"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Saturday 31 October 2015


IAnonymous has left a new comment on your post "SALOME'S HANUKAH WISH": 

What a sad mess of representatives we have throughout all parties and levels of government. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 31 October 2015 at 15:50

People  we have in government are a reflection of people out of government. 

It's a two way street. Political parties spend time studying the electorate to determine issues of concern.Like a scientist studies ants. Election  platforms are built to appeal to the base.

Like with the niqab issue. 

We can't be sure who set that one up. We were told Conservatives had determined,using public money, Muslim cover-up  was a hot button issue in Quebec. 

It brought downTom Mulcair's numbers in Quebec. So the NDP were unlikely the evil genius. 

We know  it didn't help Mr Harper in the Muslim community. 

It's a stretch to think it was a Liberal strategy. 

Someone  had to come along at precisely the right moment, willing to put up the money and go to court for the issue to have the impact it did when it did.

Can we ever know for sure? 

I come back to my original theory .
The writing was on the wall. 
Over all the years he had authority as Prime Minister, Mr. Harper himself was removing the floor beneath his feet plank by plank. By the time he realized and tried to remediate,it was way too late.

The Senate scandal was the last puzzle piece to fall into place. 

When the big wind blows, who gets elected doesn't matter a hill of beans. 
The determining factor is who doesn't.

It doesn't have to be right.
It doesn't have to be wrong. 
It just is.

Somebody else gets a shot 

If Justin Trudeau messes up, the same will  happen to him. 


Any time there's a screw up that casts reflection on the integrity of the government, a Cabinet Minister must resign. 

It's how a government fesses up.

Mistakes happen. 

They must be atoned.

Joan SmIth was Solicitor General in David Peterson's government from 1986-9 . She made a phone call to the police in the middle of the night on behalf of a constituent worried about a missing brother. 
Because of her authority as Solicitor General ,there was appearance of impropriety of  perhaps trying to influence the police. No evidence. Just appearance. 

Ms Smith did what was required to protect public confidence in the integrity of the government.

It's the reason Dalton McGuinty resigned. 

Resignation of not, it would have been the reason for  the government's defeat if Tim Hudak hadn't handed them victory on a lace doylie clad plate.

It's the reason leaders  resign following defeat in election. As did Tim Hudak. Now Conservatives have a pig in a poke with Patrick what's- his- name. 

Patrick Brazeau should resign from the Senate.

Just because he wasn't found guilty as charged...didn't mean he wasn't guilty as charged.

 It could just mean the government's lawyer failed to prove it.Or because of systemic bias against the government. Or a combination of both. 

A Cabinet Minister resigns  " to save the government harmless" 

Not to save the Premier's or Prime Minister's hide. 

Even though it may, by sparing judgement on a Premier or Prime Minister's judgement in placing a person without judgement in a position where judgement is required. 

Like making Michael Chan Ontario Minister of Culture because he represents  a riding dominated by Asian culture. 

Like Stephen Harper when he appointed Italian -Canadian Julian Fantino to Cabinet as Minister of  Veteran's Affairs. 

Though, to be  scrupulously fair, I don't  think that decision alone defeated Stephen Harper.

He did other stuff. Lots of it.


Things are quiet this morning. Only a short exchange about mail delivery in the works. 

Boxes in my neighborhood, my son's  and my daughter's  in Newmarket are in close proximity to our homes and although I could likely qualify for home delivery once a week, I will not be making that request. 

It's worth noting NDP Leader Tom Mulcair promised to restore mail delivery to homes. The  Party was not successful . Not enough posties  or associate labour organizations to benefit from that promise I guess. 

The NDP is fifty-one years old .Older if the CCF is counted. 

Yesterday's Ontario news was dominated by discussion of funneling of provincial funds into the coffers of teachers unions and of the  sale of 60% of Ontario Hydro under  short term gain with long term pain. 

NDP Provincial Leader Andrea Horvath had something to say about the latter and nothing  at all  about the former.

i suppose if a political party's base is organized labour. it behooves the party to protect it's base.

But if theory of representation is the elected  are responsible to act in the interest of the community -at-large  and  conflict develops between the interest of organized labour and the community-at -large,how should that be reconciled?

The Provincial government transferred funds from the public treasury into teachers union coffers....from management to labour.....doesn't matter why... members pay dues for the cost of negotiations.....the public pay taxes....it's not enough to be right  ...it must be seen to be right.

There  is no good excuse for the Minister of Education to be so abysmally ignorant of the rules of bargaining . 

Management and Labour have separate and distinct responsibilities.  

That the  teachers organization is a public service Union and  also politically organized  makes the situation  a hundred times worse. 

There  is no need for an investigation. 

The  facts are acknowledged

The Minister  should resign. 

Friday 30 October 2015


I'm Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "WHO CAN YOU TRUST": 

And then you have Liz Sandals claiming that paying off the unions does not have any influence
on their support for the government.  

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 30 October 2015 at 08:42


Education Minister Liz Sandals was responding ...or not....to questions about payments by the Ontario government  to teacher unions for extra costs of negotiating contracts because  of extra time,extra people,extra rooms, extra food, for parties involved in negotiations. 

Extra parties being various local Boards of Education being there on the pretext of  local autonomy in education matters. 

It's  hard to imagine how negotiations happen with so many parties participating. 

But if  not participating what purpose would their presence serve?

The Minister said. " NO.....receipts were not requested" 

Obviously rooms. Extra time. Extra food were all needed. 

Like a hundred pizzas.

A large pizza averages six large slices.  Even if each participant had two,it would mean 300 people 
knoshing  at taxpayers' expense for days and weeks. 



How much negotiating could be going on with those numbers? All those pizzas to eat.

One news story says the amount funneled to the unions was over $2 million .Another said over $3 million. 

Easy to see why it would be hard to keep track.

And that would just cover extra union expense. 

They would hardly be hosting and paying government expenses. Suppose the government had an equal number! 

Premier Wynn says the unions should provide receipts. 

Minister Sandals dismisses the idea . Also that she received any help during the election from Working Families of Ontario, pseudonym for teachers unions. 

The Financial Accountability Officer has just stated his report about long term pain for short term gain by selling 60% of Hydro was leaked to the media by the government and that disrespects his office. 

The Honorable Charles Sousa, Ontario Treasurer, disputes the Financial Accountability Officer's findings.

His might have been one of the seats saved by the  billions of dollar cancellations of the natural gas fired generating plants  in the Honorable Dalton McGuinty's time. 

i think I read Mr Sousa was  manager of a bank branch in downtown Oakville. 

Thursday 29 October 2015


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "THAT'S NOT ALL": 

I am stuck with Wynne selling a big chunk of Hydro for a one time gain, long term loss.
Mr Ballard likely went along even though he had seen what happened when Aurora sold their Hydro and became 
dependant on other towns to help out. He actually tried to order Power Stream to report to Council after the ice storm

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 29 October 2015 at 19:04


MLA Ballard can have little to say about government plans to sell Hydro. As a backbencher and a member of caucus ,he'd be well served to have the cabinet decision explained to him.

The latest information on the forecast value of the asset for sale is down from $ 4  to 1.2 billion. 

Readers  may re-call when P.C. Premier  Mike Harris contemplated selling Hydro One, in the nineties. There was zero interest in buying. 

The proposed sale is for part of Hydro with the government maintaining control. 

I claim no expertise  in matters of high finance. But it does seem that partnering with government as  major shareholder and controlling interest may not be as attractive to the private sector as the government hoped. 

There was only one way to find that out. And they have.

The Financial Accountability Official has spoken. The deal is a dud. 

The question is, just how desperate is the government to get out of the hole they dug for themselves.

I would trust The Honorable Deb Mathews before The Honorable Charles Sousa.


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "FOR YOUR INFORMATION": 

Not to rain on this parade, but when I hear the words “fast track” from government, my first response is “yeah right”. That lawsuit Morris launched took 2 years to be ruled a SLAPP. Then there were court fees that had to be hashed out. “Fast tracking” will be brought down to what kind of timing? Couple of days? Weeks? Months? Year? It’s very hard to be excited about any announcement from this government. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 29 October 2015 at 08:57
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "FOR YOUR INFORMATION": 


We already have the Federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect us. 

The proclamation would make a nice wallpaper design for a small washroom. 

The Ontario blurb makes no reference to  responsible parties in SLAPP  lawsuits. In our town's experience, they are most likely modern day municipal politicians;  creatures of the Province and subject to the Municipal Act which in turn, is meaningless in the face of a Council that decides its own omnipotence. 

Cluttering up the books with more laws and regulations to simplify matters is not a solution. 

The Municipal Act includes legislation against Conflict of Interest. It requires a citizen at his/her
expense to file complaint.... a Provincial Act with the Province taking no responsibility whatsoever for

It merely lures citizens into believing the Act actually means something. 

Last I heard, former Mayor Rob Ford is the only politician found guilty under the legislation and that decision was reversed on appeal. 

A former Mayor of East Gwillimbury was once found to have cast a vote to his pecuniary advantage but the charge was dismissed because the Judge ruled  "He  didn't mean to"

It appears Courts routinely dismiss the charge, indicating unwillingness to do in the courts what the politicians won't.

Code of Conduct legislation was brought forward on recommendation of Chief Justice  Bellamy in the
wake of the Public Inquiry into the ,"computer leasing scandal in Toronto.

Millions of dollars beyond budget were spent on leasing computers. 

Wining  and dining and sex  and sweet talk and flights on private jets to sports events in foreign jurisdictions, and furtive meetings in underground  public parking , for money to change hands and a family trip to Disneyland, were all part of the evidence swept together in a pile. 

$19 Million of city resources were expended for the Public Inquiry to uncover every sleazy detail of the affair in 1999/10

No charges were ever laid.  A staff person was terminated. Later she appealed wrongful dismissal. 

Permissive Code of Conduct legislation complete with appointment of Integrity Commissioner was introduced  at Queen's Park. It was mandatory for the City of Toronto.

We have experience of that also in Aurora and how effective it turned out to be. 

A lawyer was retained at public expense and instructed by politicians to seek and discover a complaint.

An Integrity Commissioner was appointed with authority under the Act to receive and investigate the complaint. Only to discover the complaint was  written by a lawyer retained for the purpose and published.

Integrity Commissioner dismissed the complaint with severely critical things to say about  process and motivation . 

The Municipal Clerk, sole conduit under the Act between Commissioner,complainant and person complained about ,made a " personal decision"  to retire the day she distributed the decision.

Almost concurrently the Integrity Commissioner was stripped of authority but too late to bury the decision alongside his authority.

Yet another piece of flighty legislation is pending. The Province is contemplating giving municipalities  authority ,if they so choose, to Piggyback on the Provincial land transfer tax as a new source of revenue.

$10,000. upwards on a sliding scale according to value of property.

Such new revenue to be shared  equally with the Province.

New spending money with municipal councils carrying the can. 

Taxes hidden in the price of a home in the GTA are already in the hundreds of thousands.
The price is the measurement for market value assessment. 
The property owner  pays taxes on taxes, forever and a day thereafter. 
Taxes may even be close to thre cost of building a house.

Governments at all levels mouth the need for affordable housing. I think the United Nations has declared shelter to be a right. 

There  is no integrity in the machinations of government to obscure reality.

It's  a tangled web they weave and with our indifference we concede. 

Tuesday 27 October 2015


I Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "FANCY SCHMANCY CULTURAL PRECINCT":

While I appreciate Mr Watts' participation in this thing, if he is reporting the facts of what happened perhaps he should not include the sarcastic editorial for which he is famous and strictly report the facts. That way, the people reading this can judge for themselves.


I appreciate your participation in what I  prefer to call conversation rather than "a thing".
The  comment receives prominence  because of your appreciation of information provided by Mr.  Watts.

Not because you take exception to his inimitable style of expression. 

Like it or lump it, you must take this citizen of the community as you find him. 

Any occasion time and energy are used to express an idea, a writer really is baring his soul. Opening himself up to criticism. No artifice can be employed. It's the real deal. A rare gift, destined to become more rare in the climate we find in Aurora.

The Aurora Citizen Blog was effectively silenced with litigation paid for with public resources and despite a successful but expensive defence.

What price democracy that has a price tag? 

I posted Christopher's comment with others and published it as a guest post. 

One, because it was informative. 
Two because I trust it to be accurate. 
And three because I needed not to write yesterday.

There are days when thoughts at the forefront of my mind would not be helpful by being shared.

They may even be dangerous to my well-being. 

On Sunday evening, I watched a news item on television about an event  in Turkey thought of as a modern state with democratic elections and such. Turkey is an ally of the west. During the Cold War the U.S. had a ring of missile bases in Turkey aimed at the population of the Soviet Republic. 

Sunday's news item put the lie to any similarity to democracy. 

An actor, playwright and blogger was performing a play to an appreciative but private audience. The State of Turkey does not allow the play to be publicly offered .

It is critical of politicians...the governing body.

As a blogger,critical of politicians, the actor-playwright-blogger risks arrest and incarceration for crimes against the state. 

We  are so much better off in Canada, are we not? 

We may not like what Christopher has to say about politicians or how he  chooses to say it when he puts pen to paper,so-to-speak. But he does have the right. 

Politicians  would  naturally prefer him not to exercise the freedom Canadians enjoy under the Charter of Rights. 

Rights are acknowledged at the same time limits are explained by  governors to the governed.

Quarter of a century before the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was signed into law, an editorial in the Aurora Banner quoted a maxim attributed to Voltaire hundreds of years prior. I was still learning. 

"I may disagree with what he said but I will defend to the death his right to say it"

Is it as true today as it was then? 

Or was it an illusion never  tested ?


Numbers noted by Christopher Watts indicate  nineteen other community members  responded to the town's invitation to participate in Sunday's tour of the area dubbed "Cultural Precinct"

It was a beautiful day. 

Hosts were the Mayor, four Councillor's, two staff and two consultants. 

Christopher must have been there .That's how we know what happened. 

David Heard may be assumed to have attended from a comment received.  

No mention of media in attendance or staff from the  town's communication division. 

The event ended with a brain-storming  session following  the walk-about   

Sheets containing input from the community members  present would be gathered  and carried back to where reports are  prepared and many pages written for  formal presentation to Council .

 As if something really happened out there on Sunday. 

Numbers  of attendees  will be calculated in percentages and  compared to percentages in other studies to indicate relevance to other studies. 

Everything will be compiled in a blue binder with attractive photos and illustrations . The high-minded resolution approved by Council to  authorize the event will form the introduction to the report.

The Promenade Study has been on the books for five years . A significant planning workload  has been generated to make recommendations  and budgets for schemes like ornamental concrete sidewalks and Victorian street furniture and lighting and loans to property owners to upgrade properties totalling millions of dollars of public investment derived  from much-prized instruments of public financing known as investment funds which are created from property taxes. 

So far as we know,none of the recommendations have been implemented so far.  For good  reason. All work that leads to nothing keeps planning staff and consultants employed. 

All in the name of bringing life back to the commercial block in the town centre. 

Spark Street Mall in Canada's Capital City was a first and very much promoted project designed by government carried out by the National Capital Commission more than fifty years ago.

It  has not withstood the test of time. 

Despite good intent, government plans for re-invigoration tend to be a contradiction in term.

Monday 26 October 2015


Christopher Watts has left a new comment on your post "WE CAN LEARN FROM EACH OTHER": 


As per the town's website: http://www.aurora.ca/culturalprecinct
The Cultural Precinct is a three-block area bounded by: Mosley Street, Larmont Street, Metcalfe/Church Street and Yonge Street. 

For those that are interested on Sunday from 2 to 4 pm there was a community walk with about 30 in attendance, including 5 members of council (Mayor Dawe, Clrs Mrakas, Humfreys, Able, Kim) 2 x Town staff (Director of Planning, Director of Leisure Services) and 2 consultants.

There was no take-away or notice of what is planned for the "Community Culture Quest Aurora!" exercise.

Starting at Town Park in front of the former Wells St. School the group headed to the former Aurora Armoury. From there it cut back through the park, up Wells then west along Mosely to stop at the old Lions Hall. South on Victoria stopping at #54 Victoria. South to Metcalfe, east on Metcalfe to the Anglican rectory, then back west along Church to the Aurora Publick library parking lot.

The walk almost ended at the library without any consideration given to the west most boundary but then continued over to Yonge St.Up Yonge to Mosley, east to Victoria and south ending at the Church St. School.

Following the walk there were the usual uninspiring kiddie craft activities dragged out by consultants: an opportunity to pin words on a vision statement document, add paper cut-outs to blown up maps and use markers to write in on large paper wish-lists. It was this last activity I noticed the Mayor writing in his suggestions which I thought were reserved to capture community input.

The walk was led by Carl Bray of Bray Heritage, same consultant used for the both the failed Hillarious-Macintired Park concept ($25,000) and the failed South East Heritage Conservation District ($50,000+)During the walk Mr. Bray admitted that he did not feel the term "cultural precinct" was a good fit.

Posted by Christopher Watts to  Our Town and Its Business at 26 October 2015 at 16:17

Sunday 25 October 2015


Ok Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "SOMETHING HAS CHANGED": 

That is funny. If you had a club like that now, someone would accuse you of being elitists or exclusionary. even the mens' clubs in England and that one golf tournament in the states are under siege.

Clubs, maybe in all of Europe,have a definite function. I mis-named George Bernard Shaw 's Club association. I went to Wikipedia and discovered the Fabian Society was his association. It dated from pre-world war 1 and  promoted political change by peaceful means rather than revolution as in France and Russia. 

It was a pre-cursor to the British Labour Party. Hardly an exclusive organization. 

Clubs in general , like pubs, were and are an important part of that society. Europeans don't entertain in their homes.They have never had enough space. 

It's the reason theatres, music halls, opera houses,coffee shops, patisseries and bistros are popular with the natives. Europeans live their lives in the community. 

In my time, even children didn't spend evenings at home unless it was raining or snowing. We gathered under the lamplight in the street. Games  like  hide and seek, bar-the-door and leave-all were organized. Every street had at least one wee  shop with a lighted window full of a  variety of  boxes of sweeties (candy) on display with a raised  shelf  at the back and a sentinel row of giant jars of hard pastilles ,lozenges,comfits or humbugs in every colour imaginable, wrapped or sugar-coated. 

 IT would give the initials of a sweet and whoever guessed right would have to beat IT in a race to the other side of the street and back in order to have a turn at being IT. 

There were circle games, hop-scotch, ball games, rope skipping and in winter ,when temperature dipped to freezing, a slide would be created in the middle of the street and twenty or twenty-five kids would line up to take a turn running and sliding over and over and over again.

When we were all in bed at last ,one or other  parent would come out and destroy the slide so that next  evening, it had to be created again. It was  closest we came to skating.  Oh yes and roller-skating as well. The games were countless and we had "the swings" as well. 

For everything there was a season and no shortage of kids to join. 

In industrial cities and towns  in England ,working men's clubs provided  a home away from home. Drinks were cheaper. Darts and cards  and words were games of choice. Continuing education was not unheard of either.

For young adults,"The dancin "  was a passion everywhere.  Second house at "The pictures" on Saturday  night was de rigeur as was  promenading through town streets on a Sunday night.Hundreds of young folk congregated from villages and smaller towns for  miles around. 

Shop doorways were the place to huddle tightly in the rain.Thought of staying home and missing the ritual would never have occurred. 

It was like that in my teen years ,my mother's, her mother's and untold generations before that.Those who did not participate were the excluded ones. I doubt very much their absence was noticed. 

I believe older residents of Aurora are familiar with what I have described. 

Nowadays, we have a youth co-ordinator on the town payroll to discover what it is  young people
want. Half a  million dollar annual dole-out for "Culture"  to entertain the  adults. And tonight Councilors are conducting a walk about to discover the "Cultural Precinct" in our town.