Sakran is sanguine about his election loss – but he isn`t losing any sleep over it. Back at his law practice.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 21, 2011  He is in really great shape.  Jovial, animated and having fun.  Karmel Sakran didn’t want to lose the provincial election but – lose it he did and while he certainly isn’t saying no to another run – that’s not on today’s agenda.  “I went four months without an income and now I’m glad to be back to work doing what I was trained to do.”  He might have added that his wife and family get to see more of him these days.

For Karmel Sakran this all started back in November of 2010 when he got a call from the late John Boich.  “I was coming out of Cumis with a cheque for $92,000. for the United Way in my pocket and I was feeling great.  I was on Bluetooth and John Boich called and asked me if I would consider being the Liberal candidate in the 2011 election.  It came right out of the blue – I wasn’t even a member of the association.  I was kind of stunned – John had to ask me several times if I was still on the line.   I said that I would have to take some time to think about it – and I found that all I needed was a day.” I called John the next morning and said I would stand for nomination.”

Karmel making his views known to a Spectator reporter

As it turned out Sakran had a competitor for the nomination when Alyssa Brierley put her name forward but she withdrew shortly after when she was asked to run as the federal Liberal candidate against Mike Wallace.  Brierley ran a short vigorous campaign but lost to long time Burlington Conservative whose roots went back to municipal council.

As for Sakran – what’s next?  His time on the Hospital Board has come to end.  “The day I was nominated I was legally required to resign from the Hospital Board”, explained Sakran who was on the Board when that internal bit of hospital governance was passed.

“I’ll be seen more frequently at Rotary where I`ve been a member for a number of years.  I will hold my annual fund raiser – the Wills & Power of Attorney event I put on, so I`ll be busy.

We did our very best as a campaign and I`m proud of the team I was given to work with”, is the explanation Sakran gives for the loss.  A look at the numbers and it was evident that Burlington was not prepared to elect a Liberal provincially.  McKenna took every one of the advance polls – and while those numbers weren`t evident during the last few days of the election – they are an indicator of just how well the Conservative team did.  They got their vote out.

The Liberals also got their vote out – but the New Democrats got more of their vote out – a surprising 19.9% of the Burlington total went to the New Democrats – in the past their numbers were in the 5% (in the 2007 by-election) and 11% in the 2007 election.

No one really knows yet why the NDP did so well.  Walter Mulkewich, former Mayor of Burlington and chair of the NDP Finance Committee for their campaign,  will tell you that the NDP is back to where they have been historically.  Others think there was a distinct Layton factor in play.  The federal New Democrats took a very significant number of seats in Quebec during the federal election and basically wiped out the Parti Quebecois.  Shortly after the federal election Jack Layton died and many felt there was a sympathy vote that brought out NDP types in Burlington that had in the past gone to the Liberals.

The overall poor voter turnout didn’t help.  Because Burlington actually had a bit of a contest going,  the voter turnout was higher here than in the rest of the province.  For many it just wasn`t that exciting an election.  Andrea Horwath, the NDP leader brought some colour to the picture but other than that it had a bit of a boring cast to it.

Quite why elections have to be exciting and a real contest is beyond me.  That poor bugger who died in a mud filled trench in France trying to clear the mustard gas from his lungs didn`t sign up so that we could have exciting ‘elections.  But I digress – this is something that I get a little steamed about.  It`s not about partisan politics – it`s about a democratic process where a community chooses the best person it can find to represent that community in the Legislature.

As for Karmel Sakran – he is sanguine about the whole thing. “It was an amazing experience.  I loved every minute of it and I sure learned a lot.  Would I do it again – maybe.“

If you`re a community based organization and you are looking for some very experienced executive talent – Karmel Sakran is in the phone book – give him a call.


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Next generation of Tories take their places; the student and the candidate pair up to take the brass ring.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 12, 2011  You find people like Chris Cottingham around every election campaign.  They are usually male but some females fill the role.  If they are male and Conservative, they always wear suits with white shirts and ties and they are always polite and tend to stay in the background and have that buttoned down look about them.  More often than not they are policy wonks, the minutia of government policy fascinates them and the more arcane the more intriguing.

They are called  “political geeks” and those who are so described see it as a badge of honour.  If the geek is a Liberal they tend to be serious and walk around with a copy of the Economist  where everyone can see it.  If the geek is a New Democrat they will be in sandals and riding a bicycle possibly sporting wispy facial hair.

During the Burlington provincial election the Tory campaign geek was Christopher James  Cottingham, a first year McMaster student who played a surprisingly important, even critical role in the win that Jane McKenna experienced.

Chris, close cropped hair and pretty straight forward and earnest look about him can and does loosen up when you get him to relax.  His sense of humour is in there somewhere and he has a really pleasant smile.  He will tell you: “I was born at Jo Brant because my Mother was a nurse there” and you sense the strong family unit that he grew within.

Chris Cottingham has to decide which election sign he will take home and put up on his bedroom wall.

Cottingham, the product of a small city that is really a town, is from a significantly different social and economic demographic than McKenna.  Both suffer from the cultural limitations of a community known more for its geography than its industry.  In many ways Burlington still has the mindset of a bedroom community that is now doing better fiscally than the Hamilton it once sent its workers to on a daily basis.

Chris has a vision, an objective – something he wants to do with his life.  He is waiting for Mike Wallace to retire and then he will run for the Burlington federal seat and in time become Prime Minister of Canada.  Chris doesn`t smirk when he makes that statement – it`s just what he is going to do with his life – so there you go.

It doesn`t take long to get Chris to talk about policy, where his interest tends to be about national defence and immigration.  At this point Cottingham talks the Conservative party line but as he grows academically, he will be introduced to ideas from other thinkers and will develop more balance and a broader viewpoint.  That is not so suggest there is anything wrong with what Conservatives did for this country; the CBC is a Conservative government initiative and it was a Conservative that pulled disparate provinces together to form the country in the first place.  Ontario has certainly seen some great Conservatives run the province.  To see young Mr. Cottingham shape himself in the mould of George Drew, John Robarts or William Davis would not only makes his parents proud but leave us with a better province than we have today.

Cottingham hasn’t travelled outside North America. He will in time expand his horizons and spend a summer in Europe and a couple of summers elsewhere in Canada.  It’s a big world out there and it changes every week and Cottingham has a lot more to learn. He attended Robert Bateman high school,  plays hockey and expects that at some point he will find a life partner who he will share his thoughts, ambitions and goals  in life. It would help if she had a membership in a Progressive Conservative or Conservative Association somewhere in the country..

Cottingham can handle French but doesn’t see himself as fully bilingual  – yet but, with elections aside for now, he will begin to take evening classes and get his French to the point where he can be described as fully bilingual.

Getting the election intothe trunk of his car was a problem. would the hockey stick have to go? Big sign - big election win as well. Cottingham played a major role in the election campaign.

He worked on Tim Hudak`s leadership campaign and was immensely impressed when Hudak called him personally and was thanked for his help.  Hudak said “call me anytime” and now that Jane McKenna, the winner of the Burlington seat in the provincial election is getting ready to be sworn in, Hudak may get many calls from Cottingham.   Young Chris has worked with Mike Wallace and fully expects to work in Jane McKenna’s constituency office when it is opened up in the next couple of weeks.

He sees Mike Wallace, the federal member for Burlington, as a mentor and one of the people responsible for moulding his political thought and view point.  Better Mike than some of the others that call themselves Conservatives. If Cottingham is going to get anywhere near the Prime Minister’s office he is going to have to move up the political food chain a number of notches to get the nutrition he will need.  Right now he has a very matter of fact, quiet ambition that he nurses while he learns.  The 2011 Ontario provincial election was the first in which Christopher James Cottingham cast a ballot.

He studies political science at McMaster, was three term papers behind at the close of the election but is the kind of industrious student who can do the all nighters and grind out the papers.  He doesn’t plan to do a Master’s level degree and has no interest at this point in going on to law school – that’s refreshing.

During the provincial election he was in touch with Jane McKenna every day, usually several times each day.  She knew she was nowhere near up to speed on the issues and she relied heavily on Chris to explain an issue to her and why it was relevant.  The young Tory didn’t manage to cover all the ground.  There was the one occasion when McKenna referred favourably to Mike Harris and his tax policies and was promptly booed by an audience pulled together by the Canadian Federation of University Women event – not normally a noisy crowd.

Jane, a 45 year old mother of five, has a sense of humour and a perkiness to her that people close to her see and appreciate.  The public didn`t see that aspect of McKenna because her managers chose to run a peek-a-boo campaign and not get out in front of the larger community because she wasn`t confident enough to stand up for herself.  That statement isn`t meant as criticism.

McKenna was almost drafted into the nomination and had 36 days to run her campaign.  She had precious little experience and didn`t for a second think that she would be sitting as the member for Burlington in the provincial election when her candidate, Rene Papin, withdrew as the Tory candidate 45 days earlier.

McKenna has huge energy and is described by her friends as a very “in your face” person.  She takes on challenges that are formidable to most people very easily.  But she had a lot to learn and found young Chris Cottingham in the room and able to help her.  There was an odd chemistry between the two of them.  Chris, – serious, earnest with a very polite sense of humour and Jane with a bit of an edge, a sensibility that is a part of a mother of five.  McKenna found herself in the midst of the opportunity where she just might manage to grab the brass ring.  In her wildest dreams – she never saw herself as being a member of the provincial legislature.  She did put a lot of time and effort into developing a campaign for Rene Papin who at one point was seeking the nomination but withdrew when he says the Party advised him he didn’t fit the profile they wanted.

A tired candidate talking to supporters at the end of a long day - when she pulled in 2000+ more votes than the other guy.

McKenna has street smarts. There might be enough intellectual curiosity to get her beyond the current close to complete lack of experience in provincial politics.  She does have chutzpah and is not afraid to ask questions.  The high school education and the lack of enough history and sociology to fully understand the dynamics that make a society work is painfully evident – but with good advisors around her –she could do it – and Cottingham at this point in his career is clearly going to be one of those advisors.

McKenna once said that her Dad told her: “If you can only afford one suit – make it a good suit” and that she did.  There were actually several suits but the point is that we have as our MPP a woman who was heavily influenced by her Dad, who left her with a set of values and a strong sense of who she is.  We will now get to see more of what those core values are and how she uses them to perform as an MPP for a community that hasn’t seen much in the way of benefits from the provincial government since the Cam Jackson days.

Joyce Savoline, the retiring MPP didn’t deliver all that much that was visible but she kept out of trouble, which is more than can be said for both Jackson and his predecessor George Kerr.  Savoline also brought a very acute understanding of the Regional level of government where she made substantial changes.

McKenna didn’t bring much in the way of experience to the team he was part of  He worked alongside Mark Preston and Mark Fedak.  There were some very smart strategists involved in the campaign and they had some political players who had been around for a long time as far away as a telephone call.  They quickly grasped what they were working with in McKenna and what they were up against.  It was vital that they get their core vote out to the polls and to do that they needed to trot McKenna out to every group that had at least three Tory voters in it.  They knew too that they were up against a Liberal candidate who was perceived to be strong and an organization that had its act together.  But the hope for the Tories – and it turned out to be a valid one – was that the New Democrats would increase their share of the vote and take it up from the 5% and the 11% they had recorded in the two 2007 elections.  Walter Mulkewich, chair of the NDP finance committee, said that the NDP was now where it once was in terms of the local popular vote.  When the NDP got to that level they gave the riding to the Tories.

McKenna brought not much more than a high school education and solid experience as an advertising sales representative to the campaign.  She was never active in the community – raising five children will do that to you.

Our Burlington, along with others, made much of the McKenna peek-a-boo campaign but at least she was always in the riding, unlike a number of the federal NDP members who never went near their ridings in Quebec but managed to get elected.

McKenna got elected because she convinced the Tory base that she was worth betting on and because her campaign team knew how to make the best of her strengths and hide her weaknesses.  That  plus the fact that the New Democrats increased their vote and the Liberals just weren’t able to convince enough the New Democrats to vote with them and the Tories got their vote out.

The Tory`s did have a base working for them but it was in pretty poor shape.  Joyce Savoline didn`t grow the association and the current leadership was asleep at the switch and couldn`t make up their minds on a candidate and eventually had to have Toronto make the decision for them.

Politics is all about power.  With it you can shape the community to your vision; without it all you can do is howl foul on the opposition benches.

McKenna is now on those opposition benches which is probably a good place for her to start.  That will give her time to learn the ropes and get an understanding of what provincial politics is really all about.  She is one of twelve new Progressive Conservative members of the Legislature; she will get to know the other eleven people very well, very quickly for they all have a very steep learning curve to go through.

McKenna turned out to have quite a team.  The Liberals weren’t prepared for the strategic smarts that Mark Preston and Mark Fedak brought to the table   Their candidate had to soak up all kinds of information and that for McKenna was a challenge.  The briefing book they gave her to work from during the Chamber of Commerce all candidate events had too many pages and she got caught a number of times reading word for word from the Progressive Conservative Change Book.  McKenna it turned out was in the same boat as the other two candidates – they too had large briefing binders in front of them.  This was an arena she had never been in before.  And, to her great fortune Chris was there with the answers the knowledge and the time to coach her and  provide much of the confidence she needed.

There was an interesting, charming totally innocent chemistry between the two – Cottingham,  the young man who had a lot of the answers and knew most of the questions as well, wanting very much to be part of the political process; McKenna, the novice, totally out of her normal comfort zone and needing all the help she could get but not knowing quite where to turn.  There were people who were counting on her and to some degree she was out of her element with them but she had to deliver.

Cottingham was someone she decided she could and would trust.  And together they got her though a short intense political campaign where McKenna’s ability to scope out a situation quickly and at the same time read people and understand almost instantly how to approach them worked for her.  She was brash and at the same time very direct about the things she didn’t know.

With the campaign won, the pressure if off – but the learning curve is going be steep.  Cottingham will be on hand to answer many of the questions and at the same time learn more than he ever thought he would get to learn and be in on the play right from the beginning.  He will play a prominent part in the setting up of the constituency office and that is probably where his summer job is going to be as well.

He might also be a prime force in the rebuilding of the organization that was allowed to get very thin and almost lost touch with its base and certainly didn’t have very much in the way of developing a stable of high quality candidates.  One got the distinct impression that the riding association was told what to do by the people at Progressive Conservative headquarters in Toronto  – not something any self-respecting political organization should choose to do.

Burlington Tories pride themselves on getting the election signs off the lawns and into storage.

McKenna has yet to develop a political culture of her own and while there are many in the association who will want to help her – most of them will have agendas of their own.  McKenna will want to create her own agenda and learn to teach the establishment types that she really is her own woman.  With Cottingham as close as he seems to be – she could pull this off.

What will the ‘good old boys’ do if McKenna turns into a stellar MPP and shows that she is really her own woman?   She’s young enough to do it, but she is going to have to move quickly.  Her Dad would be very, very proud of her.

Chris Cottingham was not the leader of the campaign team.  Mark Preston, a Tory stalwart who knew where all the skeletons were and where the support was as well, along with Mark Fedak were the core of the campaign team.  They were supported by a large team of volunteers who put together a campaign team in a very short period of time and then took down the operation in less than 36 hours and had most of their lawn signs in pickup trucks and into storage.  Cottingham explains that “getting signs off the lawns quickly is a Burlington PC tradition”.

But all is not peaceful among the natives. A Facebook entry, where you can say whatever you like, had the following from Jaclyn who wrote: “McKenna couldn’t even answer emails from constituents during her campaign – so she’s just as useless as good old Joyce. McKenna’s performance at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast was about as exciting as wallpaper paste and she did little better than the Liberal. All in all, no matter who we elected, we were doomed. They’re in it for themselves, and they’re lying if they say otherwise. No wonder voter turnout was as pathetic as it was.”



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The member for Burlington in a position to make history for province and city by crossing the floor.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 7, 2011  – We said at the beginning of this election that for the Liberals to win the Tory voters had to sit on their hands and some of the New Democrats had to hold their noses and vote Liberal.  Neither of those things happened in Burlington and the city is basically where it was when this all started – a women representing the riding who is younger than the one we have and in need of a mentor to show her the way around the Legislature.

The Lady Jane is on her own now – even though there are people who know Queen`s Park exceptionally well,  who talk of mentoring Jane McKenna, she would be wise to seek her own counsel an not let any of those who have been that route take her under their wing.

It was our view that McKenna was woefully unqualified for the job she now has, but she is the member for Burlington and we accept the will of the voters.

McKenna could of course make a name for herself and change the course of history in Ontario by giving Dalton McGuinty a call and crossing the floor of the Legislature to sit as a Liberal.  The party would be grateful and groom her as a parliamentary secretary and promise that if she could learn that job she would be made a junior cabinet minister in a couple of years.

The Legislature needs to elect a Speaker.  The Liberals just have to sit tight and not put up any candidates and let the other parties fight it out for the job. The Speaker doesn`t vote – except in a tie vote but if The Lady Jane crosses the floor there will never be any tie votes. McGuinty would have the government he needs to run the province the way it needs to be run for four more years.

Laura Secord, who came from a part of the province just to the west of Burlington,  and look at what she did for the province ?  Possibilities here Jane.  Think about it.

Assuming you do cross the floor,  you would do so on the condition that McGuinty give you an unconditional guarantee that the hospital will be funded – do that and you`ll have the seat until you are well into your eighties.  You might manage to beat Hazel McCallion`s record for political longevity.

Give Regional Chair Gary Carr a call, he was once the Speaker at Queen’s Park,  – he`ll tell you what you have to do to cross the floor.  He`ll forgive you changing your political colours if you get the hospital for Burlington.  While you`re at it – ensure as well that roads don`t get built through the Escarpment – and gosh they just might put up a statue of you somewhere in Spencer Smith Park.

We are looking at a possible Great Moments in Ontario history here Lady Jane.

Minority governments have worked for Ontario before and with a strong enough Liberal government in place to put up a good Cabinet things will go well for the province.  Ted McMeekin may well get a phone call from the Office of the Premier and be asked to return to Cabinet now that Sophia Aggelonitis is no longer a member of the Legislature.  She took a real drubbing whereas Ted McMeekin did just fine up against a very popular public personality.

The Liberal government of course does have a situation on its hands.  It didn`t  quite have a majority when things settled down for the evening and everyone went home.  There might be some recounts, there might be a seat that slips from one side to the other but that isn`t something the Liberals want to count on.

Ted Chudleigh, representing the northern part of the city is going to have to cultivate his soil a little more attentively – don`t think he expect Indira Naidoo-Harris to do quite as well as she did.  Chudleigh is an old hand at the game and if he polishes the apples a little more and delivers something for his riding he should be all right next time around.

Redistribution, which will be in place for the next federal election and if this new Ontario government can stay alive for a four year term that redistribution will apply to the province – so both Halton and Burlington will see changes in their boundaries for the next election.

And that next time could be sooner than we want.  If we end up with a minority government its days will be numbered.  We have a very spunky leader of the New Democratic Party in place and she is going to make Tim Hudak, who will be Leader of the Opposition, wonder at times if he really has that job.  Andrea Horwath has found her mojo and she won`t be doing any backing down.

Tim Hudak has some serious re-thinking to do on some of the positions he took during the election.  Ontario has a number of very serious financial problems to deal with.   This is not the time for the Opposition to be obstructionist.

But it could be the time for a woman who does have one very strong personality trait going for her – the woman has chutzpah – this is time to let it really work for you, for the city and the province Jane McKenna.

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Did we get what we deserved from this election process?

By Casey Cosgrove

BURLINGTON, ON  October 5, 2011  –  For the last six -weeks, a process has been underway that is aimed at influencing who we cast our ballot for in tomorrows provincial election.  What should we expect from this election process?   Is it naive to expect spirited debate on the issues, clear communication about candidates ideas and vision, and perhaps a firm handshake at the front door?  Or, have we just become accustomed to, and accepted the fact that campaigns leading into elections are dominated by negativity, ‘spin’, attack ads, smear campaigns, and avoiding responsibility?

Elections are a great opportunity for aspiring ‘leaders’ to actually show leadership, to show vision, but instead, they have become a very ugly, tactical, 6-week communications battleground aimed at swaying voters.  Getting elected is the only focus it seems.

I would have liked more debate on the issues, less 'smoke and mirrors', fewer 'attack ads', more 'taking of responsibility' from the sitting government, and a little bit of 'giving credit' from the 'challengers.

In the past six weeks, we have watched a Premier that is unwilling to acknowledge the mistakes he has made in the past eight years, as if everything has been just fine in Ontario.  Voters may be willing to forgive, but the liberal strategy to simply ignore the mistakes, and hope people forget by the time they go to the polls, is not an accident.  Perhaps it is just not good ‘politics’ to take ownership of the things that did not go well, but it is good leadership.

We have seen challenger Tim Hudak obsess over the Premier, forgetting that voters want to know if he has any ideas of his own.  If you look at the refusal of the Burlington Post and Toronto Sun to endorse his party, it is clear that the jury is still out, even among those that normally support the PC’s.  It seems Hudak has waged his whole campaign on ‘don’t vote for the other guy’, and this is not resonating with Ontarians. We also saw Hudak spend way too much time and attention on a small program that he referred to as an ‘affirmative action program for foreign workers’.  These issues are distractions simply used strategically to knock the other candidate off their game, but I think Hudak erred on this one.  With an 11 point lead in the polls last summer, Hudak may have been better off not campaigning at all.

The NDP leader has fared well throughout the campaign, avoiding any costly gaffes.  Few would argue that she is the most ‘likeable’ leader.  Yet, a key question remains.  Will Andrea Horwath be propped up by the outpouring of support the NDP has received over the past few months across Canada, or does the reluctance to forget the ‘Rae Years’ still exist among Ontarians ?  It seems few are giving the NDP a real chance to govern, but they have run a solid campaign, will have improved numbers, and could hold the balance of power in the Legislature.

Locally, we have even less to go on from those competing to become Burlington’s next MPP.  We have seen a Conservative candidate that has been all but hiding, sharing very little about herself, her credentials, or her past accomplishments.  Jane McKenna’s campaign website is a basic PC party template with very little about her or Burlington, and is just another vehicle for the overall party platform Hudak has set out.  Her brochures are mostly about McGuinty, with little about McKenna.  They are banking in the fact that Burlingtonians will simply vote for the political party, and don’t care to know more about the person who may become their representative in the Legislature.

The Liberal candidate, Karmel Sakran, has a more impressive list of accomplishments and credentials to share with voters, but at times has also relied on touting the ‘accomplishments’ of the Liberals and their leader, which may not resonate.  Voters are upset with McGuinty. Sakran has enough substance and community connection to have distanced himself a little more in my opinion, and has shown focus on two key local issues – the hospital redevelopment and stopping the mid-peninsula highway from paving across our escarpment.

The NDP candidate, Peggy Russell, showed the most balance in trying to connect voters to herself, her party, and its leader, and she has been elected here before, as a Trustee.  This is a much bigger job, a larger stage.

If the majority of voters here cast their ballot for ‘party-first’, we will see another PC candidate claim victory here, as the PC brand has shown 60+ years of staying power in this community.  If voters take a long look at the accomplishments and credentials of those seeking office here in Burlington, we will likely have a Liberal or NDP candidate representing this community.

I would have liked more debate on the issues, less ‘smoke and mirrors’, fewer ‘attack ads’, more ‘taking of responsibility’ from the sitting government, and a little bit of ‘giving credit’ from the ‘challengers. Is it too much to expect clear, honest, communication about the ideas, platform, and vision of each candidate, and their party? Apparently, that is asking too much.   However, I will still be casting my ballot tomorrow, as it is my cherished right to have my say in who governs us.  Whether the candidate I support is elected here or not, I will at least know that I shared my voice in the process, and will support them in their new role as MPP for the riding of Burlington.





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The party or the person ? Burlington gets to look at how they have voted in the past. Will old habits change ?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 4, 2011 –  This is the part of the week you get to think about who you are going to vote for.  On Thursday when you go to the polls, you get to act on the decision you make.

Let’s talk about the thinking you are going to do.  Will you vote for the party or the person ?  If you decide at this point that you will vote for the party no matter what – well then you’re some kind of an idiot or at best an irresponsible citizen.

Political parties, like any other organization, have to be held accountable by both the voters and the members of that political party.  It is irresponsible to vote for a party because you have always voted for them.  Paddy Torsney, the former Liberal member of parliament for Burlington learned the hard way what voters do with a political party they no longer trust.

Most people, once they`ve thought about it, find a political party that reflects their views on the way society should be ordered.  And if you`re at all active in your community you support that party with a financial contribution and perhaps take a lawn sign.

And should the party you support deviate from its core principles, a sensible, rationale person would withdraw their support.  If the local political party association forgets what its job is and puts forward an unqualified candidate the rationale human being would withdraw their support. There are occasions when the party is critically important.  Is that the case today in Burlington.  This city has elected conservatives since 1943 – and what does the city have to show for that support.  Certainly not a hospital and the conservatives are talking about significant changes to the geography of the northern part of the city.

The hospital we have is in desperate need of an upgrade and it needs much better funding.  One floor of the hospital isn`t even open – because the President of the hospital can`t get the funding he needs to open up the beds on the floor of the hospital that is closed.  The current member and the member before her didn`t do all that much for the hospital.  The hospital got so run down and so difficult to keep clean that it had a serious C.difficile outbreak that resulted in the loss of more than 90 lives.  That kind of funding failure in any community is criminal.

If the member of the Legislature or the House of Commons cannot deliver for the community then you might want to look for a person who can deliver.  A member who sits in the opposition seats isn`t exactly a cripple – they have a telephone and they can make phone calls and badger the bureaucrats until they do something for you.

While being part of the government certainly has its advantages – it doesn`t solve all the problems.  What a community needs is a member of the Legislature or the House of Commons who understands the community, cares about the community and has the smarts to get the job done.

Running for city council and winning a seat at that level is usually part of the job training that a person goes through as they progress through the ranks.  Nothing wrong with that.  Having someone who is immersed in politics is a plus for a community.  The person believes and loves the job – and it is people like that who deliver for the community.

Is it the person or the party ?  You always have that choice.  And right now Burlington has two very good choices if you take the view that the person matters.  If you take the view that the party is what really matters – then you have a choice for a candidate that will have a very long learning curve and there is no assurance at all that the candidate has the capacity to make it through that curve.

The party or the person?


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We appear to be in the mudslinging phase of the provincial election.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  September 29, 2011  You know someone is running a little on the scared side when they start slinging mud.  However, with every story there is often a grain of truth – and truth be told, political parties do have to fund their campaigns and when they need money it usually calls for a trip to the bank.

And banks don’t give money away – so when you need a loan and you don’t have much in the way of assets – what do you do?  You have to get someone to co-sign the loan, which appears to be what the New Democrats did recently.

Nothing wrong with that.  Every one of us has kids that need a helping hand and we put our “John Henry” on the line for them.

If there is a financial understanding between an organization and a political party it is usually wiser to get the story out before someone else puts it out on you with their spin and not yours.

There was a time when the federal Liberals always had a Senator who was also a Director of one of the largest banks close at hand, so that when an overdraft had to be approved all it took was a phone call.

The NDP has never formed a government and has never been able to give goodies to the banks – and so they have to look to other friends for support.  Nothing wrong with that – just come clean fast.

Here’s the story the provincial Liberals have out on the

 New documents reveal that Andrea Horwath misled reporters and failed to disclose the true relationship between the Ontario Cornerstone Leadership Corporation and the Ontario NDP.

 Asked this morning if Cornerstone plays any financial role in the NDP campaign, Horwath said “None whatsoever.  None whatsoever.  It’s a separate corporation, separate board of directors, no role whatsoever in our campaign, no financial, you know, no financial connection whatsoever.  It’s completely separate.” (Andrea Horwath Media Scrum, September 29, 2011)

 And she continues to duck questions on the whereabouts of $100,425 of taxpayer money and another $100,000 in union funds granted to Cornerstone for accessibility.

 But that’s not the whole story.  Horwath was in a position to know how her party raises money.

 Documents obtained by the Liberals reveal that links between Cornerstone and the NDP are far greater than previously believed.  Not only are all 8 members of the Cornerstone board current or former board members of the NDP, but the corporation is actually bankrolling the NDP’s campaign.

 Land registry documents show:

•           Cornerstone served as collateral for a $4,350,000 loan that is currently financing Horwath’s 2011 campaign

•           Cornerstone served as collateral for a $3,450,000 loan that financed the 2007 NDP campaign

 And contrary to Andrea Horwath’s claim that Cornerstone “has nothing to do” with her, new documents also reveal that Andrea Horwath sat as an ONDP Vice President when the Cornerstone fundraising scheme was hatched, and served as the 2007 NDP Campaign Co-Chair. (

The Cornerstone campaign’s sole goal was to purchase a property that would finance NDP election campaigns:

•           “The Cornerstone Campaign is a 3-year capital campaign aimed at purchasing a permanent party headquarters in order to finance future election campaigns…purchasing a building will allow the Ontario NDP to continue to qualify for election campaign loans.” (NDP Cornerstone Campaign, The Business Case, pg. 1)

 It’s time Andrea Horwath told reporters and Ontarians the truth on the NDPs intricate relationship with Cornerstone.  It’s time she said what the NDP did with the $100,425 they received from the federal government and provided assurances that money was not funneled to the NDP campaign.  It’s time she returned the money.

When you need money for a project - and an election is a project - you pay a visit to a friendly banker, and if that banker isn't really friendly, you take a freind along who can co-sign for you. All the politicalparties do it - the Liberals want you to know how the NDP is doing it. Why?

What’s interesting about the comments the Liberal’s released about Cornerstone is that they never say what the company does, who owns it and how long it has been around.  Cornerstone is a marketing company that deals primarily in the creating and marketing of lists of names.  Everyone uses lists of names.  When you get an offer from a credit card company mailed to you they bought your name from a broker who developed the list and kept it active.  Good list brokers develop and maintain very sophisticated lists and market them.  It’s all part of the way products are brought to people’s attention and sold.  If you live in an apartment you don’t want an offering for a lawn mower and a good mailing list will not have apartment dwellers on lawn mower lists.

The really good list development people can put together a list that is very tightly targeted.  That’s what Cornerstone does and if they have enough money in the bank and are able to help a political party obtain the loan they need – nothing wrong with that. Just be clear and up front about it.  Play it straight.

Could all this “new” news from the Liberals be because Andrea Horwath did quite a bit better than the Liberals expected in the all candidates debate earlier this week – and that her position in the polls has risen a bit more than the Liberals are comfortable with and they need to knock her down a point or two?  Just asking.

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For Burlington, Liberals choose hospitals, not highways.

By Karmel Sakran, Liberal candidate, Burlington.

We asked each of the candidates to tell you, our readers, what they thought was wrong with the election platforms of the opposing candidates. We asked that they write about “the other guy”. In a future feature each candidate will write about their party platform. We wanted to attempt to create a bit of a debate between the candidates. The Progressive Conservatives advised that they “will not be participating in the first half of our request. “We will get back to you ” they advised “with the 2nd half of the request regarding the PC Party Platform and what it will do for Ontario and for Burlington.” Here is what the Liberals had to say. The New Democratic comments appeared earlier.

BURLINGTON, ON September 12, 2011 – For weeks now, on doorsteps and events all over Burlington, I’ve been working hard to bring the message about our party’s positive approach to health care, our world-beating education system and the green jobs of tomorrow.

But here’s my main message for Burlington: it’s hospitals – not highways.

Jo Brant Hospital – not the mid-Peninsula highway

True to form, the Ontario Liberal government has approved the redevelopment plan for Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, while clearly stating that the mid-Peninsula highway that PC leader Tim Hudak wants so badly, will not pave over north Burlington’s valuable agricultural and sensitive environmental lands.

Karmel Sakran in front of his campaign office, which is located north of the QEW – a change from the usual campaign office locations on Fairview.  Sakran says the decision to be north of the QEW was strategic.

Karmel Sakran in front of his campaign office, which is located north of the QEW – a change from the usual campaign office locations on Fairview. Sakran says the decision to be north of the QEW was strategic.

The recent Jo Brant Hospital announcement was a long-awaited one that will benefit all Burlington residents. It came after two years of hard work by hospital officials, the City of Burlington, citizens and a group of private donors.

Rather than celebrate this decision as a good for Burlington, the opposition PCs and NDP chose to attack the efforts made by their fellow citizens, calling the announcement’s timing pure politics. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As someone who sat as a Hospital board member for five years, I know the province requires a “state of readiness” before providing capital funding for a project of this nature. As a community, we rose to the challenge and did just that – and within the all-important five year funding window.

That we now have a commitment for provincial funding is a huge step forward for Burlington, one that I’d hate to see disrupted or revoked by a Hudak-led Tory government, a regime that favours highways over hospitals.

We build hospitals – not close them like the PCs

This Liberal government builds – not closes – hospitals. In its first two terms, this government has built or launched 18 hospital projects. Compare that to the previous Mike Harris Tory government, when Mr. Hudak was a minister, which closed 28 hospitals.

As a founding board member of Burlington’s Carpenter Hospice, whose 10 bedrooms provide end-of-life care to about 110 residents annually in a home-like setting, I was delighted when our government increased its funding, August 31. The additional $320,000 added to base funding will strengthen Carpenter’s nursing and personal support services and enhance its ability to deliver palliative care in Burlington.

We strongly focus on education

The government’s relentless focus on education is paying off in our schools and the economy. Test scores are up: 69 per cent of grades 3 and 6 students are mastering reading, writing and math – a 15 point increase since 2003. We’re expanding online math tutoring for students from grade 7 to 10 and doubling teacher education to two years to give student teachers more practical classroom experience. Ontario Liberals are the only party with a plan to keep students on track, from full-day kindergarten right through post-secondary and into a good job.

Home care strengthened

The government continues to strengthen health care by bringing back house calls – a boon for some Ontarians with ongoing medical issues that make it hard for them to arrange office visits. Seniors especially will benefit because it will be easier to stay in their own home and remain independent while enjoying better health through regular check-ups and medical attention.

Tuition grants for university & college students

By creating a tuition grant that takes 30% off the average undergraduate tuition in Ontario, the Liberal government is moving Ontario forward by keeping the cost of post-secondary education within everyone’s reach. Annually, the grant will save families $1,600 per student in university and $730 in college.

Contrast this with the Harris-Hudak PCs, who cut post-secondary education by $435 million, slashed student aid by 41%, allowed fees to skyrocket by 67% and provided no help to middle-income families.

Karmel Sakran is a lawyer by profession and so it wasn’t all that difficult to convince the provincial attorney general to pay the city a visit.  It was apparently a relaxing day for all.

Karmel Sakran is a lawyer by profession and so it wasn’t all that difficult to convince the provincial attorney general to pay the city a visit. It was apparently a relaxing day for all.

The Hudak PCs’ $14 billion hole in their platform means they won’t help middle-class families afford post-secondary education, and will make deep cuts that send tuition through the roof, again. The current NDP platform barely mentions education but their legacy is clear; they were the party that eliminated up-front student grants, before we brought them back.

Let’s build on our progress & continue to strengthen Ontario

No question: Ontario needs the strong, steady hand of the McGuinty Liberal government to keep moving forward.

Over the past two terms, this government has hired thousands of doctors and nurses, built 18 new hospitals and improved access to primary care. Our health investments helped us go from having the longest to the shortest surgical wait times in Canada and 1.3 million more Ontarians now have a family doctor.

We lowered early-year class sizes, improved school buildings and introduced the continent’s first full-day kindergarten program. We’re also increasing post-secondary attainment by adding 60,000 new spaces – including three new undergraduate satellite campuses.

And to further help seniors remain in their own homes – in safety and dignity – we’re introducing a Healthy Home Renovation Tax Credit for things like ramps and walk-in baths.

Our platform also promises to create 50,000 new clean-energy jobs through Ontario’s world-leading FIT program. And we’re reducing electricity bills by ten per cent through the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit.

Liberal platform fully audited. PC & NDP platforms: hundreds of uncosted promises

The Hudak PCs’ platform – with its $14 billion hole – has 229 uncosted promises. And that will mean deep cuts to health care and education. The NDP has 119 uncosted promises in their platform and a crushing $9 billion tax increase.

Our platform features just 45 new, fully costed commitments to help Ontario families stay on track.

We’re the only party with a platform that has been audited by an economist – Scotiabank Chief Economist Warren Jestin – who confirmed that our numbers add up.

McGuinty Liberals support Burlington commuters

I also don’t hear any positive emanations from the PCs or NDP about the major transit and highway programs that have helped Burlington commuters go to and from their jobs. What we do know is that between 1999 and 2003, the PC government contributed nothing to GO transit leaving municipalities to carry the load. During the NDP time in office, they invested less than a third of what our government has invested and were the first to privatize highways.

Since 2003, the City of Burlington has received more than $48.8 million to support public transit plus nearly $13 million in gas tax funding. As well, the government added 600 new parking spaces at the Burlington GO Station, new weekday bus trips from McMaster to the Burlington GO, and a seasonal weekend and holiday Toronto-Niagara Falls train service with one of the stops in Burlington.

We’ve committed to $434.1 million to Halton Region for highway improvements since 2003. All this with a dedicated gas tax to municipalities. Not only are we improving transportation in Burlington and Halton Region, we’ve brought in tougher penalties for drinking and driving, speed limiters on most large trucks and banned the use of hand held devices while driving.

Powerful reasons to vote Liberal on October 6th.




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The other opposition party is also promising change, but change to what – and is their change affordable? .

By Peggy Russell, Candidate for the New Democratic Party in Burlington

We asked each of the candidates to tell you, our readers, what they thought was wrong with the election platforms of the opposing candidates. We asked that they write about “the other guy”. In a future feature each candidate will write about their party platform. We wanted to attempt to create a bit of a debate between the candidates. The Progressive Conservatives advised that they “will not be participating in the first half of our request. “We will get back to you ” they advised “with the 2nd half of the request regarding the PC Party Platform and what it will do for Ontario and for Burlington.” Here is what the New Democrats had to say. The Liberal comments will appear later this week.

BURLINGTON, ON September 13, 2011 – I was honoured when I was approached to seek the candidacy to represent Andrea Horwath and the Ontario New Democratic Party in Burlington.

For the past 10 years I have been working to help build a stronger community as an elected School Board Trustee with the Halton District School Board. The opportunity to continue to represent families in Burlington as the MPP for our community within a party that is presenting a positive alternative to the negative politics of the past truly motivated me to continue the progress that so many of us have been able to achieve together.

In this election, I am looking to once again earn the trust of Burlington families so that we can continue some of the positive initiatives that I have helped to achieve for our community and so that I can work to deliver affordable change for families who are feeling squeezed in this economy.

Our party has a clear plan to help make life more affordable for families and seniors while improving healthcare and education, supporting job creation, protecting our environment, and working to change the negative, partisan politics of the past.

I hold those who choose to seek public office and to represent their community in the highest regard. I feel this way because democracy matters and government matters. We are so fortunate to live in a province and country where young people can aspire to great things including elected office. It is up to us who seek and who have held such positions to inspire these young people and to encourage participation in our great democracy.

Over the next weeks of campaigning, I will be joined by other candidates who are also working hard to seek your vote and your trust. They should be proud of the contributions that they are making to our community and to our democracy. Of course, we will be debating ideas and often we will not agree. I believe that residents will see a clear distinction between the plan that our New Democratic Party Team and I present and that of my opponents.

After ten years service as a school board trustee Peggy Russell wants to head for Queen’s Park and doesn’t feel her loss in the last municipal election is going to hold her back.  Solid candidate with a very clear point of view.  Is Burlington ready for a New Democrat at Queen’s Park ?

After ten years service as a school board trustee Peggy Russell wants to head for Queen’s Park and doesn’t feel her loss in the last municipal election is going to hold her back. Solid candidate with a very clear point of view. Is Burlington ready for a New Democrat at Queen’s Park ?

Our plan believes that there is a positive role for government to play in job creation and building a better society for all.

The no-strings attached corporate tax give-aways that the other two major parties promote have failed to deliver the economic success that has been promised.

The laissez faire approach of the other two parties to job creation needs to be replaced with a targeted plan to invest and help those businesses that actually create and sustain jobs in Ontario.

Our party believes that the current government has wasted too many of our tax dollars that hard working Ontario residents have contributed on failed schemes, overpaid consultants and runaway CEO salaries. This will change under an NDP government where CEO salaries will be capped and tax dollars will be invested in frontline services, not on overpaid consultants.

We disagree with a government that has made life more difficult for families by introducing an HST tax on families during a recession. We have seen how this has contributed to skyrocketing energy and transportation costs. Our plan will provide relief for families by removing the HST from essentials such as gas, hydro, and home heating.

The other opposition party is also promising change, but change to what – and is their change affordable? They have yet to demonstrate how they can create jobs, keep Ontario affordable for families, and preserve the kind of educational, health and other services that make Ontario a great place to live

I look forward to having the opportunity to share more of my ideas over the course of this campaign and debating the direction that our province should go with the other candidates for Burlington. On October 6th the residents of our community get to have their say. That is the beauty of our democracy.




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