Tony Van Bynen, the 69 year-old wannabe MP for Newmarket-Aurora who discovered he was a Liberal a few months ago, has a gift for self-promotion. 

Blowing his own trumpet down through the decades has served him well.

First retirement

The newsletter for RBC pensioners “Keeping in touch” tells me Tony’s first retirement was in 1999. The old banker then helped build the Town of Newmarket before retiring for the second time on 30 November 2018, collecting in the process a severance package of $162,739.

He says this kind of golden goodbye is not unusual. Happens all the time. Everyone gets it. 

Tony told “Keeping in touch” last year:

“Every organization needs to refresh itself… We’ve got a strong, mature senior management team so changing leadership is a good decision for Newmarket. And at my age, it’s a good thing as well.” 

But what did Tony mean by “at my age”? 

Second retirement

Keeping in touch tells us: 

His second retirement will begin on November 30 (2018) at 12:59 p.m., and he’s looking forward to cutting back considerably on his 60-hour work week. “I owe my family,” he says of his ever-supportive wife, children and grandchildren. “And did I mention golf?” 

In August Tony was up at the crack of dawn, volunteering at the Women’s Open Golf in Aurora. He tweets breathlessly:

 “It just doesn’t get any better.” 

Tony is going to be a very happy boy once the election is behind him and he settles in as our MP.

“Ottawa is a golfer’s dream destination, with what many claim is more golf courses per capita within easy driving distance of downtown than any other Canadian city – and most in North America.”

Our MP will be in seventh heaven.

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Last July the chair of York Regional Council, Wayne Emmerson, famously announced his retirement before changing his mind the following day when he realised he could continue in post without facing the voters in an election.

The fact that the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada – and possibly our next Prime Minister – is an American citizen has provoked a huge amount of comment

When his dual nationality came to light last week Scheer told reporters it wasn’t a secret, it was just that no-one ever asked him.

He told reporters:

"I've never tried to hide that. (His American citizenship.) I've never been asked about it by Canadians. My father has always been open about where he comes from. I haven't been asked about it."

Taking us all for fools

I suppose it is a bit like the old banker Tony Van Bynen – the wannabe Liberal MP for Newmarkert-Aurora – telling us his second severance payment of $67,000 from York Region wasn’t secret. It’s just that we didn’t know about it because no-one ever asked him. And he chose not to volunteer the information until he had to. The mendacious old banker now says

“there has been full disclosure throughout”. 

Me and Andrew Scheer

Anyway…back to the Conservative leader. I share something in common with Andrew Scheer - dual nationality.

I am a dual citizen of Canada and the UK. When I became a Canadian citizen there was no reason for me to renounce my British citizenship and I didn’t want to. I love living here. I am a happy and contented New Canadian. All my taxes are paid in Canada. I fill in one tax return to the Canada Revenue Agency.

But because US citizens are taxed on their world-wide income Andrew Scheer has had to complete an IRS tax return annually, constantly reminding him of his status as a dual national.

Boris Johnson another dual national

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was born in the United States and lived there until he was five years old. He was outraged by an IRS demand for tax on the sale of his principal home in London. He huffed and he puffed and settled his tax bill before finally renouncing his US citizenship in 2016.

Robert Wood, writing in Forbes magazine, tells us:

“Americans living and working in foreign countries must generally report and pay tax where they live. But they must also continue to file taxes in the U.S., where reporting is based on their worldwide income.”

The question that arises is whether Andrew Scheer, at any stage, paid tax to the IRS. If so, did he consider this a sum well worth paying to retain his US nationality?

Scheer's infamous 2005 blog

In a 2005 blog (now widely reported in the media) Andrew Scheer said he had 

“a few quick questions for anyone who thinks that Michaelle Jean is a good choice to become our next Governor General”.

He wonders aloud if it bothers his readers that she is a dual citizen of France and Canada.

“Would it bother you if instead of French citizenship she held US citizenship?”

The question for my little band of readers is this:

“Is it OK that Andrew Scheer never disclosed his American nationality on the grounds that no-one ever asked him?”

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Update on 7 October 2019 from the Toronto Star: What else has U.S. citizen Scheer not told us?

Note 1: The CBC tells us that a “past CBC News investigation found at least 56 parliamentarians from the 2015-19 Parliament, including 44 MPs and 12 senators, were born outside Canada. At least 22 of them have citizenship from other countries. Scheer's U.S. citizenship was not then widely known.”

Note 2: Tony Van Bynen told Newmarket Today

“There’s plenty of information on what the salaries and payments have been for mayors and councillors all along, and there’s been full disclosure throughout."

Van Bynen always brings in other mayors and councillors, just to muddy the waters. He never talks about his own claims and receipts unless he is absolutely forced to. 

Former MPP Chris Ballard tells us he was out canvassing yesterday with the Liberal candidate for Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill, Leah Taylor Roy, and the Minister for Border Security and Organised Crime Reduction, Bill Blair. 

In my mind’s eye I picture Leah (who wants a nationwide ban on handguns) and Bill (who is against one) on the doorstep, trying to explain the nuances of Liberal policy to a bemused voter.

The answer, I suppose, is that the Liberal Party (like most political parties) is a franchise operation which allows candidates to go off-message if it helps them get elected and if their position is deemed by the Party leadership to be “acceptable” and middle-of-the-road. 

The morning after the night before

The night before the canvass a 26 year-old man was shot dead outside 791 Colter Street at 9pm and a 23 year-old woman is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries. They were gunned down in a hail of bullets in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Newmarket. 

The Liberal Platform says the next Liberal Government will be

“working with provinces and territories to give municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns”

This pledge which allows municipalities to restrict or ban handguns within their boundaries is worse than useless

The vast majority of Canadians are in favour of a complete ban on handguns other than those lawfully held by the police and military.

Phoney

Yet Bill Blair dishonestly relies on a phoney and misleading on-line questionnaire which he commissioned which suggests there is no national consensus in favour of a handgun ban. People could vote multiple times in this on-line questionnaire - and they did.

The CBC told us in April this year: 

“Of the 134,917 questionnaires completed online, the vast majority did not support further limits on access to firearms and/or assault-style firearms: 81 per cent of the questionnaire responses said nothing more should be done to limit access to handguns."

Does anyone except Bill Blair believe that drivel?

When Blair was out knocking on doors yesterday (and keeping us all safe) did he ask people if they believed handguns should be banned?

Did he hear four out of five people tell him no action was needed and that things were just fine and dandy?

The Liberal policy on handguns is too timid for words

What will it take for Justin Trudeau to bite the bullet and bring in a nationwide ban?

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Another day another murder.

Something to think about. The Constituency Office of Christine Elliott, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Newmarket-Aurora and Doug Ford's deputy, is 900 metres away from the murder scene. Deaths and injuries from people using handguns are becoming normalised in the GTA.

I read that former Vaughan councillor Michael Di Biase, 71, is to appear before the Superior Court in Newmarket on 30 October 2019 on municipal corruption charges

Over the years I have blogged off and on about Di Biase and what he got up to. Besides being a Vaughan councillor he also served on York Regional Council.

We wait to see what unfolds in Court.

Turning a blind eye

But even after Di Biase was censured by his home council in Vaughan in 2015 and docked 90 days pay for improperly interfering in the tendering process, life continued as before at York Region. 

Nothing was permitted to disturb the clubby atmosphere or cause unpleasantness.

There was no formal report to the Regional Council on Di Biase’s behaviour in Vaughan and the Region continued to pay the regional portion of his salary in the usual way. 

Code of Conduct

More astonishing still, the Regional Council decided it didn’t need a Code of Conduct for its members – and this was after the Di Biase shenanigans had come to light. 

It adopted a Code of Conduct earlier this year but only because the law required one. And members then sent the draft code back for a re-write

What does this tell us? Institutions, no matter how grand, need Codes of Conduct to guarantee the highest ethical standards in public life.

It is good to know that York Region now has one.

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Di Biase faces charges under sections 122 and 123 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Breach of trust by public officer

122 Every official who, in connection with the duties of his office, commits fraud or a breach of trust is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, whether or not the fraud or breach of trust would be an offence if it were committed in relation to a private person.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 111

Marginal note: Municipal corruption

  • 123(1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years who directly or indirectly gives, offers or agrees to give or offer to a municipal official or to anyone for the benefit of a municipal official — or, being a municipal official, directly or indirectly demands, accepts or offers or agrees to accept from any person for themselves or another person — a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for the official
    • (a) to abstain from voting at a meeting of the municipal council or a committee of the council;
    • (b) to vote in favour of or against a measure, motion or resolution;
    • (c) to aid in procuring or preventing the adoption of a measure, motion or resolution; or
    • (d) to perform or fail to perform an official act.

I’ve known Bill Chadwick for years and I like him a lot. Bill is a leading light in the local Liberal Riding Association and worries that I seem to want the election of a Conservative Government. 

Voters in Newmarket-Aurora are not faced with a binary choice between the two old parties, the Conservatives and Liberals. If they wish they can vote for the Greens or the NDP. Or Dorian Baxter. Or the PPC. It is up to voters to decide if their vote is “wasted” or not. 

What’s happening to the climate – especially in the Canadian Arctic – is getting a huge amount of coverage in the news. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Green vote increase. And after the blackface controversy, perhaps some previously Liberal votes will hemorrhage to the NDP. 

Election campaigns matter

On Monday evening I was at Ryerson University for a conversation between four leading political journalists on the election campaign at its mid-point. We are told – as if we don’t already know - that campaigns matter. The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt, who will be one of the moderators at Monday’s Big Federal Election Debate, says there is no single galvanising issue (or, in the jargon, no overarching narrative) at this point in the campaign. Martin Regg Cohn speaks about how the media typically views elections as a horse race (“horse racism” he says to laughter). They all wonder why the Greens aren’t getting more traction. TVO’s Steve Paikin says the NDP will be “creamed” in Quebec. Paikin also talks about voting intentions. He relies on a number-cruncher at TVO whose complicated algorithms predicted the Liberals would lose 25 seats as a direct consequence of Blackface. But, two weeks later, they’ve got half of them back. 

He predicts fewer young people will vote compared with 2015 with its promise of Sunny Ways.

What does all this tell me? The electorate is fickle and has a short attention span. And mid way through this Federal Election campaign there is still everything to play for. 

Strategic voting

Personally, I am not going to vote “strategically” – voting for one Party simply to keep another one out. 

I am going to vote positively for the person who is most likely to represent my view of the world in the House of Commons – even if, for the moment, it seems doubtful that person will be elected. 

Lois and Tony 

The 64 year-old Conservative candidate and re-tread, Lois Brown, is never going to set the heather on fire. She is a Conservative loyalist and the record shows she will do her master’s bidding, unquestioningly. Lois has a limited repertoire and if she is elected (as seems likely) we can expect more of the same.

The 69 year-old Tony Van Bynen discovered he was a Liberal only a few months ago when a vacancy arose. His record rules him out for me. He dissembles. He is not a leader. He parrots scripts written by others. But if by some miracle he makes it to the House of Commons we should not expect too much from him. He will coast serenely towards his second (or is it his third?) retirement.

Feel free to share my words

So Bill, as requested, I am passing on your views about Lois Brown.  You say “Feel free to share my words.”  And I shall. Perhaps Lois reads my blog and will be interested in what you say: 

From the slant of your Blog you seem bent on electing a Conservative Government. If this is not your intent, perhaps you might dedicate a similar effort to remind people that Lois was for many years the only Conservative MP to vote and cheer for every vote and action of Steven Harper, including all the cuts to Women’s Organizations, the muzzling of scientists, redirecting foreign aid away from needy countries that were not aligned with Business opportunities, destruction of the Long Gun Registry data, and much more. Below are some that I protested.

6 October 2015 Candidate Debate Question. My question is (to Lois Brown) in regards to the muzzling of Scientists.

Canada has some of the finest scientists in the world. Canadian prosperity, jobs, and health all depend on the unfettered work of our Federal scientist. Catastrophically, these experts have been muzzled by the Harper government, and their crucial work handcuffed by a climate of repression and fear. Scientists are not allowed to speak freely about their research. (Important science papers have often been delayed 6 months or disappeared entirely in the mandatory censorship process imposed by the Prime Minister’s Office). When will the Harper government remove this outrageous muzzling of Federal scientists? 

2nd June 2012 Speech to Protesters outside Lois Brown’s Office:

Bill C-38 is unprecedented in scope and impact on our future. We did not vote in Lois Brown to surreptitiously gut 60 different acts, including 170 pages of environmental axing, Old Age Security, Employment Insurance, repeal of the “Fair Wages and Hours” act, food inspection, and much more! Where is the consultation with the Provinces, stakeholders, and all Canadians? Where are the fact-based decisions? Why is debate being muzzled? Why is Harper so afraid he has to bury his dirty laundry inside a budget bill? Do Canadian’s want to give dictatorial powers to Harper’s “yes gang” of puppet ministers? No way! Are we like the frog sitting in a pan of warming water, naively sitting still while our goose is cooked? Or are we here to demand accountability from our MP? Are we prepared to tell Lois Brown……. we want this bill split now for fair debate!     I say split this Bill! So lets hear it. What do we want: Split this Bill! 

Open Letter to MP Lois Brown, 4th November 2012.  Subject: The Delisting of Deadly Weapons

Ms Brown, I was appalled to discover that you are supporting legislation that delists deadly weapons like the semi-automatic that was used in the Montreal massacre, as well as guns specially designed to launch armour piercing rounds, and sniper rifles built to assassinate at ranges up to two miles. Now in all good conscience I am appealing for your help in correcting this flawed legislation before its final vote.

Prior to the Long Gun Registry these guns were subject to sales restrictions including mandatory tracking of ownership. The Long Gun Registry took over this tracking. Now you are supporting untracked distribution of these weapons of terrorism and war through the unrestricted scrapping of the Long Gun Registry! To add insult to injury, the legislation also proposes scrapping the valuable information gathered on gun ownership. The RCMP published a long list of cases where the Long Gun Registry has led to greatly enhanced public and police safety, including the tracing of gun smuggling, suicide and domestic violence prevention, theft tracing, and more. 

The Long Gun Registry was painstakingly compiled using extensive police work and taxpayer funds. Destroying these records was never mentioned prior to the Federal Election, and I doubt the Canadian people support the foolhardy destruction of valuable crime-fighting information, or the delisting of weapons not needed for any legitimate purpose other than mayhem.

If you and the Federal Government are sincere about being “tough on crime” you will action this issue.

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