Potpourri, a collection of thoughts and observations


Posted June 6, 2015

            The publicly-funded grudge that never seems to go away

Why is it that Guelph’s socialist doyen, Susan Watson, seems to believe that it’s okay to spend the people’s money on an errant goose chase and to dispute the right of people to organize and protest?

But that’s what’s happening with her complaint that former council candidate Glen Tolhurst accepted a donation from citizen’s activist group, GrassRoots Guelph (GRG). While the two-man Compliance Audit Committee has recommended an audit of Mr. Tolhurst’s official election finance report, the real Watson target is GRG.

Watson, the Mother Teresa of the Left, is still smarting over the defeat of her friend, mayoralty candidate Karen Farbridge, to whom she donated $750. Plus her husband, Dr. Ian Digby, also followed suit and donated $750 to the Farbridge campaign. They didn’t stop there other labour candidates also received donations from the couple. The question begs answering: Were they not a third party trying to influence the outcome of an election with more than $4,000 in donations?

That’s the basic question on the table. GRG was not alone in the groups of organized labour supported candidates promoting their beliefs and messages.

But it’s not about the money. It’s an attempt to use a flawed bylaw, governing candidate complaints created by the Farbridge administration in 2007. The evidence introduced so far, is based on opinion, self-serving mangling of the intent of the Ontario Municipal Elections Act and the Ontario Corporations Act.

The case is important. If Watson is successful in proving her complaint, count on an independent judge toreview the decision and decide the rights of the people to organize and take legal political action to resolve their differences.. That will determine whether under the Charter of Rights and Freedom, the people have the right to assemble, organize and protest. That’s exactly what GRG did and followed the letter of the law to do so.

The audit will now cost more that $7,500 plus expenses and the result will not be revealed until late August. Throw in the cost of managing this complaint by staff and committee members and the bill can easily reach some $12,000.

Mr. Tolhurst acted legally and in good faith reporting his election expenses. And he lost his bid to be elected to council last October.

Meanwhile Watson is now on another crusade to force the federal government to convene a Royal Commission to investigate the infamous robocall scandal in the 2011 federal election campaign. As usual, her timing is perfect with a Federal election slated for October and the newly acclaimed Gloria Kovach, a 24-year veteran of Guelph City Council, as the Conservative candidate.

Has this woman’s insatiable devotion to her New Democrat Party principles and affiliation have no logic, responsibility or reason? Just asking.

            The insatiable greed of the major oil companies

Here we are in a country with an abundance of oil and natural gas and yet, we still import oil from the Middle East.

A litre of refined gasoline has no country, no loyalty and no obligations.

Why then does gasoline cost, in Canadian dollars, the equivalent of almost twice the cost of one U.S. gallon in the United States? Is it economy of scale, i.e. more cars more pumps versus that available in Canada?

No, it is because a tight consortium of major oil companies controls the supply and equipment to distribute petroleum products in Canada. Major U.S. oil companies control most of them. Some examples: Royal Dutch Shell controls Shell; Esso is controlled by Imperial oil and is owned by Exxon.

The failure of our Federal government to execute legislation to prevent what is apparent price gouging by companies using our oil to fatten their bottom lines is a stunning admission that corporate robber barons are still functioning.

Just check how prices change almost daily with the rise and fall of crude oil. The most egregious example is how gasoline prices seem to always increase before weekends during the warm weather months when many Canadians are on the move.

Gasoline in Canada should cost on average between 75 and 80 cents a litre when compared to the U.S. at the pump cost of 63 cents per litre, in U.S. dollars. That just means the per-litre premium Canadians are paying, on average. It’s a premium of some 39 cents. Translated that means for every 50 litre fill-up Canadians are paying at the pump, amounts to an estimated $2 more that Americans.

Don’t think that’s much? Think about all the SUV’s and trucks Canadians drive plus public transportation and commercial vehicles plus aircraft and trains and the amount is in the millions.

As Gordon Gecko said in the Wall Street classic film: “Greed is good.”

            Why spend amillions on bike lanes and sidewalks at the expense of a new dowtown library, needed parking and a South End rec centre?

In a recent magazine article, Guelph Councillor Bob Bell said that 100 pound cars are on the way. Perhaps the good councillor is thinking his bicycle operation can become the bicycle version of Tesla motors, the electric car manufacturer.

The “Active Transportation” (AT) organization is now focusing on widening Speedvale from Woolwich to Manhattan Court, just east of Metcalfe to allow bike lanes and sidewalks. The estimated cost is $14.35 million. But the AT spokesperson protested that the proposal did not follow the cycling master plan created in 2013 by the former Farbridge Administration.

According to City Engineer Kealy Dedman, that plan could not accommodate bike lanes between Riverview Drive and Manhattan Court. The city would have to expropriate land to widen the road to accommodate the bike lanes and sidewalks. “In some cases the sidewalks would be right by the owners front steps,” she added.

Yvette Tendick, spokesperson for AT, took umbrage that not allowing the bike lanes in that stretch of Speedvale was a potential exemption of the original ten-year cycling plan. That was also passed by the previous administration in 2013.

First there must be an environmental study done on the area over the Speed River Bridge. The city engineer said contruction possibly might start in 2018.

When will this political pandering of the minority of cyclists stop? Council said this year that it did not have the money to build a new downtown library or additional parking, or the South End recreation centre as promised 13 years ago by the 2000/2003 Farbridge administration.

But council approved spending this year alone $600,000 on bike lanes and sidewalks on Woodlawn.

This is what happens when a tiny minority can effectively lobby to spend millions in public money while restricting vehicle traffic flow that is rapidly turning the city into a parking lot during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

Motorists pay for the use of the roads through permits. Most pay taxes to maintain the roads. Buying fuel they also indirectly contribute millions through the Federal gas tax rebate to the city coffers.

None of the active transportation people who share the public roads are licensed, pay insurance or are regulated in any way. Any one of them can ride wherever they feel without restriction. Some adhere to traffic rules and some ignore the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA). The police do not have the resources to stop errant cyclists who ignore the rules of the road.

Yet, what do the cyclist pay to support their demands for more access to public roads that are supported by the taxpayers?

In most circles, this is described as a free lunch.

It is time to regulate cyclist’s with enforcement of the HTA, a registration of their bicycle, proper lights for safety and an indoctrination session of their rights and responsibilities.

We must live on the roads together but use of the roads carries joint responsibilities.

Challenging a 2 tonne vehicle with a 12-kilogram cycle is no longer appropriate if, for no other reason, to engage in common sense and courtesy.





Filed under Between the Lines

5 responses to “Potpourri, a collection of thoughts and observations

  1. Jerry

    Hi Gerry
    I am a cyclist and i agree with your your opinion on biking around our city.
    One thing i would like to see is that the bikes are registered,licensed and
    I would also like to see a training course on road cycling.I know most people that ride will whine and cry about it but it is for all our safety.
    The sidewalk situation on Woodlawn rd.I still think if the city went to the
    business that will benefit from the trail (commercial business)should all chip in and get the trail built.It will benefit them with employees going to work,help the enviroment (which they all claim to be)and it can also be set up like the provincial way which you can sponsor a section of the sidewalk and place a sign there saying which company owns it.(good advertising).
    Even around the city this can be down by individual donations by the residents
    I think it is about time us citizens step up and pay for extras and not depend on the city for everything.Hands outs are over.
    Have a great day.

    • Jerry: Good ideas here. The bike registration, licensing, insurance and the training course would really work toward fair road sharing. I think you’ve hit on a good idea about bike lane costs on commercial streets and roads. Business will receive some benefit as well as the riders and public. What concerns me is the $14.23 million allocated to improve Speedvale from Woolwich northeast to Manhattan Court. It entails an environmental assessment before replacing the bridge over the speed river and limited bike lanes because the cost of expropriation of Speedvale home frontages could have cyclists going by the front steps of many homes. It’s hard to fix a road that was poorly planned years ago, and very expensive.

  2. Jerry

    I agree the city just has to realize that some streets in this city cannot be
    made for bicycles riding.But in saying that there is still a lot of streets that can.So replace the bridge and do some road work and leave it alone.Put the money into something more doable like infrastructure to sewers,transit,
    paying down the debt?????.
    Have a great day.


      As cyclists are subject to the highway traffic law(s) I was interested in seeing two youngsters(ages 15 +/-) driving down my street on their bicycles whilst talking and texting on their mobile devices-clearly against the law.I left a message with the GUELPH Police Services as I’m concerned that cyclists may be,again,flauntiflouting the law.


    Apologize for misuse of the word “flaunting” as it should be “flouting” meaning:disobey openly and scornfully(Oxford dictionary)

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