Why get worked up, they all do it!

The headline is the refrain from those of us in Society who do not follow politics. As one person rails against the perceived crimes of the governing party (whichever that is) others will simply shrug and say, “They all do it!”. This mantra is repeated, with rolled eyes, whenever a Pol makes a campaign promise. The next thing heard is a denunciation of one’s case when one defends a campaign promise. We know breaking campign promises is real and even after a celebrated court case it is not even illegal.

What to do in this case? When the the ruling Harperites say something you can look at their record for refutation. For example when they say “we are good stewards of the economy” one can point to increased public debt and the consecutive deficits as proof that they aren’t. When the Libs point out what wonderful people they are we can say, “Yep but what about the promise to abolish the GST” and “We will not sign the NAFTA”.

So it is most apt that we get a missive from Dan Christie today:

“A few years ago I wrote a letter to the The Globe&Mail comparing Canada to a NASCAR race. Stephen Harper had just won a majority and Canada was making a hard turn to the right. Canada, I said, was like a NASCAR race because in a NASCAR race all anybody has to do is keep the pedal to the metal and remember to keep turning left. But in every NASCAR race somebody forgets to keep turning left, turns right -and all hell breaks loose. Canada’s right turn under Stephen Harper has piled up enough wreckage to make even the most drooling of NASCAR fans envious -criminal sentences, electoral fraud, Robocalls, Mike Duffy, Dean Del Mastro, veterans, Fantino, contempt of Parliament and all the fear, loathing and hatred generally associated with red-necked racists who feel whatever grip they thought they had on society slipping away. And now we have the absurd niquab ‘debate’ raging -the perfect race-baiting wedge issue all but designed to make a bigot’s day. The thing about the whole silly niquab distraction though is that we, Canada, couldn’t even dig it up for ourselves. We had to hire an Australian pit bull named Lynton Crosbie to dig it up for us. That’s right -even Stephen Harper, for all his small-minded meanness, didn’t have the creative smarts to come up with something as low as this. He had to get outside help. And that’s what gives me hope. It gives me hope to know that Stephen Harper had to hire Lynton Crosbie because it adds to my belief that we’re not all like Stephen Harper and that very few of us are like Lynton Crosbie. And I believe this too; I believe people are not born to hate, that they have to learn to hate, to be taught to hate. And that’s what Stephen Harper and Lynton Crosbie are trying to do. They’re trying to teach us to hate. And hate, as a strategy, has about as much chance of winning as turning right in a NASCAR race.

Which brings to mind the adage that Liberals campaign on the Left and govern on the Right. Watching Mr Trudeau out-left the NDP and then realise that the henchmen in the backrooms are still old-style Libs how can anyone fall for this charade. We at the BR want to be proven wrong but let’s look at the promise that has most of the Progressives drooling at the mouth – Proportional Representation. This method of voting, if implemented will change the way we vote for ever. The proponents even go so far as to predict there will never be another majority government in the future. But if we, some may say cynically, look at the practices of the Liberal Party and speculate one can see that PR will never be brought in by the Libs. Prove us wrong but having gained power by having progressives believe that they will get PR from the Libs it will prove to be another political shell game. A “blue-ribbon ” panel will be setup to “study” the idea and then a referendum will be held to ratify the idea. We suspect that the panel will bring a proposal so convoluted and one designed to confuse the voters that mass confusion will bring about an inability to understand the concept. Then the same panel will tell us all that such a decision as important as PR will need a super majority, perhaps 60% to pass. The result will be a massive failure for such an idea.

And if you think that this is scaremongering and fearful just remember this is exactly what Mr McGuinty did in Ontario a few years back – promised PR and then made sure it would never pass, and guess what folks – he was a Liberal. Some leopards never change their spots.

So be wary of left and right turns from both of the old line parties.

Just asking questions

topsecretSometime early last year the previous Council in Cobourg commissioned a consultant’s report to review the ooperations and compensation levels of the administration. The report arrived about six months before the election and with the cooperation of the Deputy Mayor – Stan Frost, the CAO sat on it and refused to allow Council the see it.

When the new Council came in a couple of the new members wanted to see the report, after all it had cost the community about $45,000, and were told – “All in good time”. Apparently the CAO is working to follow the report’s contents and is implementing the recommendations in his good time and on his timetable. We have seen one of those recommendations already and the Town is now in the process of changing its organisation charts and hiring another Director to fill a new position. Other changes are hinted at in a press release issued a month ago.

Intrigued by this situation – a secret report destined to change administrative practices, and not released to the public an email was sent to the Town Clerk last week asking for a copy. The answer came back – ‘get it through an FOI or ask the CAO when he comes back this week’. Again an email to the CAO – Please Sir can we have the report? Answer – “NO.” ‘Because of the amount of personal information that is in the report’ So what to do now if we still want to see the report?

First of all we at the BR have never seen this type of administrative behaviour before – an expensive report commissioned by Council that the majority of Council cannot see. A CAO deciding just how and when Council shall see this report. And finally a Council so bloody wimpy that are not demanding to see what they paid for!

Secondly we believe that an FOI is a costly and time-consuming affair for both parties. As an aside the FOI that is in the pipeline now is a waste of time and must have cost the Town money in obtaining a legal opinion which they have sat on, making the mediation process a farce as well as consuming hours of our time on the phone fighting off requests from the mediator asking us to accept a ten year old precedent that they say renders our case unwinnable. How can mediation succeed when one party – the Town – refuses to budge from the original position and not offer compromise? So why should a second application be any different! Although as a further aside the Town is on even more dodgy ground on this one as it has been ruled on at least two occasions that these types of reviews usually do not contain any “private information” and as such are not exempt from release.

But the question for us is why is Council not wanting to see what we, the community, paid for?

Our first comment on the Federal Election

censorAs the election drones on just about the only thing making news is the way that “backroom wizards” or “party trolls” have been spending their time drilling down into the Internet utterances of candidates. Having found a “gotcha” it is then paraded around the Internet and then the poor sap who said whatever has offended the flavour of the day in language offences is summarily dismissed by gutless party apparatchiks.

Whilst we abhor the phrase “political correctness” (PC) it appears to us at the BR that candidates who have had their linguistic past dragged up are then confronted by cowardly and terrified Party operatives who apply pressure to the candidate and they then “step down for the good of the party”. This is an extreme form of PC from people afraid to take on the offending remarks and sometimes defend them.

These ‘opinion crimes’ are not confined to any one Party. Candidates from all Parties have stupid and offensive points of view, and they should. What should be happening is that the comments should be allowed to stand and then the electorate will decide. After all is their any difference between Jason Kenney accusing Mr Trudeau of being in favour of brothels, as he did last night, and the candidate who made himself look silly by not knowing what Auschwitz was. Both were silly mistakes, probably offensive to some group and both statements should stand to be condemned by the electorate.

The problem here is who is taking offence? Usually it is not the person who found the remarks, after all some people (like journalists) get paid to dig this crap up. But sensitive interest groups are always ready to slam others for perceived slights. How is it that we have now come to the position that any criticism, however slight, is now a Federal Offence. Just look at the way criticism of Israel is now considered anti-semitic. An absolute perversion of normal democratic dissent.

This move to ‘trolling’ should be expected where bad taste and negative advertising is now everyday behaviour in elections. However the trend should not go unmentioned and we are mentioning it – we are not in favour.

Please Sir can we have some more!

Cobourg_CoatofArmsCobourg, sometime last year, commissioned a report called “Organizational & Compensation Review” as part of the 2011-2014 Strategic Plan. The report was supposed to be released when received but the previous Deputy Mayor decided not to release it and not until the new Council came in did anybody really get a look at it.

Is Cobourg too small to be significant?

art-gallery-northumberlandWhat brought this muse up is the news that Cobourg Council is having a special meeting this afternoon (Monday 20th July) at 2pm to discuss whether to bail out, once again, the Art Gallery of Northumberland.

Cobourg has always had pretensions of glory, in the 1840s it was thinking it should have been the Province’s Capital. In the 1860s the failure of the Cobourg Peterborough Railway led to a major decline in wealth in the Town and the stagnation of Victoria Hall.

The Devil is in the details

porthope_logoIt is always the little things that produce the most problems. Just take what happened on Tuesday in Port Hope Council chambers. A report came from the Rural Redesign Working Group a couple of weeks ago that suggested many things, none of which was the idea of a representational change to the make-up for the Council of the combined Wards. The Executive Director of Port Hope then produced a report about this report and added a suggestion that the representation on the Council be changed, despite the fact that this was not suggested by the RRWG.

Thank goodness for independent thought

wac2The first entry about this subject was the illustration of the attempt to restrain the newly established Waterfront Advisory Committee, look two posts below.

Since then we have been advised that the crippling mandate was revised and a unanimously approved motion will be taken to Council on Monday night. Look left and you will see that the members of the Committee have decided to run the show when it is needed – ….. the last change shown.

Congratulations to the Waterfront Advisory Committee for spotting the problem and quickly remedying it.

Letter to the Editor

I sent -or tried to send- the following to Northumberland News in response to Todd McEwan’s ‘Report Card’ feature grading our local elected representatives. Naturally I focused on Port Hope. The e-mails I sent to Northumberland News bounced back, and finding a direct route to sending NN a letter-to-the-editor is like recovering your Apple ID -all but impossible. So, BurdReport it is:

The Staff is still in control

The backstory to the recent brouhahhah over the Marina expansion was the desire by some members of the public and at least one councillor to tame, what they saw as, the overzealous and ambitious staff of Cobourg, specifically the Director of Public Works and to some extent the CAO.

The Marina project, as we all know, until it hit the Council machine last week, was revved up and ready to go to spend $3.5million on more facilities at the harbour. The resulting outrage from some of the public was inevitable but when all of the groups using the harbour failed to support the plan the obstinate Staff should have seen the light, but didn’t, and the Council had to put the boots to the plan.