Reasons to exercise your privileges of freedom by voting Monday October 22

By Gerry Barker

October 20, 2018

Let’s say you are not planning to vote on Monday.

The reasons vary such as, I’m too busy to bother; my vote won’t make any difference; my daughter has the measles; I don’t like any of the candidates; I rarely vote at all so, why now? Finally, my boss won’t give me time off work to vote.

Well, here’s why.

For the past 12 years the progressive left, first under former mayor, Karen Far bridge, and then under Mayor Cam Guthrie has dominated the city administration. In his case he was a closet conservative who went along with the progressive majority on council, to get along.

The last of our years

Perhaps we should work backwards examining the city operations under Mr. Guthrie.

In 2015, it started with the Guthrie election promise of keeping the property tax at the same level as the Consumer Price Index that was 1.99 per cent. Council approved the 2015 budget in March that year and the property tax increase was 3.96 per cent, that had to be adjusted to reflect the increase in assessment of all properties in the city.

That election campaign promise has evaporated in the mayor’s first term. In fact, the estimated four years of property taxes cumulative effect is 18 per cent. This includes the two-year property tax of two per cent levy was imposed two years ago.

Then, in December 2015, a closed session of council awarded $98,202 salary increases between four senior managers: CAO Ann Pappert, DCAO’s Al Horsman, Mark Amorosi and Derrick Thomson. Only Mr. Thomson remains as CAO.

Fast-forward and the Guthrie council conducted 82 closed session meetings in the first two years in office. This did not include the closed meeting of the Strategic Options Committee that led to the take-over of Guelph Hydro by Alectra Utilities. The Ontario Energy Board approved this multi-million dollar deal October 18, 2018, just five days before the civic election.

Sure you still won’t bother voting Monday?

Here are more reasons to take the time to vote.

Mayor Guthrie stated in a pre-election announcement that a new Public Private Proposal (3P) to spend an estimated $350 million in today’s dollars, on redevelopment of the Baker Street parking lot. The private partner is Windmill Developments based in Ottawa. The Mayor said there would be a new downtown library included in the plan.

Sounds exciting, right?

The project will not start construction until 2024. It is estimated it will take another four years at least to get the new library open and running. That’s more than ten years from now. The public’s share of this project has yet to be determined. As an aside, the city claims it has already invested $29 million of Baker Street renovation.

Note that part of that investment includes the $22 million five storey Parkade being built next to city hall with no connection to the Baker Street proposal.

This Hocus Pocus financing is a bargaining chip negotiating with the private Baker Street partner.

In the six years waiting for construction to start, inflation will add another 12 per cent to the current estimated cost. That’s more than $42 million. Mr. Guthrie won’t be mayor plus council will have a number of new members.

If you believe this data, don’t bother to vote because you can’t change it. Wrong!

Your vote is vital as     s the city administration must change.

You see, the progressives don’t want you to vote. The Bloc of Seven majority on council forced a vote denying the use of Online voting in 2018. Their reasons were smothered in a wave of academic opinion claiming that E-voting created “massive security holes” thereby was dangerous.

This is an example of power over reality. In 2014, some 12,767 citizens voted Online without a single glitch or complaint. The progressive saw their leader defeated and four councillors either were defeated or did not run.

How do you change it?

Make sure to vote Monday. You have your voting card and all you need is a driver’s licence, or utility bill, or property tax statement. Your health card must have your address, some of them don’t.

Guelphspeaks.ca believes there are a number of excellent candidates ready to serve their city. This election will be different and hopefully bring change accompanied by accountability, transparency and open government.

Once elected, the candidate not only serves his or her ward but they become the stewards of the city representing all the people.

Finally, thousands of Canadians in the past 100 years gave their lives to preserve our way of life. That includes freedom of speech, public participation in government.

A personal remembrance is that of my father, his two brothers and his sister who served in France in the First World War. John Sydney Barker and Thomas Mitchell Barker were both killed in action. My parents honoured their memory by naming me after them.

It brings sadness and privilege to remember that more than 100,000 Canadians gave their lives in two world wars. They have paid a terrible price to secure our freedom.

Let’s remember them by voting this Monday.

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Why did city council suppressed citizen’s right to vote Online in the 2018 election?

By Gerry Barker

October 18, 2018

Opinion

In the spring of 2017, city council killed Online voting in this year’s civic election based on the evidence of a professor from the University of Western Ontario.

He claimed that Online voting was insecure and dangerous in terms of the election outcome. The person behind this was progressive activist, Susan Watson, who invited the professor to tell his story to city council.

Council narrowly voted to ban Online voting for the 2018 civic election based mainly on the professor’s dire warning of the dangers of E-voting.

The progressive majority on council voted against allowing electronic voting for 2018.

The fact that Susan Watson played such a major role in creating this decision should not go unnoticed. It goes back to the 2014 civic election when her close friend, Karen Far bridge, was defeated. The progressive leftists, who had dominated city council for eight years blamed every one but themselves for their leader’s defeat.

This was the beginning of a series of moves by Ms. Watson, and the still progressive domination of city council to seek revenge. The Online vote ignored the success of the voting in 2014 when 12,767 votes were cast Online. There were absolutely no errors, confusion or evidence of misuse of the system as predicted by the Watson surrogate, the professor from London and others.

Here is the difference between 2014 and 2018. In 2014 there were 2.985 walk-in votes taken in the advance poll. This year that number was 5,400 walk-ins to the advance poll.

Voter  suppression at work

So, next Monday it will be interesting to see what happened to those 12.767 votes cast Online. The 2014 election saw a sharp increase in the number of votes cast with 43 per cent of eligible electors.

In my opinion, the Farbridge supporters, including Ms. Watson, were angry and blamed Online voting for the former mayor’s defeat.

After eight years of stumbling and fumbling administering the city, it was a shocker and that remains today. You have to ask yourself, if they believed they were snookered by Online voting, why did they vote collectively to ban it in 2018? Also, why didn’t Karen Farbridge run for mayor this term, as a number of her supporters urged her to do?

In my opinion, this was nothing but an attempt to suppress the right to vote.

Mayor Guthrie is secure that he will win because the progressive left could not recruit an electable candidate to run against him.

Not having a demographic profile on each of the 12,767 Online voters, just how many were disabled, out of town, or handling a catalogue of personal reasons that prevented them to go to their poll and vote.

Before going any further, what else has Susan Watson brought to the attention of council, in the past four years?

This was a campaign that never stopped

The first was Ms. Watson’s complaint to the city committee of election compliance regarding the donation to Ward 6 candidate, Glen Tolhurst, of $400 by GrassRoots Guelph, an incorporated, non-profit citizen’s activist group. Ms. Watson hired a lawyer to present her case that supported her claim.

Based on that lawyer’s presentation, the committee hired a Toronto auditor to investigate if the donation was illegal. Mr. Tolhurst and GrassRoots Guelph were eventually both exonerated by the auditor, William Molson. Ms. Watson, a close personal friend of the former mayor, Karen Farbridge, was not required by the city to pay the audit costs of some $11,000 that she initiated. The taxpayers had to pick-up the tab, including citizens Mr. Tolhurst and Gerry and Barbara Barker, officers of GrassRoots Guelph.

It should be noted that Mr. Tolurst had personal legal expenses regarding his defence.

The second Watson proposal to council was a request to have the city adopt the proportional voting system for the 2018 civic election. Ms.Watson is chairperson of the Fair Vote initiative, supported by the NDP across the country.

What is proportional voting? When you receive your ballot, you are asked to rank the candidates on a 1, 2, 3 basis thereby rating the whole slate. The top three are assigned points that are credited to them when the votes are counted. On the surface, this sounds plausible. The Trudeau government proposed election reform during the election campaign four years ago. Following the Liberal’s landslide victory, the Trudeau government backed off and proportional voting went with it.

The jury is out when it comes to discussing proportional voting. There are a number of municipalities, plus the British Columbia provincial government, who employ it.

Will that be pepperoni our ancovies?

The state of Israel has voted proportionally resulting in what is called the “Pizza Parliament” where none of the 18 political parties achieve a majority. This results in the party leading in the vote is forced to form a government with another party to achieve a majority. This has resulted in a right wing coalition government that has ruled the country for the past eight years.

The Watson proposal was an attempt to capture the election by running several progressive candidates in each of the six wards to maintain dominance of city council. Despite the progressive majority on council, the proposal was defeated.

There you have it. High stakes manipulation by the progressive left to stifle, thwart and defeat the greater majority of independent voters, new comers to the city and the aged and disabled.

It’s time to send their candidates to the minors and elect citizens whose real interest is making our city a successful, productive and efficient community, serving all the people not just those with special interests.

The evidence is clear. The proliferate spending on failed projects by the progressive – dominated council over the previous eight years has cost citizens millions in city support of failed projects and cost overruns on capital spending.

Next Monday Election Day, it’s your turn to change the administration to create a better Guelph Tomorrow.

Change means, affordability, civility, responsibility, honesty, creativity, unity, fairness, participation, competence, industrious, reality, and independence.

Our city has lost its compass and the new council has the opportunity to correct the course by navigating through the shoals of discontent and division.

Important Notice: We incorrectly reported that a Canadian passport was proof of ID when voting next Monday. It is not acceptable because it does not contain your address. The key documents that a voter must present at the polls includes a valid driver’s licence, a utility bill or a mortgage statement, provincial ID card with your photo, name and address. Your Health card may be one of a series that does not have your address on it.

If you have not any of these ID documents, contact the city website, Guelph.com website with a link to voter rights and procedures.

If that does not solve your right to vote, contact the City Clerk’s office for clarication.

First priority: Be sure and vote.

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The Guthrie record: Now are you better off today than in 2014?

By Gerry Barker

October 15, 2018

Mayor Cam Guthrie published a full-page advertisement in the Tribune this past week, just ten days before the civic election extolling his virtues, track record and, regretfully, dodging the vital issues facing the community and lying by omission (LBO).

This is a classic deja-vu of his election in 2014 in which he was the default victor over a Mayor who the public decided was not worthy of re-election. And, with good reasons.

The vast majority of the voting public understood there had to be change at the top. And Cam Guthrie filled most voter’s hopes and expectations beating, Ms. Farbridge by more than 5,000 votes.

The left progressives, who had dominated city council for eight years, were dumb- founded.

As an incumbent candidate, Guthrie campaigned on keeping property taxes at the same level, as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at the time was 1.95 per cent.

In March 2015, the new council approved a 3.96 per cent property tax increase accelerated by the previously frozen increased assessment on property that was not included in the 2015 budget as presented to the public.

In his four years as mayor, Mayor Cam Guthrie presided over more than an 18 per cent increase in city property taxes.

So, why would citizens believe him now?

So, early in January 2015, guelphspeaks.ca published the fact that Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert’s, contract was being reviewed by city council. This resulted in an investigation of who had tipped off guelphspeaks.ca?

The Mayor, enraged over the leak, even sent out an e-mail to an undisclosed group of people, presumed to be his supporters, that Barker was not to be believed as he always got his facts wrong. Really? Prove it!

The new Mayor even threatened a Guelph citizen who published the four-year track record of the CAO’s performance in not balancing the city books and resorted to taking money from reserves to meet the provincial regulations that no municipality can carry a deficit into the new year.

For her trouble, Mayor Guthrie said he would take legal action against this citizen’s accurate analysis of the Ms. Pappert’s five years on the job. That threat disappeared for good reason.

But the Guthrie defence of the former CAO continued

In December 10, 2015, city council met in closed session. The purpose of the meeting was to approve some $98,202 increases to four senior staffers for the fiscal year 2015.

The main recipient was CAO Ann Pappert. Her increase included: A retroactive performance bonus of some $27,000. It also unclouded payments for unused vacation and sick leave credits that totaled a $37,000 increase in her base pay for 2015. This took her remuneration to $253,000 not including her taxable benefits.

None of this was made public until March 31, 2016 when the provincial Sunshine List was published, naming all public servants in Ontario earning more than $100,000.

Comparing her remuneration for 2014 ($219,000) to the 2015 provincial list, demonstrates a 17 per cent increase.

Mayor Guthrie presided over this December 10, 2015 closed session when council awarded these senior managers the huge increase. Guelphspeaks attempted to obtain the minutes of this meeting and was denied after a four-month wait for an answer from Amberlea Gravel, the council-appointed closed-session investigator on retainer by the city.

To this day, Mayor Guthrie has not acknowledged the details or rationale of that closed meeting.

The result was the people of Guelph paid Ms. Pappert in the first two years of the Guthrie administration some $463,000 for 17 months work.

This meeting was just one of 82 closed session meetings the Mayor oversaw in the first two years in office.

In his full-page ad, the Mayor lists the “Community Assets” of the city. These include: Breaking ground on the South End Community Centre ($63 million); Ensure the $350 million (in today’s dollars) Baker Street redevelopment project moves forward (including the $53 million Downtown Library); Setting aside funding for the “much needed” hospital expansion; To protect and promote the tree canopy of Guelph; Create fenced-in dog parks.

As the late Peggy Lee used to sing: “Is that all there is?”

Let’s dissect this “Community Asset” run for the roses by the Mayor.

Let’s start with the fenced in dog parks across the city.

This is not an asset; it’s an operational wish list. But let’s address the real poop problems that pervade our parks, Canada Geese. It’s not pleasant to enjoy our parks when there is a proliferation of geese chomping on the grass randomly pooping wherever they feel. And they are so content most stay in Guelph for the winter. You can fence in dogs but cannot handle the bigger problem of goose infestation. Sounds like a plan, priority dogs. How about goose-control pills?

Aside: Whatever happened to the tax on cats?

The declaration of setting aside funds for the Guelph General Hospital is an important issue. But where is the money coming from? The Guthrie administration has not only followed The Mayor’s campaign promise to maintain property tax increases to the CPI but has socked property owners with a two per cent surcharge.

The money allegedly is to go toward repairing and renovating neglected infrastructure but half of it goes to “city buildings.” Those levy funds go for financing the proposed $63 million South End Recreation Centre in which the Guthrie council has already quietly committed $3 million for preliminary architectural planning.

This is the first major community recreation centre to be funded by a property tax levy of 1 per cent across the city.

At this point you have to wonder where the priorities are.

The Mayor has proclaimed that a new downtown Library will finally be part of the Baker Street redevelopment. This is nothing but an empty promise. It will be ten years before a new Library is open. The mayor and most of council will not be in office because the shovels don’t go into the ground until 2024. Many are frustrated supporters of a new downtown library. It’s just Cam promising anything to pander to their hopes and dreams after 20 years of promises by various administrations.

This is what didn’t show up in Community Assets

The Mayor neglects to reveal his role in the Guelph Hydro merger with Alectra Inc. The crown jewel of real assets has been given away for a pittance.

The proposal has yet to be approved by the Ontario Energy Board.

He must feel vindicated and confident that his support of this multi-million dollar asset giveaway was best for the 55,000 customers of Guelph Hydro.

As the saying goes: “It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.”

For these reasons my wife and I did not vote for either Mr. Guthrie or Ms. Mlyarz.

If you have not done already we urge you to vote Monday, October 22. Eligible voters have already received their voter card with the location of the poll in each ward. Along with the official voter card, be sure and bring some ID such as driver’s licence, health card, utility bill or your Canadian passport.

Contact the City Clerk’s office. They will be happy to assist voters with information if required.

It’s your city and your vote.

 

 

 

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That nagging flaw acquiring the 1,077-acre Reformatory property, AKA Guelph Innovation District

By Gerry Barker

October 8, 2018

(revised)

There was a flurry recently on Twitter about the Guelph Innovation Secondary plan that was to create a green city in the middle of our city. The plans are detailed and claimed it would house 7,000 residents and provide 9,000 jobs.

City council approved this project May 13, 2014. It was a pet project of former Mayor Karen Farbridge. City staff planners were engaged to develop the detailed layout of the site including housing and commercial development and a street pattern that almost eliminated fossil-fueled vehicles.

The theory was that residents could walk, roller skate or ride their bikes to work right in their own neighbourhood.

Seven years later, the traffic in Guelph is congested twice a day on all major streets and roads as a result of the former administration’s ant-vehicle traffic policies of shrinking vehicle lanes on many major streets to allow bicycle lanes.

In 2011, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FOCM) gave the city a $142,252 grant toward developing the plan. The Guelph planning staff led by General Manager Todd Salter, and General Manager of Economic Development, Peter Cartwright, swung into action employing city staff to work on the project.

It is safe to assume that $142K FOCM’s green grant would not last a year scoping out the project now called the Guelph Innovation District.

But here is the nagging problem

The city does not own the land on which all these development drafts represent an expensive exercise in futility. It is compared to the $16.5 million spent on the Civic Museum built on lands owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton.

A plan of this magnitude would cost some $300 million in today’s dollars not including the cost of purchasing the land. The PC government has said it wants to dispose of provincial lands no longer needed. The Reformatory lands are a rich plum for the province to sell to the highest bidder.

What role would our newly elected Green Party leader, Mike Schreiner, play in this game? Here’s an important local issue that has a full development plan for the 1.077-acre property sitting in the city-planning department

It begs the question: How much has the city spent in seven years on this project that is no closer to realization than it was in 2011?

An educated guess is that the province could value the property at $200,000 per acre and that amounts to $215,540,000. The city could engage in some creative scheme to line up some builders to financially participate. Servicing that debt could cost $7,539,000 @ 3.5 per cent in interest alone and no reduction in principal per year. A revenue source would be the property taxes assessed for the development. However, the carrying costs alone would never be supported by property taxes.

Based on their design they could lease the land to the builders, a la Arboretum, and pay down the costs. This would include servicing the property, plus what has already been spent to prepare the site with the necessary infrastructure and facilities such as police and fire stations, and services buildings.

But in view of the city’s maxed-out financial situation, is it prudent to go into large-scale property developments?

The Guthrie administration has already agreed in principle to spend an estimated $350 million renovating the Baker Street parking lot. This is a ten-year Public Private Participation Plan with long-term liability to the citizens.

For the record here are capital projects already under construction: The Guelph police Services headquarters $34 million renovation; the $22 million Wilson Street parkade next to city hall; the $63 million south end recreation centre; the $53 million new downtown library integrated with the Baker Street redevelopment, the cost to citizens has yet to be revealed; the windup up of the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc multi-million financial disaster, the cost of which we may never know.

It’s egregious for the mayor to claim that a new downtown library is a major component of the plan that will not open for ten years, according to reports. Construction is not scheduled to commence until 2024.

It is important that the new council carefully examines these various plans because the city’s growth of debt and liabilities is being placed on the shoulders of future councils.

Mayor Guthrie declared in his Sate of The City address to his friends at the Guelph Chamber of Commerce last February that he was “a numbers guy” who drills down to check the details of a proposal.

His statement that the city was not giving Guelph Hydro away regarding the merger with Alectra Inc. is patently untrue. Perhaps the Mayor should check the batteries in his calculator before making such a claim.

There’s a simple explanation Mr. Mayor, if the Ontario Energy Board approves this deal, name the owner of the assets of Guelph Hydro and holder of the title of that corporation.

Less than two weeks left to Election Day. Please make the most of it and vote for change.

Check out guelphtomorrow.ca for commentary on the election October 22 and post-election news and coverage.

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Glossy magazine Vital Signs takes a statistical peek at us and ignores key financial data

By Gerry Barker

October 1, 2918

With a civic election just three weeks away a consortium of the University of Guelph, the Guelph Community Foundation and the Oaktree project funded by the Mactaggert family, has produced a book of numbers that are interesting but missing the real numbers.

The real numbers? They are the financial data of the two municipalities that are measured and their ability to meet the demands of the people, the province, plus controlling debt and partnership obligations.

What puzzles me most is, what is the objective here? The data includes percentages of the two municipalities in area including crime, trees planted, waste diversion, mental health stats, obesity, median household income and unemployment stats, to name a few of the plethora of data. In fact some of the data was dated, it was taken more than four to five e years ago.

Who is the audience for this? Will it be delivered to all households in both municipalities?

I must say it is a interesting effort to inform people who love statistics. What it fails to do is interpret the data in relationship to today’s community needs and costs. Nowhere does it mention property tax rates that represent the largest portion of revenue to the municipality.

What about the $23 million spent on new City Hale over-budget?

Missing are the facts of mismanagement in Guelph’s case that has cost the city many millions of dollars.

It is a classic academic social study that has little relevance to those earning a living and able to afford living in Guelph. For 12 years this has charged annually, on average, increasing property taxes by more than three per cent. Just two years ago, Guelph council imposed a two per cent special levy on property taxpayers to pay for neglected infrastructure needs.

City staff estimated the infrastructure renovation and replacement costs to be more than $400 million.

But to everyone’s surprise, half of that levy was spent on “city buildings.” It went toward building a new $63 million south end recreation centre. There is no denying that such a project is needed but when the Chief Administrative Officer, Derrick Thomson, says the ten-year capital spending budget is $170 million in the hole, you won’t read about that in Vital Signs.

Then Mayor Guthrie announces that the city is getting a new downtown library. Here’s the problem. The mayor says the city has entered a Public Private Partnership (3P) agreement with an Ottawa developer. The library is part of an estimated $350 million project to redevelop the downtown Baker Street parking lot. Here’s the hitch: The shovels will not go into the ground until 2024. It will take four to five years to complete the job.

Still to be negotiated the city’s share of the 3P deal. Do you think this project is a Vital Sign? Did not read anything about that in the magazine.

That construction time frame is based on the renovation of the downtown police headquarters that is now entering year five and is still not complete. Nor do we know what the end cost will be on the $34 million project approved in August 2014

So the friends of the library should tone down the happy talk volume. It is difficult to figure out why this massive project makes sense when the city could build a new downtown library for $53 million.

The city building projects in the past 12 years have been over-priced and under- performing.

So the feel good publication Vital Signs omits the key element of accountability and transparency. Too much city business is done in closed sessions. In the first two years of Mr. Guthrie’s leadership there were 82 closed session meetings conducted by council.

The Mayor was handed a rock concering the GMHI debacle

Mayor Guthrie inherited a monumental mess concerning the operation of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc involving the Distruct Energy plans. That operation, headed by the former mayor, has cost the city millions and is still running a deficit of $17 million as of 2016. It is estimated that current deficit may exceed $20 million

In 2017 the Mayor announced the merger of Guelph Hydro and Electra Inc. A majority of council approved the deal December 13, 2017. The Ontario Energy Board has yet to approve the merger that will turn over a going, profitable and successful city-owned power distribution system in exchange for a tiny 4.63 per cent of Alectra Utilities profits. Did I mention it only shares, along with other municipalities connected to Alectra, 60 per cent of those Alectra profits?

As I have said, Vital Signs is a shotgun example of a lot of data that does not directly affect the citizens of Guelph and Wellington County. Much of it is history and in many cases not applicable to the needs of today’s populations.

While the Guelph Community Foundation and the Mactaggert family had good intentions, the publication missed the mark of not including the financial impact on the people that pay the bills.

Again I ask the question: Who was the target audience? What is the expectation of benefits to the people who live in these two communities?

Is this the purpose of the Guelph Community Foundation, an organization I personally trust and believe?

I would describe Vital Signs as a “justification” publication sponsored by the University of Guelph. Lately there has been a concentrated campaign by the University to justify its economic impact on the City of Guelph.

In my opinion, this signals an attempt to derail a growing demand to replace the property tax in lieu present system, to have the institution pay its fair share of property taxes. Statements have been made that any increase would be passed through to the students.

This is a huge corporation that owns millions in properties and rents back to users.

At the same time it is reported that the University’s endowment fund is worth some $100 million.

The result is the property taxpayers are subsidizing the University supplyong services the cost of which go far beyond the estimated $1.7 million the city received in lieu of property taxes.

The property tax deal has not changed in 31 years, Here’s how it works: For every student attending the university, it pays $75 in lieu of property taxes. Considering the holdings of the University of Guelph that has to be the bargain of the century.

You won’t read about that statistic in Vital Signs.

BREAKING NEWS!

guelphtomorrow.ca

The new website guelphtomorrow.ca is now live on the web. It concentrates on commentary and news about the civic election campaign and the players. It’s different and stresses informing citizens and promoting public participation including voting October 22. Enjoy!

 

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How Mayor Guthrie interfered in the Guelph P.C. campaign

via How Mayor Guthrie interfered in the Guelph P.C. campaign

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September 23, 2018 · 11:23 pm

How Mayor Guthrie interfered in the Guelph P.C. campaign

By Gerry Barker

September 24, 2018

A year ago, guelphspeaks.ca received a tip that the P.C party was interested in having Mayor Guthrie as its candidate. Mayor Guthrie denied he was available and the matter disappeared. Until that is, when the election Writ was dropped by the Liberal government slated for June 7, 2018.

Prior to that, in Late January, the P.C. Leader, Patrick Brown, who Mr. Guthrie, is alleged to befriend, was forced to resign over alleged sexual misconduct. Across the province, P.C. riding associations were thrown into a tizzy as the party leadership had to redefined and hold a leadershuo convention that Doug Ford won.

In Guelph, there was a crisis in selecting a candidate because of interference from the Tory team inToronto.

And now, for the rest of the story.

I like to call it Pizza-gate for reasons soon to be revealed.

Guelph PC Riding Association President, Bob Coole, and his campaign team were interviewing and seeking candidates to carry the PC banner in the June election. A front-runner at the time was lawyer, Peter McSherry who dropped out. While the Association was working to set up a nomination convention because there were other candidates interested in running, a message came from P.C. headquarters in Toronto.

The gist was not to proceed with the nomination meeting because, without identifying the individual, team Toronto said they had a candidate and the nomination convention would possibly not be necessary.

The Tory riding association was confused and concerned about losing time to get a candidate nominated and organized for the June 7 election.

There was speculation of who the pre-selected candidate would be.

When asked, Mayor Guthrie steadfastly denied he was the one because he loved his job as Mayor and would be seeking re-election.

What the Mayor never revealed was the secret recruiting campaign that along with Coun. Dan Gibson worked to nominate candidates to support him if elected Mayor.

If this was a horse race, this action might be compared to hedging your bet.

Some of those team Guthrie candidates allegedly are members of the Lakeside Evangelical Church. Both Mr. Guthrie and Mr. Gibson are members of that church.

It is still perfectly legal but not above board.

Mr. Gibson admitted to this writer that he had spent weeks talking and recruiting candidates although their religious affiliation was not included in discussions.

Nor should a candidate’s religious affiliation be a factor in any election.

Unknown to the voting public was the Mayor’s political stick handling to become the P.C. candidate in the June provincial election while publicly denying he was seeking the nomination.

Unfortunately, the question of religious affiliation pointed out by some opponents of Mr. Guthrie, who charged him with creating a slate to favour his mayoralty.

What these people are claiming is nuts and blatantly untrue.

For eight years, the progressives left in Guelph ran a slate of supporters of then Mayor Karen Farbridge.

In my opinion, the chickens have come home to roost. The NDP slate of candidates are facing imminent defeat, based on the record of wasted millions on projects such as the new City Hall and the GMHI debacle, to name two. But in the past four years the progressive’s Bloc of Seven, held a majority on council and played a role of obstructionism and stalled necessary reforms.

Playing both sides of the street

Let’s return to the Mayor’s sabotage of the Guelph P.C. Riding Association’s abortive attempts to conduct a legal nomination convention. The P.C. headquarters team was complicit in creating the delay because it refused to confirm the identity of their chosen candidate. And they never did.

As a result of the Mayor’s action behind the scene, a nomination meeting was never held.

In the midst of the P.C. Association turmoil of uncertainty, Mr. Coole received a telephone call from Mayor Guthrie asking him to lunch and suggested they meet at a pizza restaurant located in a Stone Road plaza. In the course of that meeting, Mr. Guthrie said he was interested in receiving the P.C. nomination but only by acclamation.

Mr. Coole advised him that the nomination process involved other candidates and he could not recommend to his board the request by the Mayor. By now, some weeks had gone by and the P.C.’s had no candidates.

To fill the gap, the riding association attracted two candidates, former city councillor Ray Ferarro and a Rockwood veterinarian. The PC headquarter’s team interviewed both. But time to hold a nomination meeting had almost run out.

The new PC leader, Doug Ford, on a Saturday three weeks before the election, named Mr. Ferarro as the Guelph P.C. candidate among 18 others in ridings across the province.

On May 1st, nominations for city council opened with Mayor Guthrie and four new individuals signing up for council.

It became apparent that the Mayor was setting up a slate of supporting candidates who shared similar interests and beliefs.

But in doing so, he sabotaged the Guelph P.C. Riding Association’s efforts to run a fair and open nomination convention.

Unfortunately for Mr. Guthrie, blind ambition led to the P.C.’s getting hammered in the June provincial election. As a member of the Conservative Party, he is now considered persona non grata.

Voters have no choice but to elect Cam Guthrie as our mayor. If he struggled in the past four years dealing with a strong opposition, this next four years will not be any easier.

He must speak truth to power.

 

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