The Ford Government tells us the title “KC” is awarded to lawyers who have demonstrated a commitment to the pursuit of legal excellence in service to the Crown, the public and their communities. 

Breaking contracts

On 6 June 2019 at Queen’s Park Sandy Shaw MPP asked the then Attorney General, Caroline Mulroney, about the consequences of breaking contracts with the Beer Store. 

The rule of law means that governments… should follow the law… it is a principle that this Attorney General is sworn to uphold. That’s why it’s so concerning that this government is ripping up contracts and ignoring the rule of law—all for beer. In fact, the Canadian American Bar Association wrote the Attorney General an urgent letter and said that this government will “undermine the rule of law.” The Attorney General’s job is to uphold the rule of law. Has she spoken to the Premier about these serious concerns?

Refuses to answer

Mulroney refused to answer, passing the question to Vic Fedeli, then Minister of Finance, who accused the Liberals of giving the three global multinationals that own the Beer Store a sweetheart deal. 

“International companies understand our parliamentary system. They know that a new government isn’t bound by bad legislation.”

No compensation

Even if that means ripping up contracts without offering compensation.

We still don’t know if Caroline Mulroney KC believes this kind of behaviour undermines the rule of law.

She won’t tell us.

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Update on 6 July 2023: From the Toronto Star: Doug Ford's Patronage Controversy builds on a Pattern of Poor Decision Making.

Update on 7 July 2023: From TVO: Thanks to Doug Ford we've got ourselves a good old fashioned patronage scandal

This morning's Globe and Mail tells me Doug Ford has been quietly moving ahead with plans to sell beer in corner stores

It seems the great man has been mulling the pros and cons of pressing ahead with his unfulfilled promise from the 2018 election to allow convenience stores to sell beer.

I laughed out loud when I read about the closed door consultations, initiated by the Ministry of Finance, which:

"required all participants to sign non-disclosure agreements, keeping the talks secret."

When Ford vowed to break the Beer Store monopoly he overlooked the fact there would be huge costs in ripping up a watertight legal agreement with the big brewers. Ford then said legislation would protect the Province from the consequences of unilaterally breaking the contract. That ran into the sand.

Personally, I think it is totally weird that you can't buy beer at a corner store. When I first arrived in Canada from the UK it astonished me that beer and wine could only be purchased in Provincially regulated outlets. Now I'm used to it but, when I think about it, I still find it crazy. 

Christine and Dawn

I recall going to see my then MPP Christine Elliott in August 2019 to ask her when Andrew's Convenience store in Aurora would be allowed to sell beer and wines. Elliott was forever pointing to Andrew's Convenience store as the kind of local business that would benefit from the new, more liberal, policy. I remember her assistant, Dawn Gallagher Murphy, sitting in on the conversation, taking notes, saying nothing. Elliott assured me Andrew's would be selling beer in August 2020.

I couldn't see that happening when breaking the contract could cost $1 billion.

So this explains the secret consultation. Ford doesn't want anyone to remember his Buck-a-Beer fuelled promise to smash the Beer Store monopoly.

Making policy on the hoof

Ford makes policies on the hoof. They are not stress-tested before being announced to the public. This is a classic example.

In Ford's first term his media releases used to boast in a strapline at the bottom:

"Promise Made. Promise Kept."

But that kind of triumphalism was abandoned long ago.

Promises casually made are now casually broken.

I have a list.

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Click Read More below for the G&M article

Vaughan Mayor and former Leader of the Ontario Liberals, Steven del Duca, today accused York Regional planning staff of trying to create a role for themselves if a much touted municipal reorganisation sees the Region disappearing in its current form. 

Del Duca, the new kid on the block, was responding to a memo (Regional Planning Transition Plan) put before the Council by the Region’s Chief Planner, Paul Freeman. Del Duca suggested that the region’s planners were in “self-preservation” mode.

Newmarket’s John Taylor said the comment was unnecessary, derogatory and inaccurate. 


When there are matters of great consequence at stake the last thing we need is for our politicians to dance around the issue, afraid to venture an opinion.

Avoiding Unpleasantness

For as long as I can remember, members of York Regional Council have behaved in a way that avoids unpleasantness, studiously avoiding direct criticism of their colleagues. Everything said in the hushed, reverential tones of a fusty old Club. Tony van Bynen was an exemplar of this type. In the same way, Newmarket’s Tom Vegh never tries to lead or shape opinion. He is a spectator of events.

So what happened today was, in one sense, remarkable.

Del Duca took aim at the Chief Planner, Paul Freeman, whose memorandum he deemed to be defective. (Del Duca should instead have targeted Doug Ford who still hasn't decided what he wants to do with municipalities.)

Regional Official Plan to be replaced by nine plans

Georgina’s Margaret Quirk asks the Region’s Chief Administrative Officer, Bruce Macgregor, if there would still be a regional official plan after Bill 23 (More Homes Built Faster Act 2022) had been brought in and fully implemented.

Bruce Macgregor replies:

"Our understanding presently is that the Regional Official Plan will be replaced ultimately by official plans from nine of the local municipalities. Our job from a planning perspective will be to keep tabs of those plans; to participate in their evolution and to understand where growth is going for the purposes of the master planning that we've done to ensure that the infrastructure and services are provided. 

We have master plans for roads and transit. We have a master plan for water and wastewater. We have a master plan for paramedic services. We are building communities now that are the size of medium towns in Ontario in concession blocks in York region. And even more than that in some of the major transit station areas and the areas where our communities are densifying. 

And so there is a need for regional services that we have to be aware of - no differently than the school boards and others. Healthcare providers that have to understand where our growth is going so that we build complete communities. So my expectation is we will have a close handle in coordinating the outcomes of local councils in their official plans. 

Those will be the planning documents that will prevail for approval purposes under the Planning Act but we will necessarily have to be closely linked to that and bring decisions back to this council - or whatever successor exists of this council - to ensure that those services are being provided in the expected way and that we are able to fund them as well. Mr. Freeman could probably add some context relative to the Planning Act."

York Region's highly regarded Chief Planner, Paul Freeman, adds: 

“…it is correct that the regional official plan will be replaced by the local official plans through the transition. It'll take some time as your councils update your official plans and adopt new official plans. Right now the region is still legislatively the approval authority of your official plans but that will change when the rest of the proclamation comes into place probably early next year. So the province will then be the approval authority at that point. 

What the memo outlines is what the legislation tells us - that we will still be required and have an ability to comment on applications. The approval authority of Regional Council will disappear. There's no doubt about it, and so Mayor Quirk, it does get replaced. But as Mr. McGregor said there's still a need for growth management at a regional level to understand how growth is going to be aligned with infrastructure. And that is a huge responsibility for the region that is predicated on fiscal sustainability.”

False Narrative

Newmarket’s John Taylor lambasts the “false narrative” which seeks to blame municipalities for the failure to build more homes. He says the reasons why housing isn’t being built in sufficient numbers could not be laid at the door of the regional planners. He insists that his defence of regional planning is not a defence of the status quo.

Taylor then throws down the gauntlet:

“If we want to challenge the status quo let's talk about Housing York starting to build purpose built rental tomorrow on regional properties, on this property right here.

(I don’t know if Taylor meant building on the car park at the Regional Administrative building on Yonge Street but it sounded like it).

“Let's stop pretending we're challenging the status quo by talking about what level regional planning is involved and let's start talking about challenging the status quo and getting things built. Housing York is and can be… the single largest provider of rental housing in the region and we can produce much more. We can produce units. We want to challenge the status quo about how much the regional planning is involved but barely a word was said about the fact that Housing York’s capital funding source was wiped out by Bill 23. Our ability to build units, more housing, 1.5 million units, was wiped out. I don't know how many people who want to challenge the status quo met with the Premier and sent letters in about that because that's significant.”

No-one responds directly. 

The council will hold a workshop in the fall where each municipality will provide information on housing approvals, when and where they were given and if they have been acted upon.

The following members spoke in the debate: Steven Del Duca (Vaughan), Margaret Quirk (Georgina), John Taylor (Newmarket), David West and Joe Di Paolo (Richmond Hill), Iain Lovatt (Whitchurch Stouffville), Gino Rosati and Mario Racco (Vaughan). Newmarket’s Regional Councillor Tom Vegh again kept his thoughts to himself.

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Update on 30 June 2023 from Newmarket Today: York Region Council at odds over planning future.   And York Region CAO Bruce Macgregor stepping down

Related: Ontario Newsroom 18 May 2023: Ontario announces intent to dissolve Peel Region and from TVO 30 June 2023: Doug Ford wants changes in Simcoe County. What do local Mayors want?


Olivia Chow is the new face of Toronto

The election of Olivia Chow as the new Mayor of Toronto comes as a very pleasant surprise. The early results showed Chow trailing John Tory’s favourite, Ana Bailão, and I thought: “Oh no! Here we go again.”

In the event Chow won by a decent 34,000 votes – or 37.1% to Bailão’s 34.2%

The official results, certified by the City Clerk, are here.

The Toronto Star has wall to wall coverage. The Star's editorial board had backed Ana Bailão but this morning's editorial recognises that a vote for Chow is a vote for change - not more of the same.

The Local has some excellent reporting showing how the vote split by ward.

Turnout was 38.5% - a figure in the range that is, tragically, becoming the new normal.

Ford and Tory on the losing side

Doug Ford and ex-Mayor John Tory – who both vowed to stay out of the election campaign – end up with egg on their face. 

Ford predicted Chow would be an “unmitigated disaster” for Toronto. And, at the eleventh hour, Tory urged people to back Ana Bailão.

Chow has pledged not to use the “Strong Mayor” powers just at the very time Ford is extending them to 26 municipalities across the Province. We shall see how this plays out.

I hope she shakes things up.

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Update on 28 June 2023: Editorial from the Globe and Mail: Get the party started in Toronto vote. Click "read more" below

Newmarket Council meetings always have a spot on the agenda for report-backs from our Regional Councillor, Tom Vegh. The Mayor, who also sits on York Regional Council, generally has a few words to say about what is happening there.  

Earlier today, the Mayor, John Taylor, invites Tom to give his report.  

Tom Vegh replies:

 “Thank you very much for the opportunity but there is really nothing to report this week. Thank you.”

Good grief! This has been one of the most momentous months I can recall. The future of York Region is on the line. Markham’s Mayor, Frank Scarpitti, called for the abolition of Newmarket and the other eight lower tier municipalities and the creation of a new megacity. Not to be outdone, Vaughan’s Mayor, Steven Del Duca, wants to see single tier municipalities in York which would be responsible for most if not all services.

Vegh did his last report back to Newmarket Council on 5 June 2023. York Region’s Committee of the Whole met on 15 June 2023 and considered an important report on fiscal sustainability. Members, including Tom Vegh, learned for the first time that Newmarket could have 15,000 new neighbours on land in King, just the other side of Bathurst. Oh, yes, and there will be a new acute hospital located there too.  

The York Region agenda included comments from King Township on the proposed Provincial Planning Statement which is at the centre of the current controversy over future land use planning. And there were comments from the Region’s Chief Planner.

There was a report on the potential dissolution of Peel Region and its impact on York Region.

There was an important report on housing and another on affordable housing

Clearly, there’s a lot of stuff happening that is passing Tom by.

“There’s really nothing to report.”

Like Tom, I am lost for words. 

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Postscript: Why doesn't Newmarket Council invite Southlake's Chief Executive, Arden Krystal, to brief them on her plan to have a second hospital campus in King? That's what I'd do. What is there left to hide?

See also: Southlake and the sale of the Greenbelt lands in King