GuelphSpeaks Weekender 6/18/16

The shifting sands at City Hall

You’d think that Superman played a role in the musical chairs being played at the executive level of City of Guelph administration.

Never has so much evidence of performance revelations piled up by such a few in charge. The blistering condemnation of the former Chief Administrative Officer marked the ending of a failed administration.

But has it?

Derrick Thomson was persuaded to cancel his resignation on his move to the Caledon civic administration at a substantial salary reduction. Instead, he accepted the top staff job in our city. The public now has the right to know the details of his contract including, the term, the salary, a bonus to move from his home in Caledon, and other rules of engagement.

This is not intended to be a criticism of Mr. Thomson. In view of the past five years of the stagnant and gross mismanagement of the city. It includes annual budget overspending totaling some $24 million. Most of us are hopefully expectant of a new order and an open and transparent administration.

It’s not hard to accomplish provided those seven members of council who want to maintain the same methodology of running this city, they had better smell the coffee.

Say goodbye Conrad

When the story broke this week that the Canada Revenue Agency was chasing former Canadian citizen Conrad Black for $12.3 million in back taxes, one has to wonder why is this convicted felon and non-citizen is allowed to stay in Canada? Is this part of our renowned refugee plan?

Black renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 when then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien denied citizenship if he was named to the House of Lords and became a British citizen (in order to be eligible). If remembering correctly, he was knighted Lord Black of Cross Harbour.

Of course, that was before the United States Justice Department intervened and charged his Lordship with racketeering, among other things. Citizen Black of Cross Harbour spent six years in a Florida medium security facility as a result.

Following his release, he and his wife, Barbara Amiel, moved back to Canada to their Toronto Bridle Path multi-million dollar mansion with the acquiescence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Conrad recently sold the property to an unknown buyer for $14 million and leased it back for an annual rent of $155,000 for two years. The buyer had to know that Black had mortgaged the property up to $13 million. By the time the taxes and fees are paid, the deal had to be one of Conrad’s worse.

But there will be no tag days for this British couple. They still have considerable interests and investments.

But his Canada visa expires in September. The opportunity for Canada to rid itself of this former Canadian embarrassment, unless he pays the $12.3 million owed the Canada Revenue Agency, in back taxes.

Good-bye, Conrad.

Back to the classroom, Kathleen

Well, our premier announced a cabinet re-shuffles this week that was constituted by the rarified academic cognoscenti influencing her administration. The cabinet titles were changed, enlarging the cabinet to accommodate an executive body of 30 members. It enlarged the cabinet from 27 making it one of the largest in Ontario’s history,

Even the Toronto Star, that bulwark of Liberalism, questioned the change compared to moving the chairs around the deck on the Lusitania … before the torpedo struck the ship in the Irish Sea in 2017.

Da Prem has the lowest rating of any premier in recorded history, okay, maybe either Bob Rae or Mike Harris. And it is justly earned.

The manufacturing base in Ontario has shrunk to record lows. All three of the major automakers have come to the province with their begging bowls to keep the manufacturing plants humming. But hundreds of jobs have been lost as the sector downsized and shipped the jobs outside of Ontario, Alas, the suppliers of parts have not had the support of the Wynne Liberals and the number of those vital jobs keeps dropping.

Look no further than what has happened in Oshawa where the largest auto manufacturing plant in the General Motors stable, AutoPlex, has been reduced to one shift.

The mistakes of the former McGuinty government have been exacerbated by sky-high electricity fees to all Ontarians, our property taxes even the air we breath, the fuel we use, the property we own and the end of our lives.

Kathleen Wynne cannot use a cabinet shuffle to restore the public’s confidence of her stewardship of our province.

In our own backyard, we have endured our MPP, Liz Sandals, as Minister of Education, who condoned giving three teacher unions $1.5 million just to come to the table to negotiate … and not have to account how the money was spent. The Globe and Mail later discovered that more than $27 million was spent on teachers unions when former Education Minister, Kathleen Wynne, was in charge of the portfolio.

Sandals has now been assigned to President of the Treasury Board, Her authority is to rubber stamp the Ministries’ budgets. Is she qualified to perform that task in view of her record at Education?

Do as I say and don’t rock the boat. P.S. Don’t talk.

Trouble in cop-ville

It’s another Kathleen Wynne problem that needs fixing today, not in the future. The provincial administration of police operations comes complete with buggy whips and isinglass curtains in case of the rain. The Police Services Board system of management in Ontario is just not working in the public interest. Why? It works in scre6 and because it cannot dismiss officers for failing to conduct themselves or failing to carry out their sworn duty.

Here’s the problem. In our city there have been instances of police breaking the criminal code, stealing drugs from the evidence room. Shooting of a disturbed man in a crowded emergency department in the Guelph General Hospital.  The police services board has little power to control police oprations.  That rests with the Chief of Police.

Just this week the Chief of Peel police wrote a letter to the chair of the Peel Police Services Board, protesting that at a recent workshop, activists vociferally criticized the Peel Police operations. Their complaints ranged from a failure to have minorities on the force, carding and other alleged offences against minorities. The Chief blamed the chair of the PSB of failing to lose control of the meeting. She also said the police would not attend further workshop.

That is Peel, but this is Guelph.

The Guelph Police Services Board was complicit in jacking up the renovation of Police Headquarters from $13 million to $34 million. That deal was cooked in August 2014 just before the Farbridge administration was unable to approve further capital projects before the October 2014 civic election.

It was the last hurrah by outgoing chief Bryan Larkin who left as chief August 31, just a few days before the decision. He and defeated mayor Karen Farbridge, convinced council to approve the renovation.

This is another example of why the Police Services Act must be reviewed and changed to represent the people and their ability to pay for these services.

There is a long road to restore police services including costs and responsibility to the community in which they serve.




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