By Gerry Barker
September 15, 2016
You will recall that my wife and I sent an open letter to Bill Mauro, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, detailing the several decisions and events that clearly bypassed the Ontario Municipal Act (OMA). It is an Act that lays out the regulations under which municipalities must conduct their business on behalf of those citizens who elected them.
It is the job of the MMA to oversee and ensure that the terms of the Act are being adhered to in Ontario’s 445 municipalities.
Mr. Mauro, in his response today ducked his sworn responsibility as Minister of the Crown in charge of enforcing the provincial rules concerning the management of municipalities.
Here is an extract of his response: “The government of Ontario views municipalities as accountable and responsible governments, with the authority to make decisions within their own jurisdictions based on local values and goals.”
Tell us Minister, how do you determine local values and goals, accoutability and responsibility?”
It gets better: “The concerns you have raised are related to the general administration and financial management of the City of Guelph, which are local matters.
Well, what are your standards of intervening in local issues, such as fiduciary responsibility failure, dereliction of duty, cheating and other human frailties?
“Therefore it is not appropriate for the Province to Intervene in local matters within the City of Guelph and they are best dealt with at the municipal level”
Minister, you have missed our point. How can we trust our council in view of our proven information?
We requested an investigation to confirm the validity of our claims, not an intervention. The City of Guelph is a creature of the province and is created and supervised, to a point, by your Ministry. But you fail to even investigate the situation in which the people are extremely concerned.
We have presented clear evidence that there are serious abuses of the city operations and breaching of the OMA regulations and public trust. Your suggestion to take this matter to the Ontario Ombudsman is a cop-out.
Did you or your staff consult with the Guelph Member of the Provincial Parliament, Liz Sandals? This situation is occurring in her riding. As such, she should be aware of general feeling of distrust by the majority of people of their city administration. Concern in the city over the management of the people’s business and public funds are real. One would think that Ms. Sandals would see the merit in a fair and balanced investigation of the matters raised.
Her silence may be determined in the spring of 2018.
To suggest that my wife and I take our concerns to members of city council for their consideration is ludicrous. The current majority of council is perpetrators of the serious financial and operational management of our city.
You obviously are unaware that along with many other citizens, all of us have been unsuccessfuly stemming the wasteful spending, holding closed-door meetings and creating major capital projects rarely without public input. This controlling group is rooted in New Democratic Party principles to which the majority of the current council adheres.
You have sidestepped a very serious situation that has existed for the past nine years and now refuse to take responsibility. Our case is not political but based on financial analysis by a qualified accountant using the city’s own Financial Information Reports submitted to the province. When analyzed, these audited statements reveal the mismanagement and cover-up by the majority of city council and senior staff, past and present.
And you want us to sort the issues out with these guys?
Your former colleague and MMAH minister, Mayor Linda Jeffrey of Brampton, recently requested a provincial investigation into the affairs of that city’s administration. Did you deny or approve that request, Minister?
Is the Ontario Ombudsman an extension of your Ministerial responsibilities to uphold the OMA, or is his department independent of government?
Minister your response to our request is confusing.
But why are we not surprised?
Gerry and Barbara Barker
Editor’s Note: To read the original open letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs dated August 22, 2016, please go to the guelphspeaks.ca archives.