Tag Archives: Gloria Kovach

Arrogance, Veteran’s Affairs and the Harper’s Minister of Public Works, Gloria Kovach.

By Randy Norris, Guest Columnist

Posted October 16, 2015

Stuck in the middle of nowhere, our nation’s capital is perpetually in danger of isolating itself from the rest of the Canada. But attitude has more to do with it than geography.

Digging deep into the recesses of my mind, let’s find a corner where I construct a scenario. Follow me while I pull back the curtains that hide the inner workings of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Let’s take a brief look at a meeting of Stephen Harper’s re-election team a year ago.

It was Wednesday morning, early 2014 and the Prime Minister’s staff were anxiously awaiting the arrival of “himself”.

Harper ran a tight ship and didn’t let very much slip off the corners of his desk. The Boss believed that he was the only road to political salvation for everyone.

Harper wanted another term, “He could taste it”. He had to cement his legacy and to continue changing Canada. He knew his chief rival would be a name he had hated for many years.

The “Trudeau Incarnate” had risen from Hell and was going to destroy his Canada. Justin or Pierre, it didn’t matter. It was a sequel in another long running horror movie.

Harper’s senior staff had been working on the election strategy for months, if not years.

The first meeting of the day was about planning for the election in the fall of 2015. Harper wanted the election plan finished and this meeting was crucial.

Harper crashed into the room, startling staff to attention. He merely nodded and asked about the briefing on the election plan.

PM: “What are the polls showing? What’s our image, our brand?”

Staff: “The Good Economy Party”.

Staff: “But there’s a problem. Even though we promised a balanced budget, it doesn’t look like we will make it and there’s a recession coming”.

PM: “Don’t worry, we can talk our way out of recession but the budget? Don’t we have some cut back money? We could use that, couldn’t we?”

Staff: “Yes, we’ve cut back and Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs (at the time) has given back $1.3 billion dollars in unspent money on programs for soldiers coming back from the war in Afghanistan.” (http://bit.ly/1NeIq3p)

PM: “No problem. We’ll announce a surplus but we don’t have to say specifically where it came from, that’s easy to hide. We can show how good we are at managing money and then we can make a big announcement about spending money on the vets. It’s a win-win.”

Our soldiers were abandoned when they came home. Denied services, the results were devastating.

Ending in March, 2014, more soldiers died from suicide than died in combat.(http://on.thestar.com/1qds0JO)

Is that Mr. Harper’s idea of a win-win?

Arrogance and believing your own propaganda. It’s a disease that can strike down any politician, federal, provincial, municipal, left or right wing.

Perhaps, we should use the money to rehabilitate them.

Gloria Kovach for Federal Minster of Public Works

Gloria Kovach, Conservative Candidate for Guelph has been a City Counsellor for 24 years but there should be no coronation here. Kovach has an impressive resume. And, at times, Chair of the City’s Finance Committee. But there’s more.

The incompetence with our local tax dollars is no deliberate left wing conspiracy. It’s owned by every Councilor who believed in their own propaganda that they knew best.

She was one of the architects of the infamous Guelph Factor. Right or Left, she contributed to the decades-long dysfunction at the top of this City.

Guelph City Council has given us projects that gorged on our tax dollars and helped lawyers finance a better life style.

Thank her for her service but it’s time for her to retire.

If she and the Cons win, Harper should make her Minister of Public Works. After all, she has decades of experience.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and are not shared by the editor,

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Your GuelphSpeaks Thanksgiving Weekender

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 11, 2015

Lloyd has a lot of ‘splainin to do – How to help Glen Tolhurst pay his Susan Watson legal bills – The dilemma Guelph voters face

Hey Lloyd! Where’s your campaign money coming from?

In a recent full-page ad in the Guelph Tribune, Liberal candidate Lloyd Longfield charged that his Conservative opponent was getting “tar sands” money from Alberta for her campaign.

Trouble is the stats claimed for Conservative candidates in the ad were for two previous federal elections and had nothing to do with the 2015 campaign.

Okay Lloyd, now that you’ve opened the door to campaign financing, what are the sources of your campaign spending? The amount of money your campaign has spent on advertising starting, even before the election writ was dropped, is staggering compared to that of your three major opponents.

Guelpspeaks knows how much advertising costs in the Tribune, printing and distribution, signs and robocalls. It is estimated that year to date; your campaign spending is the greatest of any candidate, Liberal, Conservative or NDP in memory. You started campaigning by spending money before the writ was dropped ending the Harper Parliament. Those payments do not count against your Elections Canada cap on candidate’s spending limits.

Tell us Lloyd, now that you’ve brought it up, how much have you spent and name the sources. It will come out after the election when your financial statement is published by Elections Canada. Why not ‘fess up now so the voters won’t think you are buying the election?

When the 2014 City of Guelph budget was being prepared in November 2013, Mr. Longfield, then CEO of the 884-member Guelph Chamber of Commerce, was quoted in the Guelph Tribune that property tax increases should be zero but no greater than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

“Other cities are surpassing us in controlling costs and implementing technology solutions,” Longfield said accusing the city of not managing wage costs and productivity as well as it should.

In January 2014, mayoralty candidate Cam Guthrie also came out with the same ideas about limiting property tax increases to the CPI and containing operational costs.

Well Lloyd, it didn’t take long for you in 2014 to resign from the Chamber to take a job with Innovation Guelph offered by Mayor Farbridge. Next, Liberal M.P. Frank Valeriotte announced he was supporting Karen Farbridge and would not be a candidate in this year’s election.

Was this a set-up by the Liberals to fill the Valeriotte void?

I don’t know about you but sometimes political expediency gets in the way of electing our representatives in an above board and democratic way.

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Help Glen Tolhurst pay his defence legal cost for being falsely accused

Glen Tolhurst, a former candidate for council in ward six, was singled out last April as contravening the Municipal Elections Act (MEA) for receiving a donation from a third party.

Susan Watson, friend and supporter of defeated mayor Karen Farbridge made the complaint. She applied to the Compliance Audit Committee who ordered an audit of Mr. Tolhurst’s official election financial statement. She claimed that Tolhurst received an illegal donation of $400 from GrassRoots Guelph (GRG).

An independent audit of Tolhurst’s report found he did not contravene the MEA and that GRG acted legally in making the donation. The citizen’s of Guelph must pay $11,400 toward the costs of this Susan Watson complaint.

Now Mr. Tolhurst is asking for help to pay his legal bills incurred during his defence of the Watson allegations

You can donate at his support site. Here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/n95uhsns .

Please click on the web site and consider making an online donation.

Feel free to spread this request far & wide particularly by Twitter, Face Book, or other social media.

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My voting dilemma

In about a week, the citizens in Guelph will elect a new member of the House of Commons. Reading the cascading number of polls, it appears that Justin Trudeau could become our next Prime Minister with a minority government.

In Guelph there are two major party candidates who are ahead of the pack. A third candidate, Gord Miller, of the Green Party, is likely to run a clear third when voting concludes next Monday night.

My preference for our Member of Parliament is for a candidate, who has experience, has run successfully for city council more than 24 years and narrowly won the riding in 2011 against Liberal Frank Valeriotte. She is a past president of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities.

Her Liberal opponent, Lloyd Longfield, has never run for public office. His single credential is being President and CEO of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce from which he resigned before last October’s civic election.

My heart beats for Mr. Trudeau but not Mr. Longfield.

I have major differences with the historical policies of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but I am voting for Gloria Kovach.

My reasoning is simple. I believe Guelph needs an experienced and seasoned M.P. who represents Guelph and breaks the municipality’s grip by the leftist Liberal/NDP axis of power. It is one that has ruled our community, leaving it with among the highest property taxes on Ontario, a $23 million loss building a new city hall, and a waste management system that fails an estimated 13 per cent of residences and businesses.

The rest of the field has little chance of winning the Guelph riding. I do like Mr. Miller and he may be a spoiler for the NDP’s Andrew Seagram and Mr. Longfield.

But I’ve been around long enough to realize the party is not over and if the advance poll numbers are any indication, there will be a big turnout. That always spells trouble for the incumbent.

The word is that people vote old and tired governments out.

 

 

 

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Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 2, 2015

The Guelph File

Mercury editorial rides above the madding crowd – If only the Guelph progressives would do a Mulcair – The great goose management strategy – Candidates who want to be Members of Parliament

 

Mercury editorial tries to put lipstick on a pig

Guelph’s newspaper of record, recently offered its interpretation of Susan Watson’s abortive attempt to deny third party participation in municipal elections. Her efforts resulted in costing the citizens $11,400 for an audit that absolved Glen Tolhurst and GrassRoots Guelph from contravening the Municipal Elections Act (MEA).

If the city-appointed audit said there was no breach of the MEA, why are the citizen’s required to pay? The Mercury editorial loftily claims it’s a matter of interpretation. It goes on to say that the case became “a matter of polarized viewpoints.”

Before going further, it is important to understand that not only the city must pay the costs of this exercise but also Mr. Tolhurst has substantial legal fees to pay, to defend him against charges that were totally dismissed by the auditor.

The Mercury stated: “In the end the auditor found Tolhurst made a few minor errors in his election expenses report.” Those errors totaling less than $2o4.60 did not satisfy the auditor that Mr. Tolhurst contravened the MEA.

Yet the Mercury says: “By the letter of the law, those minor filing flaws were enough to qualify the audit as warranted and not something that should have costs covered by the complainant, as might have been open to the audit committee to order.”

Throughout the editorial, the person who launched this frivolous exercise, Susan Watson’s name is never used. But Mr. Tolhurst’s name is used along with GrassRoots Guelph.

The Mercury headline atop the story reporting the Compliance Audit Committee’s final report stated, (paraphrased), Committee says Tolhurst will not be charged.

It is a sad day in city journalism when such a biased editorial in the paper of record, continues to support the administration today and for the last eight years, with equivocation.

GuelphSpeaks has written 687 posts in three years about the abuses of power, fiscal mismanagement, failure to investigate vital issues, not getting both sides of the story, and failing to apply critical thinking during that period of the city’s administration on the Mercury editorial pages.

Unfortunately, what can you expect from a corporately owned newspaper that has its editor in chief working at the Kitchener Record? When the late Lord Thomson remarked, “news is the stuff we put around the ads,” he set the benchmark of editorial content for the Guelph Mercury and Guelph Tribune.

For years the emphasis in the TorStar owned Metroland, operators of the Mercury and the Guelph Tribune, has been on the advertising revenue particularly the money spent in the Tribune for so-called “City News” multiple pages. The estimated annual cost to the city is estimated to be more than $500,000.

Is that not a reason to keep the political leaders in the community comfortable when it comes to managing the news in favour of the incumbents?

This editorial proves that no matter how hard you try, you can’t put lipstick on a pig.

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It’s happening to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and it can happen here

Reviews of the Friday French language debate between the federal leaders showed that Mulcair’s support in Quebec is eroding rapidly. And it’s mostly due to his stand on allowing Islamic women to cover their faces while swearing in to becoming Canadian citizens.

The dainty half-face masks are a custom among many Islamic females and indigenous of their culture, before deciding to become a Canadian. A recent decision by the Federal court said the women did not have to remove their Naqib for religious reason. Ta Da! It’s a Charter issue under the subtext, freedom of religion.

The question remains, when does the Charter of Rights and Freedoms kick in, before or after becoming a citizen?

The Harper government is appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the court decision and insist that during a citizenship ceremony, they must reveal their faces.

Mr. Mulcair was in favour of allowing the women to cover their faces even if it was in a private citizenship meeting with a judge.

The trouble emerged when most people in Quebec want the faces uncovered during the official citizenship ceremony, regardless of their previous cultural demands.

He has alienated many Quebec NDP supporters leaving the campaign wide open to the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Now, if only we could have a “Naqib” moment in Guelph to loosen the grip of the NDP-dominated progressives in our city government, the playing field would be leveled and common sense would return.

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Cheeky geese create another $50,000 policy debate

Apparently, the city administration has recognized that Guelph has a Canada goose problem. Living near Riverside Park, one has do the doo-doo dance while strolling along the river

This has prompted creation of a Goose Management Strategy. Estimated cost $50,000.

Here are some suggestions: Hire some goose dogs to keep chasing the pooh birds until they go to Cambridge or winter in the Everglades. That would diminish their numbers as the alligators and pythons would relish dinner.

Perhaps set up public pooh stations for geese. Of, course training them could be a problem. It would be similar to the problem of training late night revelers relieving themselves in public downtown.

The trouble is the geese have been allowed to get too comfy in the Guelph parks and no longer migrate.

Maybe we could hire that guy who flies his light plane with the geese in formation. Ah, but where does he leave them?

“Fly me to the moon

Let me play among the stars”

Frank Sinatra, 1970

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This is an election where experience counts

There are seven candidates running for the Guelph federal seat in Parliament. It’s a pretty good gig as there are plenty of incentive because the pay and perks are above the Canadian family average. The candidate’s approved election expenses are paid by the government, provided they obtain enough votes.

Of the seven, only one, Gloria Kovach, running for the Conservatives, has campaigned in both civic and federal elections. She has also served as President of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities. Her record as a city councillor for 24 years gives her the edge among all the candidates, being the most qualified of the seven candidates to represent Guelph.

Her chief opponents include Lloyd Longfield for the Liberals. He is a past president of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and has never been elected to public office. Spending on his campaign appears to be more than the other candidates.

Running for the NDP is newcomer Andrew Seagram, who also has never run for public office, let alone being elected a Member of Parliament.

Gord Miller for the Green Party was a senior civil servant as Commissioner of the Environment in the Ontario government. He too is a newcomer running for elected office.

Other candidates include:

Tristan Dineen representing the Communist Party of Canada

Kornelis Klevering of the Marijuana Party

Alex Fekri of the Libertarian Party

It is an eclectic mix representing a number of views that make up the Canadian mosaic of political interests.

There is a growing feeling that the three major candidates on the left of the political spectrum will suffer from vote-splitting. The most likely strategic voting victim could be Lloyd Longfield with two other candidates, Miller and Seagram, vying for the same constituency.

The most surprising outcome may be the support of the Green Party’s Gord Miller.

When the dust settles on October 20 the winner having had the most effective ground game paired with experience, will be our new M.P.

 

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There they go again

Posted October 22, 2013

Remember last year when the city staff recommended an 8.5 per cent property tax increase?

Council in its wisdom, told staff it had to be 3 per cent. Go back to the drawing board and figure it out.

This prompted a pout from Chief Administration Officer Anne Pappert who called council’s demand “regressive”.  The saw off came in the final meeting to set the budget. Council adopted a motion from Coun. Gloria Kovach that required the staff to find $500,000 of efficiencies in 2013.

The result was setting the lowest tax rate increase in many years of 2.96 per cent. Everybody went home that night cheering the accomplishment.

It was premature. First, the adjustments to the budget created a 3.74 per cent tax increase. This makes one wonder why they budget at all.

The second event was the staff reported in June that it could only find $126,000 in “efficiencies”. The largest portion of the report included an increase in revenues, not savings.

Then, the staff estimate of laying a new floor in the Farmer’s Market ballooned from $176,000 to $500,000.

Let’s pretend for a moment. Suppose you are the CEO of a company and the Chief Financial Officer, on his own, sends out a letter to managers that the new rate for widgets will be 3.4 per cent higher than last year, without telling the CEO.

What do you think would happen?

This is what happened recently when CFO Al Horsman sent out a letter to city senior managers stating the executive team is considering recommending an “all-in” tax rate increase of 3.4 per cent for 2014.

Coun. Cam Guthrie expressed surprise at the recommendation and stated he favoured a zero-based budgeting process in which discussion should start on the assumption that there will be no property tax increase.

Guthrie is right. Why is there a culture in the staff hierarchy that believes property taxes can continue to increase beyond the rate of inflation every year? Or is the Farbridge agenda demanding such increases to meet its self-interest objectives.

So the attitude among senior staff is “let them eat cake” as they proceed to milk the taxpayers with impunity with little regard for the fall out.

This city cannot continue to spend money on airy intangibles and inflated staff costs.

A little over a year from now, a new council will have to face dealing with record debt and operational costs that the Farbridge administration created in eight years in office.

It is not an envious task. It will take forward thinking individuals who have experience in managing business and finances to correct the multi-faceted debris left by the Farbridge administration.

 

 

 

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How the gang of eight illegally dumped Coun. Kovach from the Police Board

Who is the “gang of eight”? Here are the names of the Farbridge controlled group on council: Mayor Farbridge, Councillors Leanne Piper, Lise Burcher, Maggie Laidlaw, June Hoffland, Ian Findlay, Todd Dennis and Karl Wettstein.

They all voted recently to throw Coun. Gloria Kovach off the Guelph Police Services Board. Ms. Kovach was appointed to the board last January for a four-year term. It was a unanimous decision at the time by members of Council.

Council procedural rules require any change in previous decisions must be approved by at least nine members of Council.

Here’s what happened: Coun. Leanne Piper moved in a striking committee meeting to remove her colleague claiming she was only elected for a one-year term.

When the full Council was presented with the proposal, Coun. Bob Bell produced a copy of the minutes confirming Ms. Kovach for four years on the Police Board, but it was ignored.

Instead, the gang of eight voted 8 to 5 to remove Coun. Kovach.

Immediately, in another 8 to 5 vote, surprise! Coun. Leanne Piper was appointed to the Police Services Board.

But in doing so, Council did not follow its own procedural bylaw.

This should be overturned. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs should investigate this travesty in which a senior member of Council was unceremoniously dumped for pure political vengeance.

Where were the city solicitor and clerk when this was going on? MIA – missing in action.

Let’s check the Baloney Scale: Drum roll, please.

It’s a ten!

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Piper’s political power play is the essence of sleaze

If citizens ever need another example of sleaze in city politics, look no further than the firing of Coun. Gloria Kovach off the Guelph Police Services board.

Ms. Kovach, a senior member of city council and veteran of serving on the police board for seven years, was the victim of a heartless and vengeful coup orchestrated by Coun. Leanne Piper.

Coun. Kovach has been an outspoken critic of the Farbridge administration and this was the classic set-up to seek revenge and put her in her place.

Kovach was voted off the board by an 8 to 5 margin. As usual the eight Farbridge supporters lined up to support their ambitious colleague.

Surprise! Then they voted by the same 8 to 5 margin to appoint Coun. Piper to the police services board.

This comes on the heels of the compost plant debacle in which $32 million has been spent to build a wet waste facility that is still stinking up the neighbourhood.

More surprising is the role of rookie Coun. Todd Dennis in the past year. After being elected on the promise to control finances, reduce taxes and promote construction of the south end recreation centre, he folded like a cheap tent.

Dennis, along with his ward six colleague, Karl Wettstein, has meekly gone along with the Farbridge majority. He was seduced by newfound power and nurtured by the Mayor with the promise of a committee chairmanship. Neither ward six councillors dance to the Farbridge agenda like puppets on a string.

This was a planned dénouement of a popular and proficient councillor. It is the worst kind of sleaze politics that doesn’t belong in our civic government. It was done with full knowledge of the Mayor who controls all appointments to committees, boards and commissions.

Coun. Piper’s naked ambition to seize power is mindful of her promoting moving the Guelph civic Museum to the derelict Loretto Convent. She convinced council to preserve a pre-confederation heritage building that was slated by the owner for demolition. Now, almost five years later at a cost of some $16 million, the project is still not open. Any resemblance of the original heritage building has been destroyed with 21st century architectural add-ons.

Piper manipulated her colleagues by claiming that Coun. Kovach was only appointed in January for a one-year term, not the usual four years.

Coun. Jim Furfaro showed a page from the minutes that proved the reappointment of Coun. Kovach was for a four term and was approved by council. That did not deter Coun. Piper and the Farbridge cronies from dumping Coun. Kovach.

This single event should be remembered as an example of how the city is administered by a controlling group of councillors who will stop at nothing to satisfy their personal agendas and egos.

Here are the names of those councillors who courageously voted against this egregious power play: Bob Bell, Jim Furfaro, Cam Guthrie, Andy Van Hellemond and Gloria Kovach.

Remember those names October 2014. Then voters can elect principled candidates who will represent taxpayer interests in a fair and equitable manner.

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