Tag Archives: Justin Trudeau

Sometimes the writer has feet of clay

By Gerry Barker

October 24, 2019

Opinion

Well, some days are better than others.

This week it was the federal election in which the Liberals won 157 seats but not a majority.

My prediction that Mr. Dyck of the Green Party, would be elected was not only way off the mark but letting instinct dominate instead of trusting the polls. Mea culpa!

Green Party leader Elizabeth May now had two new MP’s to join her caucus of one.

I totally misjudged the power of the Green Party in Guelph that I felt would be a major factor on election day. Actually, Mike Schreiner, the leader of the Green Part in the Ontario Legislature was a runaway victor becoming a surprising factor in the 2018 provincial election. I presumed it would be a major factor in the Guelph federal election.

Dyck was matched against a Liberal incumbent, Lloyd Longfield, who spent a ton of money and the Green factor vanished.

It baffles me how the political pendulum swings in Guelph. First, the city voters are chiefly interested in progressive issues. Accordingly, the party candidates have owned Guelph federally. For 14 years now, the New Democrats and some Liberals have dominated our municipal administration. .

The loser on Monday was Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, the first member of that party to be elected in Ontario. One would think that he would be busy recruiting candidates and raising money to support National Green Party leader, Elizabeth May. I lost interest when about 11 p.m. I was tired of staring at the TV and the little green box that had the number 1 in it. .

It’s okay Mr. Dyck, my wife and I voted for you.

The NDP pushed hard again along with the Greens for proportional voting that incorporates a ranked ballot where voters select their one, two and third choices. You will recall that the Liberals said they would reform the first past the post system of electing a candidate federally, provincially and municipally.

For four years, it never appeared on the House of Commons order paper.

I believe only British Columbia uses proportional voting. With the current controlling party in B.C. is the minority NDP supported by two elected member of the Green Party.

This minority government is the official opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline to move Alberta crude to new markets rimming the blue waters of the Pacific.

Makes one wonder what Prime Minister elect, Justin Trudeau, will do to get his pipeline built, seeing the party failed to elect a member west of Manitoba.

 

 

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Next Monday, Is there a minority federal government in the making?

By Gerry Barker

October 15, 2019

Opinion

As of today, there are seven days remaining before Canadians go to the polls to elect a new federal government.

The pollsters measuring the mood and intent of the electorate, it would appear that two parties are neck and neck to form the next government.

For the most part, the Liberals have maintained a hairline edge over the Conservatives, whose leader, Andrew Scheer, who if elected with the most seats in Parliament, could be the first Canadian Prime Minister with dual citizenship having two passports, U.S. and Canada.

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has fought back against the tide of Tory attacks on his character and performance. At the beginning of the campaign, Trudeau faced a barrage of criticism that because he wore blackface in a school play, he was a racist. The PM apologized and that may have helped the right wing of the Conservatives but put Mr. Scheer in an awkward position as leader of the Tories.

The issue, if one could call it that, disappeared in the void of much ado about nothing.

But the Trudeau government had warts on their record. These included the still not resolved investigation of his Attorney General and the Health Minister of interference of the Privy Council in carrying out their responsibilities. The issue was the large Canadian Engineering Company SNC Lavalin, based in Quebec, that was facing serious charges for kickbacks to various government officials and corporate malfeasance.

The PM said that it was necessary to avoid confronting the company because it could cost thousands of jobs in Canada ever though the company operated in many parts of the world.

Regardless, a member of senior SNC Lavalin executives left the company or was charged in other jurisdictions.

The Trudeau government’s failed treatment of containing refugees who walked across the border with no qualifications seeking asylum. In fact, Canada allowed more refugees into Canada without prior vetting or information than the U.S on 2017. It is important for Canada to allow immigration to replace those who have departed and to meet the nees of a growing economy including agriculture.

Despite this, I believe Prime Minister Trudeau is the best choice to again lead the new government in Ottawa. At dissolution, there were 185 Liberal member of the House of Commons, 106 Conservatives, 43 NDP and two Green Part members.

Given that the incumbent Liberals would normally be re-elected, there are circumstances this year that indicate the race will be closer than 2015.

Steven Dyck of the Green Party who has waged a strong campaign supported by MPP Mike Schreiner may represent the Guelph riding outcome, next Monday night.

Confession time: My wife and I voted for Mr. Dyck in the advance poll. Mr. Longfield, despite spending thousands of dollars starting last spring to be re-elected.

Our rejection of this member is basic. Just after he was elected, I hand delivered a letter to his Guelph office that I asked for his input of why the CRA was withholding money for taxes when withdrawing funds exceeded the imposed limit for that particular year. Registered Retirement Funds (RIF) are designed to provide income to the owner of the fund when required.

In my opomion, this policy discrininates against those who may need more income ito live as costs rise in various parts of the country. One size does not fit all.

In our situation, over the years, we experienced 20 per cent tax withheld in most withdrawals. Of course the withheld funds were a tax credit when jiling nthe return in April the following year but the need for funds occurred the previous year.

My letter was respectful and I counted on our new Member of Parliament to reply.

I never received even an acknowledgement of my request.

More Predictions

The Green Party could be the party needed for support if either the Liberals or Tories fail to obtain a majority.

Maxime Bernier’s Canada Party will steal some seats from the Conservative in Western Canada and Quebec.

The Liberals will face losses in Alberta and Ontario to the Conservatives and NDP.

After receiving approval of the federal Environmental Authorities, the failure of the Trudeau government to start building the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion has threatened support in Western Canada. It owns the lands on which the pipeline will be added to an existing one, to move crude oil to the Blue Water Pacific for shipment and export to new markets.

There are too many hurdles being thrust upon the Federal government to open new markets for selling our oil to both the Pacific and Atlantic ports. We are too dependent on the U.S. markets that depress prices of our natural resources.

I know that this is going to anger the climate-change proponents but Canada is not the only country shipping crude and refined petroleum products. The Middle East countries, have been capitalizing on shipping oil at top prices exploit fossil fuel use around the world.

Canada’s carbon contribution is about two per cent of the world’s carbon distribution. But there are other elements in the overload of carbon in to atmosphere. Start with the 262 active volcanoes in the world that spew huge quantities of Carbon Dioxide and other noxious gases, lava and dust.

Or why does the Brazilian government promote destruction of the massive Amazon rain forest? It absorbs carbon for growth and the creatures in the wetlands. Why did this occur because the government wants to produce pasture for live animal production?

Oil will be an important element un the world’s economy for years to come.

Controlling excessive carbon dispersal of our planet will be any ongoing International effort to clean up our mess.

As Canadians, we must participate in the global needs in an organization that will create programs and execute the efforts to reduce carbon so our planet is secure.

Unfortunately, I do not have faith in the United Nations to take on this global task.

We are a big country with a sophisticated political system that is a world leader in human structure, rule of law and a responsible population with resources available to most people.

Next Monday, make sure you vote to make us stronger and proud of our great country.

There isn’t another country in the world that’s like us. We are so blessed.

 

 

 

 

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The real emergency: Turning Canada into a global economic power without dependence on the U.S.

By Gerry Barker

April 15, 2019

Opinion

Two city councilors, Phil Allt and James Gordon, both former defeated NDP candidates for the Ontario Legislature, and former defeated mayor, Karen Farbridge, are raising the alarm for the city to declare a “Climate Change Emergency.”

It made the bells ring about all the efforts, and tons of misspent public money, of which the three of them planned and were aided by some fellow travelers. They took action to develop what they perceived was power self-sufficiency. Add in the millions spent on squeezing vehicle lanes to provide bike lanes for a tiny but noisy user group operating two-wheeled self-propelled bicycles on major roads, facing 3,000-pound motor vehicles.

I have experienced a few close encounters with those active transportation riders, particularly when the sun goes down. It has scared the living daylights out of me.

These riders are unlicenced and uninsured operating on busy streets without rules or regulations governing their movement on public streets.

I know, I know you’ve heard all this before, but fasten your seat belts because we are going national,

Are the Trudeau Liberals about to do a Wynne swoon?

Let us count the ways.

The SNC Lavelin affair is sticking to the Liberals like stepping on a wad of bubble gum. Complicit is the tag team of the former Attorney General, Jody Wilson Raybould, and Health Minister Philpot, who ended up booted out of the Liberal caucus.

It was the price of defying the boss who caused the problem in the first place. How many times has that happened to you?

The Tories are pounding the table daily, demanding the Prime Minister resign for interfering with a decision by the A-G to pursue SNC Lavelin. As Guelph is Liberal/NDP/Green country, for – fill in your own reasons. Mine is the Guelph Tories have not elected a member to the Legislature or House of Commons in 16 years.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg of the Liberal’s re-election blues. It helps explains why Canadians are angry and feel cheated by the Liberals and the Prime Minister.

Let’s start with the immigration file

Refugees entering from the U.S. are not being controlled. The casual walk-in asylum seekers at border points are allowed into the country. Even those arriving by plane from other parts of the world land without any authority to enter the country but a demanding asylum for fear of their lives.

The Trudeau government has allowed thousands to walk in, an estimated 60,000 in two years to enter our country without prior vetting by Canadian Immigration staff. This practice is the policy of the Liberals who say they are obligated by International Law to admit them. The result is that those folks wanting to come to Canada and who are checked out by immigration before they arrive are sidetracked by the walk-ins.

Some 250,000 immigrants arrive annually and are approved by Canada Immigration. This is designed to replace those Canadians who no longer live in the country. That includes those who apply to Canada before coming to the country. Also, a number of Caribbean citizens arrive to help the agriculture community to grow their harvest. They wisely leave before the snow flies.

Solution? Any refugee who claims asylum arriving from the U.S. is immediately denied entry. If U.S. Immigration let them into their country, they can look after them.

There is evidence that some of these refugees have identification from several countries that would make them ineligible to enter Canada.

Also there is an active industry of immigration groups being paid to get refugees into Canada. A Haitian group based in Florida encourages Haitian refugees to take the bus to the border point just south of Montreal and walk-in claiming asylum. The fact the Haitians speak French is a plus. Many have been temporarily housed in the former baseball stadium known as the Big O.

Southern nights at the border

You don’t have to look too far to see what’s happening along the Rio Grande as the U.S. government has separated families and has custody of 2,700 children and has no record of the parents or their location. Now they are planning to set up tented facilities to hold what they call illegal’s. The Trump government has turned this debacle into a deliberate political issue without compassion or any legal basis.

It is important to remember that following the election victory of the Democrats winning the House of Representatives last November, the president shut down the government for 35 days. His decision caused thousands of federal workers to go without being paid. He finally attempted to obtain $5.7 billion to build a 3,200-mile concrete wall to stop the people attempting to seek a better life in the U.S. It never passed Congress.

Solution? Stop watching the cable news channels. Sorry, I can’t help myself.

The General Motors shut down of the Oshawa Assembly plant

Several months ago, General Motors announced it was closing its Oshawa assembly plant by the end of 2019 resulting in a loss of more than 3,000 jobs. The company chose not to close as yet; its engine plant in St. Catharines or the SUV jointly operated assembly plant in Ingersoll.

Lest we forget, when the Federal and Provincial governments spent billions to finance GM in 2008 that has already declared bankruptcy. The province, to protect workers, turned over $10 billion while the Feds matched it or more to Chrysler and GM.

The Province was eventually recovered some $7 billion that shored up the two auto corporations. Ford remained solvent. It now turns out that some $3.5 billion was not returned to the Federal government. That was ten years ago.

While Unifor, the Oshawa workers union struggles to save the jobs, GM did not changing its mind. This all occurred while the US and Mexico and Canada were renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Parliament or Congress or Mexico has never approved the new deal. The three leaders portrayed a settlement in a photo-op ceremony in Argentina that was part of the G20 meeting.

Solution 1? The Trudeau government should serve notice on GM to either pay up or transfer the title to the federal government. This would include the plant property, inventory, production equipment and all non-proprietary documents; pertain to the production of vehicles.

This could take time, as a court challenge will emerge. The statement of the Government’s claim should include the entire additional government funding request ted and received by GM since it has operated the plant. That goes back to the time when GM bought the plant from the McLaughlin family who built the McLaughlin Buick in Oshawa.

We’re in deep in this one, folks.

Solution 2? Actively research and attract foreign auto producers to take over the plant for $1 plus other tax incentives and agree to build vehicles to service North America and the world markets.

What Canadians needs now

It’s the right to look back at what we have achieved in 74 years. By declaring an emergency to mobilize our governments, to work together toward exporting our resources, skills and lifestyles across two oceans, selling free trade that works both ways without tariffs, threats and trade impediments.

We can become a world trading power to creating financial stability, justice and health for all in our new partner states, employing ingenuity and instilling pride.

We have the stuff and political democratic systems but are unable to move it and share with other nations who are seeking a better life, jobs, education and freedom.

The beginning would be a series of workshops led by the Federal government to develop an action plan to clear the obstacles facing the oil and natural gas pipeline expansion. In concert, open access for shipping our commodities and products from both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean ports.

A series of programs will be developed to export our agriculture products and expertise, our forestry and home building products to new customers at fair prices and delivery; exporting our communications expertise including 5G high speed Internet development; building systems to produce ships, aircraft, vehicles, agriculture equipment. The world-class Canadian financial institution’s expertise will play a major role in developing opportunities and systems for our trading partners.

Most of all create more good jobs and opportunities for all Canadians.

Our most important export is our knowledge base professionals that have already made Canada a world leader in all aspects of the human existence.

In short, we can do all of that and bring endless prosperity to our country as well as that of our trading partners.

Is this the end of our trading relationship with the United States? Absolutely not. Canada will be open for business to any society that shares our established Free Trade and democratic principles. This is a long-term project that will survive the changing political leadership facing our trading partners.

Looking back, this is not the first time we’ve mobilized to win

In September 1939, Canada joined Britain declaring was on Nazi Germany. The country with a population of about 11 million became a major power in the European Theater, North Atlantic, Asia and North Africa.

By the end of war in Europe, Canada had the largest Allied land army in Normandy, France, Belgium and Holland. In addition, we had the fourth largest navy in the world and Canadian aircrew made up 1/3 of the RAF. The RCAF operated squadrons in Bomber Command attacking Germany; South East Asia Canadian and Commonwealth pilots supplied Allied troops by parachuting supplies against the Japanese; by air patrolling the east coast and escorting convoys heading access the Atlantic searching and sinking enemy submarines.

On the home front our country manufactured tanks, combat aircraft, trucks, weapons including field pieces, ammunition, food and fuel to be shipped to Britain and Italy where our army units were battling their way through the country fighting the Germans.

We became the breadbasket and quartermaster of the collection of Commonwealth Allies fighting on three fronts.

Canada was turned into a mighty war machine that trained through the Commonwealth Air Training Plan more than 500,000 aircrew on many bases across the country. Almost every citizen who was able rolled up their sleeves and changed Canada in almost six years.

But we paid a huge price. In World War 1 more than 52,000 Canadians were killed and thousands more maimed for life. In World War 2, 44,000 Canadian lives were lost and many others severely wounded.

In August1945, the war ended when the Japanese surrendered. Our returning service men and women were given opportunities to go to university, own property and get jobs. Most important, it created the biggest baby boom in our nation’s history.

The end of the war was the beginning of Canada’s Golden Age of growing up. Our country was led by the wartime Liberal government of Prime Minister MacKenzie King. He was critized through his long tenure as PM. Both Churchill and Roosevelt tolerated him regardless he got job got done.

Our country opened it doors to refugees from all parts of the world that made great and noble contributions to our country. Even in the Seventies, following the defeat of the U.S forces in Viet Nam, Canada accepted 65,000 Viet Nam refugees escaping Communism and called the “Boat People.”

As Canadians, that is what we do.

Today we are at a crossroad in which our largest trading partner, the United States is trying to force us to knuckle under to destroy a Free Trade Agreement that has benefited both our countries.

In my opinion, this is ultimately not going to work out well for Canada at all. We are facing a despotic president who doesn’t care, has no compassion for his two major trading partners, Canada and Mexico.

He is in the process of destroying the greatest free trade agreement the world has ever seen.

This is not the time to make hollow declarations of emergencies of climate change. It is time to collect ourselves and protect and enhance what we have.

It’s time for us to mobilize as a nation and take care of number one.

Our imperative should be to open our resources and establish free trade with China, India and all members of the Trans Pacific free trade organization of which the U.S. refuses to belong. We should also reopen the free trade agreement with the European Union without Great Britain that is bifurcated by Brexit.

Until we take action we will remain at the whims of a megalomaniac president with power to destroy what we have achieved in good faith

By any stretch, that’s a dangerous position in which to be.

How bad can it get?

Think what will empower Trump if he is re-elected in 2020 for another four years.

Prime Minister Trudeau, your time is now to unite our country and take it forward without the baggage of division, denial and negativity that is flooding the airways, Internet and social media.

October will come soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Farbridge Factor lives on through the Gang of Seven’s majority on council

By Gerry Barker

Posted December 27, 2015

Things are different this year because it’s easier to predict what won’t happen in 2016 than to select events that will. The political events across three levels of government have reflected change but particularly disappointing in the case of Guelph and the provincial government.

We are swimming in a sea of mediocrity as the stunning level of incompetence both by civil servant staff and their elected political bosses, fails the test of basic business practice and financial management.

FYI: The Farbridge Gang of Seven consists of Councillors Leanne Piper, Cathy Downer, Karl Wettstein, Mike Salisbury, June Hofland, Phil Allt and James Gordon.

So, let’s take a peek at what will happen, or won’t. You be the judge.

*   The five senior managers of the city staff, all hired by the Farbridge administration, including CAO Ann Pappert, DCAO Mark Amorosi, DCAO Derrick Thomson, City Clerk Stephen O’Brien, City Solicitor Donna Jacques, will still be on the job 12 months from now.

*   Soaring electricity costs, increased taxes and, not the least, a feminist arrogance that belies integrity and logic, will accelerate the relentless decline of the Ontario economy compounded by the failing leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne.

*   The Canada Pension Plan will be tinkered but provide little change except to increase employer/employee contributions.

*   Kathleen Wynne’s two great flops will be the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores and establishing the new Ontario Pension Plan. At least you can drink away your fear of rank political stupidity but another tax grab is harder to swallow. The result will be a reduction of jobs shoving the ailing Ontario economy further down the sinkhole of spiraling debt and zooming taxes.

*   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will demand 24 Sussex, the Prime Minister’s official residence, be renovated so he can move into the home in which he grew up.

The public reaction will be unnerving when the price tag is revealed.

*   Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper will lick his wounds and take out a Tim Horton’s franchise in woebegone Alberta. He won’t have much time as he joins several boards of directors of major corporations including banks, oil producers and auto manufacturers.

*   Karen Farbridge loyalist, Susan Watson, following her losing complaint about funding of a civic candidate by a voter’s activist group, (it cost taxpayers $11,400); will announce she will be a candidate for Mayor in the 2018 Guelph election. Should we make that former Farbridge loyalist?

*  Interim Conservative Leader, Rona Ambrose, will surprise parliamentary watchers by holding Justin Trudeau’s feet to the fire regarding his campaign promises.

*  Like the Ancient Mariner, Education Minister Liz Sandals will keep her job and sleepwalk through the new round of teachers’ union negotiating process that starts in January. Maybe this time she will ask for travel and entertainment receipts when paying the unions to negotiate with her government.

*   The Guelph city staff proposal of a ten-year, two per cent property tax levy for infrastructure, will fade into black as the Gang of Seven, controlling Guelph council, will vote against it all in the name of political survival.

*   Electricity rates in Ontario are more than 55 per cent higher than Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia and will increase by ten percent January 1st. The McGuinty/Wynne green energy team has proven to be expert in funding wind farms and solar arrays by paying the private operators more than triple the base per Kilowatt rate for 20 years but also their capital costs. And we, the end users, have to pay for this through our hydro bills, plus HST. Is that a great deal or not?

*   Gouging at the pump by Canadian gasoline producers will continue despite the 60 per cent drop in wellhead oil prices. Gasoline, at 95 cents a litre, is still 70 per cent higher than the same product in the U.S selling, on average, for $2 a gallon.

*  The appalling lack of understanding finances by a number of Guelph councillors will continue despite allowing operating deficits for the past three years. Provincial law forbids municipalities to carry budget deficits – read that overspending – into the next year.

*  Chances of the public being told the details of that police shooting in the Guelph General Hospital emergency waiting room will not be revealed in 2016. And the Ontario Liberals will not rewrite the Police Act that makes it impossible to fire a police officer for an offence. It appears officers have to kill someone to get fired by the police department.

*  It’s been a tough year for Mayor Cam Guthrie coping with a majority bloc of followers of his defeated predecessor. He still needs citizen support to carry out the changes that most of us voted for in 2016. Let’s renew our resolve to support the Mayor and his five members of council who are determined to create changes in management and reduce spending.

Here’s to having a Happy New Year!

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Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

By Gerry Barker

Posted November 29, 2015

Here’s this week’s line-up:

* Sell a bit of Hydro One and spend it on the deficit

*   Did we elect a Prime Minister or envoy to the world?

* Countdown to the 2016 city budget

* Lose your car, rely on public and cycle transportation

 

Ontario Liberals to sell assets to balance the books by 2017

When Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, produced his fall financial update Thursday, he proudly claimed the deficit had been reduced by a billion dollars. For the uninformed, this is a shell game. Sousa in his budget presentation announced the provincial deficit would be $8.5 billion. Voila! He now says it will be $7.5 billion.

This is the ninth successive years that the Ontario Liberals have budgeted a deficit. First it was the McGuinty government that spent money it didn’t have during a financially volatile period when plants were closing and revenues nose-dived.

Gas plants notwith standing, Kathleen Wynne is still sticking to the fiscal program of the McGuinty period to spend more than general revenues supply.

The net of these accumulated deficits is a gigantic increase in the provincial debt. As it grows it feeds on the government’s deficits, driving up the debt servicing costs. These servicing costs must be paid, on time and without recource.

The result is the hole keeps getting deeper and more difficult to get out. There is no way the current policies of thr Wynne government are going to balance ther budget before the next elelction. Except if they sell off public assets to cover their overspending.

Does that make sense to you?

The problem is not lack of revenue but excessive spending.

Living in Guelph, most folks are aware of the current administration’s penchant to boost spending every budget cycle. Our problem is that we have a number of councillors who do not understand financial management and/or they rely on staff to make the right decisions. This has been the practice in city operations for the past nine years.

The end result is the staff has control of the process and the majority of council support their decisions.

Here’s a small prediction: Guelph Hydro, one of 74 municipally owned distribution networks in Ontario, could be bought by Hydro One before the next election. This was the plan of former mayor Farbridge when she formed Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc, of which Guelph Hydro is part. The proceeds would provide sufficient capital to carry out her plan to provide geothermal heating and cooling to major downtown Guelph buildings plus the Hanlon Business Park.

Stay tuned.

*            *            *            *

What the world needs now is Justin Trudeau?

Our spanking new Prime Minister has spent more time on the road than in Parliament since his election five weeks ago.

Hey! It isn’t easy doing the job domestically but overseas is a different matter. There have been some gaffes such as maintaining his election promise to bring our RCAF troops home right after the Paris terror attacks. In show biz that’s called blowing the line.

Then he maintained the party’s stance that it would bring in 25,000 displaced Syrian refugees by December 31. Whoa there cowboy! The logistical problems exceeded the promise. To the P.M.’s credit, he called the provincial first ministers together to discuss how they can assist accepting the refugees and provide the necessary life fundamentals for them to become assimilated in our society.

It had to be a historical meeting because the Harper government didn’t bother meeting the premiers in more than four years.

I can remember Justin’s father holding the confederation conferences in the former central train station, in Ottawa, that had been converted into a convention centre. Some were televised and gave Canadians an insight to the thinking of their leaders from across the country.

The early morning line is that the young master will do just fine and will improve and mellow with age. Bon Chance! M. Justin Trudeau.

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2016 City budget to be decided in the next 11 days

This is written before the important budget meeting, Monday night, in which each citizen can present their input into the city’s 2016 budget.

For the first time in many such sessions, there will be some pertinent and thought-provoking addresses by delegates. There will be the usual special interest groups requesting funding for their projects and activities.

At this point in time, council has received from its staff, recommendations that will increase the property tax levy by 2.83 per cent. We are entering the critical budget zone now as there is not much wiggle room left to keep the increase below the 2015 budget increase

Evidence revelations now show about .72 per cent remaining if last year’s 3.55 per cent increase is the benchmark.

Council’s job is to balance the demands and special interest requests. There is considerable fat in the staff’s two basic recommendations. What else is new?

Adding some 12 new fulltime staff is not vital to maintaining the city.

For example can we not get by without two trails technicians costing $216,400? Or an Asset Manager Mobility Speciaist for $79,300? How about a Zoning Inspector for125,000? Or Winter cycling Lane Maintenance for $670,800? Then there is an Arborist, $107,400 and an Arborist Inspector, $130,700? Or buying a new fuel truck for $229,500?

There are many more employee add ons plus projects. Nowhere is there any explanation why these staff increases and projects are substantiated as being necessary.

This may be the Christmas season but it’s not Christmas at budget time.

There are smart, experienced indiviuals in town that have the background and professional hands-on management skills to arrest spending, reduce staff, improve organization and productivity. Why can’t the city management do that?

Try and make the Monday meeting as see your city administration at work.

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The two per cent solution to global warming

This week the Liberal government announced it would give $2.5 billion to developing countries to reduce carbon emissions and the effect on climate change. And they did it without discussion or approval of Parliament.

Canada’s contribution to global warming is two per cent of global emissions. That includes the oil sands production of the dreaded carbon dioxide gases that pollute the atmosphere.

In Guelph we have a number of environmentalists pushing to get cars off the road and force citizens to rely on non-fossil fueled vehicles, bicycles and shank’s mare.

Coun. Phil Allt says that cars have to get off our roads. He echoes former Coun. Maggie Laidlaw who predicted eight years ago there would be no cars on Guelph’s streets within 20 years. Maggie you’ve got 12 years to go on that prediction.

Premier Kathleen Wynne is predicting the apocalyptic end of the plant unless we act. That’s over the top and needlessly threatening.

Seriously, there has to be middle ground to rebalance the earth’s atmosphere without threats, bags of money from governments and special interests. It is ludicrous to suggest the end of fossil fueled vehicles, cars, trains, buses, trucks,and trains. Electric-powered vehicles won’t cut it because engineering of electric vehicles is light years from being able to move a train or a large truck or a bus.

Imagine if you will, that everyone who drives a fossil-fueled car will toss their keys into a garbage bin and give up using their car. Depending on your age, your mobility will be reduced to walking, cycling or public transit.

How would that work for residents of Guelph? Routine chores to buy groceries, delivering children to and from school, heating your home with oil or gas, going to the movies or concerts, visiting relatives in places where there is no public transportation, getting to a hospital or doctor’s office, and the list of personal inconvenience would throw our society back to life lived 160 years ago.

Then we would have to deal with the horse manure problem as a health hazard.

And the impact of this to Canada? Perhaps, the elimination of our two per cent greenhouse gases contribution to the planet.

One volcanic eruption in the world discharges more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than that of fossil-fueled vehicles in all of North America in a year. There are 274 active volcanoes in the world.

The good news is that engineers are gradually developing more efficient and non-fossil-fueled vehicles that will alleviate some of the problem. But if the large countries of the world such as the U.S, China, India, Indonesia and Russia fail to reduce carbon emissions, it is all for naught.

Let’s agree that fossil fuels are not the sole reason for global warming. Natural emissions play a major role in climate change and man cannot control that.

In Guelph, the environmentalist lobby should turn their attention on accommodating natural, responsible growth of our community without trying to ram a series of policies that restrict, inconvenience and divide the city.

That starts with the silly thesis that cars have to get off the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

By Gerry Barker

Posted November 15, 2015

Here’s this week’s line-up:

* Guelph Transit is a seasonal production

* Say goodbye to the editor in chief?

* The young master needs a script rewrite

* The Gummer gift of $1.5 million

* Do we really need expensive consultants?

 

Cars, bicycles and Guelph Transit fare hikes

Council is discussing the proposal by city staff to increase Guelph Transit fares and reduce weekend and holiday service.

The first indication that there is opposition to this came from Coun. Phil Allt who said that its wrong to raise fares and decrease weekend service because we have to get cars off the road to save the planet. Well Phil, thanks for that and all this time we thought that defeated Councillor Maggie Laidlaw’s war on cars ended last October.

If Allt knew anything about climate change he wouldn’t assume fossil fuels are the only cause of climate warming. One volcanic eruption spews more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than one year’s fossil fuel emmisions in North America.

There are more than 250 active volcanos in the world.

There is no question that the growing use of fossil fuels in the developing countries is affecting the climate. However, in the case of automobiles and commercial vehicles, the demand for refined fuel is dropping. Innovative engineering and introduction of electric and hybrid gasoline/electric vehicles, has to a degree, mitigated the threat of fossil fueled vehicles’ contribution toward climate change and global warming.

In Guelph, we have a minority strident group of bicyclists who are demanding special lanes for the exclusive use of cyclists. They demand that the taxpayers spend $1.3 million per year expanding these bike lanes. It was the Farbridge regime that approved this $13 million 10-year plan.

So while council considers taxing cats, it might ask itself why not licence and tax cyclists because they are getting a free ride on most arterial and major roads in the city? Once licensed, cyclists would be required to wear light-coloured clothing at night, flashing rear lights and helmets.

And also, cyclists are using the sidewalks as their path of choice. This is currently forbidden by city bylaw.

This minority group of bike users has the substantial support of the Farbridge majority on council.

Like the operation of Guelph Transit that is designed to cater to the 20,000 undergraduates at U of G for eight months of the year, the bicycle lobby is receiving millions from the taxpayers in grants and subsidies.

When a Mercury columnist suggests that the increased fares will provide a bonus of $1.5 million to the city , he neglects to mention that the city subsidizes Guelph Transit by some $15 million per year.

*            *            *            *

Is this a goodbye to the Mercury’s Editor in Chief?

Editor in Chief of the K/W Record and Guelph Mercury, Lynn Haddrell, wrote a column in the Saturday Mercury, replacing the spot normally occupied by Managing Editor Phil Andrews.

It seemed to be a goodbye piece but was chiefly about her career involving the Mercury, not the Record where she worked full-time.

It is no coincidence that guelphspeaks this week took the words of Torstar Chairman John Honderich, whose company owns both The Record and The Mercury. He said: “Newspapers are an essential informing part of the democratic process and their first responsibility must be to the local readers they serve.”

The point of the GS piece was that Ms. Haddrell and her Record/Mercury publisher, were both in Kitchener at the Record. That seemed to run counter to what Mr. Hondrich was saying. His newspapers must be transparent, open and have editorial independence. These include journalists who cover the Mercury’s catchment area.

*            *            *            *

Justin, the training wheels have been removed

Our new P.M. may need to rerwrite the script following the horrific ISIS attack in Paris last Friday night, leaving 129 dead and hundreds more wounded with an estimated 100 in critical condition.

Justin Trudeau quickly announced that Canada was withdrawing its air command from Qatar. The young master will learn to understand our intelligence better. Regardless, Canada is committed to NATO and the pledge that an attack on one, is an attack on all.

We all expect the change in government will bring about change that is orderly and responsible. That includes the use of our military and its resources.

Withdrawing forces now after what has occurred in France is ill-considered and neglects to recall the commitment to NATO.

It’s time for Canada to contribute to eliminate this scourge of terror that threatens us and our allies.

The question arises is just how effective are Canada’s intelligence services? More than ever, the apparent infiltration of terrorists in the gigantic refugee flow into Europe, threatens the Trudea promise to bring 25,000 to Canada by the end of the year, six weeks from now.

How can our government guarantee the qualifications of these refugees in the limited time frame remaining?

Time to rethink that one.

*            *            *            *

Spending $1.5 million on a handshake is irresp0nsible

With the majority of council coposed of the Farbridge Seven, it voted recently to give the private owners of the Gummer Building on Douglas Street, $1.5 million because it was promised, by the previous administration, reportedly on a handshake.

When the Gummer building was ravaged by fire several years back, the Farbridge council, agreed to give the owners who were rebuilding the building, 100 free parking spaces downtown. It was because the heritage supporters on council wanted the façade of the old building restored.

But there is more. The present owners of the Gummer received a ten-year tax break. What is not apparent is the $1.5 million bonus for completing the work, so to speak.

How long do the citizens have to tolerate the legacy of the Farbridge financial commitments, some of which were made behind closed doors with a wink, a nod and a handshake?

How much are we paying these guys?

The guelphspeaks archives yield some interesting information. Today, I discovered a draft of the city’s 2011 budget. In it there was an item about the Hamilton-based BMA consultant firm that recently completed a review of the 2015 city operations.

Five years ago, the city budgeted to hire this firm for $480,442. This was to perform an undisclosed task involving examination of operations and reporting the findings to city staff and council. The 2011 completed report was never made public..

This same firm has just completed another city operations review, the cost of which is unknown because it would have been budgeted in the final days of the Farbridge administration. Whatever, the council approved a 3.96 per cent property tax increase last March to pay the current BMA account.

Another question: Was there a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued to determine an above-board competition for the work required? It seems spending half a million bucks on this consultant proposal, requires input from other consultants who may be interested in the project. Who wouldn’t?

This is exactly what needs to controlled. The solution is to hire a Chief Financial officer at less than half of what taxpayers paid and are paying BMA.

Has this firm been engaged every year since 2011? If so, that’s a whack of consultant fees.

If any, what’s the connection between Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Amorosi, and the president of BMA? Both are from Hamilton and worked together, at a point in time. Mr. Amorosi is currently responsible for all city financial matters.

 

 

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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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