OPINION: Not a hope of replacing this city council unless people step up and run for office.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 31st, 2018


Being heard or getting a new council

A Gazette reader commented:

“In a democracy the number of votes really count. If people want the Official Plan then the councilors who feel it is a good thing will be voted in again.

“If people don’t want the Official Plan and are dead set against changing Burlington into another Mississauga, Toronto, etc., then they will not be voted in again and we’ll see what a new group of councillors come up with.

“It will all be in the hands of the voters.”

True – but not completely true.

council 100x100The number of votes does count – providing there is a choice of candidates.

Nominations don’t open until May 1st but Mayor Goldring and Mike Wallace have made it known that they are both going after the same job.

Incumbents have such an advantage especially those who have been sitting on council for more than 15 years.

Anyone expecting to be elected has to begin to develop a profile – and that isn’t hard to do – you aren’t allowed to spend any money but meeting people is not hard to do.

Votes count – when there is a clear choice.

If good candidates don’t come forward and make a choice possible the current council will get returned – the people of Burlington let that happen in 2014. The writing was on the wall in a close reading of the Strategic Plan.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions of the Publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

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11 comments to OPINION: Not a hope of replacing this city council unless people step up and run for office.

  • Tom Muir

    Thanks Joe,

    I am thinking about what may be best for MMW, and no one else, and not selfishly, but realistically, at this time. But this is just my opinion, based on a limited perspective of assessment.

    All the incumbents have a big advantage.

    MMW is unbeatable, I think, in her Ward 2.

    She is working hard to reinforce that advantage. It is transferable if she decides to run for Mayor.

    She can’t lose her position of strength, I think, except by her own hand. This is essential if she is to become Mayor.

    She is wisely, to date, and my knowledge, playing the patience card.

    Remember, patience doesn’t always work, but impatience never does.

    And, slowness remembers, but hurry forgets.

    The rest of Council, including the Mayor, in my view, is arrogant to the point of hubris, and with their power, think they can do anything they want, and it will be unquestionably the correct thing to do, for reasons of their arrogance and power they have fabricated in their minds.

    They are publicly behaving that way in my observation.

    They, together with the head planners, behave like all the residents are just simple and stupid know nothings that have nothing to contribute. At least nothing they want to hear if it doesn’t agree with their positions.

    That could lead to mistakes in the coming months. The system is somewhat rigged, as I said, and this leads to pitfalls, because of the reliance on numbers of fictions, and so assumptions, that are needed to cover up the rigs.

    Only time will tell if these can hold, and a lot of things are in action, out of which some patterns and revelations may emerge.

    I’m just suggesting that we continue to force what we can in the process, and that MMW be both actor and observer of what emerges. Then feedback on what you see.

    Some day, as she lets this situation brew in her background of mind, what she ought to do and when will just emerge, and she will know.

    Patience has a bitter root, but its fruits can be sweet.

  • Tom Muir

    I would say that declaring a run for Mayor is a very big deal for MMW, and needs very careful thought.

    Remember, in politics, timing is everything, and for her, the last thing she should do is rush, or yield to the demands of others. She has lots of time. Others may not, but she does.

    If you think about it, she is in full scale campaign mode right now with her one-woman leadership on the OP, and she is the only member of Council that is representing the rights of residents, who are petitioning them, to be meaningfully represented in this demand to be heard.

    I read here that 32 out of 35 delegates, and 200 “angry” residents, will not sway all the other Councilors, who are adamant that they care and listen, but they know better the needs of all the residents. No compromise or questioning of this assertion will be allowed.

    In this Council scenario, if she announces for Mayor this will not change much of anything she is doing, I think, but it could change the political optics to her possible disadvantage, with no offsetting advantage that I can see.

    She can be accused of only doing what she is doing for a political run at Mayor, and is illegally or unethically campaigning.

    The OP is scheduled to be passed by Council in late April, and the Mobility Hubs in June, so wrapping up the process for the City.

    She can announce in this interval, in May, thus capitalizing on whatever events emerge during this time, some of which she is driving the emergence of as she continues her actions and issues analysis.

    The approval process Planning and Council are charging ahead with is no more than token box-checking filling in the legals, and they have made it clear that nothing residents have to say really matters – they have made their minds up by all appearances.

    This process is one where the notion of guilt does not exist. In this absence of guilt, which I have seen many times in the past, there is no conscience, and so it is okay to vote to essentially murder meaningful accountability for that vote.

    Planning in Burlington is now done like a casino or a lottery, where developers have gotten the message that the rules are somewhat rigged, so you can apply for anything you want.

    The existing OP is not going to be enforced, and is no longer even a guide for applications. The approval at 421 Brant indicates that even the proposed OP permissions are not necessarily going to be how the approvals mechanisms of chance are going to work either.

    In this casino atmosphere, that now exists with planning being swamped with applications, essentially none of which comply with the existing OP, and among these, others that don’t comply with proposed permissions.

    The message I see clearly is an invitation to make the OP what they want it to be, and maybe more. Planning and Council are, all together, enabling this.

    It’s here that the absence of guilt and conscience, which in my opinion I have seen and experienced, is being given full flight.

  • Joseph Gaetan

    Add to that the incumbency advantage? It’s always better to be an incumbent than a challenger, even though the source of the advantage is debatable. But if you’re thinking of running consider this, incumbents benefit from name recognition, during their term incumbents had an opportunity to solve problems for their constituents, they also benefit greatly from the opportunity to attend numerous social functions, during debates incumbent often look better than challengers and have a better grasp of the issues, incumbents attract financing easier, same with resources if they are good at their job. The good news is incumbents who believe they will be ousted, often move on before the election. ECoB could play an important role in leveling the playing field, but that will require a more strategic approach and less reliance on Official Plan dissatisfaction. I don’t see where any of the incumbents are going anywhere soon. Finally, vote splitting is one sure reason why a weaker candidate may retain their seat.

    • Stephen White

      Hi Joe: You are absolutely right my friend. All the more reason why ECoB needs to get moving on this issue.

      BTW: if MMW wants in on the Mayoralty race it’s now time for her to declare her candidacy. This “peek-a-boo” stuff only lasts so long. Either she’s in or she’s out. Pick a lane! Dithering was the major criticism levelled against former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin. A great guy with an accomplished resume but he couldn’t make a decision to save his life..or career.

      • Joseph Gaetan

        Stephen: Agree, Marianne should declare sooner than later, that would give any Ward 2 candidates an opportunity to stake out their positions to the OP and the downtown precinct plans. This would also give the electorate an opportunity to weigh in on their position(s).

  • Stephen White

    Election preparedness is frankly where ECoB should be re-focusing most of its attention now. I would have hoped by now we would have seen an event where we could bring together prospective candidates and campaign workers at one meeting. (Hint, hint!!).

    It takes time, money, energy and effort to unseat incumbents; ergo, the need to get active sooner than later. May and June most residents will be focused on the provincial election, and July and August will be a wash as many will be on vacation. After the kids go back to school there is effectively seven weeks in which to mobilize the electorate and get going. No time to procrastinate. By the same token, those frustrated with the status quo need to mobilize behind legitimate candidates. Those who plan on running just for the sake of running also need to be discouraged early. No time for “tourists” or “tire kickers” in 2018!

    The City’s website contains interesting information on campaign contributions, expenses and donations from 2014. Worthwhile reading for those who still purportedly and, dare I say it, naively, believe our Council voted according to the will of the majority on January 23rd. I would respectively submit that they didn’t so much vote their conscience as they voted according to the needs of those who donated to their campaign. A worthwhile question to ask each candidate at future all candidates’ meetings might be ask how many contributors are affiliated with construction, real estate or development firms. As they used to say in old detective movies “Follow the money trail”.


  • CMG

    What’s the panic? May is 3 months away and October is 8 months away. No one should jump in without giving it careful thought and that takes time. Besides, there is a provincial election in June, and folks will be preoccupied with that. Once the dust settles from the provincial election, people will be more inclined to turn their thoughts toward municipal elections. The Gazette hasn’t said a whole lot about the provincial election and who is running or ought to run in that. I’m think that is an equally pressing issue.

  • Phillip

    Pepper has stated the most important fact–we need quality candidates to run for council but just as importantly, we need a single clear choice running against the incumbent. There are several contributors to the Gazette who seem to have the gravitas and the future of Burlington as a priority who I hope will run. The incumbent has a big advantage in name recognition and if several candidates run against that incumbent, the incumbent will win based on the split vote; this clearly happened in 2014 when Lancaster won with only a tiny plurality of the vote. I am confident that if we can find candidates committed to returning Burlington to its residents, we can find the money and people to assist in successful campaigns.

    I don’t think the race for mayor will be a problem. I suspect that MMW will win in a walk against the two declared lightweights.

  • Two excellent points made in this article,

    First – this direction has been coming for a long time. It’s been years leading to this and the population has just caught on at the last moment. People don’t want to live in a sea of high-rises.

    Two – you need candidates. I’m confidante candidates will appear in almost all wards and be easy identified and unified in resisting this direction.

    The point missing is that if the candidates are unsupported in terms of help and money – they are doomed.
    Trust me you can’t even manage the yard sign requests on your own.

    You know who does give candidates money? Property developers – just go look at the financial statements from 2014.

    Developer wallets will be out in 2018 spending on the solid votes then know and unless people start donating cash and help as well it’s a one sided battle.

    Editor’s note: Corporate and union donations are no longer permitted – there are of course ways around this but the money from the development community won’t flow quite as well as it did in the past.

    • It’s true that the corporate donations are not allowed, but private donations from the owners are. You just give in your own name instead of the corporation. We will see how much this reduces the typical flow of money.