By Gerry Barker
April 9, 2018
It has been brought to my attention that the month of April is National Humour month.
Well, the mockery meter level of puffed up politicians has been increasing with Donald Trump the leading source of disdain, ridicule and ignorance.
Here in Guelph, we have a Mayor who will go down in history as the man who gave Guelph Hydro away. Of course His Worship denies that Guelph Hydro is being given away. It’s also a subject he doesn’t want to talk about as he segues into the $100 million infrastructure deal between the city, federal government and the province.
He has every right to be proud of that proposal. But hold on: There is a provincial election June 7 in which Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals have a 70/30 chance of being soundly defeated by the Doug Ford Progressive Conservatives.
That is if Mr. Ford controls his personal feelings, unbridled arrogance and delivers a believable policy statement and attracts some good candidates to the caucus, he will make Ontario great again.
I can’t believe I said that.
Mr. Guthrie, on the other hand, will run on his record. And it’s a beauty.
Property taxes under his watch have soared by an estimated 15 per cent compounded in four years. On his 2014 election campaign, he promised to hold property taxes to the Consumer price Index (CPI) level. That index has been hovering since the Mayor’s pledge by slightly less than two per cent.
That’s not a good record for a self-described numbers guy who was elected to head the City of Guelph Corporation.
In fairness, the Mayor ran into a couple of major roadblocks. Number one is the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. disastrous attempt to create power self-sufficiency in Guelph. With the former mayor in charge and the involvement of Guelph Hydro, almost five years when millions were spent and are not recoverable.
It occurred without public participation as GMHI meetings were conducted in closed-sessions. Today, we are still waiting for the truth.
The whole plan was ill conceived without the benefit of a practical business plan. While he essentially inherited the mess, he had to involve a certain select group of councillors to help get the city out of the GMHI problems. Unfortunately, the real truth of what happened and how much did it cost the city have been buried.
Like it or not, that issue alone is something he will have to defend on the campaign trail.
The second major consequence he will face is defending the agreement to merge Guelph Hydro with Alectra Utilities.
While these issues are on the table it may be all moot if the P.C.’s win in June. The opposition parties, the Tories and the NDP, have opposed the Wynne government’s plan to collectivize the small and medium sized Local Community Distribution power systems by merging those operations into larger Utilities such as Alectra.
Here’s a back-story on how Alectra operates. Alectra bought Brampton’s LCD known as Hydro One for millions. So why does Guelph take the sell option off the table? The merger is a sham and our hydro distribution system will be lost forever including the brand name Guelph Hydro by the end of this year.
Here’s another Alectra back-story. In Collinwood, Alectra and the city shared ownership of the community power distribution system. Alectra purchased the 50 per cent share from the city for $3 million. Later Alectra informed the city it wanted to buy the city’s share for $8 million.
The city suddenly realized, in the first share purchase, the price was way below market value. In order to own the whole system, Alectra was low-balling its second offer in which the city share had appreciated significantly.
The result was there will a judicial review over these two transactions sometime next year.
Did the Mayor and council know about these Alectra deals in which real money was exchanged for control of established and mostly debt-free community property?
So keep in mind this is National Humour month, keep the tongue in the cheek and laugh out loud when the candidates take themselves too seriously.