|Posted on February 23, 2014 at 1:25 PM|
On Right to Work, Tim Hudak wasn't simply "trying out" a white paper policy before deciding it wasn't in Ontario's best interest. As the other parties, the unions and the media punditry have pointed out, Hudak jettisoned an important plank in his election platform when he realized he couldn't sell it.
But just because the salesperson wasn't effective, it doesn't mean that the policy was flawed.
Many PC supporters that I speak with are disappointed in his sudden u-turn. The Ontario economy doesn't get back on track without new private sector job creation and that means we need to attract new employers to Ontario. I am opposed to a complete capitulation of the Party platform to union pressure.
Intuitively, Ontarians understand why unions are willing to invest millions in third party advertizing during elections. The "union-friendly" Liberal/ NDP coalition at Queen's Park has been very lucrative for the union elites. (To be clear, I am not opposed to union-advertising during an election, based on the principle of freedom of speech).
However, Ontarians are also sympathetic to the inherent fairness behind the Rand Formula. After all, why shouldn't everyone who benefits from collective bargaining share in the costs associated?
Why not modify the proposed Right To Work policy to differentiate the costs associated with collective bargaining from those associated with political and social advocacy? The Ontario PC 's Right to Work policy should revise the Rand Formula to the actual costs associated with collective bargaining. All other initiatives supported by the union - such as recruiting, political advocacy, and so on - should be financed solely through voluntary contributions of the union members.
I am not anti-union. I believe that there are real benefits to collective bargaining that have improved the lives of thousands of Ontarians, including improving the safety and standard of living for workers. Let those who benefit from these workplace issues directly contribute financially by having deductions from their paycheques. This is something that a PC government should be able to support.
But as the white paper illustrates, some union elites have expanded their "mandate" to include things like recruitment, political campaigning, social protests and so on. Although these might be worthy issues supported by the members, they are not workplace related matters. Therefore, the union should only finance these initiatives from its members and not require an employer to deduct from the worker's pay for them.
And to fully protect a person's right to associate with the union, if the worker chooses not to pay for these non-workplace related union dues then we must ensure that there is legal protection for the worker against retribution from either the employer or the union.
|Posted on February 17, 2014 at 1:15 PM|
Since I received the news that Tim Hudak intervened with the party's nomination committee to nix my bid to become a candidate for the PC's in Newmarket-Aurora, people have been asking about my future with the Ontario PC's.
All week long, I have been making one point clear: please don't confuse criticism with disloyalty. I don't want to belong to a party that requires me to be a shill or a sycophant. Even still, I recognize that belonging to a party requires that everyone work together to make our province better, our communities stronger, and our lives more prosperous.
And perhaps that is why I have been most vocal about my disappointment in PC Party Leader, Tim Hudak.
He doesn't want to work together.
The PC Party of Ontario used be a big blue tent where conservative minded people found a place to share ideas and promote our values. At one time, it represented rural interests, conservationists, reformers, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives. libertarians, red tories and blue tories, and so on. All of these groups contributed to what was once the Big Blue Machine that held power in this province for an impressive 42 years.
At some point, PC Party Leader Tim Hudak became convinced he didn't need this coalition of conservatives to help him. He gave lip service to grass roots support but he stopped listening to what the rank and file members were telling him. Despite having a massive lead in the polls when the campaign began, he singlehandedly lost the 2011 election with sheer arrogance.
After the disastrous 2011 campaign, pollsters and analysts were quick to determine that on a large scale, especially within the 416 and 905 regions, people who should have voted PC decided to stay home on election night instead.
And I can certainly empathize with that feeling. Ontarians were not inspired with the type of campaign that Hudak ran. Voter apathy amongst conservative-minded people gave the Ontario Liberals a reprieve.
True conservatives don't act rashly. They measure the costs and weigh the consequences. And the cost of Tim Hudak's leadership has been exorbitantly high for the Ontario PC Party. Not only did he lose in 2011 what most deemed a sure-thing election, but consider the costs of the subsequent retirements of Peter Shurman and Frank Klees and the demotion of Randy Hillier, all feeling retribution after speaking out against their leader.
Klees has never spoke openly about his discussions with Hudak, but Shurman and Hillier both made credible cases that call in to question whether Hudak can be trusted to keep his word. Their stories remind me of when I had bumped into Hudak at Queen's Park last year, he offered to find me a riding to run in (in front of witnesses who are willing to confirm my account) and then he blocked my nomination bid when the opportunity finally arose.
I am not disloyal when I speak out about Tim Hudak's shortcomings as leader. In the face of criticism I am receiving from people who I consider to be my friends, I think it is a true sign of loyalty to have the courage to stand up for the values and principles of the party even though its leader has lost his way.
I rest easily knowing that Tim Hudak would not have blocked my candidacy if he was certain that I would have lost the nomination election. In fact the opposite is true. He was forced to block me because otherwise I would have succeeded and I would have eventually become the MPP for Newmarket-Aurora and a member of his caucus. He took the only course of action he could to prevent that from happening.
So what does a loyal member of the PC Party do in light of being rejected by the Party's Leader?
I stay and I fight for what I believe is right.
I will continue to use my influence to make sure that everyone, including Doug Ford, be allowed to contest for their riding's PC nomination. May the best person win as chosen by the members of the riding association and not by the Party headquarter elites.
I will advocate for grassroots members who feel that their party is excluding them unfairly.
I will speak out against hypocrisy.
And I will fight for better leadership. Because that's what Ontario deserves.
|Posted on February 3, 2014 at 6:10 PM|
If you are like me, you are both proud and concerned about Ontario's public health care system.
I am proud that there is a health care available to anyone who needs it, regardless of ability to pay. Rich, poor, young, old, healthy or sick: everyone has access.
I am concerned because the quality of public health and the affordability of our present system is at risk. We can't do anything about the generational shift that will see baby boomers aging and requiring geriatric care. Just the sheer numbers of people approaching the "seniors" demographic is going to put pressure on public health.
But there is another demographic that is equally worrisome. Our youth aren't as healthy in comparison to previous generations. Doctors are alarmed at the rate of childhood obesity which has lead to diseases not previously seen among young people -- cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Today at council I proposed a motion that I hoped would have some small impact on addressing the childhood obesity epidemic.
As a community that shares close ties with our hospital, I would like Newmarket to be bold in its direction.
My plan called for staff to find $160,000 within our $100 million budget each year (over 10 years) and re-allocate that money towards subsidizing the fees we charge to Newmarket Hockey Association, the Newmarket Soccer Club, the Newmarket Baseball Association, and the Newmarket Softball Club - among others - for renting our fields, diamonds and ice rinks.
This $160,000 re-allocation of money is actually small potatoes when considering the 10,000+ children who participate in minor sports in Newmarket. It is especially small when considering the lifetime health costs related to treating just one child with cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
After all, preventative measures are always cheaper for the taxpayers than dealing with the costs associated with treating these diseases in children.
Multiple council members used up their speaking time to assert that what I was proposing would be impossible to accomplish. There was no way, in their opinion, that this re-allocation of money within our existing budget could happen. Instead they felt that this would heavily impact taxpayers.
I think my plan is possible, especially when we re-prioritize other current expenses, such as the $30,000 budgeted for coffee, or the $50,000 that are budgeted for car allowances for council members, or the $80,000 associated with other expenses related to council members. Repurpose those funds in year one and we are 1/10th of the way we need to be to achieve our goal - and rather painlessly too.
When I submitted my nomination papers to run as a PC Candidate representing Newmarket-Aurora, health care was one of the issues that was top of mind. We need to find solutions to avoid skyrocketing costs of care.
Not one council member backed my idea.
Instead, they kicked the can down the road to March 2015 when staff will report on recreational fees.
I don't want anyone to be fooled that this 2015 report will be as bold as my plan - if there even any plans. There just isn't the political will at council for being bold.
|Posted on January 20, 2014 at 11:10 AM|
Thank you to everyone who responded to my on-line voter survey that I posted last Tuesday.
I received 54 responses to the survey and 25 comments. Respondent 53 and 54 answered each question identically and from the same IP address. It is possible that this is a the same person responding or it could be two people within the same household responding identically. I only mention this in order to keep the data relevant to those who are reviewing it. Where there is a close vote between one option or another, I will comment on how Respondent(s) 53 and 54 voted).
Of the remaining 52 respondents, no other respondent has connected to the survey via the same IP address.
Here is a summary of the responses:
Question 1 - Are you a Newmarket resident over the age of 18 and eligible to vote in the 2014 Municipal Election?
90.74% answered Yes
9.26% answered No
Question 2 - Did you vote in the 2010 Municipal Election?
90.74% answered Yes
9.26% answered No
Question 3 - If you did not vote, select a reason from the list below that best describes why you did not vote.
21 responses - 31 skipped this question
4.78% - Not at home on election day
80.95% - Not applicable
14.29% - Other (2 of the 3 respondents who checked Other said it was because they don't reside in Newmarket)
Question 4 - Given a choice , how would you like to cast your ballot in the 2014 Newmarket Municipal Election?
48.30% answered Traditional paper ballot at a polling station
1.85% answered Voting via a lap top computer or tablet at a polling station
51.85% answered Voting over the Internet from my home/workplace (Note, respondent(s) 53/54 selected Voting over the Internet).
Question 5 - If on-line voting requires voters to preregister to obtain a PIN number, would it still be more convenient than traditional ballot voting?
59.26% answered Yes
35.19% answered No
5.56% answered Don't know
Question 6 - Are you concerned that the proposed on-line voting methods would require that private and confidential information about you is going to be provided to a company that is owned and operated from another country?
57.41% answered Yes
38.89% answered No
3.70% answered Don't Know
Question 7 - Denial of service issues blocked many from voting during the federal NDP leadership race, Would the potential of this happening during the next Newmarket Municipal election concern you?
55.56% answered Yes
35.19% answered No
9.26% answered Don't know
Question 8 - Are you concerned that on-line voting could lead to a greater number of threats, intimidations, vote buying or other illegal activity relating to elections?
51.85% answered Yes
48.15% answered No (Note, respondent(s) 53/ 54 answered No)
Question 9 - Are there any questions you would like to be addressed at the next Committee of the whole meeting when on-line voting is to be discussed?
25 responses and 29 skipped
Briefly, most respondents seemed to share concerns about security, privacy, and ensuring that every legitimate vote is counted.
Once again, thank you to everyone who completed this survey.
|Posted on January 14, 2014 at 2:05 PM|
Next Monday, at 1:30pm in council chambers, Newmarket Council will debate the merits of on-line voting for the 2014 municipal election.
The proposal is to stop using paper ballots (traditional voting) and set up lap top computers or tablets for electronic voting at all the polling stations on election day.
Voters will also have the option of preregistering for a PIN number to login and vote remotely, from home or workplace.
The attached survey is meant to understand your opinions of this change and give residents a chance to ask questions, through me, on this very important issue.
Please click on the link to take a brief survey regarding on-line voting:
|Posted on January 7, 2014 at 9:15 AM|
This morning council received an email from the manager of operations indicating there will be NO curbside collection scheduled for today due to inclement weather. The pick-up for garbage and recycling will resume tomorrow, Wednesday January 8th.
Please note that I have asked for staff to provide me a copy of the town's contract with our curbside contractor, Green For Life, in order to review it.
If you have any questions please call the Town of Newmarket Customer Service at 905-895-5193 or Green for Life at 1-866-421-5625.
Again, I appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.
|Posted on January 4, 2014 at 3:55 PM|
This post is intended to alert residents about the issues we're experiencing with our contractor, GFL, on the delayed curbside collection that's been ongoing for several months now.
Last month, during a council meeting and under 'New Business', I asked staff to come up with a report on why our waste and recycling pick-up schedule was falling behind.
This was precipitated by dozens of communication - via email, social media and phone - that residents were experiencing problems with their scheduled times of pick-ups since early fall.
I had communicated with staff over the weeks on the issue. They assured me they were in discussions with GFL to ensure better service.
While council has yet to receive the report I asked for last month, we did receive an email this week indicating that they are working on it and that it will be presented to council next month.
Our director of public works also indicated that staff will be meeting with GFL (our waste contractor) next week regarding the level of service.
This morning staff cc'd council on an email to the contractor indicating our displeasure at the level of service and that further action will be taken if this is not addressed immediately.
I empathize with the frustration that residents are experiencing and I ensure you that I will continue to follow up with our staff. Your taxes are used to provide an acceptable level of service, and I am committed to making certain they go towards them despite the annual increases.
In the meantime, if there are further issues with your roadside collection, please don't hesitate to contact the Town of Newmarket Customer Service at 905-895-5193 or Green for Life at 1-866-421-5625.
I sincerely appreciate your patience.
|Posted on January 2, 2014 at 11:20 AM|
This morning I advised my Toronto Sun editor that I will be putting my column on hiatus during the municipal election campaign. This Sunday's column will be my last until after the October 27th election.
While I have not yet made a decision whether I will be on the ballot this election, I made this decision regarding my Toronto Sun column to demonstrate that I will not accept any unfair advantage over any potential opponent.
I am also calling upon Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen to give similar consideration to his regular column in the local paper.
|Posted on December 23, 2013 at 2:50 PM|
After this two day period of freezing rain I am happy to report that our road crews have responded to the challenge.
Our road crews’ clean up day began at 2:00 am and continued until the late afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday. The crews made two passes on most town streets to clear the snow and ice build up.
There are some streets that have only had one pass due to a number of factors.
-Some routes were hampered by an unexpected mechanical breakdown. I understand that repairs have been made and that plough is back in service.
-Drivers also had to be cautious in areas where electrical wires were weighed down by an accumulation of ice.
-Certain smaller courts and elbows are cleared using smaller vehicles. These streets will receive their second pass later today or tomorrow.
I have been working with town staff on specific plowing-related and/or debris clean-up issues as I continue to receive phone calls from residents about areas requiring attention.
If you see fallen branches on sidewalks or other immediate concerns, please contact me at 905 716 1290.
I'd like to remind all to lend a hand for those most vulnerable during this challenging weather. I'm not surprised to see neighborhoods come together as a group helping one another; we're a caring community.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a joyful and peaceful holiday.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
|Posted on December 19, 2013 at 10:00 AM|
A few weeks ago, I asked staff a series of questions on the Newmarket Soccer loan and the status of that deal that was made behind closed doors. http://maddiedimuccio.webs.com/apps/blog/show/38848865-questions-i-asked-staff-about-the-2-8-million-newmarket-soccer-club-loan-
When staff got back to me, they sent out a report to all of council that included some new information (though didn't answer all my questions).
After reading this report, I put in a Notice of Motion at council earlier this week to re-structure that loan. But a mere days later, I read an article in the local paper, the Era, that the signing of an agreement for this loan between the NSC and the town was imminent.
Since then, I've received numerous phone calls on the Era's story highlighting questions about this loan agreement.
I've sent an email to staff today asking for clarification of their report. In addition to the following questions, I asked to see a copy of the loan agreement - but have yet to receive - that staff is about to sign with the Newmarket Soccer Loan.
I've included my email here for the public's benefit:
"Not all of my questions received a response from you in your report to council. Some of your responses prompted more questions:
1. You did not use the word "mortgage" in your report. Are we holding a "mortgage" on both properties?
2. You wrote about a "second position" in your response. Does that mean a "second mortgage"?
3. If the original loan from the builder was $2.4 million but we are providing $2.8 million, why would there be a "second position". Isn't the NSC interested in moving away from the financial brink? What is the additional $400,000 being used for?
4. Does (the recreational director) actually sit on the board? By that I mean, do you have full voting rights as a board member?
5. Can the Town of Newmarket provide additional employees/council members to fill the board vacancies if the NSC does not fill these vacancies in an appropriate amount of time (as in 3 months from their AGM)?
6. Are there provisions to call in the loan within 6 months of September 2013 if the Woodbine lands have not been sold?
7. If their registration fees were not sufficient to keep the club viable in 2013, why did you accept a freeze on registration fees in 2014?
8. Please answer my question about the Magna Hoedown money.
9. Did you confirm the registration numbers with the OSA or the YRSA? The newspaper talks about referees but I read the constitution of the NSC and referees are not members.
10. Why has the NSC not completed a draft budget for 2014? As you know, my family has personal experience with running a not for profit sports association and that is a fundamental first step done at the first meeting after the AGM. It does not give me any confidence that the NSC is well run if that step has been overlooked. As a supposed board member, please provide me with a copy of the minutes from the NSC's first meeting."