Carrier’s Attack Ad

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Former mayor Chris Carrier has a big, nasty attack ad in the Connection this weekend. He promises “facts” and attacks the current mayor’s “spin.” But any reader who has followed the debate over the real figures for the town debt knows it’s quite the opposite.

You weren’t fooled, were you, dear reader? I didn’t think so.

Why he would think a negative attack ad laden with insults and misinformation would win voters is unclear. Perhaps he thinks he can scare voters into picking him. I doubt it.

I think he really doesn’t understand municipal finance. Council received a very clear and indisputable amount for the town debt from our auditor. To say it’s wrong and to challenge her figures is to attack the credibility of our auditors. She wrote:

As per the 2010 audited financial statements: long-term debt was $45,507,356 and there was a bank demand loan in the amount of $664,013 for a total of $46,171,369. As per the 2013 audited financial statements: long-term debt was $36,860,776 and there was no bank demand loan debt.

Keep in mind who is the professional here. Who has the string of degrees and years of experience auditing municipal finances? Who has the credibility here? Not the former mayor!

Everywhere I went, knocking on doors, meeting and talking with residents, I was told people didn’t like the negativity this election. I don’t think they will like this ad, either. It’s misleading and angry. And it attacks staff, as well as the current mayor (and her council).

Carrier also wants to bring back the debunked lobbyist registry. I guess this is an attack against the wisdom of town staff because they recommended against it back in 2008.

He promises “increased ombudsmen (sic) oversight.” I wonder how he will get the Ontario Ombudsman to provide any more oversight than it already provides (which is considerable – any citizen can access his services), since even as a mayor he has no authority to order him around.

We already have a lawyer as our integrity commissioner, and share a county lawyer to investigate closed-door meetings. We have staff who oversee our procedures and lawyers who advise us. There’s never been any problem with our activities. What more oversight do we need?

Is the former mayor suggesting these people aren’t doing their jobs? Another attack against staff who oversee our meetings and our procedures?

Well, maybe if you’re a conspiracy believer, you see secrets and shadows and goblins lurking in every corner, so you think we need to be vigilant against them. The truth is more boring: things at town hall are already open, accountable and transparent. Staff do their job very well to ensure that.

Another empty promise: “new site near Georgian College for Collingwood General and Marine Hospital.” We’ve been talking about this for years. But a mayor cannot force a private land owner to donate or even sell land to anyone. Nor can we force the province to both agree to a new facility and to fund it. All the municipality can do is ask, advocate and encourage. But that’s not what he is promising.

And another: “job based growth.” Municipalities don’t create the jobs: the private sector does. Municipalities create the social and economic environments that encourage businesses to locate here, to grow and expand. This term, we have done just that. Collingwood is thriving and prosperous. The proof: three new microbreweries opened in Collingwood this year. Agnora Glass has expanded. VOA has added 50 jobs. Goodall Rubber expanded from 45,000 to 120,000 sq. feet and added new jobs (and we’re waiting for another industry to announce its growth this month). New mall stores have opened and are adding many new retail jobs. New stores have opened downtown, adding other retail jobs jobs. Living Waters hotel is expanding, adding 50-60 new jobs. Millions of dollars worth of development and investment have taken place, creating jobs for local builders, professionals and tradespeople.

We are finally open for business under this council!

And finally: “a public forum before every council meeting to take questions from the public.” Last term under his “leadership,” council was barely able to complete the town business in five hour meetings, and we often went to six. This term we seldom go more than two hours. Imagine going back to five- and six-hour meetings with a public forum tacked onto the front of it? We’d run into seven hours or even more!

The public already has access to council and anyone can request a time for a delegation from the clerk’s office (I suppose the former mayor forgot about that). All council members have their contact information published and we are all accessible to the public.

This is the mayor who turned the chair over to his friends in the VOTE special interest group and let them run a council meeting. Will he do that again during these “public forums”? That’s not what we are elected for, but I suspect some candidates (especially the two who were on the VOTE executive last term) may disagree and look forward to having their friends take away the democratic process from council.

So the choice of which mayor is clear: the angry, negative and misleading one, or the positive, upbeat one who has helped this town accomplish so much this term?

What do you want to see at council for the next four years: divisiveness, turmoil and chaotic six-hour meetings, or effective management, inclusive politics and progress towards common goals?

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