Posted March 28, 2014
A recent panel discussion moderated by Green Party Ontario leader, Mike Schreiner, included Farbridge hardcore supporters Jan Hall and Andy Best. It also included Ralph Benmergui, former radio and television performer.
The most interesting participant was Benmergui, whose current job is communications director for the Green Party.
The topic discussed was the relevance of citizenship, particularly the role of taxpayers in our society.
“I find the word taxpayer deeply offensive,” Benmergui said. “Taxpayers want the services they want and they don’t want to pay for the services they don’t personally need. The notion of the common good has deteriorated. I’m worried there may be a crisis of citizenship.”
Benmergui is from Winnipeg and does not live in Guelph. If he did, he would realize that our city has been controlled by an administration that has increased taxes by more than 32 per cent in eight years. This has its genesis in projects and spending that has exceeded normal accounting rules. More to the point, voters did not give control of its assets without participating in the dialogue. This did not happen under the leadership of Mayor Karen Farbridge.
Ms. Hall said: “People feel disenfranchised with politics. And there are so few candidates who really embody the values of the people. So they feel lost.”
Ms. Hall lives in Guelph and must be aware of the flood of citizens complaining about the way their city is being run. It includes how tax revenues are willfully spent on projects that support the Farbridge environmentally-focused agenda.
This panelist has been an ardent supporter of Ms. Farbridge and her seven council cohorts who have tightly controlled the city for almost eight years.
The people are disenfranchised all right by an administration that has functioned chiefly behind closed doors. The fact that it is now using taxpayer dollars to advertise its recent epiphany of having an “open” government is a sick joke that reflects the arrogance and abdication of fiduciary responsibility.
Which brings us to Andy Best who opined: “Politicians should throw out the playbook and just talk to people. I think its possible to do politics differently.”
Mr. Best is the former president of the Guelph Civic League who stepped aside to start up the Guelph Citizen blog. To have the effrontery to say politicians should just talk to people is laughable when one look at the public exposure that his Mayor practises.
The Mayor avoids the people like the plague. Works in an office suite that is locked. Never holds a media conference or town hall with people. If lured out of her office, she rarely speaks extemporaneously and only under strict control and usually questions are not allowed. Perhaps Mr. Best should direct his observation toward his own leader.
This panel discussion was a sham and politically aimed at dividing voters and speaking directly to the base Farbridge supporters.
The Farbridge forces are concerned that there is growing opposition to their plans to change Guelph in a way that the vast, silent majority do not want.
The fear among the centrist group of voters is that four more years of this administration will have long-term consequences that will set the city back. Possibly for decades.
Citizens should see through this silly comparison between those who do not pay taxes and the stakeholders. Most Guelphites are tolerant and willing to share and pay for services whether they use them or not. Examples include public transit, recreation centres, public safety teams, River Run theatre, Sleeman Centre, and public libraries, bicycle lanes, to name a few.
But what really gets their backs up is the escalating costs of water and Hydro. Both these vital services have morphed into another hidden tax used by the current administration. This will be discussed in detail later.
Help return our city to the people by joining grassrootsguelph.com. This growing organization, for restoring the power of the people to city hall, is the only one that opposes the Farbridge policies. It is non-partisan, non-profit and is made up purely by volunteers.