Today, a huge red tarpaulin is draped like a shroud over the trailer on the Slessors’ car dealership site.

In giant capitalised letters, visible from the Moon, it announces:



905-752-6776  ext.229  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

So much for the “exciting new adult lifestyle community coming soon”.

Slessor Land for SaleThe story, like so many involving developers and planners in Newmarket, is deeply ironic. The Slessors, guided by their lawyer Ira Kagan, unveil plans for a giant new development opposite Upper Canada Mall, towering over the adjacent residential area.

The proposal throws up a million issues that the Town cannot resolve within the 180 days allowed before the developer can appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The Slessors accuse the Town of dragging its feet and appeal to the OMB. The Town, afraid of its own shadow and fearing the costs, immediately capitulates giving “approval in principle”.

With that “approval in principle” under their belt, the Slessors begin to extract millions of dollars from the equity of a property they had owned outright. They walk away multi-millionaires, laughing all the way to the bank.

On 27 April 2014, more than a year after getting approval from the Town, Kagan tells the OMB the project is being put on hold.

And now this hugely significant site is up for sale.

More will follow.


We now have a date pencilled in for the Provincial Leaders’ Debate.

Tuesday 3 June 2014.

We learn the broadcasters only want one debate and it had to be scheduled around the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Personally, I think one is too few. There is a real hunger out there for meaningful debate on substantive issues. People are totally fed up with bland politicians mouthing platitudes. (Hudak, love him or loathe him, is speaking out and grabbing people’s attention.)

So, if the broadcasters have a stranglehold on televised debates why can’t we have some on-line, hosted by the press?

In the UK the Guardian newspaper (left leaning) has teamed up with the Daily Telegraph (on the right) to offer an on-line platform to the politicians in the UK’s 2015 General election campaign. Others, too, want to get involved.

It is a terrific idea and one we should emulate.

Tim Hudak has now released the full PC election platform. The Liberals are fighting on their stillborn Budget proposals. But the NDP prospectus is embarrassingly thin. Andrea Horwath, who initially proposed a series of five debates, would never survive such a test. She would, literally, be lost for words.

Here, Toronto Star columnist, Carol Goar, helpfully reminds us of the thin gruel Ontario’s NDP is offering:

So far, the NDP leader has promised to reduce government spending by $600 million a year; cut Ontario’s small business tax to 3 per cent (it is now 4.5 per cent); downsize the provincial cabinet by a third; remove the provincial portion of the HST from hydro bills and hand out $100 per household rebates; stabilize the child care system with a one-time infusion of $100 million; offer companies wage subsidies of up to $5,000 to hire a new worker; raise the minimum wage by 50 cents a year until 2016; increase Ontario’s corporate tax rate by an unspecified amount and balance the budget by 2017-18.

Goar continues:

There are still three weeks left in the campaign. Horwath could still reach out to low-income Ontarians. But at this point, she appears to be auditioning for the role of waste-buster and austerity advocate.

Here in Newmarket, sooner rather than later, I’d like to see on-line debates between candidates for the Provincial Parliament (base salary $116,550) and for our York Regional Councillor ($51,696 plus Town salary of $64,056).

And why not?

These are big jobs open to people with big ideas.


The NDP has chosen a Business Professor at Trent University’s Oshawa campus, Angus Duff, to be its standard bearer in the Provincial election in Newmarket Aurora on 12 June.

Dr Duff’s CV tells me he is a former Human Resources manager in the private sector, working for companies such as IBM, CGI, and TELUS and that he lives in Aurora with his wife Lisa and their three children.

Duff’s main focus is on the world of work and how employment conditions can be improved. My spies tell me he specializes in "positive and negative" work emotions, and how to make work more enjoyable and productive. We can only assume he is happy and contented in his work.

Intriguingly, Duff is a volunteer with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program.

The entry of the NDP into the election will come as a blow to the Liberal Chris Ballard.  The PC hopeful, the early rising, effervescent and fun loving Jane Twinney will have a new spring in her step as she bounds along the "campaign trail".

Meanwhile, in the wider election, Hudak continues to make the headlines – even if they point to the contradictions in his programme. His tough talk is, apparently, to “shore up his base”.

Polling shows the Liberals and PCs close with the NDP trailing a poor third.

The NDP’s Andrea Horwath, not to be rushed, has yet to reveal the Party’s full programme. You can’t help thinking it is still work in progress.

28 days to go.

Glenway: the post-mortem

While the rest of us are distracted by the Provincial Election spare a thought for Newmarket municipal staff who are charged with the delicate task of organizing a public meeting to discuss the Town’s bellyflop on Glenway.

At the Special Committee of the Whole on 22 April, the Glenway Preservation Association’s Dave Sovran asked for a public meeting to explain the settlement details to the public. A motion moved by Maddie Di Muccio and seconded by Ward 7 councillor, Chris Emanuel, called for a meeting to consider the lessons to be learned. It carried nem con.

That Council direct staff to organize a public meeting after the Ontario Municipal Board releases its written decision and within this term of Council, on what has been learned about the Official Plan Amendment, Zoniong By Law Amendment and Draft Plan of Subdivision for Marianneville Developments Limited (Glenway) process and the effects of future development as York Region prepares for growth.

The OMB adjudicator, Susan Schiller, gave her outline oral decision on 27 March indicating that a more detailed written decision would follow.

The OMB tells me

It tries to issue its written decisions approximately within 45-60 days from the final date of the hearing – some written decisions issue sooner and some issue a bit later.

It seems to me a public meeting at the end of June or thereabouts would fit the bill.

Unfortunately, much of the information the public would find useful is currently confidential. At a closed session of the Committee of the Whole on 7 April, all councillors, with the exception of Chris Emanuel, voted to authorise staff to act in accordance with their “direction”.

Unfortunately, the precise terms of the Council’s direction to Mary Bull (the Town’s outside counsel) giving her authority to negotiate and settle with Marianneville’s lawyer, Ira Kagan, remain secret.

Key memoranda submitted to councilors on 7 April also remain confidential. There is one dated 3 April 2014 from Ruth Victor and another of the same date from Mary Bull and a third dated 4 April 2014 from the Assistant Director of Planning.

I remain unconvinced that the Town will be able to keep everything confidential and, at the same time, explain the background to an inquiring public, eager for the facts.

The ever-helpful Town Solicitor, Esther Armchuk, tells me

Closed session discussions or directions given by Council in Closed Session remain confidential unless Council decides to make some or all of those discussions or directions public.

The way forward, then, is to “declassify” these documents and decisions to allow a proper debate at the public meeting.

That said, I suspect things may not be so straightforward.

As sure as night follows day, councillors will be advised not to rush a decision but to take legal advice, in closed session, which would of course strongly recommend keeping everything under wraps.

I can hear the lawyers and senior staff tut-tutting and shaking their heads, warning that disclosure would prejudice the Town’s future interests. Then the sages would spell out in graphic detail the serious consequences.

The script writes itself.


Kathleen Wynne gives three Liberal candidates a dressing down after posting “inappropriate comments”. We are told they are all contrite.

Things said on social media, perhaps in the heat of the moment, leave footprints that don’t go away. They can follow you around for years.

We have some beautiful examples here in Newmarket where there is a treasure trove of material.

The animosity between Newmarket’s Ward 6 councillor, Maddie Di Muccio, and her nemesis, Darryl Wolk, is available for all to savour (if you like that kind of thing).

On 14 March this year, at 8.32am, pushing her Corn Flakes to one side, Di Muccio tweets:

Dirty politics attracts bottom-feeding scum like @darrylwolk. I stay away from that poison.

On 14 April at 10.36pm, Wolk’s boiling resentment against Di Muccio erupts with this ferocious tweet:

You are a master of lies, smears, threats, dirty politics & personal attacks!

Having mulled things over for a further ten minutes, Wolk shoots this dart at Di Muccio, hitting her straight between the eyes:

I can’t wait until Newmarket fires this toxic human being on October 27.

But social media isn’t always a bear-pit.

The early-rising Progressive Conservative MPP hopeful, Jane Twinney, tweets in a happy, non-confrontational way. They are designed to leave a warm glow. They are full of fun! They are vacuous, not vicious.

Up with the larks at 6.12am on 8 May, Jane tweets:

Another day on the Campaign Trail… today is going to be a fun day again. Early start on this gorgeous morning. #keepingitblue #VoteTwinney

Another tweet, typical of the genre, leaves Jane’s keyboard at 7.26am on 5 May:

Looking forward to a busy day ahead on the Campaign Trail! Let’s get this Province back on track! #onpoli #pcpo #million jobs

You get the message.

Elsewhere on the so-called “Campaign Trail” Hudak touts tax cuts as part of jobs plan and promises he would never run a deficit.

The pollsters report that people are sceptical and his support is eroding but at least he has staked out a position and gets people talking.

Meanwhile the NDP focus on so-called “pocket-book” issues.

Horwath’s campaign has yet to catch fire. She is promising to cut out the waste from a bloated bureaucracy.

She puts the figure at $600 million. 

Oh dear! 

29 days to go.


Tim Hudak today promises to cut income tax tomorrow.

We are told the 10% income tax cut will be “phased in” after the PC Government balances the budget in 2016-17.

These are all fantasy figures. Just like the 100, 000 jobs cuts in two years. This target is unachievable. From one end of the political spectrum to the other, the 100,000 pledge is ridiculed.

Meanwhile, the NDP “slams the Liberals over auto insurance rates”. No surprises there. Horwath’s well-worn pitch is all about making life “affordable”. She could be re-running the last election.

Don’t expect anything new and different (and specific) from the NDP. Instead of challenging the other parties with fresh thinking there is a policy vacuum.

The NDP locally is selecting their candidate for Newmarket-Aurora tonight.

30 days to go.