Thursday, December 28, 2006


Eight months of caretaker counselling has taken its toll.

After more than six weeks of decompression I've resurfaced.

It has been said that municipal politics is all about real estate. Some might say it is about NIMBY - not in my backyard.

NIMBY Queen Street East

Today's Toronto Star (December 28) tells a typical NIMBY tale.

A "tony beach enclave" is up in arms over - are you ready for this? - the introduction of a program designed to house twelve people experiencing homelessness. A church would do this for one night per week.

The sponsor invokes the Christmas story - Mary, Joseph and Jesus homeless in Bethlehem until someone took them in - as support for the program. But Christmas is now three days past. Who can remember that New Testament story amidst the Boxing Week Blitz?

Community opposition has now put the program on hold.

NIMBY - Burlington

An earlier so-called career in local politics afforded an up close look at NIMBY. Examples:

  • Allegations that a city bus route would bring violent crime to the affluent Millcroft community leads to the route's cancellation.
  • Oakville politicians force non-profit housing residents to install uniform window blinds.
  • A delegation's description of condominium owners as a lower life form (as compared to "real homeowners') fails to impress Burlington Councillors, as some of them actually live in condos.

This go-around (caretaker from March - December 2006) a suggestion that a painted centre line on a local street could bring down property values stands out as my most memorable NIMBY moment.

The White Line in the Middle of the Road was "invented" in 1915 by Burlington Mayor Maxwell Smith. Did His Worship have any idea of the impact his invention would have on neighbourhoods.

A Question

Have you or any of your close family or associates ever belonged to a NIMBY group?

Fellow travelers, perhaps?

More on NIMBY in future postings.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Thought I was Over It

I really thought I was past it. My anti-Toronto bias, that is.

But it is back. And the Toronto Star has done it.

Their continuing careless and just plain wrong municipal election coverage will eventually put me over the edge.

A recent story talked about our former popular Mayor Mulkewich. That's Robert Mulkewich, or so the Star thinks. Call him Bobby why don't you? Out here he is known as Walter.

Today's profiles of candidates confuses a west end incumbent Rick Craven with an east end contender Rick Goldring. An easy mistake I often confuse David Miller with David Shiner.

And how many times can they refer to Mayor Rob MacIsaac as a"former mayor?" Well, I suppose with twenty-one days left in November twenty-one times is a good possibility.

Mr. Editor, give your reporters a Go Train ticket, point them west (that's where Burlington is) and tell them to come out here and look around. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on out here that could benefit from accurate news coverage.

Bob Wood
Ward 5

Monday, October 30, 2006

Jackson - "MacIsaac Just Up and Quit on Us"

Mayoral candidate Cam Jackson, who quit Queen's Park to run for Mayor of Burlington, had this to say in today's Toronto Star (Wide Open Race in Burlington):

"MacIsaac just up and quit on us... "

Jackson's quote, if accurate, raises a question.

Who is the "us" that Mayor Rob MacIsaac quit on?

He didn't quit on me. Fifteen years on Council (nine as Mayor), late meetings, countless hours away from a young family, loss of privacy and on and on.

That's no 'quit.' It sounds more like a commitment to the people of Burlington.

Jackson goes on to say that after the 'quit' "a lot of people in the community approached me..." to run for mayor.

Perhaps. It is certain that many other community people had different ideas and wondered whether Jackson, described in today's article as a "polarizing figure," was the right fit for a job that is a lot about consensus building.

This quote may leave them wondering still.

But slow down - don't believe everything you read. Writer Richard Brennan notes that former mayor "Robert" Mulkewich supports candidate Richard Burgess. If you can get popular Walter "Mayor of all the People" Mulkewich's name wrong you could misquote Cam Jackson.

Couldn't you?

E -Day Minus 14

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated."

I can't say that I know much about Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols. I lifted the line above from one of their songs. It seems to sum up the public attitude toward politicians these days.

As I look at the numerous candidates busting themselves to achieve electoral success in next month's municipal elections I recall former Mulroney Conservative Cabinet Minister John Crosbie. The colourful Newfoundlander is reported to have said:

"If I win, I win. And if I lose, I spare myself untold agony."

Or as Mayor MacIsaac said to me when I was appointed as Ward 5 Councillor for an eight month period.

"Congratulations and condolences."

Yes. It is often thankless work.

In many cases today the public's expectations of politicians has more to do with what you (the elected official) can do for them (the constituent.) Forget the broader public good.

'Get that bus off my street.'

'I'll stop paying my taxes if you don't....'

'Not in my backyard.'

And all politicians, or so the public believes, have become captive to special interest groups. But even this has changed.

Shortly before he died John Munro, veteran Liberal politician, reflected on how the times had changed. Munro noted ruefully:

"Back in the (the seventies) when you talked of special interest groups everyone knew, all parties knew, that you meant the banks and insurance companies. Today special interest means people who are poor."

Broken Promises

Yes, they all break promises. Writer, broadcaster Steve Paiken in his book The Life - The Seductive Call of Politics tells a story of a promise not broken.

Nova Scotia Premier John Savage had apparently committed to end the practice of turfing out all civil servants after a change in government. This tradition meant that staff who supported the new government were put in place in virtually all public service positions. Even road crews changed.

Challenged over this new policy at a meeting Savage said:

"I told you I was going to do this."

Then a voice at the back of the room replies:

"You know something, you did. But we didn't fuckin' well believe you."

Paiken again quotes a family member of one much maligned hard working politician:

"Why would you want anyone you love to do this?"

Am I too cynical?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Royson James Got Me Thinking

Star columnist Royson James took a break from bashing Toronto Mayor David Miller today.

In a thoughtful piece he suggests ways to create more excitement in municipal election races. (James' column can be found at

He's got some good ideas like expanding who can vote, promoting diversity etc. Other notions such as term limits and the creation of an independent election office are well intended but not practical.

Giving non-incumbents a chance is James' most significant point. Heh, I should know I'm an incumbent - sort of.

Here is my contribution. Why don't we send Toronto politicians and staff on fact finding trips to small municipalities to see how those guys manage elections. OK, they've got incumbents out in the 905 who have been around far too long but some, like mine, have already initiated reforms to "level the playing field."

Burlington, for example, eliminated Councillor references in Ward newsletters after March 31st. Politician's websites are cleaned up of that self promoting bombast early in election year as well.

Do municipalities do enough to promote the importance of voting?
James argues that Toronto doesn't.

However, a quick check of some small town and city websites shows me that info is easy to find. Newmarket, for one, encourages you to vote and tells you why it is important. (See

On second thought maybe that fact finding trip can be simplified. Do it on the web. Toronto could learn a thing or two.

Imagine that.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nomination - Local Politician of the Year #3

This time - a group nomination. It goes to the Council of the City of Charlottetown P.E.I.

In a 9 - 1 decision last week that Council changed the name of a street that honoured the Island's only Olympic gold medalist.

Dave 'Eli' MacEachern Court named after the 1998 Olympic gold medal brakeman will now be called Eli Court.

Council was pressured last March to make a change but hung tough.

However, it appears that a petition signed by every resident on the street won the day. Council caved. Apparently the half dozen families who live on the street were concerned that the name was too long for children to remember.

CBC reports quote MacEachern as "not upset." However, the Sun Media claim that the bobsledder finds it "a bit of an insult."

Is there a lesson here? City of Burlington Ontario Councillors used to make decisions on what to call streets too. One night, running out of ideas, they decided to name a street after an apparently (and appropriately) bored reporter who was covering the proceedings.

Burlington Council now leaves street naming to staff.

Maybe Charlottetown should too.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

E Day - 34

Burlington Council report CL –13-06 recommended a change in the compensation of councillors, a small increase in expenses, and reconfirms the existing formula used to make annual adjustments to salaries should be based on the Consumer Price Index.

Council approved this report on October 10th. Beginning December 1 the Mayor will make $149,168 up from $142,704. Councillors go to $87,168 from $84,311.

The Citizens Committee on Council Responsibilities and Compensation did the research and came back with a recommendation that was in line with what other municipalities – particularly two tiered municipalities - paid.

No problem with the Citizen’s Committee work here. Such committees are invaluable in objectively looking at council compensation matters and avoiding those messy debates where politicians argue over what they are worth. (It must be noted that the pols self assessments are often at odds with public perceptions.)

The section of the report entitled “Administrative Resources” is another matter.

Overall Council expenses continue to grow.

Burlington Council is drifting towards a situation where each Councillor will have his/her own assistant. Right now two Councillors share an assistant. There are two additional reception staff. That’s five staff in total. The public spends $911,843 or $6.20 per constituent on Council.

In 1996 the then seventeen member Burlington council voted (nine in favour eight against) to shrink the council to seven. In those days 16 Councillors shared one staff person. Some argued at the time that this change would lead to spiralling costs and big city type full time politicians.

In ten years much has changed. The City is evolving from suburban to urban. Citizens expect a big commitment from their small now full time council. Those councillors work hard.

But still is this the direction we wanted to go in 1996? More Councillors with smaller wards is preferred to continued growth of staff in Council offices. Adding politicians who are, theoretically at least, responsible to the public should be a consideration for the new Council.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Left it Cleaner than he found it.

In his final State of the City address Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac concluded his remarks with the camper’s credo. He hoped that he had left his campsite a little cleaner than he had found it.

I served six years with Councillor MacIsaac and it his been my privilege to be working with him again over his final eight months.

And , yes, he left it cleaner.

Not enough time today to itemize a long list of accomplishments but Rob’s summary includes:

Ÿ Smart Growth Summits
Ÿ The creation of Carpenter Hospice
Ÿ The growth of the Burlington Community Foundation
Ÿ City building from infrastructure to waterfront development.

And the “renaissance” in the downtown is cresting with this week’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with McMaster University that will bring that respected institution to town.

“The last key link to Burlington’s march to legitimacy as a great city,” noted the Mayor.

What will face the New Council

Rob notes the challenges ahead such as:

1. Developing and sticking with the Strategic Plan which will be developed in the first months of the New Year.

2. Continuing the positive working atmosphere at City Hall where staff and Council work together in what MacIsaac described as a model relationship.

3. Recognizing the “more for less mantra as a cop out” in building a great community.

4 Implementing new planning polices that will take courage as attention must be put towards strengthening public transit and creating public spaces.

5. Preparing for the Impact of Climate Change

The New Council

Rob hopes we’ll think hard about our choices in November’s elections. He’d like to see us choose a Mayor who will be a consensus builder and a team player. An individual who is not partisan, has integrity and will be a statesman is what we need.

Sounds like Rob.

Good luck Mayor MacIsaac. And thanks.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

E Day - 41

The nominations are closed. The battle is joined. Less than six weeks to go.

Dropped in on the first election debate for mayoral candidates.

Tuesday morning's event at Robert Bateman High School featured four of the five candidates.

There were some ideas.

Richard Burgess wants to develop a symposium for north Burlington residents to better understand their issues. He also proposes a "Team Burlington type approach" to working with social/cultural agencies.

Former Burlington MPP, Cam Jackson, had few concrete ideas in his opening remarks. Jackson sees a "need for a greater dialogue" and noted that "many city projects are not paid for yet."

Councillor Joan Lougheed spoke to the largely student audience about making Burlington a "youth friendly" community through, among other things, developing a Community Youth Partnership Council.

Businessman Philip Papadopoulos emphasized his knowledge of the community. Over 240,000 people have come through his doors in his nearly thirty years working in the town.

Some Thoughts

Papadopoulos seems like a nice man who has gotten involved through his concerns regarding the development of the downtown. There are many more issues.

Lougheed was clearly best prepared, speaking confidently to the audience.

One wonders if Jackson thinks this is a coronation rather than a campaign. Fortunately, his recollection of organizing a protest against a reduction in PD days while a student at Nelson High School didn't encourage Bateman students to bring out the placards and take the day off.

Burgess appears well organized but his answer to a question on cosmetic pesticide use was a big disappointment.

Mr Burgess, it is a health issue first and foremost.

For her part Lougheed demonstrated an understanding of the battles ahead on private property vs public health issues. Burgess' idea of "giving business a chance to survive" sounds like Chamber sloganeering rather than a thoughtful response on an important and controversial matter.

Couldn't stay for the whole event. Hopefully, there will be good media coverage of these events. There won't be many of them.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Nomination Local Pol of the Year #2

Politics has always had its share of rule benders and dirty tricksters particularly at election time.

In the past the worst of such adolescent behaviour has been wrought on opponents’ election signs.

As the internet becomes more and more a campaign tool, some new tricks are being devised.

E-Tomfoolery in Vaughan

Peter Meffe, incumbent Ward One Councillor in Vaughan, has a challenger in Mary Ruffolo.

Councillor Meffe was first elected to City Council in 1988 and is now serving his fourth term.

According to her website, Ruffolo, the challenger, has spent the past eight years in municipal government working within the Planning & Development Department in Vaughan.

It is her website that is at issue here because, if you had gone to it earlier this month, you would have been redirected to Meffe's site. Ruffolo was miffed.

Figure This One Out

Rocco Panacci, a resident of Richmond Hill set up a website for both Meffe (with his permission) and for Ruffolo (without her permission.)

Panacci, apparently a paid campaign worker for Meffe, recently told the Toronto Star that he is managing Meffe's website and had agreed to set up the site that used Ruffolo's name.

While Panacci told the Star he had done nothing illegal and denied anyone had asked him to set up Ruffolo's - I mean Meffe's website - the site was quickly taken down after the story.

Looks like an interesting election in Vaughan. We'll keep our eye on Meffe as an early front runner for Local Politician of The Year.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Canadian Sport Celebrities in Charge

Last year many were caught by surprise when a rumour circulated that
Michael Clemons was considering a run at the Toronto mayor's seat.

Not us.

Michael (41), aka Pinball, a graduate of Georgia’s William and Mary University, CFL star for twelve years, is head coach of the Toronto Argonauts these days.

Is he mayoral material? We could do worse. In fact, we may be seeing a trend. Picture our athletes running our politics.

Imagine This

Waiting too long in Emerg? Dispatch George Chuvalo to expedite things.

Violent Crime is rampant. Let’s get former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi to sort this out.

Photo radar works, but public support, especially the fast driving male public, is thin. How about asking Champ Car racer Paul Tracy, the “Thrill from West Hill,” to lead an awareness raising campaign on the dangers of aggressive driving?

Premier McGuinty can start delivering on his promises by naming Eddie Shack as the Minister of Education so as to seriously address our high drop out rate.

And the feds should call back Old #99 from Phoenix to resolve the softwood lumber dispute with the Yanks. Go Wayne go.

Patronage appointments can be controversial. But who’d argue with Don Cherry as Ambassador to Sweden; former NHL Players’ Association leader Alan Eagleson as Ethics Commissioner; or ex-Jays pitching ace Roger Clemens as our next Lieutenant Governor.

Our politicians have failed to deliver a January holiday. Let’s celebrate Canadian teamwork, dedication and selfishness by honouring Raptor great Vince Carter on his birthday (January 26).

Yes, our politics would look a lot different with Canadian sport celebrities in charge.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Burlington Election #2

In an earlier posting I took a shot at predicting what this year's election issues might be in my town - Burlington. I'm going to give this some additional thought.


Back Down to Earth

While I, an interim councillor, am not running this year and thus not obligated to knock on doors, I'm remain keenly interested in what others are hearing on the hustings.

So when a veteran Council colleague reported to me that he had started canvassing this week I was all ears.

Of 150 homes visited by the Councillor only three (3) residents were aware that a municipal election was taking place this fall.

On reflection I conclude that:

1. It is early days and interest will pick up.

2. The concept that municipal government, of all levels of government, is the most popular and closest to the people may need some rethinking.

3. The Councillor had stumbled on to a problem identified earlier this summer - too many deceased individuals on the voter's list.

But seriously, for those who live and breathe municipal politics it is always worth remembering this: A majority of our constituents have lives far removed from our Silly Halls.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Nominations Call - Local Politician of the Year

Local Pols deserve recognition, right?

Take Paul Ainslie, Councillor for Ward 41 in Toronto.

Ainslie, appointed to this post in February, has registered to run in Ward 43 in this November's election.

This has surprised some observers who mistakenly thought that, prior to the appointment, Ainslie had promised not to run this fall.

No, says Ainslie, I just committed to not running in Ward 41.

"There are two things that are important in politics: your reputation and your friends," Ainslie apparently said earlier this year. "If you go back on either, you are cooked."


In March 2006 your reporter made a similar promise. Don't worry, there is no Ward 43 in Burlington.

We'll have more nominations later. Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Food for Thought

John Sewell is running for Council in the City of Toronto. Sewell, author, columnist and former Toronto mayor, believes - I mean he really believes - in local government. Hi s book “A New City Agenda (Zephyr Press - 2004) is instructive in framing the issues facing municipalities and is worth a look as we approach local elections on November 13th.

The problem: The provincial and federal governments have the power and the money but can’t deliver the goods.

Sewell argues, our city governments “excite significant expectation” but don’t have the authority or resources to meet them. For most of us significant expectations are reserved for Roll-up-the-Rim-Days, not public policy ideas. Nonetheless Sewell’s, admittedly Torontocentric book, is full of good ideas and insights.

Sewell makes the case for more power at the local level. To the cities he’d transfer control of welfare, childcare and legislative power over roads. He would reallocate “a large chunk” of health dollars so that the “more efficient and less expensive” community health care model becomes “firmly established.“ Drawing on Transitions, an 1988 report which looked at social assistance, Sewell recommends establishing an advisory committee to plan the coordination of delivery of income support programs for women, children and youth.


Looking for ideas? John Sewell has many.

Who could argue with municipalities getting financial tools to respond to the needs of immigrants, reducing vehicular traffic or strengthening the oversight function of police boards? Other arguments, like allowing cities to establish rent controls, as Toronto asked the province to do in 1974, will meet with significant opposition.

You can’t talk about local government without looking at the unfair property tax system. Sewell would reform that 19th century relic so that properties are assessed based on the services they consume rather than their presumed market value.

It is noteworthy that only 10% of all tax revenues generated in the country go to cities. Studies show that the difference between the value of taxes collected and the value of services provided results in cities subsidizing senior government. This very large “tax surplus” means Toronto funds the senior levels by about $10 billion a year (or $4,000 per person). Sewell’s solution would be to return that surplus to the cities or, at the very least, give the locals more taxing powers.

That mainstay of local government - planning and development - would also change by freeing the city of provincial control and allowing the local level to create their own review panel. This “downloading” of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) will certainly pique the interest of those development industry suits who haunt the corridors of local government.

Borrowing from Marshall McLuahan (“Decentralization can’t be done centrally.“) Sewell understands that those with power won‘t willingly give it up. How then would he get new powers for municipalities? Put simply, city huggers must make a “compelling case about solutions they have in mind.” You’ll find the beginning of a case in these pages.

Is Local Government Ready?

It seems though, before embarking on a reform agenda, someone has to make the case that local government is up to the task. Sewell hasn’t done that. To be taken seriously we need more diversity on our councils. Funding needs to be put in place so that potential candidates don’t need huge resources and/or friends in the development business to get elected. If we’re talking about giving more powers to local government we need to find ways to make local politics more accessible and more democratic.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Burlington Election #1

November 13th. Municipal election day.

Burlington’s is guaranteed to be the most interesting race since 1997 when two-term “alderman” Rob MacIsaac defeated colleagues Barry Quinn and Denis Lee and captured the Burlington Mayor’s chair.

Local voters don’t engage unless there is a contest for mayor. There will be a good one this year.

The Candidates

Fifteen-year Council veteran Joan Lougheed is in.

Rick Burgess, lawyer and past Chamber of Commerce President, is running.

Cam Jackson, Burlington MPP forever (twenty-two years), isn’t “official” yet. He’ll announce his candidacy in late September.

There are others. (See the city’s website

Ward races for six Council seats will interest voters owing to the competitive mayor’s race.

We’re number one but we need to try harder

Voters yawned when the top job was uncontested in 2003. More than eighty-five percent stayed home - top in the GTA. Call me naïve but I’ll contend that good public dialogue on issues will raise interest and boost turnout?

Issues that Count

1. Our Environment

Local government matters on this file. Hands up, though, if you remember an election campaign when our environment was an important consideration?

2. Intensification

Cities must intensify (i.e., build in previously developed areas) to make better use of urban space. Some citizens don’t agree. They won’t be silent.

3. Waste Management

Regional issues typically fly below the radar. Halton’s plan to consider building an energy-from-waste facility should get airtime. (More at Click on energy from waste.)

4. Gridlock

Suburban car cultured citizens are grouchier as that quick trip to the mall gets longer and longer.

Phoney Issues

1. High Taxes

Ever heard a candidate say taxes are too low? Fact is, we are now awaking to the serious harm perpetrated on us by those 90’s tax cut loonies. The issue now: what can be done to repair the damage?

2. Parking

Drivers become hot under the hood when unable to locate a parking spot. Worse, if you can imagine, they may actually have to pay. Councillors learned this hard lesson recently when they raised downtown rates to a whopping 50 cents per hour.

3.I’ve lived here for...

Not an issue really but local candidate’s bonafides inevitably include the length of their residency in the community.

Understanding the community, knowing the issues, and having a plan to act matter more.

Two or three postings per week will amplify the above.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Big Picture?

It is not all big picture stuff at City Hall.

Take last Tuesday night's Community and Corporate Services Committee.

  • Lights at the local soccer field are too bright for neighbours - or one neighbour anyway. Can we shut them off early? A question: If you buy a house beside a soccer field with lights would you expect that the lights will never be turned on?
  • A group from a city advisory committee leaves as the meeting bogs down with questions to staff on a transit report. We'll hear from the advisory committee another time.
  • A Councillor has questions regarding notification to residents about a road race taking place in their neighbourhood.

Snow in August

It is the hottest day of summer and your Councillor is worried about snow or specifically windrow. (Windrow is the pile of snow left in front of a driveway after the plow has been by.)

Staff, after a year studying the problem of windrow removal, have come back with a recommendation: Another year of study.

We move slowly in local government but surely a program such as Oakville's which is designed to be no burden to the taxpayer can be tried. Seniors and eligible disabled citizens will pay $80 for the program.

Some Councillors want seniors left out but after some debate a motion is passed:

That the Director of Roads and Park Maintenance be directed to pursue an agreement with Halton Helping Hands to expand the windrow clearing program currently in place in the Town of Oakville, to Burlington for the 2006/2007 winter season....

Not big picture but, hopefully, a helpful program for some in our City.

Friday, August 04, 2006

What this blog is about

Local politics. Local government. Municipal politicians.

I’ll stretch out a bit to touch on federal and provincial governments as local government interfaces with these “senior” bodies. Local governments around the country do similar stuff. All worry about downtown parking; plow snow; keep the parks clean and green; oversee the City Manager/Town Clerk; hear delegations concerned about declining property values etc..……….If you agree with this premise my experiences as a local councillor in the City of Burlington and a Regional Councillor in southern Ontario’s Halton Region may be of interest.

What, me Blogging?

I’m what the Mayor calls a “retreaded” politician. Earlier this year I answered the call accepting a Council appointment to fill an eight month vacancy in Ward 5. I was deemed a better choice than nineteen other candidates because:

• I had served two three-year terms in the nineties and represented a significant portion of the ward and

• I indicated that I wouldn’t run in this November’s elections.

I’m doing the same work as my colleagues but unlike most of them I’m not chasing votes this fall.

Call it a unique perspective. Is it worth blogging about? We’ll see.

Tough Work if you can get it

Upon my appointment many insiders offered both congratulations and condolences. Appropriate given the tough job that municipal politicians have. Speaking of tough jobs it is Saturday and a first posting seems a good diversion from reading several staff reports on sign variances. Heh, starting isn’t as easy as Biz Stone’s WHO LET THE BLOGS OUT said it would be.But here we go with some reflections from those eight years (98- 05) when there were no evening meetings to attend and no agendas to read.

=======================================================================Last Last year a federal politician made some disparaging and stupid remarks about municipal councillors. It made me mad enough to put pen to paper. Here is a slightly updated version:

Judy Sgro, a former Liberal Cabinet Minister, has taken a cheap shot at local politicians. According to the Toronto Star, Ms. Sgro, in defending her shortcomings as a Cabinet Minister, said:“You can get away with poor judgement at the municipal level, but you can’t get away with poor judgement in Ottawa.”

As a retreaded municipal politician I must register my strong objections to these remarks which slight the many dedicated, hard-working individuals who have served and continue to toil in the council chambers of our great nation. Sgro, a former Councillor ought to know better. Let some of these leaders talk to us of the spirit of democracy that lives in these local halls. Do they exercise poor judgement? You decide.

Allan Lamport, Mayor of Toronto 1952- 1954 understood consensus building:“I deny the allegations, and I defy the allegators.”

But politics is a tough business, one that requires, as John A MacDonald noted, “great coolness.”

Municipal leaders know this only too well. Thomas J. Irwin, former Mayor of Sault St. Marie was noted for his coolness under fire:“Show me the verbal agreement. Show me the verbal agreement.”

His worship Mayor Lamport again:“When you’re talking about me, keep your mouth shut.”

And John Sewell, political guru and one term Toronto mayor, can attest to the talent at local councils:“I only ran for Mayor because the others were dodos.”

And how about a word or two from Mel Lastman who served for nearly thirty years as Mayor of North York and the City of Toronto. “I apologize. I apologize....” Well, perhaps another time, Mel.

But what do I know. Unlike former North York Councillor Sgro I never made it to the show.
Well, I took a shot at the Province - sort of the American Hockey League of politics - but just didn’t have what it takes.

Bill VanderZalm made it to that level and became premier of British Columbia, our third largest province, in fact. And it says here that the Zalm, a former Councillor, would have made to the big leagues until, in his words: “We kind of had the wool pulled out from under us.” But we must look to the senior level to find citizens whose destiny it was to lead. Pierre Elliott Trudeau for one: “I acted on information I have been accumulating since I was a three-year- old..”

In addition to humility Trudeau brought an understanding and affection for the entire nation:

“I just think you Westerners should take over this country if you are so smart.”

And in Trudeau’s tradition, in fact the Liberal tradition, the country always, always comes first.

“I’m not interested in patronage because I’m a Liberal, ” pronounced our 20th Prime Minister, Jean Chretien.Indeed.

But let us not just pay homage to the Liberals. Many Canadians didn’t like Conservative PM Brian Mulroney. We understand some found him devious, a back stabber. But Mulroney listened, changed his ways.

When told, for instance, to curb his name-dropping tendencies he had already given it some thought:
“I know. The Queen Mother was telling me that just the other day.”

My guru is Allan Lamport because “(i)f someone is going to stab me in the back, I wanna be there.”

We wish you well Ms Sgro. To paraphrase former Ontario Speaker Al McLean, your conduct had nothing to do with you.

And frankly we don’t see much difference between the politics practiced in Ottawa, the provincial capitals and city halls.
Quotes are taken from and other public sources.
12:41 PM