Sunday, March 16, 2014

Counterfeit Integrity

The Webster's Dictionary describes the word 'integrity' to mean: 3 “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle, uprightness, honesty and sincerity.” It would be expected that if one was to lay claim to integrity, that same individual would not attempt to deceive through omission or use trickery in their chosen language. In fact, honesty and sincerity as components require being “free from deceit, frank and open,” and “without pretence or hypocrisy,” again quoted from Webster's.

In Canada we have a bunch of what are called Integrity Commissioners established to patrol one of the oldest professions, politicians. These Integrity Commissioners supposedly enforce a certain code of ethics for those we elect to take care of our affairs as a community. Regardless of what your opinion is of anyone in the game of politics it is a sad fact that we do need them. After all imagine what would it be like without our political leaders. Reality soon wipes the smile off our face.

As an individual who is chosen to take up the mantle of an Integrity Commissioner it would be expected that these Webster style traits are demonstrated in that individual's personality and history. Then mother reality crashes through the door and throws into the mix human nature with all its ugliness. Ego steps in and then we have nothing left of Webster and his high aspirations.

There is further reality to deal with here, one which raises a question of the real purpose of such creatures. They are paid with public money to supposedly enforce a certain code of ethics in our elected members of government. Yet they have no authority to do anything about the most serious of breaches of that code. The most severe penalty that they can recommend, and yes only recommend, is to remove the one who may have committed deceit or worse from pay for 90 days. Even here the commish can only recommend the penalty and it is up to the respective council to decide if they implement it.

In the Niagara Region of Ontario one of these knights came crashing in with his ego in tow. Robert Swayze was brought to town to investigate two complaints brought against Councillor Andrew Petrowski. This whole issue was covered in an article titled Integrity Commissioner's trial of bias and does not need repeating. It is what Robert Swayze did later that brought a need to revisit these questionable muddy waters.

On February 26th 2014 an email was received by artist Alexandra Davidoff sent by Robert J. Swayze. This email identifies the sender clearly and although its grammar is equivalent of a lower grader it has CONFIDENTIAL atop of it, and further repeated below. Alexandra Davidoff is the artist, a very talented artist, who provides some of the articles on Mayorgate with rather thought provoking caricatures as she had done with the article relating to Robert Swayze.

Robert Swayze's ego jumps forward with his statement that he is an integrity commissioner for “9 other municipalities,” and it appears he is doing some kind of educational presentation. He asks to have permission to use Alexandra's artwork in what he refers to as a “power point presentation.” At no time does Robert Swayze explain how he is wanting to use the artwork or why. Everything about Robert Swayze's request reeks of deceit and subterfuge.

Webster's Dictionary describes integrity as being frank and open, without pretence or hypocrisy. Reading Swayze's email sees no openness, no honesty. What did Robert Swayze have in mind only a guess could be used. He has shown that his ego is indeed large. In an article written by Micheal McKiernan titled 'Lawyers grabbing a piece of integrity commissioner action' for Robert Swayze is quoted as saying, “It's an evolving field, changing all the time. There's such an enormous variety of issues that come up and you're always creating new law and new approaches.”

It would seem that Robert Swayze ignores the Municipal Statute Law Amendment Act 2006, Bill 130. In section 223.3 the Role of Integrity Commissioner is expanded on, and section 223.4 explains the authority and powers of an Integrity Commissioner. There is a reality that escapes Robert Swayze, he cannot be “creating new laws,” they are set out by the provincial government. His authority is extremely limited even if he finds serious breaches and wishes to make them public.

Robert Swayze decides to contact artist Alexandra Davidoff requesting permission to use her art yet is unwilling to fully explain how is it that he wishes to use it. What was the motivation behind this veiled request? Motivation was clearly at question when Swayze rode though the City of Guelph. It was again questioned in the issues surrounding his guest appearance in the Niagara Region. Motivation clearly remains a question in relation to Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze.

As we try and grapple with codes of ethics, human nature and politics we find ourselves in very muddy waters. The notion that Integrity Commissioners are an answer is slowly becoming a false hope. Ethics and politics are extremely strange bed fellows and without real authority no knight who is simply highly paid with public money is worth a dollar bill, or is it a loonie?

Robert Swayze may see himself as something high on a horse, in this case he simply tried to play tricks without waiting for Halloween. Both the Swayze email and response to it are published here, maybe Robert Swayze would care to shed some light on all of this.

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

A time for change, a time for courage

At no other time has Mayorgate taken a stand for or against any political candidate or party. Today we have reached a point where enough is truly enough, and although under no circumstances is Mayorgate endorsing any particular politician or party, the removal of the Liberals from Ontario Government has become a necessity.

Two recent by-elections in February 2014 have shown that the people of Ontario have reached saturation point on the empty promises and lies dished out by Liberal candidates. In Niagara Falls Joyce Morocco, the Liberal Candidate came in third behind winner Wayne Gates of the NDP and Bart Maves of the PC. Morocco brought in the 'big guns' of the Liberal Party to walk the beat with her. Longest sitting MPP Jim Bradley grinned and shook hands with seniors by Morocco's side. Yet when Morocco was asked one simple question regarding a seniors' centre in St. Catharines and the abuse of its residents, she and her handlers ignored everything. Party faithfuls will jump to her defence and claim that she is representing Niagara Falls and not St. Catharines. If that is the only defence, then look at the photo of 'smiling jack' Jim Bradley by her side and answer the question as to which riding does he represent? 

Grey Power as it is known is a strong political force, and at each election political candidates trek to seniors' centres to shake hands, hug and have photos taken. Is it any wonder the federal Conservatives announced their big plan, the BeFAIR Project, which in reality is more empty rhetoric and waste of our public dollars. Joyce Morocco and Jim Bradley grinned their false grins and shook hands, but when it came to action, Morocco's handlers erased the question raised to her from public view. That is the hypocrisy of Joyce Morocco, Jim Bradley and the Liberal Party of Ontario. Although this is far from one incident, nor is it the first.

Politics and politicians in Canada have not provided much to be proud of whether provincial or federal. Nor is the ugly mess of Ontario's political climate currently choking the people of the province solely a Liberal disease. One simply can look back and reminisce on the brown paper envelopes and PM Brian Mulroney, or the consequence of political indifference of Premier Mike Harris. Walkerton, Ontario should of been a frightening enough warning, yet it was not.

Premier Dalton McGuinty brought to us his own brand of politics. Most of us are familiar with lies and empty promises, but it was Dalton McGuinty, who with his bunch of hombres took all of it as usual to a new level. Who can forget the eHealth scandal and Ornge? Public health and safety found itself reduced to empty bloated rhetoric by politicians who had no interest in the welfare of the people who elected them. In the end it was not only the scandal of massive amounts of public money misappropriated by nothing more than thieves and con artists, but a death toll which kept on rising with innocent lives sacrificed before Premier McGuinty decided to take action. In St. Catharines more than two dozen innocent human beings were in effect sacrificed, whilst those at the head of the Niagara Health System were protected and paid off. Whether it was Walkerton or St. Catharines the innocent in the end pay the price.

Health took one hell of a beating at the fists of our elected Liberal representatives, but more was to come. Fists, shields and jack boots came crashing down on democracy itself. How can anyone forget the images of mercenaries in uniform brought in from all over the province to crush free speech and the right to voice an opposing opinion at the infamous G20 Summit in Toronto, 2010? True there were some in the crowds who showed disregard for private property and civil behaviour, but under no circumstance did that excuse or explain the destruction of civil liberties and rights by uniformed police officers. The flapping eyelids of ballerina McGuinty still echo through the corridors of Queen's Park.

Back in 2006 the McGuinty Liberals announced a new $46 billion energy plan that provided for the renovation of many of Ontario's energy plants. This sounded like a rather good idea and even looked good until it was revealed that the government tried to exempt their plans from environmental assessment. In the end this was not the only time that elected Liberal MPPs showed not only disregard for the future of this province, but outright lied about their phoney environmental stand.

Three consecutive Ministers of the Environment; John Gerretsen, John Wilkinson and Jim Bradley, have whittled away at environmental law and legislation. They have sacrificed our future, and that of their own families, to protect their pals and those with money. Even though both Gerretsen and Wilkinson proved that environmental protection was an absolute lie in their hands, it has been MPP Jim Bradley who took it all to the next level.

Jim Bradley has the fame of being the longest sitting MPP in Ontario. Jim Bradley also has the honour of being the only MPP caught altering official Ministry of Environment documents filed with the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and provincial legislature two years after they were filed. Liberal MPP Jim Bradley did this to protect his pals here in St. Catharines, and that was not the first time. As Minister of Municipal Affairs, Jim Bradley was made aware of a breach of law by his pal Mayor Brian McMullan of St. Catharines. The evidence was undeniable, Jim Bradley as a sworn minister of the government decided to protect his pal Brian McMullan rather than stand by his oath and the law.

How much can we expect from our Liberal representatives of government? During the
C. difficile outbreak, as dozens of innocent lives were lost Jim Bradley bragged of a new hospital being built. Health Minister Deb Matthews ignored her responsibilities, and Premier Dalton McGuinty departed, some say ran, from his seat of power and a new leader was chosen in the guise of Kathleen Wynne. Mind you this was the same Kathleen Wynne who as Minister for Municipal Affairs ignored clear evidence of a breach of the Building Code and threat and harassment by a building inspector, so little was expected from her. Kathleen Wynne has proved that to be so.

Amongst the scandals that one can sift through surrounding the Liberal government surely the most costly has to be the gas-plant cancellations and its massive price. The Auditor General Bonnie Lysk slammed the Liberal government stating, “Liberal intervention – including from staff in former Premier Dalton McGuinty's office – drove that price tag far higher than it needed to be.” (Adrian Morrow and Howlett, Globe and Mail, October 8 2013 'Ontario's Liberals' gas-plant cancellations cost $1 billion').

This is an enormous sum of money, public money, paid for what? No one fully explained what really went on, or how this happened, not even the Auditor General. There is no surprise Dalton McGuinty ran from office after this one. Yet the same Liberals stand before the people of Ontario asking for trust and their vote.

When Dalton McGuinty ran from office, Ontario and Ontarians were saddled with Kathleen Wynne as the new Premier. Mind you she was chosen by the select few party members in a vote that did not give all Ontarians a choice as expected in a provincial general election. Still we all woke up one morning and had a new Premier. Regardless of what the publicity machine behind the Liberal mob thinks, a boyish new hairstyle or a new tailored outfit does not really resonate change, not in any sense of the word.

Since Kathleen Wynne took office the Liberals have continued on the same path. The same lies and questionable acts have continued. In part Wynne's own words when she appeared before the standing committee on justice policy back in December 2013 clearly put the whole Liberal mantra into perspective. As Wynne was questioned on issues surrounding the billion dollar price tag to the taxpayers of Ontario, not to mention little things like shredding emails and evidence, Wynne responded with this gem. “We can continue on this narrow path focused on the past. We cannot change the past, but we can focus on the future.” (National Post December 2 2013). Such words of wisdom can only warm the heart. Ownership and consequence is not a common trait in any politician, in the Liberal ideology it is a foreign language.

The time has come to remove this blight from our lives, lives that are stressful enough. Though one cannot forget the wise words, once spoken by someone or other, 'be careful of what you wish for.' Today looking at the alternatives it only can make one shake in fear with Tim Hudak and the Conservatives and Andrea Horwath with the NDP. Maybe it is all simply just a long bad dream and like Rip Van Winkle we will all collectively wake up. 

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