By Gerry Barker
Posted November 29, 2015
Here’s this week’s line-up:
* Sell a bit of Hydro One and spend it on the deficit
* Did we elect a Prime Minister or envoy to the world?
* Countdown to the 2016 city budget
* Lose your car, rely on public and cycle transportation
Ontario Liberals to sell assets to balance the books by 2017
When Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, produced his fall financial update Thursday, he proudly claimed the deficit had been reduced by a billion dollars. For the uninformed, this is a shell game. Sousa in his budget presentation announced the provincial deficit would be $8.5 billion. Voila! He now says it will be $7.5 billion.
This is the ninth successive years that the Ontario Liberals have budgeted a deficit. First it was the McGuinty government that spent money it didn’t have during a financially volatile period when plants were closing and revenues nose-dived.
Gas plants notwith standing, Kathleen Wynne is still sticking to the fiscal program of the McGuinty period to spend more than general revenues supply.
The net of these accumulated deficits is a gigantic increase in the provincial debt. As it grows it feeds on the government’s deficits, driving up the debt servicing costs. These servicing costs must be paid, on time and without recource.
The result is the hole keeps getting deeper and more difficult to get out. There is no way the current policies of thr Wynne government are going to balance ther budget before the next elelction. Except if they sell off public assets to cover their overspending.
Does that make sense to you?
The problem is not lack of revenue but excessive spending.
Living in Guelph, most folks are aware of the current administration’s penchant to boost spending every budget cycle. Our problem is that we have a number of councillors who do not understand financial management and/or they rely on staff to make the right decisions. This has been the practice in city operations for the past nine years.
The end result is the staff has control of the process and the majority of council support their decisions.
Here’s a small prediction: Guelph Hydro, one of 74 municipally owned distribution networks in Ontario, could be bought by Hydro One before the next election. This was the plan of former mayor Farbridge when she formed Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc, of which Guelph Hydro is part. The proceeds would provide sufficient capital to carry out her plan to provide geothermal heating and cooling to major downtown Guelph buildings plus the Hanlon Business Park.
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What the world needs now is Justin Trudeau?
Our spanking new Prime Minister has spent more time on the road than in Parliament since his election five weeks ago.
Hey! It isn’t easy doing the job domestically but overseas is a different matter. There have been some gaffes such as maintaining his election promise to bring our RCAF troops home right after the Paris terror attacks. In show biz that’s called blowing the line.
Then he maintained the party’s stance that it would bring in 25,000 displaced Syrian refugees by December 31. Whoa there cowboy! The logistical problems exceeded the promise. To the P.M.’s credit, he called the provincial first ministers together to discuss how they can assist accepting the refugees and provide the necessary life fundamentals for them to become assimilated in our society.
It had to be a historical meeting because the Harper government didn’t bother meeting the premiers in more than four years.
I can remember Justin’s father holding the confederation conferences in the former central train station, in Ottawa, that had been converted into a convention centre. Some were televised and gave Canadians an insight to the thinking of their leaders from across the country.
The early morning line is that the young master will do just fine and will improve and mellow with age. Bon Chance! M. Justin Trudeau.
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2016 City budget to be decided in the next 11 days
This is written before the important budget meeting, Monday night, in which each citizen can present their input into the city’s 2016 budget.
For the first time in many such sessions, there will be some pertinent and thought-provoking addresses by delegates. There will be the usual special interest groups requesting funding for their projects and activities.
At this point in time, council has received from its staff, recommendations that will increase the property tax levy by 2.83 per cent. We are entering the critical budget zone now as there is not much wiggle room left to keep the increase below the 2015 budget increase
Evidence revelations now show about .72 per cent remaining if last year’s 3.55 per cent increase is the benchmark.
Council’s job is to balance the demands and special interest requests. There is considerable fat in the staff’s two basic recommendations. What else is new?
Adding some 12 new fulltime staff is not vital to maintaining the city.
For example can we not get by without two trails technicians costing $216,400? Or an Asset Manager Mobility Speciaist for $79,300? How about a Zoning Inspector for125,000? Or Winter cycling Lane Maintenance for $670,800? Then there is an Arborist, $107,400 and an Arborist Inspector, $130,700? Or buying a new fuel truck for $229,500?
There are many more employee add ons plus projects. Nowhere is there any explanation why these staff increases and projects are substantiated as being necessary.
This may be the Christmas season but it’s not Christmas at budget time.
There are smart, experienced indiviuals in town that have the background and professional hands-on management skills to arrest spending, reduce staff, improve organization and productivity. Why can’t the city management do that?
Try and make the Monday meeting as see your city administration at work.
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The two per cent solution to global warming
This week the Liberal government announced it would give $2.5 billion to developing countries to reduce carbon emissions and the effect on climate change. And they did it without discussion or approval of Parliament.
Canada’s contribution to global warming is two per cent of global emissions. That includes the oil sands production of the dreaded carbon dioxide gases that pollute the atmosphere.
In Guelph we have a number of environmentalists pushing to get cars off the road and force citizens to rely on non-fossil fueled vehicles, bicycles and shank’s mare.
Coun. Phil Allt says that cars have to get off our roads. He echoes former Coun. Maggie Laidlaw who predicted eight years ago there would be no cars on Guelph’s streets within 20 years. Maggie you’ve got 12 years to go on that prediction.
Premier Kathleen Wynne is predicting the apocalyptic end of the plant unless we act. That’s over the top and needlessly threatening.
Seriously, there has to be middle ground to rebalance the earth’s atmosphere without threats, bags of money from governments and special interests. It is ludicrous to suggest the end of fossil fueled vehicles, cars, trains, buses, trucks,and trains. Electric-powered vehicles won’t cut it because engineering of electric vehicles is light years from being able to move a train or a large truck or a bus.
Imagine if you will, that everyone who drives a fossil-fueled car will toss their keys into a garbage bin and give up using their car. Depending on your age, your mobility will be reduced to walking, cycling or public transit.
How would that work for residents of Guelph? Routine chores to buy groceries, delivering children to and from school, heating your home with oil or gas, going to the movies or concerts, visiting relatives in places where there is no public transportation, getting to a hospital or doctor’s office, and the list of personal inconvenience would throw our society back to life lived 160 years ago.
Then we would have to deal with the horse manure problem as a health hazard.
And the impact of this to Canada? Perhaps, the elimination of our two per cent greenhouse gases contribution to the planet.
One volcanic eruption in the world discharges more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than that of fossil-fueled vehicles in all of North America in a year. There are 274 active volcanoes in the world.
The good news is that engineers are gradually developing more efficient and non-fossil-fueled vehicles that will alleviate some of the problem. But if the large countries of the world such as the U.S, China, India, Indonesia and Russia fail to reduce carbon emissions, it is all for naught.
Let’s agree that fossil fuels are not the sole reason for global warming. Natural emissions play a major role in climate change and man cannot control that.
In Guelph, the environmentalist lobby should turn their attention on accommodating natural, responsible growth of our community without trying to ram a series of policies that restrict, inconvenience and divide the city.
That starts with the silly thesis that cars have to get off the road.