Monthly Archives: June 2014

Orser’s same old song and dance

London has a new mayor!

I’d like to extend my warm congratulations to 14-year city council veteran, Joni Baechler. I’m sure the residents of Ward 5, and all Londoners, are looking forward to seeing Mayor Baechler lead the city out of the Fontana fiasco and into one of the most important elections in London history (at least so far this century).

I actually had the privilege of being able to witness the three rounds of voting at City Council last night. I also went to get more insight regarding the London Plan, which I’m going to leave for a future post.

Councillor Joe Swan acted as mayor to facilitate the voting process and things went pretty smoothly. Councillor Sandy White rebuked Councillor Paul Hubert for suggesting that councillors should restore city council’s “honour” and move forward — given the fact that Fontana’s sense of bravado left basic integrity out of the $1,700 equation, I can’t really disagree with Coun. Hubert.

And suddenly, just as quickly as an honourable atmosphere had begun to filter through the thick haze of a criminal investigation and guilty verdict, a startling call in the name of “democracy” suddenly pierced through the progress and rung in my ears.

It was the voice of my ward’s incumbent, Councillor Stephen Orser. I thought to myself, “this should be interesting, perhaps even novel…I mean, what in the world could be the problem here?”

Apparently, Mr. Orser felt that the interim mayor should be someone selected from outside of city council, a point he made animatedly, leaving no doubt as to the veracity of his conviction. He then went on to explain – or perhaps exclaim would be a better way to describe it – that the whole process of choosing an interim mayor needs to be “democratic” — Right, because elected officials voting for another elected official in a time where leadership has faltered is akin to the “democratic process” of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Mr. Orser’s indignation aroused a chorus of snickers, incredulous head shaking and smirks from the gallery; you could also see the unmistakable expressions of embarrassment on some councillors’ faces when Mr. Orser spoke.

Tuesday night’s vote was as about as democratic as it gets and I think our upcoming municipal election is a great opportunity to reclaim our democratic right to vote, be heard and generate a better future by letting Mr. Orser leave the limelight with his eight long years of political “experience”.

At one point Tuesday night, Joe Swan even stated that Mr. Orser needed to listen, because the selection process guidelines were stated beforehand and everything was transparent.

I’m running against Mr. Orser because I want to join City Council without any political baggage or ulterior motives and help develop Ward 4 along with the city of London in the way a city should grow: by attracting new business, retaining homegrown talent, incorporating newcomers and developing neighbourhoods.

Mr. Orser is acting out of desperation because Ward 4 now has viable candidates running for his job, his one and ONLY job. From now on, any sound bites Mr. Orser will proffer to the media will be representative of his ‘carte blanche platform’ in helping himself to another four years in office. He is no longer be able to latch onto his ‘mentor’ Joe Fontana because that political umbilical cord has been permanently severed.

Long Gone Is Joe’s Teflon

Guilty! That’s was what Justice Bruce Thomas declared against Mayor Joe Fontana in a 19-page report.

Finally there is a semblance of justice in London Ontario. Given the Liberals recent scandal, this verdict is a real reprieve from incredulity and a real-life example of the otherwise empty platitude that “no one is above the law”; not even Teflon Joe ‘Kingpin’ Fontana can claim immunity anymore – I facetiously refer to him with this appellation because he reminds me of a low-level hoodlum who’s graduated to a position of importance in a B-grade movie.

Mr. Fontana’s 8 ‘merry’ councillors should also be quaking in their political boots. They seem to have taken the trial fan-fare ‘lightly’, even smugly, as I’ve observed. And I consider it an affront to Londoners that this “gang of 8” willfully aligns themselves with Joe the Foe, whose shady and unscrupulous reputation has been proven in a court of law and order.

Before and during the trial the hateful 8 touted him as a being ‘squeaky clean’ but I knew the RCMP wouldn’t waste its time on unfounded evidence. I and many other Londoners knew it had to be legit. Joe also knew it was legit but his lack of integrity and arrogance made him choose to say otherwise.

Councillor Matt Brown astutely echoed this sentiment to AM980: “Londoners are sick of this black eye. Joe has put his personal interests above the well being of this community for far too long. I’m sick of it, Londoners are sick of it, it’s time for him now, today, to do the right thing and resign.”

What really grinds my gears is that Two-faced Fontana collected his pay from taxpayers throughout the entire episode instead of humbly taking leave. I thought to myself, “what unmitigated gall and temerity Mr. Fontana has to drag us Londoners through his mud.” I mean, it is His mess, right?! It’s his uncouth, ignoble and dishonourable attitude which has led to this behavior…

Couple this disgrace with the recent Billy-T’s scandal where he displayed a flagrant disregard for city legislation when he met with his gang, charging us $97,000 for it, and you can understand the disgust that the good citizens of London have.

Remorse? Repentance? No. Only recalcitrance from our infamous leader…

But it doesn’t matter, because the truth has prevailed, to use an old cliché, and he’s not walking away from this one.

As a voter, citizen and candidate for city council, I’m relieved that justice was served and saddened that the city had to endure the likes of Mr. Fontana.

Councillor Stephen Orser, a proud member of the Fontana 8 and my ward’s incumbent, always trailed behind the mayor like a puppy looking for his next treat.

Then Orser came out with this ludicrous statement:  “I’m glad I fought for the Mayor to have a fair trial. Justice has spoken. The honourable thing now to do now is resign.”

Really?  I thought it was Mr. Gord Cudmore who “fought for the Mayor to have a fair trial” – after all, he is Fontana’s lawyer. Perhaps Mr. Orser is a legal genius who was running things behind the scenes and I’m simply not aware…who knows what goes on his world…

I guess now that there’s no going back, Mr. Orser calls for Fontana’s resignation. But it’s too little too late, and just really disingenuous. Orser supported Fontana ad nauseum despite evidence that would immediately raise serious ethical questions.

Guilt by association is Mr. Orser’s claim to infamy here. Londoners have integrity and eschew this type of behavior and the ways people try to cover it up.

I am certainly not jealous of those close to Fontana; absorbing the kind of collateral political damage that is coming their way will require monumental strength.

Like Fontana, Orser is in this for himself, not Ward 4 and its amazing potential.

This guilty verdict, I believe, has shifted the electoral momentum in this city. Voters can now move forward and know that politicians need beware and always keep it real.

Any post that presents me with an opportunity to end by quoting my mother is an opportunity I always take advantage of. So my mother used to always say: “If you do wrong, you will eventually get caught”. Not necessarily eloquent, but direct, real and as we see from today’s verdict, most definitely true.

Have a great weekend!

Paul

 

One cannot be liberal about integrity

Following the trail of Ontario’s “Big 3” parties during the last few weeks of provincial politicking acts as a humbling – and disturbing – confirmation of the unfortunate truth behind the quest for power: behind all the platitudes and posturing, politics remains a blood sport.

The accusations and mudslinging have been incessant; I wonder if we’ll still wind up hearing a few partisan barbs before the polls close tonight…

But with all of the mutual acrimony and disingenuousness, no party is more scandal ridden than the venal Liberal party. When I recall the sponsorship scandal in Quebec some years back, I’m simply confronted with another burdensome reminder of the ubiquity of inauthenticity that pervades the Liberal party…federal, provincial, whatever…there seems to be no escaping it.

Kathleen Wynne keeps trying to distract the public from a colossal scandal that has burned voters and their dependents – her smile is nothing more than a cheshire grin, to say nothing of Dalton…he just waltzed away from it all, took no responsibility, and we’re left listening to the hubris of his successor.

What exactly is going on here? Where’s the accountability? How can a political party, in a province with as many educated and hardworking people as Ontario allow this to continue?

To restore the values that will guide policy and this province to a better future, the Liberals need to take a political vacation, for as long as necessary. With all of their “issues”, the other parties come out squeaky clean compared to the Liberals. And I don’t think I’m alone in this estimation.

Re-electing a group of people who suffer from an unaccountability syndrome?
We voters are not that politically daft.

As the obfuscations multiply, so do voters – at least that’s how it should be…
The esteem with which we value our inalienable right to choose our leaders must rise as we get burned. This is because we have the power to turn off the leaking gas line which will blow at any second.

I’m paraphrasing Elie Wiesel who sagaciously remarked that the greatest evil is not hate, but indifference. And we know all too well that voter apathy is a very powerful force.

I don’t want to go on preaching about this, so let me just say this: It’s your choice, and it’s your future – to say nothing of your children and loved ones. Get out there and respond to the lack of regard for the public. Yes, maybe you will vote differently than your neighbour, but at least show them you haven’t given up, that their actions have consequences and that they can’t just “Wynne” as the case may be.

I’m sure you’ve heard people talking about how fortunate we are not to be living in political situations like those in Syria, Iran and Egypt, or be in Thailand, stuck in the midst of a military coup d’état. People will remark “Look at what’s happening in Ukraine,” but do we really listen?

I think many of us pass these statements off as clichés, hackneyed comparisons that don’t resonate because most of us live a life free of war, disease and calamity.
But that’s all the more reason not to fall into complacency: If it’s that much easier for us to express our political will, then we have all that much more responsibility to do so.

The Liberals have outworn my patience, and I know I’m not alone. I’m looking for leaders who can admit their mistakes – at least some or even most of them. And it is even more important to admit to wrongdoing when the errors committed are so egregious that they cast a pall over the province and the entire country.

Liberal about the death penalty? It’s up for debate. Liberal about abortion? One’s conscience and beliefs are one’s own. But liberal about integrity? Well, I’m sorry, there’s no middle of the road position when it comes to the most important quality in our leadership.

So-called centrism is nowhere to be found between right and wrong.
Dubium non est

-Paul

#Vote4Vision: The Voice Behind The Vision

I know that everyone’s gearing up for tomorrow’s provincial election, but I wanted to take a moment to introduce my podcast to everyone in Ward 4 and across London.

The Vote4Vision podcast is an opportunity for us to share our plans and opinions on what could help Ward 4 prosper.

I look forward to your feedback and please be in touch, especially if you’d like to join me for an episode – or several!

Here’s to a better future for us all.

– Paul

Saving Lorne Avenue

I just had the pleasure to meet up with Scott Maclean in the Old East Village to talk about why it’s so important that Lorne Avenue Public School be kept open.

It was great meeting Scott Maclean of SaveLorneAve.ca

It was great meeting Scott Maclean of SaveLorneAve.ca

For those of you who haven’t heard of Scott – and I’m sure that’s not very many of you – he is a resident of the OEV, Chair of School Council at Lorne Avenue Public School and the creator and curator of SaveLorneave.ca, a very important initiative which has helped garner support for keeping Lorne Ave. P.S. open.

I’m going to be publishing our interview at the end of the week – I’m just about to start celebrating a two-day Jewish holiday, which means no work, no Internet, etc. – but I thought I’d just like to keep adding my voice to the chorus that is saying “Lorne Avenue Public School for today and tomorrow!”

Scott telling me about the latest appeal to the ministry

Scott telling me about the latest appeal to the ministry

It’s so important, as Scott pointed out, that the school stay open as a community hub while the community continues to grow.

Thanks again, Scott, for meeting with me and sharing your passion and insight! I definitely appreciate what you and all the other community activists are doing to nurture the potential of the OEV.

Cheers!

Paul