This morning we are off to the Town's splendid Farmers' Market to meet the voters. 

I have a little band of helpers eight strong whose job is to offer leaflets to those willing to take them and to point people in my direction if they want to talk to me.

To help identification I have my striking red and black lawn sign on my back, secured with string.

I gather my team together and go into a huddle. Just two simple reminders: don't hassle people and keep the vendors happy by staying well clear of their market stalls.

We get a terrific reception.

People raise all sorts of issues with me. One woman who lives close to the rail tracks wants me to stop the train whistles. 

"I wish I could but I am not sure I can. I'm about a mile away from the rail tracks and I hear the trumpet blasts too."

She considers this a limp and inadequate answer.

"But in Barrie they stopped the train whistles."

I hear myself saying:

"It's all about safety. Maybe in Barrie there aren't so many crossings of the track. I don't know. But, yeah, train whistles at the crack of dawn are a real pain in the neck."

She thanks me and continues with her shopping. 

I tell myself to check out what happens in Barrie. I think I lost that vote.

Important Person

As people stream by I quip:

"Please take my leaflet. I could be a very important person in three weeks time." 

Many laugh. Some look bemused.

Now a man in an orange T-shirt asks me how well I get on with the Mayor.

"I think we get on OK. I saw him here earlier why don't you just ask him?"

Man laughs uncontrollably.

"Where can I find a stepladder?"

I join in the laughter.

"Very good! Very good!"

Now the Market Supervisor appears in her dark green outfit.

"I'm afraid you'll have to move. This isn't allowed."

"Fair enough. But I thought it would be OK in the middle of an election."

"No."

As we make our way to the Market entrances to catch people as they arrive and leave, we pass the Town of Newmarket's magnificent stand advising people how they can exercise their right to vote. It is laden with leaflets with two staff on hand to offer advice. On-line voting is the big thing.

These days who needs to meet candidates in the flesh when they can get all they need on-line?

Gordon Prentice 1 October 2022

 

 

 

From Newmarket Today 30 September 2022. (The 2018 graphic (right) and the bar charts are not from the story. These are my inserts)

Joseph Quigley writes:  

Election opponent Gordon Prentice, who has been calling on Tom Vegh to stop accepting funds from builders, says he's moving on from the issue now that the 'significant U-turn' has occurred. 

One of the most contentious issues in the election race for Newmarket's deputy mayor seat may be at an end as incumbent Tom Vegh has promised to not take any donations from developers.

After scrutiny of his 2018 campaign donations, and repeated attacks from opponent Gordon Prentice, Vegh has said he understands residents would prefer candidates avoid taking money that's tied to developers. He said he will be self-financing his campaign this election, according to campaign material.

“I respect that (there are) people who would prefer you don't accept donations from anybody who's doing any business of any kind with the town,” he said. “I just got to respect that.”

Vegh spent approximately $45,420 on his campaign in 2018, putting him over the self-financing limit. As a result, he said he had to raise funds after his election with individual contributions capped out at $1,200. He garnered approximately $22,850 in donations from the building sector.

But Vegh now plans to keep donations out of his campaign. Asked about what that means for his campaign spending compared to 2018, he said this election is different.

“I was not an incumbent last time, and it was a vacant seat,” he said. “In this case, I’m the incumbent, so it’s a different type of campaign.” 

Opponent Prentice wrote in a campaign email that the “significant U-turn” was a long time coming and he is moving on from the issue.

He said it may have been challenging for Vegh to get those same contributions this time after the publicity. 

“I can’t see there being many developers out there who would want to donate money to Tom Vegh,” Prentice said. “Not where there will be press and media attention in the run-up to the election.” 

Financial disclosures do not come out until after the election, but most of Newmarket’s elected candidates did not spend as much as Vegh in 2018. Mayor John Taylor spent about $67,000 on his last campaign and raised about $45,000 in outside donations in a ticketed event, but told NewmarketToday in 2019 that he did not take donations from developers.

Spending for others who won council seats in the last election were all less than $10,000. Councillor Jane Twinney, who had approximately $3,000 in developer donations in the last election, was acclaimed for this election. 

Vegh has said the previous donations have not influenced him, and he has voted in lockstep with the rest of town council on land-use planning decisions. But Prentice has noted Vegh’s voting record at the regional council level, where he voted in favour of the official plan seen by some as allowing too much sprawl in development

Still, the donations are not an issue Vegh said he is hearing about while knocking on doors. He said inflationary cost pressures are the biggest thing residents are worried about. 

“We’re going to have to manage this inflation, and there are ways for us to do that,” Vegh said.

Prentice has encouraged residents to ask Vegh about the campaign donations, the first-time local candidate said. He added that there is some importance in addressing these issues.

“We’re moving into an era of content-free elections. Where people don’t get excited about the elections because it’s just the same old people saying the same old things, with nothing much changing, and people just kind of switch off,” he said. “It’s a triumph of the bland.”

But despite the attacks, Vegh said he has no intention of commenting on his opponent, something he said he had stuck to in his 20 years of campaigns.

“I’m putting forward my 20-year record, the projects we started, we need to complete … That’s what people want to hear. They don’t want to hear me talking about my opponent,” he said. “You’re just supposed to put your best foot forward.” 

This afternoon, at the amphitheatre at Fairy Lake, I heard the most remarkable unscripted address from Kim Wheatley, a Shawanaga First Nation Reserve Anishinaabe Ojibway grandmother who carries the Spirit name Head or Leader of the Fireflower and is Turtle clan. 

It must have lasted a good one and a half hours but it flew by.

The audience was transfixed.

She spared no-one. She talked about the horrors of the residential schools. She crucified the Catholic Church and the response of Pope Francis. She lambasted the Federal Government and the Crown. And it was all delivered in a gentle cadence. But inside she was boiling with anger, decribing the pain she felt.

Interwoven into this assault on the institutions of oppression were personal stories drawn from her own experience. She described the traumas that were inflicted on her people – the mindless slights and the deeper institutional racism.

Her speech was moving and profound. 

The Treaties

I don’t know where her narrative will take us. Her description of the Treaty process was fascinating. The treaties were written only in English, their meaning determined by the Courts.

Her people shared their land with the new settlers, negotiating treaties with the Crown but soon the relationship changed. It was no longer a Treaty between equals - two Sovereign nations. It evolved into something very different.

On my bookshelf sits a commentary on the Treaties and the Treaty Relationships.

It starts with this story from Karine Duhamel:

“In October 2017, twenty-one First Nations representing approximately thirty thousand people took the Federal and Ontario governments to Court, alleging that the Treaty commitments made by the man originally assigned to negotiate them in 1850, Special Commissioner William Benjamin Robinson, were due for renegotiation. The case focusses on a central question: How should Treaty terms negotiated nearly 170 years ago be interpreted today?

The First Nations who signed Robinson’s Treaties argue that the Federal and provincial governments have draw considerable resource wealth from their territory without ever renegotiating the terms Robinson made even though Robinson included a clause for renegotiation. The annual annuity to band members remains the same today as it was in 1874 – four dollars per person.”

Discuss.

 

Former Executive Director of Inn from the Cold, Tom Vegh, sat silent this morning at a meeting of York Regional Council as Mayor John Taylor called for $1M of emergency funding to avoid the homelessness organisation itself becoming homeless in 24 months time.  

Taylor told the Regional Council;

“Inn from the Cold Shelter in Newmarket is a little less than two years away from its lease being up which is already been extended once a little (and will) not be extended again… the Inn itself is on the verge of becoming homeless and it provides a critical service to the Region.”

Taylor said they were seeking to raise $2.5 million and a fund-raising committee has raised about $1.5 million to date. Extra funding would be coming from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation but a capital contribution of $1M from the Regional Council would make a huge difference.

In a long debate – with eight speakers – Vegh stayed silent when he could have been supporting Taylor and sharing insights about his work at the Inn from the Cold.

Aurora’s Mayor, Tom Mrakas, seconded Taylor’s motion. But at the end of the debate Mrakas told the meeting he thought it more appropriate for Vegh to be the seconder. This generous gesture was agreed nem con, without debate.

What is Tom Vegh for?

I was left wondering: What is Tom Vegh for?

He gets top marks for plastering the Town with his election signs. 

But why won’t he speak out in support of an organisation he used to lead? Did he ask Taylor if he could second the motion? Did Taylor ask him to? If not, why not? Is the relationship between the two too far gone?

Will Newmarket Today and the ERA ask Vegh to explain why he didn’t speak in the debate when he had every opportunity?

What is the real story behind this?

Is timid Tom Vegh just doing what he does best? 

Saying nothing of any consequence at York Regional Council but bragging on social media about what he gets done?

“Leadership you can count on”

What a joke.

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And how the story was covered in Newmarket Today

more to follow…


 

Two and a half years ago our winter vacation in Mexico went up in smoke when Air York Airport Transportation Inc failed to get us to Pearson in time for our flight. It cost us thousands of dollars.

At the time a remarkable Zen like calmness descended on me. Sitting in the back of the car, stuck in traffic, I vowed I would make Air York pay and expose their useless guarantee.

Yesterday a Judge at the Small Claims Court here in Newmarket found in our favour.

Covid knocked the Courts sideways and delay followed delay but we now have the judgement in our hands.

This has been a huge learning experience for me. I now know that Court forms have to be absolutely tickety-boo. Not a dot or comma out of place. I swallowed hard and served the claim personally on the defendant. I navigated my way through the dense legalese. But now we're there.

Well, not quite.

There is the small detail of actually collecting the money owed to us by "worry free" Air York Airport Transportation Inc.

That may be a challenge.

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