Ward 6 candidate tries to change the format of a debate she has yet to confirm she will attend.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 22, 2014



The Burlington Gazette will host its first ever candidate debate in ward 6 on Wednesday September 24th at 7 pm in the theatre at the Hayden High school in Alton

There is something appropriate about our holding this debate. It was the Gazette that first told the story of the trucks that were taking loads of fill into the Air Park property. That story was the result of a call from a Lowville resident.

The north Burlington community formed the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition and we came to know Vanessa Warren who has proven to be a superb delegator and a fine researcher as well. Ms Warren decided to run for the ward six council seat because she could not tolerate the way the incumbent, Blair Lancaster was doing her job.



Councillor Blair Lancaster.

As it turns out, eight other people thought Lancaster was doing a poor job and they filed nomination papers. The expectation is that there will be 10 candidates on the theatre stage.

We have received confirmations from all the candidates except for Lancaster and Jennifer Hlusko who is not sure if she is going to be able to get away from a Board of Education meeting; Hlusko is a school board trustee.

During the past week there has been considerable communication on the approach and format the Gazette is going to use in this debate.

We got a call from a Brenda McKinley who wanted to talk about the format and the role I was to play as moderator – she didn’t want me to be the moderator; she wanted someone from the Chamber of Commerce to moderate.

We declined that opportunity partly because we did not know who McKinley was representing – she would not reveal that information.


Miss Photo Op - never misses a camera opportunity - but then so do most of the otrher Council members.  Councillor Blair LAncaster in the center with Burlington Olympians

Miss Photo Op – never misses a camera opportunity – but then so do most of the other Council members. Councillor Blair Lancaster in the center with Burlington Olympians.  Her husband is on the left

McKinley called a number of the other candidates asking them to support her position. Several of those candidates called the Gazette to say they supported the approach we were taking.

It didn’t take all that much effort to learn who McKinley was calling on behalf of – what we didn’t know, until a reader sent us along the information below, was why she was calling.

Here is what we found in our mail box last week:

You probably already know this, but Brenda has been tied to Breast Cancer Support Services for a number of years according to her LinkedIn account she is
Chairman and director of Breast Cancer Support Services from January 2002 – November 2004 (2 years 11 months)
Moved the organization from a small group of employees operating in donated premises to a viable entity which owns its own building in a thriving commercial area of the city. Was instrumental in hiring a full time Executive Director.
Not surprised by her attempt to maneuver the setup for the debate. This is typical Blair Lancaster who seems to want to control everything she gets involved in.
Keep up the great work; I’m very impressed with your support for the Flood Relief efforts. They are benefiting significantly from your publicity and promoting!

Blair Lancaster is listed as the Executive Director of Breast Cancer Support Services in Burlington.

There you have it!  Puts the Breast Cancer Support Services people in a very poor light doesn’t it?  That organization provides a vital service for people going through a very difficult time in their lives – it should not have been abused this way.



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17 comments to Ward 6 candidate tries to change the format of a debate she has yet to confirm she will attend.

  • Douglas, making an assumption makes an a___ out of you and me. I went to the debate with an open mind not supporting anyone with a general dislike about the past few years, I left not supporting anyone and my feelings about the incumbent were reinforced. I took the contact information of a few of the candidates I wanted to research further.

    I will give Jennifer a call, if she is fair minded like you say, she may just be the person right for Ward 6! Thanks for the tip!

    If you feel it is ethical to have the panel support their candidate by clearly providing the questions in advance to her, well maybe you should stick with Blair.
    There is no practical sense trading one person with no ethics for another.

    I was a total outsider and it was very obvious to me.

    Editor’s note:
    The candidates did not see the questions before they were asked nor did I as moderator see the questions before they were asked.

  • Thankful I don't live in Ward 6

    While I am eagerly awaiting the follow up to this article, reporting on what happened at this event, I am also curious as to the lack of anyone’s mention that Ms. McKinley is Ms. Lancaster’s sister. Perhaps it is not relevant, but it certainly indicates the lack of respect for the citizens of this town. It is apparent that the blatant disregard for rules, the lack of competency, and the expectation that she is fooling everyone, carries over from her politics to her professional and personal life. Unfortunately, it reflects poorly on the City of Burlington, Ward 6 and all organizations that she is associated with.

    • Mike Ettlewood

      The sound you hear is the air being rapidly released from Ms. Connell’s ‘moral authority balloon’. Oops, forgot to mention that little fact.

  • STacie Douglas

    Richards, you must be a Hlsunko supporter. Your comments about fairness echo hers and her arrogance.

    • henri de beaujoulais

      I loved Hlusko’s arrogant, angry (that’s how it came across) statement “SHE built Hayden school!” – That this was ‘Her school’. WOW….

      Government of Ontario funding had nothing to do with it, nor did demographics or the province’s school funding formula? If force of personality could get a school built, why did Millcroft not have a school for 8 or 9 years? Because of the funding formula. Hlusko was on duty when the school was built, but to take SOLE credit? That is NOT a valid claim.

  • The debate last night was clearly a biased event to showcase Vanessa Warren. From the start, the selection of who had the first opening remarks in what order, to the questions about advocacy. I found a great deal inapproriate, as the moderator decided what was appropriate or not. He and the panel should have been made to disclose to whom they support. Not just the citizens who wanted to ask questions.

    The only issue confirmed last night is the fact that Blair Lancaster likes to blame others for her lack of competancy.

    I thought several of the candidates provided excellent responses to the lack luster questions. I was hoping to hear a little more detail on some subjects.

    The biggest disappointment was a candiate pandering , by stating “non citizens should have the right to vote”. Every person that comes to this country, as I did, has a clear path to citizenship and to learn what responsibilities come with being a citizen. This requires time and effort.

    This group needs another debate with a more ubiased panel and sponsor.

    • henri de beaujoulais

      … when and where are you hosting this debate?

      Editor`s note: At Hayden High School Wednesday night- the 24th

  • Ricki Anne Andersen

    Three cheers! For Burlington Senior on his response to the City-Owned land along the Lakefront …. sorry, Mayor Goldring – never should have been sold – never surrender title, you’re right – it stinks – to high heaven! And at such a loss to the city and it citizens — most of whom are NOT the greedy-grabby entitled.

  • Burlington Senior

    If there were complicated issues on the Connell property and those of the neighbours, why didn’t the City just lease the disputed land to the three families at fair market value for 30-40-50 years, but never surrender title? This stinks.

  • Mike Ettlewood

    I’m afraid I don’t share Ms. Connell’s indignation. Although I believe that Donald has a valid point, I find it exceedingly strange that there wasn’t complete transparency around the whole thing. Ms. Lancaster and Ms. McKinley are perfectly entitled to their position but why the secrecy and backroom shenanigans? The whole thing is rather silly. The last person to lose an election through a debate was Nixon and he was ‘sweating the big stuff’.

  • Donald

    I support Ms. Connell’s views. She has earned what she has and puts forth valid arguments. Pepper is known to find the small stuff and sweats it until it’s amplified to the max.

  • Cliff

    I concur with Daffy Duck (or his cousin Donald, as the case may be).

    In the case of McKinley/Lancaster – if it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck….it’s a duck! (with apologies to Daffy and Donald).

    Why wasn’t Ms. McKinley forthright about who she was representing when she attempted to call off Mr. Parr and the other candidates from the debate? Quack.

    Had she chosen to be transparent, her integrity would have been less scrutinized. Instead, she chose to hide her affiliation with Mrs. Lancaster. Quack.

    More importantly, if Mrs. Lancaster had concerns about this debate, she should have acted like an ADULT and placed the call herself to Mr. Parr to address these, instead of hiding behind Ms. McKinley’s skirt. Quack.

    As far as this debate being ‘non partisan’, Ms. Connell: As I understand it, Mr. Parr is the moderator. Moderators are in place to keep the playing field level and equitable for all participants. He is not a member of the panel asking the candidates questions.

    Therefore one would think, based on your accusations of Mr. Parr, that Mrs. Lancaster would not feel at all threatened by answering queries from journalists who are not employed by the Burlington Gazette. In fact, she would be relieved that he’s not questioning her and be delighted to go one-on-nine with the other candidates who think she’s done a lousy job. Apparently not. Quack!

    Me thinks thou protest too much, Madame, about the Burlington Gazette and Mr. Parr. Me also thinks you, like Ms. McKinley, are willing to be the huckleberry to a candidate who is obviously running scared right now.

    Quack, quack, quack, quack!
    (Living on your waterfront property, Ms. Connell, you know that’s the sound of a scared duck.)

  • Stacie Dunlop

    Lancaster is going to lose despite sending her cronies to complain to the Editor of this fine paper.
    Why not ask Blair why shes breaking the law with her signs saying she is already the Councillor? Thats like Kathleeen Wynne saying elect Premier Wynne and not Liberal Leader who is running for Premier.
    Truthfully, her actions show how unqualified for the job she really is.

  • D.Duck

    And without transparency you will never have accountability or responsibility!!

  • Janice Connell

    Mr. Parr, I am appalled that you would stoop this low. You have consistently written disparagingly about Councilor Lancaster and I applaud Ms. McKinley for voicing the need to have this debate in a non partisan format with an unbiased moderator. Whatever connection and work that these ladies shared at the Breast Cancer Support Services should be applauded rather than being manipulated to suit your political preferences. Suppose these ladies shared a connection through a Church…you would then cast all of the Church members in a poor light as you state in your comment … “Puts the Breast Cancer Support Services people in a very poor light…”
    This accusatory and judgemental level of journalism is malicious and demeaning to all citizens in Burlington.
    You have insulted the integrity of Ms. McKinley, as well as the Breast Cancer Support Services and once again have directed unjust criticism at Councilor Lancaster. A written apology to all three parties is in order but I do not expect same to be forthcoming from you. Janice Connell

    Editor’s note:
    Janice Connell delegated for the sale of a stretch of waterfront property behind the house she lives in on Lakeshore Road. We were strong supporters of the city not selling the property.
    Ms Connell had problems with our coverage then as well.

    • Henri de Beaujolais

      No transparency from ms McKinley who has Close ties to ms Lancaster

      People will assume the worst in that case

      Ms Connell is free to build her own readership and print her view points
      – she certainly fills a page!

      Mr parr deserves recognition for his contributions to this community
      This city could use more people with his insight and caring