By Gerry Barker
May 28, 2017
There is an interesting parallel comparing the controlling antics of the Bloc of Seven dominating city council and the Walt Disney classic “Snow White and the seven dwarfs.”
Before beginning our tour de fromage, keep in mind that for every action there is a reaction.
We all know who Snow White is in our comparative exercise. If you don’t, send me a self-addressed envelope and I will reveal who it is. We are going to play a little game when it comes to the seven dwarfs. I’ll name them and you mentally attach the names of these councillors who act and resemble our players in this exercise in political shedding of the Cheddar.
Here is the list of the Disney Seven. Make your choice beside the appropriate dwarf.
Doc Reader’s Choice
Happy Reader’s Choice
Dopey Reader’s Choice
Bashful Reader’s Choice
Sleepy Reader’s Choice
Sneezy Reader’s Choice
Grumpy Reader’s Choice
I know, a couple of them are easy to identify with current members of council’s Bloc of Seven. But there is one other character in this bubbling pot of political fondue. The unelected defacto leader of the Bloc of Seven, Susan Watson, led the attack to stop Online voting by importing an Assistant Professor, Aleksander Essex, from the University of Western Ontario. He informed council that it should not proceed with Online voting because it lacked cyber security and trust. More on this later.
If you just arrive in town from a trip to the Moon, here is the scoop on the Bloc of Seven and how they lost their Snow White in the Kingdom of Guelph’s forest.
With a couple of exceptions, the Bloc votes on most issues as a group. The exceptions include the recent defection of Cathy Downer who voted for Online voting and retaining the operational Committee of the Whole (COW) system.
There have been three key occurrences involving the Bloc that were offensively planned to stop progress of the business of council. All three were self-serving and cheesy politics rolled into one gigantic cheese ball.
The infamous walkout by the Bloc of Seven
The first was the walkout January 25, 2016 by the majority of Bloc councillors to thwart a meeting to discuss the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc.’s (GMHI) disastrous failure.
Well here’s the skinny. We believe the closed meeting was to discuss a personnel matter, a legal reason. When the Bloc of Seven did a head count, they were outnumbered 6-5 because two of that group were absent.
But let’s hear Phil Allt’s response: “You will have to trust that this rather simple message is of importance to all Guelph residents. By denying a quorum we were defending the integrity of the city as a corporation and staff.”
No, Mr. Allt, you and your colleagues were complicit in covering up the most serious mistake of the previous administration ever recorded in the history of the city. We learned in May 16, 2016 that the GMHI losses over five years was $26.6 million and an impaired loan of $65 million provided by Guelph Hydro, a wholly owned utility by the city and controlled by GMHI.
Aside from the Allt explanation, it wasn’t until May 16 that the truth and details were revealed. Did Mr. Allt take back his pious worded stated four moths earlier? “By denying a quorum we were defending the integrity of the city as a corporation and staff.”
Ah, the essence of Blue Cheese permeates that statement
Whistle while your work
The next Havarti experience by the Bloc of Seven came when a straw vote was held in a COW meeting last month to reaffirm allowing Internet Online voting in the 2018 civic election. Prior to that vote, Susan Watson expressed her disapproval of the Online voting. Two weeks later, she trotted out the Assistant Professor who specializes in cyber security and Internet voting to bolster her position.
Essex is not a resident of Guelph and dumbed down the Bloc of Seven to believe it was too risky to use in 2018. This was stated despite the fact that 13,000 residents voted online in 2014 without any threat, loss of privacy or security. Also, 97 Ontario municipalities use Online voting, Unfortunately it failed to impress the deniers and the system was cancelled by a 7-6 vote.
You don’t have to look further than British Columbia where the final outcome of the May 4 Provincial election is still not confirmed. The province does not have electronic or Internet voting. This is what happens when your election system has not caught up with the 21st century.
This motion to defeat Oline voting was an orchestrated effort by the Left on council to suppress voting. The denial affects hundreds of Guelph citizens who are disabled, the elderly and those whose schedule denies their vote.
The only conclusion is that the Left saw Online voting as a threat to their re-election.
The latest power move by the cheesy Bloc of Seven was to kill the new council operating system called the Committee of the Whole. Last fall council voted to approve the system with a 12-0 margin. It eliminated the individual committee meetings thereby opening the process of government to allow transparency and accountability.
So here comes the Limburger part. The Left noticed that two supporters of the COW, Councillors Cathy Downer and Andy Van Hellemond, were absent and quickly called for a vote that killed the COW by a 6-5 margin.
Before the cheesy crowd could exalt over their victory, the City Clerk, Stephen O’Brien, offered the option of suspending procedures and re-voting the issue. The concerns of councillors emerged when they discovered there was no alternative immediately available. The vote had the effect of dismissing the staff recommendation to retain the COW.
Following a break, a second vote was taken with only Coun. Leanne Piper opposing.
Following the meeting there were some interesting comments made by those who voted to eliminate the COW.
Coun. Gordon said: “The first (vote) was a signal, the second was maintaining our democratic process until we can reassess.’
He went on to claim that, “it has a lot of problems, it’s ineffective, it’s confusing.” He added that it doesn’t matter if this committee made things easier for staff. “That’s not our job.
James, that being the case, why did you vote for the COW systemlast fall? Is it your plan to reassess the COW before the next election? Your bench mate Phil Allt agreed with you saying that the “highlight was public confusion as one of the biggest issues.”
There they go again, the breeze brothers defining what their job is. If what they say is true, who’s confused here, you two or your constituents? Your job is to help and inform your people to understand the issues.
Holding regular closed session meetings does not help public clarity of city business.
Please pass the Camembert and crackers.