The death of Queen Elizabeth II marks the passing of an era.

Like the overwhelming majority of people I have never known anyone else on the Throne. 

In a rapidly changing world the Queen was a constant, always there.

Even those who are ambivalent about the monarchy will pay tribute to her decades of public service, always studiously neutral on the great issues of the day.

Of course, I regularly saw her from a distance at the great State occasions such as the opening of Parliament. 

And, over the years, when I have seen the Queen at close quarters, she was always engaging and unfailingly courteous. I recall our conversation at Buckingham Palace when she and Prince Phillip had open house for Members of Parliament.

She knew 12 Canadian and 15 UK Prime Ministers, from Louis St. Laurent to Justin Trudeau and from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss. 

Her long life was remarkable in so many ways. The longest serving British monarch ever. 

In times of crisis and controversy and political flux she was a fixed point of reference. But always above the fray.

When Covid struck - and no-one knew where it was going - she offered calm reassurance.

All across the world, here in Canada and in the wider Commonwealth, people are mourning the passing of an exceptional woman who was more than just a figurehead.

She dedicated herself to public service. 

History will remember her with warm affection.

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The debate on who should be Newmarket's next Regional Councillor is on hold until Tom "on-the-take" Vegh tells me who is funding his campaign.

I am not prepared to go through the motions, setting out my platform, pretending this is a conventional run-of-the-mill election campaign until Vegh comes clean with the voters. 

Tom on-the-take Vegh pulled the wool over our eyes in 2018 and it is not going to happen again.

Does Vegh seriously believe his 2022 campaign is going to be a mirror image of 2018 when he carpet bombed the Town with election signs paid for by developers?

Is he going to go into overdraft to fund his election campaign and then turn to developers again to bail him out?

Is he going to be honest with the voters?

We need to know.

I sent this to Tom Vegh yesterday:

Good morning Tom

I hope you are well and are looking forward to the campaign ahead.

It is now over a month since I wrote asking you to join me in refusing donations from people intimately connected with the development industry.

You told me you would not answer my question because I was a candidate and we were in the campaign period.

Quite frankly, that’s not good enough.

Over the next six weeks you will not be able to avoid the question of who is funding your campaign and I would urge you to come clean now. We can then move on to other matters.

But, until you answer, I am not moving from this issue of who funds you. It is absolutely fundamental.

Are you soliciting money from development industry people as you did in 2018? And if you receive money unsolicited from development industry people will you accept it?

These are not difficult questions to answer.

If you remain silent, I predict you will have a very long line-up at your table at the Chamber’s Meet and Greet on 27 September 2022.

People will want to know who is funding your campaign. And, at the same event, I shall be making your 2018 Financial Statement available to those who want it.

I am copying this to Joseph Quigley at Newmarket Today and Lisa Queen at the ERA.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Wishes


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When one of Newmarket’s most celebrated residents, Margaret Davis, heard that Heather, my wife, and I were going to Scotland on vacation she insisted we visit Airth, the Town where her mother was born. 

I explain Airth is not on our itinerary – in fact it is in the opposite direction to where we are going.

Margaret, still as sharp as a tack at 100, is not prepared to let an inconvenient detail like that change her settled view that Airth is the place to visit.

Next comes a treasured 1964 edition of the Scots Magazine, hand delivered to my front door. 

She has flagged an old photograph of the 1697 Mercat Cross (or Market Cross) on which she played as a young girl. A few yards away stands an impressive old house dating from 1722.

On our itinerary

Airth is now on our itinerary. (Photo right: me on the Mercat Cross)

I show Margaret the photos of the Mercat Cross in the heart of the old village. 

She tells me the years just melt away, bringing back memories of her childhood. 

I figure that's as good a reason as any to visit Airth.

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Click “read more” Pilgrimage to Airth (below the photo) for my Postcard from Scotland.

Below: Me and Margaret at her 100th birthday party on 25 June 2022 at the Old Town Hall in Newmarket.

The law governing campaign finance is crystal clear. 

It bans corporations and trade unions from making donations to candidates running in a municipal election.

But there is a glaring loophole that is crying out to be closed.

The law - and its clear intent - can be very easily circumvented.

Corporate titans in the development industry can simply donate as individuals, not on behalf of their businesses.

In the 2018 election, Vegh took $4,800 from four employees of the ubiquitous Groundswell Urban Planners whose signs dot Newmarket wherever a new development is being proposed. 

$4,800 is not far short of my target spend of $5,000 for the entire campaign.

Groundswell as a business cannot donate.

What is the solution?

The Financial Statements, which must by law detail all donations, are submitted by candidates to the Town after the election.

The straightforward solution is to require candidates to publish a provisional list of donors, say, 10 days or one week before Election Day.

This would allow the press and media - and other candidates - to check whether any donor has a background in the development industry.

It's not perfect but it's better than what we have now. (And there is an obvious problem with advance polls. But we take this one step at a time.)

Chamber of Commerce "Meet and Greet"

I am hoping for a one-on-one debate with Tom Vegh but in its absence we have the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce "meet and greet" from 6pm-8pm on 27 September at the Community Centre at 200 Doug Duncan Drive. (Halls 1 and 2)

It is a drop-in format.

The Chamber has warned candidates there must be no speeches and no debate (it is an election after all) but we are allowed to display our literature on the tables we are allocated.

Vegh's 2018 Financial Statement

I intend to pile mine high with copies of Tom Vegh's Financial Statement for the 2018 election with all the developer names highlighted in unmissable day-glow yellow.

I shall invite curious members of the public to take one and, if they wish, wander over to Vegh's table, with his Financial Statement in hand, to ask the great man whatever is on their mind.

For me, I still want to know if developers are bankrolling his election this year.

But he won't tell me.

Maybe the voters will have more luck prising the answer out of him.

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Note: Cartoon drawn for the 2018 election campaign by Steven Gilbert of Main Street's Fourth Dimension Comic Store.


Developers bailed Tom Vegh out after the 2018 election when they were told he needed help in clearing a massive $30,000 deficit run up during the election campaign. 

The cheques from developers came cascading in like a tsunami, rescuing Vegh from probable disqualification as a newly elected regional councillor.

Vegh could not use his own money to pay off the huge deficit as there is a hard cap on the amount of money candidates and their spouses can contribute to their own campaign. In 2018, the hard cap in the regional councillor race was $16,103.10. This year the self-funding limit is marginally lower at $16,098.

If the developers had not coughed up he would have been unable to pay off the enormous $30,000 deficit himself because of the so-called self-financing rules. 

Buying elections

The self-funding cap is designed to prevent wealthy people buying elections using their own money. It is based on a straightforward formula taking into account the number of electors. It varies for the Mayor and regional councillor and for the individual ward candidates where it is, of course, much lower.

The 2018 Ontario Candidates’ Guide to the municipal election 2018 warns the penalty for exceeding the spending limit is disqualification.

“ if your financial statement shows that you exceeded your spending limit…. The penalty is that you forfeit your office (if you won the election) and you become ineligible to run or be appointed to fill a vacancy until after the 2022 election.”

Cash from developers

So the cash from the developers was absolutely crucial to Vegh's success. He admits as much in this extraordinary and revealing confession to Newmarket Today in April 2019.

Vegh’s personal spending on his 2018 campaign was capped at $16,103.60.

In another fascinating story in Newmarket Today Vegh shifts the focus from York Region to Newmarket.

I don't blame Vegh for dissembling - that's what he does. It is in his DNA.

In Newmarket he goes with the flow, otherwise he would have to argue his point of view with Taylor and the other councillors. He rarely does this as it makes him feel uncomfortable. He is, by nature, timid.

But at York Region, where he has a low, almost invisible, profile, he can take the developers' line without attracting too much attention. This is his pay-back to the developers who support him with barrow loads of cash at election time.

Public Debate

I want to debate these issues with Tom Vegh on a public platform.

It is not "mudslinging" as he suggests. It's democracy at work.

He can run but he can't hide.

I need to know if he is taking developers money in this election - as he did in 2018.

Why won't he tell us?

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Updated on 4 September 2022 to include the self-funding limit for Vegh's campaign for regional councillor - $16,103.60.