The DM’s height of hypocrisy

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There’s a story in this week’s Connection with the misleading headline, “Town asks hospital for public meeting”. The online version has it as “Collingwood asks hospital for public meeting.” Neither is correct. The “town” wants nothing of the sort. The mayor – who speaks for the town – has never expressed that on behalf of council. Actually, she voted against the request. But the real headline is buried in the opening: “Collingwood’s deputy mayor wants council and the hospital to put out a united front on the redevelopment plan.”

Well, it’s clear to see why the Connection is being called “Saunderson’s campaign headquarters” these days, don’t we? Saunderson does not speak for the town or for council and the paper should know that.

This is the same deputy mayor who was disrespectful, adversarial and confrontational towards the hospital on March 2 at a public meeting. Now he wants to be buddies. Not going to happen.

And at the next public meeting a few weeks later, the interim CAO was even more adversarial and confrontational. But it seems Brian has conveniently forgotten those meetings or the public’s reaction.

This is the height of hypocrisy: pretending that they want to make kissy face with the very people they showed such open dislike and disdain for. The only “united front” he wants is for the hospital board to bend to his will, and stay where it is.

Saunderson – the architect of the disunity he pretends to dislike- is quoted in the article saying,

It may be viewed by the public and I believe wrongly so, that there is an adversarial position between both the hospital and the town, I would like to see that addressed. I would like to get together and focus on what unites us in this community on this project.

If we took his phrase “I believe wrongly” by itself, it would suffice. He believes in many wrong, incorrect, conspiracy-theory, alt-fact things of which the hospital is merely one. The muddleheaded thinking of The Block in general is full of such claptrap that they allow to affect public policy and decisions. Yes, he believes wrongly.

In context, however, it is unsure if he means he is incorrect in his belief of the public’s attitude, or he believes the public is wrong in its belief. But since neither he nor the rest of his Block engage the public in consultation or ask for their input, one wonders how any of them can gauge its mood from within their ivory towers.

An adversarial position between the hospital and the town? Brian, you’re the cause, not the solution. Take some responsibility for your own actions, and stop trying to blame others.

This guy is even more l’etat c’est moi than the former mayor.

Everyone who attended with of those meetings, everyone who watched it on Rogers or online, and everyone who has been following the story about Saunderson, his Block, and the barriers they have been putting up against the hospital will find his syrupy assurances that he wants to ” focus on what unites us” vomit-inducing. Yes, there is an adversarial relationship and The Block is to blame. And like with everything else, they blame others for the mess council has gotten into.

“Try to map a way forward and mechanism that we can address any issues or any further discussion moving forward, I think our community deserves that,” Saunderson said. “It’s an extremely important project, not only to the people of Collingwood, but the people of the region.”

Which is, of course risibly self-serving twaddle. Campaign pablum that no credible newspaper would have repeated under the guise of “news.” The Block has NEVER tried to find a way forward, only to get their own way. They and the administration erected roadblocks to the hospital’s redevelopment, just as they have for the airport industrial park, for the Collus-PowerStream partnership. They do everything in secret, behind closed doors, and don’t give a shit about what the public thinks or wants.

Let’s be clear: The hospital has presented its plans to council in public several times since last September, 2016. At each meeting, the Block’s and the administration’s resistance to their redevelopment proposal has been openly expressed. The disdain and disrespect from the council table has been palpable. And Saunderson has led that charge.

Roadblocks were set up at every step. In late March, the town even paid a high-priced, sole-sourced lawyer and a consultant to come and make the case against the redevelopment (at your expense, of course). And in most of those meetings, the administration has allowed the miniscule anti-redevelopment group – representing the last vestiges of support The Block have in this town – to speak at length about why the hospital shouldn’t be moved a two-minute drive from its current location.

The hospital board has met with the town’s planning department staff to discuss the technical details of their proposal and as long as no one from the administration or council butts in, they might make some headway. But if politicians or the interim CAO interfere, the process will again become toxic.

The Block wants solely to save face. They asked for a meeting with the hospital board on March 13, but, as the paper notes, ‘the board felt it was “premature,” to hold such a session.’ The Block then passed a motion on April 24, asking for another “joint public meeting with the Collingwood General & Marine Hospital Foundation” completely ignoring the previous meetings. Do they think the hospital will suddenly change its mind? That they would forget the insults, the injuries inflicted on them by The Block at the previous meetings?

No, Brian, the hospital doesn’t want another public meeting where their representatives can be grilled like felons, where councillors can show their arrogance in front of the cameras, where hospital plans can be belittled by the town’s hired guns. The medical staff support the redevelopment, three regional municipalities who share the hospital’s catchment area support them, and the vast majority of the people of the town of Collingwood support them. The hospital wanted Collingwood’s support, not its opposition.

The result of the roadblocks, the continued harassment, disdain and disrespect by those in power will be tragic for the hospital. The best chance now is for the Ministry to recommend it go to Wasaga Beach. The other alternative – the one we dread – is for the government to simply say no to the funding request. The hospital will have lost its one chance in a decade, or maybe two, to grow and modernize. And it won’t be the fault of the hospital or its board, or our neighbours or the doctors or bloggers. It will the fault of the seven members of The Block and their pet administration.

If that happens, then everyone of them should resign in shame. It will be this town’s blackest day. And The Block will be to blame.

Collingwood deserves better.

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