Last September Southlake Regional Medical Centre in Newmarket announced it would be eliminating 97 Registered Nurse positions. The hospital said it was facing a “significant financial challenge’

Since then 70 Registered Nurses have received lay-off notices but, mercifully, none has been shown the door.

Getting rid of Registered Nurses is hard to explain in normal times but in the middle of a pandemic it would be next to impossible.

But, make no mistake, the threat of redundancy will still hang over the registered nurses when the Covid threat recedes, as it will.


Yesterday Newmarket-Aurora’s Liberal MP, Tony Van Bynen, marked National Nursing Week by telling the House of Commons that nurses are our “superheroes”. 

“Mr. Speaker, some heroes wear capes; others wear masks, face shields, gloves and gowns, but all heroes protect our communities by keeping them safe. Since the start of this pandemic, nurses across Canada have been at the front lines in our battle against this virus. Many have been going to work every day in conditions that could pose a threat to their health, and many have been isolating from their families so they could care for ours.”

He tells MPs nurses are the soul of our health service:

“It is important for us to recognize that nurses are the soul of our health care system and have always been so.”

Except, I suppose, when they are being made redundant.

Courage, commitment, compassion, sacrifice (and out of a job)

Van Bynen thanks them for their courage, commitment, compassion and sacrifices.

But will he do anything to save them from being laid-off at Southlake?

Will he say anything about it?  

Van Bynen has a national platform. And as a member of the House of Commons Health Committee he has a thousand opportunities to speak out when Registered Nurses in his own constituency are faced with redundancy.

Instead we get the usual bromides.

Newmarket-Aurora's new Liberal MP has not, so far, expressed a view on the threatened lay-offs. He is content to leave it to Southlake's Chief Executive, Arden Crystal.

Why did I expect anything different?

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Update on 14 May 2021: From Newmarket Today: Ontario increasing training spaces to add 2,000 nurses to the health care system. See Ontario Press Release here


Canada is warming twice as fast as the global average. And in the Canadian North it's three times.

Should we be worried? 

I suppose Canadians will sit up and take notice once the permafrost turns squelchy and roads buckle and houses lean over at crazy angles.

But, until then, how do we grab their attention?

Walter Bauer sent me his latest research on Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) which got me thinking. Walter reviewed Canada’s two climate plans and the budget (links highlighted below) to see if GHG emissions were likely to reduce to anything near the Paris Agreement which, he admits, is a low bar.

By 2019 Canada’s GHG emissions had gone up to 730 mega-tonnes per year (Mt/year).  I find it difficult to visualise this so I ask Walter for help. He tells me:

1 mega-tonne is 1 billion kilograms.  An elephant weighs 4,000 kg.  1 mega-tonne equals 250,000 elephants.

Canada is emitting (2019 data) 730Mt of CO2 or 182,500,000 elephants every year.

Our World in Data is a very useful interactive website which allows you to rank Canada alongside any other country you care to mention. You can rank emissions per capita and in all sorts of other ways. (see graphic at the bottom) 

Walter Bauer writes:

"Canada’s baseline GHG emissions in 2005 were: 739 Mt/year and in 2016 (start of Liberal climate plans): 707 Mt/year.  The reduction was primarily due to Ontario’s closing of coal-fired stations in 2014.

In his interview with CBC’s “The House”, Jonathan Wilkinson (Liberal Environment Minister) falsely took credit for early Ontario reductions and repeatedly referenced:  

sixty measures in the Pan-Canadian framework and an additional sixty-four in the Strengthened Climate Plan”.  

Numbers are deceiving.

Through two climate plans and budget, the Liberals have introduced measures to counter Climate Change.  This analysis subjectively divides the Liberal measures into four primary categories.

The focus of this review is any measure targeting a reduction in GHG emissions (green).  Blue includes initiatives such as revised building codes or establishing standards.  Grey includes Adaptation and Mitigation, Research & Development or vague commitments.

Pan-Canadian Framework (December 9/2016):: Goal, 511 Mt/year (30% below 2005 levels)

There were only eleven key measures (not 60) to reduce GHG emissions: $7.4 billion/year for 11 years.

GHG Emission Results as of 2019:

If the Pan-Canadian Framework had been effective, by 2019, Canada should have reduced its emissions to approximately 660 Mt/year (assumes linear reduction.)  Instead, Canada’s emissions have gone up to 730 Mt/year.  Apparently, Canada is the only member of the G-7 nations where emissions increased from 2015-2019.  Emissions rose because key Liberal measures had no effect on:

During Question Period in Parliament, Jonathan Wilkinson said:

2019 will be the last year Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions go up . . . We will see year-on-year reductions — absolute reductions — starting in 2020, through to 2030. We have high confidence that’s actually going to be the case.”

A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy (December/2020): Liberals projecting a reduction of emissions to 503 Mt/year (31% below 2005 levels), despite rise from 2016.

Despite the failures of the Pan-Canadian Framework, Canada increased its reduction target with its new climate plan.

There were an additional eleven key additional measures (not 64 additional) to reduce GHG emissions: an additional $2.5 billion/year for an average of 8 years.

Expected GHG Emission Results by 2022: (starting from 730 Mt/year in 2019)

        • Temporary drop in GHG emissions in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic (drop of 51 Mt/year);
        • Enbridge Line 3 refurbishment complete in 2021 adding 23 Mt/year over 2019 levels;
        • Trans Mountain pipeline will come on line in 2022 adding another 37 Mt/year over 2019 levels;
        • Keystone XL pipeline (53 Mt/year) may yet be completed if Biden loses the next election;
        • with zero-emission vehicles, even if we reduce emissions by 30% (unlikely), we will only save 50 Mt/year;
        • if commercial/institutional and residential retrofits reduceemissions by 20% (unlikely) we will only save another 16 Mt/year; and
        • if the Liberal climate plans were effective, by 2022, Canada should have reduced its emissions to approximately 620 Mt/year (16% below 2005 levels assuming linear reduction).Instead, the net result, not counting the temporary drop due to the pandemic or Keystone XL, is a reduction of 6 Mt (23 + 37 – 50 – 16) by 2022 or 724 Mt/year (a reduction of only 2% below 2005 levels.)

Budget (April 19/2021): Liberals projecting a reduction of emissions to 36% below 2005 levels.

Only three key additional measures to reduce GHG emissions: an additional $0.6 billion for 4 years.

2020 (reported in 2022) and 2021 emissions will show a decrease in GHG emissions but that is largely due to recessionary pressures created by the pandemic. 

From 2023 to 2030, it is likely emissions will reduce “year-on-year” due to federal and provincial measures, however, nowhere near the levels required (likely only 10%-15% reduction below 2005 levels, we need 60%.)

Despite negligible GHG reductions to date and grim projections Trudeau announced on 22 April 2021 that Canada will reduce emissions to 40-45% below 2005 levels.

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Visit Our World in Data here.

It is now over seven months since East Gwillimbury Council asked Metrolinx to consider extending the planned all-day two-way 15 minute train service north from Aurora to the GO Rail station at Green Lane in East Gwillimbury.  

The Town Clerk, Fernando Lamanna, told me on 16 April 2021 they still hadn’t heard from Metrolinx. Personally, I consider this a gross discourtesy.

I know Metrolinx has a lot on its plate.

I know we are in the middle of a pandemic but how much effort does it take for someone in Metrolinx to send an email to Mr Lamanna explaining things – or even acknowledging the Town’s request?

Metrolinx could have told Mr Lamanna they are not ready to reply in detail. They could say they have no idea how many people will be using the trains post pandemic. People may feel safer in their own vehicles. I don’t know. But to say nothing is unconscionable.

Quite separately, Metrolinx tell me they need more time to consider my Freedom of Information request (see below) - possibly until 14 July 2021. It will cost me $185. But, even then, there is no guarantee that I will get the information I am after. Metrolinx remind me they can refuse to disclose information to protect 

“the economic and other interests of Ontario”.

Why is East Gwillimbury’s initiative important to Newmarket?

If East Gwillimbury (whose MPP is Transportation Minister, Caroline Mulroney) gets a 15 minute train service then we, downstream in Newmarket, automatically get one too. That’s why we should support our neighbour to the north.

Railway Crossing Improvements

In the meantime, Metrolinx is giving us a “railway crossing improvement” at Mulock Drive - one of the busiest roads in Newmarket.

Mulock Drive at the railway tracks will be closed to traffic from Friday, May 7, 2021 at 9 p.m. to Monday, May 10, 2021 at 5 a.m while they do the work. 

Instead, we should be getting grade separation now as plans to redevelop the area around the new Mulock Station take shape.

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Freedom of Information request to Metrolinx of 25 March 2021: All records (includes internal file notes, notes of meetings, emails or other electronic records) relating to the resolution of East Gwillimbury Council on 22 September 2020 (on the Joint Community Infrastructure & Environmental Services and Development Services Report CIES2020-22), which was forwarded to Metrolinx by the Town Clerk and calls on it to give consideration to: (a) advancing a second Implementation Phase of the GO Expansion Program to extend all-day, two- way, 15-minute service to East Gwillimbury GO Station, and (b) prioritizing the existing Green Lane at-grade rail crossing for grade separation. Time period of the records is 2020/09/23 – 2021/03/20. 

Doug Ford’s Oscar winning apology for his decision to extend police powers and close playgrounds (now reversed) has received wall-to-wall coverage across Canada and, indeed, beyond.  

But this, of course, isn’t the first time Ford has apologised. 

The UK’s Guardian newspaper detailed Ford’s apology to Sol Mamakwa, the indigenous lawmaker who was wrongly accused of jumping the queue for the Covid vaccine.

And Premier Ford sort of apologised when he was caught visiting his Muskoka cottage when this went against his own official Covid advice.

Yet he chastised his Finance Minister, Rod Phillips, for vacationing in the Caribbean while pretending to be at home in Ontario. 

“I have let the minister know that his decision to travel is completely unacceptable and that it will not be tolerated again — by him or any member of our cabinet and caucus.”

Phillips apologized and resigned.

And in 2014, after the (then) Toronto police chief Bill Blair threatened Ford with a defamation lawsuit, Ford apologized for claiming that Blair was targeting his brother Rob and leaking stories to the press about him.

I am left wondering if Ford consulted his deputy, Health Minister Christine Elliott, before making his latest apology. 

Back in 2008 Elliott was speaking at Queen’s Park on Bill 59 - an Act respecting apologies.

“… my basic training as a lawyer has conditioned me that this is not a good thing to do (apologise). As lawyers, we are trained to protect our clients, to act in their best interests and not to have them say or do anything that might jeopardize their position.” 

But that was a long time ago. Years before she ran against Doug Ford for the leadership of the PCs - and lost.

I apologise if I have misrepresented her views in any way. 

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26 April 2021: from the Globe and Mail: Unravelled: The strange public and media strategy of Doug Ford

Carmine Perrelli is a member of York Regional Council representing the City of Richmond Hill.Carmine Star

Last Thursday the Regional Council heard a complaint from one of Perrelli’s constituents, Jason Cherniak, who said Perrelli had blocked him from accessing his Twitter account, freezing him out and preventing him from commenting on the big issue of the day – the covid pandemic.

Cherniak took issue with Perrelli’s stance on the pandemic and was blocked after dubbing Perrelli a #COVIDIOT.

York Region’s Integrity Commissioner, Jeffrey Abrams, upheld Cherniak’s complaint and recommended the Region revise and update its Code of Conduct to include matters such as blocking on social media which are not currently covered. 

The Commissioner found that blocking Cherniak had the effect of silencing criticism of the councillor. Furthermore, the Commissioner did not consider #COVIDIOT to be offensive, abusive or defamatory. He said the arbitrary blocking of an Open Twitter account contravened the Code of Conduct principle that 

“Members shall serve the public in a conscientious and diligent manner that promotes public confidence and will bear public scrutiny.”

The Commissioner proposes that elected officials should, in future, have to give reasons for blocking someone. 


Perrelli emphatically disagrees his decision was arbitrary. On the contrary, it was considered. He tells councillors: 

“… calling me a COVIDIOT is offensive and I cannot afford, and none of us can afford, for our constituents to think that I was opposed to safety protocols.  A blanket statement like that needs to be challenged and/or stopped. 

… The same complainant called me a shyster. A shyster. Now if you guys are OK with someone calling you an idiot and a shyster I can guarantee you that if I called one of you guys an idiot or a shyster there would be a code of conduct complaint being made and I would be found guilty of that.” 

There is no reference to “shyster” in the Integrity Commissioner’s report. Perrelli goes on:

“This all hinged in my opinion, and in my lawyer’s opinion, all on the fact that the Integrity Commissioner found it to be arbitrary and I disagree. And moving forward we have to be very careful because if we're going to allow someone else retroactively to decide if we have the right to block someone and they call me an idiot or a stooge or a moron or a donkey - and then we're going to let an integrity commissioner decide whether that was offensive or not? We are opening a real Pandora’s Box here ladies and gentlemen.”


Cherniak was already known to Perrelli before the complaint went in. Cherniak told the the meeting he ran unsuccessfully in the 2018 Richmond Hill election for Regional Councillor coming fourth (with 8,878 votes) behind Joe DiPaolo (11,758 votes) and Perrelli (11,418 votes). Two Regional Councillors were elected.

Clearly, there is history to all this.  The animosity - at least for Perrelli -  goes back a long way. Perrelli does not disguise his contempt for Cherniak.

On Thursday, Joe DiPaolo branded Perrelli a bully who intimidates and threatens Richmond Hill staff. I could hear the stunned silence before Wayne Emmerson, the Regional Chair, stepped in. Whoa!

Without missing a beat, Cherniak tweets DiPaolo’s comments. 

Outside his work as Regional Councillor, Perrelli is President of a for-profit foster care company, Expanding Horizons. It has been in the news recently following the murder of a 14 year old boy in Barrie. Perrelli is close to Ontario Premier Doug Ford who follows him on Twitter.

At the close of a wide-ranging debate councillors decide to “receive and accept” the Integrity Commissioner’s report and, on John Taylor’s recommendation, organise a Workshop, probably in the Fall, to look at the use of social media by elected officials and the guidance that may be required.

Following this, York Region staff would bring forward a report to Council on any changes which may be necessary to the Code of Conduct.

In breach but no sanction

In the meantime, we are in this curious situation where Perrelli remains in breach of the Code but without any sanctions being applied. The Integrity Commissioner says the Code provides little guidance on arbitrary blocking and, for that reason, no sanction is recommended. It all sounds a bit back to front to me but we are where we are.

In all the circumstances  I cannot see Perrelli unblocking Cherniak. It is perfectly obvious Perrelli loathes the man.

One other point. I think John Taylor deserves a round of applause for getting the Council to stage a workshop which could be open to outside presentations. If it goes ahead on this basis, I hope Council invites former Newmarket Mayor and member of York Regional Council, Tony Van Bynen, to explain why, for years, he has blocked people from his Twitter account. He continues to do so as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Newmarket-Aurora. 

He outlined some of his thinking to Newmarket Council in February 2016:

“… My page represents my views and anything that comes from my twitter feed is believed to be endorsed. So I don’t feel in the slightest way obligated to advance an argument that is contrary to my views. So I don’t apologise for blocking certain people."

"I do set standards in terms of what I permit on my site and again I don’t apologise for that. But if you have something to say, set up your own site. Set up your own contacts. Send out your own messages. So you still have that right.”

Was that a defensible position then? And is it now? Van Bynen is not alone with this view. So how realistic is it to expect elected officials' open Twitter accounts - from all levels of Government - to be regarded as part of the Town Square? 


But if Twitter is indeed the Town Square can elected officials exclude people who are perfectly civil in that platform but less restrained in other social media sites or in other forms of communication such as blogs, newsletters, TV and radio? 

Should Twitter and other social media platforms be ring-fenced? So “disrespect” (definition please) on Instagram would not, necessarily, mean blocking on Twitter.

And how do we define offensive or objectionable? Mockery could appear in the guise of wildly exaggerated civility. It all seems very subjective.

Should people who participate on social media – and who do not wish to be blocked – conscientiously follow the rules of Parliamentary language and decorum? Never attribute improper motives. Never accuse someone of lying (though it is OK to suggest someone may have been inadvertently economical with the truth). Is this the way forward?

And then there is the level playing field argument. Elected officials (or, rather, some elected officials) have very substantial communication and advertising budgets paid for out of public funds. What elected officials say on public policy issues is intrinsically newsworthy. Should they block critics without this firepower without giving reasons? Jason Cherniak complains he was blocked from the conversation in the on-line Town Square by Councillor Perrelli because of a re-tweet of a single sentence.

Counsel of Perfection

Is the Integrity Commissioner’s recommendation a counsel of perfection that is, in practice, unrealistic? Shouldn’t decisions on blocking or not blocking be left to the common-sense of elected officials who, after all, face re-election and the scrutiny of the voters? 

York Regional Council’s decision to tackle these and a thousand other related issues is laudable. It could be a damp squib. 

Or it could be a watershed moment.

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Update on 20 April 2021: Text corrected to show Cherniak came fourth - not third - in the election for Regional Councillor in 2018. 

Who said what in the debate? Click the link "Read More" below and scroll...