Dancing with the devil: A tale of two municipalities dealing with Alectra power distribution

By Gerry Barker

June 25, 2018

Remember last December 13 when Guelph city council approved merging Guelph Hydro with Alectra utilities, a subsidiary of Alectra Inc?

Well it turns out that the Town of Collingwood had a six-year partnership with an outfit called PowerStream. This corporate entity of that operate, PowerStream, is also the power distribution system in Mississauga wholly owned by Alectra Inc.

In 2012, PowerStream purchased a 50 per cent interest in Collingwood utilities operating the power distribution and water system for Collingwood known as Collus (Collingwood Utility Services Corp.) At the time Mayor Sandra Cooper along with the head of the Utilities Corporation told council that PowerStream was paying $15 million for 50 per cent of the utility.

In a separate issue revealed later, the mayor’s brother, former Liberal MP Paul Bonwick, was working with PowerStream plus other companies doing business with the town.

Citizens complained about Paul Bonwick’s involvement with PowerStream, who was hired on a monthly basis by the acquiring corporation. In January 2012, PowerStream successfully bought a 50 per cent share of Collingwood’s public utility company, Collus, for $15 million allegedly.

Acting town CAO, Ed Houghton, told CBC News that PowerStream’s projected growth and “recapitalization and debt to equity ratio” promised a better long-term return for taxpayers, and noted the sale was approved by an 8-0 vote by council.

Does this sound familiar?

Didn’t Alectra make a similar pitch to Guelph city council last December with adjustments for technical blue-sky changes in power distribution?

Our guys fell for the pitch by Alectra voting 10-3 to accept the draft agreement.

The big difference between Collinwood’s experiences dealing with PowerStream aka Alectra is that they were allegedly paid for half of the Collus operations.

What did Guelph get for giving Guelph Hydro away?

Following the February 27, 2018 town council meeting, the CBC reported that lawyer William McDowell, hired by the town, outlined how a judicial inquiry could help answer who benefited from the sale, potential conflicts and where the money from the sale went.

At the sane meeting, Collingwood town council voted to invoke a rarely used section of Ontario’s Municipal Act to set up a formal judicial inquiry into the 2012 sale to PowerStream of a 50 per cent stake in the Collingwood Utilities Corp.

Complaints of citizens prompted an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police. To date no charges have been laid.

That $15 million price, as it turned out, was never paid and the town received only $8 million.

Then, PowerStream offered to purchase the 50 percent of Collus stock it did not own for an alleged $13 million.

The February 27 meeting of town council voted 5-1 to launch a judicial inquiry with Mayor Cooper the only dissenter.

In November 2017, PowerStream, now known as Alectra Inc. the corporate owner of 50 per cent of Collus, said it would sell its shares back to the town in a buy-sell agreement.

Norm Loberg, chairman of Alectra Inc. said: “Working closely with the excellent staff at the utility, we were able to improve reliability, enhance service and offer a broader selection of conservation programs.”

It was a similar comment he made to Guelph city council last December only the promise to establish a Green Technology Centre in the former Guelph Hydro headquarters differed from the Collingwood statement.

So if what Loberg tells Collingwood council is true, why do they want to sell their interest back to the town?

Further, why three months later is the town prepared to launch a judicial inquiry into the original purchase of the utility and the six years of partnership with Alectra?

Deputy Mayor, Brian Sauderson, who voted for the inquiry said: “”Who benefited? If things were done in such a way that people benefited, then people in this community need to know.”

Is there a message here for Guelph city council?

The merger of Guelph Hydro with Alectra Utilities poses a similar series of questions in its impending deal now before the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).

In 2012, Collingwood at least sold a 50 per cent share in its Collus for $8 million.

Heck, that’s chump change comparing the giveaway of Guelph Hydro worth an estimated $300 million.

Who benefits from this merger? Is it the 55,000 owners of Guelph Hydro who have been paying their bills and supporting the growth of the City and Rockwood?

Read the words of the Alectra Chairman above. Should we feel comforted that city council is giving away our reliable, efficient, profitable and highly rated utility for the promise of a 4.36 per cent annual dividend of Alectra Utilities’ profit … but only 60 per cent of its profit?

Does that make sense to you?

There are 19 documents in the written Alectra proposal to the OEB. Some of the material is redacted on the alleged ground it contains proprietary information about Alectra.

The final insult to our collective intelligence perpetrated by city council was the last minute revelation that the city was going to receive a “special dividend” of $18.5 million.

Really!

To juice the merger deal just before the vote, city council agreed to pay us back with our own money! Those funds are coming from Guelph Hydro’s cash reserves. That’s public property.

This exercise has already cost the city $2.4 million just to perform its lame dog and pony show to convince we peasants that this is a great deal.

We can learn from the Collingwood experience dealing with Alectra.

Perhaps council should rethink its position in approving this merger. It’s still not too late as the OEB hearing may not even be held this year. There are citizens who have been approved as interveners.

Despite the closed-session meetings of the Strategies and Option committee, appointed by council, it may turn out to be a monumental political blunder come next October.

We all know what happened in 2014 when the people voted.

As an aside, there were more than 6,000 votes cast online in the advance poll four years ago. But the present council voted not to allow online voting this year.

Wonder why?

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Does corruption exist in our municipal government?

By Gerry Barker

June 21, 2018

In a closed corporation, that masquerades as being open, transparent and accountable as the City of Guelph, is there the potential of corruption?

Municipal corruptions is usually the result of closed meetings, manipulation of the system for personal gain or just stealing public funds.

In the last 11 years the creep of covering up the public’s business through a system of closed-session meetings that are justified by certain bylaws of which 99 per cent of the citizens have no clue.

Well, why not?

It’s because the system allows bureaucratic jargon, simplistic explanations of complex problems, lying, lying by omission, holding closed-session meeting and manipulation of the message.

Successive Guelph’s governments have gradually choked off any sensitive or political public discussion by debating behind closed doors.

The professional staff is complicit in dumbing down the message.

Four senior staff members grabbed huge increases in 2015 with the approval of the mayor and city council. They approved this $98,202 bundle in closed session. And never told anyone.

The cover-up was blown when almost four months later the 2015 Provincial Sunshine List revealed the truth.

But you didn’t hear or read about it in the media.

Is it possible these increases passed without public knowledge should be investigate by police or a judicial inquiry?

Only guelphspeaks.ca took the trouble to compare the 2014 Sunshine figures with the 2015 report for these four senior staff recipients of public funds.

But it gets better.

Five months following the December 10 meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert, gave her notice after some five years as Guelph’s CAO.

She stayed on the job until Derrick Thomson one of the four staff who received the secret increases, was repatriated following his earlier resignation and named CAO. Ms. Pappert left May 26, 2016

According to the 2016 Sunshine List, she received $263,000 for five months work. By comparison in 2014, she earned $219,000. These figures do not include taxable benefits

As editor and author of some of the blog posts critical of this cover-up I was sued by a DCAO. Expect more on this later.

Again, This information was only obtained from the 2016 Sunshine List. It has never been acknowledged by the city.

The Great Hydro giveaway

This is probably the greatest heist in the history of Guelph. Here’s where it we t wrong.

It was a dark and stormy night when the Strategies and Options committee appointed by council, in closed -session pulled the sale of Guelph Hydro off the table and commenced negotiations with Alectra Utilities to merge operations.

Early in October 2016, Mayor Guthrie announced an agreement in principle to merge Guelph Hydro with Alectra. The Mayor said the merger would make Guelph more adaptable to the many technical changes in delivering power to the 55,000 Hydro customers served by Guelph Hydro.

Here we go again. 90 per cent of all negotiations leading up to the agreement were held in closed-sessions. In fact we civilians didn’t even know when the meetings were held or where.

When was the last time you received a financial statement from the city?

December 13 2016, the city council approved the merger by a 10 to 3 vote.

The classic railroad job

What did citizens get out of this deal? First, they are to receive $18.5 million composed of Guelph Hydro’s cash stash. It’s our own money. Second, the city will receive an unknown annual dividend of 4.36 per cent of only 60 per cent of Alectra Utilities profits.

The brand Guelph Hydro will be gone once approved by the Ontario Energy Board and the title will be transferred to Alectra Utilities.

What’s the Guelph Hydro Corporate title worth in today’s market? First, there is $228 million in poles, wires, substations, equipment and Hydro headquarters. Throw in the goodwill, no debt, established profitability and the real value is estimated to be $300 million.

Our Mayor denies that this deal — if it can be described as that – is not a giveaway.

Is this another case of corruption when 10 councillors fail to understand their fiduciary responsibility and what they voted for?

The good news is that the OEB will probably not hear the merger details for between six and 12 months. My wife and I have been granted intervener status when the hearing will be held along other citizens.

Guess this means that the issue will be a topic of discussion during the upcoming civic election. Ya think!

Or the Ford government will throw out the Wynne plan to amalgamate the small to medium sized municipally owned electricity distribution systems.

Is there any doubt about who really could benefit from this merger?

 

 

 

 

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A contrarian view of the University of Guelph’s economic impact on our city

By Gerry Barker

June 18, 2018

Now let’s state clearly that the U of G is an important presence in the life of our city.

An economic impact study, commissioned by the university, reports a staff of some 12,000 employees. It appears to be the largest employer in town with 30,000 students located in three campuses – Guelph, the main campus, with an estimated 21,000 students. The remaining students are located in Toronto and Ridgetown.

The accounting firm KPMG produced the study revealing that $1.6 billion was injected into the Guelph regional economy. Presumably this contribution was spread through the three campuses of the university on a prorate basis.

The report does not break out the benefit specifically to the City of Guelph.

The first question one should ask is why is the university paying mega bucks attempting to prove its contribution to the economy of our city?

It reports that the students contribute some $370 million each year, chiefly within eight months with the greater majority attend the Guelph campus. The money is spent on living expenses and the study claims their presence employs some 5,000 local jobs. Again it is unclear if this include police, fire and EMS; transit workers; waste management personnel; city administration staff and public operations employees. Not counting the emergency services employees the city staff is composed of 2,200 Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) workers.

Without this support of Guelph taxpayers and city services, the University could not function.

The citizens of Guelph pay all their staff salaries and benefits through property taxes and user fees. Some 80 per cent of those costs are from the collection of property taxes.

Presuming the U of G is the largest landowner in the city, with an estimated 600 acres leased to a variety of commercial businesses, office enterprises and residential, what is its contribution to the city property tax budget?

Using the number of students in the KPMG study, the university’s obligation paying property taxes is a special system introduced in 1987 that permits a “bed tax” of $75 per student in lieu of properties based on assessment. Unlike us whose property taxes are reset annually based on council’s budget and adjustments in assessments.

This “bed tax” rate has not changed since introduced 31 years ago. I won’t ask the embarrassing questions about inflation, that affects all city citizens.

Based on a student population of 21,000, the University of Guelph pays $1,575,000 a year in lieu of property taxes based on the number of students.

Let’s compare this with what citizens pay for services

Using an estimated average tax bill of $6,000 times 50,000 on the city tax bill register that includes industrial and commercial properties; the city is receiving some $300,000,000 in property taxes.

But here’s the kicker. That estimate has grown every year since 2007 by some 3.5 per cent exponentially. When the residential industrial ratio is factored (84 per cent residential versus 16 per industrial), the residential property owners are subsidizing, by far, the tiny university’s property tax obligation.

The university enjoys the city services provided by the city with not having the “bed tax” indexed for 31 years.

Of course it’s not fair. And who really pays that “bed tax?” It’s the students seeing it rolled into their tuition costs.

Now this same $75 per student in lieu of property tax is applicable to every university and community college in Ontario.

It is almost impossible to calculate or comprehend how the residents in all those communities throughout the province are caught in this totally unfair situation.

It’s easy to calculate is the cost to Guelph property owners that eclipses the paltry property tax contribution of the biggest landowner in the city.

While the university blows its horn about is monetary contribution to the city and surrounding area, it conveniently leaves out the costs of running a city of 131,000 with services supplied 365 days a year such as water, waste management, emergency services, electricity, pubic transit, excellent hospitals and social services.

It has to be a bargain when all you have to pay for it is $1,575,000.

In fact, with all that cash coming in from leased lands and other enterprises, three years ago it was reported some $30 million underfunded the university staff pensions fund

I didn’t read about these items in this glossy report.

Okay, the old arguments will surface about how important the relationship exists between Town and Gown. But at what price?

A property tax deal that was not even indexed for inflation for 31 years when the city grew, costs escalated and there was increased demand for basic services.

And the University also grew during that same period but is still paying the same property tax as it did 31 years ago.

It should not be forgotten that our provincial income and sales taxes subsidize the post secondary institutions.

How much does the provincial government expect the citizen in those cities and towns to subsidize the post secondary institutions through their property taxes?

The University of Guelph has a unique advantage over most other post secondary institutions. As a former Agriculture and Vetrenary College, it owned acres of land at a time when Guelph was a small town more than 65 years ago.

In Guelph, this fixed, unfair property tax subsidy grows exponentially every year on the backs of the municipal property owners.

 

 

 

 

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Two sketchy news releases have the City betting $245,000 to win a “prize” of $10 million and hook up with a U.K. Foundation

By Gerry Barker

June 14, 2018

In one of the most convoluted and incomprehensible stories ever carried in Guelph Today, the Online news source, even baffled councillors, including June Hofland, who questioned the “high level language” that was used when plain English was needed to help citizens understand the project.

Well, I’m one who remains baffled. The piece displayed a picture of Mayor Guthrie posed in front of a large chart that resembled a new board game.

The report described the City bid, joined by County Wellington that would see the area develop “a Circular Food Economy to increase access to affordable, nutritional food.”

This is beginning to sound like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

At its planning meeting Last Monday, council voted unanimously to approve a staff recommendation to fund this turkey by taking $245,000 from the city’s Efficiency, Innovation and Opportunity Reserve fund.

This is starting to resemble a social engineering program from the former administration headed by Karen Farbridge. I think most people now understand the high cost of that administration’s green schemes that cost citizens millions. Many of which failed.

Breaking News!

But hold on! Following the original story, the city published a press release that puts a new angle on the “circular food economy” project that confuses the situation even further.

This release says that Guelph Wellington has partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, headquartered in the United Kingdom. The Foundation selected the city and county to collaborate in its “Cities and the Circular Economy for Food initiative.”

Guelph’s Chief Administrative Officer, Derrick Thomson stated: “To be selected as a focus city for this initiative is a huge honour and a testament to Guelph’s innovative spirit and the collaborative relationship of the City and County.

“We’re proud of the opportunity to represent Canada and help carve a path for other cities interested in a circular food economy.””

Hmmm. Is that the same opportunity that’s costing us $245,000 to participate in the Federal Government’s contest about, here we go again, the circular economy initiative? You remember the money is to be taken from the city’s Efficiency, Innovation and Opportunity Reserve fund.

That’s the one where Guelph Wellington could win $10 million as the winner of a lottery to participate, we presume, in developing the “Circular Economy for Food initiative.

Are we a third world country with a need to feed the people?”

Still confused?

Okay everybody, have you figured out why the staff would make such a recommendation to spend $245,000 on this wonky scheme? Besides, what does Guelph get out of it?

Also, where does County Wellington fit into this? How much is our partner putting up to participate? The more we learn makes us believe the odds resemble a civic Ponzi scheme with high risk and no guarantee of a return.

Except of course, such intangibles as honour, pride and innovation spirit.

Even if council approves the bid spending, the county will be the chief beneficiary because that’s where the circular economy action could occur.”

Step right up! Give us $245,000 and you might win a $10 million prize from your Federal government.

Did I mention that there are eight other municipalities in the running for this underwriting of a circular food economy plan?

Which is it?

Now that Guelph Wellington has made the semi-finals because there were originally 100 applications, we learn that the Federal Government has “committed” $250,000 to help prepare the proposal because additional research and resources are needed to complete the entry.

Later in the story we find the Feds “awarded” $250,000 to the city to develop its bid.

I’m confused, why do we need to take $245,000 from a reserve fund to enter the lottery?

Councillor June Hofland has a point. Both these releases obfuscates the purpose of spending this money in competition with eight other cities in the under 500,000-population category.

I don’t know about you but this looks like another pet project cementing Mr. Future, Cam Guthrie’s march to be a legend before his time.

He led the charge to give Guelph Hydro away for a pittance in return from the acquirer, Alectra Utilities. That so-called merger has yet to be approved by the Ontario Energy Board if one still exists under new management at Queen’s Park.

The discouraging aspect of this stupidity lies right with Mayor Guthrie and a compliant council that reflects the famous words of Sgt. Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes: “I see nothing, I know nothing, I tell nothing.”

It was funny back then, but it’s not funny now.

It demonstrates that spending $245,000 on the slim chance of receiving a $10 million prize with strings attached is a wasteful misuse of public money.

The important lesson taken here is how we must elect councillors with experience, who control the agenda and not the staff, and introduce centrist reforms that reflect the needs and interests of all citizens.

 

 

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Welcome the new Green Guelph province with one Party, one member and no voice

By Gerry Barker

June 11, 2018

Guelph – Those 29,000 voters, who just elected Mike Schreiner as their member of the Provincial Legislature, have awkwardly created their exclusive Don Quixote attacking the Blue windmills of populism.

We’re Green and not has-beens.

Guelph has become the orphan of provincial politics by electing the Green Part leader with no comrades in the Legislature to support its Green agenda. When you think about it, the Toronto Star got its way and a majority of Guelph voters believed they were making history.

Star columnists Heather Mallick and Robin Sears did their best to convict Premier-elect Doug Ford because of a seventh inning lawsuit for alleged fraudulent handling of Rob Ford’s estate. Renata Ford’s, widow of Rob Ford filed the $16.5 million lawsuit five days before the election.

Before any evidence to support the lawsuit was presented in court, Heather Mallick convicted Doug Ford basically because she didn’t like him. Well, the huge majority of voter in the province didn’t agree. He won so let’s move on.

“Stop Doug Ford” rang throughout the province advocated by Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne, who threw in the towel before the election campaign ended June 7.

However a $1.4 billion miscalculation in costing the NDP program that included more spending than the Liberals, helped doom the so-called Orange Surge of the party in the polls.

That was some prediction that most polls missed by a country mile except the one run by Global news. Two weeks before the election it predicted 70 seats for the PC’s, 49 for the NDP, four for the Liberals and one for the Green Party.

How close was it? PC 76, NDP 40, Liberals 7 and the Greek Machine, one.

By one estimate, in winning the Guelph seat, Mr. Schreiner spent more than all the other candidates combined. When Elections Ontario releases the official financial statements, we will know at how much it cost and who sponsored the Green Party victory.

In other words, it will be an interesting exercise to follow the money.

It won’t take The Green Party leader’s supporters long following his swearing in, to discover he has little to say stuck in the corner of the Legislature along with the seven Liberals. Maybe he’ll pick up some pointers from the seven deposed Liberals. Neither Schreiner nor the Liberals have official party status.

When you are a party of one, you are not recognized as an official party. This means there is no allowance for staff research or other perks of the job.

As I have repeatedly pointed out, those folks who voted for Mr. Schreiner threw away the opportunity for real change. Mr. Schreiner ran a powerful and well -financed campaign focused on him and a middle of the road program if elected.

What’s alarming to me is that a majority of people fell for it. It’s not just a dearth of critical thinking that the Ontario Legislature requires a party to have a majority of seats to form a government. The Green party was not even close.

I am reminded of the old argument raised by the NDP, protesting the system of determining a winner, contesting any seat is to be “first past the post.” This means the candidate with the most votes’ wins. That certainly worked for Mr. Schreiner.

But the nagging bellowing of changing the system of voting in Ontario to adopting “proportional voting” in which a voter must grade their first, second and third choice when completing their ballot. Points give each of those choices in order of the number of votes, and are accounted in the final tally.

The Trudeau Liberals election promised electoral reform when they won 183 seats in the House of Commons three years ago.

But the proposal died when clearer heads prevailed.

Besides, if progressive activist Susan Watson supports proportional voting, I have to stop and think. It just echoes NDP policy because the party has never won an Ontario election since Bob Rae defeated the David Peterson government eons ago.

British Columbia uses a proportional voting system. The result is the NDP minority government being propped up by three members of the Green Party. The NDP’s sole interest at the moment is to stop reconstruction of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

Unfortunately, Mr. Schreiner will not enjoy that position at Queens Park.

Yes, Guelph voters spoke volumes about how they believe the province should be run.

But all they have accomplished is to create a Sanctuary City where Green progressive are welcome to dip their beaks in the public treasury.

The outcome of the election decided otherwise and Guelph is an island floating in a sea of Blue representing “green” policies rejected by the vast majority of electors in the province.

Indeed, we are stuck in the middle of the Province with only one member representing our interests in the Legislature. He is a man who has no support of Green Party members in the Legislature, no recognition as an official party, and with minimal influence on the Ford government to serve those voters who elected him.

I sure don’t like those odds.

Welcome to the Green province of Guelph.

 

 

 

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How bad is it?Paty

By Gerry Barker

Election Day 2018

We voted today. It was easiest decision for us because we saw the numbers.

The wreckage remaining of the Liberal government that their leader orchestrated in the past four years that she abandoned last Saturday, by saying the party was over, is a an unprecedented betrayal of trust.

But she had good reasons. The people finally tired of the Liberal government as data of the shape of the province dripped like the Chinese water torture in a steady stream. In the past 18 months, the outpouring revelations of mismanagementand uncontrolled spending spread across the spectrum of power possessed by the Wyne Liberals.

This time the people figured it out and defeated the Liberals before the election today.

Here are some of the details that turned off the public and led to today’s election result.

In its spring budget, the Liberal government projected the net public debt of money owed is $325 billion or $22,500 for every person living in Ontario, all 8.5 milliom of us.

The Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa, predicted that there would be six consecutive deficits in which more money is flowing out than is flowing into the government’s coffers. This year, the Minister projected a deficit of $6.7 billion. However the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) expects the current projected deficit will be $12 billion.

At this pace, the provincial net debit will be $360 billion within three years. The FAO has government spending to push the debt to $400 billion by 2021.

So why should we worry about this today when we select a new government?

Because of the carrying charges that increase when more money has to be borrowed to keep the government costs, and promises, from going bankrupt.

The debt rating agency Moody’s says the province has an AA2 rating, one of the highest among the twin provinces and territories The exceptions are Yukon and Newfoundland.

The bottom line is the trap of higher interest rates that will suck up money that will not be available for such vital programs as healthcare, education, welfare, urban transportation, energy and industrial development.

Yet the growing debt repayment is greater that three of these vital provincial responsibilities.

Now you have to ask yourself:

Will Green Part candidate Mike Schreiner, if elected, change this? He is the leader of a party of one that will not be recognized as an official party in the Ontario Legislature.

Electing Agnieszka Mlynarz of the NDP whose platform increases social programs that outstrip the promises made by the Liberals, will change the vital signs of the province of Ontario that most voters recognize and who demand change.

Will the Liberals ride out of the West and save their Guelph candidate, Sly Castaldi, and the other 53 Liberal incumbents after the Liberal leader bailed out? If the polls are accurate the Liberals may join the Green Party without official party status in the Legislature.

By supporting the Liberals and Green Party, both are incapable of either forming a government even in a minority. There is no firepower there.

So today in Guelph there is a tight race but it is vital that voters turn out to express their support.

In my opinion this is a pivotal point in the history of our province. The issues are clear and it is now our turn to decide which party will form a government Friday.

I can predict, with confidence, that it will not be the Green Party or the Liberals.

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In Guelph, it’s the NDP offering more of the same, or the PC’s proposing real change

By Gerry Barker

June 4, 2018

Last week I learned details of the NDP plan to capture the Ontario Legislature and form the government.

This week, get ready for the NDP union-organized blitzkrieg in Guelph, supported by the big unions and their surrogates such as Leadnow.

In the past 15 years, successive Liberal governments in Ontario have pandered to the Labour movement. Organized Labour has achieved growing political power through changes in legislation governing collective bargain rules and regulations including donating millions to the Liberals.

Now Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne has announced she will not be Premier after June 7. She urges voters to support her candidates and send enough winners back to the Legislature to be recognized as an official party in opposition. Recent polls suggest that the Ontario Liberal party may be unable to survive as a force in the Legislature.

With the recent surge in the popularity of the NDP there are several elements that are driving this momentum.

The Liberal government passed several changes to the Ontario Election Act including banning non-profit incorporated citizen’s activist organizations from donating to specific candidates. Caught in that change were Ontario’s unions that, in the case of Guelph in previous years, have given substantial financial support to favoured candidates municipally, federally and provincially.

No can do any more.

The new rules increased personal donations from individuals of up to $1,200 with a portion allowed as an income tax deduction.

But what about donations from foreign-based corporations to the unions such as IFOR, one of Canada’s largest unions that includes the IFOR Media 87 group representing many members of the Ontario media.

Personal disclaimer

Now I’m not suggesting that the IFOR media union membership is biased toward the NDP or any other party. I believe the members are professionals and check their personal preferences at the door when they report for work.

The provincial media, particularly in Toronto, has reported slanted news that this observer would suggest was biased favouring the progressives and denigrate the leader of the PC’s, Doug Ford. I guess the business hasn’t changed that much since I worked in it.

The social media’s flood of opinion and commentary disguised as legitimate news presents new challenges for reporters and editors to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Let’s talk about the contest in Guelph where four candidates are working to be elected to the Ontario Legislature. As of June 2, voting for the NDP polling shows the candidate, Agnieszka Mlynarz, just a percentage point behind the PC candidate Ray Ferraro.

In any race that’s too close to call. Despite a poll that shows Green Party candidate Mike Schreiner leading the pack by 3 per cent as published in the local weekly, other polls think otherwise. The polling puts him in third with the Liberal Sly Castaldi, running last.

In my opinion, the union-supported campaign has strengthened the NDP candidate’s position in Guelph. This is because the labour movement in Ontario has mobilized manpower; electronic communications devices and even phone banks in those ridings that it believes can be taken.

The Labour teams have targeted 24 ridings they believe can be flipped to support the Andrea Horwath led NDP. If this occurs, Ms. Horwath will be Ontario’s next premier.

Again that’s like trading in your Chevy Silverado pick-up for a Ford F150 pick-up.

Supporting either the Liberals or the NDP will result in no change that the voters want in governing their province. The Liberals are toast and the NDP are no different describing themselves as global progressives. It’s is not what most voters want.

They want a change in government. Voting for a new direction that serves the needs of all Ontarians not just the progressives that have been running the province for the past 15 years.

The reasons are obvious. Ontario has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs that will never come back due to innovative engineering that eliminates jobs in all parts of the developed world. Also, the economy is directly affected due to the highest cost of electricity of most jurisdictions in North America.

An example of these devastating economic events is the development of much of southwestern Ontario as Canada’s new Rust Belt as spelled out in a recent article in the Globe and Mail.

The Liberal’s energy file is a disaster

The mistakes made in the Liberal energy file by signing lucrative wind and solar 20-year contracts with companies in which the government guaranteed a rate of 20 cents per kilowatt hour, more than three times the cost of nuclear and water power generators.

Add in the privatization of Hydro One, operating the entire power grid in Ontario has been a disaster with little recourse by the province’s minority share.

Nuclear power plants generate sixty per cent of all electricity needed in the province.

Voting for the NDP is like changing the deck chairs on the Titanic and expecting a better result.

Global news states: “Our model at this point has Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives ahead in 70 ridings, Horvath’s NDP ahead in 49 races, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals ahead in four districts and Mike Schreiner’s Green Party ahead in one riding, Guelph.”

To secure a majority government, a party has to win 63 seats in the Legislature.

This would indicate that three of the four major candidates would be in no position to be part of a majority government. Voting for the NDP, Liberals or the Green Party’s Mike Schreiner’s party of possibly one is like throwing your vote away.

That majority number of winning 63 seats is impossible for the Liberals or the Green Party.

This boils down to the single most important decision for voters who want a change of direction in Ontario. Voting for the New Democrats extends more of the same social engineering programs that have led to the rejection of the Liberal government.

Add in the Liberal leader’s admission that her party will lose and in four days she will no longer be Premier only supports the theory that this is now a two party race.

This week, in selected ridings across the province, there will be an intensive campaign by union volunteers. The NDP campaign blitzkrieg in Guelph will work to elect their candidate, Agnieszka Mlynarz.

She is an earnest young woman who wants to play in the NHL before learning the game in the minors.

With all the sturm and drang of a hard fought campaign, there is only one candidate positioned to be part of the PC team to win a majority and bring change. The PC government will audit the books, reduce spending and grow the economy to serve all the people. It won’t just be the party of Doug Ford but the party of the people.

For these reasons on June 7, I am supporting the PC candidate Ray Ferarro, to represent Guelph in the Ontario Legislature.

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