By Gerry Barker
October 9, 2017
There were some events this past week that confirm that our city is controlled by a political minority that has held power for the past ten years.
The most startling announcement came from a division of Innovative Guelph. Two Guelph councillors, Leanne Piper and June Hofland, were promoting an event that would feature former Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge. Ms. Hofland is named co-chair of the event while Ms. Piper is serving on a panel with Brenda Halloran, former Mayor of Waterloo and Chris Fonseca, councillor in the City of Mississauga.
As the keynote speaker, Ms. Farbridge, a veteran of 11 years as mayor of Guelph, is being promoted to “Raising women’s voices: Overcoming barriers to Women’s participation in politics.”
The Innovation Guelph (IG) organization is hosting the meeting November 14 at the Farquhar Street offices of IG. That is to set up a campaign school known as “Guelph Wellington Women’s Campaign School” It is a collaboration of several (unidentified) Guelph community partners devoted to helping women overcome barriers and support them through the political campaign.
The promotion is titled: “Ask a female politician.”
Sounds like the Lavender Hill gang is on the warpath.
Since Ms. Farbridge’s defeat in October 2014 there has been a drumbeat of recrimination by Farbridge followers over their leader’s resounding defeat by, horrors! A man.
In years past, Innovation Guelph was a project initially financed by the city during the Farbridge term as a favourite project.
It’s mission statement is: “Innovation Guelph is building prosperity for community wellbeing by providing mentorship and business support services that help innovative enterprises start.”
So, do these lofty goals have anything to do with pure political action?
Let’s check out the composition of women members of council elected in 2010. Including the Mayor, six women were elected to city council. Along came the 2014 election and only four women were elected to serve. Three of the four are supporters of the former mayor and two are involved in the current “Ask a female politician” initiative.
What can I say? Asking the former mayor to speak at a gender-focused event to help women overcome the alleged barriers to obtaining political office is like throwing up a barricade where none exist.
Their motives are entirely sexist. What’s next, a forum for men to overcome the barriers of political office that some women claim exists?
Further, why is IG involved in sponsoring this forum that strays from its own mission statement? Is it not an organization dedicated for all people in the Guelph/Wellington area regardless of gender, colour, or sexual preference?
The program says there is no charge to attend and all genders are welcome.
Her hardcore supporters are still feeling the pain of the Farbridge surprise defeat. As for the rest of us, perhaps we may attend this self-serving soiree and ask some pertinent questions about Ms. Farbridge’s involvement in the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI) fiasco.
According to the announcement questions from those attending will only be asked of the three-person panel and not the keynote speaker. Of the panel only Coun. Leanne Piper represents Guelph.
Here are some questions that should be asked of the former mayor:
* As chair of GMHI, why were most of the GMHI meetings held in closed session?
* What was the role of CAO Ann Pappert as Chief Executive Officer of GMHI for four years?
* Did she report to you as chair of the GMHI board?
* Did GMHI, under your leadership, ever earn enough revenue to cover its operating expenses and if so, from where and how much?
* How could GMHI send a total of $9 million as dividends to the city’s general revenues between 2012 and 2015 when it was operating with a deficit?
* The shareholder’s equity is listed on the KPMG GMHI consolidated audit as $63 million. What form of equity of the shareholders (i.e. the Corporation of City of Guelph) made up that $63 million and is it recoverable?
* Why did GMHI borrow $93 million in two debentures from a subsidiary of Guelph Hydro? What happened to those funds?
* Why did Ann Pappert resign ten days following the May 16, 2016 report by Pankaj Sardana that she co-signed?
* Finally, is Innovation Guelph just another tool in the former mayor’s visionary toolbox to support her pro-environmental, power self-sufficiency and sustainability agenda to Guelph?
Regardless, three years ago voters soundly rejected Ms. Farbridge’s performance in retaining power by shutting down public participation using closed-session meetings. To now participate in a meeting to have women encourage you to run and donate to your campaign is not only premature but in my opinion, politically stupid.
But perhaps the announcement makes it clear what your intentions are concerning the October 2018 civic election with the following exhortation:
“ASK HER TO RUN AND SUPPORT HER CAMPAIGN.”
Come to think about it, perhaps Ms. Farbridge is setting the stage to run as a Liberal in the June 2018 provincial election to replace the retiring Liz Sandals.
Now, wouldn’t that be special.