Revenge where is thy sting?

Posted April 14, 2015

The assistant city clerk has advised Glen Tolhurst, a former candidate in the October civic election, that she had received a complaint about a donation made to Mr. Tolhurst’s campaign by GrassRoots Guelph (GRG).

According to the clerk, the complainant, Susan Watson, friend of Farbridge, has hired lawyers to demand an audit of Mr. Tolhurst’s election financial statement, already on file at city hall.

Yep! They are still trying to demolish GRG, the citizen’s organization that played a major role in defeating former mayor, Karen Farbridge.

There has been a lot of recent whining chaff coming from former supporters of Ms. Farbridge, alleging that GRG acted illegally in donating money to candidates or engaging in its democratic right to challenge elected officials. It reminds one of the novel 1984 when “Big Brother” controlled action, thought and deed with his harsh rules.

The Municipal Election rules allow third parties to participate in civic elections. Funny, this question did not arise following the Guelph Civic League’s very active participation in the 2006 civic election that wiped out the city council save for two members.

It was a new Democratic Party’s municipal tour de force in which professional organizers and funding were employed to elect a majority of self-described progressives, including former mayor, Karen Farbridge.

Since then, nothing has changed despite the defeat of Farbridge and some of her supporters, plus two who decided not to run.

The 2015 budget topped out at 5.96 per cent property tax increase, yes, that’s correct. The majority of council approved a 5.50 per cent increase. But ignored the shifting of the tax burden from multi-family residences and industrial to the remaining residential taxpayers. Also the provincially mandated increase in assessments on all property in the city was ignored. This will result in an estimated end-cost to taxpayers in terms of percentage of 4.50 per cent for 2015.

Now these people want an audit of Glen Tolhurst’s election financial report. He was not successful in his bid for council. So ask yourself, why now?

The answer friends is revenge. Revenge on Glen and the thousands of GRG members and citizens for their role in dumping the former mayor. They want to discredit GRG and the blog so that those organizations will not be a factor in the 2018 election.

What can the citizens do, who voted for change, about this continuation of policies that have created the highest municipal tax rate in Ontario? The first step is to organize and complain to those councillors who voted for this 2015 budget.

The next step is to challenge the 2014, 2010 and 2006 election financial reports filed by former members of council who supported the former mayor who chose to run and request an audit of each. The grounds of which would focus on the donations each received and from whom.

The list would include mayor Farbridge, Councillors Ian Findlay, June Hofland, Maggie Laidlaw, Leanne Piper, Lise Burcher, Todd Dennis, Karl Wettstein, Mike Salisbury, and Vicki Beard.

Another step is to request the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate how the draft versions of the 2015 budget were revised upward by council without public input. This would include examination of meetings held by the majority of members, who met together privately to develop strategy and the emails exchanged between that group.

It is possible to take action to curb the excesses of this budget and future decisions.

Susan Watson, you may have awakened the dozing tiger of public protest.






Filed under Between the Lines

9 responses to “Revenge where is thy sting?

  1. Dennis Galon

    Is there any chance the rules were inadvertently broken?
    Are the formal audit request documents in the public domain?
    What happens next?

    • Dennis Galon: This is unprecedented. A citizen, and her lawyers, questions the validity of the financial statements of a defeated candidate submitted to the city. And the point is?

    • Kate Quarrie’s financials were questioned following the 2003 election. It was ultimately determined that she had made campaign purchases (election signs and muffins for her campaign launch) prior to registering as a candidate. If memory serves, she was fined but the image of right-leaning candidates misusing campaign funds was solidified.

      As you stated, criticisms of the Guelph Civic League’s involvement in the following election were brushed off as sour grapes. Seems like what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander.

    • Robert White: Wasn’t that known as the Great Muffin case? My info is that she was exonerated by the compliance committee. But then again that was then and this is now.

    • Gerry – yes the Great Muffin case. And, in the end, Quarried did get her wrists slapped for spending prior to registering, but (and this is from Alan Pickersgill’s blog – the only place I could find with details) “no serious penalties were imposed.”

      This came up in the 2014 election because Cam Guthrie had signs at his campaign launch. Both the Mercury and Pickersgill (among others) tried accusing him of doing the same thing: spending before registering. I truthfully attest to the sequence of events that day and say he met all election act requirements.

    • Robert White: When you bring Alan Pickersgill into the conversation, I wince as he wears his NDP cred on his sleeve. It’s ironic in a way that Barbara and I voted for the NDP when Bob Rae became premier. Now that was an election about change. When I get the chance I’ll talk to Kate and get the facts.

  2. geo

    Whose paying for Watson’s lawyer? That should be made clear from the get go and there better not be any municipal tax dollars used in this fiasco!

  3. Jerry

    You as well as everybody else knows it would not be Susan Watson putting her hand in the pocket to pay for the lawyer.Think of the house that she and others wanted to save in the north end of Guelph.(for historical reasons of course)ha.
    This is just a frivolous lawsuit..Susan Watson and her friends are like a duck sitting on a lake.On the service the duck looks all calm and relaxed but under the water she is paddling like crazy and getting no were in the

  4. Brent

    I’m afraid Ms. Watson needs to be quarantined like a computer virus before she does any more damage to our increasingly divided city.

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