all, this kind of marriage had worked in other Commonwealth nations, Britain in particular, propelling a workers’ party into power. But Canada is a different political animal.

Charlie angus

Charlie Angus – As solid a Socialist as you will find in this country. Can he win the NDP leadership and then do something with the party?

Popular northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus is the person to beat as they move towards the October vote. But as we saw with the recent Conservative leadership contest nothing is a given, especially when the NDP, like the other two main parties in their own leadership races, are using a preferential ballot. But whoever wins this contest will have an uphill climb to re-invent the NDP if it is to remain relevant as a political force.

Among other matters the party needs to consider its relationship with labour. The long-standing linkage with labour unions has likely hurt the party as much as it has ever helped, particularly as Canada continues to de-unionize. And in recent times so much of its traditional labour support has drifted to the Liberals, as unions seek to increase their influence with a sympathetic governing party.

Of course the NDP have formed sub-national governments across the country, and are currently in charge in BC and Alberta. There is a strong political following in BC, though the Greens are biting at their feet. And Alberta is a work in progress, with enough promise to force the parties on the right into a marriage of convenience. These governing experiences serve to perpetually push the national third party to become more centrist and broaden its appeal.

Yet these broadening efforts have also cost the NDP support. Others, like the Greens have sprung up with single issue campaigns which typically erode NDP support as they more effectively focus on an issue. And perhaps there is a better future jointly for both of those parties on the left.

rachel-notley

Rachel Notley – strong enough as the Premier of Alberta to force the Conservative interests in the province to join forces to beat her. Alberta’s loss if they do.

Or the NDP might consider jumping into bed with the Liberals who had, after all, stolen much of their traditional thunder in the last election. But there must also be resentment and disappointment with Mr. Trudeau’s betrayal of those dippers who voted Red as the best hope ever of achieving electoral reform, and converting their popular vote into its equivalence in seats in the national assembly.

Still, even if the New Democrats never make government, they need to take heart that they have and do make a difference. As indeed have all the other third parties who have been elected to Parliament, be they Reform, Social Credit/Creditists, Greens, or even the problematic Bloc Québécois. And for that reason alone this leadership contest should be important to all of us.

rivers-on-guitarRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

NDP –   Leadership –   BC NDP –   NDP Historical Support

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Rivers: aboriginal self-governance, at best, approximates the authority given to municipalities. First Nation describes what will never be more than a notional nation.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 21, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Canada’s aboriginal leaders have once again demonstrated how they sometimes don’t do themselves any favours. Last week, having been invited to attend the Council of the Federation where the provincial and territorial leaders meet biannually to discuss national issues – they staged a perfect no-show. Their boycott was put down to their offence at not being given a voice at the ‘Table’ equivalent to that of the premiers.

Unlike the premiers, charged with managing Canada’s sub-national governments, aboriginal self-governance, at best, approximates the authority given to municipalities. So it is unfortunate and dysfunctional when indigenous leaders take their adopted First Nations misnomer to heart. In a united Canada, these First Nations, comprising a million and half people, about 4% of our population and widely dispersed throughout the country, will never be more than a notional nation, as important as they were to our past and should be to our future.

Rivers - treatiesFirst Nations’ authority comes from a patchwork of treaties signed with the Crown over a century ago and the Indian Act, an even more inappropriate misnomer. Although there are some very successful reserves operating, as for example Walpole Island and our neighbours in the Six Nations, many are poorly managed and dependent on federal largesse for their survival, especially those in remote northern locations.

Back in 1969 Pierre Trudeau tabled a white paper proposing to repeal the Indian Act and scrap all of the historic treaties. He would have given the reserves to the individual band members and closed down the Department of Indian Affairs realigning health care, education and welfare to the appropriate provincial authorities. His proposal, a response to the failure of aboriginal policy and the Indian Act over the previous century was widely opposed by the aboriginal community itself, and he dropped the idea.

Canada’s earliest parliamentarians considered the native population uncivilized. The real purpose, arguably, of the Indian Act, which received royal ascent sometime between Louis Riel’s rebellions in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, was to civilize them. It was racist and sexist and designed to promote assimilation of the native population, though officially its purpose was to oversee and administer the welfare of the 600 or so native tribes and bands, and attending to the requirements of the treaties they signed with the Crown.

The Fathers of Confederation envisioned a future where aboriginals would eventually be integrated into mainstream Canadian society, they called it enfranchisement. That would eventually negate the need for an Indian Act – once there are no longer any ‘Status Indians’ -those covered by the Act. Bribes were offered for band members to relinquish their status. Anyone attending a post-secondary institution, serving in the military, joining the priesthood or just wanting to have the right to vote had to surrender their Indian status.

Rivers status cardWomen who married off the reserve would lose status, but men didn’t. And then some rocket scientist figured that snatching children from their parents and placing them miles away in ‘residential schools’ was the ultimate approach to achieve assimilation – though admittedly no one could have imagined the sexual and other physical abuse the children would be exposed to in schools operated by religious orders.

Canada’s First Nations’ development has not been a happy story. We hear all too often about how they generally experience lower income levels, poorer health, higher incarceration rates and shorter life expectancies. We cringe when hearing the horror stories of life at Attawapiskat and Davis Inlet. We find it hard to fathom this whole ugly matter of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), currently the subject of a national inquiry.

There is a long laundry list of recommendations coming out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the residential school program, though interestingly none of the recommendations effectively deal with what inspired that program in the first place, the Indian Act. The Commission referenced the need to pay attention, if not adopt, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada was one of only four or five nations which voted against it and we had little choice given the blatant conflict with our current policies under the Indian Act.

Over the years, subsequent governments, including that of Stephan Harper have attempted to make the Act less sexist and more focused on self-help and self-government. But the Indian Act remained a source of discrimination between those with status, primarily those living on reserves and eligible for various federal subsidies, and those without. In a landmark decision last year the Supreme Court struck down that discrimination, now ensuing that all First Nations, Inuit and Metis are subject to the Indian Act.

Rivers - indigenous-games

Indigenous games – 2017

This decision will be expensive for the government to implement unless we re-invent how we manage our relationship with Canada’s first inhabitants. And it does provide both the indigenous community and the rest of us with a unique opportunity to reset how we live with each other. Perhaps our current PM would benefit from a review of his father’s old White Paper. And what better time to initiate such a dialogue, as we congratulate our indigenous athletes for their participation in the half-century old North America Indigenous games held in Toronto this year.

Rivers looking to his leftRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

First Nations –   More First Nations –  Canada Day Protests

Premiers’ Meeting –   Truth and Reconciliation –   Indian Act

Status for All –   Beyond Indian Act –   Trudeau’s Proposal

Missing and Murdered –   Status Indians

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Rivers has the temerity to call a Telsa a Tin Lizzie - will he be buying one on-line?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 14th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is a revolution coming to a shopping mall or car dealer near you. There is a veritable flood of affordable electric vehicles (EV), the new Tin Lizzies, that will be pouring into the auto market in the near future. And as Tesla has shown you will be able to buy one at Yorkdale Shopping Centre or on-line as well as through the traditional car dealer networks.

Quebec leads the country with EV sales, though the number sold to date in this country is relatively low compared to other vehicle sales. But it is rapidly changing and that is the story we need to be paying attention to.

Rivers EV charging stations

The Portland Oregon airport expects to see a lo of electric cars – they have installed these charging stations.

To accommodate that growth there are over 5000 public EV charging stations across Canada according to the Canadian Automobile Association, which has an online map for when, inevitably, someone is running on their last drop of electrons. And the government is rapidly growing that network in this province.

Electricity is no stranger to transportation. Elevators, escalators, commuter trains, trams, subways, ski tows, and golf carts are all electric. In fact EVs were among the first horseless carriages produced. The giant General Motors in the mid 90’s, in anticipation of California’s strict auto emissions laws, produced more than 1000 EVs (called EV1) in a pilot lease program. The experiment was so successful that, presumably under oil company persuasion, GM took back the vehicles and destroyed them disappointing many otherwise satisfied drivers.

Rivers telsa 3

When Henry Ford introduced his Model T – it came in Black and only black. The Telsa offers a little more choice

But Tesla is the game changer. Introducing high-end quality cars, Tesla blazed the trail and was soon mimicked by other luxury car makers. In this way the EV developed niche and has become associated with speed, quality, reliability and high prices. That’s a long stretch from an EV being nothing more than a road-worthy golf cart. And it worked, sparking interest among autophiles and prompting a huge outcry for an affordable EV with sufficient battery capacity to accommodate most personal driving needs.

So last week Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the production of the first of its bread and butter EVs with a 300 kilometre range. Tesla first announced this vehicle, the ‘Model 3’ a couple of years ago and has since accumulated about half a million $1000 cheques from folks reserving their place to get one. Tesla Motors, barely a decade or so in the car business and still waiting to make a profit on its vehicle production, is already worth more than Ford Motors in market value. It’s owner the effervescent Musk, founder of Pay Pal and Space-X, is obviously doing something right.

But not everyone agrees we should be ditching the old guzzlers and moving to EVs. One of these is the editor of the Financial and National Post, Kevin Libin, who recently penned an epitaph on the EV based largely on yesterday’s sales numbers. He also referenced two studies, a Swedish one claiming lower CO2 emissions from driving a gas guzzler than making the EV’s batteries; and a Chinese paper claiming that charging the batteries alone emits 50% more than sticking with gasoline.

Libin might have checked an April copy of Forbes which lays out the carbon footprint for the Tesla and includes a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists which demonstrates that an EV reduces CO2 emissions by 53% over gas power even where coal is burned, as per the USA or China. And that number rises to 84% for a jurisdiction like Ontario whose electricity production is about 80% carbon free.

Rivers Volvo

Volvo has announced that in the near future it will manufacture just electric cars.

In any case those kinds of distraction haven’t put a stop to Chinese owned Volvo’s plans to sell only EVs and hybrids as of 2019. And for a cold northern country, EVs currently make up a third of all new car sales in Norway – where electricity is fossil-fuel free. In the UK, authorities are so concerned about EV growth potential that they worry there may not be enough electricity produced at the brand new Hinkley Point nuclear facility to meet future demand.

Riveers hydro generating

The Sir Adam Beck damn at Niagara has all the capacity the province is going to need to power up the charging stations and the GO trains that are due to be electrified in the not too distant future.

Following the break-up of Ontario Hydro with the associated brownouts, blackout, and soaring electricity rates in the early 2000’s, the Ontario government vowed to ‘keep the lights on’ by ensuring there would always be adequate electrical capacity to meet our needs. It was an expensive promise with an untested public/private electrical system requiring the issue of long term fixed supply contracts. And it was also a system requiring massive infrastructure spending to rectify years of neglected maintenance.

As a result of all that investment, Ontario, which had been forced to import almost a billion dollars of electrical supply in the final two years of the Harris/Eves government, was able to export almost a quarter million dollars worth of energy in 2015. And with all that capacity we can keep the electrons flowing for days when the sky is cloudy and/or the wind is still. We also now have a precautionary margin in the event that one of the nuclear facilities, which together supply roughly half of our electricity, fail as they have done in the past. And just as importantly, there will be sufficient capacity to meet the needs of an EV future and the end of the gas guzzler.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

EV Sales Canada –   EV Recharging Network–   Volvo 2019 –   

FP Article on EVs –  Tesla 3 –    EVs and the Oil Industry –    EV Myths–   

EV vs Gas PollutionTesla Not So Green –    Tesla Reductions –    

EV ReductionsWho Killed the EV –   Grid Blackout 2003 –   UK Hinkley

Ontario’s Nukes

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Rivers provides context on a controversial federal government decision: giving Omar Kahdr $10.5 million

Rivers 100x100 By Ray Rivers

July 7th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They called him an enemy combatant, a bastardized term for ‘prisoner of war’ invented by the Bush (II) administration to rationalize bypassing the established rules of war, the Geneva Convention. This is the global superpower which claims to hold the moral high ground, yet refuses to sign on to the International Court of Justice. So it should be unsurprising that it would make up its own rules and embrace dishonoured practices like torture or unlimited confinement.

Should anybody feel sorry for Canadian-born Omar Khadr?

Omar Khadr as a boy

Omar Khadr as a boy

His father, widely accused of being a terrorist and confident of al Qaeda leader bin Laden, had taken him to that troubled land of Afghanistan when Omar was barely a teen. But the fifteen year old Omar had been working at an Afghan militia compound, video-taped assembling land mines – the kind of IEDs which may have ended up killing Canadian soldiers.

The Americans invaded the compound with a hundred soldiers using high explosives, helicopters and planes, and killed the four or five fighters who had been protecting the premises. In the fracas Omar Khadr was shot a number of times in the back or chest, and something happened to his eye. But he managed to hurl a grenade, likely in an act of self-defence, which is believed to have exploded killing one American soldier and wounding another.

Of course there is no such thing as self-defence if one is an enemy combatant. So they hauled Khadr off to the extraordinary prison and torture chamber that been constructed at Guantanamo naval base (Gitmo) in occupied Cuba. And he was held there for about a decade before facing a military court and confessing under duress to his ‘crime’. Once convicted he was allowed, by our Supreme Court, to return and serve his time in Canada.

Omar Khadr cropped

Omar Khadr has said he wants to prove to Canadians: that I’m a good person.”

Back here he appealed to the courts and won a number of judgements, about being a juvenile when imprisoned; about the complicity of three subsequent Canadian governments – Chretien, Martin and Harper – in his imprisonment and interrogation; and that his rights under the Charter as a Canadian had been denied. Out on bail Omar Khadr had sued the Canadian government and its taxpayers for millions of dollars as compensation for the injustice our leaders allowed to happen on their watch.

Among other things, Canada never requested, in fact refused to allow, that he be re-repatriated to face justice here, instead of being held at Gitmo. This is in contrast to what British and Australian governments had done with their citizens, captured by the Yanks and accused of being enemy combatants.

So the Justice Department is giving him an apology and 10.5 million dollars, something that has enraged most Canadians who will likely never ever see a million dollars in any one place, let alone ten and a half.

I have followed this case for a number of years and essentially concur with Canada’s highest court that he had been treated unfairly and that his rights as a Canadian had been denied him. I think he is entitled to an apology for that. He was a juvenile at the time of his arrest and should have been treated appropriately. And his human rights were violated as he was subjected to advanced interrogation, aka torture. It was Omar’s father who led him to jihadism and terrorism. How much should the son pay for the sins the father?

On the other hand Omar was in a bad place; he was involved with people linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban; he had been doing a bad thing, making war materials to be used against allied forces, including our own; and he did fight back likely killing and wounding the soldiers as charged. For that he is facing a US judgement against him by the families of the US servicemen injured/killed for over $130 million in damages. Realizing they’ll never likely see that money, the American families have been trying to block the payment being made to Khadr by our government.

What’s with the money? Shouldn’t a legal claim for monetary compensation be justified by some kind of demonstration of financial damage or loss? How likely is it that the American soldier Omar presumably killed would be worth $130 million (US) to anyone but his wife – to whom he’d be priceless? And did Omar lose out earning $10.5 million while in a US rather than Canadian prison? Or had he been released early by a Canadian court, would he have earned that amount of money when his only known vocation was assembling land mines?

Of course he could have become a child pop star or hockey player, but that would have been difficult to do from prison. Still, Khadr had to organize his own legal defence in both the US and Canada, because his home country had written him off. For that he is entitled to compensation for legal costs – but I would hope his solicitors are not charging him more than ten million dollars.

Some politicians are comparing the $10.5 million to the few hundred thousand that is awarded to injured and disabled Canadian veterans of war. Such seemingly unfair treatment will not be easily forgotten as we approach the next federal election, something opposition leader Sheer is already warning us. Should we be rewarding the guy who made the kind of bombs which maimed and killed Canadian soldiers?

The government may argue that it minimized our financial risk by settling out of court rather than losing another case to Omar, who had been demanding twice as much. But at least a legal decision would be easier to accept than our government setting such an important precedent, voluntarily paying off an ex-con, still on bail, and former terrorist – child though he was.

Ray Rivers

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Enemy Combatant –   A Political Albatross –   It’s Justified

US Court Judgement –   Blocking Canadian Compensation

Juvenile Issue –   Supreme Court Decision

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Burlington MP Karina Gould featured in CBC news feature

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 1st, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Forget the politics for the moment.

It is really remarkable that a 30 year old woman sits as a member of cabinet in the federal government. And that she represents Burlington which has a strong, deep conservative history is also remarkable.

Karina Gould walks the streets of our city, is one of the most approachable people you will ever meet with a level of sincerity that rings true.

Bandits - Gould opening pitchPoliticians don’t rank all that high in the public mind – this one is different.

Admittedly she has served just the one term in office so far and many people would be hard pressed to tell you what she has done for the city. Her hands were part of the push that got major funding for the Joseph Brant Museum.

CBC did a short piece on three very young politicians that included Gould – worth watching. The link to the piece is set out below.

The three are part of the setting of the agenda for the next 50 years.  CLICK for the news clip

https://watch.cbc.ca/the-national/-/the-national-for-june-30–2017/44b8224-00c9890cd9b

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Rivers on: What I Love About Canada

Rivers 100x100Ray Rivers

June 30th, 2107

BURLINGTON, ON

 

As Canadians watch how our friends south of the border grapple with developing a better system of health care coverage, it is hard not to be just a little smug. After all, we figured it out back in the sixties, what is the matter with them? We came to consensus long ago that ensuring adequate health coverage for our citizens was essential for a healthy and growing economy.

A massive Canadian flag was passed hand over hand amongst a huge crowd in Montreal days before the citizens of Quebec voted in their referendum to remain a part of Canada.

A massive Canadian flag was passed hand over hand amongst a huge crowd in Montreal days before the citizens of Quebec voted in their referendum to remain a part of Canada.

Canada may be a ‘developed nation’ but it is still growing. Our most valuable natural resource is our population. And sick people don’t contribute to our economy, they are a drain. Further, people fretting about whether they can afford to pay for basic health services are distracted and not at their fullest potential. So providing affordable health care coverage is an economic benefit that easily justifies the cost.

And our single payer health care system is efficient. The numbers say it all. Per capita health care in the US is twice what it costs Canadians. It consumes over 15% of GDP there, versus only 10% in Canada. And even with their massive health insurance system, governments in the US still spend almost a quarter more than their Canadian counterparts.

One would assume that the more expensive US mixed public-private system, including their Medicare and Medicaid, would produce better results, better health outcomes. But it doesn’t. In fact Canadians have higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates.

The World Health Organization (WHO) granted that medical responsive was marginally better in the US, at least for those who could afford care. But even with all the money Americans spend, our health care system still ranked seven positions ahead of our neighbours to the south, in the 2000 WHO overall ratings.

That is just one reason I love this country. Universal health care. It may have been the brain-child of CCF/NDP leader Tommy Douglas and packaged nationally by Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, but it was implemented across the country by politicians of all stripes including Social Credit. And that’s another reason I love this country – our political leaders occasionally do come to general consensus and get it right.

Yes there was debate, and there still is, mostly about ideology and philosophy, about how single payer is the next step to socialism. That is the same kind of discussion our US cousins have been having for decades. And the critics will complain about how our health care is rationed with waiting lists for some services. But it is rationing by medical urgency rather than by the pocket book.

Recently the media reported on a women who showed up at a Mississauga walk-in clinic with her son and demanded to be seen by a ‘white doctor’. If you missed this story, it’s OK.

welcoming syrians to Canada

We welcomed them – knowing that we will be a stronger country because of them.

Because that’s another reason I love this country. Nobody supported her in her racist rant. Canada is a land that was built by immigrants and a nation that welcomes people from elsewhere to join us in developing our great Canadian project. As our Governor General recently said, we are all immigrants.

So as I celebrate Canada’s 150 year birthday, I’ll be thankful for our embrace of diversity, for our good government and because our health care coverage is automatic. That is something our American friends cannot say, even today while they still have Obama Care.

And they know that the day after their big July 4th birthday bash their government will be introducing some kind of Trump Care – a plan which only 12% of the people support and which will leave another 22 million without any health care coverage at all. Happy birthday Canada.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Comparative Health Systems –   Mississauga Rant –   Governor General on Immigrants

Post Obama Plan –   Canada on its 150th

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Pearson and Bateman high school students prearing a request for an Administrative Review of the Boards decision to close the high schools.

News 100 redBy Staff

June 29th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

While the Board of Education staff get on with the process of closing Lester B. Pearson in 2018 and Bateman high school in 2020 parents from both schools have taken a “not so fast” approach and are seeking an Administrative review of the process that was used to make the decision.

Eric who PARCSteve Armstrong, the lead from Pearson high school on the request for the Administrative reviews reports that they are “well along the path on getting our documentation together for submission.”

“On the signature front we have greatly exceeded our minimum required. We have two piles going one for the official qualifying signatures, and a second for those such as students who wanted to show support, but don’t count against the required number. We’re going to send both as a show of support.

Bateman hug # 2

Bateman students and parents protesting.

Armstrong reports that “Its been everyone’s interpretation of the procedure that each school slated for closure needs to request an Admin Review so team Bateman is also well along. We are conversing with them to make sure that were appropriate there is overlap, and in some areas there will be individual school issues

Steve Armstrong + Cheryl deLught - Pearson

Pearson high school parents asking for a review of the decision the Board of Education made to close the school.

“Yesterday’s announcement putting future PARs on hold was interesting, but it remains to be seen if it has any impact on us….assuming for now it doesn’t so we’ll keep pushing.”

And push they will.

Expect more on this in the months ahead.

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Damoff gives a short rip snorting speech on decorum in the House of Commons.

News 100 redBy Staff

June 29th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The House of Commons rose for the summer last week.  It is out to the BBQ circuit for most of them.

Damoff Pan in the house

Oakville Burlington North MP Pam Damoff lets it rip in the House of Commons.

When Pam Damoff the Member of Parliament for Oakville Burlington North, meets with her constituents during the summer, they might want to know a bit more about what she has done on their behalf.

One of the things she did was give a very short but rip snorting speech about decorum in the House of Commons.

Click to her what she had to say – You go girl!

Damoff will be reading from Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, a novel by Drew Hayden Taylor that weaves a story of magic, the bonds of family and a mysterious stranger that appears one day in a sleepy Anishnawbe community.  July 12  from 7:00 – 8:30pm at Tansley Woods Library in Burlington.

 

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Hamilton is said to be the most expensive date night city you will encounter - where does Burlington fall on that list?

News 100 yellowBy Staff

June 28th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We didn’t see this one coming.

A date in Hamilton is said to be the most expensive you will encounter – even higher than Toronto.

The research for this dubious WORD was done by EliteSingles, a national organization in the relationship business.

Hearts - red and blackThey totaled up the cost of a typical date night in Canada – and found that Hamilton is Canada’s most expensive big city for a romantic night out, with Toronto coming in second place! Those in Ottawa get off lightly – a date night in the city is below the average cost.

The full study is on their web site – including a rundown of date night costs in 10 of Canada’s biggest cities, and a global dating comparison that shows the cost of dating in 25 cities around the world.

They have highlighted the price differences in two interactive, shareable maps that you can find on our site.

If the love of your life is in Hamilton – be ready to spend more than your Canadian Tire money.

Given that just about everything in Burlington costs more than in Hamilton – especially when it come to gasoline prices – Oakville might be an option.

The full scoop is HERE

 

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High school parents failed to do what needed to be done - give the school board trustees crystal clear instructions - do not close any of the schools.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 26th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Everyone is blaming the eleven trustees for the decision they made to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools.

Trustees - fill board +

The trustees needed a clear signal from the parents – they didn’t get one.

All they did was their job. The signals they got from parents were pure self-interest. Central fought like crazy to get their name off the close list. They did that by organizing and putting facts on the table.

Lester B. Pearson put very solid facts on the table – they had the best of the arguments to not lose their school.

School closing banner

The Board staff did everything they could to tell parents that changes were in the wind.

The Bateman parents at first paid no attention whatsoever about the school closing issue – they saw themselves as safe and did nothing.

When they realized they weren’t safe at all – that they were at serious risk they had to scramble to get their story out. It was a very solid story – few people outside Bateman knew how successful a school Bateman really is. The closing of that school is going to be very disruptive for families that have had more than their share of disruption.

The trustees were faced with a situation where the Board made a recommendation, then changed that recommendation and then proceeded to hold several meetings that left few parents happy with the way things were going.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

It was too little too late – Bateman parents who deserved better treatment got caught up in a turf war they didn’t see coming. Many of the students at the school will suffer because of their individual circumstances. It didn’t need to happen this way.

What was clear during the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) process was that no one really wanted to see a school closed. It took a bit of time for the PAR committee to coalesce as a group and when they did it was evident that they had within them the capacity to come up with some innovative ideas. They needed more time.

One Gazette commentator pointed out that the city spent more time on deciding what to do with the Freeman Station than the school board allowed for the parents to have a meaningful input on the school closing decision.

When city hall made the wrong decision citizens moved in and got it right – on our sesquicentennial next Saturday you will be able to tour a really well preserved Freeman train station that served this city well. Citizens inevitably make the right decision – they just need some leadership.

The PAR committee learned, much to their surprise, that what they understood innovation to mean was not what the parents meant. What we saw was the size of the divide between a protected part of the economy (school board staff) and the private sector that has to earn its bread every day.

Option 7 - short

Option # 7 don’t close any of the high schools.

Option 19 short

Option 19 – the Staff recommendation,

Option 28 - shortWhat turned out not to be possible for the PAR committee to do was to settle on just the one recommendation and that was to not close any schools and to change some of the school boundaries.

It was there for them to choose – #7.

But instead the different communities chose to protect their own turf and do whatever they could to save their school.

Imagine – just imagine if the PAR had settled on the one option – # 7 and then said to the trustees – don’t you dare close any schools until this issue has been thoroughly reviewed and the community agrees on what is best for the whole community.

Dine lbp

Delegations argued their individual school case and in doing so lost an opportunity to put a collective case in front of the trustees and direct them to listen to the parents.

And imagine if every one of the 50+ delegations had said the same thing – don’t you dare close any of these schools.  Direct the staff to do a better job of coming up with a better solution.

Had the PAR committee and the delegations done what they could have done – do you think the trustees would have voted the way they did?

And had the community pulled together the way they could have we would not have the rancour and really bad feelings between the parents at one school feeling as aggrieved as they have a right to feel.

The matter of those 1800 empty seats is a concern – the world is not going to come to an end if many of those seats remain empty for a while. The 1800 number isn’t apparently the real number – it is somewhat less but it is an issue that needs serious attention.

The trustees had little choice – they didn’t fail – the parents failed. What the trustees got was a set of very mixed messages – close theirs but don’t close mine. Some argue that the Board of Education set things up so just this would happen. I don’t believe they did – but if they did – did we have to follow that direction?

All you had to do was say No! Every one of you – just say No!  That didn’t happen and the trustees went to the safest corner they could find – the wishes of the staff.  One Burlington trustee who campaigned on no school closures went along with her colleagues and voted to let Bateman high school close.

The upside, and it is small, is that trustees get chosen again in just over a year and maybe someone will find a way to get something on the agenda that takes a second look at the decision made June 7th, 2017.

The properties are not going to be sold to developers for years – if they are sold at all. Right now the plan is to close them and that is a decision we have to live with because we let it happen.

Those who buy into the belief that Burlington is the best mid-sized city in the country are probably the same people who claim downtown Burlington is vibrant.

We are really better people than this.

Work together, work for each other and make the place the city that has more than a wonderful waterfront and a magnificent escarpment going for it.

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