Local lawyer and former city council candidate suggests the size of city council should be changed.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 17th, 2016



The pressure is building.

Hamilton Spectator Joan Little did a column on the size of city council which the Gazette reproduced. We then got a note from Brian Heagle who directed us to his words of wisdom. Heagle thinks the current size of council is out of whack with what the city needs.

Let us pass along to you what Heagle, a past candidate for public office, had to say.  The content has been edited for length – a link to the full and the three second poll is at the end of this article.

Heagle starts his comments with a picture of the 1988-1991 council – pointing out that Jack Taylor was a member of council that far back, and asks: “Did you count the number of people around that table?


Not a computer screen in site – those were the days when members of council would look at you and not be reading their cell phones

At that time there were seventeen (17) people for a population of less than 130,000 in 1991.

There are only seven (7) members of council now – for a population in excess of 175,000.

Oakville has 13 members of council with a population of 180,000.

Milton has a nine member council for a population of more than 100,000

Halton Hills has 11 members of Council for a population of 60,000.

Heagle in group with Boich looking on

Brian Heagle when he was a Liberal.

The decrease in Council’s size was a well-intentioned move in the right direction but the pendulum swung too far.  A telling example is how weary and wary our Mayor and Councillors appear at Council meetings. Who can blame them?

In fairness, who could properly get through all of the reading materials thrown at them (whether paper or electronic), investigate all of the truly important matters (after filtering through the truly less important ones), and genuinely listen to their constituents (as a reminder, improved civic engagement was the rallying cry when this Council was first elected in 2010)?

No wonder Council members often have their heads down, relying heavily on staff reports (is it an unwillingness to challenge them, or lack of preparation?) and rarely looking or standing up to offer strikingly innovative or breakthrough ideas.

Risk-takers? Not this group.

I wrote last year about how this Council is seemingly “stuck in neutral”, and nothing much has changed since then – their long-overdue Strategic Plan eventually passed in April, sadly in line with Council’s previously limp and lengthy versions.

Visionary and bold do not describe this Council. Caretaking seems more appropriate.

To be clear, Council’s work is not easy or straightforward, nor is it restricted to Council chambers.

There’s also the incredible time and energy drains of dealing with cats getting caught in trees, ribbons getting cut, photos getting taken, calls getting made, emails getting returned and getting to countless meetings and events.

Not to mention constant public pressure, as Council goes about their work.

Heagle hands out speaking

Getting the word out – Brian Heagle in action.

Having said that, though, there’s really not much in the way of public scrutiny. Local media is virtually non-existent in Burlington, (We take exception to that comment Mr. Heagle) and it infrequently provides actual in-depth news reporting or analysis anyway.

It’s exhausting merely to try to visualize Council’s unrelenting work schedule, and the personal sacrifices involved, especially for a completely undersized team with an overwhelming to-do list.

Despite Council’s best efforts, have you noticed that public discontent keeps bubbling to the surface lately, replacing our usual general disengagement or disinterest with local matters? And we’re not talking about the Pier anymore.

Citizens seem increasingly frustrated with and anxious about Council – with big and small tipping points.

Unwarranted road diets, the shadow cast by the unrelenting threat and pace of new high rises by the waterfront, the City terminating the core group of seniors volunteering at the Seniors Centre, the City’s short-sighted selling of public waterfront lands to private interests, and more.

It’s no surprise that one natural conclusion and overriding factor can explain, in large part, why this Council gets such unfavorable or unenthusiastic reviews, and why it has seemingly been so unproductive and uninspiring despite 6 long years together.  It’s been 25 years in the making. Council fatigue has firmly set in.


Fuzzy picture – but there is no mistaking Brian Heagle pictured with local Conservative party activists – this was during that period of time when Heagle had his eye on a seat at Queen’s Park

Why expect any Council to excel when they’re always faced with too little time and far too many demands? We’re talking about burnout.

Increasing the size of Council is inevitable, and would represent an important step and signal to re-energize Council as part of a long-overdue governance review – Council isn’t leading by example about a Code of Conduct, which doesn’t exist for them, but does for City Staff).

With a larger group, there’s real opportunity to elect a more dynamic, inclusive and representative group for an evolving Burlington – hopefully, more diverse backgrounds and more progressive thinking will be brought to the table as a result.

It’s time to cleanse the stale air of a tired “small club” environment, and breath new life into a modern Council to help it build an even greater community for the longer term.

To create a healthier culture, you need to get at the root of the problem, not merely trim around the edges.

A change to the size of Council would be at the centre of structural changes that will make a difference.

Longer term thinking has city hall being replaced but for the immediate future improving the sound system in Council chamber - FINALLY! and improving some of the meetings rooms is where capital dollars will be spent this year.

Is it time for a change in the size of city council?

Drawing new lines for Wards is a related burning issue too.

The new Strategic Plan trumpets “GROW BOLD”, as Council seeks to lead Burlington into the future. Will this Council itself “GROW BOLD”, and be wise enough, to pursue increasing its size before the 2018 election?

Seven is definitely not the right number. Not anymore. It doesn’t work well in 2016 – and won’t for the next 25 years.

The three second poll Heagle posted is at – https://brianheagle.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/size-matters-in-burlington/


getting new - yellowJoan Little column from the Hamilton Spectator

Return to the Front page

Spectator columnist suggests its time to enlarge city council - she is not wrong.

opinionandcommentBy Joan Little, Hamilton Spectator columnist

November 17th, 2016


The Spectator is not read by enough people in Burlington. Their columnist, Joan Little, wrote some particularly cogent comments about the size of Burlington’s city council that deserve repeating.

Every few years council sizes and ward boundaries change, usually because of population shifts. Councillors invariably are lukewarm, keen to retain areas of strength in past elections. “No one’s asking for change,” they say, but it’s not about them — it’s about service for residents. Toronto is adding three wards. Hamilton, too, is considering change.

Burlington City Council Group

First elected in 2010 this significant seven don’t appear to be the least bit interested in letting any new members into the club that gives them $100,000 + each year.

Halton Region’s population has shifted greatly. When created in 1973, its council had 24 members — nine from Burlington, seven from Oakville, four from Halton Hills, three from Milton, and a chair. In 1997 it was re balanced to 21 — seven each from Burlington and Oakville, and three each from Milton and Halton Hills, plus a chair.

With populations again skewed, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has decided that Halton council will revert to 24 for the 2018 election. Milton gains two and Oakville one. The 1997 shift necessitated local council changes. Burlington went from eight wards, two per ward, to six wards, one per ward. Mike Wallace was the architect of that move from 17 to seven members. Some, like former Mayor Walter Mulkewich, favoured 13, like Oakville’s.

Burlington has the smallest council in Halton — seven — who sit on the two councils and several boards. Oakville also has six wards, but 13 members — one local and one local/regional councillor, plus the mayor. It is adding a ward, and will go to 15 locally. Milton and Halton Hills have 11 each. Milton will shift from eight wards to four — one local and one local/regional per ward plus a mayor — nine total.

Burlington councillors love their small club, but does it serve the public well? It’s a very small group for developers and special interests to lobby. There have been several 4-3 votes on controversial items. It’s troubling that the fate of such a large city can be decided by only four people — and that’s if all are present.

At one committee session last week, Mayor Rick Goldring and Blair Lancaster were absent — not a criticism, because scheduling conflicts do arise. BUT! Both Marianne Meed Ward and Jack Dennison have heritage homes, so each had to declare a conflict of interest on two different heritage items. That left four to vote on these two reports. Fortunately, they weren’t divisive items.

Goldring and others have spoken of having a larger council. In my opinion, 13 is ideal — not too large, not too small. (The council table will seat 17). More would likely mean broader debate. Additional councillors would be local only, like Oakville’s and Milton’s.

Council has said for a decade that there was no sense reviewing its size, because Burlington could gain or lose regional seats. Well, Halton’s council size is decided, and unlikely to change for another two decades, so what’s today’s holdup?

Cost? Democracy isn’t free, but let’s examine that. Burlington’s 2016 budget is $146 million. The city pays councillors $54,312, the Region an additional $48,060 — total $103,372. Let’s use $60,000 for six more local members — $360,000 — less if fewer were added. Minimal in a $146 million budget (.0025 per cent).

Dennison announcing

Ward 4 city Councillor Jack Dennison is reported to be opposed to a larger council.

This council is unlikely to add six. Dennison, for one, is stridently opposed to adding any, and for city staff, the small number is convenient. Further, a council that can’t even agree on a Councillors’ Code of Conduct, promised six years ago, is unlikely to make such a major change. But if they do, kudos!

Two weeks ago there was a council workshop about a governance charter, but the underlying issue for many members was that outstanding Code of Conduct. They agreed that both items would be considered in parallel later.

I was astonished that council size wasn’t even discussed, because that underlies governance. In response to my question, Goldring said it isn’t an issue — no one’s asking for change but me. Maybe, but four people (if all attend) deciding my city’s future is worrisome.

Adding councillors to a too-small council for 2018’s election would be a step for democracy. Seven is way too small for a city Burlington’s size, considering the ongoing citizen angst about overintensification.

little-joanFreelance columnist Joan Little is a former Burlington alderperson and Halton councillor. Reach her at specjoan@cogeco.ca


Return to the Front page

Citizens need to speak up on November 28 or have a limited voice in future.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Young

November 11th, 2106


Following the outrage over the New Street “road diet” and the introduction of bike lanes to the disadvantage of drivers, transit users and residents; one might have hoped that Burlington City Council would waken up to the fact that communication and consultation, before a decision, is preferable to acrimony and bitterness in its aftermath.

In the New Street aftermath every Councillor I heard from agreed that, no matter how well intentioned, the implementation was a communications disaster. They vowed the road diet will be monitored, measured and the data reviewed and debated by the public to gain their input before permanent adoption.

Jim Young

Jim Young delegating at city council. He had ten minutes on this occasion.

In their rush to calm outraged citizens, Councillors assured their constituents that next time around their actions will be more open, transparent and attentive to public input.  So far so good; ruffled feathers have been smoothed, angry voices calmed and all the proper civic engagement boxes ticked. A veneer of local democracy survives and maybe they will all get re-elected next year. Sighs of relief all round.

So how, mere weeks later, you may ask, can this same group of Councillors who have sworn transparency, openness and engagement now vote to limit public delegations to council on matters of community interest and concern?

Until last week any issue before council was open to public input via delegation to council when the issue was discussed and voted on. Interested advocacy groups or individual citizens were allowed ten minutes to present their thoughts, concerns or their support for the matter at hand. Now council’s Community and Corporate Services Committee, which comprises all of city council, have decided that citizens will be limited to five minutes for individual presentations while advocacy and special interest groups will still be allowed ten minutes.


Just how democratic are the city Councillors?

I am at a loss to understand how this promotes or advances engagement and community involvement. Indeed it is an affront to the whole notion of local democracy. Perhaps Councilors Craven, Sharman and Taylor who voted in favour of the new limit will grace their constituents with an explanation. Perhaps they were looking ahead to when the New Street issue comes back before council next year and trying to silence critics who will doubtless be lining up for their full ten minutes to vent on that subject.

"I don't want to hear anymore delegations" said Councillor Jack Dennison.

Councillor Dennison defended the ten minute time limit on delegations.

Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor Goldring defended the ten minute time limit for delegations.

Kudos to Mayor Goldring, Councillors Dennison and Meed Ward who opposed the five minute limit; Defending our right as citizens to speak truth to power. (Councillor Lancaster was absent.)

The matter will come before the full council on November 28th for final ratification. Hopefully Councillor Lancaster will be in attendance and vote some sanity back into the issue or, perhaps, our three errant Councillors will regain their professed love of citizen engagement and vote more wisely on that date.

Members of the public who wish to make their feelings known about this issue at the Nov. 28 meeting can register to speak at the meeting on.

I urge my fellow Burlingtonians to do so. It may be your last chance to get a ten minute hearing with your council members.getting new - yellow

Return to the Front page

Rivers renames the USA - now the The Divided States of America (The DSA)

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 11th, 2016



They’re red and blue, plastered across the map of America, the divided states representing the divided state of America. And it hasn’t changed much over the years – the reds and blues are pretty constant from election to election, except for a handful of battleground states.

donald-trumpYes I called the election result but that wasn’t my preferred outcome. Now it seems that the glass ceiling will have to wait. And if Hillary was doing this for womankind, it didn’t work since nearly half of all female voters chose Trump anyway. But then this contest should never have been about gender… or sex. It should have been about the next four years. There was this entitlement thing. Again, Clinton and her cronies believed it was her turn, that she deserved to be president because she got beaten out by an African-American in 2008.

Trump’s folks called her an elite though she, and not her opponent, had pulled themselves up from a humble beginning. But she acted the part, perhaps overconfident in the knowledge that she was the the only qualified candidate. So she went high when he went low and allowed herself to be branded as corrupt and crooked by someone much closer to that description.

For at least a couple of generations now we have been conditioned by the television set. And when we get bored watching a re-run we change the channel to a reality show – its easy to do. Perhaps Clinton didn’t understand that the people wanted change, and not that phoney ‘yes we can’ change they were handed back in 2008. Even if unemployment has fallen to historic lows under Obama, slinging burgers is not the pathway to becoming part of a dwindling middle-class. The American dream just wasn’t working out for all those angry white voters who ended up propelling Trump into the White House.

Trump fist upTrump went rogue. End free trade! Build a wall! Kick out illegals! Tear up the climate change deal! Ban Muslim immigrants! Drop out of NATO! Make love with Putin! Plain speak so nobody could accuse the real estate magnate of mincing words. And when the pollsters and the media prematurely pronounced his imminent defeat, the voters thought what the hell? What have we got to lose? It was a Brexit echo, and it sure looks like Trump played that card from the beginning.

It should have been Hillary. Not because of some sexist reason, but because she was qualified and had some very progressive policies, which she rarely even got to talk about. Baggage drags you down, and she had too much, the flip side of all that experience. And then there was how she got be the nominee. Yesterday’s candidate won her party’s nomination with a stacked hand.

Nobody can say that Bernie Sanders would have performed better, but he was at least liked and respected for his years of experience, his ideals and his ethics. Perhaps the millennial crowd would have come out for him, because they sure didn’t for Hillary. And Bernie and Trump would have at least been fun to watch in debate.

usa-electoral-mao-2016Still, had it not been for the FBI intervention at the eleventh hour, which reinforced doubts about her character, Clinton might have won. And the FBI will likely get off scot-free, since the Republicans are in control now. Isn’t that’s how politics works – the winners get it all?

America was a nation divided before this election, those perennial red and blue states. And it won’t get any less divided over the next four years. Because people don’t always vote in their own self-interest, and they keep voting like they always did. And there can only be two parties in that very imperfect democracy south of the border, where check and balance has transitioned to confrontation and obstruction.

hillary-clinton_3Hillary Clinton graciously wished Trump a successful presidency, whatever that means. One should expect he will be as divisive in governing as he was in campaigning – and big league. Some politicians focus on what unites us… ‘stronger together’. Others use racism and sexism to drive a wedge between the people, and pit one against another. It’s called divide and conquer. And it worked in the Divided States of America.

There were protests on the first two days following the election. Wouldn’t it have been more effective for those young people to simply have voted? After all, it won’t be long before governing America will be the responsibility of their generation.


Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He was also a candidate in a past provincial election.

Background links:

Hillary’s ConcessionTrump’s Lies –   Bernie and Donald –  What Happens Next

Return to the Front page

After the dust settles Tuesday night where will our biggest trading partner be?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 4th, 2016



So the election is Tuesday and like so many others, I am not crazy about either of the main candidates Americans have to choose between. For a while it sure looked like Hillary had it in the bag, but the FBI staged something as close to a coup as one can in a liberal democracy. And now it’s too close to call. Except I’m calling it for Trump. He has the momentum and sometimes stuff just happens – look at Brexit.


The leader of the Western world?

And what would we expect from a President Trump? It will depend on whether he has a Republican Congress or whether he is at the mercy of a Democrat-dominated House and/or Senate. And even if the Republicans keep Congress, it is not a given that they will simply rubber stamp all his nutty notions. Many have distanced themselves since learning of his roving small hands and filthy mind.

But if they managed to bury that hatchet we might see some big changes in American foreign policy given what Trump, the candidate, has said to date. NATO would be in for a shake-up at a minimum, and this might get the EU nations off their butts and taking their own security seriously. The US will break its Paris commitment on climate change, as Trump mimics one of GWB’s earliest actions, and that will have some spill-over here in the great ‘still-white’ north.

We are America’s largest traditional trading partner, after all. And who knows whether Trump will really tear up NAFTA or just tinker with it the way Chretien did with the Canada-US trade deal he inherited?

And would Mexico still pay for the wall?


If it ever gets built – how would Donald Trump make the Mexican government actually pay for it?

Some kind of wall will likely get built along the US/Mexican border, but with much of the border comprised of shared rivers (Rio Grande and Colorado), it won’t be nearly as formidable as the one in his imagination. His promises of mass deportation of illegal migrants will also pale in light of the fact that more Mexicans are now leaving than coming to America. But tough love for criminals will make a comeback, including stop and frisk for minorities, and maybe some new punishment for women who have abortions once he gets his hands on Roe v Wade.

Trump hints that he would make the US insular or isolated, though that was also what “Dubya” said as he was plotting to invade Iraq. The result of which led to ISIS, Trump’s number one target. Though his talk of cooperation with Russia makes one wonder if he’d just abandon all of that Syrian mess for Russia to deal with.

Despite that, it is unlikely that Putin and Trump would be soul mates for very long – there is too much distance between them for that. And with Trump promising an even larger military machine, Putin may very well regret losing Obama as his primary punching bag.


Will this man ever address the Canadian House of Commons?

Trump is wealthy so it is no surprise he is a fan of trickle down economics – give to the rich and it’ll trickle down to the poor. But just about every economist in America says he is wrong, and that his massive tax cuts would result in massive deficits, a falling exchange rate, recession and/or crazy inflation. And with Obamacare gone it’ll be back to getting health insurance the old way – if you can and if you can afford it in the Trumped down economy.

The problem with Trump bringing these few wild promises with him to the White House is that nobody is sure how serious he is about them. The rest of what he is offering is short on detail and full of bravado. And the reason for that is simply that he has such scant knowledge of the issues that would be before him. Even worse he is his own chief advisor and one with zero experience in government.

It could be an ugly election and I feel sorry for Americans. Friends in the US are expecting riots in the streets almost immediately should Clinton win. This election is better, or worse, than anything else on TV these days, with the possible exception of the ABC/CTV series Designated Survivor. And the late night talk shows are almost as much fun to watch.

Except it isn’t funny. Americans are faced with two markedly different visions of their future for the next four years, and if I’m right they’re about to make a huge mistake. It was never supposed to end up like this. Sure we all knew Hillary was going to model for the Democrats but nobody expected this buffoon to to even get the GOP nomination, let alone be readying himself for the role of most powerful leader in the world.


What will she be Wednesday morning – some think it could be just Mrs. Clinton

If  Hillary loses, she’ll have no one to blame but herself. Her flawed judgement calls as Senator and Secretary of State have come back to take their revenge. And while she is a powerful speaker with a solid presence she has failed to connect with so many Americans, like the millennial crowd. But Trump has promised to put her in jail after the election is over, anyway.

One could argue that her time in the foreign office wasn’t her own, that aside from the email flap she was only carrying out Obama’s largely unsuccessful foreign policy. Even the former chief of NATO has come to that conclusion, calling out the US president for his weakness as a leader. One wonders when the Nobel prize folks will be knocking on Obama’s door, asking for their peace prize back. They could have given it to Bob Dylan, but then they’ couldn’t find him.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He was also a candidate in a past provincial election

Background links:

Mexico-US BorderCanada-US TradeNATOEconomists on TrumpRepublicans and TrumpDesignated Survivor

Return to the Front page

Casting your ballot via the internet: Not safe enough according to Gareth Williams.

opinionandcommentBy Gareth Williams

November 4th, 2016



What is the value of convenience? Is it worth sacrificing some of our democratic institutions, like the secret ballot and the knowledge that our election results accurately reflect the intent of voters?

This Monday Burlington City Council (sitting as the Community & Corporate Services) will consider a staff report which recommends Burlington continue its experiment with remote Internet voting. I call it an experiment because Internet voters made up a relatively small overall percentage of ballots cast in the 2010 & 2014 elections in which it was offered.

I do not believe that as a City we should continue to embrace this flawed method of electing our leaders, and I believe most citizens would agree if they better understood the significant challenges involved.

Here is a brief summary of the issues with online/Internet voting:

Voting ballot box

This is a secret ballot

• Internet voting eliminates the protection of the secret ballot and could enable coercion of voters by family members and others. With the large population of seniors in Burlington, and the very real issue of elder abuse this is a significant concern. At the public polling station election staff are there to ensure you can vote in privacy, free from interference; at home or work just about anyone can be standing behind you as you cast your ballot.

• It also facilitates vote buying and/or individuals casting ballots on behalf of others, with or without their knowledge. This has already happened back in 2010 when an Eastern Ontario man was charged and fined with voting on behalf of his family members. It is probably safe to assume there have been other cases (perhaps even here in Burlington) which went unnoticed as it is not uncommon for several family members to share a computer or Internet connection. A mother or father might, for example, decide to vote on behalf of their kids who are away at University or College.

• Evidence indicates that Internet voting does not increase turnout, even among youth. The most recent example of this is Halifax’s 2016 municipal election where the number of online voters dropped by over 10,000. Leading researchers in the field have analyzed 15 years of data and concluded that Internet voting is unlikely to solve the low turnout crisis faced by Western democracies. Perhaps surprisingly, they also found Ontario voters age 18-34 were more likely to prefer paper ballots.

ID theft screen

The level of sophistication the ID thieves have is close to beyond belief – if they want the information – they can get it.

• Most computer security experts warn that Internet voting is not secure. A large number of multinational firms as well as Canadian government departments have been successfully cyberattacked in recent years. There have been many stories in the news recently of high profile attacks like the ones that affected the Ontario EQAO exam and attempts to influence the US election through the release of emails obtained through hacking or phishing attempts. Third party IT security consultants hired by the City of Toronto to study proposals for Internet voting in that city recommended against moving forward with any of the options.

Many other jurisdictions that considered or experimented with online voting have dropped support for Internet voting. These include Toronto, Mississauga, Kitchener, and Huntsville Ontario, the provinces B.C. & Alberta as well as the country of Norway.

A City of Kitchener 2012 staff report was the impetus for that city rejecting Internet voting; it recommended strongly against implementation for their 2014 election. Most of the aforementioned issues were cited. According to this report and other academic studies the highest user of Internet voting is the 45-55 demographic and the vast majority of Internet voters would likely have voted anyway.

Problems with Internet voting were in the news again as recently as this past week in P.E.I. where they are using it for a non-binding plebiscite on electoral reform. An unknown number of voter information packages with personal identification numbers (PINs) were sent to the wrong addresses. These codes could potentially be used to cast a ballot on behalf of another voter. If the vote is cast from a public location like a library, there would be little that could be done to track down the offender.

Many advocates point to the opportunity Internet voting provides to make it easier for disabled voters to cast their ballot. However, as Dr. Barbara Simons a former researcher with IBM pointed it out during her recent testimony to the Electoral Reform panel in Ottawa, it does a disservice to voters with disabilities, to anybody, to provide them with a tool that is fundamentally insecure. We owe it to them when we provide them with alternatives to make sure those alternatives are secure.

Despite the issues we continue to hear that, based on opinion polls, there is a demand and support from the public for Internet voting. To quote Dr. Simons again, if this were a medical hearing to determine whether to approve a new drug for human consumption, safety would be paramount. A drug that is likely to result in serious injury to patients would be rejected, no matter how many people wanted to use it. Internet voting is like a drug we are considering for our democracy.

If this scares you as much as it scares me be sure to contact your Councillor before Monday.

gareth-williamsGareth Williams is a graduate of the Political Science program at McMaster University. He works in Information Technology in Hamilton with 18 years in the field.  Gareth lives in Brant Hills with his wife and their dog Misty.’


Return to the Front page

Has the Finance Minister just told us to suck it up?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 29th, 2016


“… we live in a world where we make our own future and the role of government is to facilitate each of us in being the best we can be.”


Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell – she chose to tell the public what the real issues were – and they booted her out of office.

Kim Campbell, shortly after becoming Canada’s first female PM in 1993, announced that it was unlikely the deficit or unemployment would be much reduced before the end of the century. That statement was the first shovel of dirt from the grave she was digging for herself and her party – taking it from its highest poll numbers in decades to a miserable two seats in Parliament. Eventually that election marked the sunset of the Progressive Conservative party.

Canada’s finance minister Bill Morneau, recently told an assembly of Liberal party faithful that high labour turnover and short-term employment contracts are here to stay, and the government should prepare for it. Of course the opposition parties have jumped on that statement as being out of touch with today’s youth, much as Campbell’s comment was out of touch with everyday Canadians hoping to make their lives better.


You chop here and you chop there – and before you know it that square peg will fit into that round hole.

It’s true that the big corporations and the broader public service (including health and education) are the historical providers of that proverbial job for life. Yet today big business makes up only 0.1 percent of all Canadian businesses and they employ only 10 percent of Canada’s non-government sector workforce. We are a nation of small and medium companies, counting some 10 million employees, by contrast. And indeed these enterprises are fraught with volatility, some closing down as quickly as others start up – literally in the thousands every year. So there should be nothing too shocking in what the Finance Minister had to say – it is reality.

Except that judging from the public reaction, we don’t think it is acceptable that today’s high school, college or university graduate should go on to live their lives under the shadow of job insecurity. That is unless they join the broader public service or are one of the lucky one million to land a career in banking, insurance, oil, and auto manufacturing. Otherwise one will have to find employment or create a business opportunity in a small to medium sized business. And that means minimal benefits, and even rarer, a company pension.

And when it comes to pensions, no one knows more than Mr. Morneau, who used to be part of the largest administrator of defined benefit plans (fixed pension) in Canada. And he is also, de facto, the author of the newly augmented Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Eligible benefits under the new plan will bring the CPP up to a third of one’s former salary. And Morneau understands that the day of company defined benefit pensions are numbered and that the CPP will be expected to play even a greater role in our lives.


And this is what might be left when all is said and done.

Morneau talked about the need for government to support training and retraining programs. But didn’t mention the need to reform the current EI program. If steady employment for most Canadians is a thing of the past, isn’t it time to send the old complicated EI into the dustbin of history, and to replace it with a national guaranteed annual income? An economy where people make their career choices based on maximizing their potential rather than economic desperation can only lead to greater productivity.

Kim Campbell was just trying to be honest and frank with Canadians when she told them to suck it up. But she underestimated Canadians ability to do better, looking into the distance using her reading glasses. Indeed the Chretien government slew both the deficit and high unemployment beyond her expectations. And she paid a big price and learned a big lesson for speaking her mind.

Kim Campbell has, in fact, lived the kind of career that Morneau could have been talking about. University lecturer, politician, diplomat, lawyer and writer, lawyer, diplomat and more. In addition to being Canada’s first female PM, she was the first from B.C., and the first baby boomer to take that office. And if we remember her for nothing else it should be how she effectively brought an end to the endless debate on abortion in this country, something our American neighbours must envy.

She has appeared on talk shows (Bill Maher), sounding more like a Liberal than from the party on the right which rose from the ashes of her failed election campaign. And indeed, the Trudeau government made her the chairperson for the new Supreme Court Advisory Board, leading the transparent process which has just seen our latest appointment to the highest bench in the land.

Not everybody will be fortunate enough to have that kind of resume when they hit 70, which Campbell will be doing next year. But we live in a world where we make our own future and the role of government is to facilitate each of us in being the best we can be.

So yes, Mr. Morneau, it’s federal support for training and education. But it’s also additional tax reform to favour the middle class. And if we are really serious, about this issue, it’s time to implement Canada’s first guaranteed annual income. Then those young people protesting their lot in life will have only themselves to blame.

Ray Rivers

Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He was also a candidate in a past provincial election

Background links:

Kim Campbell –    Canadian Business – 

Chinese Investments – 

Morneau –

More Morneau – 

Morneau on Pensions –

Millenials – 

Trudeau Heckled –

Trudeau Protests – 

Guaranteed Annual Income – 

Return to the Front page

What happens when we don't trust the brand anymore? We stop buying

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 23, 2016



It’s been a year since Justin Trudeau was trusted by the Canadian public with an overwhelming majority. So what has he done? I was invited to attend a speech he delivered to an assembly of party faithful in Niagara Falls this past weekend. As expected he hit on some highlights from his achievements to date. It had been a hectic day in the PM’s schedule, including a visit to ‘Picone Fine Food in Dundas’ – a political pie tradition. And, along the way, a disgruntled former Green Party candidate, protesting pipelines, tossed some pumpkins seeds at him and got herself arrested. Power to the pumpkin people!


Protester confront Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – PM calms the man down.

The Liberals have dominated Canada’s national political history and the Liberal brand has worn well over much of that time. Liberals would like to think that is because they listen better to Canadians and mostly get it right on social and economic policy. Mr Harper’s naive belief that he could remake Canada into more of a redneck nation never really had a hope in hell. So despite a laundry list of political accomplishments, Trudeau knows his biggest job of leading this country is still ahead of him.

Just how popular the Liberal brand has become of late will be tested this Monday in an Alberta by-election. The Liberals are running small business owner and long-time resident Stan Sakamoto in an uphill battle to replace Jim Hillyer in the perennially safe Tory riding of Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. But while that Trudeau brand is pretty strong back east, even the candidate is unsure how well it will play out for him. So he’s promising to “…ensure their MP is their voice to Ottawa, not Ottawa’s voice in Medicine Hat.”

Ontario will be also going to the polls in two by-elections in November and it doesn’t look good for the governing Liberals and their leader. The provincial Liberal brand has plummeted and approval numbers are barely above single digits according to some polls – with disapprovals hitting over 70%. Elected to a strong majority in 2003, the government has been hit by bad press. And its inability to explain or defend, or perhaps even to show that it is listening to the public has almost irretrievably damaged the brand.


When the trust is gone – it is gone.

Despite a new leader who won a strong majority two years ago, public confidence has fallen to levels seen only with consumer products from Volkswagen and Samsung – though at least the Samsung phone is a fiery hot item. The Premier and her ministers are seen as stale, having lost their way and having failed tax payers on the economy and rate payers on the electricity file.

The party could identify a list of accomplishments for Ontario residents till the cows come home, but nobody is listening anymore. They could contrast their record with the disastrous performance of the Harris/Eves near decade in government, but nobody cares. That much of the blame for today’s electricity prices can be attributed to Mike Harris for dismantling Ontario Hydro, in the first place, is no excuse for a government which hasn’t been seen to have fixed that system after almost a decade and a half in power – and which hasn’t lowered electricity bills.

Some people point out that the Tories have only their right-wing-nut leader Tim Hudak to blame for Wynne’s big win in 2014. And Hudak has been shown the door and moved on to peddling real estate instead of politics. So his old riding is up for grabs next month as well as a Liberal seat in greater Ottawa. New PC leader Patrick Brown is still an unknown quantity, and folks appear to have forgiven his amateurish flip-flop on sex ed, first opposing then supporting the Liberal policy.

Earlier this year another by-election in the Liberal strong-hold of Scarborough-Rouge River went to the Tories, allowing them to finally get a foot hold in seat-rich Toronto. And despite popular policies in health care, climate change, education and even bringing down the deficit, the voters will not be satisfied with this government. They’ve made up their minds and Hell hath no fury like a disappointed voter, it seems. It’s why many folks wouldn’t even consider buying a Volkswagen or a Samsung phone – they don’t trust the brand anymore.

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:

Trudeau’s Accomplishments –    Progress Report –    Picone

Pumpkin Protester

Ontario Elections –   More Ontario ByElection –   Even More –   And More –  

Premier Wynne –    More Premier

Return to the Front page

School board now has a Code of conduct for its trustees - City Council has been avoiding creating a code for a number of years.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 22, 2016



The following is not something you are likely to see coming out of Burlington’s city council.

Trustees - fill board +

Halton District School Board trustees.

The Halton District School Board passed the following:

With the unanimous approval of Motion M16-0121 on June 15, 2016, the Halton District School Board authorized the posting of the Board’s Trustee Code of Conduct Policy on the Board’s website for public input, for a period of no less than 25 days.

Any feedback received was to return to the Board at the second meeting in September 2016.


Be it resolved that Halton District School Board approve the “Trustee Code of Conduct
” policy, as revised, and appended to Report 16127.

Burlington’s city council has been avoiding the creation of and agreement on a Code of Conduct for the members of Council – not the sign of a healthy organization.


Burlington’s city council

One has to wonder why such a state exists.

The task was left with the City Manager to get something worked out.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

This council does not want a Code of Conduct and the city manager isn’t going to work all that hard to bring anything to the table.

Return to the Front page

‘You know this is pretty good stuff – we need to listen to these people.’

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 19th, 2016



Stuart Miller is the kind of man who enjoys a challenge.

There isn’t all that much bureaucrat in the man – he likes people and he loves the job he has been dropped into – even though at times it does almost overwhelm him.

Hammil + Miller

If there are a bunch of teachers and students doing something on a Saturday – chances are Stuart Miller be with them.

He is the kind of Director of Education who will slip over to Robert Bateman High school for lunch – one, because there is a great cooking class over there and two, he just likes being around students.

You will find him at some kind of student event on a Saturday when most of the senior board people are chilling at home.

He has some major administrative tasks in front of him but for Miller the administrative part isn’t the challenge that has him tossing and turning – it is the impact the change is going to have on the students he is responsible for – and make no mistake about it – he feel responsible for them and takes great pride when those students do well.

Six months ago he was struggling with how his board was going to handle the very significant increase in parents wanting to get their children into French Immersion almost from the day they walked into a school.

He faced several issues there – and he doesn’t have those issues resolved yet. He couldn’t find enough highly qualified teachers and he had a real concern for that small number of students who were not ready for French Immersion in the early years – if at all.

Stuart Miller

Always engaging – always listening. Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board.

The best and the brightest in a student population always catch they eye of senior board administrators. Miller has an eye for the kid that is perhaps a little slower and needs a little more time or who doesn’t fit in all that well socially but is razor sharp.

Students aren’t the only concern for Stuart Miller. Wednesday evening he is going to hear delegations from half a dozen parents who are going to hand him a 12 page summary of the concerns they have over the thinking that is going to go into a PAR Review

In less than a week, a group of about ten parents – maybe less – pulled together loads of input from parents, did a thorough review of a long document the school board staff have had months to prepare and have come back with their thoughts on what the board thinks it should do.

That the senior bureaucrat could be as productive.

To be a fly on the wall of Miller’s office as he flips through the pages of the report the parent’s prepared.

Miller has an at times wry look on his face and my bet is that when he completes his reading of the document he is going to smile and say to his staff:

‘You know this is pretty good stuff – we need to listen to these people.’

That’s the kind of Director of Education we have in Halton.

Let’s see how he handles the situation on Wednesday evening.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written by the Publisher of the gazette.  we invite well thought out opinions from others in the city.

Return to the Front page

If BCHS is a community school - then let's hear what the community wants their school to become - let's not limit yourselves to just struggling to keep it open.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 13, 2016



It was interesting, exciting and exhilarating to watch some 60+ parents, several with children in tow and babies in carriages talk about how they will go about ensuring that those children have a high school to go to. The Parent Council at the high school did a superb job of both organizing and pulling together information. A quick look at the sheets of notes highlights how thorough they are going to be.

The trustee for the ward was doing what she is supposed to do – advocate for her constituents. The ward Councillor did her job as well. Her “I am here for you” was what the room needed to here.

If one can assume that all four trustees are on side for keeping Burlington Central High open – that gets 4 of the 11 votes. What about the two more that will be needed to ensure that the proposal to close BCHS is not approved by the trustees?

As an aside it looks like the parents with students going to Lester B. Pearson are comfortable with the decision to merge that school with M.M. Robinson.


The potential to become one of the best high schools in the province rests in the hands of the Parent Council.

The people taking part in the first BCHS community meeting were active, engaged and offered some superb comments.

This is their school – and this may be the opportunity for the community to not only oppose the closing of the school but put together ideas and proposals that would make the place one of the best in the province in terms of where students go for their education.

The structure has a sense of style and solidity to it. It is in the downtown core.

It does need a makeover which if done properly will make the school the one many students will want to attend.

It is already unique with its K to graduation set up. It has a very significant number of bursaries and scholarship available to students.


These are the people that can make their school into whatever they want it to be.

It has a parent population that in 1975 raised $100,000 to, we are told, refurbish the auditorium. Those were 1975 dollars.

This is a group of people who should not limit themselves to the just keeping the school open.

Dare to be Daniel’s and show your Board of Education that you have a vision for your community school.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column publish from time to time

Return to the Front page

Disband the Cycling Advisory Committee?

There is a boisterous group of people that use the comments section of the Gazette fairly regularly. There are those that don’t yet understand civil discourse and tend towards comments we don’t publish. There are also those who make a significant contribution – one of those came in yesterday and we want to share it with a wider audience.

opinionandcommentBy Steven White

October 12, 2016



Over and above the dubious value of this entire project (the reconfiguration of the traffic lanes on New Street) is the unmistakable fact that it points to the differential input that various groups and organizations had into this project.

Clearly, the overwhelming majority of ratepayers did not support this initiative and that was made obvious prior to the July vote. Despite this, the Mayor and most of Council went ahead and supported it anyway. The Cycling Committee and the folks from Share the Road wanted it, and their vocal support for this measure ensured its passage. The rest of the City now gets to live with the consequences, including a project that is badly designed, bike lanes that won’t be used six months of the year, and a communication process that is sadly lacking.

Bike lanes - New street

The original traffic lane configuration is on the left, the pilot project is shown on the right.

The Cycling Committee is no longer a consultative or educational forum but rather, an advocacy group for cycling and cyclists. This raises bigger questions. 1) Where is the consultative forum in this City for pedestrians, or motorists, etc.? 2) Why is it that one group or one entity has a disproportionate input into the decision-making process? and 3) Where is the Committee to discuss the broader issue of traffic congestion in Burlington?

Not only does the Cycling Committee have a Councillor attending their meetings (i.e. Jack Dennison), but they also have attendees from City Hall who seem hell bent on promoting bike lanes regardless of the expense or consequences. Read the Minutes of their meetings and it becomes evident that there is information shared with the Committee that the average citizen is not privy to. Fair? Hardly.

As a taxpayer I bitterly resent subsidizing advocacy groups. Advocacy groups should not have exclusive, privileged or special access to decision makers, and clearly in this process they did. Education is one thing, advocacy is completely different. (N.B. Read the July 19th Minutes of the Cycling Committee (page 1) and the Chair is admonishing members not to indulge in advocacy).

As part of the many changes at City Hall it’s time to seriously re-think consultative and advisory committees, and this is one group that should be disbanded post haste.

Editor’s note:  On the several occasions I have driven the stretch of New Street between Guelph Line and Walkers Line – there was very, very little traffic disruption – there was just the one cyclist seen during a rush hour.  What the Gazette is seeing is a lot of comment from people who are unhappy about the pilot project and basically nothing from the city in the way of information.  We must add that when a public meeting was held there were very few people at that meeting who were opposed to the pilot project.

Return to the Front page

Rivers connects the dots and suggests Canadians are at a -pay me now or pay me later - time

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 8th, 2016



As I write this, hurricane Matthew has just pushed its toll of death and destruction, closing in on 900 killed in Haiti alone. The role of climate change in hurricanes is still being debated in the science community, but three factors make for a strong linkage. A warmer atmosphere means more humidity and more rain with the storms.

Second, a higher sea level resulting from melting polar ice means flooding occurs more often and much further inland with each storm. And a warmer ocean has been associated with the creation of the storms.


More than 900 lives lost in Haiti alone as the result of Hurricane Matthew. Had the eye of this hurricane moved inland on the United States the devastation would have been record setting.

At the least hurricanes have become more ferocious, do more damage and occur more frequently than when the earth was cooler. The other part of the science we don’t understand is how unstable, hurricanes, cyclones and tornadoes will be into the future as the planet continues to heat up. And then there are the other consequences: the northward migration of pests; losses of cold weather species such as the polar bear; longer periods of drought in some areas; and the propensity for even more raging wild fires, such as the one we witnessed at Fort McMurray last year.


Weather was a huge factor with the fire in Alberta this summer.

Even before the fire had finished its rampage insurance claims in that northern Alberta town were totaling $6 billion . Another $2 billion was paid out by insurance companies following the massive flooding in Calgary only a few years earlier. And then there were climatic related events closer to home in Toronto and the flooding in Burlington. Hurricane Sandy cost over (US) $60 billion and Katrina a whopping $125 billion. That storm damage from Katrina cost the equivalent of the entire 2016 Ontario provincial budget of (Can) $134 billion.

So Justin Trudeau this past week rose up in the House of Commons and in his best ‘pay me now or pay me later’ moment announced that he will impose a $10 per tonne carbon pricing levy in those provinces without such a scheme by 2018. Another $10 will be applied each year thereafter until the total is $50 per tonne by 2022.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing a national carbon tax if the provinces do not create their own tax.

The opposition wailed and railed, but the best they could do was demand Trudeau call it a tax, which it is – a carbon tax. But we pay a lot of different taxes and they’re not all bad. There are property taxes for municipal garbage removal and police and fire services and even income taxes go to make sure that even lower income Canadians can have access to health care, education and old age security.

Besides, the provinces where the vast majority of Canadians live already have or are getting a carbon tax anyway. Quebec led the way back in 2007, with a carbon levy of $3.50 per tonne. B.C. followed suit and its tax is now $30. Alberta will be introducing one starting at $20 this year, in addition to an existing carbon pricing mechanism for the energy sectors. And Ontario’s new emission trading program will include an inherent carbon tax. B.C’s carbon tax amounts to about only seven cents at the pump. And – and that is the challenge.

Electric charging - red car

Electric cars are one part of the solution to cutting back on the use of fossil fuels.

The idea of a carbon tax is to change consumer behaviour by reducing their use of fossil fuels – forcing conservation through smaller cars, less driving, lower thermostats, etc. But if you want people to switch from their old daddy’s Caddy gas guzzler, they’ve already paid off, and buy a new Tesla EV (electric vehicle), the cost of gasoline has to rise significantly higher than seven cents. But if you make the tax too high, everyone will just get upset and vote for that other party next election. So there has to be a rationale for the carbon tax – beyond arbitrarily setting a price to get people out of their cars.

And there is a rationale since we don’t pay the full price for the fossil fuels we use. They are implicitly subsidized. The real cost of a litre of gasoline should also include the clean up of tailing ponds at the oil sands, health and environmental deterioration from air pollution, the costs of clean up from leaking pipelines, impacts of exploding rail cars – and now the huge costs from climate change related disasters. But figuring out these external costs (since they are not in the price per litre) is a tricky proposition. So pay me $50 by 2022 is a good first approximation though we’ll still be paying more later.

Trudeau has promised to return all the tax money collected to the pertinent jurisdictions so they can apply it to provincial programs, for example, assisting those with lower incomes, reducing other taxes, transitioning the economy to be less carbon intensive. Making the carbon taxation revenue neutral and not just a tax grab was a key aspect of B.C.s carbon tax. Alberta and Ontario also intend to use some of the revenue to transition their economies to a lower carbon intensity.

It wasn’t that long ago that all the provinces agreed with the federal government on a strategy, which, in line with Mr. Trudeau’s election platform, called for the inclusion of carbon taxation. Still Saskatchewan and some Atlantic provincial delegates (NS and NL) walked out of a climate change meeting in protest almost immediately after Trudeau announced his mandatory carbon pricing policy.


A part of Canada’s Coat of Arms – From sea to sea

A political cynic might call that grandstanding or just politics. Or perhaps there is genuine concern about a new tax being imposed in their jurisdiction, regardless that they get the proceeds. But it sure sounds like a pretty good deal to me – a common nation-wide carbon tax to level the economic playing field across the country. And the provinces get to keep the cash while the feds get the blame for it.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He was also a candidate in a past provincial election.

Background links:

Matthew –  More Matthew 

Climate Change and Hurricanes –   Toronto/Alberta Disasters –   Fort McMurray

Canada Ratifies Paris –   Carbon PriceMore Carbon TaxInsurance for Climate Change

Even More Carbon Price –   Even even more –  Provinces and Climate ChangeNational Post on Carbon Tax

Globe & Mail on Carbon Tax getting new - yellow

Return to the Front page

The Prince wasn't buying it - will the country buy the plan Trudeau is hatching to get oil and gas moving across the country?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 30th, 2016



Mr. Trudeau went to the Big Apple, to the UN that is, and made another speech and made another splash. Come on, even those who didn’t vote for him have to be proud of Canada’s new PM capturing the hearts of the international crowd. But the Canadian media are getting a little bored with this international walk of fame.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ban Ki Moon, Secretary of the United Nations, showing the world the way.

Platitudes – that was the best they’d say about his speech. Canada promised something like 600 peacekeepers for Africa? But where in Africa? And did he seriously adapt Ronald Reagan’s sarcastic quip – I’m from Canada and I’m here to help? But the UN crowd soaked it up. After all with Canada being MIA at the UN for most of the last decade, a PM just showing up and offering support for the organization is worthy of their applause.

During last year’s campaign he made a habit of dropping bombshells. Legalizing weed, taxing the rich, transparent government, running a deficit, lifting the lot of First Nations, (finally) doing something about climate change and re-engaging with the global community. All of this has just whet the appetite of the media for even more sexy stuff, not platitudes. So Trudeau has only himself to blame.


Try as he might Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just wasn’t able to bring Prince George around to a hand shake or a high five.

Honeymoons don’t last forever. It hasn’t been a year since the election, but everybody wants their piece of the action in its entirety now, thank you very much. Grand Chief Stewart Philip, the leader of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, refused to participate in a ceremony with the PM and the visiting royal family in a not-so-subtle protest. Undoubtedly, he has a point, and his are genuine grievances, including a concern that the federal government would approve a new natural gas pipeline to transport BC gas to Asian markets.

And sure enough that is exactly what has happened. Despite Mr. Trudeau’s public position on global climate change; despite his advocacy for Canada’s First Nations’ rights; and despite placing a moratorium on oil tanker traffic to help kill the highly controversial Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline, he has rubber-stamped a new natural gas pipeline, the Pacific Northwest LNG project.


BC Premier Christy Clark just might prove to be the ally the Prime Minister needs and at the same time deliver real economic benefits to her people. damage to the environment – that’s a different issue – isn’t it?

Oil is bad but gas is good? Well at least this gas project causes no heartburn to B.C. Premier Clark, as she anticipates the economic benefit from the scores of jobs it is promising. They used to call it clean energy. didn’t they? Some would argue that gas is a less damaging alternative, if used to replace coal for electricity generation. But it is a fossil fuel and therefore a greenhouse gas in either its raw state or during combustion.

So is Trudeau trying to have his cake and eat it as well? More than likely this is one of these grand compromises he sees in the general national interest. To get the energy-rich western part of this country onside with climate change plans he needs to give as well as take. He knows that inflexibility leads to deadlock. That is realpolitik.


Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was never able to get a pipeline into the ground – it just wasn’t the right time or was it a political inability to bring the right people together?

And the pipeline, which is slated to be on-line by 2020, may never get built anyway, given the glut of gas on the markets, cheaper alternative sources, and the hoops and hurdles the government has placed on this project. One item on that list includes a limit on greenhouse gases, intended to force the most environmentally efficient delivery of the gas.

It’s a win-win for Trudeau. If the pipeline doesn’t get built, it won’t be his fault. And not having to account for all those greenhouse gases will give him great bragging rights the next time he goes before the UN crowd. He’ll be able to claim global leadership without any critics crying… platitudes.

Unlike Mr. Harper’s oil pipeline, there was substantial sign-on among many indigenous folks, though as noted above, not all. And the irony of it all is that, if the pipeline actually goes into action, Trudeau, the environmentalist, will have built more pipeline in his first year than Mr. Harper did in his entire nine years in office.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He was also a candidate in the 1995 provincial election

Background links:

When You Say Nothing at All –     Trudeau at the UN –
More UN – 

BC Chief and the Royals –

Trudeau Answers –

Transparent Supreme Court –

Pacific Northwest LNG – 

Northern Gateway – 

LNG Pipeline in Doubt –

Return to the Front page

Eight new directions on transportation and land use put before city council.

opinionandcommentBy Pepper Parr

September 26th, 2016



if-you-planThe following is a summary of the “New Directions” city council debated last week. The document in front of them was a draft that was received and filed. It will come back to city council in November, once the team putting the new transportation plan together has had a chance to absorb what council had to say during the three hour meeting.

We have added comments to each of the following eight new directions.

1 – Align Land Use & Transportation
Land – use decisions including density, mix of uses and quality of urban design contribute to a fabric that supports walking, biking and public transit. Fully integrate land – use and transportation decision-making at every level including policy-making and budgeting to ensure that future decisions facilitate a transportation network that supports intensification.

Two issues with this direction: wasn’t transportation considered when land use decisions were being made? This city council assumes the citizens have bought into the decision to intensify – don’t think that is the case.

complete-streets-graphic2 – Rethink Streets
Abandon the “old” way of thinking, replace the term “road” with “street” and recognize that streets do more than just move automobiles, they are “people places” and have the potential to be key assets in the civic life of our city.

Very true – we are stuck in some old way thinking but changing road to street is not going to do it. If Road is out of tune with the times what are Lines – Guelph Line, Walkers Line – they are part of the city’s genealogy.
Streets are people places but there has to be a reason for people to be on the street

3 – Reprioritize Mobility Choices
Reprioritize decision – making in order to support intensification and allow active and sustainable mobility choices to “catch – up” to the auto and reach an ambitious level of attractiveness in order to realize a true multi-modal city.

This council has committed itself to upgrading its infrastructure and had a ten year + plan to do just that – it will be like pulling teeth from a hen to get the majority to change.


The image was lifted from a presentation given to city council last week

4 – No New Car Capacity
Intensification with further car – oriented design will only result in continued auto-dependency, expensive infrastructure and an overall failure. Confirm that through the intensification strategy, mobility will be facilitated not through increased auto capacity, but by allocating existing space and budget for walking, biking and public transit. Strategic reallocation of existing car capacity for active and sustainable mobility choices.

This is what city council did back in the days when the Orchard was being developed. Not much was made in the way of allowances for parking because people were not going to use cars – there would be a realistic transit system. Council now spends hours discussing with irate citizens whether and where they should be able to park their cars – all three or four of them.

There is a large housing development being built on the North West corner of Walkers Line and Dundas – is anyone suggesting that there be no car capacity in that community? No at the price point they are asking for a single detached home.

5 – Make Walking Delightful
Change the culture, decision-making, policy and budget to make the city rapidly more walkable – achieve the strategic goal of becoming a leader in walkability.

A city council doesn’t have the right to change the culture of a city unless they have a mandate to do so. The culture change is something that is being sprung on people with little of any input from the public so far. There are plans for public input in November – nothing concrete yet.


Brent Toderian, planning consultant hired by the city to guide the planning and transportation departments on new directions. He told Council they were going in the right direction.

6 – Make Biking Delightful
Move in a timely way to create a minimum network of safe, connected bike infrastructure with continued network expansion over time. Emphasis on initiatives to build an urban biking culture and achieve the “Gold Standard” for cycling.

Good luck on this one – cycling to work is something a few will do regularly. I suspect cycling is a recreational event for most people in Burlington.

7 – Make Transit Delightful
Support significant and strategic improvement of transit coverage, service and experience in order improve the branding of public transit as an attractive mobility option.

Develop policy to support levels of density that will translate to increased ridership.

There are literally hundreds that would settle for a decent transit schedule – they would scoff at the idea of rising a bus as being delightful.

8 – “Walk the Talk”
Dedicate energy and attention to ensuring that the plan is followed – through. Strategically position the city for successful implementation of the Plan and align budget allocations to the new mode hierarchy.

Great idea – just make sure that there is real public input – not a plan that is put out with the public expected to accept something that has already been decided.
Genuine public education and genuine public involvement.

There is a lot more public discussion needed on this subject – my colleague Joan Little suggests there won’t be a single safe seat on city council if this goes much further. It is going to go a lot further – the city manager and the planner are intellectually committed to this. Council – wait until they get a sense of what the backlash is likely to be before deciding on what they will do.

In the past they have changed bus routes when as little as three people complained.

Related article

Spectator columnist suggests every council seat could be at risk with some of these ideas.

Return to the Front page

Spectator columnits suggests every Burlington Council seat could be at risk if they mismanage the transportation challenge.

opinionandcommentBy Joan Little

September 23, 2016



The following piece was lifted from the Hamilton Spectator where my colleague Joan Little writes a semi-weekly column.

If Burlington doesn’t handle this file very, very carefully, there won’t be a safe seat on council in 2018.


Spectator columnist Joan Little argues that every seat on council is at risk if the transportation file is mismanaged.  Is it possible to lose all of them in one fell swoop?

The issue is transportation planning. Sounds like a nothing issue, but if it isn’t carefully presented, look for a wholesale change in the 2018 election.

On Tuesday, Brent Toderian, a Vancouver urban planner, presented his “New Directions” transportation plan recommendations. The committee voted to receive and file the report. He will edit it for more clarity in preparation for public consultation in January.

The report stated that as Burlington intensifies, growing up instead of out, it has to de-emphasize vehicle use, and stress other modes of travel to “Grow Bold.”

Discussion centred mainly on modes of transportation. Toderian’s report emphasized walking and biking, followed by public transit, then car-sharing. Said he, “Burlington can be the first city to grow up successfully,” stressing the high dollar cost, time and congestion of continuing as we are.

One recommendation was to stop providing new street capacity for cars, and to make walking, biking and public transit delightful. Mayor Rick Goldring agreed that we don’t want the Region dictating Burlington arterial road widenings, and we need a strong local policy. Rick Craven pointed out that we did not need Waterdown Road widened. It is necessitated by Waterdown’s high growth.

Toderian said the aim is to use cars less frequently. Few will dispose of them. Throughout his presentation he repeatedly warned councillors to expect strong public push-back. Funny, I thought councils were supposed to listen to public feedback.

John Taylor asked about the transition from today to full implementation, because it will take decades to get there, and was told the actual plan would address that. He was skeptical about big spending on transit, noting that in spite of investments, ridership has been static for 20 years.

Meed Ward H&S profile

Councillor Meed Ward argued that people drive because they gave to.

The most astute comments came from Marianne Meed Ward. She said the big issue is why people drive. One reason is to get to work. Many commute to Toronto and elsewhere where Go Transit isn’t handy. And how could a Ford worker get to Ford without a car?

She recalled a transit group’s challenge to councillors to take transit for a week, and noted that her 15-minute drive to the Region took over two hours by transit, and required two transfers (not to mention the cost). We need more jobs where people live.

She said people drive kids to school because they don’t want them biking, and school busing is often inconvenient. Shopping? Downtown, there are probably 20 spas, but only one grocery store, and if she needed a hammer, her nearest store is Canadian Tire.

Our planning is wrong, she said. Why, for instance is a huge store like Walmart allowed to build one-storey stores? Immediately adjacent on Fairview are the six multi-storey Paradigm condos. Wouldn’t it be better to allow one above Walmart? She also commented that a supermarket could not go downtown because of zoning.

During the session, councillors commented on the outrage they are fielding about the “road diet” pilot project for bike lanes on New Street, eliminating a driving lane. Few cyclists use them, but Toderian explained that until bike lanes form part of a network, they won’t. He stated that when Vancouver’s first lanes appeared, few used them, but now that there’s a network, they’re popular. (Vancouver doesn’t have winter!) Jack Dennison cycled along New, thoroughly enjoyed it, and felt safe. City manager James Ridge said a network would have to be planned shortly.

Craven claimed this idea isn’t new. The revamped Plains Road has bike lanes, intercity transit, and is pedestrian-friendly. Further, he said, underground parking costs developers about $40,000 per space, which buyers pay for.

There were budgetary questions, to which Toderian responded that you have to prioritize spending.

It sounds logical, but show me the timing, costs and public acceptance of this big change.

With Burlington having such high incomes and per capita car ownership, expect questions.

little-joanJoan Little is a member of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Previous to her current appointment she was a  commissioner from 1986 to 1993, and chair from 1993 to1996. She was a member of Burlington Council and Halton Regional Council between 1974 and 1988, and an active board member of Conservation Halton from 1976 to 1995. Following her council retirement she served on the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Board, which she left in 1993 to assume the Chair of the NEC. She is a regular freelance columnist on Burlington/Halton issues in the Hamilton Spectator.


Return to the Front page

Rivers on the changes in pension plans- he doesn't like the look of where this is going.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 23, 2016



Imagine a Canada where after a lifetime of working everyone could look forward to receiving  a guaranteed two percent of the average salary for every year they worked in the form of a pension.

Working for 30 years would earn a pensioner 60% of that old salary or wage. That is what government workers, educators and those who still have defined-benefit company pensions receive. But that last category, those with a defined-benefit private company pension, is getting smaller.

“A stake in the heart of company pensions.” That is how one news outlet labelled the agreement reached between General Motors and its employees’ union Unifor. In exchange for a commitment to expand auto jobs in Ontario, GM will discontinue it’s old lifetime defined-benefit pension for new workers. Low interest rates, which have handicapped earnings for pension plans, is only part of the reason GM made getting rid of pension plans its priority.


Modern automotive production lines call for a highly skilled labour force – who should be entitled to fair pension plans.

In our modern globalized world corporate entities come and go, and can be gone long before all their former employees have departed, for heaven or that other place, and are still claiming the lifetime pension obligations they are entitled to. Just look at Hamilton’s US Steel company, formerly Stelco, which had to be bailed out by Ontario taxpayers. The US corporate giant, snubbed its legal commitment to keep jobs in Hamilton smack in Mr. Harper’s face. And then it walked away from its responsibilities to its pensioners, expecting the Ontario government to pick up the pieces.


Canada Pension Plan enhancement was a Trudeau election promise – Premier Wynne made sure he stuck to it and that the other provinces came around as well.

It is no wonder Premier Wynne was so keen on expanding public pensions for the average working person. And she takes some credit for catalyzing Canada’s leaders into enhancing the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). The CPP payments will move up to one third of a person’s former working income (from a quarter) under the recent federal/provincial agreement. Of course CPP enhancement was a Trudeau election promise as well, so it is questionable whether the province really needed to expend the $70 million it did, mainly promoting a program it expected/hoped would never see the light of day.

A national universal pension program is the ultimate in pension evolution, particularly in a more globalized work economy. The days of the paternalistic company, managing pension plans and other aspects of their employees lives, are so yesterday. In this vein the former Harper government may have been uncharacteristically progressive, mulling a shift of federal pensions to the defined-contribution model. However, his reluctance to even budge the CPP upwards at the same time argues that he was just being mean-hearted, again.

These so-called defined contribution plans are not anything like a substitute for a guaranteed pension, as one heads into the down-days of one’s life. For one thing people become more risk adverse as the the sands of time trickle down that hour-glass. And there is nothing like knowing you’ll be able to budget for that next trip to see the grandkids in Calgary when you are seventy-five years old. It’s the pensioner’s money except that the financial institution contracted to prepare and hold the plan is not doing this out of the goodness of its heart – like everyone who touches gold expect some of it to rub off on its hands.


Figuring out what you are going to actually have when retire isn’t supposed to be as difficult as it appears to be.

These defined-contribution plans gobble up retirement tax-credit space. And since they are employee contributory, in most case, they use up money they might use to buy other investments.

Defined-contribution is an awkward and unfortunate name since these financial instruments are nothing more than an RRSP bought on your behalf by your company.

And the truth is that RRSPs can turn out to be a curse, as many pensioners with respectable incomes post-retirement are finding. Those forced to cash in their RRIFs seem to paying more taxes now than when they were actually employed.

Someone in the Department of Finance should run the numbers. I’ll bet that eliminating RRSPs and raising the CPP to an even more respectable level might just net-out financially. But that would mean making our tax system less complicated. And what about the pensionable earnings of tax accountants and lawyers who helped create this morass?

Rivers looking to his leftRay Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He has been a candidate in a past provincial election.

Background links:getting new - yellow

GM/Unifor –

More GM –    Even More GM –

Defined Contribution –   Stelco Bailout –

Defined Benefit Plans –


Return to the Front page

Rivers on energy and how he thinks the Auditor General blew it in her report - we are paying for that one.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 8th, 2016



Ontario’s Auditor (AG) had stated that electricity costs in Ontario exceeded the ‘market price’ by $37 billion, almost $4 billion a year. What on earth can that mean? Is this evidence that the provincial government is wasting our money?

Turns out the so-called ‘market price’ is a pretty imperfect instrument, an artificial value, given that the big sellers, OPG and Hydro One still dominate Ontario’s energy scene. And since the hydro and nuclear installations have already been paid-for or are part of the massive historical debt, these fixed cost assets don’t even figure into this market price.

Think of Ford Motors selling its cars for only the cost of the steel and labour that goes into making them because somebody else has paid for building and running its car plants. If the value of the fixed costs and the contracts securing long term energy supply were included in Ontario’s energy system, it would look more like a real market, the bids making up the ‘market price” would be higher, and the $37 billion residual would be much less.

That $37 billion comes with an unfortunate name, Global Adjustment fee – a catch-all phrase, a residual that covers the difference between those imperfect market prices and all the other payments the power companies need in order to stay in business and keep the electrons flowing and the lights on. Many of these costs are based on contracts, some of which go back in time to the break-up of Ontario Hydro back in the late nineties.

The most problematic of the contracts for the Auditor General were the open-ended ones, where the generator can sell all the power produced, even if there is a glut in the system – thus the criticism about paying energy companies to dump their power and selling at a loss. These contracts were either written in the days when energy shortages seemed more inevitable than gluts, or were designed for smaller generators who, for simplicity, are constrained by the capacity of their technology – rather than by market demand.

Hydro towers - Burlington

Ontario’s electric transmission system, along with railway lines cut right through the city.

But even with the global adjustment added in, Ontario’s energy situation is hardly a calamity. In fact the overall price of electricity in Ontario, including global adjustment, is not out of whack with that south of the border after exchange rates, where even more competitive electricity markets do exist and the fixed costs are included. And despite the steady rise in Ontario’s electricity bills, Los Angeles, Boston and New York residents pay more.


Coal mine – Ontario has at least stopped generating turbines that produce electricity through the burning of coal.

And the kicker – the Auditor almost ignored that Ontario has stopped burning cheap coal, unlike those operators in some other parts of Canada and stateside. Closing down the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the entire country should be worth at least a positive footnote. And in that vein it was unfair of her (the AG) to blame Hydro One for its faltering five year transmission system reliability, given that huge 2013 ice storm, the biggest in history which shut off power for over a week in some cases, was itself a consequence of our changing climate.

The right-wing media, and their stable of anti-renewable energy neocons, had been grumbling about energy management long before the AG gave her report, but she has emboldened them with her misleading and lopsided reporting. Most recently there was another letter in the National Post from a one of the solar power, advocates, lambasting the very program that butters his bread. He thinks there is too much money going into building renewable energy capacity, except for the solar producers he represents, that is.

So is the Province acquiring too much electricity generating capacity and is that why energy rates keep rising? It’s more complicated than that. But having slain the coal dragon, if the province wants to avoid simply substituting gas emissions for coal emissions it needs to strengthen its renewable component. That is at least until it has found some way to store the excess energy which gets produced on a sunny and windy day, such as converting that energy to hydrogen gas, to be used in stand-by hydrogen electric fuel cells.

BMW hydro EV charging device

Burlington Hydro leased an electric car for city Councillors to use – they provided the electricity as well. The data collected was needed to get some sense as to what average usage would be.

And if electric vehicles (EV) really capture the imagination of the motoring public, the demand for electrical vehicle plug-ins could be exploding in the near future – so better to plan for an excess rather than a shortage of power. By the way, higher energy prices haven’t been all bad. They have provided a huge incentive to develop and implement more energy-saving technology, e.g. LED bulbs – which in turn help to lower our bills.

It’s true that there have been mistakes that have helped push our rates up. Of course there are the billion dollar gas plant cancellations.

Then, as can be found in the AG’s report, the multi-million dollar energy conservation program is almost redundant now. And the number of agencies and all those bureaucrats with their fingers in the pie are still too many. The feed-in-tariffs for renewables are still too high and the open-ended contracts need to be curbed. And off-shore wind power, the most efficient way to make electricity without killing birds, is not even allowed.


Quebec is blessed with rivers that can be dammed up and used to generate electricity – much of which they sell into the United States.

Quebec has the lowest energy rates in Canada, since its source is virtually all hydro (water) power and it is managed by a government monopoly, Quebec Hydro, the way Ontario used to be. Mike Harris broke Ontario Hydro forever and we have been paying the cost of that mistake since. The Premier says she believes that electric cars must replace todays many gas-guzzlers, yet relatively high electricity prices mitigate against that. Perhaps that is the reason Ontario lags its neighbour Quebec in EV sales. What else would account for EV sales in that province being double those in Ontario on a per-capita basis?

Finally, the Auditor General. $37 billion is a mischievous red herring and she should have known better. It could be reduced but it is the cost of doing business in Ontario’s imperfectly decentralized market for electricity. Her report reads more like a series of sound bites and gripes intended to feed the opposition parties, rather than to constructively assist the energy sector to do a better job.

From her report it is not clear that she even understands Ontario’s energy system, let alone how it came to be this way or where it is going. I am not doubting her competence to perform a financial audit, but an operational or program audit requires more research and analysis and a lot more insight. Frankly I think we deserve better.

Ray Rivers

Ray Rivers

Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He was also a candidate in the 1995 provincial election

Background links:

Ice Storm –  Solar Guy’s Gripe –  Global Adjustment –  More Global Adjustment

Even More Global –  Finally More Global –  EV Sales –  US Energy Prices –   More US Electricity – 

Return to the Front page

We stil don't know if Fortinos is going to be selling us wine come the fall.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

September 3rd, 2016



If it looks too good to be true – it probably isn’t true.



Pleasant enough assortment.

There I was getting ready try out the different supermarkets and see what their wine offerings were going to be – the Ministry of Finance did say we were going to be able to buy wine in Supermarkets on October 28th. They provided a list of the supermarkets who were going to be in the wine biz.

Fortinos logoLoblaws was on the list. Fortinos is a part of the Loblaws operation – just a different brand name. We wanted to know if Fortinos would be selling wine and we asked this question:

“Can we assume that if a supermarket chain is part of the list of locations that can begin selling wine in October that any location in the chain can sell wine products?”

The response: “That is not correct. I am just in a meeting but let me get you some expanded info.”

loblaws logo smallWell it turns out it isn’t quite that simple. When we asked for a little more in the way of detail here is what we got back.

“Today’s announcement identified the successful respondents to the Request for Bids (RFB) held by the LCBO for the sale of wine in grocery stores, later this fall. The successful grocers will now move on to the next stage of the process, which is to apply to have their individual getting new - yellowstore locations inspected and authorized by the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), and then enter in to the necessary wholesale supply agreements with the LCBO. We will provide further updates about the authorizations and individual store locations once the RFB process is complete in late October.”

I think we are going to be making trips to the LCBO for a while yet.

Return to the Front page

Is it just small-minded political parochialism and old-style partisan politics having Hamilton say NO to a $Billion for an LRT line?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 1, 2016



It could be the culmination of all that pollution from (former) Stelco and the other steel company taking its toll on the brain cells of some Hamilton City Councilors.

Or it might be the fact that this city is still almost ungovernable, perhaps even more so after over a decade of forced amalgamation. Or perhaps it is just small-minded political parochialism and old-style partisan politics getting in the way. But Hamilton is on the cusp of saying NO to a billion dollars.

The Province has offered to build a billion dollar light rapid transit system through the downtown core of this rust-belt city at no direct cost to Hamilton. But some Councilors are playing politics.

LRT outside city hall

A model of the proposed LRT was placed outside Hamilton city hall for a number of months.

Some Councilors who don’t have constituents in the downtown core are looking for a political payoff in order to vote yes to the billion dollar transit gift. That is one of the games in municipal politics, the parochial politician who won’t support anything that benefits other parts of the city unless he/she also gets something in return.

This is a Liberal provincial government making the one-time offer, and it certainly seems that those who support, or once sought election for, another political party are saying no thanks. Is it that they’d rather see Hamiltonians lose the only realistic hope for a rapid transit system in a long time, than see the Wynne government get the credit?

There is a lot of spin by the naysayers. What if the construction costs more than a billion? What if the McMaster University terminus moves and that demand dries up? How will emergency vehicles cross the elevated tracks? Won’t self-driving electric cars and buses make rapid transit obsolete?

Pier 8 Hamilton

There are plans to develop Pier 8 – putting housing where shipping sheds now stand in the north end of the city. GO train station is within walking distance.

Not that building a high speed transit line is without hiccups and annoyances. The line under construction in Kitchener has taken longer than expected and is very disruptive to local residents and businesses. Still the public there have not lost patience nor passion, knowing that the pain is worth the gain.

They understand how the subway in Toronto grew the downtown economy of that city, preventing its decline into the ’60/70’s rust belt which plagued other cities in the Great Lakes basin, including Hamilton. No economic studies have shown a downside for the investment from Hamilton’s perspective. And just about everyone expects that mass transit will provide a much needed kick-start to revitalizing a commercially depleted and desperate downtown Hamilton.

I lived in Vancouver when the Sky Train came into operation. Rapid transit has proven to be one of the best things that ever happened to that city, which would otherwise be choking on the exhaust fumes of its own success, more than it is. Unfortunately Hamilton’s dim-sighted politicians decided against a similar system when it was offered by the Davis government back in the day. Concerns over commuters peeking into residents’ backyards apparently put that project into the waste bin of history.


Is it just small-minded political parochialism and old-style partisan politics having Hamilton say NO to a $Billion for an LRT line?

I wrote about the last municipal election in this space back in 2014. One of the biggest challenges seen by the mayoralty contestants was getting independent minded Councilors to work as if they were in a team – to focus on what is good for the city rather than just their own ward or their own political ambitions.

Despite his best intentions, that doesn’t seem to be working for Mayor Eisenberger. If Hamilton’s politicians are so determined to only look after their own interests, why were they so enthusiastic about making the city one big community? Perhaps the answer lies in eliminating the ward system and electing the entire council at large.

LRT picture of trains

Development has always followed transit – will the planned LRT create a new Hamilton?

Of course that billion dollars offered by the Province is not really free. Provincial grants are made up of all our money, collected mainly through provincial income and sales taxes – and there is only ever one taxpayer. So the cost-benefit question is whether there will be at least a billion dollars of increased net economic activity. That seems to be the expectation, and nobody is arguing that this infrastructure investment will be a waste of taxpayer money.

So what is stopping the politicians from getting to yes? The vote is next scheduled for September and I’ll be watching to report on the decision. Are our municipal politicians prepared only to put their particular interests ahead of the general welfare of the city, or do they really believe in the new Hamilton?

Rivers looking to his left

Ray Rivers

Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries. Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee. He was also a candidate in the 1995 provincial election.

Editor’s note:  Why would a Burlington paper publish an opinion piece about Hamilton?  Because Hamilton is going to be the economic engine that pulls Burlington along with it and knowing what that engine is doing and where it is going tells us where we will end up.  The parochialism that exists in Hamilton also exists in Burlington.

Background Links:

Rust Belt –  LRT –   10 Questions –  Vote Postponed 

Waterloo Experience –    HSR –    Gazette article Oct 2014

Return to the Front page