"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

Thursday 17 October 2019


A poll in one of the town’s weekly publication poses a patently foolish question about municipal autonomy and gun control. It arises from a news item about a discussion between the Prime Minister of Canada and the Mayor of Aurora. They may not be of the same age but they are both products of the modern education system. Civics must have been another subject teachers decided need not be taught.

Neither appears to be aware that a municipality is low man on the totem pole. Canada’s Constitution does not give them the right to exist. The Province grants their authority. Premier Ford could decide tomorrow to consign our municipality into history.There is no practical reason why he shouldn’t .In 1971 when the region was planned ,Newmarket and Aurora were planned as a single urban node. We were successful in arguing services provided locally and separately at minimal or no cost was reason enough to hold off on amalgamation.

Aurora has enjoyed autonomy for an additional  fifty years. The cost of two separate administrations
no longer  makes economic sense nor has it since George Timpson  was elected Mayor, a
full-time firefighter brigade was established and then amalgamated with Newmarket to form a more powerful bargaining unit. The service is classified essential. Because the right to strike is not
available ,agreements must be settled by arbitration and it was off to the races, no holds barred,
and  financial control became a mythical reality.

When I was first elected , Tridel Corporation was just the Del Zotto brothers.  They had a former
North York bylaw officer to represent them in an application to develop.They developed the rental apartment complex at the corner of Wellington Street and Murray Drive. He told about a study North York commissioned which determined the average time spent fighting fires was 18 minutes in a year.

Firehalls were beacons of brightness and colour with gardens outside and competitions for best and part of the neighbourhood. Fire Pumpers were bright and  shiny and spotlessly clean and usually prominently displayed. Firefighters maintained the firehall when they weren’t fighting fires. Then the Professional Firefighters Association successfully argued they were firefighters, not janitors,so  they didn’t do it anymore when they weren’t fighting fires.

Nowadays, sleeping and recreation facilities are provided at firehalls...kitchens,where they can test recipes to while away the hours when they’re not fighting fires and take beefcake photos for fund-raising calendars I made myself very unpopular with firefighters wives when I drew attention to the
Coke machine that sold beer in the new firehall.  At the time, I didn’t even know that anybody who knew, could drop in and chug-a-lug when they felt the need.

I have heard of a Toronto firefighter who lives in Vancouver . His wife was an airline stewardess so he flew  home at no cost, between shifts. I’m not sure how that fits in with being an emergency
service and being on call for whatever emergency might arise. I’m not even sure the story is true.
Repeating it is just one of the little perks of no longer being in elected office .

As often happens, this post took  off in it’s own direction. My intention was to illustrate the impact of  firefighter’s compensation on settlements for other public services. But that’s a longer story than
one might imagine...as old as the history of  Ontario.

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