Monthly Archives: September 2015

How the Brews Brothers out-sudsed the Kathleen Wynne Liberals

By Gerry Barker

Posted September 29, 2015

The Kathleen Wynne government has announcement that beer will be available in a selected group of Ontario supermarkets by Christmas. The details of this revolutionary decision shows that the beer distribution monopoly still exists in bluestocking Ontario.

Well, Zippidy Doo Dah.

Unless you’ve been vacationing on Mars, the sale of beer in Ontario is monopolized by the Brews Brothers, three foreign beer makers who own the Beer Stores in Ontario. And those stores showcase the owner’s products, Who are the Brews Brothers? They are Sapporo of Japan, AmBrew of Belgium and Molson Coors of the United States.

Here we have the province with the largest population in the country and it cannot afford to have free trade in the sale of beer. It’s ironic that the province already has a distribution system selling spirits and small packs of beer. It also has the legislative muscle to end the beer monopoly and open the market for price competition.

They chose not to.

So the Ontario consumer has to live with supply management including dairy products, pork, beef, poultry, electricity, liquor, water and now beer. All of these are controlled because the supplier, and not the market, fix prices.

In Ontario, the people are being taxed to death. Oops, the provincial government forces taxes on the dead including, probate taxes, tangible asset taxes, funeral expenses. Estate representative have just 90 days to report the value of the decease’s stuff or face fines. That’s another Wynne govermnet amendment to increase revenue. Then the Canada Review agency gets a bite if the estate has any capital gains of investments owned by the deceased.

With all that tax money flowing into the provincial treasury why is it that the provincial government, headed by Premier Wynne, cannot balance its books? With a $10 billion deficit in 2014 that has been around from McGuinty forward, was the beer monopoly so important to be maintained in perpetuity?

In a new ten-year agreement with the Brews Brothers, the Kathleen Wynne Liberals have virtually guaranteed price fixing of the popular product. The only concession the Brews Brothers allowed was the sale of beer to the supermarkets. But the supermarkets can only sell six packs, same as the LCBO. The supply is rationed and the price fixed. If supermarket A exceeds its allotment, it will face fines.

Left out of this 18th century-like deal, is the public who drink beer. The price gouging that exists in the sale of beer in Ontario is an affront to consumers. There is no competition to maintain a level playing field for beer consumers. That’s the fixed price, either pay it or cross the border to Quebec, New York or Michigan when beer is sold everywhere and the price is much lower than in Ontario.

This was a monumental con job by the Brews Brothers who own more than 400 Beer Stores in Ontario. Those stores supply beer to the entire province because they can sell any amount of beer, whether it is in bottles, cans or kegs. They also are appointed as distributors to all hospitality venues in the province including restaurants, bars, hotels, and clubs. Any place where beer is sold for on site personal consumption.

If that isn’t the perfect monopoly, then I’m Donald Trump

This was a capitulation by the Wynne Liberals who disregarded consumers by allowing the price of beer to be controlled by foreign entities.

But why be surprised? The Wynne government is unable to control the price of electricity, settle labour contracts with its staff and is at war with the teachers.

The 444 Ontario municipalities are hamstrung by dated regulations and policies that strangle the opportunities available to grow. Municipalities must balance their books annually.

Why can’t the province do the same?

The municipalities chief revenue come from property taxes and they are not allowed to introduce any tax plans to enhance their community.

The Wynne Liberals keep moving the deficit ball forward. The latest is Finance Minister Sousa says the provincial budget will be balanced by September 2018, coincidently just prior to the next provincial election. His previous claim was the books would be balanced in 2017.

Who knows? By that time, a case of beer will probably cost more than $60.

Retired newspaper executive, Gerry Barker is the editor of, a blog commenting on community, provincial and national affairs. He may be reached at:



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Canada and Ontario, two spent and tired governments that need to go

By Gerry Barker

Posted September 28, 2015

Guelph, Ontario – Prime Minister Stephen Harper must face the music October 19 when Canadians go to the polls. We are in the later stages of the longest election campaign in 115 years’ history. Even before modern transportation modes, cars, buses and planes, R.B. Bennett, the Conservative P.M. during the early days of the Great Depression, was never in his Calgary riding during the campaign that he won.

I know because my grandmother, Byrtha Louise Stavert, was his campaign manager.

So we are witnessing a Conservative leader and Prime Minister who has unlimited access to fly around the country and funding for his party’s quest for power. He is now asking for another mandate to run our country. He has been in charge for ten years as head of state.

As a young lad I recall my grandmother saying that: “People don’t vote governments in, they vote governments out.” She should know, witnessing Bennett go down in his second term to Liberal, Mackenzie King.

The Harper act is wearing thin with Canadians if you believe the polls, a dangerous trend three weeks before going to vote. There are serious cracks in the Conservative game plan, widening with the defections plus potential loss of cabinet ministers running for office.

Tory power is ever present

But never underestimate the political power and resources that the Tories possess.

Political pundits are all over the map guesstimating the outcome. Regardless, Canadian voters are of mixed emotions about this election. They are naturally cautious about selecting the right candidate, yet most are optimistic about our country and its future.

Harper has unleashed a number of publically funded initiatives that, in a normal election, would ensure re-election. But it’s different this time. His use of using scary terrorist attacks and the need to be more secure resonates with the Tory base. But using it as a crutch to deny Middle East refugees from immigrating to Canada for up to four years, backfired big-time. The public reaction was overwhelming in support of Canada helping these homeless refugees to settle in our country.

The question people are asking is: “If we can bring in 60,000 Vietnamese refugees to Canada, why can’t we help these middle east refugees from tyranny?”

The provincial NDP sweep in Alberta last spring was a shocker and impacted on the Conservative campaign because of the potential loss of core M.P.’s in that traditionally Tory bastion.

Thomas Mulcair sensed it was his destiny to form the first NDP federal government in Canadian history. Accordingly, he adopted a slightly centrist approach, promising to balance the federal budget and raise taxes to the rish and corporations among other promises of social action.

His feet were pulled out from under his campaign, with the announcement by a hard-core gang of 100 NDP elitists who demanded social programs and extreme environmental changes in the party platform. They split the party and undermined the leader’s campaign that attempted to move the party to the far left of the political centre.

Trudeau, Part two

Then, along came the young master, Justin Trudeau. Prior to the election call, the media had gotten off his bandwagon and were crooning about Mulcair. The Tory attack ads on Trudeau underscored “he’s not ready,” played by professional actors. It was a relentless television campaign starting weeks before the election writ was dropped. The ads set up the longest federal election campaign in recent memory.

Trudeau, needing seats in Ontario, hooked up with Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne. Bad mistake. Wynne’s popularity numbers in Ontario have plummeted since her June 2014 majority win.

Wynne is a good campaigner but a terrible premier. Her record is loaded with gaffes, mistakes and fiscal mismanagement that are alarming, given the province’s ongoing budget deficits. The current reported deficit sits at $10 billion. Yet her finance minister says the budget will be balanced by 2018. The Ontario Liberals haven’t balanced the budget since McGuinty came to power eight years ago.

The Ontario Liberals, under McGuinty and Wynne are like an old girlfriend, gone but not forgotten. The Ontario government is tired, dysfunctional and incompetent.

Yet Trudeau ties up with this dead horse of a government hoping some of the Wynne campaign fairy dust will get him some seats.

I believe Trudeau has great promise and if he wins enough seats to form the government, it won’t be a bad thing. In fact, I estimate it will take him about six months to prove that he was ready for leadership.

Like most people, I’m still undecided

Having said all that, I remain an undecided voter.

I have personal dislikes for some of Harper’s policies over the years. His candidate, Gloria Kovach, after 24 years on Guelph city council, she is the most qualified to represent our city in Ottawa.

With the way the NDP dominated council has controlled our city for the past eight years, I cannot support that party or its candidate, Andrew Seagram.

The Liberal candidate, Lloyd Longfield, underwhelms me. His record of heading the Chamber of Commerce and toadying up to city council was a failing grade. He was unable to influence the administration to increase industrial and commercial assessment, so he’s not ready for the Big Show. What I can’t figure out is why he’s not running for the NDP?

The Green Party candidate, Gord Miller, is a former senior civil servant acting as environmental commissioner for the province.

Like most Canadians, I feel the closer we get to October 19, the greater the polarization of the voters.

The real campaign has just started.

Retired newspaper executive, Gerry Barker is the editor of, a blog commenting on community, provincial and national affairs. He may be reached at:

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Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

Posted September 26, 2015

By Gerry Barker

Inside the thoughts of Pope Francis – Building a wall between Canada and the U. S. – Kathleen Wynne absolves her deputy – U.S. Conservative movement hits the wall – Ontario’s teacher’s half strike


 Imagining the Pope’s inner thoughts visiting America

“Hey! Who ordered that Fiat 500 for my visit to America? I can barely get into the thing.

“Man! There are a lot of cops around me. Is something up?

“The President sure has nice kids, the missus is pretty nice too.

“Whew! I could use an Expresso pick-me-up after that scary ride into Washington.

“Speaking of that, is there a bottle of Vermouth in the glove compartment? Just to settle my stomach after that lunch in the White House.

“Mama Mia! All those trumpets blaring away when I arrived at the White House. Good thing I took the hearing aides out.

“Didn’t know I spoke Italian, did you?

“My hands are so sore from all that handshaking. Maybe I should ask Queen Elizabeth her secret to avoid sore hands.

“You know, I’d really like to ride in one of those big Secret Service Chevrolets so I could put my feet up and relax.

“So many masses, gotta take it easy on the sacramental wine.

“Like I said, I don’t like red slippers. A pair of white Nike walkers would be nice. Who do they think I am, Michael Jordan?

“Help me God to learn English and speak it without sounding like Che Guvara.

“Holy Christmas, look at all those big buildings!

“Praise be to those who built St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

“Hey, I’m getting a little comfy in the Fiat.

“While I’m in New York, is it possible to get a hot Pastrami on rye with a kosher dill pickle at the Carnegie deli?

“Who are the New York Yankees, a new rock band?

“I saw a billboard about ‘Kinky Boots, the musical’. What’s that all about?

“Lord, save me from those bagpipes, I hear them in my sleep, when I get some time off.

“We’re on our way to Philadelphia. Pilot fly around that Statue of Liberty again, I missed my shot the first time.

“Tonight, I’m soaking my hands and feet in extra virgin olive oil to loosen them up for the two million coming to see me in Philadelphia.

“Ah, Alitalia, my home away from home and with a good supply of single malt scotch.”

“Thank you Lord for another good day, Amen.”

*         *         *         *

Keystone is dead; let’s build a wall between the U.S. and Canada, eh!

Some 41 per cent of Americans said in a Bloomberg poll, this week, that there should be a wall between Canada and the United States. Gee, I didn’t know they were still mad at us about burning down the White House in the War of 1812.

Of the 1,100 Americans polled, 41 per cent said there should be a wall. The greatest number of respondents came from the southern states. I would have thought by now that those southerners would have built a wall along the Mason Dixon line. At least politically, that’s the bastion of Evangelic Christians, those who don’t believe in the rights of women’s health.

This bunch of tea party supporters elect their own to Congress to shut down the U.S. government because they think it’s too big and states rights should prevail. Well there goes the “United” part of the United States of America. In their world, the racist hangover from the civil war some 150 years ago, is still there.

Not even the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives can take the divisiveness existent in the Institution. John Boehner resigned this week. He was the third in line to become president if required.

We all know about those phone calls from polling companies seeking to determine a trend in public opinion. But it’s alarming when 4 in 10 Americans believe that a wall is necessary between the two countries. What are we, frozen backs, trying to get into the states?

So, when Donald Trump says if elected, he will build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. to cost $10 billion, he’ll convince the Mexicans to pay for it. Really?

If Trump pulls off that deal it’ll remain a simple step to apply his negotiating skills to doing the same between Canada and the U.S.

Hold the phone big guy.

The wall would be 8,850 kilometers long. Oops, make that 5,487 miles for our U.S viewers. It would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. There are a few problems that need to be addressed. First, how do you build a wall across the Great Lakes? How do you build a wall along the border between Alaska and Canada through the mountains and rivers? What about the Thousand Islands along the St Lawrence River, which Island is in which country?

Why did Wisconsin Governor and Republican candidate, Scott Walker, quit the presidential campaign after agreeing the wall was a good idea? Do these people not have a clue of 148 years of peaceful co-existence between our countries? Have they any idea of the number of dual citizenships who are living in both countries? Have they ever considered the support and loyalties between the two countries for all those years in peace, the Great Depression, and three major wars?

Yet 41 per cent believe they need a wall between Canada and the U.S.

Oh well, ignorance is bliss. Pass the poutine.

*            *            *            *

The Wynne government’s political tampering won’t go away

There she goes again. The Grand Duchess  of Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne, refused to resign following a criminal investigation of her staff’s involvement in the Sudbury bye-election. Let them eat cake, she sniffed.

Her deputy chief of staff, Pat Sobara, interviewed the Liberal candidate, Andrew Olivier, prior to the February bye-election and asked him to step aside. Andrew, a quadriplegic successful businessman, ran a close second to the NDP in 2014 and planned to run again.

Ms. Sobara, called Olivier and said the party was going in a different direction and, suggested that by stepping aside, he would receive a senior job in the Liberal byzantine organization. The Premier, secretly succeeded in luring NDP MP Glenn Thibeault to join her caucus and run in the Sudbury bye-election as a Liberal.

But the skunk got into the henhouse. The would-be candidate recorded the conversations between Sobara and Olivier, because he is unable to write notes. Enter Sudbury Liberal activist, Gerry Lougheed, a wealthy funeral director and chairman of the Sudbury Police Services Board. He backed up Ms. Sobara’s job offer to persuade Olivier not to seek the Liberal nomination.

Olivier refused, ran as an independent and ended up in third place on Election Day

Police have charged Lougheed with one count of counseling an offense not committed and one count of unlawfully influencing and negotiating appointments. Translation: It’s bribery.

The question arises why was Pat Sobara, who opened the dialogue with Olivier and was recorded, not also charged along with Lougheed? Even more so, why is she still working for the Premier?

The Premier defended her staffer, the one who shaped her 2014 victory.

The police say the investigation is continuing. But this eight ball is already in the corner pocket.

*            *            *            *

Is the Republican Party having a meltdown? Ask Pogo

Okay, so the U.S. presidential election is more than a year away. But the rhetoric between the candidates is classic and funny. They remind us of Walt Kelley’s former comic strip about characters in the Okeefenokee swamp in Florida. The star was Pogo, a crafty opossum who was looked up to by his swampy pals.

The trouble with Republicans is they all want to be Pogo.

House of Representatives Speaker, John Boehner, took the high road and resigned. He announced it just a few days before his splintered caucus shuts down the government by voting against Planned Parenthood, the front line of women’s health in America.

Pogo would not be amused nor will the gaggle of Republican presidential hopefuls climbing over each other to get the job next year.

As Pogo famously remarked: “We have seen the enemy and they is us.”

*            *            *            *

Elementary teachers, without a contract, escalate job action

The failure of the Minister of Education to resolve the differences between the union of elementary teachers and the province drags on at the expense of students and their parents.

If all the other teacher unions have agreed to a new contract why haven’t the elementary teachers settled? Now the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, is caught between those settlements made in good faith with the other unions and the potential of a better contract being awarded to the elementary teachers. This opens the door to even more disputes and rancour.

When does it stop? When does peace and honest bargaining on both sides of the table bring fair contracts and better job performance? In the three years that Sandals has been the person in charge of primary and secondary education in Ontario, she has lurched from one crisis to another.

Between Kathleen Wynne and Liz Sandals, both former school board trustees, it is apparent that the only way to settle with the teachers is to pay them off. That’s what they’ve done in the last two contract negotiating cycles.

The source of all this sturm and drang is the Liberal government’s failure to invest in education. Instead the Liberals poured money into wind and solar panel farms, demolished gas plants and expensive, non-effective cyber-based schemes, which cost us millions.

What Wynne and Sandals have accomplished is a dysfunctional education system in which trust has evaporated between the province and the teachers.

Either fix it or get out of the way.








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Are Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberals dying a slow death in government?

Posted September 24, 2015

It has been 15 months since Kathleen Wynne took the Ontario Liberals to power, and the record shows it was a shallow victory.

This is a premier who has consistently failed to get the handle on managing the people’s money. She ignored the demolition of the two gas generating plants in Mississauga and Oakville that the audit showed cost the province a billion dollars.

The province has operated with a deficit for six years that now stands at $8 billion. Even with a prime lending rate of 2.5 per cent, that amounts to an annual estimated cost of $200,000,000. That’s what must be paid first before any other expenses.

We cannot run our own finances this way so why does the Ontario Liberal government get away with it? Just figuring the continued deficit the province has been running for the past seven years, and the debt load, is almost impossible to calculate. Those deficits drive up the provincial debt which in turn increases the annual costs of running Canada’s largest province, by population.

And yet, Ontario Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, keeps saying the deficit will be gone by 2017. Maybe he should call former Prime Minister, Paul Martin, who knows how to cut costs and balance the books.

One keeps thinking about the former Montreal Mayor Drapeau stating that chances of the cost of the Olympics exceeding the budget, was eqivalent to man having a baby. Well, we know how that turned out.

After the McGuinty years of making bad deals to restructure Ontario Hydro, Wynne inherited a financial mess that only David Copperfield could make disappear.

It’s a carefully coordinated illusion that has driven electricity rates to among the highest in North America. It was caused by deals made with private industry to build wind farms, solar panel farms and renovate aging nuclear plants. These decisions, each given 20-year guarantees in many cases, of 20 cents per kilowatt hour, has exponentially driven up the retail cost of supplying power to homes and businesses.

These sources now generate too much power that cannot be stored, that Ontario sells to U.S. jurisdictions at a loss. This is voodoo management at its best.

The beer sale fiasco

The latest fiasco is the new scheme of marketing beer in Ontario. With great fanfare the Wynne government has said that beer will be available in a select group of major supermarkets by Christmas. Left out was the supply would be rationed to those selected stores and only six packs would be available. By rationing, there is a quota and if it exceeded, there will be fines. There is no provision in this new arrangement for outlets to set prices according to the market. The consumer has no opportunity to shop for a better price. This is another example of supply side management by our own government. The price is set and the consumer has to pay.

The six-pack rule also applies to the LCBO outlets. Only the famed Canadian 24 is available at the Beer Store. Remember them? Molson- Coors (U.S), Ambrew (Belgium), Sapporo (Japan), own the Beer Stores in Ontario. Outside of the LCBO outlets, the Beer Stores have the exclusive right to sell beer in Ontario and fix the prices.

So this deal was about distribution of beer, not the competitive marketing of beer. If you can buy 24 cans of Molson Canadian in Quebec for $24 why not in Ontario, where the product is brewed? Same beer, same packaging and is available throughout Quebec in stores, gas stations, and supermarkets at competitive prices.

Why was the premier afraid to allow the free sale and distribution of beer in Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario? It’s all about the money. She needs every penny she can find to pay for past terrible financial decisions that have almost destroyed manufacturing in the province.

The automobile plants in the province are constantly negotiating financial assistence to stay. They’ve all bellyed up to the trough to get funding with the dire threat of moving to Mexico where operating costs are much lower.

The one area that one would believe is the premier’s strength lies in the province’s education system. In 2013, just after winning the Ontario Liberal Leadership, she and her fellow school trustee, Liz Sandals, paid off the teacher’s unions with $463 million to settle the work-to-rule tactics being employed by the disgruntled unions.

Most of those union contracts expired nine months ago. Education Minister, Liz Sandals, has failed to settle contracts with one of the largest, the Elementary School Teachers of Ontario. The other unions accepted an offer of cumulated 2.5 per cent plus increased benefits, including sick days and professional days.

Yet, with a straight face, both Wynne and Sandals said the increases were “net zero” in terms of budgeting. What both failed to say was what programs would be chopped to provide that “net zero” demand from more than 250,000 teachers in the province.

If you cannot get the teachers to work, why do we need a Minister of Education?

A strategic political alignment?

With the public discord over Kathleen Wynne’s stewardship of our province, why would federal Liberal Leader, Justin Trudeau, tie his tale (sic) to Wynne? Undoubtedly she is a good campaigner but her performance as premier has negated that shill (sic) set.

Trudeau desperately needs winning seats on Ontario. But tying up with Wynne is not going to encourage Liberals to support him, based on that association and her performance.

The governing Ontario Liberals are dying from overburdening debt, mismanagement, operational costs and misguided policies.

With friends like that, Mr. Trudeau should ask, who needs enemies?


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Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

Posted September 20, 2015

About ducks and defeat – Anger and the blogger – Welcome to Canada – That scary NPD elitist manifesto


What’s the difference between Donald Duck and Humpty Dumpty?

One quacks non-stop and the other had a great big fall

With Brian Holstein, the play’s the thing. A dedicated Farbridge supporter, retired teacher and amateur thespian, Holstein paints himself as a self-righteous commentator for the people.

His problem is that he and the former mayor’s supporters just experienced the second defeat of their political ideals and beliefs. First their leader, Karen Farbridge, was thumped at the polls. Then, in April, her pal Susan Watson, complained that former candidate Glen Tolhurst’s election expense statement should be audited.

In August, the Compliance Audit Committee’s own auditor, found Mr. Tolhurst did not contravene the Municipal Elections Act (MEA) as claimed by Watson. He also stated that GrassRoots Guelph (GRG) did not contravene the Act by donating $400 to Mr. Tolhurst’s campaign.

Wow! Two strikes and you’re out Mr. Holstein. People can understand your pain but not your clumsy rhetoric attacking a letter writer for daring to state the truth about the Watson crusade to crucify.

This kind of misguided language and purpose is the main reason that the people voted the Farbridge Party out and the damage done to the city during her eight years in office. You can’t white wash the $23 million new city hall fiasco known as the Urbacon Affair.

Your backbiting column ignores the uncomfortable premise that Susan Watson and her husband donated $4,250 to seven Farbridge candidates. Three others received $550 from two unions.

By any definition that’s a hypocritical premise if there ever was one.

And Susan Watson may have pulled it off by getting the taxpayers to pay some $10,000 for her fruitless attempt to discredit a candidate and a citizens activist group that opposed her friend.

In Holstein’s world that’s what taxes are for.

*            *            *            *

The rigours of blogging

There is this guy who accused me of always being angry. He also claimed that GrassRoots Guelph was a secretive conservative organization. Just want viewers to understand where this individual is coming from.

I don’t deny that I am occasionally angry and disappointed in the manner in which our city is being managed.

It’s the stuff that drives citizens crazy such as the increasing tax load on property owners. Our taxes in 12 years have doubled. And what do we get for that? The city refuses to pick up our waste, plow our street or maintain our infrastructure. But we still have to pay taxes for those services that we do not receive.

Instead, as property owners living in a land condominium, we must hire private contractors and pay for such services through condo fees.

So, what’s the catch? For a number of years, the city has allowed these kinds of developments. The number of folks owning property under these conditions is unknown. It is estimated there are more than 6,000 housing units affected in the city denied basic services.

Why do I get angry? Because of this rip-off by the city. It is undemocratic, arbitrary and arrogant. The situation has worsened since the previous administration introduced the bin waste collection system. It allowed a number of high and low-rise developments with no area to store the bins or the electronic-arm truck was unable to maneuver. It was just another excuse not to serve all residents and businesses in the City

So instead of trying to be fair, the administration makes a mockery of it. They ignore a large segment of the population telling it to put up, shut up and pay your taxes.

Again when I see our taxes being wasted on lawsuits and projects that people did not ask for or want, I get angry.

The sad part is I see little change in the way our city is being managed from the top down. Our property taxes this year are among the highest in Ontario with a 3.96 per cent increase. We have a bloated civil service that grows exponentially every year. It is costing 85 per cent of the tax levy and that is unsustainable.

Another increase next year like this one and property values will start to decline and it could be the beginning of an exodus from Guelph, because it costs too much to live here.

Only some common sense can change it. Even that doesn’t count for much these days.

*            *            *            *

To Niqab or not to Niqab?

This week the court allowed an immigrant woman from Pakistan to wear the niqab, a covering of the face, during her citizenship swearing in ceremony.

We are a country of immigrants. And the flow of new people to Canada has, over the years, strengthened out role in the world. They bring new ideas, money and energy to their new land and we all benefit.

But when they step onto our land, they become Canadians. Citizenship can be achieved within two years. Their religious, culture and lifestyle contribute to the Canadian mosaic.

The one thing all immigrants must do to assimilate into our society and culture, is not to bring their past loyalties and be part-time Canadians. We speak two official languages here. Immigrants should learn at least one. We have laws that all citizens must obey, including those who are permanent residents but not sworn in and those who are truly Canadian and accept our way of life.

We want new Canadians joining our society but without a lingering loyalty to their homeland or to take advantage of our generous social programs.

Wearing a face covering to the individual’s official citizenship ceremony may be a charter issue as being argured by her lawyer. It remains a simple display of bad manners toward the country she has chosen and is about to officially welcome her.

*            *            *            *

Try not to get nervous when the NDP uses the word “manifesto”

Recently a group of 100 NDP elites presented a manifesto to guide the party to the extreme left in the political spectrum. The usual suspects contributed to this document. Here is one sample of its declarations for Canada’s future:

“In the process, the manifesto envisions a transformation of the entire capitalist system into a Utopia in which the economy is in balance with the earth’s limits, jobs are designed to systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality, agriculture is far more localized and ecologically based, and low carbon sectors of the economy, like care giving, teaching, social work, the arts and public interest media flourish.”

Aside from the dreadful grammar and punctuation in the original statement, it has the eerie similarities of the collectivization reign of Josef Stalin and his forced labour schemes and five-year plans. More than six million were killed during his purges of the country’s administrators, artists, non-believors and military.

In October, this document has the potential of destroying the NDP’s chances of becoming Stephen Harper’s successor in Parliament.

With friends like this, who needs enemies?


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Riders of the Purple Rage

Posted September 18, 2015


The Over the Hill Gang

That Masked Woman

Silver, the wonder mule

Her trusted companion, Tonto Gallon

Scout, the fastest mule in the West

The Doc, two thumbs O’Brian

The Banker, Skip Tracey

The Sheriff, stone hands Holsteen

Note: Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental

It was another hot day in Dry Gulch. Ten miles outside of town, in its hole in the wall hideout, the Over the Hill gang was plotting to rob the Dry Gulch City Bank.

“We need the money to pay off the sheriff, “ That Masked Woman said as she stroked the neck of her trusted Silver, the wonder mule. “ Besides the bank has all the money so let’s take it.”

The gang was silent for a moment when Deuces Wild Hoflund said: “Won’t the people get mad if we rob the bank and take their money?”

“Shucks Deuce, we need the money more than the bank to get That Masked Woman out of a jam, you know, the complaint she started to get even with the Dry Gulch Voters Union (DGVU),” said Boom Boom Tentrick.

“But don’t we have our money in the bank?” asked Deuces.

Tonto Gallon grunted: “Kemosabe, we gotta get even with that bunch for what they did to our leader, Attila, mayor of Dry Gulch.” Other gang members nodded their heads in agreement as Sundance Salisberry stood up and practised his quick draw.

“Relax comrades,” That Masked Woman said, “we have that part covered, the Doc assures me that I won’t have to pay for my accusation that the DGVU played dirty in the last election.”

“So, why are we robbing the bank, Masked Woman?” Said Fingers Jimmy G, the gang’s piano player and songwriter. He muttered under his breath, “If they’d hum a few bars I’d pick it up from there.”

“Because we can, stupid,” That Masked Woman replied with authority. “Because we can.”

A year later, most folks had left Dry Gulch for a place called Las Vegas.

Silver the wonder mule was left to forage for food and water. Scout became the fastest mule in the West, becoming known as getaway Scout.

The Dry Gulch City Bank burned down because One-eyed Skip Tracey destroying the records, let it get out of hand.

The railroad never came and the sheriff took off with Boom Boom.

Old timers, those who were left, watching the sage bush bolls skitter across the prairie asked: “Who was That Masked Woman?”





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To those of you without sin

By Randy Norris

Posted September 16, 2015

It felt like I was reading the obituary of an old friend.

You know the feeling, especially if you’re older than most but only younger than some. A sinking feeling that knows the truth of change. Everything changes. Everyone leaves.

My old church, St Matthias, at the corner of Kortright and Edinburgh, had a For Sale in front of it. I suppose I thought that it would last forever even though I knew the truth of change.

In this case, forever only lasted until a small group of Anglican faithful could no longer financially support the building or property.

This church was for many years, my second home.

It’s where my kids were baptized. It’s where I became the People’s Warden, Treasurer and Chair of the 31st Guelph Scout Group which met at St Matthias.

The Diocese of Niagara has conditionally sold the property to HIP Developments. HIP requires the City’s approval of a zone change to build a student housing development on the St Matthias property.

HIP has two other sites where they are constructing projects under the brand of Solstice 1 and 2.

Students inflicting fun

 When the developer proudly described the design and the construction of the first building in the local newspaper, he’s quoted as saying that, “It’s all been thought of as to how the students will inflict some fun on the building.”

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this statement might increase the concern of adjacent home owners to a student fun house in the neighbourhood.

As anyone knows who has a student house in their vicinity, some students can inflict fun on their house and everyone around them. Fun can sometimes be incidious.

Every home owner adjacent to the St Matthias site should be concerned.

I was not surprised to see the neighbours’ reaction to the project. But I was surprised and very disappointed by the criticism of the church.

Thirty years of history

 Many have criticized the Diocese for selling the site and for “abandoning” the neighbourhood. They’ve stated that the church served as a neighbourhood resource and that their neighbourhood will be gutted, if the church leaves.

Quite to the contrary, for many years the Diocese subsidized St Matthias operating budget while waiting for the surrounding neighbourhood to create a sustainable community centre. It didn’t happen.

Critics have also tried to shame the Bishop for accepting an offer from a developer.

They have stated that the Diocese should only accept an offer from another religious community which would result in far less money than what the developer is offering.

The Diocese has, for three decades, offered the building for many different uses at its own expense. Rental rates to use the building were ridiculously cheap.

At one point in time, there was a daycare and a karate school using the St Matthias basement. One of my boys went to Beavers and Cubs in the church basement.

Times are tough for many in the God business, particularly if they are Anglican. There are other churches in the Diocese that need financial support. The Diocese has nothing be be ashamed about. Sad, yes, but not ashamed.

I would always expect that any church and any denomination would attempt to support and energize the surrounding neighbourhoods.

A church, during its tenure at a particular location has an obligation to service the surrounding neighbourhoods as a community or neighbourhood centre because of the nature of their business, their mission. and because it received tax breaks.

That is what St Matthias did but the surrounding neighbourhood did not take advantage of the Church’s facilities to the level that it was sustainable.

Even during the last gasps of breath, the neighbourhood could not be found

Now the neighbourhood wants to blame church for its own inaction.

Disrespect leaves a smell

At the last Guelph City Council meeting on Monday night, the Mayor made a comment that some churches have established the same policies as the Boards of Education. If a site is abandoned, the school board must offer it to another school board before it is put on the open market.

The Mayor ended his comment by saying that the Anglican Church does not have such a policy. In response, several members of the audience, I assume members of the McElderry Neighbourhood Group, laughed and made derogatory comments about the Anglican Church.

I was embarrassed by their behaviour.

At the same time, everyone was patting everyone else on the back. Cititzens thanking City staff and their Ward Councellors and in turn the neighbourhood group were thanked for the level of respect they showed during the process.

I smelt a large plop of disrespect on the floor of the Council chambers.

Church and state make poor bedfellows

 At Monday night’s meeting, Council passed a motion to review the need to protect worship sites in the City. The St Matthias situation has triggered the need to look at the big picture.

The planning issues seem to be somewhat similar to what occurs when planning new subdivisions. Land is set aside for parkland and for school sites. If a plan of subdivision is “balanced” in terms of land use, then there should be some lands set aside for institutional uses. This does not, however, insure that the land zoned institutional will be used for a church.

The God business is a free enterprise business. Bums in pews are important and if a congregation is not large enough to sustain the location or if the neighbourhood does make use of the community space in the church, like the neighbourhood around St Matthias, then the marketplace can be a harsh reality.

The municipality has no business in the religion of its citizens. Government does not regulate the God business. Demand and supply determines success.

The Diocese is the wrong place to throw your rocks and your disrepect.

This is not the Church’s fault. The neighbourhood has no one to blame but themselves.

Those without sin…

Development with an iron glove

 The developer, however, obviously lives in a glass house.

I’ve worked in the business and far too many developers take this approach.Their style of negotiation has as much subtlety as a train wreck.

Proposing a project that accommodates 324 students with 109 parking spaces on a site of that size and location is like asking me to run to the moon and back.

It’s irresponsible and manipulative to even ask for the approval of a project of that magnitude on that site.

HIP Deveolpments backs the City and the neighbourhood into a corner with the unreasonable project and then says they are willing to compromise. I’m so impressed.

The developer had the audacity to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board about a sluggish municipal approval process that hadn’t even begun to grind through its deliberations. Staff hadn’t even completed its review, let alone making a recommendation to City Council.

The staff review was completed on the first proposal for the site and they recommended to City Council on Monday night to turn down the proposal. Council, quite correctly turned down the proposal.

The OMB hearing begins on September 22 where HIP Developments will continue to be a hypocrite. Stay tuned.

An overloaded proposal made with a nudge and wink while offering to negotiate with an iron glove seems to be their style.

And if that wasn’t enough, the developer acts contrite and self congratulatory when it offers to suggest a compromise with a proposal that it should have originally proposed.

HIP Developments sure ain’t hip.

Does anyone have a stone?



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A message from Mayor Cam Guthrie

The following is a report by Mayor Cam Guthrie reproduced from the city website. The questions regarding the content are by guelphspeaks and are in italics.

Mayor Guthrie: I have remained somewhat silent on the issue of the Compliance Audit Committee (CAC) events for the past several months. 
 I wanted to allow the process, as we currently have it laid out, to run its course.

Since late last week I have been asked by some council members, and many from the public, if council would be discussing this issue.

GS question: Does this mean that this CAC decision will be debated in council?

Mayor Guthrie: I attended the final meeting of that committee last Thursday, and now that this issue has come to an end I believe there are several items for us to consider as a council moving forward.

GS question: What do you mean it has come to an end? Are you saying that Susan Watson is not responsible for challenging the Municipal Elections Act (MEA)? Does the independent audit outcome absolving both Mr. Tolhurst and GrassRoots Guelph Voters Association of contravening the Act, not count for anything?

Mayor Guthrie: I reached out to the city clerk and he has indicated to me that the Province opened up consultation on the Municipal Elections Act for quite some time already this year. To comment on it any individual had to do so before the end of July.

GS question: Did the city advertise this deadline for citizens to contribute their opinions of future MEA changes? Particularly when the city had an ongoing CAC audit process involving the MEA.

Mayor Guthrie: The recommendations coming out of this provincial review will ultimately be brought forward through our city clerk to then be discussed with our Governance Committee and then with all of city council.

GS question: What have future MEA recommended changes have to do with the current CAC case? The CAC is obligated to make its decisions based on the current MEA model.

Mayor Guthrie: I look forward to discussing any of the proposed changes, and perhaps, (council willing), looking at sending to the province our collective voices on this matter.

In my humble opinion I think there are grave flaws within the act as it stands.

GS question: Sir, with respect, this process in which you are so eager to participate will take years to become law. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has to forward any changes to the Legislature. Next it is sent to committee. Then there are public hearings and meetings with the various stakeholders. When the bill has been finalized, it will be debated in the Ontario Legislature. By that time there could be a change in government. That’s a lot of fences to climb.

Mayor Guthrie: Third party advertising is one of them.

GS question: Of course you are including the third party donors who supported your election. Also there is the role of the staff unions who contributed to a number of union-friendly candidates. Last but not least, is the $4,200 donated by Ms. Watson and her husband? I recall they did not contribute to your campaign.

Mayor Guthrie: However, from what I witnessed at the meeting last week, it was quite evident that there was a great deal of frustration from the committee members on one specific issue more than any other.

That issue was the inability, through the current Act as it stands, to try and recoup costs for city taxpayers from people that ultimately failed to expose what the original inquires of the election audit were intended for. Specifically, if other contraventions were found that were so minor that they don’t materially change the outcome of the financial returns.

GS question: Mr. Mayor are you buying the argument that despite absolving Mr. Tolhurst of contravening the MEA, his minor contraventions allow the CAC not to award costs to Susan Watson? Let’s look at them: The auditor reported a $198 donation that the donor intended to be split between his wife and self; not obtaining a receipt for purchasing a City of Guelph street map, $5.60; an accounting error of $1.

Mayor Guthrie: Furthermore, with an internal lens on our own processes, I believe we need to do better on how we train and inform members of the committee on their role, on legal options and clarity surrounding the MEA.

GS comment: Your final statement is dead on and appreciated. It indicates that when the Watson application was filed last April, there should have been more diligence on the part of city staff to ensure the outcome was legal, fair and clear.

 Signed by Mayor Guthrie:

Thank you,




Filed under Between the Lines

Part Two: Did you see one fly over the Cuckoo’s nest?

Posted September 14, 2015

The first impression of Cam Guthrie was that he was personable, energetic and ambitious. We met in the Red Brick café just before his election to council in 2010.

Following his ward four election, he proved to be a thorn in the side of former mayor Farbridge. He was accused of breaking the council code of conduct because he dared to ask staff for a report and he was refused. The integrity commissioner was asked to judge the case and returned a “no verdict” in the matter.

Cam was appointed chair of the council audit committee in his second year and approached his new job with customary gusto. In early 2013, the Guelph Tribune asked him to comment of the operation of the city. He emailed a reply “that the city was being very, very well run.”

His followers were stunned and the resulting backlash forced him to explain the statement. That’s about the time Cam pulled away from guelphspeaks. He resented the fact that the blog pointed out several reasons that the city was not being well run. The first crack in the city stone-walling was the January 2013 beginning of the Urbacon civil trial in Brampton.

Urbacon is not dead

In last Thursday’s Mercury, the topline story was the Mayor stating the Urbacon file is now closed and it’s time to move on. Ironic wouldn’t you say?

Cam announced his candidacy for mayor in January 2014. A major event was held in June in the Delta convention centre in which Cam outlined his campaign including eliminating what he called the “Guelph Factor.” He promised, if elected, that he would keep the property tax increase to the rate of the Consumer Price Index of 2.1 per cent.

He was also advised to promise to have the city finances audited if elected.

In August, Jason Blokhuis announced he was running for mayor. He was invited to attend a meeting of the GRG steering committee to discuss his platform and organization. Blokhuis is a professor at Wifrid Laurier University in Kitchener but a resident of Guelph.

When the speaker left, it was decided that GRG should invite Cam Guthrie to address the steering committee. GRG rented the large meeting room at the Guelph Country Club to hear Cam. After his presentation he and his entourage left. The steering committee held a vote to determine which of the two major candidates GRG would support. By a 17 to 2 margin the committee supported Cam Guthrie.

A few days later, GRG Executive director, Gerry Barker, received a call from Cam inviting him to meet with his team of organizers. It was a strange meeting. Barker thought it was to discuss joining forces to elect not only Cam but also a council that supported that changes had to be made. In hindsight, the Cam people wanted to know what Barker would write in his blog rather than joining forces.

Barker did tell them that an advertising campaign was being planned and that a slate of candidates would be printed for the consideration of voters.

Guthrie didn’t want GRG support

In late September, Barker attended an all-candidates meeting conducted by the Guelph Home Builders. He spoke briefly with Cam and suggested that GRG would support him in the ads planned. Cam, said he did not want his name attached to the GRG ads.

A while later, Barker received a call from the Tribune asking whether GRG was recommending Guthrie. Barker replied that GRG was working with the Guthrie campaign to elect councillors who were supportive of change.

When the story appeared, Barker received a call from Guthrie. He literally screamed that Barker had ruined his campaign and that Barker was responsible for making Guthrie’s wife cry as well as his children.

A few minutes later Robert White, Guthrie’s team leader, called and accused Barker of sabotaging the campaign and hung up. A few minutes after that White called again and apologized for hanging up. The unwarranted attack was an immature and unnerving experience. It cast serious doubt of Guthrie’s ability to be mayor of Guelph. Barker did not discuss this outburst with anyone except his wife, who happened to be the room when the calls came in.

The outburst reaction suggested that certain promises had been made to people and organizations that were supporting re-elections of the Farbridge council.

Regardless, Barker and his wife voted for Cam Guthrie.

Well, Cam Guthrie won with help from guelphspeaks that continued the constant criticism of his main opponent, Mayor Farbridge right up to election day. The GRG post mortem meeting on the election, agreed to lay off criticism of the new Mayor and give him a chance to accomplish his promise of lower taxes and reform management.

Then in January, on a tip, Barker was told about a request from CAO, Ann Pappert, to accelerate her annual performance review by three months.

What followed was something out of “One flew over the Cuckoos Nest.”

Barker received another tip that Guthrie had sent out emails to undisclosed recipients that essentially attacked the blogger’s professionalism. Guthrie told people to ignore what Barker writes as he usually gets it wrong. His email came very close to libel but only strengthened the resolve to continue speaking out for the people of this city that have no voice.

The Mayor went on to say that the CAO couldn’t defend herself. What was to defend? It is assumed that city employees are subjected to the same labour rights as any other Ontario employee. They are no different and can defend themselves in any legal manner they choose.

Guelphspeaks numbers keep growing

What Guthrie failed to realize his email was a major political misstep to attack Barker’s credibility behind his back. The guelphspeaks numbers have been growing since he was elected. Recently, with the Watson complaint, guelphspeaks has been regularly hitting record views on the blog.

Guthrie’s first fall from grace was his failure to deliver on the 2015 property tax increase when his council voted for a 3.55 per cent increase, later revised upward to 3.96 per cent. That figure was a long way from the new Mayor’s promised limit of 2.1 per cent.

So what’s going on? Why are promised reforms not forthcoming? The same staff is still running the administration with little oversight by the elected members of council. Guelph is still mired in the same management and financial morass that existed before the election. The city still does not have a Chief Financial Officer since Al Horsman, the last official to hold the title was shifted to garbage, engineering and planning. Horsman saw the light and left the city to become CAO in Sault Ste Marie.

Our finances are now being managed by a general manager and treasurer reporting to Deputy Chief Administration Officer (DCAO) Mark Amorosi. It is just another step to tighten the circle of responsibility now resting with three executives, Amorosi, DCAO Derrick Thomson and CAO Pappert. While the executive line-up shrinks, the number of subordinates increases. Fewer chiefs, more Indians, so to speak.

The question now is Cam Guthrie becoming Guelph’s General Custer?

The previous administration’s initiatives such as increasing the number of bike lanes on major roads; the wellbeing programs are nothing but a conduit to fund pro-left community groups; excessive capital spending on projects. The list thunders on as our Mayor, the one who made all those election promises, goes along to get along.

It’s not rocket science

The greatness of a city is measured by controlled progress, fixing what’s broken and serving its citizens with affordable and necessary services. First and foremost it’s called living within our means.

The majority of this council does not agree with that. That’s why it passed a huge increase in property taxes, voted to spend $600,000 on bike lanes on a provincial highway, and reduced the previously announced replenishment of the reserves used to settle with Urbacon by $400,000.

Mayor, it’s time to serve all the people, not just the chosen few. They have your number. You can get help from the people who, you may be surprised, want you to bring about the change for which they voted.

Stop believing that the left rump on your council is going to allow you to privatize some services. Stop thinking that any change from those services approved by the previous administration will pass your council. That’s dreaming in Technicolor.

Finally, when the CAC report of the Susan Watson complaint arrives at council make sure that it is thoroughly debated. Make sure that that the city clerk doesn’t attempt to stop council from ordering Susan Watson to repay the city for the costs of her complaint. Watson’s claims were repudiated by the CAC’s own auditor.

Those councillors who received campaign money directly from Watson and her husband must abstain from voting on any motion related to Watson repaying the city for the costs of her complaint.. They clearly have a conflict of interest because of the pecuniary interest derived from the donations received from Susan Watson and Dr. Ian Digby.

As a reminder, here are the five affected councillors and the amounts they received from Susan Watson and her husband: June Hofland, $1,000; Leanne Piper, $500; Cathy Downer, $500; James Gordon, $250; Mike Salisbury, $250.

All of these recipients are supporters of the former mayor and her objectives and policies.

Cam, it’s time to turn on the Hoover and clean up the people’s house.




Filed under Between the Lines

Your guelphspeaks Weekender

Posted September 13, 2015

Lipstick and Urbacon — The Farbridge family compact — Our celebrity soup judge — Susan Watson’s soapy Opera’s final curtain


City Hall’s anxiety to bury Urbacon’ multi-million mistake

There has been a lot of scrambling at high places in the past few months to bury the Urbacon project and its deficit of more than $23 million.

A while back, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, told the city that she was ordering an audit of the Urbacon project’s ultimate costs by an independent firm.

At this stage it was another turn of the Urbacon spinning wheel. Is it the one that keeps spinning out the city administration’s version of what in hell happened eight years ago and the fallout?

The company hired to perform what turned not to be a full-bore audit was Deloitte and Touche. You remember them. They audit the city’s finances to prepare for the annual Financial Information Report mandated by the province.

They were hired to do a “special purpose audit report” examining the city’s Urbacon numbers. Despite the claims of senior corporate analyst, Jade Surgeoner, that it was a “proper auditing procedure with the same rigour of an audit” it was not a full-bore audit.

Did this investigation include: Deloitte interviewing the people involved? Did they read Justice MacKenzie’s judgment? Did they interview the three CFO’s who were involved in the Urbacon file? Did they review the FIR’s from previous years to check their own accounting of city finances?

So let’s stop calling it an audit. It is not uncommon for auditing firms to perform this kind of examination, but it is not an audit. To keep claiming it is, is misrepresentation.

The CAO has been on this file long enough to understand the difference. Why would the city hire Deloitte to perform the work? Why not an independent auditor who would drill down to what this debacle really cost the citizens?

Deloitte has a contractual long-term relationship with the city to audit its books. But the process does not include any items less than $600,000. That’s part of the terms of the contract and it was negotiated with the city.

In view of the enormous loss of Urbacon, it is inappropriate to claim the file is closed and it’s behind us.

The mayor should re-think his comments and understand that he and his CAO Pappert just wave the magic Deloitte wand and Urbacon will disappear, is an insult to the citizens of Guelph.

The Mercury editorial got it right describing the city’s attempt to close down the investigation as putting lipstick on the Urbacon pig.

This is one that won’t go away.

*            *            *            *

Is the Farbridge Factor still running the city?

There is ample evidence that control of the city administration still remains in Farbridge’s hands through her loyal surrogates. The examples are all around us.

The includes the super-sized property tax increase, transferring unspent budget funds from one year to the next, creating more bike lanes on major arterial roads, processing other cities’ garbage and waste, operating a crazy quilt of capital projects. Yep! It’s still more of the same lies and mismanagement that people thought they got rid of last October.

Starting at the top the CAO and her two deputies were part of the failed Farbridge administration. Following down the organizational chart the next level of managers were also part of the Urbacon cover-up.

Why Mayor Guthrie is sticking with those friends of Farbridge (FOF’s) who are still in charge, is a mystery given his pre-election promises.

*            *            *            *

Here comes the judge!

We note that Coun. James Gordon is the celebrity judge at the annual Borscht Festival. With his record on council, particularly voting for widening Speedvale to allow bike lanes, despite overwhelming opposition, he should stick with the soup, the one he’s already in.

His shameful vote against the wishes of the ward two people he represents, shows he supports his socialistic doctrinaire policies as opposed to serving the people.

Gordon was the former founder of the Guelph Civic League and architect of the Farbridge victory in 2006. He was also the NDP candidate for Guelph in a provincial election but lost to Liberal Liz Sandals.

*            *            *            *

The Watson soap opera draws to a close

If ever there was a waste of the taxpayer’s money, Susan Watson’s plaintive complaint has to rise to the top.

The city staff fed the arguments presented by Watson to prosecute former candidate Glen Tolhurst for accepting a $400 donation from GrassRoots Guelph Voters Association, Inc.

In the end, Watson’s case had no foundation in law and the citizens have to pay. Pay for the political whim of a person who donated with her husband more than $4,250 to candidates including the former mayor and her five supporters who were elected in October 2014.

It is the height of hypocrisy to use public money, personal influence to attempt to discredit and embarrass citizens who opposed her friend Karen Farbridge. With some success it would appear.

It is doubtful Watson has any remorse over her power play. She never apologized to Mr. Tolhust or GRG. Sorry but the damage has been done and if she has any political aspirations, she should think twice.

Susan, why not do the honourable thing and repay the city’s costs for this excursion seeking revenge. You lost and you should pay.



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