Tag Archives: Doug Ford

The Guthrie record: Now are you better off today than in 2014?

By Gerry Barker

October 15, 2018

Mayor Cam Guthrie published a full-page advertisement in the Tribune this past week, just ten days before the civic election extolling his virtues, track record and, regretfully, dodging the vital issues facing the community and lying by omission (LBO).

This is a classic deja-vu of his election in 2014 in which he was the default victor over a Mayor who the public decided was not worthy of re-election. And, with good reasons.

The vast majority of the voting public understood there had to be change at the top. And Cam Guthrie filled most voter’s hopes and expectations beating, Ms. Farbridge by more than 5,000 votes.

The left progressives, who had dominated city council for eight years, were dumb- founded.

As an incumbent candidate, Guthrie campaigned on keeping property taxes at the same level, as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at the time was 1.95 per cent.

In March 2015, the new council approved a 3.96 per cent property tax increase accelerated by the previously frozen increased assessment on property that was not included in the 2015 budget as presented to the public.

In his four years as mayor, Mayor Cam Guthrie presided over more than an 18 per cent increase in city property taxes.

So, why would citizens believe him now?

So, early in January 2015, guelphspeaks.ca published the fact that Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert’s, contract was being reviewed by city council. This resulted in an investigation of who had tipped off guelphspeaks.ca?

The Mayor, enraged over the leak, even sent out an e-mail to an undisclosed group of people, presumed to be his supporters, that Barker was not to be believed as he always got his facts wrong. Really? Prove it!

The new Mayor even threatened a Guelph citizen who published the four-year track record of the CAO’s performance in not balancing the city books and resorted to taking money from reserves to meet the provincial regulations that no municipality can carry a deficit into the new year.

For her trouble, Mayor Guthrie said he would take legal action against this citizen’s accurate analysis of the Ms. Pappert’s five years on the job. That threat disappeared for good reason.

But the Guthrie defence of the former CAO continued

In December 10, 2015, city council met in closed session. The purpose of the meeting was to approve some $98,202 increases to four senior staffers for the fiscal year 2015.

The main recipient was CAO Ann Pappert. Her increase included: A retroactive performance bonus of some $27,000. It also unclouded payments for unused vacation and sick leave credits that totaled a $37,000 increase in her base pay for 2015. This took her remuneration to $253,000 not including her taxable benefits.

None of this was made public until March 31, 2016 when the provincial Sunshine List was published, naming all public servants in Ontario earning more than $100,000.

Comparing her remuneration for 2014 ($219,000) to the 2015 provincial list, demonstrates a 17 per cent increase.

Mayor Guthrie presided over this December 10, 2015 closed session when council awarded these senior managers the huge increase. Guelphspeaks attempted to obtain the minutes of this meeting and was denied after a four-month wait for an answer from Amberlea Gravel, the council-appointed closed-session investigator on retainer by the city.

To this day, Mayor Guthrie has not acknowledged the details or rationale of that closed meeting.

The result was the people of Guelph paid Ms. Pappert in the first two years of the Guthrie administration some $463,000 for 17 months work.

This meeting was just one of 82 closed session meetings the Mayor oversaw in the first two years in office.

In his full-page ad, the Mayor lists the “Community Assets” of the city. These include: Breaking ground on the South End Community Centre ($63 million); Ensure the $350 million (in today’s dollars) Baker Street redevelopment project moves forward (including the $53 million Downtown Library); Setting aside funding for the “much needed” hospital expansion; To protect and promote the tree canopy of Guelph; Create fenced-in dog parks.

As the late Peggy Lee used to sing: “Is that all there is?”

Let’s dissect this “Community Asset” run for the roses by the Mayor.

Let’s start with the fenced in dog parks across the city.

This is not an asset; it’s an operational wish list. But let’s address the real poop problems that pervade our parks, Canada Geese. It’s not pleasant to enjoy our parks when there is a proliferation of geese chomping on the grass randomly pooping wherever they feel. And they are so content most stay in Guelph for the winter. You can fence in dogs but cannot handle the bigger problem of goose infestation. Sounds like a plan, priority dogs. How about goose-control pills?

Aside: Whatever happened to the tax on cats?

The declaration of setting aside funds for the Guelph General Hospital is an important issue. But where is the money coming from? The Guthrie administration has not only followed The Mayor’s campaign promise to maintain property tax increases to the CPI but has socked property owners with a two per cent surcharge.

The money allegedly is to go toward repairing and renovating neglected infrastructure but half of it goes to “city buildings.” Those levy funds go for financing the proposed $63 million South End Recreation Centre in which the Guthrie council has already quietly committed $3 million for preliminary architectural planning.

This is the first major community recreation centre to be funded by a property tax levy of 1 per cent across the city.

At this point you have to wonder where the priorities are.

The Mayor has proclaimed that a new downtown Library will finally be part of the Baker Street redevelopment. This is nothing but an empty promise. It will be ten years before a new Library is open. The mayor and most of council will not be in office because the shovels don’t go into the ground until 2024. Many are frustrated supporters of a new downtown library. It’s just Cam promising anything to pander to their hopes and dreams after 20 years of promises by various administrations.

This is what didn’t show up in Community Assets

The Mayor neglects to reveal his role in the Guelph Hydro merger with Alectra Inc. The crown jewel of real assets has been given away for a pittance.

The proposal has yet to be approved by the Ontario Energy Board.

He must feel vindicated and confident that his support of this multi-million dollar asset giveaway was best for the 55,000 customers of Guelph Hydro.

As the saying goes: “It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.”

For these reasons my wife and I did not vote for either Mr. Guthrie or Ms. Mlyarz.

If you have not done already we urge you to vote Monday, October 22. Eligible voters have already received their voter card with the location of the poll in each ward. Along with the official voter card, be sure and bring some ID such as driver’s licence, health card, utility bill or your Canadian passport.

Contact the City Clerk’s office. They will be happy to assist voters with information if required.

It’s your city and your vote.

 

 

 

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Welcome the new Green Guelph province with one Party, one member and no voice

By Gerry Barker

June 11, 2018

Guelph – Those 29,000 voters, who just elected Mike Schreiner as their member of the Provincial Legislature, have awkwardly created their exclusive Don Quixote attacking the Blue windmills of populism.

We’re Green and not has-beens.

Guelph has become the orphan of provincial politics by electing the Green Part leader with no comrades in the Legislature to support its Green agenda. When you think about it, the Toronto Star got its way and a majority of Guelph voters believed they were making history.

Star columnists Heather Mallick and Robin Sears did their best to convict Premier-elect Doug Ford because of a seventh inning lawsuit for alleged fraudulent handling of Rob Ford’s estate. Renata Ford’s, widow of Rob Ford filed the $16.5 million lawsuit five days before the election.

Before any evidence to support the lawsuit was presented in court, Heather Mallick convicted Doug Ford basically because she didn’t like him. Well, the huge majority of voter in the province didn’t agree. He won so let’s move on.

“Stop Doug Ford” rang throughout the province advocated by Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne, who threw in the towel before the election campaign ended June 7.

However a $1.4 billion miscalculation in costing the NDP program that included more spending than the Liberals, helped doom the so-called Orange Surge of the party in the polls.

That was some prediction that most polls missed by a country mile except the one run by Global news. Two weeks before the election it predicted 70 seats for the PC’s, 49 for the NDP, four for the Liberals and one for the Green Party.

How close was it? PC 76, NDP 40, Liberals 7 and the Greek Machine, one.

By one estimate, in winning the Guelph seat, Mr. Schreiner spent more than all the other candidates combined. When Elections Ontario releases the official financial statements, we will know at how much it cost and who sponsored the Green Party victory.

In other words, it will be an interesting exercise to follow the money.

It won’t take The Green Party leader’s supporters long following his swearing in, to discover he has little to say stuck in the corner of the Legislature along with the seven Liberals. Maybe he’ll pick up some pointers from the seven deposed Liberals. Neither Schreiner nor the Liberals have official party status.

When you are a party of one, you are not recognized as an official party. This means there is no allowance for staff research or other perks of the job.

As I have repeatedly pointed out, those folks who voted for Mr. Schreiner threw away the opportunity for real change. Mr. Schreiner ran a powerful and well -financed campaign focused on him and a middle of the road program if elected.

What’s alarming to me is that a majority of people fell for it. It’s not just a dearth of critical thinking that the Ontario Legislature requires a party to have a majority of seats to form a government. The Green party was not even close.

I am reminded of the old argument raised by the NDP, protesting the system of determining a winner, contesting any seat is to be “first past the post.” This means the candidate with the most votes’ wins. That certainly worked for Mr. Schreiner.

But the nagging bellowing of changing the system of voting in Ontario to adopting “proportional voting” in which a voter must grade their first, second and third choice when completing their ballot. Points give each of those choices in order of the number of votes, and are accounted in the final tally.

The Trudeau Liberals election promised electoral reform when they won 183 seats in the House of Commons three years ago.

But the proposal died when clearer heads prevailed.

Besides, if progressive activist Susan Watson supports proportional voting, I have to stop and think. It just echoes NDP policy because the party has never won an Ontario election since Bob Rae defeated the David Peterson government eons ago.

British Columbia uses a proportional voting system. The result is the NDP minority government being propped up by three members of the Green Party. The NDP’s sole interest at the moment is to stop reconstruction of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

Unfortunately, Mr. Schreiner will not enjoy that position at Queens Park.

Yes, Guelph voters spoke volumes about how they believe the province should be run.

But all they have accomplished is to create a Sanctuary City where Green progressive are welcome to dip their beaks in the public treasury.

The outcome of the election decided otherwise and Guelph is an island floating in a sea of Blue representing “green” policies rejected by the vast majority of electors in the province.

Indeed, we are stuck in the middle of the Province with only one member representing our interests in the Legislature. He is a man who has no support of Green Party members in the Legislature, no recognition as an official party, and with minimal influence on the Ford government to serve those voters who elected him.

I sure don’t like those odds.

Welcome to the Green province of Guelph.

 

 

 

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This is our Ontario Spring: Renewing responsible government democratically

By Gerry Barker

May 31, 2018

The Tuesday edition of the Guelph Tribune carried a Page One story that was based on a poll of 668 persons in Guelph.

It claimed that the Green Party candidates Mike Schreiner, was leading with 31.7 per cent in the Guelph provincial election race.

The methodology used was the pollster’s use of a daily tracker system operated by Mainstreet Research.

In second place, at 28 per cent was NDP candidate Agnieszka Mlynarz.

PG candidate Ray Ferarro followed at 25 per cent and Sly Castaldi, representing the Liberals was rated at 11.9 per cent’

It isn’t clear when this poll was conducted or what the content of the question or which party may have commissioned it. Polls do cost money.

But Mainstreet Research conducted another province-wide poll that was published Tuesday, May 28.

The City of Toronto’s section of the Mainstreet Research poll stated the NDP has 40.9 per cent support while the PC’s revealed 28.7 per cent, the Liberals with 25.5 per cent. And the Green party? Just 3.2 per cent.

If this is accurate in the City of Toronto, then much of that Liberal support that elected Kathleen Wynne four years ago may have swung over to the NDP. It’s hard to believe that the PC’s only have 28.7 per cent when it’s the heartland of Ford Nation.

But let’s look at another specific area in the Mainstreet Research’s provincial poll.

In the GTA, the PC’s are leading with 42.1 per cent. Next is the NDP with 32.4, The Liberals at 18 per cent and the Green Party at 5 per cent.

This poll seems closer to other polls in term of the possible outcome.

Starting to see if you believe in polls, precision is replaced by forced predictability. Even the candidates keep saying the real poll is Election Day, June 7.

Here’s one more area pollsters measured of interest to Guelph voters, South Central Ontario. Here we find the NDP with a commanding lead at 50.3 per cent. The PC’s are second at 34.6 per cent. The Liberals are holding at 6.9 per cent. The Green Party having 3.8 per cent. Note the total falls short of 100.

If anything is consistent it’s the voter rating of the Green Party that in three major regions of Ontario is stuck around 4 per cent.

Here we have two polls conducted by the same polling firm that indicate the high rating of the Greens in Guelph is skewed when the large data shows the Party has little support across the province.

How is this possible? Is Guelph an Island in the Green wave that will not form a government in Ontario? So why does one poll, conducted by the same polling company differ so widely with the candidacy of Mike Schreiner?

Leading the Guelph race according to the daily tracking poll with 31.7 per cent the Green Party has barely budged holding at 4 per cent support across the rest of the provincial ridings.

Did that pro-Schreiner editorial published in the Toronto Star influence the majority of Guelph voters to support the Green Party? More important, why would they support the party of David Suzuki, the millionaire voice of gloom and doom about the planet. Wonder how much he was paid to address some 300 partisans at a recent Schreiner rally in Guelph?

Guess it depends on your interpretation of “Green.”

There is no doubt that Mr. Schreiner has run a campaign that is well-funded and when the campaign finance statements are published there will be some surprises of who funded whom.

One has to wonder how the NDP brain trust, after working on the party platform for two years, could make an error of $1.4 billion in its costing of the platform. If you can’t do the math preparing a platform then, how can the NDP be trusted to run the complex finances of the province?

For a lot of people this is a hold-your-nose election.

In my opinion, for our city it is a watershed event. The millions that have been spent in Guelph on failed environmental projects in the past 11 years, reveals it is not necessary to give away our power distribution system for pennies on the dollar.

It does not mean we should turn over control of Guelph Hydro, indulge in building District Energy systems to attain energy self-sufficiency and provide a thermal system to supply hot and cold water to five downtown buildings.

It is vital for all citizens who will cast their ballots on June 7 to elect the candidate who understands our city, has lived in the city all his life, has served on council and worked with the city to develop both residential and industrial projects. Ray Ferraro is that man and the only experienced candidate when elected, will work tirelessly for Guelph in the Ontario Legislature.

He is the only candidate that can, along with his PC colleagues, bring change, responsible fiscal management and prosperity not only to Guelph but the province.

So, the polls are not what they pretend to be. Consider bias, misinformation by respondents and a river of news reports and partisan commentary that, depending on your preference, often get it wrong.

This, I predict, will be our day where party loyalty will be a soufflé of switches, misses and, hopefully a renaissance of recovery for Ontario.

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Only ten days to go for Doug Ford to face the Nabobs of negativity

By Gerry Barker

May 28, 2018

It’s a peculiar election with the emphasis on puffy style and forgetting the substance of a Liberal government that’s long past its due date.

The case for the prosecution is clear. The Wynne Liberals have pushed its social engineering so far to the left that it is teetering on a wipeout at the polls.

Still not convinced? The fundamental problem is the absence of sound financial management of the public’s money. This is accompanied by driving up energy costs by borrowing $4 billion to pay for a limited reduction in electricity; hiking user fees and new taxes including taxing tangible belongings after you die on top of probate fees.

How did you benefit when the minimum wage was increased by $2.60 an hour and will be bumped by another buck next January. On top of the rewrite of the labour code, part-time workers are now entitled to the same benefits as full-time workers. Benefits such as sick leave, vacation time and the new one, personal family leave with pay.

Is it any wonder why the economy of Ontario is suffering as southwestern Ontario is being labeled as Canada’s Rust Belt? This is due to the disappearance of manufacturing jobs that will never come back.

So, while Toronto has become the Centre of the provincial universe and the benefactor of the Liberals dominance of seats in the GTA, this government has earned the position of running last in recent polls, for good reasons.

The Toronto Star, early last week, published an editorial encouraging Guelph voters to support the Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner. Thanks Star, but Guelph’s voters can think for themselves and predictably, Mike will not represent the city when the ballots are counted.

Now I know this is going to enrage those folks who believe in the dangers of Climate Change, as I share that view.

Here’s another Toronto Star doozy. Just the other day it published a page one report about Doug Ford denying “role in fake membership.” But placed prominently on the right of the story was a colourful box stating a poll showed Andrea Horwath of the NDP with 47 percent of the respondents; Doug Ford of the PC’s had 33 per cent; Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals were at 14 per cent and Mike Schreiner was at 4 per cent.

The poll was taken by Forum Research and was described by The Star that it was the most recent poll and played it big time.

According to the Star report, Forum used an interactive voice response system and contacted 906 persons across the Province. How many calls did Forum make with this interactive system (robo call) before actually receiving an answer and comment?

In my opinion this poll was so far out of whack even when compared to another Forum poll done May 9. It reported the Ford Tories at 40 per cent, followed by the NDP at 33 per cent, the Liberals at 22 per cent and the Green Party at 4 per cent.

One thing is clear, Mike Schreiner is holding last in both polls at 4 per cent.

This is the greatest comeback since Judy Garland sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”

This represents a 14 per cent swing favouring the NDP in just 16 days!

However, if Forum hit the mother load of NDP respondents in publishing the poll, later polls suggest the race is very close with Ms. Horwath’s NDP at 37 per cent and Mr. Ford’s Tories at 36 per cent.

Predictably, the last ten days will be a wild push for all parties.

The battle will be fought in the ridings across the province.

Regardless of your political persuasion, this is going to be a barnburner and I wouldn’t bet on the outcome.

But this is an election about change. Under our parliamentary system, the party that elects the most number of its candidates forms the new government.

Following last night’s leadership debate, the NDP may have slipped because its leader, Andrea Horwath, frequently talked over the other participants. The battle of words between Premier Wynne and Horwath witnessed Doug Ford sitting back and let them go at it.

The PC leader scored some good points about the state of the provinces’ finances particularly the cost of carrying the provincial debt of $12 billion a year.

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Ontario PC’s elect Doug Ford their new leader, or did they?

By Gerry Barker

March 12, 2018

The six-week campaign by the provincial Tories to replace Patrick brown as leader turned out to be a marathon of several hours to process the result. It was Ford by a hair.

The party head honchos who created this system that included using proportional voting in which delegates had to grade each of the leadership candidates on their electronic ballot.

They allocated a points system to determine the order in which candidate received the most first choices and so on down the line. Apparently while Christine Elliott received more votes the crazy quilt system gave Doug Ford a small margin and the party executing accepted the result.

After monitoring the TV news outlets much of the afternoon, I switched to watch the hockey game and missed the final-final of this exercise in proportional voting. Why on earth did the party adopted this to select a leaders is mind-boggling.

The New Democratic Party has promoted proportional voting for some three years. Under the banner “Fair Vote,” Guelph’s NDP activist, Susan Watson, was very much involved to persuade the provincial government to adopt it in future elections.

About a year ago the Trudeau federal government that had promised election reform following its huge 2015 victory, walked away from that promise that included proportional voting.

It’s a good thing they did because we’d still be waiting for the results of the 2015 Federal Election if the proportional voting system had been in place.

So the Ontario Conservatives decided to adopt it for the Leadership Campaign.

So now we are faced with another Ford experience in the political wars. He certainly wasn’t my choice but the Tories are now stuck with him to carry the PC banner to the June 7 provincial election.

While Premier Kathleen Wynne’s poll ratings are below 20 per cent, they had to be sipping Champagne in Liberal headquarters Saturday night following the Ford victory.

Despite the absence of Patrick Brown, the PC’s are ten points ahead of the Liberals. Depending on Mr. Ford’s election agenda, plus the fact that there are many candidate vacancies in the ridings, including Guelph, there are only 11 weeks remaining to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Well, the PC’s campaign under Brown to “ Take back our Party” got their wish Saturday night.

Just think, no policies, promises, denials or positions that will effectively drop kick the Wynne Liberals out of government.

The Ford-led Tories have opportunity but the party is no Phoenix rising out of the ashes of party discord. And there is a lot of it floating among the faithful. Doubt about the outcome remains as Ms. Elliott’s team ponders a court decision as to the legitimacy of the Saturday night result.

That means that party unity may be a myth, as the divisions remain deep and disturbing.

The issue of unity was vamped by the TV folk’s ad nauseum during the long delay in announcing the outcome. You had to feel sorry for those TV news people who groped for angles while on the air waiting, waiting, waiting.

The remaining campaign with an 11 week time line will disappear fast as the three Ontario parties drive to the June 7 election day.

Pending a huge scandal, and the Grits are good at that, my prediction is a minority Liberal government that may cling to power for a year and then, away we go again to elect a new government.

Mr. Ford has to gain the approval of the PC caucus of which only two supported his candidacy. Christine Elliott on the other hand had the support of 20 members of the caucus.

Also Mr. Ford’s political experience is as a member of Toronto city council and a former candidate for Mayor. He has a steep learning curve to be effective in the Legislature and understand the rules and regulations surrounding the government of Ontario.

But this you can bet on, it will be a short-lived hot time in the Legislature between now and the dropping of the election writ in May.

Fasten your seat belts!

 

 

 

 

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