Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Hypocrisy: A Human Trait or an Acquired Accessory?

Wow, now this could start a loud discussion leading off to all kinds of tangents relating to humanity and our endeavours. Most of us know what hypocrisy is, Webster's describes it as “pretending to be what one is not or to feel what one does not feel, a pretense of virtue or piety etc.” Is this something many of us have come face to face with at one time or another? Of course the answer is yes. Can we say it was a pleasant experience, usually no, as we are left angry and disappointed.

As a publisher and journalist, meeting and interacting with a wide variety of people is a necessity. Each article has a life of its own, a purpose. For a journalist the right to freedom of speech is as important as breathing. At the same time this right has to be exercised with the acceptance of the consequences if taken too far.

There well be some who claim that such acceptance is hypocritical in itself. How can freedom be fenced in with conditions? In response one can ask then if hate speech is to be accepted as free expression without consequence? At times this debate tethers on a tight rope attempting to find an acceptable middle ground.

Social media and the world of the Internet provides a different angle to the debate of free speech. Today anyone can open a Twitter account and post any comment on any subject at any time. Knowledge or experience no longer are prerequisites; an armchair quarterback is able to dissect the latest Bills game from his lounger, bed or the washroom's comfy chair for all to see. At the same time social media can provide an open world to exchange thoughts and opinions with others who would not be reachable in normal daily travels.

So is it a pretense of virtue or piety to expect, even demand, restraint or consequence for one's words while still believing in freedom of speech? No one said this was an easy debate, even if the question of the nature of hypocrisy will bring many to opposite sides.

To answer at least one question, hypocrisy is within all of us and usually it is not intended. How easy is it to say one thing and for whatever reason do the opposite? True there are professions which require the skill almost as a prerequisite, such as politics. Children are open and honest, it is rare in natural circumstances to find a child pretending other than in a game. Hypocrisy is definitely a honed skill we pick up through the ascension from childhood to responsible and mature adulthood.

Now that being said the tie into the hand ringing question of free speech and consequence comes in the form of a living example. It is a situation unfolding at this very time revolving around Twitter. Social media in its various forms can be entertaining, it can be informative, and it can be a tool used to attack and damage the character and reputation of others. More alarming is when this attack is aimed at a total stranger.

On Twitter, acting Captain Andrew Gill, a member of the Niagara Falls Fire Department, posts a great deal about the Buffalo Bills football team, information and news relating to the fire department and personal tidbits. Gill also at times sees himself as a socio-political commentator and will throw out posts relating to local political events. Prior to his uniform days at the Niagara Falls Fire Department, Andrew Gill had traveled through varying career paths. One of these adventures brought Gill to the City of St. Catharines City Council as an elected City Councillor. This lasted only for one term, and although he tried to stay in the political arena, any attempts made had failed.

In 2011 Andrew Gill appeared on the pages of the local newspaper The Standard, as he had sued Preston Haskell for defamation. At the time Haskell published the newsletter Niagara Winners Circle and had made comments relating to Gill whilst he was still a City Councillor. Gill took offense to the comments by Haskell claiming they were not true, sued and won. The Standard's article by Marlene Bergsma, who no longer works for the paper, wrote that Deputy Judge Brian Marotta had said that Haskell displayed “reckless disregard for the truth.” On the witness stand Andrew Gill spoke emotionally about how this article affected his father and the pain it caused his family.

Gill had a lot to say after the trial. He claimed that he filed the legal action against Haskell to protect other civic minded people who may want to run for public office but would be afraid to make themselves vulnerable somehow. Bergsma quoted Andrew Gill saying: “This was never about money. This was about someone taking a shot at my integrity and my credibility and you can't put a price on that”, and that “The judge sent a strong message you can't say whatever you want where you want, and when you do say something, it has to be based on facts.” These are wonderful strong sentiments expressed by the winner Andrew Gill in 2011.

That was 2011. Now in 2017 Andrew Gill had done a complete turnaround. Gill made two tweets on July 27th, 2017, the first at 8:37am and then again at 8:51am, attacking an individual he had no personal business dealings with at any time. First he said, “Just heard Niagara Truth Warrior Davidoff hit another home run today!” with a “What a Loser” GIF.

First of all Gill posted this at 8:37am; no courts begin before 10:00 am. More importantly the Davidoff Gill refers to is Alexander Davidoff, who was not scheduled for court on the 27th of July. Andrew Gill lied! There was another Davidoff scheduled for court on that day, not Alexander Davidoff. Court lists are available on the web, did Gill have trouble reading English? Or was this information passed on to him by another individual?

Not all issues brought before a judge end in one party winning or losing; there are many times when a judge will simply hear motions as an impartial adjudicator. So how could Gill predict any outcome, especially at 8:37am before court even begins? Did he hold onto crystal balls to consult or was it someone else who had them? Mixed in with the lie and other glaring questions that test anyone's sanity, there is the label of “Niagara Truth Warrior.” Where did this come from? Clearly it is done in an insulting manner, but who came up with it?

This was not enough for Acting Niagara Falls Fire Captain Andrew Gill. Fourteen minutes later, at 8:51am, he tweeted again, “Always entertaining when Niagara Truth Warriors Petrowski, Bracken, Haskell and Davidoff go to court! #Losers.”

Andrew Gill had proven that to lie publicly is not a problem for him, and he did so again in the second post, literally minutes later. The second post also has a GIF with an individual sitting at the side of some machinery and being repeatedly hit on the head. Here Gill expands his tag of 'Niagara Truth Warriors' to include three other people. One question begs for an answer, why include [Alexander] Davidoff with the other three and that tag?

A written notice was sent to Andrew Gill informing him that legal action was being prepared. On August 24th 2017 Gill responded with an email. He first confirms receipt of the notice and then proceeds with this, “As a gesture of good will and without prejudice or acceptance of wrongdoing. I will remove the two tweets in question and offer my apologies to you for all the hard feelings my tweets may have caused you.”

An astounding “gesture of goodwill,” but mind you “without prejudice or acceptance of wrongdoing,” and he removed the two tweets. These posts were public and intended for one purpose; this 'apology' by Gill was in a private email. Not only was the apology laughable, he accepted no wrongdoing. He lied with the intent to damage the reputation of a stranger but he did no wrong.

Being the individual that Andrew Gill had apparently shown to be he did not disappoint. On September 1st 2017 he could not resist and posted again: “This is what the Niagara Truth Warriors do to me” with a GIF of a Minion vomiting.

As he had provided the names of the other so called Truth Warriors it was easy to check the web if any of these individuals had made any comment regarding Gill or on any community matter. No, the web was silent and the target of this post was quite clear.

Now one can come to some conclusion on the issues raised. Should Andrew Gill's actions be considered to be simply the exercise of free speech or should there be consequences and restraints? Gill himself went to court against Preston Haskell in 2011 for what he claimed was commentary published which was not based in truth. In addition to the issue of free speech Gill has displayed a perfect example of hypocrisy in action. Simply refer to the words attributed to Gill by the reporter after the trial in 2011, and compare them to his actions and words in 2017.

Andrew Gill now sits in the same chair as he put Preston Haskell in back in 2011. His defense will be extremely interesting to hear.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Mixology of the English Language

Integrity, what is it? Webster's describes integrity as “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle, uprightness, honesty and sincerity.” An admirable quality in any human being without a doubt. Can we expect this quality in our elected officials? If integrity is too much to look for in those we elect then what can we look for as possible standards? If these qualities are too high a standard to use as a benchmark for those in public office certain codes governing acceptable and non-acceptable conduct are then designed.

When codes are designed to govern professional ethics and conduct, or procedural equality and fairness then without a doubt we will find someone in breach of these rules, and alleged breaches need to be examined and investigated. Now ordinarily, this investigator can be the head of a particular organisation or a senior individual within a human resource division. In politics most often an outside adjudicator is appointed who is required to be completely impartial and immune to any bias. These individuals are provided with the title of Integrity Commissioner, lending an air of authority and power.

Slap together Integrity and Commissioner and you have a political watchdog. These ICs come in all shapes and sizes like the varying levels of government. At the municipal level they have their authority outlined in the Municipal Act though they are limited in any consequences they can impose on politicians found to have breached the code.

In the Niagara Region much has been discussed in relation to the benefit of an Integrity Commissioner. Regional Chair Alan Caslin cried that he had been bombarded with too many complaints against his councillors that he could not cope with it. For that reason the Regional Municipality of Niagara appointed one John Mascarin of Aird & Berlis, a Toronto law firm, as its interim-Integrity Commissioner. John Mascarin was at the time the permanent IC for the City of St. Catharines.

Controversy surrounded the appointment of John Mascarin around potential conflict of interest. Mascarin's law firm Aird & Berlis just so happened to represent Chinese developers in negotiation with the Niagara Region for a possible $1.5 billion land development. Still it was John Mascarin's shining star status that appeared to have blinded all on this minor inconvenience. After all he is a scholar in Municipal Law and teaches at Osgoode Hall! He had written chapter after chapter on municipal matters, specifically on the OMB and land development regulations, in addition to being a practicing lawyer in the field who has appeared on television and other media to comment on all manners of the subject.

It is important to note here that Integrity Commissioners have no set rules or procedures to follow. The Municipal Act only provides the description of their authority and nothing else. Plumbers, journalists, lawyers – they all have codes of professional ethics. Even politicians do; after all if the politician breaches his or her code they face off with the Integrity Commissioner. Yet the Integrity Commissioner has no codes or procedural rules at all. If there was an association for these watchdogs it probably would have as a motto, 'Come as you are, Do as you please'.

Chair Alan Caslin unloaded the heavy burden of some six or seven complaints that he could not handle upon the broad shoulders of this certified expert. This expert cleared two councillors and dismissed the complaints as smoke and mirrors, while stepping away from a third against Alan Caslin himself. The remaining three found the expert with rolled sleeves and dug in. All three were against Niagara's favourite son, Regional Councillor Andy Petrowski. On May 18th 2017 John Mascarin rode into a public meeting of Regional Council to present his report. These words uttered by John Mascarin of Aird & Berlis are of great importance; they were on record and cannot be denied.

Not long after the May 18th public meeting two mayors, Jim Diodati of Niagara Falls and Frank Campion of Welland, found themselves revealed on Facebook hurling out the Nazi salute. This thoughtful gesture was performed during a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Board Meeting, of which both are board members. For two mayors to do something like this was mind boggling. Yet this incident together with Mascarin's May public appearance became the motivation for an exercise.

Each case had a clear and specific reason on its own to require an investigation. The first centred around two mayors: Jim Diodati of Niagara Falls and Frank Campion of Welland. These two public servants decided that a Nazi salute was somehow a thing of jest. Thinking it was a joke they hurled their arms out during an official meeting of the Board of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. A second request was in relation to City of St. Catharines council member David Haywood and an incident revolving around his conduct on social media.

In the case of the two mayors the reasoning was simple: as both mayors are sitting members of Regional Council, both would be under the jurisdiction of the Regional Code of Conduct. As it turned out that was an error in thinking and John Mascarin responded on July 12th 2017. It was a four page report to simply say at the end, “Based on the foregoing, the Request has not been filed in the proper forum. My jurisdiction does not extend to the NPCA, which is a separate corporate body with its own code of conduct. Accordingly, I suggest that you may seek to modify your Request and submit it to the appropriate oversight officer at the NPCA for consideration.” Modification was indeed conducted and the request forwarded onto the Chair of the NPCA, Sandy Annunziata.

Now the second investigation request had a different outcome, the exercise provided tangible results. This case revolved around Merritton Ward, City of St. Catharines Councillor David Haywood and an exchange with him on Facebook. At the May 18th Regional Council meeting John Mascarin had a great deal to say on a number of issues, one being the whole social media thing. This is a good time to note that of the three complaints John Mascarin chose to investigate, two centred on Councillor Petrowski's outings in the world of social media.

On May 18th John Mascarin stood before a public meeting of Regional Council and said a number of things. He was there in what appeared to be a role of educator or an expert, as he made a point of how he had helped dysfunctional councils. He also stood there with a price tag dangling out from the edge of his sleeve. Aside from the cost it is important to ascertain just how much does a lawyer believe in the words he utters, more so when that lawyer parades as an Integrity Commissioner. Does he fit the description of the title of Integrity as described in the opening paragraph?

John Mascarin said, “The whole purpose of social media is to impose your views, if you're tweeting onto other people.” If this is true it is a very narrow minded view of social media. Just prior to this statement Mascarin had this to say: “I looked at the word impose and thought it meant foist, inflict, press, urge all these sorts of synonyms, the fact that someone tweets something, you're distributing, you're making communication. To me that's putting it out there, that's imposing, you are sending it out in the Twittersphere, you're imposing, you're propagating your view, that's the whole purpose of social media.”

As stated the motivation behind the exercise was to test John Mascarin himself and his rhetoric used to justify his position and his actions. The investigation request brought to his attention was about a Facebook exchange with a City of St. Catharines Merritton Ward Councillor David Haywood, accompanied by four photographs. Remember according to John Mascarin the whole purpose of social media, Facebook being a big chunk of it, is “to impose, to foist, to inflict, to press, to urge.”

St. Catharines once bragged it was the Garden City, today it is full of weeds. Look at the garden city at the intersection of Glendale Ave., and Almond St., in Merritton. Weeds reach up to 4 feet and more in height, their seeds are blown into yards throughout the neighbourhood. Dogwood insanely planted obscures the intersection to a point that the crosswalk is dangerous to use and traffic entering Glendale from Almond always at a risk of collision. Mayor Walter Sendzik could not give a damn, and the Merritton Ward Councillors Haywood and Stevens nowhere to be seen. Yet try and let this happen in your own front yard and see what the city will do.”

This post did not tag anyone. The mayor's name was clear and in full, the two councillors just mentioned by last name the way it is done in general conversation, not intended to be specific or personal. A short time after the original post Councillor David Haywood came with this first comment, sounding annoyed with the post. Haywood said: “the first I have heard of this Alexander. Nowhere to be seen??? Try calling me or emailing me I can tell you I haven't heard from you so please try using the same energy to pick up the phone as you used to complain. We share the same passion for the local environment but I cannot read minds.”

Young Councillor David Haywood seemed to take a Facebook post very personally which was not aimed directly at him. Maybe the whole 'Facebook Friend' is taken to mean something more by Haywood. His first comment was ignored, there were other people who had made comments, but Haywood's little stomp was also ignored. Haywood then came back again, and said “I will have the areas looked at. We represent you Merritton residents. We are your voice. To expect us to just know things or to say for us to 'look' around doesn't help anyone. It is condescending to state it in that fashion. Counterproductive.”

Wow, Councillor David Haywood, the voice of the residents seemed a little more annoyed. Was it because he was ignored by the original poster? This time he got his response. “I thoroughly enjoy a public servant with a soft skin. First of all for several years I have spoken to the supervisors who used to come and look at this garden with no result. This 'garden' has been like this since the early days of Spring. Shame is on the public servant who is too busy shifting responsibility on a member of the public. You Councillor Haywood want examples of the actions of councillors representing Merritton. I suggest you think twice before you as a newbie open that Pandora's Box. You have city crews pass weekly I guess that is not a problem for you either. Do not start something you can't finish. If you really care than DO something about it if not do the usual and blame someone else.”

Now Merritton Ward, St. Catharines Councillor David Haywood lost his cool completely. He turned a general post on social media into something personal. That post was never made to be personal, nor was it aimed at Councillor David Haywood specifically. He decided to prod twice and when a response was provided only after his second prodding he lost his composure. Yet it is important to listen to Haywood's words in the opening, and when you do it gives an indication that he intended this to be personal from the beginning. Haywood's third comment read: “Nothing about soft skin. Just tired of you automatically taking the position as a foe to your representative in the Merritton Ward. How immature to tar the new representative based on how you feel past reps have acted. Sorry I am more rational than you and mature than you. I am not an armchair quarterback like yourself. I have emailed staff concerning this. As for starting something I cannot finish, bring it on!!! You will not scare or bully me. Looking forward to see what you can do – wonder what I will look in your cartoon.”

After posting his first comment he came back again when no response was given, why? Integrity Commissioner John Mascarin clearly expressed his interpretation of social media. He said, “the whole purpose of social media is to impose your views” and with the word impose he explained that he thought it meant to “foist, inflict, press and urge.”

An investigation request was prepared and filed against St. Catharines Councillor David Haywood. All documentation was prepared, copies of screen captures together with a signed Affidavit and handed to the City Clerk who as per the City's Complaints Process provides it to the Integrity Commissioner.

A great deal was said at the May Regional Council meeting by John Mascarin. He provided his interpretations on the whole purpose of social media. At one time he admitted that he was not very good with social media and didn't really understand it nor use it much. Mascarin was asked by Regional Councillor Burroughs how he treated complainants: “In each case I have written what I call a short ruling and I do attempt to explain why I did not proceed to a full investigation... I do communicate with the complainant um... in some cases the complainant will say I don't agree with you but I respect that you have given me some indication.”

City Clerk Bonnie Nistico-Dunk for the City of St. Catharines sent a letter via email dated August 9th 2017. She stated that “Mr. Mascarin felt that your allegations appear to contravene the following part of the Code,” then she quoted the pertinent section of the code. Nistico-Dunk then continued with, “Mr. Mascarin states that “the complaint, viewed objectively, does not set out reasonable and probable ground to support the allegation that the Councillor engaged in discredible conduct in contravention of the Code. It is my determination that the Complaint is frivolous and vexatious and that no investigation is warranted.” And yet, each of the three investigations that John Mascarin completed related to one regional councillor, two of which centred on social media. He chose to investigate a tweet by the councillor where he referred to the Mayor of Pelham David Augustyn as “plastic face.”

So a request for investigation relating to two mayors and a Nazi salute resulted in a four page response directly from John Mascarin to simply say 'no I can't'. An investigation request against City Councillor David Haywood brought a censored or selective report from City Clerk Bonnie Nistico-Dunk. So much for communicating with the complainant.

An email was sent to John Mascarin requesting clarification regarding his report and an explanation. Serious questions were asked relating to the short quote Bonnie Nistico-Dunk provided in her letter. Mascarin responded on August 14th 2017 several hours later and his response proved clearly he did not like to be asked uncomfortable questions. He may say one thing in public but what he really does appears to be very different.

Not one question was answered by John Mascarin, he simply said that he provided his report to the City Clerk as per the Complaint Protocol. He did attach a copy of his report and made one statement that was alarming, he said “I have briefly discussed this matter with the City Clerk and attach here to my complete formal response.” What did the Integrity Commissioner discuss with the City Clerk? Was the discussion prior to Mascarin providing his formal response? The City Clerk has no jurisdiction nor authority to discuss anything in relation to any complaint, all that Nistico-Dunk could do is receive the complaint and forward it on. The issue of who John Mascarin speaks with came up during the May Regional Council meeting. At the time he first admitted to speaking to people then back-tracked and claimed he had not.

Reading the report the number of questions ballooned, so many that no quarterback, armchair or not, could catch them all. City Clerk Bonnie Nistico-Dunk stated in her August 9th letter that “Mr. Mascarin felt...” yet Mascarin at no time refers to feelings in his report. Nistico-Dunk then took two sentences, combined them into one paragraph, and left out the core of Mascarin's report, why?

In his 'Assessment & Analysis' Mascarin quotes only selective words out of the complaint. Usually lawyers play this trick to intentionally misdirect meaning. Taking quotes that are limited and out of the proper context of the sentence is intentional, but what did the Integrity Commissioner intend here? Mascarin finished with this: “The complaint uses the word “attack” or variations of the term no less than six (6) times.” Was this simply a keen eye or was Mascarin acting like the Councillor's defense lawyer rather than impartial judge and jury he proclaims to be?

Paragraph two is the real gem and defense lawyer Mascarin truly shines. He says, “Admittedly, the Councillor uses a somewhat sarcastic tone in responding to the complainant...” It would seem that clear and literally black and white evidence in the original complaint was a waste of time on this IC. The Councillor did not respond, he initiated the conversation with intent. When no response was provided by the complainant to his first post then he came on again.

The very best from Mascarin is this, and no one on the courtroom drama series The Good Wife could do better: “the specific words used in the Councillor's remarks must be viewed in context to the posting made by the complainant which appear to be clearly intended to bait and prod the Councillor.” Here it is, lawyer Mascarin to Judge Mascarin, 'Your honour the councillor shot the guy but it was not the councillor's fault, he happened to be standing there'. As insane as this analogy sounds it does not come close to IC John Mascarin's.

So Mascarin claims that the original post baited and prodded poor young Councillor David Haywood. How? Haywood chose to come onto the conversation, when ignored he came again. He got a response which basically said to leave well enough alone. Councillor Haywood did not like that and said, “Just tired of you...,” and then went onto a verbal attack. As an elected member of government Haywood does not have the luxury of claiming he lost his temper, but at least in this case he had a good defense lawyer.

Just when one would think it is enough and the winning words had been spoken Mascarin continues, “I have taken into account that the facts giving rise to the Complaint occurred more than two years ago”, claiming that the complaint was filed on June 27th 2017. John Mascarin of Aird & Berlis lied! No publisher says anything like this easily in print, but IC John Mascarin lied in his final report. The original posting on Facebook was on July 12th 2015 and the complaint filed on June 20th 2017. Maybe Mascarin needs all his fingers and toes to calculate this?

Two years had not yet passed and the facts glaringly prove that Mascarin lied? Why? He said “In making my ruling I have taken into account...” It seems that the IC took into account a lie of his own making to make his decision. How much of his report is based on real facts rather than convenient interpretations?

An email was sent to John Mascarin and many questions were asked, in particular why did he lie. His response on August 17th 2017 truly shows how John Mascarin epitomizes the title 'Integrity'. This is the same individual who stood before regional council and the public throwing out his empty words. In his response he said, “My ruling speaks for itself. You may disagree with certain points or with the entire ruling but I am not prepared to respond further.”

Integrity Commissioner and lawyer John Mascarin of Aird & Berlis lied, then said that he took into account that lie in the making of his ruling. When asked to explain his lie John Mascarin said that he was “not prepared to respond further.” Maybe this is his way of taking the Fifth, even if it doesn't exist in this country.

John Mascarin has proven that the concept of Integrity Commissioners without a definitive code of conduct and set procedural guidelines are only a farce. These ICs are only tools for governments to either defame the reputation of a complainant or to attack an unpopular councillor. If one of those commissioners is caught lying and he or she simply refuses to explain themselves then what trust can be placed in them? Mascarin and his law firm Aird & Berlis pocketed public money for this, how is it possible for him to refuse to answer questions?

Still the insanity doesn't end here. Since Mascarin refused to explain anything, including his lie, some questions were sent to City Clerk Bonnie Nistico-Dunk on August 21st. It was asked of her if the report by Mascarin was provided to Council, whether Councillor Haywood was provided a copy of the Mascarin report and/or the request for investigation, and if anyone else had access to the report.

Nistico-Dunk responded the same day stating that “there is no report to go to Council on the matter.” She said “Councillor Haywood was advised of the complaint and was provided with a copy of the ruling,” and that she was not aware of anyone else who had been provided with a copy of the Mascarin ruling. On August 22nd one more question was sent. The question was simple; asking Nistico-Dunk who provided the Councillor with a copy of the ruling. On August 29th this response was received from the City Clerk: “Your original complaint was not provided to Councillor Haywood. The response was not forwarded to him from this office.”

Now the plot thickens and some confusion arises. First the City Clerk says that the Councillor “was advised of the complaint” but later that the “original complaint was not provided.” Nistico-Dunk also said that he was “provided with a copy of the ruling” and then later “the response was not forwarded to him from this office.” An email of August 30th was sent to attempt to find some clarity. The response was far from the expected.

John Mascarin on September 1st sent an email beginning with “I have been made aware that you have been corresponding with the Clerk regarding your recent complainant.” On August 17th the same John Mascarin ended his email when asked why he had lied in his ruling with, “I am not prepared to respond further.” Yet here he was holding City Clerk's Nistico-Dunk's hand and responding to questions asked of her! Maybe a resident of any city or town would expect that their communications with a senior city employee would have a little confidentiality. A 'Confidentiality Notice' appears at the bottom of every email from the City, including those of Nistico-Dunk's. In this case public servant Bonnie Nistico-Dunk went running to Integrity Commissioner John Mascarin to respond on her behalf!

The Municipal Act under Section 223.3(1) clearly outlines the role of any Integrity Commissioner. It states that “an Integrity Commissioner who reports to council and who is responsible for performing in an independent manner the functions assigned by the municipality with respect to:

a) the application of the code of conduct for members of council
b) the application of any rules, procedures and policies of the municipality governing the ethical behaviour of members of council

St. Catharines Complaints Protocol describes the Integrity Commissioner and his/her responsibilities on page 8. Nowhere in either of these two documents does it say the IC is the personal assistant of a public servant.

Mascarin says, “I understand that you are seeking clarification of certain questions that you have asked the Clerk,” and then provides four bullet replies or answers. He was asked to provide some clarification on why he lied in his report and how did he take into account making his ruling a lie of his own making. On that he refused to provide clarification.

Bullet number one from Mascarin states that “The council member was advised by the Clerk that a complaint had been filed against him and that he could make inquiries with me regarding it. The Clerk advised me that it has been the historical practice at the City for a council member to be made aware of any complaint filed against him or her.” Why didn't Nistico-Dunk say this from the beginning? Instead she played with semantics, evasion and omission. Nowhere in the Complaints Protocol does it inform the complainant that the complaint once filed is relayed to the councilor. Is it possible to believe anything Nistico-Dunk might say on this matter?

Bullets two and three are even more exiting. Number two states: “The council member introduced himself to me while I was at City Hall and asked me to verify that a complaint had been made against him.” Then number three: “The council member also asked if he could be kept apprised of the matter and I advised him that I would either be in contact to make inquiries of him or he would be notified of any disposition respecting the complaint.”

On May 18th John Mascarin was questioned by a Regional Councillor as to who he spoke with during any process of an investigation. At first Mascarin admitted to speaking with members of the public and then did an about turn and denied the fact. In this matter on August 14th Mascarin says, “I have briefly discussed the matter with the City Clerk.” On September 1st he says, “The council member introduced himself to me...”, and then “I advised him.”

Still the best was bullet number 4: “My ruling was provided to the Clerk in accordance with the Complaint Procedure and I advised her I would forward a copy of the ruling to the council member to discharge my undertaking to notify him.” Lawyer's language, don't you just love it. Words like “discharge” and “undertaking” sound almost official and correct somehow.

On August 14th, explaining why he did not provide a copy of his report to the complainant, Mascarin stated “My advisement to the City Clerk was provided in accordance with Section 4(4) of the City's Complaint Protocol in Part 3 of the Code.” From the City's Complaint Protocol page 11 heading 4, Refusal to Conduct Investigation, (4) “The Integrity Commissioner will inform the Clerk when an investigation is terminated or not advanced for reason cited above. The Clerk in turn will notify the complainant of this decision.”

Any possible procedural fairness has been destroyed by the City Clerk Bonnie Nistico-Dunk and Integrity Commissioner John Mascarin. It is impossible to understand how or why an IC would respond to a communication sent to a public servant. The Clerk is not a member of City Council nor has she got anything to do with the Code of Conduct. Mascarin refused to deal with the issue of the two mayors and their Nazi salute simply because they were part of a board with its own code. What code is Nistico-Dunk a part of?

As an Integrity Commissioner, John Mascarin made a public 'undertaking' on May 18th. He said that he always provides his reasoning on a matter and answers questions from any complainant. Mascarin was asked why he lied in his report – he refused to answer. He was asked to clarify points in his report, he refused to answer. He breached the City's Complaint Protocol by making a promise to a Councillor he had no right to.

What really happened here? It was a simple exercise questioning the stupid actions of a City Councillor on social media. This Integrity Commissioner had already set his own precedent on the issue. The result has been a mountain of unanswered questions. A City Clerk who intentionally evaded answering questions. This same Clerk carried out actions which put the 'integrity' of the complaints process in jeopardy. At the same time the IC lied in his final report and refused to clarify why he lied, making his report invalid. Taking things further, the IC admitted to breaching the City's Complaints Protocol and took on the part of a secretary to a public servant.

This notion of an Integrity Commissioner acting as a personal secretary for a City Clerk is both alarming and dangerous. Everything about an IC sits on the balance of complete and total independence and impartiality. The actions of Integrity Commissioner John Mascarin and City of St. Catharines City Clerk, Ms. Nistico-Dunk raise questions which must be answered.

This last communication from 'Integrity' Commissioner John Mascarin leaves a mountain of questions. City Clerk Bonnie Nistico-Dunk through her actions has raised issues surrounding
the Complaint Protocol in St. Catharines to a new level. Meanwhile Mayor Walter Sendzik sits on his hands and brags how his city has the best code of conduct and complaint protocol in the province.

All of this on the taxpayer's dollar, and maybe Regional Councillor Gale's comment on May 18th describes the whole process well, that it is a farce. This one has not ended yet, watch for more to come on Mayorgate.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Voice Refusing Silence

Mayorgate's monkeys have found themselves on the couch like the forgetful husband who somehow managed to let his mind slip past the anniversary date. Although the occupation of the couch in this situation is not due to forgetfulness, it was rather a need to bring forth two articles shedding light against a tide of destruction of both equality of law and the basic rights all Canadians expect.

Silence has not been comfortable at Mayorgate and it had not occurred as a result of a loss of interest. Ill health had got in the way and the pen stopped moving, though the mind itched for the scratch again. So this look back at the year past may be later than usual but the tradition could not be forgotten or let slip into the nether realm.

May of 2016 glanced back at the year past through Battles won, battles lost, the game continues. As much as any anniversary piece remembers articles of the last year, it is also the cleansing of the plate for the coming year. First out for year 8 an article dealing with local issues, Are By-Laws Real?Not in St. Catharines. The City of St. Catharines, Ontario isn't big nor is it small, yet it is a canvas that mirrors so many of the issues which are relevant to all of us regardless of our home base. For Mayorgate the roots which bind us to reality are never forgotten, in fact the title of that article is a question which will resonate even louder soon.

Democratic society is built on a foundation of law and the law has many tiers. This foundation is held together with a belief, and expectation that all the laws of this land are equally applicable to every Canadian. When this expectation of equality is lost we not only should ask for explanation, but demand it. Journalists hold a powerful position to inform the people of what unfolds before them, and that is why for a long time they have been thought of as watchers. These individuals use the art of language, and their acumen for both investigation and interpretation of information to bring light where darkness festers.

In Canada the world of journalism and traditional media slammed the panic button. This sound managed to grab the attention of the federal government resulting with a Commission being set up under Chair MP Hedy Fry to investigate the future of traditional journalism. Media giants like Paul Godfrey of Postmedia and John Honderich of Torstar shed tears over falling revenues, newspaper closures and the evil encroachment of a changing world and the Internet.

Journalism must remain independent of government influence yet here we had multi-millionaires crying for government handouts. A three part series: Who Watches the Watchers, attempted to sift through the theories of purveyors of think tanks, media advertising campaigns, the tears of media moguls and interfering government officials. At the time of publishing part three in this series the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee was promising to release its report. After all the roundtable meetings were finished and presentations completed, nothing really changed. Trust in the media and its journalists is still at an all time low, newspaper sales still dropping and cost cutting measures rising. The Heritage Committee has now released its report; Disruption: Change and Churning in Canada's Media Landscape, and it will be interesting to peak through its pages of wisdom.

After the journey into the world of media and journalism Mayorgate swung over to the retail world. Today's economies are struggling regardless of what politician's claim. In North America a whole new class in the workforce is growing larger than any other, and that is the Part-time Employee. Part-timers are a favourite especially within the retail industry, although banking and other commercial enterprises are following suit. These workers are not covered by any benefits, making them a cheaper workforce, and are often on minimum wage. Parts 1 and 2 of Modern Society's Reboot of Indentured Servitude not only discussed the near impossible task of surviving as a part-time employee, but also at the attitudes of corporations towards their employees.

Roadblocks appeared on the path and they took some time to steer through, yet Mayorgate sprung from a belief that silent acceptance is not the answer to anything. Strength and power comes from the courage to raise one's voice against what is wrong. The monkeys of Mayorgate will never accept as truth that silence is golden, well maybe when they wish to sleep.

The coming year promises to bring some thought provoking issues to deal with, and maybe some closures. In 2014 a lawsuit had been launched against Mayorgate and its publisher. An article from January 2014, Seniors Languish in Intimidation brought anger from the Board of the Paderewski Society Home. Lawyer Rachel Slingerland for the board played all kinds of tricks, and then jumped ship. Zijad Saskin of the law firm Broderick & Partners LLP took over the steering. Now all of Zijad Saskin's stalling tactics finally fell on deaf judicial ears and the trial was set for July 31st 2017. The trial lasted five days but had not reached an end and adjourned to a possible restart date of September 11th.

So remember that silence is not golden and keep on reading, and having said that, don't be silent with any of your comments. Maybe now the monkeys can get off the couch, but then knowing what monkeys are like they are more likely to continue to fool around.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Oh Lord, the Old Goose and Gander Thing

In our democratic society we elect our leaders and all the various levels of government. As the general public we expect a certain amount of humility in theses individuals after all they ask to be chosen by us in service of the people. Maybe now is a good time to end the fantasy before it gets out of hand. True we do elect all the politicians on all levels of government but the humility thing, well it is simply a utopian version of politics.

Then if a utopian version of politics is out of the realm of possibilities, what then? Remember that in old England the sovereign bestowed the title of Lord Mayor to a city mayor. If that's not a fast jolt to an ego what is, especially as municipal politics is at the bottom step of the stairway to heaven.

So what if we jump over to the animal kingdom and to a proverb dating back to 1670, 'what is good for the goose is good for the gander'. It would not matter in what language this proverb is translated its meaning is never lost. Basically it is saying that what is good for one then it is good for, or equally good for another.

Sadly the breaks on reality need to screech to a halt here again. We started talking about politics and elected office so if the implication that an ancient proverb may apply then a reality check is definitely needed. If respect and honour of office do not seem to apply and the ideals of equality left to historical reference, or worse, proverbs, then what is left?

In order to provide at least the appearance of consequential responsibility for their actions our politicos had developed an array of varying Codes of Conduct. Each of these codes set out boundaries within which elected officials are expected to conduct their business of politics and ethical governance. Once one of these characters steps outside and breaks the strings that supposedly bind actions to ethics then a public enquiry is launched. The inquisitor in Ontario has the formidable title of Integrity Commissioner. Yes the title has a resonating sound of grandeur, though reality sadly can taint the whole performance.

Recent months had found the Niagara Region under the shroud of one of these inquisitors, his target predominately one regional councillor. Although John Mascarin, a lawyer from a Toronto law firm Aird & Berlis LLP, had come first to the City of St. Catharines as an Integrity Commissioner, he agreed to fill the same duties for Niagara Region till a permanent individual was chosen. Mascarin not only looked at three complaints filed against Regional Councillor Andy Petrowski, but also two other councillors. In addition to conducting these investigations his mandate included the revamping of the Code of Conduct for Members of Regional Council.

Councillor Petrowski is no virgin as far as investigations by an integrity commissioner is concerned, nor is he new to facing a political storm locally. He is loud and brash, often stands against the old boys club style of politics. At the same time his personal views are less palatable to many and he does not feel shy in expressing them which had found him in the sights of more than one integrity commissioner. Not only has he found himself facing a number of complaints regarding his conduct, the Councillor had become a target for the local newspaper The Standard, and particularly reporter Grant LaFleche.

Here comes the whole goose and the gander thing. Petrowski is a staunch supporter of US President Donald Trump and in a tweet he linked to a website run by a Brother Nathaniel. He did not check out this website and its contents or anything relating to this Brother Nathaniel, he simply saw a headline he liked and linked to it. Nathaniel Kapner, himself a Jew, operates a website titled, 'Real Jew News' and because of his personal views is labelled as anti-semitic.

Grant LaFleche who 'follows' Petrowski's twitter account took this to Harold Nash, President of B'nai Israel in St. Catharines. Nash knew nothing of this till Grant LaFleche brought it to his attention; once Nash became aware of the tweet his comments against the councillor were filled with accusations of anti-semitism demanding Petrowski be censured.

This was not enough for Grant LaFleche, after Harold Nash and B'nai Israel he sought out comment from St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik. Once again, as with Nash, Mayor Sendzik knew nothing of the tweet on Councillor Petrowski's twitter account till LaFleche raised it. Sendzik's attacks labelled the Councillor as anti-semitic and called for his resignation. To complete his trifecta LaFleche contacted Regional Chair Alan Caslin, who was also unaware of the tweet.

No matter how much Councillor Petrowski would apologise or explain that he had not been aware what was the content on the website he linked to, the label of anti-semitic was stitched on. Grant LaFleche and The Standard successfully created a story where none existed. Regional Council devoted a whole session of public condemnation of Petrowski. A gang of non-politicians from the public raised their voices to speak out against the Councillor and denounce his anti-semitism, such as Jeff Burch, Executive Director of Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre. Jeff Burch, once a St. Catharines Councillor and failed candidate in an attempt to become mayor, was quoted as having extreme disappointment with Petrowski's behaviour including posting “what are clearly anti-semitic remarks on his social media account.” This was a quote Maryanne Firth of The Standard published on November 25th 2016, 'Caslin raps Petrowski over latest tweet'.

To label anything a lie immediately makes some individuals jump up and down bang the drum of honesty. So may we call this a misrepresentation of the truth? Petrowski in fact, which is witnessed by direct copy reprinted by The Standard, had only made 'remarks' to Donald Trump and Obama in his tweet. He had no remarks made towards or at the Jewish community as a whole or anyone individual Jewish person living or dead. Still it was The Standard and Maryanne Firth will say that she did not say that, but only quoted Jeff Burch.

The circus went on from November 24th 2016 with the news story created by Grant LaFleche through to December 15th 2016, with a total of six articles and editorials. In addition to this barrage, Niagara this Week joined in and culminated with an editorial in December which boggled the mind on how editorials can twist the truth. Even the Canadian Jewish News published an article on the subject December 5th 2016.

Welland Mayor Frank Campion at NPCA Board meeting
Now fast forward to June 2017 and a YouTube video on a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Board (NPCA) meeting, posted on Facebook by Niagara Falls Councillor Carolynn Ioannoni. In this video you can watch the Mayor of Niagara Falls and the Mayor of Welland, also both Regional Councillors, raise their hands in a Nazi salute. Both Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati and Welland Mayor Frank Campion raise their hands in what they claimed later was a joke.  The video is of a January 18th 2017 NPCA Board meeting and it is a record of the official business of the board, not a social gathering. This video came to public attention in June, both Mayors Jim Diodati and Frank Campion made public apologies with that claim, that they only did it as mocking fellow Councillor Douglas Joyner on how he raises his hand to get attention.

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati at NPCA Board meeting
Grant LaFleche and The Standard jump forward on June 12th 2017 with an article titled 'Mayors' Nazi salute to be removed from NPCA video'. LaFleche writes, “If nothing else, Diodati said the incident shows how mindful elected officials must be about what they say or do. Even if they don't intend to say something hurtful, they sometimes can do so without realizing it at the moment.” LaFleche's article finishes with a joint statement made by Mayor Jim Diodati and Mayor Frank Campion.

Mayor of West Lincoln Douglas Joyner raising his hand first at NPCA Board meeting

Unfortunately, our actions were gestures meant in light and a silly imitation of another councillor's unique handraising style. They were not meant as anti-semitic. Our actions in no way represent our genuine views and values. We have both apologized to those who felt offended. We feel strongly that we would never want our actions to be taken out of context or misinterpreted. This weekend, we reached out to members of the Jewish community to share our sentiments as well. We both say that we certainly feel this to be a learning experience and appreciate the comments of the community, but want to be clear that we don't want the intentions of our action to be misconstrued.”

Mayors Jim Diodati and Frank Campion issued their statement of apology, LaFleche tags it at the end of his article with a few words of wisdom and humility from Diodati before the apology, and that's it. Three days later LaFleche writes another article, although the focus of that is separate to the anti-semitic Nazi salute.

So here it is the old goose and gander thing stripped bare wanting explanation. It's important to understand this old proverb is not some joke, it is the foundation of democracy. Nothing is more vital in a true democracy than equality. It should not matter what one's economic situation is, nor should gender, race or religion be a consideration when application of our laws or our governing procedures be applied. Then if Petrowski is the goose, what about the gander here?

This is where the proverb and all that we supposedly as Canadians value falls dramatically apart. Serious questions demand to be answered by Grant LaFleche and The Standard, after all the world of journalism claims to bring all the truth without bias. Still it's not the ethics of a journalist and his newspaper alone that should explain themselves.

A Nazi salute is quite possibly the most detested physical act in today's society. Throw a birdie finger today and even an 80 year old grandma will be likely to throw one right back at you, especially if you are on the road. Not with a Nazi salute, and to have two mayors, professional politicians paid with public money claim it was a joke, that it was done in jest during an official board meeting, is simply unacceptable. It is important to note that the video was of the January 18th 2017 meeting and was only made public June 12th; Diodati and Campion only apologised in June and only when publicly caught.

When Petrowski pressed the button on his infamous tweet, Clark Kent of The Standard's newsroom, LaFleche, grabbed his cape and plucked it out of the air. He held it tight and flew to Harold Nash, President of B'nai Israel of St. Catharines. Clark – sorry, Grant - then made a stop at the door of Walter Sendzik, Mayor of St. Catharines and even knocked on the door of the Regional Chair, Alan Caslin. Yet with the two gander, Diodati and Campion, the caped crusader of Niagara's journalism for some reason sought out no real comment other than from Perry Schlanger, a member of the public. Mr. Schlanger is a regular cast member in City Council's gallery of extras. During The Standard's frenzy on the Petrowski tweet it was reported that Perry Schlanger, along with Haley Bateman and Jeff Burch, made pleas as 'concerned citizens' for action to be taken against the Councillor. A Nazi hand salute brought this response form Schlanger as quoted by LaFleche: “I am willing to accept their mea culpa.” Maybe the question to Mr. Schlanger should be this, does he see a tweet with no reference to an individual Jew or the Jewish community worse than the hand salute during official business by two mayors, who only apologise five months later, when caught? This is the Austin Powers moment with the finger on chin and the “hmm.”

Harold Nash, President B'nai Israel St. Catharines, after being woken up by LaFleche went into attack mode demanding censure of the Councillor after his tweet. Harold made no comment in relation to the hand salute, so an email was sent to him providing an opportunity to stand against all forms of anti-semitism. Harold Nash has refused to respond, he has made no comment on the hand salute, not even an attempted eloquent “mea culpa.” Now with Nash's silence questions begin to buzz and they are not pleasant. 

It is not only Nash of B'nai Isreal who raises question through silence.  Judy Haiven wrote a long letter of opinion which The Standard published June 27th 2017. The letter by Judy Haiven, titled, 'Many Jews support BDS Movement' and was written on behalf of the steering committee of the Independent Jewish Voices of Canada, (

Haiven's letter is in support of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement. The first paragraph provides a brief description of what Independent Jewish Voices Canada is about, then paragraph two slams into this, “We, too, condemn St. Catharines regional counc. Andy Petrowski clearly anti-semitic... tweets. We agree with Synagogue B'Nai Israel and the multicultural councils calls for regional council to censure him.”

Judy Haiven writing from Halifax apparently is fully knowledgeable of local Niagara politics. Paragraph three of Haiven's letter states, “At IJV Canada we know a great deal about anti-Semitism” and later, “IJV abhors anti-Semitism.” So since Haiven makes one think that she is aware of the situation in Niagara it is difficult to understand why she and the Independent Jewish Voices Canada remained silent about the Nazi hand salute. After all IJV knows so much about anti-semitism and abhors it so. An opportunity was provided for both Judy Haiven and the Independent Jewish Voices of Canada to comment. No response has come from either of the two emails sent.

Can it be fair to ask what prompted Judy Haiven to make the attack on Councillor Petrowski in a letter where 98% of its content was to support the BDS Movement? Why has the IJV Canada and Haiven stayed silent on the Nazi hand salute by Diodati and Campion? Why has Harold Nash and B'nai Israel St. Catharines stayed silent? Asking such questions of Jeff Burch and his Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre would be a waste of time.

Amongst all the silenced Jewish voices the plot thickens and questions scream out for answers. Is it possible that the abhorrence of anti-semitism has taken a back seat to politics? After all even the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) who wrote a whole expose on the innocuous tweet has stayed silent on a Nazi hand salute.

It has been said that the Nazi hand salute is most likely the most detestable physical action in modern society. There are no possible excuses which take away the connotation of anti-semitism and an absolute disrespect for millions of victims of the Holocaust. In February of 2011, a Canadian tourist standing outside the German parliament raised his hand in a Nazi salute whilst his girlfriend photographed him, was immediately arrested, memory card taken from the camera, and was lucky not to be jailed.

In May 2016 a Scottish man was arrested after posting a video on YouTube of his girlfriend's pet dog, a Pug, doing the Nazi salute with its paw. In March 2013 a Greek footballer was banned for life from playing for his national team – he even claimed he did not know or understand the meaning of the gesture. A British businessman found himself arrested at the Cologne airport for his raised hand in 2008.

B'nai Brith Canada, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs have remained silent on this incident with Diodati and Campion. Why? Seeking clarification, an email was sent to NPCA Chair Sandy Annunziata. Sandy Annunziata did not respond but on his behalf Mayorgate received an email from Michael Reles, Communciations Specialist at the NPCA. Michael Reles said in his response, “The section of the video was removed at the request of our partners in the Jewish community.” Wait a moment, how can any individual or group have the power to force the editing or doctoring of any government records? The same Michael Reles refused to respond when asked who specifically were the “partners in the Jewish community.” Why the secrecy? What has Michael Reles or Sandy Annunziata got to hide?

Well then, which of the big three Jewish organisations is the 'silent' partner with the NPCA and Chair Sandy Annunziata, or is it all of the above? Regional Chair Alan Caslin said after the overwhelming vote by Regional Council to condemn the BDS Movement that it “was based on information provided by those organisations.” Alan Caslin was referring to B'nai Brith Canada, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs as “those organisations.” The Motion brought before Regional Council, which garnished both publicity and accusations against MPP Cindy Forster and the NDP, was by NPCA Chair Sandy Annunziata. Can it be that the big three made a silent deal with NPCA Chair Sandy Annunziata so as to not drop nasty publicity on his board? Now watch for the anti-semitic label to be stitched onto Mayorgate.

On May 18th 2017, during the titillating presentation of his findings by Integrity Commissioner John Mascarin, St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik wanted to know what had happened to a Motion from December 8th 2016. Minutes from the meeting reveal that a Motion was moved by Councillor Augustyn and seconded by Sendzik. This Motion requested council to deny Councillor Petrowski from serving on Committees, Subcommittees, Agency Boards and Commission meetings until he aplogises in writing at a Council meeting for his tweet that was found to be offensive by the community. Finally this Motion was referred to the Integrity Commissioner and yet in May of 2017, John Mascarin had said that he had not seen it. An email was sent to the Regional Clerk asking for some clarification on this issue. It took several days but a response came from the Deputy Regional Clerk, Natasha Devos, to her reply she attached a copy of a letter dated June 20th 2017 from former interim Integrity Commissioner John Mascarin. Mr. Mascarin states, “My view on the aforementioned minute item may now be moot given the decision made by Regional Council on June 8, 2017.”

Mayor Sendzik had made a great deal of noise about the tweet from the time that LaFleche contacted him. Seeking some understanding Mayor Sendzik was asked whether the Nazi salute was less serious an act compared to a tweet. Sendzik's first response opened with, “I will say there is a big difference between what Councillor Petrowski has repeatedly done to offend many people in our community and what occurred at a meeting of the NPCA.” He ignored the question asked and attacked the Councillor on past actions. Sendzik also defended the two mayors on the grounds that they were only mocking another fellow councillor and had done so many times. He said that both had apologised “for offenses that were mistaken as a Nazi salute.”

It is extremely hard to mistake a physical gesture with the arm stretched straight out from the body, the hand flat and pointing out as anything but a Nazi salute. Individuals do not do this kind of gesture to hail a cab, or waive to a friend or seek attention of any kind, at least not the kind they would want. A second email was sent to Mayor Sendzik and his response confirmed the need to examine another consequence of the actions by Diodati and Campion.

In his second response Mayor Sendzik said, “Its actions like these displayed at the board that lead to bullying and harassment if left unchecked in today's society.” Whether it's the Ministry of Labour, the Human Rights Code, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or any municipality, none permit or condone bullying or harassment. The law stamps down on a bully regardless if he is in cyberspace or on the ground. Mayor Sendzik confirmed in his first email that Mayor Diodati and Mayor Campion had been mocking a fellow Councillor, a co-worker, for a long time. Yet no one found reason to mention this. The Standard and Grant LaFleche said nothing, and since Mayor Walter Sendzik had known about this and clearly found it distasteful, why did he remain silent? It was only through an email exchange with Mayorgate that he made this clear. As far as Diodati and Campion are concerned they made no apologies on this issue even when caught.

So not only has the Nazi hand salute found itself waived on through with no consequence, evidence of workplace harassment has simply been ignored. To add further to this impressive list of transgressions is the openly admitted fact by NPCA Chair Annunziata that government records, in the form of the video had been edited. Michael Reles of the NPCA claims in his email that the video is not an official government record, that the only official record of the board meeting are the Minutes. Webster's describes official as, “by, from or with the proper authority, authorized or authoritative.” Examining the seventeen pages of the 58th Annual General Meeting Minutes there is no mention of any kind of hand raising. The video is made by the NPCA for the NPCA with their authority and only with their authority. Now 'silent' partners have been able to wield outside pressure to doctor that government record. How is this possible? A better question is what happens when there is an investigation or inquiry and the evidence had been intentionally altered and destroyed?

Grant LaFleche wrote a second article titled 'NPCA on slippery slope by editing video, says Brock prof', June 15th 2017. Brock University Political Science Professor David Siegel was also contacted by Mayorgate for comment on something other than a slippery slope. Professor David Siegel said that he was “...not a lawyer, so [he doesn't] have any expertise about the rules of evidence.  However, it seems logical that the best evidence would be a complete unedited recording of an event.  Any deviation from that would raise questions about what was edited out and why was it edited?”  

Chair Annunziata had erased the section of video which proved the Nazi salute, it was an official government record, so now what happens in an investigation or inquiry? Was this because he made a silent deal with the Jewish organisations or did Annunziata have his own reasons? Doctoring records is wrong no matter who you are, as former Premier McGuinty found out clearly. For the NPCA and its Chair Annunziata, the 'what if' is in fact a reality - an investigation request had been filed with the Region. John Mascarin, interim Integrity Commissioner, had responded to the investigation request stating that it was out of his jurisdiction because the NPCA is a separate corporate body with its own Code of Conduct. He had advised the investigation request be filed with the NPCA, which it will be, and it will be an interesting exercise considering Chair Annunziata's actions to date.

In the end the goose paid a very heavy price. Those regular cast members in the extras gallery of councils, the social warriors: Jeff Burch, Haley Bateman, Perry Schlanger, had faded behind the curtain of duplicity it appears. Grant LaFleche proved the case on the issue of faux news, and The Standard is after all the standard. Councillor Petrowski still faces jabs; on July 7th 2017, The Standard published the article 'Regional council can't agree on code of conduct' by Bill Sawchuk, who writes: “The social media activity of St. Catharines Coun. Andy Petrowski over an anti-semitic video the councillor posted on Twitter in December, Petrowski – who removed the tweet in question – denied he intended any attack on the Jewish Community.”

Bill Sawchuk is the Standard's journalist who in May sat through the court hearing of a Motion by Petrowski and Fred Bracken totally ignorant of court procedures. Bill tweeted, took notes and reported the he said/she said version, and Bill missed a great deal. He missed the fact that the lawyer for the Region intentionally kept information from the judge. He missed the question of intentional and willful obstruction of justice. He also missed how a judge makes a ruling towards one party to an action but then ignores the other party's identical breach. Bill Sawchuk also has not made a sound on the Nazi hand salute and that is a curiosity. Even an old proverb seems to have faltered in Niagara.