Sunday 11.30am

Paul Calandra’s views on direct elections for chair of York Region is fake news. 

The Progressive Conservative MPP for Markham-Stouffville says it was a solid move to streamline Toronto Council and put a pause on the direct election of a York Region Chair. 

He says wants to consult on the latter but not on the former. He claims:

“the community did not want this.”

Where is the evidence for this assertion?

This is straight out of 1984

Ford should appoint Calandra to run a new Ministry of Truth. He would be at home there.

The former Liberal MPP for Newmarket-Aurora, Chris Ballard, insists support for the direct election of York Region Chair came from across the political spectrum:

(My Private Members’ Bill 42) received unanimous support by all Parties before being sent to an all-party committee for consideration. At committee, residents of all political stripes came forward to testify in support of my Bill. 

Previous versions of my Bill 42 had been introduced by York Region MPPs Reza Moridi and Helena Jaczek. They, too, had received all-party support, including from my predecessor, Frank Klees, a Progressive Conservative. Julia Munro, Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe North spoke in support of my Bill in the Legislature, as did MPP Gila Martow, Progressive Conservative, representing Thornhill.” 

The PC MPP leading for the then Opposition, Ernie Hardeman, (now Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) said in Committee on 24 February 2016:

“I support the bill 100%, and I do hope that we can get it through as quickly as possible.”

and on 2 March 2016:

“… we all have to accept that there’s a cost to democracy. To talk about what’s the best way to elect a regional chair, to put it on the cost of doing it, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Obviously, if we really believe that, then why don’t we just have eight-year terms instead of having four-year terms? You could save half the money by doing that. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Hardeman – the PC’s wise old owl - shouldn’t give Ford any ideas.

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Ford’s chaos descends into farce.  

Wayne Emmerson: 273,000 reasons to smile

Yesterday the current (indirectly elected) Chair of York Region, Wayne Emmerson, told us he would be withdrawing from the first direct election for chair:

“I have made this decision with the full support of my family. It is a difficult decision, but it is the right decision for me and those close to me.”

Today, an ecstatic Emmerson tells the press:

“I love the job and I want to be able to do what I can for the region of York and the residents of the region of York. I’ve been thinking about it more and I’m going to go back in. I’ve changed my mind and I’m going to run for regional chair (appointment).”

Has the man no shame?

Self Serving

The self-serving Emmerson (with a pay and benefits package of $273,000 a year) supports Ford’s move to scrap the elections for Regional Chairs in York, Peel, Niagara and Muskoka.

Newmarket’s retiring Mayor, Tony Van Trappist, will also be delighted. Even though Newmarket Council voted in favour of direct election of York Regional Chair Van Trappist disregarded the views of his own municipality and cast his vote for the status quo when the Region voted on the issue.

Bisanz and Broome acclaimed

At the close of nominations in Newmarket, the incumbents in Ward 6 (Kelly Broome) and in Ward 7 (Christina Bisanz) do not face any challengers and will be acclaimed. Kelly Broome must rank as one of the weakest councillors I’ve ever come across, regularly sitting through meetings without uttering a single word. 

Jane Twinney in Ward 3 will face off against Jack Zangari and Ward 5 councillor Bob Kwapis will face a challenge from Ron Eibel who campaigned so vigorously – and successfully - against Forrest’s Clock Tower development.

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update 30 July: Barrie CTV reports on the York Region controversy. Emmerson and Mario Racco give their views. Steven Del Duca declines to comment.

Friday 27 July 2018 at 11.35am. 

Ford’s decision to abolish elections already in play is Government by fiat.

If he is allowed to get away with this then where does it stop?

Ford claimed this morning there was no consultation on changes to municipal law which allowed for the direct election of Regional Chairs.

This is untrue.

The previous Liberal Government published a consultation paper “Municipal Legislation Review: Public Consultation Discussion Guide” in June 2015.

It specifically addressed the issue of Regional Chairs.

The former Newmarket-Aurora MPP Chris Ballard introduced his own Private Members’ Bill (Bill 42) calling for the direct election of the Chair of York Region when he was a backbencher. Along with others, I gave evidence to the Bill Committee in 2016.

When Ballard was promoted into Government his Bill died on the Order Paper but the Government took up the wider issue in its own legislation, making direct election of all Regional Chairs mandatory.

Ford silent on proposal during election

During the election campaign Ford made no specific reference to cutting the size of Toronto City Council nor of abolishing the direct election of Regional Chairs. There were glancing references to cutting the size of Government and that’s about it.

When he was in Opposition, Ford’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, supported Ballard’s Private Members’ Bill 42.

Today he did a complete U turn.

Before a Bill from the Ontario Legislature becomes law it must receive Royal Assent. This is given by the Lieutenant Governor whose constitutional role is, quite properly, very limited. In extremis, she acts as a constitutional longstop.

Her website tells us the Lieutenant Governor:

  • Ensures that Ontario always has a Premier who is able to command the confidence of the Legislative Assembly
  • Grants Royal Assent, the final step of the legislative process, to bills passed by the Legislative Assembly

The Lieutenant Governor remains strictly nonpartisan in carrying out her constitutional duties. In doing so, the Lieutenant Governor ensures that the democratic will of Ontarians and their elected representatives is upheld and that the constitutional conventions of responsible government are respected.

Of course, the Province can legislate to change the shape of the municipal map and to allocate and redistribute the powers exercised by municipalities. But constitutional convention does not allow for elections already under way to be abolished or otherwise tampered with by the Government of the day in the absence of an emergency and when no reference was made to this in the Party’s election platform.

No confidence motion

If I were Leader of the Official Opposition I would be tabling a motion of no confidence or “want of confidence” (in the terminology of the Ontario Legislature) which must be debated on the floor of the Chamber for up to a whole sitting day. This would shine a spotlight on the Ford proposals, their genesis and rationale.

It would also force MPPs – such as Newmarket-Aurora’s Christine Elliott – to take a view and nail her colours to the mast.

What Ford is proposing is an outrage which cannot be allowed to stand.

It is nothing other than constitutional vandalism.

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Scarpitti the tease

This morning, Wayne Emmerson bowed to the inevitable and withdrew from the race to become the first directly elected Chair of York Region.  

He was indirectly elected by members of the Regional Council in 2014.

This leaves former MPP, Mario Racco, and former Liberal Cabinet Minister, Steven Del Duca, facing off against each other.

The highest paid Mayor in Ontario, Frank Scarpitti - who had been touted as a possible runner - stays on as Mayor of Markham.

Given the astronomical costs of campaigning for Regional Chair, Scarpitti probably figured a bird in the hand in Markham was worth two in the Regional bush. 

Scarpitti has been known to tease before.

He also believes streaming of York Regional Council meetings is unnecessary and that audio is good enough.

As I tap this out - and with less than 24 hours to go before the deadline - Vaughan’s Mayor, Maurizio Bevilacqua, has yet to lodge his nomination papers.

But he, too, is expected to stay in his safe berth at Vaughan.

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update at 4.45pm Maurizio Bevilacqua has filed his nomination papers for Mayor of Vaughan

update at 10.40pm the Toronto Star reports tonight that Ford will announce plans tomorrow (Friday) that the direct elections for Regional Chair in Peel and York are to be scrapped. Legal challenges are anticipated.

update Friday 27 July at 12.05pm: Two unknowns, Rajasri Sriskandarajah and Judith Tenenbaum have joined the race for the post which is to be abolished.

update Friday 27 July at 3.15pm: A fifth candidate, Chevaunne Stewart, has filed her papers.

This morning I learn that accountant Talib Ansari wants to be Mayor of Newmarket. 

Mystery man to Mayor of Newmarket

I’ve never heard of him but maybe that’s because we move in different circles.

To become a candidate for Mayor 25 people must have endorsed him so I am intrigued to find out more.

He has appeared – at least to me – from absolutely nowhere.

The Town’s website (at 10am) gives no qualifying address. But I'm sure this will be posted in due course. 

Mr Ansari is a partner in Trivana Tax and Accounting Services which is based either in Newmarket or East Gwillimbury - depending on which source you rely on.

I’ve left messages for him to call me back today so we can talk about his program and what he wants to do for the Town in the next four years. 

This guy has a profile that boasts of towering achievements. So why does this mover-and-shaker want to be our Mayor?

His LinkedIn profile tells me:

"Talib Ansari is a highly accomplished, pro-active, customer focussed and results-driven professional with over 18 years of experience in investment finance, accounting and technology with top-notch pensions funds, IT company and real estate firms in the US and Canada. He has consistently demonstrated strategic/tactical leadership, relationship building/management, and innovative problem solving skills across cross-functional/matrix organisations." 

Phew!

"He effectively leverages his distinct combination of business & technology to successfully deliver/manage mission-critical, time-sensitive & highly complex financial and hi-tech projects/solutions that include business intelligence, database management, systems implementation, risk management, compliance and internal control."

Wow!

"Talib Ansari earned his MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurial Finance from Wilfred Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, to solidify his business acumen, and BBA in Investment Finance from City University of New York, New York, USA, to strengthen his capital market comprehension. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant & Certified General Accountant of Ontario. In his spare time he enjoys photography and loves playing the guitar."

I want to meet him face to face and find out where he is coming from.

I hope I've tracked down the right Talib Ansari. If not, I am in big trouble.

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Update at 11.55am: Talib Ansari tells me he has never been involved in politics before. This is his first outing. He says he has worked for the best companies, knows about real estate and is a qualified accountant. He tells me he wants to take Newmarket "to the next level". He lives in Copper Hills.

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