What the candidate for the Burlington seat think about the threat to local autonomy.

News 100 redBy Staff

October 17th, 2019



We Love Burlington – odd name for a local advocacy group.

We love logoDespite the name – they are an effective voice for the community and what they perceive as an attempt by the province to drastically change the the way the residents of not only Burlington but Milton, Oakville and |Halton Hills – all part of the Region of Halton.

The province held a Provincial Review, the report hasn’t been made public yet – the fear is that all the local municipalities will sort of disappear and become parts of what get called the Municipality of Halton with the three local communities becoming departments.

The fear is real – Premier Doug Ford tore the city of Toronto apart electorally when he reduced the size of that city council by 50% – right smack in the middle of an election.

The We Love Burlington people have turned to the people running for the Burlington federal seat for their views. We pass them along to you.

The “lovelies” recently appeared on Your TV with Burlington Mayor Meed Ward. If you can find the episode on that cable channel – it might be worth a listen.

The “lovelies” put their case this way in their most recent Facebook update…

WeLoveBurlington asked the five federal Burlington candidates the following question:

Recognizing that municipalities are the creatures of the provincial government and almost totally under provincial control, what could you do, as Burlington’s federal government representative, to ensure that the City retains a strong identity with a resonant local voice?

We asked this question for several reasons. First, because we feel it is important that our local federal candidates consider and explain what they can do for us on a very close-to-home level. While municipal governance is definitely under provincial control, the federal government still can and should assist municipalities – the government that is closest to the citizens. In fact, we believe our highest level of government (thus actually the most removed from the citizen) still has a duty to exert its authority and influence, where and when needed, to protect all Canadians from the adverse impacts of policies generated by the more proximate levels of government. At the end of all the politics and all the platforms, there is just one taxpayer, frequently confused and even more frequently dismissed. Secondly, we believe that it is a fundamental obligation of all levels of government to co-operate in the interests of the citizen. Too often warring philosophies and battling polemics leave citizens as unwilling and unwitting refugees. So, we ask what can you do to avoid this?

Finally, if the local interests are not a primary consideration for the federal candidates, then why do we have this elaborate electoral system based on population and geography? Would it not be much simpler, cheaper and entertaining to have the leaders of each party fight it out in a caged ring with winner takes all?

These candidates were invited to appear at the October 3 debate hosted by Burlington Green, and this is where we first submitted the question, then followed by emailing all five candidates directly.

We have received answers from the Liberal Party, the Green Party and the NDP party candidates for Burlington. Note these were also the only three candidates to appear at the debate. Their responses are below.


Karina Gould

Karina Gould, Liberal Candidate for Burlington (October 9)

The majority of the issues that I hear about are municipal as municipal government is what people interact with on a daily basis. Our Liberal government recognizes how important of a role municipal government’s play. That is why we are committed to working with municipalities – advocating on local initiatives, working with the City of Burlington to hear their priorities and investing in and building infrastructure.
I have been proud to be a champion for our community these past four years and will always stand up for Burlington.

Since 2015 we have, introduced the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to help communities prepare for climate change through more resilient infrastructure, invested $2 billion in the Low Carbon Economy Fund through the Canadian Federation of Municipalities; invested $40 million in the Atmospheric Fund for the GTHA which will enable cities to retrofit and build a low carbon future; and doubled the Gas Tax Fund in Budget 2019, providing a one-time injection of $2.2 billion (including $5.5 million for Burlington). We have also invested $20 billion in public transit across the country, including over $2 million in Burlington Transit.

If re-elected we will ensure that unspent infrastructure funds from older, inactive programs are transferred to municipalities through the Gas Tax Fund to continue to support local infrastructure priorities, especially if the province tries to sit on the funds like Ontario’s current government.

If re-elected we will ensure cities are provided with predictable transit funding that they need to plan for the future by investing an additional $3 billion more in stable funding. We will also require all provinces and territories to identify and approve all of their long-term infrastructure priorities within the next two years. Funds that are not designated for specific projects by the end of 2021, we will reinvest directly in communities through a top up of the federal Gas Tax Fund. This will ensure communities are not waiting on delays from provinces.

If re-elected, I will continue to work with the City of Burlington, and local partners, to advocate for the issues that matter most to residents and invest in our community to deliver a better quality of life for people, no matter where they live. I love this community, it is my home and it is where I grew up and am raising my family. I will always stand up for Burlington.

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams, Green Party Candidate for Burlington (October 13)

I am a proud 20+-year resident of Burlington with a strong record of community involvement, working to build a safer and cleaner future for Burlington families. For over a decade, I have been active with many local grassroots organizations dedicated to protecting the environment and helping the vulnerable, including BurlingtonGreen, Burlington for Accessible, Sustainable Transit (BFAST), and the Halton Environmental Network.

In 2011, I joined the City of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee, serving as a member and then Chair over six years to encourage the adoption of tougher sustainability standards for buildings, public transportation, and to set a goal of carbon neutrality for city operations. Most recently, I ran for City Council, and my decision to stand as the Green Party candidate for Burlington comes from the same deep commitment to the city I chose as my home.

The Green Party is well-positioned to support municipalities like Burlington and advocate for their citizens. First of all, we are committed to treating municipalities like equal partners in governance, because the simple fact is that they are, no matter what Doug Ford says. Municipalities are the first level of government Canadians typically deal with, and they have a big impact on our daily lives. Greens believe it’s time to act like communities matter. As a government, we would give municipalities an equal seat at the national policy making table through a Council of Canadian Governments, and we will encourage the adoption of City Charters for greater autonomy. We would create a permanent Municipal Fund (a repurposing and doubling of the current Gas Tax Funds), which will ensure a predictable, reliable stream of funding for municipalities, independent of the provinces. And we will allocate one per cent of GST to housing and other municipal infrastructure on an ongoing basis to provide a consistent baseline of funding.

With climate change one of the most significant threats to our health, prosperity, and stability, both globally and at the community level, the Greens’ comprehensive 20-point Climate Action Plan, Mission: Possible, contains a number of strategies to help cities. Burlington has recently declared a climate emergency. If elected, I will make it a priority to support the City of Burlington in its climate action plan. Through a dedicated energy efficiency retrofit financing program, we will help Burlington residents and businesses reduce costs while contributing to a net zero carbon future.

All of these strategies will help ensure that Burlington gets the federal support needed to keep our city strong and afford it a measure of independence when it comes to planning and decision-making. And importantly, unlike other federal parties, the Green Party does not whip votes. This means that Green MPs have the freedom to put their constituents first. As the MP for Burlington, my first priority will always be to represent my fellow Burlingtonians and speak up for their interests. It would be a privilege to serve the Burlington I love.

Dupuis 2 LARGER

Lenaee Dupuis,

Lenaee Dupuis, NDP Party Candidate for Burlington, October 15

I love Burlington as well and want to ensure collaboration with the Mayor and City Council on their initiatives and areas where they believe that they require an additional voice at the table. I believe that by working together we can meet the common goal of remaining the best city in Canada to live in.

I have already met with Mayor Meed Ward to hear about where there may be opportunities to assist or collaborate and I am engaged to continue to do this if I am in the incumbent. Building relationships makes for a better city, and a place that all of us can call home.

WeLoveBurlington Appearance on Your TV

We Love and the Mayor

Marianne Meed Ward with Blair Smith and Lynn Crosby at the Your TV studio

On September 19, two members of WLB taped an episode of Burlington Matters with Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, which airs on Yourtv Halton. We very much appreciate Mayor Meed Ward’s continued support and the opportunity to speak about our group and the concerns we have about amalgamation and a potential megacity of Halton. The show aired this past week and is available for viewing: https://yourtv.tv/node/211031

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5 comments to What the candidates for the Burlington seat think about the threat to local autonomy.

  • Blair Smith

    With much respect for the Editor and tongue firmly placed in cheek, here’s the thing – WeLoveBurlington did not actually chose our name as being the ideal moniker for our advocacy group. We find nothing wrong with the name and certainly we all ‘love’ Burlington (or what’s left of it), but we actually decided to adopt it as a logical extension of our colleague group, WeLoveOakville. It gave us common branding around a common cause (anti-amalgamation) and some instant momentum. That said, it might not have been our first choice. But “Lovlies” – really??? Wouldn’t a more logical nickname be “Lovers” or even the “WeLoves”. We had toyed with CARP (Citizens Alarmed by Reprobate Politicians) but it was already taken. We tried to be catchy but settled for being relevant.

  • June

    The Burlington Conservative candidate Jane Michael also hasn’t responded to the Halton Region survey. It asks candidates to clarify their position on five critical issues facing Halton. Here is the link: https://www.halton.ca/The-Region/Advocating-for-a-Strong-Halton/Federal-Election-2019 All of the questions and surveys from groups such as We Love Burlington, ECOB and Halton Region are much appreciated and should help Burlington voters to make an informed decision!

  • BJ

    Didn’t the other 2 candidates reply or are they not concerned?

  • Carol Victor

    Voting Conservative opens the door for amalgamation hence no Conservative interview…they are waiting to win Burlington and then announce the results of the Provincial Review. We cannot let this happen….Bill 108 is just the beginning of the end of our Municipal voice
    If you love our city you have to vote Liberal to keep the Conservatives out…
    Ford has shown total disregard for our local government and those of Oakville, Halton Hills and Milton. Scheer will be right by his side when the time comes.