"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 18 January 2020


Less by design than accident , I retrieved the Regional Publication from the re-cycling box at Christmas. It’s the first one I’ve seen. To-day  I want to draw attention to the back page. There
are three rows of photos of members of York Regional Council...twenty-one in total. nine of them are Mayors of  local Councils. The rest are Regional councillors. All,except the chair, serve also on local Councils. All receive  remuneration from both sources. Not all  receive the same benefits. Benefit packages are said to be worth $30 thousand  a year.

Regional  councillors receive termination settlements, if defeated from office. Not sure if they quit .If a Regional Councillor dies while in office, life insurance  is paid.

Taking a wild guess ,I would say, average cost of a regional councillor to  taxpayers might be as much as $200.thousand  a  year . Multiplied by twenty-one , quite a tidy  burden.

York Region was created in 1971. Next year ,it will be half a century old.

Metro Toronto was around that age when the boroughs were amalgamated and Metro
was wiped out. Toronto became a single government unit with forty-four Councillors and a Mayor.  Council meetings lasted several days. Decisions were slow in the making.

One of the first decisions made by Premier Ford  when he took office was to cut the number of Toronto Councillors almost in half to twenty- four members. A mighty clamour ensued. A year has passed. No great catastrophe has occurred.

York Region as noted in the opening sentence  has twenty-one councillors. On top of that,
nine municipal Councils with I don’t know how many, ward and elected at large local councillors. In terms of remuneration and benefits most  have re-classified themselves as employees. They are not hired. They cannot be fired. But somehow they have managed to re-classify  remuneration and benefits to their substantial advantage. Payroll for municipal council undoubtedly  exceeds that of Regional Council. It absorbs millions of dollars.

It would  be a simple matter to discover the tally  to the penny. It may even be part of the report already generated for the Province for changes they intended. We do not know that. The report has not been released. Regional Councillors  asked to receive the report. Whether or not that happened,we are not aware.

We do not know what changes were intended. We do know Aurora and Newmarket expressed
opposition , assuring the Province the current system serves us very well.it certainky serves them well.

Our elected representatives opposed change without disclosure of the change proposed.

It is reasonable to assume ,changes proposed by the Ford government would be aimed at
reducing numbers; bodies and financial cost. It makes equal sense the taxpayers of York Region
 are entitled to know what was proposed in  the shelved  report.

It has not been suggested.

I am suggesting it now.

Wednesday 8 January 2020


A Councillor is not allowed to impugn the motives of another Councillor. Rightly so. According to rules of debate, it compels focus on the question under debate. On the other hand, when no other reason is offered in support of the motion, motive becomes the whole of it.

Finger cramps are part of my problem with blog posting...and aging of course. Commenting on Facebook is easier and very convenient. but only seen by a limited number. My grandchildren have set me up with a keyboard for my ipad and a tray on my walker. So I sit on the reclining chair with everything at my fingertips, so to speak. I’m giving you the picture to explain any shortcomings that may be with this post. The late great Andy Foote, who had the last few minutes of “Sixty Minutes” on a Sunday night, used to complain about growing old. He had a routine minimal surgical procedure and never came out of it. He didn’t have anything to complain about after that.

I never thought much about growing old. I certainly never imagined how it would be with a personal computer. In the history of mankind, old age has never been so interesting. It is my intention to avoid even the most routine surgery. Unless of course life becomes so miserable it presents as a suitable exit.

Anyway, to get to the subject of this post...a ward system for the Town of Aurora....What have we heard to recommend it? Are people complaining about poor representation? I don’t think so. If they were, why did Council decide to reduce the number of Councillors in the last election? Who asked for that? Or was it merely a step in the larger strategy? Was the ward system the real purpose of the plan?

Here’s where we get down to motive in the absence of logic. The question of wards was on the ballot already. Voters said no.

Our Mayor uses “Getting things done” as his modus operandi. It’s a good one. But not exactly what we think of when that getting done is against the expressed will of the people.

So who benefits from the ward system? Well who moved the motion and amended it in a most peculiar fashion? An amendment cannot change the purpose of a motion. This motion authorized funds for a planning study. Then amended to add unanimous support by Council for that which was to be studied. The amendment was not in order. It should have been ruled out of order.

So who is the apparent architect of this fiendish plot? Councillor Michael Thompson is the mover and shaker there-off. What do we know of the Councillor? Not a lot...Why is that? The Councillor keeps his head down and stays out of trouble. He likes the job. He wants to keep it. He is prepared to do whatever it takes. But he’s not alone.

And the easiest way to ensure the job is theirs ad infinitum is with a ward system. No town wide campaign...no responsibility for decisions made that do not affect the Ward. Easy to classify as a full-time position and collect benefits like health plans, life insurance, pensions and termination settlements in the event of defeat at the polls etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

If the pattern of Markham is followed, each Ward Councillor would receive a budget. They might share an office and staff so they can follow a private career or operate a business and milk the system for everything it has to offer.

Don’t tell me I’m exaggerating. It’s happening all around us. The former Regional Chair collected a quarter of a million a year from the Region and practiced law at the same time.

The Province obviously intended to do some re-organizing to correct the situation but got cold feet in the face of Doug Ford’s lack of political skill.

The situation is as bad as it can be. Like every public institution, municipal councils in Ontario have become their own reason for being and that is to serve the people who are supposed to be doing the serving.

My fingers have held up this far but now I have to review the copy.