Who should be our new Mayor?

Who will get us through the looming economic storm?

Before I share my views on the candidates and whom I feel is our only logical choice, I need to share with you what economic hardships are looming out there. Although the media seems to be looking at the world with rose-coloured glasses, we are about to potentially face economic times not seen in over a hundred years.

There is no getting around it, the world is changing, and these are times never seen before, ever! Unless we have some knowledgeable, strong leaders, we will be simply left behind and at the whim of things and events that will transpire.

Sometimes, the worst thing one can do is follow the playbook, stay the course and just hope it’s all transitory. This is simply following the herd off a cliff, but sometimes, not following the pack is not a popular decision at first, but in the end, it will usually prove to be the best scenario.

I am not saying the job of an elected official is easy, but it’s not meant to be. For these coming times, more than ever, we need nothing less than a political warrior who will have the fortitude to get us through these next few years. One who is willing to forgo ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the less glamorous but very much-needed work that needs to be done. One who will keep this region prospering and safeguard its sovereignty with the intellect that would make Elon Musk proud.

For me, there seem to be the “go-to” issues that may resonate with many, those usual pillars used for platforms that are preached repeatedly. I honestly feel old playbooks should be tossed out since what we will be facing in these next few years has never been seen before, with China’s economy about to crater on a financial Richter scale that will send shockwaves to the west.

The US banks are now lending money for homes requiring no down payment whatsoever, which, coupled with the trillions they are currently in debt, plus the trillion they just handed out for education debt forgiveness which was not received well at all, has further compounded their debt. What is happening in the United States echoes what is happening here in Canada with Trudeau’s expenditures and the printing of money and the spending of 80 billion a year on climate initiatives that will undoubtedly result in not moving the needle one iota concerning carbon emissions.

Western society is in peril, but many seem unaware, and the media seem to have rose-coloured glasses on and keep with the approved narrative, saying this is all transitory. One of Trudeau’s sales pitches or elevator speeches is the GDP, something others have been grasping onto like a life preserver as Canada’s financial situation begins to list. The Liberals are shoving money out the door at a rapid pace. This, combined with severe declines in investment that took place even before the COVID crisis, has led the Bank of Canada to print immense amounts of money. The budget starts off boasting about GDP. But don’t be fooled; we are headed for that massive iceberg unless we stop this hyper-infatuation with the GDP and focus on the country’s overall wealth.

The Bank of Canada continues to try to shore up Canada’s economy, which has become more complex as the Liberals increase spending, restrict growth, and push investment out of the country. Canada also has the problem of being a nation that doesn’t build anything real. More and more of our economy amounts to nothing more than shifting money around on computers. Also, our recently absurdly inflated housing market is now cratering in the wake of rising mortgage rates.

As a result, the Bank of Canada seems to believe it has few options other than to print more and more money, which brings its problems, the risk of inflation, a loss of trust in Canada’s currency, and severe economic decline.

Canada’s economy is a house of cards, increasingly being exposed with the recent interest rate hike and some predicting 9% to 10% prime lending rates come this December. If this happens, it will further move us deeper into a recession and on the cusp of a full-out depression.  Before COVID and before the spending spree, we had measures and safeguards in place to shield us from such an event, but those safeguards are no longer present, and our safety nets are gone, we are now on a rope without any safety nets at all.

The gravity of this situation must be understood that Canada is printing money at the unheard-of rate to the tune of billions of dollars to offset the financial impact of COVID. But now, printing money is referred to as something a little more financially sophisticated, called “quantitative easing.” It is a description that removes the “hurt” by descriptively distancing itself from what it actually and indeed is, and that is, printing money. Whatever you want to call it, quantitative easing demands a quick and robust financial recovery; if not, our children and our children will be faced with holding a bag of double-digit interest rates and the thought of owning a home or even living on your own a pipe dream.

Another very real issue that does not get much, if any, attention in the news is the baby boomer effect. I have modelled what this will look like over the next few decades, and it’s not good. Think of it, over 33% of the population is leaving the working force and soon dying, leaving vacant retirement homes and LTC facilities and millions less of taxpayers. All when our leader will have accumulated a debt left for generations to pay down.

Here are but a few of the issues we currently face:

  • Debts at levels that can never be repaid – sovereign, corporate & private
  • Epic global bubbles in stocks, bonds & property – all about to collapse
  • Major geopolitical conflicts with no desire for peace – major wars likely
  • Energy imbalances and shortages, most self-inflicted
  • Food shortages leading to major famine and civil unrest
  • Inflation, leading to hyperinflation & global poverty
  • Political and economic corruption in Canada, US, Europe and most countries
  • No country will afford social security, medical or pension payments

With all this, I feel that we need to green field many of our municipal plans and push back on urban sprawl since if we do indeed see double-digit prime lending rates, who will fill those homes? Also, many developers may face closure issues on their developments, with building costs rising, causing complete erosion of their profit margins; some may have no choice but to walk away simply. Many new homeowners may no longer have the financial means to carry their new homes, leaving many stranded with lost down payments and no home to move into. This may all sound impossible, but this is happening today on a scale that has never been seen before in China and starting to happen in Europe, to the point the government is freezing people’s bank accounts, and people have lost their life savings. In the US, people’s 401Ks are turning into 201Ks as one in five reports they are falling behind on utility bill payments.

We need big thinkers who can navigate us through these times never seen before since there is no playbook for what we will face.  From a municipal perspective, we should be shoring up what we have in terms of infrastructures, roads, and power grid and not be concerned as much about the current government plans for urban expansion since it is based on horrible data in that they are still predicting population growth when in fact, the world population is collapsing at a rate that will devastate some countries. Currently, in China, more adult diapers are sold than children’s diapers.

I don’t even pretend to have all the answers, but if it were up to me, I would seek out the brightest minds and develop a new roadmap and plan to get us through these next few years. There will be some who will try and appease us, but they are not doing you any favour, as there is an economic storm coming, and it plays no favourites. From the rumblings, we are hearing and the casualties it has already taken, I would not want to be sitting with a $750K mortgage which is the average for the Halton Region, because your mortgage payments may very well double during the next few quarters.

Some say that those lucky enough to live in the 80s and 90s are lucky since those times may never be seen again.

The world is upside down, and unless we get up to speed, when it hits the fan, many will simply say, “we never saw it coming,” but they did; they just chose to ignore it, and by then, it will be too late.

The Candidates and My Thoughts

With all that said, I have since reviewed all the mayoral candidates and here is my read on things:

So, we have the municipal election and a fresh new batch of people hoping to become council members. I did some investigative work on my ward’s hopefuls, and I was a bit taken aback at how little information was posted on their websites. There seems to be a lot of “mom and warm apple pie” narrative, but nowhere do I see how they plan to put the things they ever-so-lightly touch upon into action. We do not need more of the usual platitudes and virtue signalling. We need more than the usual cliché after cliché of the typical and safe platforms recycled from previous years. As a municipality, we suggest we need to rally the wagons, tighten our belts, and limit our spending to critical operational things and all visionary expenses that were formed before this current economy paused until we see a correction and a return to a more favourable economy.

I have heard from some who say Halton should be more concerned about how late the library stays open or local garbage collection issues. Still, although many of the problems I speak of are indeed federal, we need to start thinking more federally and even globally because, more than ever before, every taxpayer of the Halton region may soon wish that their only worries were the hours of the local library. To view what I address in this letter as us not having a say in it all is a defeated attitude. It takes one person to affect change and to cause a stir. Think of the impact that one lonely mosquito buzzing loose in your cottage or tent while you try to sleep.

Each of our potential new municipal council members should have a well-architected platform on which they stand, what we have witnessed over these last two years to our small businesses who have been pushed beyond their limits, where many have not survived. During this time, we all struggled, and I would argue our some of our elected officials simply followed the narrative, never questioning or verifying anything and were never willing to take on minor political damage for taking a stand with what was right to do to protect our region’s economy and mental health. I heard too often, “it’s not my battle” or “We don’t have a say in this.” Well, this was nothing but a copout from those who were far too comfy as they awaited their pensions, swollen with cash like an inflamed prostate. Case in point; we saw the Mayor of Brampton come to the defence of his taxpayers on many fronts during these last two years. He single-handedly called the Ontario government for an overhaul of ‘misleading’ COVID-19 hospitalization data being reported.

I have done a deep dive into the Mayoral candidates, and to be honest, I am feeling not so good about now. As I outlined in my Open Letter to the Candidates that I am working on getting feedback from, I genuinely think we need someone fresh.

We have Bryan Lewis; he seems like a nice enough guy, but he has done four terms already as a councillor, and I don’t consider the position of the mayor is a right of passage. I am not too comfortable with career politicians; we only need to look south of the border to see how this can sometimes turn out. But aside from that, he does have some solid points and is pretty clear on what he stands for. Score C+

We then have Anne Lawlor, where her tagline seems to be peppered in every article I could find “Ann believes in thinking globally while acting locally.” But her BIO is pretty much dated and identical everywhere you look. There does not seem to be a fresh coat of paint on her “Who am I” blurb, and I would have thought that for her run for Mayor, she would have come up with something new and fresh. She has undoubtedly been an active member of our region, and I tip my hat to her, but her focus is just that, too focused on specific things where I would wish for a mayor who is more well-rounded and a little more politically savvy. Make no mistake, when the economy worsens, and it will, the scraps of funding that will be rationed out by other levels of government will go to those who are politically fierce and well connected to be able to get our fair share for our region. We have some strong Mayors all around us, and I fear Anne would be a bit of lamb in a wolf’s den. Score C

We then have Norman Paulsen, who seems like a guy I could grab a beer with and solve all the world’s problems. But, Norman does not seem to have experience in politics; he is at the opposite end of the scale; we have some with over 16 or more years, and some with non and with no experience, one could consider equal. He has absolutely no social presence, and in this game, if you are not plugged in, you are unreachable. Case in point, he and only one other does not have their own website where you can read about them and their position on the topics. So again, for reasons I have outlined in my open letter regarding the issues we will be facing, I do not feel he is a fit. Score D

Next up, we have Robert Gottardi, who also ran for mayor in 2018, earning 15 percent of the vote to finish second of the three candidates. This year, he will run against councillors Bryan Lewis, Ann Lawlor, and Acton businessman Norm Paulsen. I could not find much about him or a large social presence, but there was an article in the Toronto Star. One thing he does talk about is cutting the Mayor’s salary. He reports the mayor’s base pay is $105,881, compared to $41,957 for town councillors. The region also compensates the mayor and two regional councillors for sitting on the Halton Region council. Although I respect his sentiment, I honestly feel if a mayor is performing well, he or she should be compensated accordingly. That being said, for good talent, you need to pay for it, and today 100K is not a lot of money, and for the job I see that needs to be done, 100K is truly not the money that will draw in the level of brainiacs we need. We are no longer playing in the shallow end, we are headed to deep water, and talent is what we need, and as a taxpayer, I am willing to pay. As Robert Schad, a man I had the privilege to work under many years ago, would say, “I am too poor to buy cheap.” He was one of the smartest men I knew. His letter of recommendation to the university was framed on his office wall and was from non-other than Albert Einstein. Truly a shame what happened to his Plastics company when he sold it off in 2007. We flew Lear and made profits unheard of; we revolutionized the plastics industry. Husky injection moulding stood for “Here Until Stress Kills You.” If you didn’t have a AAA personality and are willing to work 60-70 hours a week, then there is the door. You worked crazy hours under incredible pressure, but you travelled well. The stories I could tell, but I digress. Score B

And finally, but not least, we have Ken Paige with a snappy, snazzy website, his resume is deep, but I question some of it as I am no fan of pharmaceuticals, but I can look past that. He website reads of “Mom and warm apple pie”. He is truly a politician, but in a good way. I have reviewed his site several times now and I am beginning to like Ken more and more. One this that stood out is when he says “The Town needs to deliver important services, but we need to do it remembering that we are simply stewards of the money our residents work hard to earn.” This is so true and I think not enough take this to heart when they conduct themselves. He speaks of frustrations over a parking situation and how he had to step in. This is what he posts on his site:

Take the e-mail I recently received from a resident with a parking problem on his street. There is no overnight parking permitted and during the winter months, it makes clearing the street a problem. He started emailing back and forth with Town staff but without resolution so after seven months he reached out to two of the Town Council members. One wrote back with a curt, dismissive note and refused any further communication. The other wrote saying, “Personally, I don’t have time for a meeting.” I thought, “how would that leave me feeling” and the answer was, “not very good”. I believe we need to make it clear that we’re here to serve the residents, not the other way around.

He is for sure a people person as one writes about him the following: “I was amazed by the fact that although you have been our CEO, you knew each of the 400 employees by their names. You would stop by whenever you were on site and talk to us, asking us how we were doing. This is truly incredible and very rare. We felt encouraged, valued and honored.”

I find myself telling you more about Ken than the others because Ken has put his best foot forward. He has made a bloody effort to tell his story. It is not easy to put a website together, create the content and make it all sense. If he is willing to do that, he is worth a look and serious consideration. I mean, the anemic efforts of the others were disappointing.

I am sensing he is not in it for the money, so perhaps he wants to make his mark and truly help. Having a strong financial background and as a CEO capable of making those hard decisions, I mean you don’t get to be a CEO unless you are cut of that cloth. Only a few make it that far. That said, Ken may have the fortitude to battle it out with our competitors to the east and south, and they are competitors. He is described as someone who would bring “Helping people, making a difference, stuck with me: Halton Hills mayoral candidate brings business, political experience.”

So, for me, of all the candidates, there seems to be only one who has brought his A game. Unless he has some dark secrets, I do not know about; I will be reaching out to him for a chat. From where I sit now, Ken is my pick for Mayor and the only one with the credentials, experience, and instincts to see us through these next four years.

This is not about who makes you feel warm and fuzzy or whom you feel is the kindest or nicest; the mayor has a job to do, and it will not be fun; it will be bloody hard if they get it right and are doing a good job. Score B+

That is how I see it anyway. Take it for what you want, but at least I did my homework and researched and read.

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