May 29, 2014
When GrassRoots Guelph(GRG) presented its citizen-backed petition to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH), little did it realize the impact that it contributed to the resignation of the Minister Linda Jeffery?
The petition requested the MMAH to conduct an independent audit of the city of Guelph’s finances and operations. As a courtesy, prior to presentation to the then minister, GRG gave a copy to Guelph MPP, Liz Sandals.
Ms. Sandals promised that her staff would speak with the MMAH minister’s staff to expedite the request.
In November 25, 2013, two months later, MMAH staff met with GRG to discuss the petition. During that two-hour meeting, the officials agreed that the numbers presented in the four-page petition were accurate. The officials then went to city hall to meet with administration personnel. To this day, GRG has received no information about the outcome of the meeting with the city.
More important, the former minister has never revealed her reasons why the request was turned down, despite the admission by her officials that the petition data was accurate.
Fast-forward and here is an ironic twist to all this.
Minister Linda Jeffery announced in February 24 that she would not proceed with the independent audit of the city’s finances but suggested the issues were “local” and the two parties should resolve their own differences.
Shortly afterwards she resigned as minister and MPP to seek the mayoralty of Brampton.
In doing so, Jeffery has walked into a hornet’s nest of political controversary. The incumbent mayor, Susan Fennell, is now the subject of a council revolt over her use of city staff to promote and administer details of her private fund-raising events.
It’s no trifling matter, as hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised over the past years with the proceeds being distributed to various community organizations. But records show that only 26 per cent of the proceeds were distributed with the balance going toward the administration of the “Mayor’s Gala and Golf Tournament.”
Space doesn’t permit the details of this investigation conducted by the Toronto Star though the Freedom of Information Act and other sources. But it is a major-league political scandal in which the former minister of MMAH has joined as one of the candidates for mayor.
To make matters worse, Brampton council has engaged an independent auditor to review the city finances.
The third major mayoralty candidate councillor, John Sanderson, has pushed to have the audit done with the backing of council. Sanderson is highly regarded in Brampton, being named businessperson of the year and citizen volunteer of the year.
Recently, a letter in The Star demanded that Sanderson step aside and let Linda Jeffery run against Mayor Fennell.
Here we have a former minister of the crown who seems comfortable with her city conducting an independent audit, but refused to allow it to happen in Guelph, despite her staff’s admission the GRG petition’s data was accurate.
It is further complicated by the actions, or non-action, of Guelph MPP, Liz Sandals, who was consulted by Jeffery in the process of denying the request by Guelph’s citizens.
It is now apparent that Sandals did not want a provincial audit of Guelph’s finances when there was an election coming up. Such an event could reflect badly on Ms. Sandals and more particularly on the governing Liberal minority government.
Why is that? Sandals’ riding is the City of Guelph. She has remained closely connected to Mayor Karen Farbridge, in the past seven years, as they share ideological experiences and expectations.
You had to be Nanook from the North not to know there would be an election in Ontario. And there is!
So when you go to the polls June 12, remember the role that Sandals played in sandbagging the GRG petition. And if one lived in Brampton, Sandals’ Liberal sidekick, Linda Jeffery, could be toast.
This is why people don’t vote. They cannot trust politicians who use their power to advance their own agenda instead of the people they represent.