Race for the next Regional Chair has the potential to be very interesting

By Pepper Parr

July 2, 2022



A look at the nominations in place for the seat of Regional Chair, one can’t help but see several layers of political intrigue.

The first out of the gate was an announcement from MP Jane McKenna that she would not run for the Burlington seat in the provincial legislature but would run for the chair of the Region.

That had a lot of the senior people at the Region sucking in air: McKenna as the Chair of the Region?
In the meantime the sitting Chair Gary Carr moved from his rural home in Milton to downtown Burlington leading many to conclude that Carr was hanging up his spurs.

Gary Carr tasting honey on a Regional farm tour.

Carr was seen as a Conservative; her served as the Oakville MPP for period of time and at one point was speaker of the Legislature.

For McKenna to decide to run as Chair of the Region the assumption was that she had cleared it with Carr.

The Gazette has not interviewed Carr – we were preparing to interview him as he exited local politics.

Unless there is a huge change in the way Gary Carr handles himself in the next couple of months, he will be returned to office and Jan McKenna will be looking for another job.

However, the world of politics nothing is certain.

The Regional level of government is often not fully understood.  The issues they handle are a little removed from the services people look to each day.

Waste management, water and sewers, social services, maintaining an Official Plan that the municipal sector has to comply with.   The work done at the Regional level applies to every municipality.

Besides being a professional hockey player Carr was a Member of Provincial Parliament, Speaker of the Ontario Legislature and later a Member of Parliament.

Gary Carr is tired – he has been at it for a long time and has ensured that the Region is stable, that the budgets are manageable and that the people of the Region feel safe.

Jane McKenna at a Freeman Station event

Is this a job he really wants? My response would be probably not but the thought of having Jane McKenna as Regional Chair was enough to have Carr putting his hockey pads back on.

But then – out of the blue (red actually because she is a Liberal) Andrea Grebenc files her papers to run for the Regional Chair.

Andrea Grebenc, former Halton District School Board trustee, served as chair and sough the Burlington nomination for the provincial Liberals

Andrea who?

Pay attention to this one. She was Chair of the Halton District Board of trustees for two terms and developed a profile that had CBC and the Toronto Star going to her for comments on the state of education in the province at a time wen a public voice was badly needed.

Grebenc was bold in her comments and not afraid to think well outside the box and ask the awkward question.  Jumping from trustee to Regional Chair is a leap – but if Carr is tired and McKenna is a non-starter and if the public is prepared to listen to a bright almost 50 year old parent with significant depth in Information Technology – it could happen.

Would it be a good thing for the Region: probably.  The Staff at the Regional level is for the most part very good.  They would help her ease her way into the job and soon realize that there is depth and the capacity for seeing the bigger picture.

For the record, Grebenc appears on the list of people running, McKenna’s name is there, no address; think she is still in the little blue house.

Gary Carr’s name does not appear but he has sent out a tweet indicating he will be running

More on these three candidates going forward.

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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8 comments to Race for the next Regional Chair has the potential to be very interesting

  • MarieAnge

    I agree with your assessment of Andrea Grebenc. She has a good head on her shoulders.

  • Alfred


    Ford got elected in the past 2 elections. I would suggest McKenna was clapping for a winner. Which loser were you clapping for?

    Gary Carr did a good job as regional Chair. Therefore I suggest he run for the Regional job and McKenna take a shot at becoming Mayor of Burlington or vice versa. Problem solved. Unless councilor Sharman wants to be Mayor.

    Exorcizing this City of Burlington of it’s Mayor is a very top priority. It appears that the City no longer functions, Employees instead of listening to the complaints of the people, now refuse to even answer the phone or e-mails.

    Why is City Hall closed while other businesses are open. Been to your bank lately that is called efficiency.

    Incompetence at City Hall is the new normal, as those in charge of supervising the employees. Seem to be missing in action themselves. When a building permit for a addition of one room to a house, sits at City Hall for a year and half. You would think someone in charge might ask why.

    They are also suggesting that these people should be in charge of affordable housing. We will all go bankrupt.

  • Bill Davidson

    Pepper …… A Transition Period for the Region meant facing Today’s Challenges in Many Areas including Covid , Housing, An Uncertain Economy & a Growing Population !!!

  • Jane

    Gary’s experience is just what’s needed, as Halton transitions to a one tier model of governance. As a Conservative, Carr has the Premier’s “ear” as the government determines, what’s best for Burlington and the Halton Region. A strong, stable leader is a must, as we navigate the next four years. Go Gary Go! You’ve got our vote.❎

  • Wendy

    I’d like to know why Jane McKenna is driving around Oakville and Burlington with an election sign perched on back of pickup truck. Does she not have to follow election sign rules ? I asked her on Twitter and Facebook and zero response

  • Sharon

    Jane McKenna did Burlington the greatest favour of not running again as MPP.
    We certainly don’t need her sitting at Region so she can continue being Doug Ford’s puppet.
    Andrea Grenbec I would rather not discuss.

  • Bill Davidson

    Pepper….. Thank you for Your Opinion …. But as a Longtime Community Care Person …. With Years of Experience in Many areas of our Community ……The Halton Board of Education being One of Them….. I Personally Believe Gary is Our Best Bet in this Transition Period for the Region!!!

    Editor’s note: What is the \Region transitioning to?

  • Donna Lavery

    Jane McKenna is Doug Fords biggest Clapping Seal. Is this who we want running the Region. I think not.