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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Collingwood council’s committee system is broken

Last term, council approved a recommendation from the CAO to dump its traditional structure of council and public committees, to an internal system of standing committees filled only with politicians. The structure is used in several other – mostly larger – communities. It sounded intriguing, bold and exciting, so council said yes, let’s try it. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The tail wags the dog again

In January, the CAO coupled a ‘sky-is-falling’ presentation about the town’s debt with a proposed 5.11 percent tax increase. * Councillor Kevin Lloyd made a motion to have staff bring back two options for council to consider: a one and two percent increase to the general tax levy, with comments on how these would affect […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: What’s Wrong with Municipal Bonusing?

Until the early 1970s, municipalities in Ontario were involved in a free-for-all competition to attract business and industry. They offered tax breaks, free land, free infrastructure, utilities or services, housing — whatever it took to get a plant or office to open within their boundaries. A lot of small Ontario communities were able to attract […]

Song of the Watermelon: The Case for ‘Yes’ in Metro Vancouver’s Transit Referendum

Well, anybody could have called this one.

According to a new survey by Insights West, 53 per cent of residents plan to vote No in the upcoming 2015 Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite. Only 38 per cent say they will vote Yes to the proposed half-percentage-point sales tax increase to help fund more buses, new rapid transit lines, improved walking and cycling networks, road and bridge upgrades, and more.

The once mighty Yes campaign’s decline is a regrettable development, but no one can honestly claim to be surprised. Though referendums can be useful exercises, they are out of (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Whitewash

In early January, Council was presented with a report by outside consultants on the state of the shared service agreement between Collus/Powerstream and the town. The report, however, was rejected by council as flawed – wisely, it turns out – and the following motion was made (emphasis added) that night: THAT the motion be deferred for […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Open for Business, But Not For Your Input

Did you happen to read the town ad on the inside page in the Enterprise Bulletin this weekend? February 6, top of page D7? I’m betting you didn’t because no one I’ve spoken to seems to have read it. And since you can’t find the ad on the EB’s website, you won’t have read it online, […]

Babel-on-the-Bay: Yes, you can fight city hall.

Local readers of Babel-on-the-Bay have asked occasionally why we do not discuss city politics in Barrie. The honest answer is that city politics in Barrie is boring and is something of a closed shop. Anyone who gets elected because they want to rock the boat is soon subsumed by the system. Trying to shake the cage from the outside is also a formidable task.

There are three classes of people in this city who wear suits and ties to work. They are lawyers, politicians and undertakers. And this is their town. They will all get a piece of you one (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Hypocrisy Starts

It didn’t long for the hypocrisy to start at council. Monday night, council approved a five-year contract for an unsolicited proposal from the town’s only (monopoly) taxi service without going to an open bid process. Yes that’s right: this council approved a sole-source contract in its first two months of this term. No tender. No RFP. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Professional Politicians? Not Here…

There’s an editorial in the January 29 edition of the Collingwood Connection that underscores how little the local media really understand local politics, and how biased it remains. Which is unfortunate, because buried within this vitriolic screed was a nugget of wisdom; a salient point about local politics.* First, it begins with an essential error by […]

Babel-on-the-Bay: Will Chief Blair also use the Nuremburg defence?

Lawyers at the disciplinary hearing over a senior Toronto police officer’s actions during the G20 fiasco want Police Chief Bill Blair called to testify. The hearing should also hear why Chief Blair has not been charged with the same offences. Here it is almost five years later and the real culprit has yet to be charged.

If Superintendent Fenton is charged with unlawful arrest and discreditable conduct, just whose fault is it? Already known as the “one of the biggest infringements on civil liberties in peacetime Canada,” the G20 kettling of innocent bystanders was a disgrace that nobody wants to (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: That was another good year.

The New Year came and went and it was such a busy time for political comment that we missed commenting on the past year. And that year needs a look. Babel-on-the-Bay set some records. Readership is up. In 365 days, there were 365 commentaries. Other sites are asking for our commentaries. Others send us readers. The numbers are confusing because so many of you are frequent flyers. This blog is fun but on the occasional cold day, it can also be onerous.

But the record continues. Babel-on-the-Bay called the shots on every election of interest to us last year. The (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: A new age of civility for Toronto.

Welcome to Toronto of 2015. There is a new chief magistrate, a new regime, a new spirit of cooperation with all levels of government and a mayor who brings a new level of civility to the job at City Hall. It is unseemly for the media buzzards to gather waiting for John Tory to stumble. When someone is the answer to all your prayers, how can the news media start to disrespect him before he is even settled in his new office?

The media must still be lost in the infighting of the last council to complain about the new (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: How about gun control that works?

Just for a couple minutes, we can assume that the coming federal election will create a government other than that controlled by the Conservative Party. And, if we are finished enjoying the thought after almost 10 years of the Conservatives, we know we have lots of work ahead of us. One area that we need to address is gun control. This problem has to be fixed. And one way to fix it is to look at the past.

The one thing that we know for sure is that there is a serious dichotomy between urban and rural voters on the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Not likely, David Peterson.

Former Liberal Premier David Peterson has been labelled as a left-wing social democrat by the Toronto Star. It is hardly the first time the Star has been wrong but even Peterson denies the label. It was pinned on him after trying the Vox Pox Labs’ political Sentimeter quiz. The quiz divides respondents into four right wing political slots or four left wing political categories. It is an interesting exercise but determining someone’s political stance is much more complex.

What is interesting about the questionnaire is that of the 50,000 people claimed to have participated, roughly half have been labelled as (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Arm-wrestling with police services.

Just like Toronto Mayor John Tory, this writer once thought he could make a difference on the local Police Services Board. The boards are made up of elected municipal politicians and citizen appointees. This resolve was strengthened the first time we saw the local Police Services Board chair stand up at City Council to present the police budget. It seemed to make a lie of everything we thought we knew about these boards.

A person appointed by their council or by the province to their police services board does not work for the police. These are the people who are (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: These people can’t even spell ‘Rabbit.’

There is a group in Toronto promoting ranked balloting in municipal elections. They call themselves RaBIT. This means Ranked Ballot Initiative in Toronto. They seem to be also linked to the Fair Vote people—the ones who tell you your vote will not count unless your candidate wins. If it was not for the support of the Toronto Star and their friends at Forum Research, you could just ignore the foolishness.

In the last couple weeks, Forum Research made 950 (completed?) automated telephone calls in Toronto that indicated 65 per cent of whoever answered approved of ranked balloting. And so (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Tory-Wynne Two-Step.

They might not be Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (if you are old enough to remember the era) but Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne have more than voters in common. Tory is a left-leaning Conservative and Wynne is a right-leaning Liberal. And they dance to the same tunes.

Pundits seem surprised at how quickly the Premier is buying into Tory’s SmartTrack proposal. They should not be. Wynne’s Liberals have already bought into the proposition of electrifying the GO trains in the Greater Toronto Area. Tory’s SmartTrack solution can only work with an electrified system as electrified (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Tory takes over in Toronto.

The problem is that we sometimes get what we ask for. On February 10 this year Babel-on-the-Bay was pleased to note that John Tory would be running for mayor of Toronto. The tell-tale signal was that he was sporting a new toupée. That was a most worthwhile investment. It carried him through the campaign in fine style.

But all is not roses.

What we always added to any comments about John Tory was that he is a card-carrying Tory. There was nobody else in the running who could defeat Rob Ford. Olivia Chow’s supporters did her in. And she is (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Why does a culprit pick the judge?

It must be one of those anomalies you come across in the Canadian judicial system. It is justifiable curiosity to wonder why someone as guilty as Chief William Blair of the Toronto Police Service gets to pick the judge to try his co-conspirator Police Superintendant David (Mark) Fenton? The first judge must have been sick from all the B.S. he was subjected to. This second choice judge seems to make a mockery of the process.

But why are Canadians being so damn quiescent? Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is far guiltier of exceeding his authority than Supr. Fenton. Making (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: My Goodbye to Local Politics (for now)

I had meant to read a statement at last night’s final meeting of Collingwood Council, but I misplaced my printout between the time I left home and the meeting’s start. I remembered most of it, but may have missed a few words. Here’s an edited version of what I said with some notes from what […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Before You Become a Politician

No, this isn’t about me. This is about federal politics. I never had an inclination for higher levels of politics, those other arenas, other battles, nor the lofty separation of politician from the electorate such roles entail. But some of it is relevant to those who want to enter municipal politics; indeed to all levels of […]

Babel-on-the-Bay: What about Blair’s role at the G20?

Are Canadians supposed to believe that Toronto police Chief Bill Blair is just an unindicted co-conspirator in the illegal actions of the Toronto police during the G20 in Toronto in 2010? It is somewhat late for him to claim that he did not know that he was breaching the rights of Canadian citizens during the police actions of that dreadful weekend. Simply getting rid of Blair is not the answer.

Toronto Police Superintendant David (Mark) Fenton is currently the only senior officer charged and is now before a tribunal under the Police Services Act. He is charged with five acts (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: An Open Letter to Janet Fraser

Dear Janet Fraser, First of all, let me start by congratulating you on your school board election victory this past Saturday. I voted for you enthusiastically, as I did your running mate Mischa Oak and the rest of the Green Party team on the city council and park board slates. It is truly gratifying to see a Green set to hold the balance of power on one of Vancouver’s three elected municipal bodies. Which brings me to my main reason for writing today. School board is scheduled to select a chairperson on December 8. I don’t know what direction you (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: Some Thoughts on the Vancouver Election … Plus Endorsements!

With a week and a half to go before voting day in municipalities across British Columbia, the campaign here in Vancouver seems to have devolved into a veritable hatefest against two-term mayor and eccentric juice magnate Gregor Robertson.

There is nothing surprising about that. Incumbents (a.k.a. the sinister hands currently at the controls of Big Government) typically draw vitriol like no others during election season. Yet for all the negative attention received by the mayor and his Vision Vancouver party at all-candidates meetings and in the opinion pages, for all the foaming at the mouth over towers and (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Wynne wins in Toronto shoot-out.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne pulled it off. She got her candidate into the mayor’s chair in Toronto. Despite disturbing early tabulations, John Tory emerged as the peoples’ choice for mayor. And if you did not know that John Tory was Wynne’s choice, what do you think her aide Tom Allison was doing in Tory’s campaign headquarters? And was there really any other choice but John Tory?

Torontonians need to remember always that the city is a creature of the province. It is not separate. It does not do its own thing. The past four years of Rob Ford was an (Read more…)