"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dirty Tricks Again

I've had a call and an e-mail about a slanderous leaflet being circulated .

Sad to say we've seen it or other similar stuff before.

In 2003, an RV circulated the new areas of town during the two week-ends prior to the election. They ran past  polling stations  with advance polls operating with huge banners telling people who not to vote for.

It  wasn't successful . It left  a bad taste. Nobody claimed responsibility.

It  meanness continued in the Council elected.  Almost the first motions presennted was to withdraw an honour given thirteen years previously to a veteran Council member sitting at the table with them.

At the start of this term, it was made clear the decision of the electorate was not accepted.  Though overt hostility could not be maintained for four years, there was never a time when it seemed the spite had dissipated.

It  was always there, waiting it's opportunity to rear it's ugly head again.

So once again the community gets  to turn thumbs down on  dirty tricks and spite.

We didn't root out the whole last time.  We can have another go at it again this time. .

It's all part of the process

Greetings Candidates,

Thank you to those candidates who took time to respond to our question regarding a Council motion for a multipurpose, raisable sides structure. The ACTC Board believes that responding to a question from voters shows courtesy and respect for public input. It is evidence of being welcoming, transparent and valuing community input into important Town issues. 

On our website, you can review our candidate recommendations and scoring on candidate responses by clicking here

Thank you,
Brent MacKinnon, President
ACTC Board of Directors


I offer the above as a sample of inquiries candidates are asked to respond to during acampaign.

It suggests votes  can be assured  for acceptable responses.

Conversely,support is withheld if response is not favourable to Mr. MacKinnon's intent.

Candidates receive many inquiries for commitment from organizations. It's part of the process.

The Tennis Club is a member of Sport Aurora . The organization claims to represent thousands of volunteers . An all-candidates meeting  was organized to obtain  favourable commitments to their

Provision of year-round tennis facilities occupied considerable attention  during the current term of Council.

A contract for  facilities was recommended  for approval in plenty of time for completion before the end of the term. A public-private partnership with the  town providing an eminently suitable site would have allowed  tennis to continue during winter. Months without interruption.

Needs met.

No cost to taxpayers.

But Oh dear me no.

That could not be allowed.  Mc MacKinnon had a different view.

The  bubble would be too hot in summer.

The real problem was rain.

The inconvenience if cancelling  a game because of rain is too much.

First , raised sides  of a facility were to overcome conservation principles in the event of flood in Fleury Park.

Then the purpose was to replace TImberlane's  year-round facilities when it closed.

Finally, after months of working  to establish  needs, inviting expressions of interest, receiving and analyzing  proposals, an award  was recommended to Council

Then the purpose changed. It was about being able  to play during the rain

Mr. Mackinnon did not like the contract.

The contract  was rejected.

Despite significant investment  of staff time and resources, nothing  was accomplished.

On the Club's web site , Mr. MacKinnon recommends candidates who have shown sufficient respect and courtesy for voters  based  solely on recognition of  the pressing need for tennis not to be interrupted by rain in the summer.


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "It's a business alright....unlike any other":


Got to love how he get's all bent out of shape about using stock pictures and the grass is not real. This is the same guy that steals images from all over the internet.

Chris Watts is not a candidate for public office ..Therefore not seeking the trust of voters. 

He merely exercises his democratic right to criticize. 

The candidate has  previously demonstrated his view of the rights of others by taking legal action at public expense, more than once, against those who criticize. 

There is no greater contradiction. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Some things never change

After the prayer breakfast,Heather and I did the  sign patrol this morning. All Leaflets have been distributed. Thanks to all who helped. It was a gargantuan task.

I did what I could on the scooter. Heather,Robyn and Stephanie have done the bulk of it.The girls reLyenjoyed. All the lovely homes and gardens.

But the stairs....Oh My Lord, the stairs....there are millions of 'em. Mail boxes are are almost always at the top of stairs.

In my own neighbourhood many old  milk boxes are being used for mail. That took us back a year or two.

Our signs were mostly intact . One needed straightening. Two or three were down but well in on private property and not easy to get at. The owners very kindly put them for us.

We were fortunate to get the leaflets distributed while  weather was still lovely. We met many friendly people enjoying the last remnants of summer who extended encouragement.

It means everything to a candidate.

Today is typical campaign weather for a municipal election.

Signs are be-draggled and not improved by numbers. First-time candidates are learning stuff only learned by doing.

It's sort of like white water rafting. Once in the boat,no opportunity presents for a change of mind.  .No matter  the result, the candidate is in for the long haul.

Truth is, eight Council seats and one Mayor's chair  are up for grabs.  Despite all best and frenetic effort, twenty-one people will not be successful.

The gathering  at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic High School shared breakfast with Cardinal Collins
this morning.

It was a timely privilege.

Last night at a Celebration at the library, I had a conversation with the Librarian. We spoke of  changes in education and realised something  shared.

The catechism.

The first lesson.

Who made you?  God made me.

Why did God make you? To know him,love him and serve him in this world  and forever in the next.

All Catholic children within  months either way of their fifth birthday learned in the  first lesson of every day , five days a week ,the reason for their existence.

With fellow candidates I heard it again this morning  from Cardinal Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto

Sunday, 19 October 2014

It's a business alright....unlike any other

I take my mind off the campaign by watching other  campaigns.  Particularly the Toronto mayoralty .

Today, the three were together in a forum  in North York. Non starter ,No Chance Lance was included.

John Tory had been  on camera  for a while when there was a break for a commercial.

An Olivia Chow commercial. It went on and on about the perfidy of John Tory. A request to vote for Olivia Chow came at the end without a reason for doing so.

The commercial ended. The camera returned  to John Tory.

Olivia had no control over the sequence.  Probably no-one did.  But...there it was.

John Tory was front and centre in valuable media space he neither asked nor paid for and may or may not to have been to his advantage.

Olivia Chow is a candidate of note. Gave up a safe seat in the federal parliament to serve Toronto .
Not the first municipal politician to prefer home turf.

Her experience  is extensive and professional.  An enviable reputation has been established at both government levels.

If  an option is timely in  thecity's politics, Olivia Chow is a real one.

Other than style, John Tory is not an option.

Toronto is only partly Rose-dale Golf Clubbish.

Without experience, he has no city politic skills.  Eminence gris  stature at Queen's Park and connections in Ottawa  avail him nothing.  Old boy at the Empire Club impresses little.

Local politicians tend to be  a mixed bag and notoriously independent.

Municipal politics are about people and people are the same the world over....  in towns villages and  cities...  quite unlike the denizens of the rarified atmosphere of corridors of power substantially removed from ordinary existence.

Toronto is Calvinist with a strong moral compass. It's a humane city with hundreds  of helping
agencies. Thousands of volunteers. Many programs are offered without user fees for other than the profit factor.

A  municipal corporation is a business..... not like any other. It's a business with a  difference...with a heart ....and circumscribed on all sides  by provincial regulation.

If John Tory understands the concept he hides it well.

The Mayor's office is not an entry level position.

So the campaign continues with drama . a series of lost opportunities, some misadventures and  continued possibility.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Questions answered


Check out the amount of their Trillium grant $193,500.00 ! Over three years

Questions without answers

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The last all-candidates meeting  has been held.  H...":

AYSC and AMHA must feel they have enough clout by their sheer size to not need Sport Aurora. Also, wasn't Sport Aurora organized in the wake of Mr Weese's ouster as president of AYSC? So, AYSC wouldn't be affiliated with Sport Aurora if there is still some acrimony there.

What is the governance model of Sport Aurora? It seems like they've only had one leader - does anyone know if they hold elections?

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 17 October 2014 11:17


I cannot answer any of the questions posed. Nor do I understand why Aurora sports organizations feel they need an intermediary to deal with the Town. 

The town operates a department to serve the interest of the sports community. I believe the service provided is first class. Sport groups in Aurora could have no better advocate than Al Downey our Director of  Leisure and Recreation services. 

No town in the Region  has a better managed Parks Department. 

The sports community has representation on Parks and Recreation Advisory committee. If there's a need for improvement they should request consideration. 

As far as I can tell, Sport Aurora is a magazine that sells advertising. Much likeThe Banner, The Auroran and Snap Aurora. 

The Town's Leisure Services Directory, published twice a year, also sells advertising to pay for 

That's a lot of competition in a small market. 

At Wednesday's all candidates meeting organized by Sport Aurora ,I was asked why I had put forward a motion  in Council to remove Sport Aurora from their office in Aurora Town Hall when town staff  had advised it was appropriate for them to be there. 

I had a minute to answer. 

Actually Sport Aurora does not have an office in the town hall.

Aurora  Council made the decision  to allow Sport Aurora to use Aurora Town Hall as an address.

The solitary  argument I recall was  to process successful grant applications. 

This year, Sport Aurora announced a grant from Trillium  of $75,000. That's a comfortable chunk of change. 

In my judgement , it is not appropriate for Aurora Town Hall to be used as an address by any person or group other than the  Municipal Corporation of the Town of Aurora. 

To do so is to set a precedent for any and all to make the request  for whatever purpose ,including commercial and financial benefit.

If we can't do it for everybody,we can't do it for anybody.

I should have asked the questioner why he thought Sport Aurora was entitled to use Aurora Town Hall  either as an office (incorrect) or an address.

It rained on the way home.

Council gathered yesterday for  a photo-op at the drill shed in the Town Park. And a musty smelly old  bachle of a building  it is !

How could it not be? Small  dark compartments have been built along the outside wall facing the park....shutting out  what little natural light  there was and no doubt air circulation as well.

A small door and a huge wide, ground to roof garage door built for personnel carrier trucks provide access direct from the street.

Council never did get a figure on cost of  heat and light. Closest resemblance to the building is the Aurora Memorial Arena that was.  It burned down in the early sixties. A new one was constructed by 1967.I doubt the drill shed could be built by to-day's building code.

A false ceiling  encloses pipes above  wrapped in asbestos ....apparently safe enough if not disturbed.

Sturdiest  thing on the property is the big blue plaque designating  the shed Ontario Heritage.

 Honorable Member Lois Brown MPP was present to hand over  the key. Like presenting a gift.

No sign though of the half million dollar cheque paid to the federal government to return property taken from the town in the first place. A hundred and forty years ago.

All that time they had  use of it and we paid them to give it back with nary a whimper.

A figure if $128,000 has been provided for immediate repairs. It might be enough if Councillors
themselves go out with tool belts, hard hats and construction boots. You wouldn't find me on that roof
hitting nails into shingles.

I might take photos though.

If I ever write a sunshine sketch on this little town  this will not be a sunny patch.
The last all-candidates meeting  has been held.  Hosted  by "Sport Aurora"

A substantial audience in attendance to hear  Sport Aurora President Ron Weese made introductory remarks

Mayoralty  candidates had time to speak. Council candidates responded to questions based on positions on sport in Aurora provided by candidates beforehand and distributed at the meeting.

Mr Weese made a couple of surprising references. He said the town has a  three figure deficit in parkland needs and referred to statistics of clinically obese children with a reduced  life span as a consequence.

No opportunity presnted to challenge either statement. One can never be quite sure who might worry about situation like that.

I am not a fan of statistics.

If a murder happened in Aurora in 2014 and none in 2013, statistics could be used to prove one hundred per cent increase in homicide in our community.

If we had none in 2015, statistics could again be used to prove  a hundred ore cent decrease and crime wrestled to a standstill.

The reality would be completely different.

So...even if obesity in  children is endemic....reduced lifespan may not be presumed.

Nor is it easy to make the connection to shortage of park space. Even if that was true.

Mr Weese used a figure of 178 hectares or acres.  Doesn't mater. Neither are accurate.

A Master Recreation Plan is the instrument of measurement to calculate development charges and  it is required by a regulation.

The current plan was completed  by a consultant and presented to Council early last term and
promptly whisked away into obscurity  from whence an edited version emerged twelve months later.

The percentage of parkland required by the plan had never been achieved and wasn't a remote possibility.

The Planning Act permits municipalities to require  a fixed percentage of land for parks to serve development. Acreage available for development therefore determines the amount that can be taken for parks.

The shortfall identified at the time of the Master Recreation Plan adopted five years ago is a fraction of the figure cited by Mr. Weese ,President of Sport Aurora. It was not realistic then and is still not

At the meeting last night the word "transparency "was tossed about will nilly by all and sundry.

How much infirmation is too much when an agency takes authority upon itself  to provide with all solemnity information substantially different from the facts.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Monday was an event

Grandson  Keenan  sent a photo on Facebook this morning. A Pretty basket of my small perfectly formed pumpkins and ears of Indian corn. The caption noted the earliest  record of Thanksgiving was forty years before the pilgrims arrived in North  America.

I had speculated on Monday, Thanksgiving had been started by  indigenous people. We were gathered in a circle around the fire. I asked if anyone knew of the beginnings. The  pioneers had been taught  so much by first nations people to help them survive.  We knew of devotion to Mother Earth and I was willing to bet they themselves originated the celebration.

There were no takers.

Thank you. Keenan .

Heather's family are campers. Sun, sand and water in the day. Camp fire at night under the stars surrounded by trees and small creatures moving about in the dark .Excessive noise is not permitted in provincial  camp grounds. There's no rule against spontaneous outbursts of laughter that sends tears
down one's face.

H&A have graduated to a modern camper with electricity. They enjoy regular little jaunts  with Adam as well as the summer sojourn. Adam and Andy ride a bicycle built for two.

They read,watch movies on smal technological devices and play scrabble and generally relax

Thanksgiving Monday was pretty much like that. The backyard is sheltered. The  fire pit takes large
logs . Everybody had a comfy chair. Stephanie is as much a part of their family as their own. She was first-born grandchild when Andy and Heather were sweethearts.

Conversation  is easy. Everyone has memories and laughter to share. I took advantage of the moment to share a conclusion I have recently reached.

I believe when a person dies, their energy continues. It never leaves us. It just flits about like a butterfly,lighting here and there,until a host presents.  A newborn child in the family is the obvious.

I had previously thought knowledge and comprehension were carried forward in genes.

Now I've changed my view of the universe.

I like this one better.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Thanksgiving and All it is meant to be

It's a beautiful day and a beautiful time of the year. A time of ritual and giving thanks.

We have much to be thankful for. Not least, for the freedom to elect a governing council for our town for the next four years.

Competition is fierce with no shortage of candidates. But we won't be ambushing and assassinating each other,or planting pipe bombs in each other's vehicles.

The election will be over in a few days and everyone will return to their corners until next time.

In the meantime it's Thanksgiving week-end. A time to think of everything that makes our lives what they are.

Are we at peace with ourselves and each other?

What role do we play in our own and each others' lives?

A simple ritual like raking leaves into a small pile, them alight,watching little curls of smoke and catching the smell mingling with other earthy scents gave us peace and tranquility and made us one with the earth and the season.

It cost nothing. Nature herself engineers fires for renewal. Yet we denied ourselves the simple satisfaction.

Now we think of it with fondness and nostalgia and why should we not?

Our lives are lived one day at a time.

Whatever joy there is, is ours to find.

From my house to yours

May Thanksgiving be all you yourself can make it.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Tree Fell on Holman

My son Mark and his son Mark and their  Good Neighbour Ron came to my house this morning at nine a.m.

By mid-day a tree  planted by my sons  Stephen and Frank when  Stephen was ten, Frank
was seven,Martin was eighteen months ,Theresa was the baby, Mark would not be born for another four years. after Heather  and before Andrew, was cut down and neatly stacked.

It's the second tree. The first went a couple of years ago. It had three trunks.This one  had two.

Both trees had been cut down before.

They were scrawny things the boys dug up and brought home from somewhere and planted within seven or eight feet  of each other ,four feet from the lot line on the left side of the driveway.

They didn't do well.

After a couple of years It was obvious they would not likely improve in appearance and they hadn't grown an inch.

I went out one morning with  my trusty saw and sturdy resolve and cut both to the ground within five minutes.

 I had barely turned my back and growth erupted  from the ground, with  many stems and leaves three or four times the size.

Like one might imagine spores from out of space would grow.

 They grew fast .... eventually with a massive combined canopy.They provided shade on my driveway and sun porch from early morning sun in the hottest heat of summer.

Years passed . They were tallest  tees in the neighbourhood. The cardinal regularly perched on the topmost branch and sang his song .Sometimes  for an hour or so.

First I heard him. I always knew where to find him. I would join him in his song. Didn't much care what the neighbours thought.

Grandchildren  have loved the trees. From the top of the maple in the rear yard. They could see the whole town.  They talk about it still.  I never saw them up there. But I've  always  thought kids should have trees to climb.

The trees at the front were in competition .Buds on Two Trunks broke open  days and then weeks after Three Trunks and leaves  dropped earlier.

Three Trunks had more dead branches and became more of a liability. It had to go. I hoped Two Trunks would do better.

 It didn't. It continued to look like half of a tall tree.

Finally the knell sounded.  Leaves fell in August.The top was bare.

We had our suspicions.

Ron ,the tree-feller confirmed .The tree was an Ash . It had been killed by the marauding Emerald Ash Borer .

I watched it cut down, branch by enormous branch lowered . Massive chunks of  trunk hitting  the ground with mighty thuds.

Seemed a lot more tree on the ground than upright.

Warnth and light flooded the sun porch as the tree came down . Even without foliage.

I thought how a limb removed  from a living tree generally means another grows longer and stronger
and how much work there is in caring for a tree.

I also thought it's a good thing  I didn't have to mess about applying  and paying for a permit  from the town and getting permission from the Council to take down that tree.

There's a Bylaw pending  that requires  something like that.