About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sona Breaks the Silence

It took nearly a week, but Michael Sona is finally talking about the robocall scandal that either got him fired or forced to resign from his job as an assistant to a Toronto-area MP. Of course, completely in keeping with Sona-style, the silence was broken in the form of a brief statement e-mailed to CTV News. This is the complete statement below:
I wish to address the allegations and accusations levelled against me in the media over the last six days. I have remained silent to this point with the hope that the real guilty party would be apprehended. The rumours continue to swirl, and media are now involving my family, so I feel that it is imperative that I respond.
I had no involvement in the fraudulent phone calls, which also targeted our supporters as can be attested to by our local campaign team and phone records. On Thursday, I offered my resignation to my employer. The role of a staffer is to assist their employer in their responsibilities, and that was impossible to accomplish with the media continually repeating these rumours. It is for that reason and that reason alone that I resigned from my position.
Michael Sona
It's a good thing most police forces don't offer the Michael Sona Course in Crime-Solving: keep your mouth shut and the guilty parties will feel so bad for your silence, they'll just surrender themselves. Actually, I believe your silence was what prompted the media involving your family (and me) in the first place, because if you just left a forwarding number then...
Anyway, and in all seriousness, I'd like to take a moment and offer Michael Sona some friendly advice. Come out from behind the electronic statements and talk to us. If you truly had no involvement in robocall-gate, and I do believe in innocent until proven guilty, then it's in your best interest to share everything, and anything you know. Get out in front of this, and be open and honest and share what you know. Horrible stuff grows in darkness and you being MIA from the national debate casts a long shadow. 
Throw yourself on the court of Lisa Laflamme or Peter Mansbridge. You don't think they'd give you the time of day? Are you kidding? If you told the CBC you'd only be interviewed by Alligator Al from Mr. Dressup, they'd find a way to make it happen! Better still do the Rick Mercer show. After all, American politicians on the cusp of a permanent screw-up do Saturday Night Live and all is (mostly) forgiven.
The point is that e-mail statements are so 2011. And if you learned nothing else from working on the Marty Burke campaign last year, its that the media don't stop because you say so. And they don't go away if you stick your fingers in your ears and hum really loud.

The Case Against Poutine

The Real Pierre Poutine
Smoke’s may have those obnoxious head stickers plastered all over town, but Pierre’s Poutine has achieved true Guelph infamy: it’s the epicentre of a political scandal. For now anyway.
Revelations yesterday that a disposable cell used to call RackNine Inc, the robocall company that tried to Pied Piper Guelph voters to polling places sometimes 90 minutes out of their way, was registered to “Pierre Poutine.” The news, which was gained through access to court documents, is the biggest thing to hit poutine since cheese curds, and has turned a Guelph small business into a national name brand.
Now “Pierre Poutine” is not a particularly cleaver alias, neither is his equally fake address on Separatist Street in Joliette, but considering there’s already been one Guelph connection in this mess (vis-à-vis the aforementioned Michael Sona), I’m beginning to wonder if someone was making You Tube videos, documenting the whole affair for posterity.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Press Release - Beware Coyotes, Says City

The City of Guelph sent out a press release today warning the public that coyotes may be amongst and now until mid-March we best take caution. 
GUELPH, ON – Monday, February 27 - In light of two coyote-related pet deaths and an increase in reported coyote sightings, the Guelph Humane Society and the City of Guelph are reminding residents to supervise small children and dogs playing outdoors and keep cats inside.
“Coyotes play an important role in controlling populations of rabbits, rats and mice, and they can be a threat to other animals” says Deb Gray, operations manager for the Guelph Humane Society. “Coyotes are highly adaptive they’re learning to live closer to people so we are starting to see them more often. People can discourage coyotes from entering their properties by removing yard waste and securing compost and other garbage. Most importantly, never feed coyotes or other wildlife.”
Coyotes are primarily nocturnal animals, but they may be seen during the day in during their mating season which typically lasts from mid-January to mid-March. 
Learn how to avoid conflicts with coyotes, and what to do in the event of a coyote encounter at guelph.ca/wildlife.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Postcards from the Ledge

I think when you're in the midst of a political scandal, the last thing you want to hear is that you're so horrid a politico you actually caused a colleague to give up on the party they actually dedicated a lot of effort and energy into. 
In the midst of everyone piling on our beleaguered native son Michael Sona comes a short and sweet letter to the Toronto Star from his successor as president of the University of Guelph Campus Conservatives. The letter speaks for itself, but is it a sign of things to comes, not just for Sona, but for the Conservative Party on whole? Time will tell.
A few months ago I was a card carrying Conservative, serving as a director on both the Guelph and Kitchener-Center Conservative electoral district association boards. I succeeded Michael Sona as president of the University of Guelph Campus Conservatives and I can tell you I deeply regret all the work I have done for the Conservative Party of Canada.
They have gone against Canadian values and have made a joke out of our democracy. I believed I was working for a cause to bring greater accountability, transparency and respect for the taxpayer; the result was just the opposite.
Canada is a great nation, built by a people who value hard work, taking responsibility for one’s actions and above all honesty. The government that sits in Ottawa values only power and cannibalizes its own in order to save face.
As someone who has seen what is talked about in the party, I can only say God help Canada in the next four years. Because it won’t be the country that veterans, like my grandfather fought so hard to protect.
Victor Pocaterra, Kitchener

V for Vindictive

As much as I love V For Vendetta, the Guy Fawkes mask thing as the universal head gear of the direct action group Anonymous is starting to wear thin. It appears that Rick Mercer agrees. In a video bit from his show, Rick Mercer Reports, Mercer mocks the Anonymous movement in a way that I think is not entirely off the mark. It's a quick bit, but you can watch it below:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The View from Under the Bus

In political parlance, one is "thrown under the bus" when they take on, either on a volunteer or voluntold basis, responsibility for a mistake or miscalculation of a campaign. I think given the events of the last couple of days, it's pretty clear that Michael Sona is being thrown under the bus as the robo-call controversy from last May's Federal Election has erupted with new vigour.
Obviously, I'm no fan of Sona's. He was one of the prime architects of the Marty Burke campaign's deflect-a-thon as the Conservative candidate's Communication Manager here in Guelph. Sona was one of a number (seven being the number I was told) of CPC operatives from Ottawa HQ parachuted onto the Burke campaign to help seal this riding's deal for Harper. For Sona and his associates though, the election in Guelph was fait not accompli as their strategy of minimal public engagement outside of campaign events and door-knocking only severed to separate Burke from the electorate he was trying to court.
But I don't want to re-live the campaign. My comments on it stand, and I know others see the campaign differently believing that media members believing themselves ignored and marginalized are either media elitists upset by the snub, or perceived as too liberal to be dealt with reasonably. I think though that everyone can agree that the optics at the special ballot on the University of Guelph campus didn't look good for Sona. The accusation that he caused a ruckus, shouting about the legality of the poll before making a motion to grab the ballot box, made him a national headline; a notoriously active member of the party at best, a Rovian in training at worst.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The City Takes Back Its SLAPP

The last year's hardly been productive for local activists. Between the arrests at the G20 in Toronto last summer, and the lawsuit against five so-called ringleaders of the Hanlon Creek Business Park protest the summer before, let's just say the thirst for direct action has become practically non-existent. And like the mass arrests in Toronto during the G20, it seems that Guelph authorities are now acknowledging that maybe, they went overboard.
The Guelph Mercury reported yesterday that the City has dropped a lawsuit brought against Cailey Campbell, Matt Soltys, Josh Gilbert, Matt Lowell-Pelletier and Shabina Lafleur-Gangji, five people identified as the organizers of the Land Is More Important Than Sprawl (LIMITS)-led protest at the site of the HCBP in July 2009, has been officially dropped. 
“The action was concluded on the basis that it was discontinued without costs,” Donna Jaques told the Mercury. “The notice of discontinuance has been filed with the court and the matter is now concluded.”
 So basically the the suit has been called off and no one has to pay any court costs, or anything. It's as if it never happened. Except it did happen. The City of Guelph took five well-meaning young people to court and demanded that they pay $1 million a piece for their protest, an amount that they would probably never be able to pay back even 10 per cent of. And that's why it was called a SLAPP suit, SLAPP standing for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. Meaning that the city, in an attempt to dissuade anymore protests, took other protestors to court with a price tag so high that anyone thinking of starting their own protests will re-think the endeavour lest they themselves are SLAPPed. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

President's Day Perplexities

Just in time for President’s Day south of the border, a new poll came out ranking the Best and Worst post-war Presidents, and the Best Presidents of All Time. A Harris poll taken between January 16 and 23, 2012, asked 2,016 adults what they think of previous U.S. presidents. The results and my commentary are posted below.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Waiting for Paul Dewar

It was an offer I couldn't refuse. NDP leadership candidate Paul Dewar was making a stop at the Brass Taps in the University Centre at the University of Guelph. I assumed that this would be a hot ticket, not as an indication of the popularity of Dewar as future leader of the Official Opposition, but because Guelph, as a political animal, usually loves this kind of attention.
Or at least, I thought it did. 

Mirvish Named New U of G Chancellor

In the Guelph Mercury this morning was news that David Mirvish, Toronto theatre magnate and son of the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ed Mirvish, will succeed Pamela Wallin as Chancellor of my alma mater, the University of Guelph. 
“It’s an honour and privilege to be asked to serve as chancellor of the University of Guelph,” Mirvish said in a press release.
“I am proud to become a member of a university community that is making a difference around the world,” he added. “I look forward to getting to know the students, faculty, staff and alumni, and to being an ambassador for Guelph’s people, ideas and innovations.” 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Occupy Chong Movement

Here's a weird press release. Apparently, some activists have decided to occupy the Fergus constituency office of Michael Chong in protest of potential changes to Old Age Security. Chong is one of 21 Ontario Tory MPs being targeted with these protests, and an odd choice given Chong's reputation as a maverick in the Conservative Party, one of the few, rare non-partisans in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of Parliament Hill. Anyway, look at the press release below to get all the details about the occupation:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Laidlaw Conundrum

Whenever Maggie Laidlaw says something off the cuff, it's a guaranteed lightening rod.
The topic was up for discussion again yesterday on "Beyond the Ballot Box" on CFRU. I was doing a "Media at the Mic" segment, talking local issues with the Guelph Mercury Scott Tracey when the latest Laidlaw lob came up. In discussing the city's new, stricter idling by-laws last week, Ward 4 councillor Cam Guthrie said that he was concerned that the restrictions were "just another tool ... for residents to be tattle-tailing on their neighbours." To which his Ward 3 colleague responded "I will look forward to starting to make some phone calls."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fake Citizens Make Real News for Sun TV

When Norm MacDonald used to host "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live he would always begin by saying, "Here is the fake news." Of course, a lot of the news he talked about wasn't fake, rather just skewered or being skewered, going for the punchline or an obligatory Frank Stallone reference. Well maybe tagging what is and is not "fake news" is something that Sun TV should look into. The embattled news channel, sometimes referred to as "Fox News North" has gone where even it's U.S. cousin has had the good taste not to go: staging the news.