By Anne Marsden

October 3rd, 2022



Click  Let’s End the MMW Era   

December 19, 2016 will be a Council meeting my husband Dave and I will never forget for two reasons.

1. The misrepresentation in the December 14, 2016 Audit Committee Minutes of what really happened at the Audit Committee regarding an audit of the 2014 Election Nomination Papers, was approved by all Council members regardless of having an understanding that the minutes were incorrect.

2. A without notice removal of the definitions of accountability and transparency from the 2014 Procedure By-laws proposed by a group that included Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and a representative of the Clerk’s Office, was unanimously approved by Council.

It took five months for the definitions referenced in paragraph 2 above to form the core of an approved corporate policy covering the accountability and transparency definitions that Council unanimously removed from the Procedure. By-law.

Fast forward to the opening of nominations for the 2022 election when we heard commitments by at least one candidate and multiple members of the electorate, to end the MMW (Mayor My Way) era 2010-2022. The Burlington DownTowners in particular announced in the comments section of the Burlington Gazette, this election for the first time Anne Marsden had their vote for Mayor and offered to put up her signs if available.

After 2022 nominations opened, a better way of communicating by the City through the website was announced and implemented without any warning. The new website had huge gaps in information including committee and council webcasts and minutes of the December 14, 2016 Audit Committee and December 19, 2016 Council meeting. Further, the 2018 financial reports of incumbent members of council all running for re-election were missing.

Lisa Kearns the Marsdens Ward 2 councillor refused to address this sudden dearth of information that affected voters becoming fully informed. She claimed it was a Clerk/Marsden issue and announced to numerous email recipients that she had withdrawn from the email conversation on this matter. Strange as it seems what was not missing was the Corporate Policies which is not something the electorate would normally be checking for to determine who would get their vote.

A cursory review showed a dejavue situation the Marsdens had addressed with Council in the past. “Many corporate policies had passed their due date for review some of them expiring years earlier.”

The 2022 posted Corporate policies identifies the Council Code of Conduct was scheduled for review in October 2022 – a time known, when the date was set, that Council would not be meeting. Although requested in the past no-one has volunteered the information as to what it means when review dates of corporate policies have expired, or what the liability is attached to such expiration.

We all know however, what is behind these expiries – sheer incompetence and lack of accountability. This incompetence in my professional career world would have resulted in an immediate removal of this responsibility from my job description and a much lower salary for me to take home, at the very least.

The biggest shocker to the Marsdens, however, post nominations opening was the Review Date on the Corporate Policy headed ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY. The date was April, 2022 and the person responsible? “The City Clerk”! If the Burlington City Clerks over the past decade, two of them, have been unable to handle a simple follow up file to keep a check on such review dates, what can we expect from someone who is responsible for all the policies, legislative requirements etc. that are a part of oversight of a municipal election. An election that gives the winners the right to decide how they spend a $287 million operating budget. Further, how we undertake our responsibilities to all those we serve who put the money in the city’s budget accounts. Let’s also not forget the Clerk is responsible for the Burlington tender process and accurately recording Committee and Council meetings.

The Council approved definitions of accountability and transparency removed from the 2014 Procedure By-law state:

1.1 “Accountability” means the principle that the City of Burlington will be responsible to its stakeholders for decisions made and policies implemented, as well as its actions or inactions.

1.38 “Transparency” means the principle that the City of Burlington actively encourages and fosters stakeholder participation and openness in its decision-making processes. Additionally, transparency means that the City of Burlington’s decision making process is open and clear to the public.

My September 28, 2022 Gazette opinion piece advises my first priority is a full and thorough review of the Procedure By-law. These definitions that should never have been removed will go back into the Procedure By-law through this review with I am sure, a unanimous vote by the elected council. This will then ensure regardless of corporate policy expiry dates that these two definitions are respected as they must be.

The definitions that the MMW (Mayor My Way) era council saw fit to remove from their reference handbook that should be considered their “bible” is now, as far as anyone knows, not a legitimate part of City of Burlington corporate policies.

No wonder those we talk to on the campaign trail have the highest discontent rate Dave and I have ever heard beginning 1997. The discontent is related to lack of: integrity, accountability, transparency, public engagement, public safety, accessibility and much more! October 11 – October 24 we all have an opportunity to state at the ballot box the MMW era must come an end.

Anne Marsden is a candidate for the Office of Mayor

Content paid for by the Committee to elect Anne Marsden Mayor Burlington

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  • Thank you Grahame. If we remember right the same story talked about a book called Skeletons in the Closet that spoke out about the lack of accountabiity for the 91 Jo Brant outbreak deaths (highest in Onatario even with COVID). An inquest was ordered by the Deputy Chief Coroner, closed down by the Chief Coroner Porter and has been kept under wraps by the present Chief Coroner. It also talked about the closing down of the last Council meeting when Anne’s name went on the ballot and a Special Council meeting being held without notice to take care of issues that should have gone to Council. MMW is on the Gazette record this was wrong but did not take the action she should have to correct it.

    Depko claimed in print she would follow up these stories after the election so we were assured that there would be accountabiity. But what happened? Depko was hired by Goldring and the Post refused to keep Depko’s commitment.

    Dave has given Anne his blessing to come out of retirement (we love our retirement adventures and spending time with our 7 grandchildren) but we cannot in all conscience sit back with the unsurpassed level of discontent there is in our city with council, its leadership and its decision making. Anne is on the ballot to win. Based on her 17,000 Burlington votes in the last election for $200 (we never accept donations) we believe she can pull what we call “a Diefenbaker”. He lost every municipal, federal and provincial election he ran in until he took the top prize, Prime Minister with a majority government. Woo Hoo. For us the top prize in our city and region is not Halton Chair it is the Mayor of Burlington who has a seat at the Halton table.

    Blessings Grahame your memory of who we are and pasting into comments does our heart good.

  • Grahame A Youngs

    Thanks Anne

    We will always need people to keep our Local Politicians in check. You have been a great watchdog over the years. I snipped this excerpt from an article from a few years ago.

    Tina Depko-Denver
    Burlington Post
    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Anne Marsden says winning is not a priority when it comes to elections.
    Instead, she considers them a way to raise awareness around certain issues, as well as foster discussion that will get residents more engaged and hopefully cast a ballot.
    Marsden is running for mayor of Burlington. Her name has been on a number of ballots for elections, including municipal, provincial and federal, for 20 years.
    The 69-year-old has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
    “Every time I run, I’m there to expose what is going on, which should not be going on,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve ever expected to be elected. I’m the conscience of the election.”