City council hears from an Indigenous Elder on the matter of renaming parks and schools.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 9th, 2021



The Standing Committee on Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services met earlier this week and almost swooned as they listened to Stephen Paquette talk about why the Ryerson school and the park adjacent to it should be renamed.

The Councillors and the two school board trustees who took part as delegations were like high school students listening to a rock star.

paquette Stephen

Stephen Paquette.

Paquette on the other hand was sensible and balanced.

Sure he took a strong position on the getting rid of the Ryerson name but he said he could live with statues of Sir John remaining providing there was a plaque beside the statue putting the man’s role in context.

Unfortunately many are not as sensible and balanced as Paquette.

He taught the Councillors some important lessons; one being the way we choose to elevate some people and create a statue and put it in a public place without a full understanding of the person. He seemed to be saying the statues were more adulation than realistic accounting of the person.

The fear I have is that we will rename the park and the school and then move on to something else forgetting what the real issue is – first making amends for the harm we created and then giving the Indigenous people what they deserve. Decent housing and water they can drink.

A number of years ago Gord Downie stood on a stage and implored the Prime Minister who was in the audience to take care of the Indigenous people. And how much has been done for those people since that time?

I look to Paquette being the person who keeps our feet to the flame and helps us get to the point where the members of the First Nation are true equals.

I was impressed with the man – he is an Elder serving as a staff consultant with the Halton District School Board. He is an excellent spokesperson for his people.

Joseph Boyden, wrote a book: The Orenda. It is a hard book to read on the relationship between the Jesuits who came to Canada to civilize the “savages”. There was painful cruelty on both sides. Boyden created significant controversy writing on Indigenous people. Boyden is primarily of Irish and Scottish ancestry. A number of Indigenous writers and researchers came forward to publicly state Boyden did not have the right to speak on behalf of any Indigenous community because he was not a First Nations citizen and ultimately not Indigenous.

We are going to be dogged with controversy on the question of how we atone for some time. Hopefully the plight of the Indigenous people gets improved while we squabble.

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

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Rivers: Who is Going to Pay for Global Warming ?


“Exxon worked alongside Chevron, Shell, BP and smaller oil firms to shift attention away from the growing climate crisis. They funded the industrys trade body, API, as it drew up a multimillion-dollar plan to ensure that climate change becomes a non- issuethrough disinformation. The plan said victory will be achievedwhen recognition of uncertainties become part of the conventional wisdom’”.

 (Chris McGreal – The Guardian 30 Jun 2021)


Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 8th, 2021



Over 700 people in B.C. alone have died so far this summer from the heat dome that sits over much of that province.  How could any rational person now dispute the link to global warming?  The rising temperature resulted in over 200 forest fires in what was to have been Canada’s biggest renewable carbon reserve.  Instead, the nation’s forests have now become another source of carbon emissions.

Lytton BC fore- street level

Street level view of a burned out Lytton, BC

It is estimated that over a billion marine animals have perished in the fires and heat, and we have no idea about the land animals we’ve lost as well.  And it’s not just Canada.  New Zealand has just recorded it’s hottest winter ever.  Siberia is on track for a repeat of last year’s hottest year ever.  And even Antarctica has recorded 18 degrees last February, the temperature I keep my house thermostat in the winter.

If there are still climate deniers, or those who doubt that human activity is responsible for the rapid change in the planet’s weather patterns, they should truly be ashamed of themselves.  It’s been over a century since scientists first suggested that all the CO2 being emitted would eventually warm up the planet.

In the 1970’s computerization enabled climate modelling which predicted pretty much what we are seeing today.  In fact climate scientists now worry that, if anything, they have been too conservative, have underestimated the speed of global warming.

Then there are the other scientists, the ones employed by the fossil fuel industries who knew what was coming as far back as the 1950’s.   But neither their boys in the upstairs board rooms nor the political leaders we’d elected to protect us seemed to get the memo.   The message was blunt.  If we don’t change we’re all likely headed for a doomsday scenario like we’ve never known.

But profits were good and the oil fossil fuel lobby was powerful politically, so their solution was to muddy the waters, create enough uncertainty so that nobody could be sure.  The answer was to deny global warming and, when climate change became inevitable, deny that humans were responsible.

denial is not policy glob warming

Government did their best to sabotage global efforts at reducing carbon emissions.

It is one thing to unknowingly endanger humanity, but quite another to do so deliberately, falsifying data, outright lying and deceiving the public, as the oil executives did during the nineties and 2000’s.  They and the GW Bush government did their best to sabotage global efforts at reducing carbon emissions, and perverted the serious discussion of climate change.

Bush almost immediately after being elected in 2000 pulled the USA out of the binding Kyoto emissions agreement.  And he and the energy lobby then proceeded to do their best to sabotage the international climate change deliberations.

Canada did sign onto Kyoto, and we might have met our first committed emission reduction, thanks to Ontario closing its coal power plants.  But Stephen Harper, who had been unsupportive of Ontario’s Liberal government’s climate initiative, had done little else to reduce Canada’s growing carbon footprint.  And no sooner had he won his parliamentary majority than he pulled Canada out of the agreement.

When considering the unethical approach of the fossil fuel sector to their business, it is not difficult to look at another industry which profited from misery caused by its poison.   Big tobacco had long been lying about the debilitating health effects of the product it had been pushing, and had deliberately misled the consuming public on its health effects.  Several court actions in the USA eventually persuaded the industry to pay up just under $250 billion for the endless suffering it had caused to so many.

Reagan - cigarette ad

Ronald Reagan, a future president of the United States promoting the use of tobacco. Almost everyone smoked — until we learned how dangerous it was.

There was legal action also in Canada, and hundreds of billions of dollars were delivered in assigned settlements, $300 billion for Ontario alone.  However, big tobacco cried bankruptcy and premiers Legault and Ford, last year, conducted secret negotiations with the companies.  And it now appears that, in a bizarre turn of events, big tobacco might be let off the hook providing they make an effort to get their customers to stop using their products.

There have been a rising number of legal actions in the USA against the oil companies and Big Tobacco is the model they are using since it fits the pattern so well.   But nobody should expect any kind of accountability among the political leaders, who like Stephen Harper wasted ten years, or Pierre Trudeau who helped get the oil sands project started back in the seventies.

And there is his son Justin who promised back in his first election to end public subsidies for the fossil industry and has yet failed to do so, and in fact is building a couple of new pipelines to serve the oil and gas industry.  Subsidies are the other side of a carbon tax – they effectively lower the price of fuel production and thus serve to promote its greater use.   Canada has been named as the G7 nation which most subsidizes its oil and gas sector.

O'Toole smug 4

Mr. O’Toole changed his messaging on the carbon tax

Mr. Trudeau has been outspoken on confronting global warming and that has helped him in the polls, particularly when the opposition party denies the reality of climate change.   That might just be the loud voice of Alberta and Saskatchewan struggling with the last gasps of their dying oil industry sector.   And it was a message we all got more from Mr. Harper and Mr. Scheer than the more moderate Mr. O’Toole.  At least Mr. O’Toole changed his messaging on the carbon tax after the court legality ruling, finally acquiescing, albeit with an unworkable tax model.

There are still many otherwise intelligent people who will tell you that they now believe that climate change is happening, but doubt that humans are mostly responsible.  If nothing else a big fat court ruling may help the misguided find themselves.  And realizing the mess we are creating and leaving it to future generations to start acting responsibly to  reduce their carbon foot print.

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

Background links:

Humans Caused –    Ford Knew –      Heat Dome –      New Zealand –

Trudeau –     Climate Scientists –   Antarctica –     Billion Marine Animals – 

US Tobacco –     Canadian Tobacco –     Oil Company Deceit –    “Air Pollution Deaths”

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How do we want to be defined - our time to be both humane and noble is here now

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 2nd, 2021



What do people mean when they say “that is a defining characteristic”?

What defines Burlington?  Is it the geography – the lake and the Escarpment?

At this time in our history what is it that defines Canada?

I want to suggest that the way Canadians respond to the news of yet another place where the bodies of children have been buried  and what we as a people are going to do about it is what will define this country for decades.

unmarked graves

There are several hundred grave sites like this in Canada

In this country people expect the leadership to make the big decisions.  We have given the power we have to the leaders hoping that they will do the right thing for us.

The tragedy brought about by the creation of the Residential Schools is now in front of us with all the ugliness that neglect heaps on us when we treat one group of people as worth less than the rest of us.

Some 150,000 children were trucked off to Residential Schools with no consent from the parents.  People just came and took them.

Those children who did eventually return to their communities years later, were deeply scarred emotionally, some physically abused, and left unable to cope with daily living.

We are learning now that many thousands did not return but were placed in shallow graves that were unmarked.

The Aboriginal community knew about those graves but no one wanted to listen to a “bunch of Indians”.

Now we all know and decisions have to be made about what we are going to do about it.

The Aboriginal community is pressing the Pope to come to Canada and apologize for the harm that was done and to make restitution as well or at least to live up to the financial contribution all of the religious organizations who operated the Residential Schools agreed to provide.

The federal government has agreed to provide the millions that will be needed to search the grounds of every Residential School to learn if and how many children are laying in shallow graves.

shoes on steps

This just isn’t enough.

How long will the public place pairs of shoes on steps of buildings as a show of support?

Is this just a fad that will pass soon?

The weekly release of yet another grave site will keep this on the public radar for the Aboriginal community who knows they have an issue that has legs.


Gord Downie did what few of us could so – screamed that the Aboriginal people mattered.

How many remember what Gord Downie had to say to the Prime Minister who was in the audience for that heart rending performance when he asked Justin Trudeau to keep the promise?  That’s been the problem, we Canadians have never kept the promise – we instead jerked them around again and again.

Are we finally at the point where that basic, human fundamental right for water that can be swallowed might be theirs the way it is ours?  Or are we stuck at the placing of shoes in public places to show our support.

There is an opportunity to show the world what we have done.  We have this opportunity to determine how we are defined.

My question to each person reading this is – how do you want to be defined?


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Rivers: Canada Day is a Time for Reflection


 When a war between nations is lost

The loser, we know, pays the cost

But even when Germany fell to your hands

Consider dear lady, consider dear man

You left them their pride and you left them their lands

And what have you done to these ones

(Now That the Buffalo’s Gone – Buffy Sainte-Marie)


Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 29th, 2021



This will be a tough July 1st for a lot of Canadians.  For one thing there are fewer of us to celebrate this year – over twenty-six thousand of our loved ones have died from COVID.  Another million and a half became infected, a third of whom have been inflicted with long haul issues.

And the pandemic is not over by a long shot, even though the infection and death numbers are down and the vaccines up.  Just look at the UK which thought it was in the clear but is experiencing its highest COVID infection numbers since February, even though their first and second dose vaccination rates are better than ours.

shoes aboriginal children

The first stage of the public response to the tragic news of the unmarked graves.

And then there is the shock and the ongoing tragic saga about the residential schools.  So far a thousand unmarked graves have been located.  But that is on the grounds of only two out of the 150 schools which the churches had operated.

Even if the children had died from TB, Spanish Flu, measles, influenza or some other disease, they were still in the care of the churches.  And the buck stops with the federal government which had authorized their kidnapping and confinement.    Malnutrition, over-crowding, physical stress from manual labour and emotional stress from the abuse, including sexual abuse, all weighed in with deadly consequences.

Nobody should take a child away from their parents without their permission and just cause.  But having elected to do so they needed to ensure their health and safety.  Why were the school records not maintained by the government and disclosed to the parents? Why were parents not even informed of the deaths and/or the bodies returned?  One can only imagine how the parents and the community leaders and the community felt, watching helplessly in anguish and horror, as their children were taken away.  And then to learn that so many were not coming back.

The Prime Minister suggests that Canada Day this year is a time for reflection.  We should reflect on what the original inhabitants of this land are feeling.  To them Canada is that country which took away their lands and their freedom.  Should we really expect them to be as enthusiastic about celebrating Canada Day as Erin O’Toole, the leader of the Conservative party thinks they should be.

O'Toole smug 4

The plight of our indigenous population is something Leader of the Opposition O’Toole does not appear to understand.

Despite O’Toole’s plea to party on July 1st as if nothing had happened, much of the country is heeding the wishes of the indigenous leaders and cancelling fireworks and other celebrations.  Ottawa will be holding a sacred fire and municipalities in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and B.C. are cancelling traditional celebrations.  They are suggesting that this day be one of reflection for the plight of our indigenous population and of how we can do better into the future.

Mr. Trudeau has called on the Pope to publicly apologize given the huge role the Catholic Church had in all of this, but there is no sign of that happening.  There is some discussion about criminal charges being laid against those responsible for the schools and the program.  And internationally China has used this incident to challenge and embarrass our PM after Justin criticized China’s treatment of its Uighur minority.

Canadians are generally outraged and some will heed the direction of the Prime Minister for a sombre day of reflection.   There are demonstrations planned in protest, this Canada Day.  Catholic churches situated on some reserves have already been burnt to the ground, presumably in protest.  Some people have defaced and destroyed statues of Canada’s founding father, Sir John A. Macdonald.  And, civic authorities are renaming buildings and edifices honouring Sir John A. and Egerton Ryerson, the architect of the school system.

It was the Indian Act which provided the framework for assimilating Canada’s first nations and destroying their native culture.  And the residential schools were part of that framework.  This racist piece of legislation is still in place today, curiously and ironically, because the very indigenous leaders who disdain it also refuse to let it die.   Pierre Trudeau tried to get rid of it back in 1969 and was thwarted by the aboriginal community, who fretted over losing rights that had been conveyed to them under the Act.  Nothing is easy about this.

weeping aboriginal woman

The healing has begun – now we have to find all the cemeteries.

As Canadians we had been taught that ours was a more peaceful treatment of our indigenous population than, for example, the USA.  After all, European settlers arriving in the Americas were responsible for the elimination of an estimated 90% of Indigenous populations, either through the introduction of disease or by outright massacre.   The US government committed as much genocide against its indigenous people as did almost any other nation on earth.  Some 1500 ‘Indian Wars’ later only a quarter of a million indigenous people was all that remained from the estimated 15 million living in North America when Columbus first arrived.

Canada’s approach to evicting its native population from what they considered their lands was less violent and less deadly than our neighbour to the south.  But the indigenous people ended up being marginalized to the same extent.  So there is much to ponder as we reflect on this coming Canada Day.

I for one will not be attending any celebration of Canada Day this year.  I’ll probably engage in discussions among my peers and family about this issue and give a toast for the good things this nation stands for.   Then I’ll take time to enjoy the music of indigenous artists like Robbie Robertson or Buffy Sainte Marie while I take a moment for those lost children whose fate we must all bear some responsibility.


 Background links:

John A –   Residential Schools –   Genocide

US Genocide –     Burning Churches –    Cancelling Canada Day

O’Toole on Canada Day –    Canada Day –    Records

Indian Act  –    Indigenous History Makers

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Mariam Manaa has been nominated - now the challenge - getting elected

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 28th, 2021



Manaa Miriam H&S

Mariam Manaa Liberal candidate in the next provincial election

The Liberals have nominated their candidate for the next provincial election scheduled for June of 2022. Mariam Manaa defeated Andrea Grebenc.

The likelihood of the Premier calling a snap election is high – providing he can come up with an angle that lets him look like the hero he needs to be if the public is going to return him to office.

Dealing with the pandemic put Doug Ford well outside his comfort zone.

The messaging was for the most part terrible; the decision to re-open the hospitality sector in February was a serious mistake that his Science table had warned him about.

Doug Ford is a business person. He believes that business large and small drives the economy and that a healthy economy is what it is all about.

He cannot see beyond those blinders.

Doug Ford covid t shirt

A Premier out of his comfort zone.

His government is at risk. When there is blood in the water the sharks come out. Every riding association is evaluating its prospects. The Progressive Conservatives have Jane McKenna in place. Opinion on Jane is divided and she is her own worst enemy.

The New Democrats have not publicly announced their candidate but if it isn’t Andrew Drummond they don’t have a hope.

The problem for their leader is that Andrea Horwath can’t be elected Premier. Whatever the ingredient is that gets one elected Andrea doesn’t have it.

The Greens may put up a candidate.

Manaa with empower sign

Mariam Manaa: an advocate for women even during her high school years.

The Liberals made a bold choice. The chose Mariam Manaa, a young Muslim woman who wears her hijab most of the time and is active and effective within the Muslim community.

She defeated Halton District School Board Chair Andrea Grebenc who we believe was seen as the favourite.

What was it that had the Burlington Liberals choose Manaa? She got the most votes – does that translates into her bringing more people into Liberal Party membership?

The problem with the process the Liberals used for creating membership was that anyone could become a member. All you had to do was prove you lived in Burlington and you were a member.

Membership in the Ontario Liberal Party is open to all residents of Ontario who are 14 years of age or older.

A savvy political wannabe would call every BEST Friend Forever they had and encourage them to join the Liberal Party and vote for them as the candidate.

It becomes a popularity contest – the candidate with the most members (friends) can expect to win the nomination.

Did Manaa do what any smart politician would do, which is to is get out and round up every breathing body you can find and urge them to become a member?

And once a member, ask them to vote for you as the nominee when the election deciding who the candidate is to be takes place.

Anybody who lives in Burlington could become a Liberal. And I mean anybody.

There was no membership fee, no oath or even a pledge to accept and support a set of principles and objectives.

Liberal party logo OntarioThe idea at the time seems to have been: let anyone become a member and once we know who they are they can be nurtured and grown into a campaign worker, perhaps a financial donor and, heck, maybe even become the candidate in a riding that will take anyone as the candidate because they haven’t got a hope in hell of winning the constituency.

Did Manaa dig deeply in the Muslim community and create more members than Grebenc?

We will never know. The Burlington Provincial Liberal party proved to be very poor messengers this time out.

The election results for nominations are never made public.

Nor does the party association say a word about who brought in the most new members. Those that became members don’t declare who they are supporting.

It would be interesting to know just how many new members the Burlington Liberals brought in.

There isn’t much evidence on which to make assumptions.

The issue for the Burlington Liberals is can Mariam Manaa beat Jane McKenna and if she does, on what issue will she win?

Hate-Suspect-2_B-400x320Will the just-below-the-surface racism in Burlington rear its ugly head and fail to look at the merit of each candidate?

Recent elections in Burlington have gotten very dirty and have resulted in Municipals Act, Elections Act and Criminal Code offence charges being laid.

The objective in politics is to win the seat and hope that the party wins enough seats to form a government.

The Gazette knows of one person who is not and never will be a Liberal – but joined the Party nevertheless in order to be able to cast a ballot against a specific candidate.

Another, who is politically svelte, joined to vote for a particular candidate but would never work to get her elected.
With the membership determined it is then up to candidates who seek the party nomination to convince those members to vote for them as the candidate.

We don’t know if a membership was made available to the candidates.

Facebook likesIt’s a little like setting out to see how many likes you can get on your Facebook page. Do they mean anything?

The process strikes me as devoid of any principles or values. At the federal level those values are difficult to find but that is another story.

We look forward to how Mariam Manaa positions herself and tells her story.

Seeing someone from the diverse (what a terrible word – is there not a better one?) community seeking our vote is progress for Burlington.

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

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Planning for a federal election that isn't needed is well underway

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 26th, 2021



If one follows main line media, the big guys in the bigger population centres, there is a federal election in the making with plans to cause one to take place well underway within the Liberal Party who currently serve as a minority government.

That they have been in place for just two years is an inconvenient fact –this is politics – they call it a blood sport for a reason.  Politics is about power – a majority is a thing of beauty for a government.

Justin Trudeau and his merry band have determined that they can serve us all if they can just get a chance to govern the way they want to govern.

Elections Canada, the organization that runs federal elections has issued documents that include suggestions such as campaigners keeping at least two metres from others and avoiding handshakes and the distribution of pamphlets and buttons.  When that level of detail is issued – you know that the election planning is well underway.

It is the view of the Gazette that Justin has turned out to be less than the politician his father was and that his time as a Prime Minister should come to an end.

We hope that Burlington’s MP, Karina Gould, speaks out against an election at this time in caucus meetings.  That is the one place where she can speak her mind.

In public, she is a member of Cabinet and required to support the team.

Should an election take place in the fall and should the Liberals get returned as a minority Justin Trudeau should do the right thing, fall on his sword and find something else to do.

We should wish for at least that.

We should be demanding that this government remain, do the best they can until the pandemic comes to an end and then go to the people asking to be returned based on how well they got the country through the pandemic, how well they have done with the economy and what they have chosen to do with the critical issue we all face with the Aboriginal community.

We have stiffed these people for far too long.  They need and deserve the water in their homes that we all have in ours.  And they deserve homes that have taps and toilets that use the water.

Some think that as a demographic the Aboriginal community is not as productive as it needs to be.  If that is the case, and it is far from proven, it is because we created the conditions that made them that way.

Every Remembrance Day we celebrate, honour and remember those we lost in wars to defend the democracy we have, yet we seem to be having difficulty doing what has to be done to celebrate, honour and remember those who were laid in graves at such an early age.

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


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Muir: Covid 19 is an 'extinction level' event

opinionred 100x100By Tom Muir

June 22nd, 2021



covid virus

A graphic representation of what a single virus particle looks like.

The COVID19 virus emerging in the human species globally is what is known scientifically as an “extinction level event”.

It emerged in one place and spread around the world in three months hitching a ride in traveling humans.

The virus then shut down the world more or less.

The virus is microscopic in size: 5um.  One um is equal to 0.001 mm, or about 0.000039 inch.

Tom Muir is a resident of Aldershot and a retired federal civil servant who has worked at scientific analysis most of his career.

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Housing is more than a profit center - it is homes that determine the quality of life reputation of the community

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 18th, 2021



It was a solid exchange of views between the Chief Executive Officer of the West End Home Builders Association and members of Burlington’s city council.

Meed Ward - tight head shot

Mayor Meed Ward

Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Mike Collins–Williams was opposed to the shifting of the Urban Growth Centre boundaries to well north of the downtown core up to the Burlington GO station where there are plans for significant development.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward had gotten what she wanted and took exception to Collins–Williams suggesting that downtown had been sterilized when the boundary was moved.

Councillor Nisan termed the use of the word sterilize as disgusting, inappropriate and “inflammatory”.

421 Brant

The construction cranes are in place – the building will rise floor by floor in the months ahead.


Construction is underway.

It didn’t get any better for Collins-Williams when Councillor Kearns asked him to explain what it was that the home builders association wanted that city policies were not giving them.  She followed this up by asking: “What might we be missing that the policies in place do not address?”

The debate was part of a Statutory meeting taking place at Regional Council last Wednesday.

The debate at the Region was never the kind of debate that took place at Burlington city hall between 2010 and 2018.  The stark differences between the interests of the developers and the intentions of the current council was laid bare.  It was the driving issue in the 2018 election and the voters liked what Meed Ward was offering better than what either Rick Goldring or Mike Wallace had put on the table.

Someone paid a third party advertiser to do what they could to influence the views of the voters – it didn’t work.

The debate heard on Wednesday was never heard in Burlington’s Council chambers in previous Statutory meeting occasions.

When the then Golding council approved the Carriage Gate development that would put a 26 storey tower opposite city hall the then city manager is reported to have gotten up to shake hands with the developer.


If the developers get their way there won’t be much park space for the public in that football shaped property.  There are three developments working their way through the planning process.

The development opportunities on Brant Street south of  Caroline are exceptional, as are those in the football between Lakeshore and Old Lakeshore Road where there are a number of developments working their way through the planning process (clogged up at LPAT hearings at the moment) that will result in a significantly different Burlington if they get built.

Development in Burlington is focused on profit, not on the creation of community. The building of high rise condominiums changes the scale, scope and streetscape, which determines how people relate to the community.

There is little in the way of input from the people who are going to live with the buildings. The condominium going up opposite city hall is built right out to the property line and soars straight up for 26 floors.

Some developers do create designs that embrace the street. The Molinaro group has a development that puts two towers on either side of Brant Street at Ghent, that have slight curves,  which leave the impression the buildings are communicating with each other.  If built they will become the gateway out of the downtown core to a different Burlington that will rise beside the Go station.

Appreciation for architecture rests in the eye of the beholder and what the public is seeing now is quite different than what was built along Lakeshore decades ago.

During the required Statutory meetings the developers set out what they want to do and explain that they are meeting all the required rules.

Collins Williams

Mike Collins-Williams represented the interests of the developers during the required Statutory meeting on the changes being made to the Regional Official Plan.

What doesn’t take place is a dialogue between the architect and the public on what the public would like to see built on the streets they will live, work and play on.

Usually the first time a citizen sees a building is when they look at a glossy brochure.

Architects are hired by developers to create a pleasing looking building that meets the aspirations (and at times the egos) of the developer and doesn’t cost a fortune to build.

Developers are not in the housing business, they are in the profit-making business – and in a capitalistic society that is the way the game is played and accepted.

Selling housing isn’t the same as selling soap.

The homes that are built determine to a large degree the kind of society we have. Human beings need space; the developers refer to that space as amenities.

This isn’t a Burlington problem – it is one that plagues the country. However there is no reason a change cannot at least begin in Ontario. And if Mayor Meed Ward can pull that off – good on her.


Related news story

Lobbyist states the case for sticking with old Urban Growth plan

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

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Ford invokes Not Withstanding Clause to extend the length of time third party advertisers can spend money before a provincial election

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 14th, 2021



We get about eight, sometimes as many as a dozen media releases announcing what different Members of Cabinet were doing in the way of public statements.

Anything would justify an announcement – it was difficult to keep up at times.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Today, the government invoked the “Notwithstanding Clauses in the provincial governance protocols that we have.

The Gazette re-published an opinion published by the Globe and Mail this morning.

We can add to that the statement put out by the Leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario, Steve Del Duca, who does not yet have a seat in the Legislature. He was the Minister of Transportation in the Wynne government that went down to a disastrous defeat during the last provincial election when the Liberals were left with seven seats.

Many feel that the use of the Not Withstanding clause was the first step in a plan to call an early election once the pandemic recovery is in its third stage and the province is close to getting back to whatever the new normal is going to be.

Del Duca issued a statement today saying:

“Today is a sad day for our democracy. In the cover of darkness, Doug Ford has rammed through legislation that will undermine our right to free speech by silencing his critics.

Doug Ford’s power grab is nothing more than an attempt to save his own political skin while changing the rules of an election he’s already running in.

Make no mistake, Doug Ford is silencing the frontline heroes — the nurses, doctors, teachers, essential workers, and personal support workers who are speaking out against his government.

This didn’t have to be today’s reality. In 2018, Ontario Liberals fought to prevent the routine use of the Notwithstanding Clause in Ontario’s governance, but with the help of Andrea Horwath and the NDP, Doug Ford’s majority shut down our motion.”

This is a black day for everyone in the province.

Related editorial item:

Globe and Mail opinion piece.

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Doug Ford’s gag law will limit comment on essentially any public policy issue

opinionred 100x100By Christine Van Geyn and Scott Hennig.

June 14th, 2021

Reprinted from the Globe and Mail.

Politicians are going to politician. It doesn’t matter their party, the colour of their election sign or ideological background. Politicians will take any opportunity to silence their critics – even if it means enacting unconstitutional laws. And that’s precisely what Ontario Premier Doug Ford is doing by invoking the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to overrule a recent Ontario court decision that struck down his government’s gag law.

To be fair, it wasn’t originally his gag law. Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government first brought in a law in 2016 that gagged citizens from using paid means of amplifying their voices – not just during the election, but a full 180 days before the election even started.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford

But Mr. Ford doubled down on Ms. Wynne’s law when he introduced Bill 254 to expand the restrictions to a full 365 days prior to an election. That means today, with just under a year to go before the next Ontario election, citizens are effectively barred from spending their own money to voice their opinion on any political issue.

Sure, you will still see some political ads from non-politicians over the next 12 months, but they will be limited and only run by those with the deepest pockets and with paid staff who can jump through all of the red tape.

quarry stop sign

If this sign said something about the government it wold probably be illegal.

However, if your grandmother Donna and her bridge group want to pool their money to buy some lawn signs to voice their opinion on long wait times in Ontario’s health care system, the huge amount of debt the government is running up, or why they think the official provincial bird should be changed from the common loon to the blue jay, they will want to consult a lawyer.

For starters, Donna and her bridge buddies will have to register with Elections Ontario and appoint a chief financial officer if they want to spend more than $500 over a 12-month period. With current lumber prices, the cost of stakes for a handful of signs will push over that limit.

If they trip over the next threshold of $5,000 in signs, they will have to hire a professional auditor to investigate their bookkeeping and ensure that every cent is accounted for. Donna and her friends will have to figure out how to fill out reams of government forms.

But they likely won’t – because it won’t be worth the struggle and getting it wrong can result in large fines. This silence is exactly what politicians want.

It’s even questionable whether larger groups can move that mountain of paperwork. If a group of small businesses want to voice their opinions on government lockdown rules that favour big businesses, the law actually requires they file a new report for every $1,000 in spending. Meaning, if they reached the cap of $600,000 in spending, they could have to file 600 separate reports with the government over the next 365 days. The requirements may indeed be so nonsensical and onerous that their very purpose is to deter groups from advertising.

While Mr. Ford’s target may be the union coalition Working Families, the impact of the law is far broader, and limits comment on essentially any public policy issue when these comments matter the most.

Charter signing

Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau signed the Proclamation of the Constitution Act on April 17, 1982; it was accompanied by The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to free expression. What makes Canada a special place that people all around the world want to call home is that we embrace differing opinions and let our citizens have a voice. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right that should be embraced. Petty dictators wield power to silence the voices of their critics. In liberal democracies, we demand better.

Justice Edward Morgan rightfully ruled that Ontario’s gag law was too restrictive on Ontarians’ right to free expression, declaring the changes to the Election Finances Act unconstitutional. While the notwithstanding clause is available, Mr. Ford’s decision to use it here, without even taking the time to appeal the decision, is patently self-serving. It is a demonstration of incumbent arrogance, indifference towards free expression, and shows a bizarre and warped sense of priorities. And now Ontarians who want to speak out and say as much have their voices muzzled by this very law.

Christine Van Geyn is the litigation director for the Canadian Constitution Foundation. Scott Hennig is the president and CEO of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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Ford Out of Touch with Reality - Natural Gas Expansion Plans a Disaster in the Making

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 9th, 2021



“A global crisis has shocked the world. It is causing a tragic number of deaths, making people afraid to leave home, and leading to economic hardship not seen in many generations. Its effects are rippling across the world. ”

Obviously, I am talking about COVID-19. But in just a few decades, the same description will fit another global crisis: climate change. As awful as this pandemic is, climate change could be worse.” (Bill Gates – Aug 2020)

Pipeline -Transmountain

Pipelines move natural gas.

So, why would any government anywhere want to expand the carbon footprint of its residents? But that is exactly what the press conference this morning by Premier Ford and his ministers was all about, They are moving onto the second phase of their gas pipeline expansion plan to some 43 communities in northern and rural Ontario.

In total some 28 pipeline projects including well over a hundred kilometers of pipeline will be buried in order that Alberta based Enbridge and EPCOR can supply currently low cost natural gas even further into homes and businesses in the province.

The Ontario government is spending $234 million so the Alberta gas companies can sell more of their product in Ontario. And customers will pay back a dollar a month for being connected to the new gas supply system.

But even over ten years that would take almost 2 million new gas customers to pay off the subsidy to the gas companies. And that is unlikely since Enbridge, which is Canada’s largest gas distribution company, has barely four million existing customers in the province.

And what about the carbon tax? Currently set at $40 per tonne or 7.83 cents per cubic metre, it is set to more than quadruple by 2030. The entire premise underlying this government’s push to have Ontario residents use more natural gas is that it will help reduce their costs of living and for their businesses.

heat homes

Natural gas is the major source for heating homes. Solar has a lot of growing to do.

But it seems Mr. Ford, having lost in the courts, has just decided to ignore that we really do have an ever increasing carbon tax in this country, and will, even if the federal government changes hands.

New gas furnaces last 15-20 years. We can only imagine where the carbon tax will be in twenty years and what that will do to the economics of having locked ourselves even more into natural gas. Investments in new capital infrastructure, like a new gas heating appliance, should include a risk analysis of the future operational costs as well as the gas price today.

Electricity is an alternative. Wind and solar are already the least costly ways of generating electricity today and they are becoming even less expensive. And advances in energy storage will make them more reliable into the future. Already, battery technology is bringing that to reality in places like Australia.

The press conference seemed well attended and there were a number of media questions, but nobody mentioned the carbon tax and its impact going forward. In fact nobody mentioned climate change and our carbon footprint and what this would mean for all of us and for those yet to come.

Doug Ford and Jason Kenney

BFF: Best friends forever. Doug Ford with Jason Kennedy.

This may have been partly about Mr. Ford helping out his fellow premier in Alberta by marketing his gas here. And Mr. Ford may have genuinely been trying to help more Ontario residents lower their heating costs. There was also talk of 5000 jobs, but we know any kind of energy project results in jobs. In fact US President Biden has made jobs the centre piece of his natural gas phase out plan. Yet while the US is phasing out, Ontario is embracing gas.

And that is the other problem with this provincial program. Natural gas was the wonder fuel of the sixties and seventies, when Mr. Ford was still a baby. Today burning natural gas is one the biggest problems facing humanity. And if Mr. Ford doesn’t get that he’s really out of touch with reality.

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


Background links:

Bill Gates

Phase 2 Gas Expansion

Australia Energy Storage

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There are some very challenging issues right in front of us that will require inspired leadership. We are about to find out if the challenge is going to be met

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 8th, 2021



During a Standing Committee on Monday City Manager Tim Commisso commented on the concerns that had been brought to the Mayor and members of Council related to the condition of streets and public places and the large gatherings of people who appeared to be ignoring the ask that masks be worn.

Burlington is still in a State of Emergency and is regulated in terms of the day to day business of the city by the Emergency Coordinating Group (ECG) which is made up of the Leadership Team and other senior staff including Fire Chief Karen Roche.

This group often meets several times a week and is able to make changes to practices and procedures quickly as long as they don’t have a negative impact on the budget.

The Mayor is a part of the ECG.

Commisso Apr 17

City Manager Tim Commisso

Commisso acknowledged that there are problems and added that he “had nothing to say” on Monday but expected to have things to say once he has met with staff.

Burlington has become a destination for many people who want to get out of their homes and be in places where they can meet with friends.  There wasn’t very much that was open on the weekend.

This Friday the city opens up, albeit not to the point where there are no limitations.  If past experience is any indicator the city is facing crowds that make demands on the resources and push many people beyond their comfort level when it comes to sharing what Burlington has to offer.

It was people, people, people - for almost as far as the eye could see along the Beachway.

It was people, people, people – for almost as far as the eye could see along the Beachway.

There are some who feel the city parks, especially the Beachway, should be for use by Burlingtonians only.  The fact is that the Beachway is a Regional Park managed by the city.

Burlingtonians are proud of the small town feel of the downtown core and want to retain that identity.

The city’s leadership has a difficult situation ahead of it that will require an ability to respond in a responsible way and at the same time educate the community and bring it to the point where the appreciation for the diversity that the city advocates and encourages becomes real.

During the Standing Committee Monday members of council wanted to know how many of the free parking passes were given to residents of Burlington and how many were given to residents of Oakville, Milton or Halton Hills.

This is not a metric that should matter.

There are some very challenging issues right in front of us that will require inspired leadership.  We are about to find out if the challenge is going to be met.

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

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Rivers: Is it Time to Phase out Natural Gas?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 3rd, 2021



The previous provincial government closed all of the coal-fired power plants and permanently banned coal as a fuel for electricity production. That was one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in North America. More than 30 mega-tonnes of greenhouse gases annually were eliminated.

That is the equivalent to taking seven-million petroleum powered vehicles off our roads. In addition, closing the coal plants helped reduce the number of smog days in Ontario from 53 in 2005 to zero in 2015.

In 2005 coal-fired electricity still accounted for 19% of the utility bill. By 2015 when coal was gone, wind and solar energy had come from nowhere to account for 9%, even as electricity use in the province increased by another 3%. And while the costs of getting there were not inconsequential, solar and wind are today’s lowest cost sources of electrical energy.

wind turbines

Wind turbines work exceptionally well if located in the right place.

Of course wind and solar are intermittent sources of energy by their very nature. And while awaiting the development of backup energy storage systems, natural gas had been included in the mix to allow for those times when the sun was down or the wind had stopped blowing. Still, by 2018, the year the government changed political parties, natural gas accounted for only 3% of the energy mix.

Renewable energy accounts for a third of the electricity produced in Ontario. And a third of that comes from Ontario’s fleet of solar and wind installations. But after the 2018 election the Ontario government stopped approving and started cancelling new solar and wind projects. Still, even in 2020 wind and solar still generated over 11% of the provincial energy mix.

As a result Ontario’s electricity system is currently about 94 percent carbon free. However that is down from 97 percent under the former government, though still very respectable when compared to other jurisdictions like the USA, or even Alberta.

so;ar energy

Solar panels have proven to be very cost effective.

Unfortunately the current provincial administration is allergic to naturally sourced renewable energy. In fact, the Premier has recently moved to de-prioritize renewable energy in an effort to allow increases in the carbon content of Ontario’s energy mix.

So it should not be surprising that this Ontario government, through its wholly owned Ontario Power Generation, has just spent three billion dollars purchasing three existing gas plants from TC Energy. It is easy to understand why TC Energy would want to unload these facilities which represent yesterday’s fossil fuel burning technology. But why would the Ontario government buy them?

The contrast with what we see happening in the US could not be clearer. US President Joe Biden is committed to eliminating natural gas electricity production within 15 years, replacing it with renewable energy. Canada has just announced new climate change targets for 2030 which would entail a 40-50% reduction in fossil fuel burning.

Recently 27 municipalities across Ontario, representing half of the province’s population, have demanded that Ontario phase-out natural gas electricity production. They are concerned about re-carbonizing Ontario’s energy mix and the potential smog pollution which would result. Converting Ontario’s vehicle fleet to electricity is hardly carbon free if recharging the cars’ batteries relies on carbon based electricity.

The province’s Independent Electrical System Operator (IESO),which manages Ontario’s power system, had begun a stakeholder engagement process to examine the feasibility of phasing-out natural gas. In response, the Ontario Energy Association (OEA,) which represents most large energy providers, quickly generated a report in defence of the gas plants.

gas fired energy plant

One of the three gas fired energy plants the province bought.

The OEA report delivers what they term a ‘rough estimate’ of $60 billion over the next decade as a consequence of eliminating natural gas from electricity production. Rough estimate is a generous term for this sketchy effort at producing a large enough number to get everyone’s attention. And unsurprisingly, the imaginary number, intended to impress the reader, is based on heroic and incomplete assumptions – in short, shoddy work.

But this is not just about climate change and the environmental consequences of burning more fossil fuel. There have been huge economic costs associated with the direction this government has been taking us from the get-go. They gave away $3 billion when they dismantled Ontario’s cap and trade emission reduction system. Another $231 million was spent compensating approved new renewable energy projects which were cancelled by the government.

Then there were the millions, (initially $30 million) which were poured into the pointless effort to kill the national carbon tax. And now the Province is spending $3 billion to buy gas power plants which will have to be decommissioned in as little as a decade.

Meanwhile the government is paying $6 billion a year to subsidize our monthly electricity bill, a practice estimated by the Ontario Energy Association to possibly end up costing $228Billion over the next 25 years. And even so, the cost of electricity has actually increased since this government came to power, peaking just prior to the onset of the pandemic and the Premier’s decision to offer work-at-home rate relief during the crisis.

By any measure, economic or environmental, this is a troubling roadmap. And it is taking Ontario tax payers into the most ideologically driven and wrong-headed misadventure since a former premier broke up Ontario Hydro.

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



Background links:

Coal Power Plants –    Ontario Energy Mix –      Ontario Electricity Rates –

Municipal Pressure –      OEA Study –      TC Plants –

Today’s Energy Mix –     Ratepayer Subsidy – 

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After a bit of kafuffle it comes down to two women seeking the Liberal nomination to be the candidate in the June 2022 provincial election

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 31st, 2021



So – what did happen?

We learn that ward 2  Councillor Lisa Kearns had decided to accept a suggestion that she seek the nomination for the Burlington seat in the Legislature.

We were never able to get that confirmed directly from the Burlington Liberal Association but we were able to get confirmation from a reliable party source.

Manaa Miriam H&S

Mariam Manaa – seeking the Liberal nomination.

We were unaware that there was a already a Miriam Manass, woman who had expressed an interest and was running a personal campaign to seek the nomination.

All we had was Lisa Kearns filling her social media with everything she had. Today it was pairs of children’s shoes at the foot of the flag poles outside city hall in support of the 200+ children who were buried on the grounds of a Residential School used to house Indigenous Children who had been taken from their parents.

Kearns with shoes

Lisa Kearns during a Facebook moment at the foot of the flag poles outside city hall

Kearns informed us that she wrote a university thesis on just that issue. We asked for a copy of the thesis thinking it would be interesting to read what a student had to say about the shameful past that had churches being responsible for the welfare of children and then abusing them. Not all the churches but far too many of them.  “Don’t have the document anymore” advised Kearns. Most people hang on to the work they do at the university level.

Then out of the blue we learn that Andrea Grebenc has decided to seek the nomination for the Burlington seat. We thought that she would be a very good candidate for the ward 3 council seat.  She has credibility.


Andrea Grebenc during a virtual school board meeting.

The faster than you can say “Jack Rabbit” Kearns announces that she likes the look of Grebenc and has decided to drop out of the race and support Grebenc.

What really happened?

And also – what happened to the woman who was being “groomed” to replace Kearns on city Council once she had won the provincial seat?

She appears to have been thrown under the bus.

Kearns and Grebenc were not close to each other. I doubt that they actually met – but could be wrong on that.

Our belief is that Kearns found there was a sudden need for a change of clothing when she learned of the Grebenc announcement and did what she could to give herself political coverage.

No need to take a look at the other candidate – Grebenc would fill the bill.

As much as we admire the work Grebenc has done at the school board she would have been better advised to solicit Kearns’ vote and take a pass on an endorsement.

The joint media release the two woman put out was pretty self-serving – no one came out of that looking very good.

The lingering question is – how much damage has Kearns done to her brand and image? She has made herself vulnerable. The mind of the policy wonk failed her – when there was a personal threat – back away.  There has always been a skittishness to Lisa Kearns.

Kearns said both personal and professional matters brought about the decision to withdraw. She should have said that and moved on

Courage of your convictions wouldn’t apply here.

What then does apply?  That is something the voters will get to decide in 2021. Does Kearns think time will wash this all away?

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

Related news stories

Lisa Kearns announces

Grebenc announces

Mariam Manaa announcement

Joint media release

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Find the will to vaccinate every student and teacher before September

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 28th, 2021



The back and forth debate over sending students back to school for the three weeks in June that are the balance of this school term seems to forge what everyone says they want – the best thing for the students.

Stuart Miller

While due to retire in August, current Director of education for the Halton District School Board Stuart Miller could lead a drive to get students vaccinated before September.

Students have been jerked around for the past 18 months.

The pandemic that we are now beginning to admit was something we should have been more aware of did throw a monkey wrench into the way we educated students.

Teachers went into shock when they were asked to teach their students by telephone, which is basically what virtual teaching is. There were no programs to help the teachers overcome the problems.

The equipment needed didn’t exist. The Halton District school Board has put more than “2000 pieces of hardware” into the hands of students.

Some teachers had difficulty adapting to teaching virtually.

The public doesn’t yet understand just how big a challenge students faced. The idea of thinking about teaching kindergarten virtually boggles the mind.

Significant damage has been done, much of it unavoidable.

But surely we don’t have to continue damaging these students.

We appear to be on our way out of the pandemic. Vaccinations are taking place and the Ontario government seems too to have learned to communicate with its citizens.

It looks, as well, that the federal government has vaccine supply lines that are holding.

Could we not now commit to having every student and every teacher vaccinated before school classes begin again in September?

There is an organization called CODE – Committee of Directors of Education.  These men and women have clout – have them use that clout and work with the local Medical Officers of Health and get the job done.

It’s possible – what it appears to be missing is the will.

Find it – the students deserve to be back in the classrooms and the teachers have to be able to do what they do best.

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

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Rivers asks: Has Ford Been Playing Us ?


Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

May 22nd, 2021



Doug Ford is right about one thing. Ontario residents will only stop getting sick and dying after we’ve all had our shots. That is because he has been unable and/or unwilling to control the transmission of the virus.

It’s been over a month since he applied his famous emergency brake. And despite the so-called shut down we’re still hitting a couple thousand cases and a couple dozen deaths a day. Yet the reason why it’s taking so long is obvious.

Ford gregarious

Ontario had elected a populist – when the pandemic hit he was expected to lead – many were disappointed.

He shut down the wrong part of Ontario’s economy. Almost 70 percent of COVID transmission in hot spot Toronto, for example, has been taking place in the workplace among factory and warehouse workers and the construction trades.

Had Ford made these folks stay at home we might have seen real and rapid reductions in the numbers. Killing the provincial sick pay plan just made it worse. According to a Peel region study 25% of the industrial workforce had been showing up at work with COVID symptoms.

Ford promised to be brutal at his disastrous April media conference, and he was. But he brutalized the wrong folks. Shutting down outdoor recreational activities, including golf and tennis, which had never reported a case of COVID, was just mean… and stupid.

Doug Ford covid t shirt

Leading the province through a pandemic proved to be more than the Premier and his Cabinet could handle.

But if Ford really wanted to bring the numbers down he should have focused on the sectors where transmission is high. Instead, it was all a smokescreen. He declared residential construction an essential service. How could building a new subdivision in a time of COVID be considered essential?

Mr. Ford’s legislative record makes it clear that he has used the pandemic as a cover to fast track development in the province. His government passed a number of COVID recovery laws last year. And they were more about development than anything else. He has enacted his autocratic Minster’s Zoning Orders, ignoring and bypassing local councils and their voters’ wishes on development.

Ford has unearthed a plan to build a new 400 series highway (413) on property held by a group of developers, who collectively have contributed close to a million dollars to Ford’s party since 2014. They own 39 properties along the proposed route covering 3,300 acres, which is worth about half a billion dollars in today’s market. But their windfall profit is expected to inflate wildly from adjacent sprawl development once the highway is approved.

Ford Doug with graph Apr 16

Scientists were providing solid data – the Premier seemed to use what worked for his agenda.

He has stripped conservation authorities of their role in the approval of new developments that can affect them and all of us. In protest, former Toronto Mayor and Mulroney cabinet minister David Crombie, has resigned as chair of the Greenbelt. And in an insult to everyone who cares about the environment, Ford replaced him with former Harris environment minister Norm Sterling, of Walkerton crisis fame, who actually voted against establishing the Greenbelt.

The speed with which this government is undoing decades of environmental protection in the province is stunning. One has to ask whether Ford is packing in as much development as he can before the next election. And that, apparently, takes priority over controlling COVID.

Ford OPEN for business

It was always about business – the closer they could get to the Premier the better it was for the development community. And they certainly did manage to get very close.

But as the numbers surged this past March, and infected people overwhelmed Ontario’s hospitals, Ford needed to appear to be doing something – to be taking charge. So he scapegoated the federal government and played the rest of us.

His stay at home order was brutal and tough, especially on children and their parents. But it has had little effect on COVID transmission. The numbers are falling because we are getting vaccinated. The stay at home order was mainly just for show.

Rivers hand to faceRay 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 where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.


Background links:

Friends with Benefits –     Sick Pay –     Under Cover

Emergency Order –     Construction COVID –       Small Gatherings –

MZO –      Crombie Resigns

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We have a Mayor who does not walk her talk - ducks the opportunity to support local news

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 17th, 2021



Tuesday afternoon, tomorrow,  Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will take her seat in Council Chambers as Chair of a meeting of city council.

Along with her is the City Clerk, the audio visual technician – who should be referred to as the magician given the way he manages to keep the video feed stable. It is no small matter.

Part of getting a Council meeting underway is to read a land acknowledgement and to read out any proclamations that are to be made.

The following are the proclamations that are to apply for this meeting of Council


Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism: May 10, 2021

Apraxia Awareness Day: May 14, 2021

National Public Works Week: May 16 – 22, 202

National AccessAbility Week: May 30 – June 5, 2021

World Sickle Cell Day: June 19, 2021

Senior Volunteer Appreciation Week: June 1-8, 2021

Hidradenitis Suppurative (HS) Awareness Week: June 7 – 13, 2021

Month of Play: June 2021

National Indigenous History Month: June 2021

National Deaf/blind Awareness Month: June 2021

Pride Month: June 2021

Her Worship speaks frequently about her 22 years as a journalist and when there were people in the council chamber the Mayor would acknowledge the presence of media.

One would have thought that the Mayor would have chosen to recognize the National News Media week and take up the opportunity to support local news media.

A web site organized by a group of senior journalists with the humorous name inkstainedwretches took on the task of asking municipalities across the country to support local news.  The “wretches” are asking Canadian municipalities to pass a journalism-support resolution between May 3, 2021 and Canada Day.

The petition read:

Given that the creation and distribution of reliable information is crucial for our individual and collective well-being, democracy and civil society;

Given the point to which digital platforms have evolved during the past decade has severely damaged an ecosystem that enables news outlets to provide reliable information (the damage is evident from the number of established news media outlets that closed or merged in Canada since 2008, and has become more critical due to the novel coronavirus pandemic).

We encourage our elected leaders to enact legislation to shape an ecosystem that supports one of the crucial foundations of a functioning democracy: reliable, local journalism.

The following is a lost of all the municipalities that passed a resolution of support to date – look as hard as you may – Burlington is not in the list.

    City of Winnipeg, Man. (April 29, 2021)

    City of Kamloops, BC (April 20, 2021)

    City of London, ON (April 13, 2021)

    Chatham-Kent, ON ( April 12, 2021)

    City of St. John’s, NL (April 5, 2021)

    City of Prince George, BC (March 22, 2021)

    City of Toronto, ON (March 10, 2021)

    Town of Saugeen Shores, ON (Nov. 23, 2020)

    District of Tofino, BC (Oct. 27, 2020)

    City of Kitchener, ON (Sept. 14, 2020)

    Town of Essex, ON (Sept. 8, 2020)

    Town of LaSalle, ON (Sept. 8, 2020)

    City of Cambridge, ON (Sept. 8, 2020)

    City of Kingston, ON (Sept. 1, 2020)

    City of Windsor, ON (Aug. 24, 2020)

    City of Hamilton, ON (July 17, 2020)

    Township of Wellesley, ON (June 30, 2020)

    Township of Woolwich, ON (June 23, 2020)

    Township of North Dumfries, ON (June 22, 2020)

    Township of Wilmot, ON (June 22, 2020)

    City of Waterloo, ON (June 22, 2020)

    Region of Waterloo, ON (June 3, 2020)

While quick to talk about the importance of the media Mayor Meed Ward has yet to hold a press conference since donning the Chain of Office.  Requests to her office for a comment on an issue results in someone from the communications department who ask what it is we want to know.  The Mayor has a full time communications operative working for her.

The Gazette has served the city for ten years. Before becoming Mayor there were numerous interviews with Marianne Meed Ward; nothing since taking the Oath of Office.

Her Worship might surprise us all and produce a resolution before Canada Day.

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

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Having police in place when they are really needed

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 11, 2021



There is a comment in the Gazette from a former police officer who served for 30 years – it deserves some comment.  The police officer wrote:

“My point is …. pay duty officers are requested and paid for by a private company (ie construction, movie shoots) NOT Halton Region, so the suggestion that the City of Burlington request and pay for pay duty officers (out of our tax dollars) is ridiculous. It’s sad to see how the media has contributed to the rise in tension and hate towards the police, of late. AND yes I am proud of my honourable career as a police officer. I worked for HRPS for 30 years!”

Our purpose is not to identify the officer but to respond to her assertion that the Gazette has contributed to the rise in” tension and hate towards the police”.

Rattlesnake 1 police car

Most of the time the police are where they need to be.

The intention is to hold the police accountable and ensure that they be transparent and protect the public that hires them to do just that.

The word hate was introduced by the police officer – not the Burlington Gazette.

Police are often seen on the street, riding bicycles and keeping an eye on things – a basic part of good police work; getting out of the cruiser and seeing what is going on.

In the ten years we have covered Burlington the Gazette has reported on a lot of outstanding police work. There are a lot of smart, dedicated men and women serving the public.

The only thing ridiculous about paying for pay duty police officers is that the taxpayer would be paying twice.

Police officer told us he was on "bikini patrol" and that he loved his job.

Police officer told us he was on “bikini patrol” and that he loved his job.

Times are tough for many people. Coping with the financial damage being done to the hospitality sector is seriously hurting families and some of that pain gets expressed publicly.

People are fearful, they expect, want, and need support.

Most people recognize that is why we have a police service.

Related news


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

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Time to Put Some Backbone Behind the Motto the Regional Police Have.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 10th, 2021



The weather is getting warmer; the desire to get outside and enjoy the weather gets stronger every day.

The wearing of masks is getting better – but it’s not as good as it is going to have to be.

Brown and Williams

Dr. Adelstein Brown, head of the Science Table that advises the government, on the left and Dr. David Walker who takes the advice to the Premier.

The science that determines, to a large degree, the decisions the province makes about what we will be able to do and what we will not be permitted to do reacts to the data collected.

The numbers are not really all that much better. Poor enough to have the advisers suggesting that the current Stay at Home be extended two more weeks into June.

The Victoria Day holiday will stress the social cohesion we have even more seriously than it is now.  The Emergency Control Group (ECG) that currently does the thinking, risk measuring, looking for options and doing their best to determine what they will take to Council.

Chief Tanner hard look

Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner during a virtual meeting with city council.

The comment from the Chief of Police that he did not see Halton Regional Police Service patrolling those locations where crowds tend to converge was much more than a disappointment.

The Mayor is surely thinking through the options as she meets with the ECG.

Something is going to be needed to deter people.   And police can do that.

Meed Ward style

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward: Not amused.

The Mayor has an option; Hire what is referred to as paid duty police service, and have them patrol the parks and the streets on bicycles. These are sworn police officers who do part time work during their off duty hours.

From the Regional Police web site: “The Paid Duty Program will allow clients to hire off-duty officers on a contract basis to provide a police presence at their events. Officers will not be assigned to any function that requires that they act outside the normal scope of police duties.   Terms to be considered when applying for Pay Duty Officers: Events must be within the Region of Halton.”

Then meet with the Police Services Board and let them hear some of her indignation. The Board cannot involve itself in operational matters but they can make their views known directly to the Chief.

The Regional Police use bicycles on a regular basis as part of the way they do their work. Are there any other civic employees using bicycles?

The Regional Police use bicycles on a regular basis as part of the way they do their work. No reason why they can’t be used now. These officers were patrolling Brant Street while a festival was taking place.

The seven members of Burlington City Council are also Regional Councillors. There are all kinds of opportunity to bring pressure on the Region to perhaps allocate additional funds to the HRPS if that is what it needed.

Something has to be done – and whatever is decided upon has to be put in place soon so that city staff are assured that they are safe when they are out meeting with the public.

Mayor Meed Ward has never been shy about picking up the phone and calling the Chief. She may have his number on speed dial.

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

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Resident 'troubled' by McKenna decision to remove contact form and email from website and disable comments

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 28th, 2021



Communicating with our elected officials should be a very simple process: write a letter, send an email or make a phone call.

That wasn’t the experience Tamara De Dominicis had when she wanted to let Burlington MPP Jane McKenna know how she felt about a vote McKenna cast in the Legislature yesterday.

We want to share that letter with you. All kinds of information in that letter we were not aware of.

Dear Ms. McKenna,

I am writing to you today because I am deeply troubled by your choice to vote against paid sick days for our Ontario workers. Covid aside, no person should have to choose between their health, the health of their coworkers and other points of contact, and their financial security. In this time of a global pandemic, surely it is more important than ever to protect both the individual workers and to stop the spread of illness.

McKenna at the door

MPP Jane McKenna pauses at the door to a public meeting on transit matter – decides not to walk into the room.

If we assume minimum wage earners like those who staff our grocery stores and warehouses, delivering goods that are essential to our daily needs, make approximately $2430 a month (calculated at minimum wage being $14 /hour and a 40 hour work week with a 15% tax deduction for an under $48 535 tax bracket), let us then examine monthly bills.

Assuming rent in Burlington for a one-bedroom costs a minimum $1800, groceries average $200, basic internet is $50, a basic phone plan is $50, and gas is on average $150 monthly, total bills amount to $ 2450 (you’ll note that this is $20 less than their paycheque). Missing a single day of work takes away $97 (after tax).

What kind of choice would you have this person make if they lost out on monies earned from a single day of work? Should they skip groceries? Rent? Internet, and deny their children access to online education?

With the stay at home order, the provincial government introduced a legal requirement to stay home from work if you are feeling ill. This forces sick workers to face a moral conundrum of choosing between following rules laid out by the government for the safety of its people or being able to provide for themselves and their families.

If your government cannot commit to paid sick days in general, surely we can come kind of compromise. You could introduce a temporary bill for paid sick days during the course of the pandemic.

Finally, I am also troubled by your decision to remove your contact form and email from your website and disable comments and messaging from your Instagram account. You are an elected official whose responsibility it is to represent your people. Please listen to our needs and represent us in parliament.

Eagerly awaiting your swift reply in this urgent matter,

Tamara De Dominicis

Ms McKenna isn’t the only elected official that limits where negative comments can be placed.  Burlington’s Mayor and the Regional Chair are both reported to remove comments that do not support them.  Poor practice.

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