By Gerry Barker
August 14, 2017
Guelphspeaks has learned that the Guelph Provincial Progressive Conservative Association has been bypassed and informed that PC headquarters in Toronto has made a selection.
There is nothing illegal in this although one would naively expect that the choice of a candidate should rest with the local association. This is the second time the PC PooBaas have overridden the selection of a candidate. Anthony MacDonald was parachuted in to represent the Guelph PC’s in the last provincial election. We all know how that turned out.
My sources tell me that the PC Association has been hard at work vetting candidates and preparing to hold a nomination meeting. Then, there was the sudden withdrawal of trucking executive Tom Mooney, as a candidate, in protest of PC headquarters finagling with the process. Mr. Mooney stated that there was too much of this going on across the province where PC candidates were being chosen.
I asked one of my sources if the local PC Association cannot run a nomination meeting to select the best candidate, why is there an association? “It’s exists to raise money,” was the response.
So who is the anointed candidate to represent Guelph in the Ontario Legislature?
My sources say it is our Mayor, Cam Guthrie.
There is no doubt that Mr. Guthrie is well known in the city. He won the 2014 civic election by more than 5,000 votes, defeating a three-term mayor. However he was unable to persuade the majority of his council that property taxes had to be held to the Consumer Price Index rate as he promised his supporters. In March 2015, his first budget resulted in a property tax rate that was eventually 3.96 per cent after adjustments.
But he did put the brakes on the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc.’s (GMHI) multi-million experiment. This failed to create a made-in Guelph self-sufficient in power generation and co-generation thermal underground water heating and cooling system.
In May 2016, Pankaj Sardana, then Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer for GMHI reported the Community Energy Initiative (CEI) projects in the Downtown area and the Hanlon Business Park, were financial disasters. What we didn’t know at that time was the extent of the losses by GMHI and Guelph Hydro that loaned some $94 million to GMHI in the form of two debentures.
Mr. Sardana said the two District Energy Nodes (pumps) and co-generation project should never have been started in the first place.
The former mayor, Karen Farbridge, who acted as chair of the GMHI Board of Directors for four years until her defeat in 2014, founded the CEI and GMHI. It is noted that Ann Pappert, the Chief Administrative Officer of the city, also served as CEO of GMHI for four years.
Ms. Pappert co-signed the devastating GMHI report to council and left the city ten days later, May 26, 2016. She received $237,500, plus a taxable benefit of some $6,300, a full year’s pay for five months work.
Mr. Guthrie was a supporter of Ms. Pappert and he attacked a citizen who wrote a scathing report of Ms. Pappert’s performance as CAO. He threatened the resident with legal action but never advanced his threat. In my case, he wrote a number of emails to his supporters not to believe me and pay no attention when I reported that council was reviewing Ms. Pappert’s contract.
Mr. Guthrie was no fan of guelphspeaks.ca
Then along came that December 10 closed-session meeting of council that approved $98,224 increases for four senior executives. CAO Ann Pappert, Deputy Chief Administrative Officers Al Horsman, Mark Amorosi and Derrick Thomson. Only Mr. Thomson remains and is now CAO of the city. Those four increases ranged from 14.7 to 19 per cent. There was no evidence of justification for these increases that were concealed until March 2016.
Guelphspeaks revealed, in late March 2016, just how much those four executives received as reported in the 2016 Sunshine list published by the province of every public employee earning more than $100,000.
Mr. Guthrie, as mayor, presided over that closed meeting. Attempts to have the minutes revealed have been denied. The public has no knowledge of which councillors approved or objected to the increases. The bottom line is why was it done in secret knowing full well that it would eventually be made public?
Was the Guthrie council so confident that people would soon forget the deception?
Now the result is a lawsuit initiated by a member of the executive group who was dismissed last February.
That procedure has not been brought to trial. If and when it does, the discovery process could involve testimony by those members of council and staff participating in that closed meeting. The delayed discovery of which, led to the lawsuit.
By choosing Mr. Guthrie to be the PC candidate, the PC party should be prepared for fallout of the Mayor’s support in the next ten months.
The question is: When does provincial candidate Guthrie resign as Mayor of Guelph? The civic election is not until October, five months after the provincial election June 7, 2018.
Which leaves us with two major party candidates having performance issues that will result in a tumultuous campaign and an opportunity for the NDP to win the election.
I shiver in anticipation.