|Posted on March 28, 2017 at 2:05 PM|
Four months ago, I met a friend at the Town of Newmarket municipal bylaw office. She was scheduled for a meeting with the town’s bylaws director, Leslie Long – a meeting she had requested. She asked me to come with her because she had been concerned with the town’s behaviour - behaviour that bordered on an infringement of her rights as a homeowner. She needed a witness and someone with a track record of holding the Town of Newmarket and its mayor and councillors accountable.
Apparently, my friend got several repeated calls from the town, demanding to see the inside of her basement. My friend was perplexed. After calling the municipal office, my friend learned that a bylaw officer entered her backyard when she wasn’t home and peered through her basement windows. They never called her with a heads up. They simply drove over and sniffed around her yard, peering into her windows – and thus began the escalation of harassment.
During that meeting, Ms. Long explained to my friend that the town had the authority to enter a homeowner’s property without their permission nor a search warrant. This, she said, is likely what happened. “But what would cause the town to walk onto my property without my permission?” asked my friend.
Answer: it’s none of your business. “We have to investigate everything” she sheepishly admitted. Obtaining a court order is such as hassle – why not work with the town and let us into your home? A town of Newmarket bylaw officer assumed the living space my friend had downstairs was an illegal basement apartment (it was actually a bedroom for her son) and thus they had the right to enter her property and look into her windows when no one was home.
Fast forward 4 months later, and suddenly the Town of Newmarket passes what they call a “housekeeping” bylaw, claiming they’d like to “update” their books and add a bylaw whereby they no longer need a search warrant to inspect your backyard. They can walk in whenever they feel like (pity those who live beside the psychotic neighbor).
But why did the Town of Newmarket’s bylaws director tell me and my friend, 4 months ago, that the town regularly made a habit of inspecting our properties - and peering into our windows - unannounced and without a search warrant? And why, four months later, are they suddenly covering their tracks and making sure this unorthodox practice was secured by a bylaw? Is it possible their habit of creeping into our yards caught up to them and they’re getting sued by a furious homeowner? Remember that Newmarket council has a penchant for closed door meetings, where they presumably love to discuss their problems away from the public eye.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of this mystery are the comments at last night’s Newmarket council meeting, where all councillors enthusiastically not only voted in favour of the bylaw, but rather than debate it, they defended it.
For those of us all too familiar with the get-along gang’s consistent 8-0 votes, this is of no surprise. But for the majority of Newmarket homeowners, who mostly haven’t got a clue about what’s going on with their municipal councillors, this is disturbing.
There was Jane Twinney, who was the first to table the motion for a vote in favour. She explained that despite the numerous complaints from Newmarket residents about the proposed bylaw, this was a good thing. According to Jane, our “safety” was at risk if they didn’t implement this new law. Apparently, Jane seemed to think that obtaining a search warrant would hamper our health.
Regional councillor John Taylor agreed. He was the second to vote in favour, and went on for several minutes in his typical nonsensical way.
Then there was Dave Kerwin, who went on about how “transparent” the town and council were. Isn’t it odd how that word keeps popping up as a defense?
And how can we forget Christina Bisanz? She comically used the staff to help her defend her vote – which made her feel better.
Perhaps the funniest was Tom Vegh. Tom expressed his love of this new bylaw, explaining the necessity for strangers that could simply unhook a fence, and walk onto your property unannounced for any reason at all. Tom is running as a candidate for the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario in Newmarket-Aurora. Perhaps Tom needs to do a little homework with respect to the party’s position on property rights: http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/reevely-ontario-tories-begin-property-rights-consultations-with-help-from-the-landowner-movement
It was nothing short of amusing listening to the town staff and council downplay their bylaw officers utterly psychotic behaviour of peering into your windows and helping themselves with access to your backyards last night. It's clear they have received a mouthful from the public. But my experience, along with my friends' 4 months ago, illustrates how typical it is for the town to say one thing to the public and do another behind closed doors.
Lastly, one important item I noted at last night’s meeting (thanks to my work on previous council, the meetings are now recorded and archived) the clerk stated that despite this new bylaw, if advised by a homeowner that the Town is NOT allowed to enter your premises, they would respect that.
My advice is that every single property homeowner in Newmarket write a letter to the Town advising them of just that.
|Posted on February 28, 2017 at 8:00 PM|
There isn't any doubt that immigration policy has been a highlight of Canadian politics - and especially for conservative leadership hopefuls.
I am writing this as a daughter of immigrants. My parents and my two older brothers were born in Italy, and it's their love of their heritage which made me proud of my Italian roots and its culture today. But in our hearts, my family is staunchly Canadian. Happily identifying as an Italian-Canadian is not a heterodox.
Nor should it be radical to identify as a Persian-Canadian, Egyptian-Canadian or Somali-Canadian. All represent proud cultures that should always be welcome into our national fabric and, as importantly, into conservative political circles.
The important modifier is the word Canadian. I believe that Canada has something very valuable to offer the rest of the world. We are rightfully proud of the society we have built founded on acceptance, tolerance, justice and opportunity. There are very few other places in the world that have Canada's track record for immigration success.
It's an inescapable fact that immigrants have built Canada into one of the world's leading economic and political powers. We are not a nation of military power. It isn't guns and bullets that makes Canada so influential. We are persuasive because other nations want what we have - wealth, trade, and influence through peaceful co-existence.
So when Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopefuls demand screening of all immigrants for (yet to be determined) "Canadian Values," let's remember that it was immigrant-values that first made Canada the greatest nation on earth.
We have a sordid history of trying to instill "Canadian Values" into other cultures. For example, there was no darker episode in our nation's history than the episode of residential schools. After decades of abuse towards thousands of First Nations children, I was proud to see a Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, accept responsibility and solemnly apologize for Canada's role in this cultural genocide.
Although I am critical of the view points of certain conservative elites on immigration, I am in fact, much more concerned about the policies of our Liberal government when it comes to accepting refugees into Canada. I worry that the Trudeau government hasn't accepted any of the lessons learned from our residential school disgrace.
Unlike immigrants, who freely choose to re-locate to another part of the world, refugees didn't actually have a choice. If not for war, famine or other political unrest, these people would be living happy, fulfilled lives in their homeland. They only arrived here to seek safety from violence, persecution and hunger.
The scourge of Euro-imperialism scarred much of the world prior to World War I. In the name of King and Empire, Europeans would seize lands in Africa, Asia and the Americas, expropriate the wealth of these areas, and impose European laws and culture over all. At the time, it was believed imperialism was a good thing for the rest of the world, because it created trade and civilization. But 120 years later, we continue to live with the wars, underdevelopment and social unrest. Many nations have not recovered their own autonomy from their colonial overlords.
120 years ago, the Euro-imperialists were looking for land, gold, minerals, and other natural resources. But today we know that a country's greatest wealth lies within its people. And in today's refugee crisis, the Trudeau government has adopted an imperialist policy towards other nation's human resource.
Undoubtedly, Canada needs immigration to grow our economy. With an aging population and a falling birth rate, immigration is vitally important. Taking advantage of the refugee crisis, Trudeau sees a an opportunity to boost immigration inflow.
According to the United Nations, the Syrian refugees that have come to Canada do not come from the refugee camps. Generally, they were living in rented apartments. This suggests that they were wealthier and better educated than refugees who were living in the refugee camps. And in a National Post article today, it was revealed via documents obtained through FOI's that "most (refugees accepted by Canada) were “self-employed businessmen and tradesmen (welders, mechanic, jewelers) with moderate to high levels of wealth" and that those coming from Damascus had "government jobs and a post-secondary education." In fact, some refugee women had the means to travel back "to give birth." http://www.nationalpost.com/m/wp/news/canada/blog.html?b=news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/documents-reveal-why-canada-rejected-dozens-of-syrian-refugee-claimants
Effectively, what Trudeau has done is selected the very best class of Syrian society, lured them to Canada with the promise of one year's living expenses and with the hope that they will permanently settle in Canada, thereby putting their education and business acumen to use here for the benefit of our economy.
By taking the upper crust of Syrian society and seeking to settle them here, we are depriving their homeland of its best and brightest people. Trudeau's refugee policy is not unlike the Euro-imperialists of the early 20th century. Canada is taking from a foreign land.
If we truly are to be truly humane, we should welcome refugees with open arms - but with one proviso - a refugee shouldn't settle in Canada permanently. Once the crisis in their homeland has ended and it's safe to return, refugees should be required to go back and rebuild their homeland. Upon returning, they will bring with them Canadian values that will help restore and build their nation with the goals of democracy, freedom and economic prosperity, foundations that will help millions in Syria. Having lived in Canada for a time, these refugees will have experienced a nation where there is no class division, no discrimination allowed, and equal opportunity for everyone who works hard to achieve their goals. Canadians of different heritage live side-by-side in peaceful co-existence. Without conflict or strife, we trade and grow our wealth. These are the kinds of values we want these refugees to instill in their nations of origin upon returning.
To rebuild Syria - once its civil war has ended and peace has been restored - it will require the skills and education of the very same people that Trudeau has targeted in his predatory refugee policy. If Trudeau succeeds in permanently settling these refugees in Canada, instead of returning them to Syria once it's safe to do so, he will deprive Syria of what it needs to rebuild after the war.
Like a lot of Canadians, I am shocked to see the Trudeau government accepting refugees from places like Minnesota and Vermont. Why would anyone need asylum from there? Or is it expedient for the government because the American refugees are easier to settle and assimilate? Do we accept refugees from Minnesota and Vermont because they help us to achieve our immigration targets?
It's becoming clear Canadians would like real answers and solutions regarding Canada's future with immigration. There's too much political hyperbole and rhetoric going on amidst a real international crisis.
|Posted on February 2, 2017 at 11:45 PM|
Some readers may not know who you are. You're the Chief of Staff for Patrick Brown, the Leader of the PC Party of Ontario. As the Chief of Staff for a party that wants to lead our province in 2018, big things are expected from you. Maturity and discipline, for example. Professionalism. And respect.
Yesterday, a producer for Newstalk1010 - the Nightside with Barb DiGiulio - contacted you for comment on my allegation that during the PC Party candidate selection process, the committee inappropriately brought up my family and status as a mother, and then openly questioned whether this could be an impediment to the party. I felt I had a responsibility to myself and every mother in Ontario to go public with this.
Barb shared your telephone conversation with her listeners. The first thing that came out of your mouth was that I was a "piece of work."
Are all mothers who discuss healthcare, education, and ideas on making the province function well also a piece of work in your world? Should they stay at home and mind the kids? Or perhaps you had an issue that I am a mother who has an opinion - like many of us - and speaks openly about it?
Guess what, Nicholas? Lots of women and mothers have opinions on issues and want to be part of the exciting work of creating a better government. Us moms raise our kids and manage our careers. We want to ensure our children have a chance at a good future and we want our elderly parents safely taken care of. We dream of succeeding and overcoming challenges and obstacles. Women - and especially working moms - work very, very hard managing their busy lives and the lives of others. And finally, we want to make sure we're taken seriously. That we are heard, and that in addition to the incredible joys and challenges of raising our kids, we have opportunities. For you to tell a member of the media that I was a "piece of work" for openly talking about these issues speaks more about you, not me.
And it speaks volumes about how your party views mothers. This "piece of work" can only imagine the types of backroom, behind-the-scenes conversations you like to have amongst yourselves. Is the PC Party as inclusive as they insist they are?
Frankly, Nicholas, I'm stunned that Patrick Brown continues to back up your lack of judgement. When you messed up here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/brown-sex-ed-chief-of-staff-1.3747088, Brown stood up for you. Will he forgive your lack of a filter this time around?
Nicholas, like you, I want the PC's to win. Families are struggling. Businesses are struggling. And us moms, well, we carry a lot on our shoulders.
But with folks like you at the helm, I think you just keep proving that the real piece of work is yourself.
|Posted on September 8, 2016 at 8:35 PM|
During a radio interview earlier today, CPC leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch said she wanted to start a discussion on the topic of Canadian values. Accepting her invitation, I would like to explain that a party based on conservative ideals should avoid this issue altogether, as we have done with other divisive issues in the past.
Although we often talk about a "big blue tent" within the Canadian conservative movement, there are many occasions when the various factions disagree on fundamental issues. This is healthy in political parties and promotes debate.
The Canadian conservative movement is a mixed bag of Atlantic Canada red Tories, Quebec nationalists, Upper Canada elites, Ford Nation, prairie populists, Reformers, progressives, social conservatives, green conservatives, and libertarians. (My apologies if I missed anyone).
Even within this group, there are some issues that conservatives will not discuss in polite company. For example, Stephen Harper's CPC made the discussion of reproductive rights and access to abortion verboten. The abortion issue creates strong divisions between conservatives and risks rendering the very fabric of the conservative alliance.
That's why for years, the official position of the Conservative Party of Canada on abortion is, "We have no official position."
Although this non-position seems very practical, I raise this in connection to Kellie Leitch's intentions to make "Canadian values" a key plank in her leadership campaign.
Canadian values are the set of inherent principles and ethics that we have adopted that govern our behaviour. We may not recognize our behaviour while at home, but these values definitely shine through when we travel abroad. I have travelled to enough places in the world to know that Canadians are unique. As Canadians we often get teased when visiting the U.S. for being so polite, but I interpret our politeness as our ingrained personal respect for the people we interact with. We Canadians, for example, are famous for saying "I'm sorry" for everything from accidentally bumping someone on the sidewalk to interrupting conversations.
There is no government-published handbook at the departures lounge at the airport that instructs Canadians to be polite when travelling in foreign countries. It's just a behaviour that we abide by because we value respect of others.
The key point to understanding Canadian values is that they are adopted organically. Canadian values cannot be indoctrinated into our national character by any government institution.
As a daughter of immigrants, I know that my parents' values line up with their adopted Canada. No amount of testing or screening was required to complete this transformation. Like most people, they valued the same freedom and democracy we cherish in Canada. I would even argue that most immigrants coming from places whose governments don't value democracy value it immensely here - and is one of the reasons they seek to create a life this great country.
My parents' Canadian experience is not unlike many thousands of immigrants who arrive in Canada each year.
It's too easy for politicians to stir up divisive rhetoric in hopes of election successes. Opponents of Leitch's Canadian values question are claiming she's bringing in offensive "Trumpism" into politics. But the truth is that nobody in politics today played the group identity card as well as Barack Obama. That's why race relations in the United States is likely at its lowest point in more than 50 years: Obama's successes at getting re-elected may have translated into votes, but he has done nothing for the betterment of American society.
As conservatives, we need to decide if we want to focus on dividing us into different camps or focus instead on the principles that unite us as a nation.
I prefer the latter.
|Posted on June 8, 2016 at 5:45 PM|
Living in a northern climate, Ontarians are quite sensitive to the costs of heating our homes in the winter months. Each year, we hear dreadful stories of seniors and low income families having to choose between home heating and food.
Things are about to change for the worse.
Earlier today, Kathleen Wynne announced her strategy on Climate Change. While she didn't mention the earlier "leaked" strategy of eliminating natural gas heating altogether, she did promise to hike the costs of natural gas heating - to a point where it will become unaffordable for most of us.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel, but it also emits 50 to 60% less CO2 as compared to oil or coal. Under the premier's plan, natural gas heating will only be for the very rich. The alternative for most of us will be electric heat: which presently costs an average of $3,000 more annually than heating with natural gas today.
Kathleen Wynne intends to punish Ontarians for living in a northern climate. We won't be able to use any less energy to heat our homes, but we will all pay more for the luxury of living here.
Yesterday was Tax Freedom day. We worked the first 5+ months of the year to meet our obligation to the taxman. Any money we make from here on, we get to use towards our living expenses, such as our food and accommodation.
Let's put Wynne's extra heating costs into perspective. According to employment website Workopolis, the average Ontarian earns $49,088 a year. If the first five months went towards tax obligations, that leaves $28,635 after tax income. Wynne is proposing to take more than a whopping 10% of your after tax income for more expensive electric heat.
Ontarians are already under terrible economic strain. The average mortgage debt in this province is approximately $193,000, according to an article published in the Wall Street Journal. That commitment alone means most taxpayers are struggling to keep ahead. In fact, a recent article by the CBC predicted dire consequences for many households if interest rates were to rise; or job losses, like we've seen in other parts of the country, were to hit Ontario.
In short, Kathleen Wynne is proposing the economic ruin of too many families who are just getting by today with her reckless Climate Change strategy.
Liberals are proposing their Climate Change strategy will cost ordinary Ontarians like you and me an extra $8.3 Billion. That's twice the amount of money we invest in our justice system, and more than what we spend on post secondary education.
There are going to be consequences to the level of government services that we currently have. Our hospitals, schools, children with special needs, mental health services, and a slew of other services are already facing the brunt of the austerity measures Wynne is forcing on them as she continues to divert valuable public resources to her personal political ideals.
If Kathleen Wynne gets her way, how many doctors, nurses, teachers, fire fighters and police officers will have to lose their job to pay for her Climate Change plan? How many hospitals, schools and colleges will be forced to close to pay the $8.3 billion she has ear-marked for the environment?
But it's the private sector that will ultimately bear the biggest burden.
Last night I stopped by my local convenience store to pick up a few things. I thought it was closed because most of the lights were off. Only the neon "Open" sign made me aware that the store wasn't actually closed. The local shopkeeper told me that he turned down his lights to save energy costs. That's the state we are in today.
After Wynne implements her Climate Change strategy, he might not be able to afford to keep his neon "Open" sign going too.
|Posted on May 4, 2016 at 4:20 PM|
Here's my first column for Troy Media: http://www.troymedia.com/2016/05/04/help-needy-students/
|Posted on April 29, 2016 at 3:45 PM|
I'm grateful for the opportunity to be offered a weekly syndicated column with Troy Media, a media outlet that produces content for over 1,800 media (traditional and website) outlets in print and online.
In the past, I was a regular columnist with the Toronto Sun, and I look forward to engaging readers across Canada in meaningful discourse once again.
|Posted on April 10, 2016 at 9:00 PM|
NDP delegates voted today to fire party leader, Tom Mulcair. As shocking as this vote was, the greater shock may be the decision of delegates to adopt the LEAP Manifesto - which is a sharp turn to the left from the 2015 NDP election platform.
The next year will be dominated by various NDP leadership candidates portraying themselves to be the best person to sell the LEAP Manifesto ideals. That almost guarantees the next leader of the NDP will come from either Toronto or Vancouver. I simply don't see the LEAP Manifesto attracting much new member support in other parts of the country.
The NDP did not consider what ousting Thomas Mulcair, the former Quebec Minister of the Environment, will mean for its future electoral hopes. With Mulcair out, the 14 seats that the NDP hold in Quebec are almost certainly in play.
Conservatives need to take a long hard look at how they - and not the Liberals - can capture the majority of these mostly rural Quebec seats. Voters in these ridings found Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair as people they could relate to. I believe that the Conservatives need an equally relatable leader in order to win these extremely important seats.
Stephen Harper won three consecutive federal elections thanks to, in large part, the election outcomes in the Province of Quebec.
It's an admittedly curious statement to make considering that the Conservatives never won the most seats in Quebec in any of these elections. Yet in 2006 and 2008 it was due to the strength of the Bloc Quebecois - and in 2011 the NDP, that for those parties winning the most seats in Quebec paved the way for the Conservatives' victory. Had Quebec voted Liberal in any of these elections, the results would have been quite different for Canada.
Fast forward to the 2015 election, and this time, the Liberals win the majority of Quebec seats. Unfortunately, the Quebec seats that Trudeau took from a weakened NDP directly resulted in the Liberal majority in Parliament.
In 2019, Conservatives cannot hope to rely on a resurgent NDP or Bloc to siphon off Quebec support from Trudeau. If Conservatives want to return to Government in the next election, the key battleground will not be the 416/905 areas that the Toronto centric media like to pronounce.
Conservatives can only win by taking the plurality of seats in Quebec.
The stakes couldn't be higher for Canada in 2019. After leaving the country in very good financial footing despite enduring one of the worst global recessions in modern history, Conservatives are shocked to see Trudeau and Morneau fritter away our strength by selling off our gold reserves and spending recklessly towards record deficits.
One only need to look to Justin Trudeau's mentor, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, to see what's in store for Canada if Trudeau is re-elected in 2019 with another majority. Ontarians have seen their manufacturing jobs leave the province as a result of Wynne's ideology, and the province's infrastructure is collapsing under the weight of a record $300 Billion debt. Ontario is now the world's most indebted sub-sovereign borrower.
Is that the future we want for Canada?
There has never been a more important time for the Conservative Party of Canada to choose a leader who can win in 2019.
So far, we've only had two candidates who have filed to run.
In light of Mulcair's staggering loss, I believe that Maxime Bernier is the most qualified of the potential candidates for this position.
He's held several impressive senior level cabinet positions including Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Small Business. Unlike Trudeau, Bernier also has considerable experience in the private sector too.
His conservative bona fides are strong. Bernier knows it's impossible to grow prosperity by growing our public debt. He understands the private sector cannot prosper by the reckless spending from public sector.
By reducing red tape and unshackling the potential of our small businesses and entrepreneurs, Bernier knows that opportunities, jobs, and innovation will bring on a new era of success and prosperity of Canada. He knows it because it's his record.
Maxime Bernier can win seats for Conservatives right across Canada.
Most importantly, being enormously popular in his home province, Maxime Bernier is the only Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate that can win the plurality of seats in Quebec.
By doing so, he stops Justin Trudeau in his tracks.