Meet the candidate

It’s not easy getting to know the candidate.

Take for example Maxime Bernier of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC). As this election unfolded and debates were planned, his party was excluded from national debates held in French and English.

The PPC do not have an elected member in the House of Commons, even though the party has candidates running in more ridings than the Bloc Quebecois. As a wide-open event, the debate commission would need to have offered time to the other 16 parties officially registered this election.

Rules are rules for a reason, because such situations become untenable and impractical.

Unfortunately, local organizations running candidate nights seem fearful of saying no or drawing such a line in the sand.

Locally, the Chambers of Commerce representing businesses in Centre Wellington and Halton Hills held an online candidate night. Granted, attendance was sparse and the impact negligible, but it allowed the NDP candidate who was unavailable during that two or three-hour window, to send a fill-in performer.

The NDP pulled the same stunt at a meet the candidate night last election. It was wrong then and remains wrong now.

Compelled to offer criticism of this breach in convention – yet again – is made all the more difficult knowing the organizers should know better. But then again, some local Chambers of Commerce seem to have shed their role as a voice for business, finding comfort in being a community booster of sorts.

Despite other candidates being gracious when these things happen, organizers really need to tidy up the rules and insist on the meeting being about candidates committed enough to show up.


Two decades ago, most people alive at the time remember exactly where they were when terrorists commandeered aircraft as weapons against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The third jet, Flight 93, whose intended target is still a matter of speculation, drove into the earth near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after Americans on board fought to gain control of the aircraft.

Much changed in the world after 9/11. Security tightened at airports, online surveillance became more intense and of course, members of NATO ended up in a doomed battle in Afghanistan. Twenty years later, many of the gains made in that country as a matter of NATO activity, specifically better conditions for women and access to education for girls, are losing ground. Freedoms are being lost.

Watching coverage of the anniversary this past Saturday, the idea settled in that a full generation of global residents have no idea how profound the moment was when planes hit the towers and other sites. Apart from squabbles between Canada and the United States over the centuries, terrorism on our shores has been quite limited. Knowing war in its most dire, immediate sense is not something North Americans ever needed to be too concerned about. Complacency and innocence for millions of people ended September 11, 2001.

The fear of imminent attacks has subsided since that time. Memories fade, wars end and the news cycle moves on to current matters of import, but for those alive that fateful fall day, it was a seminal event few will forget.

Let’s get it right

Interest was expressed a few weeks back at Centre Wellington council to take a second look at the separated bike lane proposal on St. David Street North in Fergus. Council will entertain a motion to reconsider the project  on Monday (Sept. 20).

The plan as proposed piggy-backs water and sewer upgrades, ironically forced by an ever-increasing load from residential development. Within that plan a separated lane will be available to cyclists on each side of that portion of Highway 6. Parking spots will be eliminated and the travelled width of the roadway will be shrunk in an effort to calm traffic. Bump outs and buffer areas will be extended on various streets making it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate this busy corridor.

Before diving into why this plan needs to be revisited, it is important to note the merits of cycling and walking are well known and undisputed. Discussions here or by those opposed to the proposal were never anti-bike or anti-walker and it is to be hoped the conversation veers from us and them, to what is best for this community in the long run. While some posts on social media may have intimated disdain for active lifestyle proponents, no one is perfect.

In fact, one of the Green Lanes group organizers summed up why some members of council are now wanting to review the proposal, feeling somewhat pushed into a decision too quickly without all relevant detail. “I know of a few people who contacted our councillors …. and they worked them over. You could see they were broken. Well done! Yay! Broken might be too harsh of a word. They were persuaded,” wrote the individual.

Most issues councillors handle elicit few responses or outreach from the public. In the case of this issue we are led to believe dozens of contacts were made, all pushing the agenda of separated bike lanes. That effective lobbying is entirely permissible and probably led to the unanimous choice council made – as we noted then, a first in many ways for these gentlemen councillors.

Despite informal surveys suggesting the public at large isn’t in favour of the separated lane proposal, council proceeded unanimously with that option – as is their right as elected decision makers. But, with those decisions come responsibilities for the choice made and the unintended consequences that arise from such choices.

Parking, critical to business owners, is an issue that still exists, despite efforts to blow it off as old news. While it may not have been meant to come across as patronizing, instructing seniors or those with mobility issues to get out and walk a distance once current parking is gone isn’t overly helpful.

As the project winds its way through the design stage we hope the effort to retain parking and a cycling lane immediately next, is reviewed. That strikes us as an unsafe scenario should the bike lane plan proceed, for both cyclists and drivers.

Absent, from our understanding, was any outreach to the emergency services community. Inquiries on our behalf suggest there have been no serious accidents on this stretch of road to date, certainly with cyclists and pedestrians. Many residents have been witness to ambulances, fire trucks and police cars winding their way through traffic to get to a call. Understanding that St. David St. North represents the north-south link for such purposes, have alternatives been discussed? The bump-outs and traffic calming initiatives proposed will make that cause even more difficult when seconds and minutes count.

The notion of traffic in general seems to have been overlooked and anecdotally it is getting worse by the day. Has council reviewed current counts and patterns to identify or at least model what will happen once Highway 6 is constricted? What side streets will over-sized trucks or passenger vehicles anxious to save time take?

Despite assurances at the county road committee this week that the bypass through Alma is merely a suggestion, it is well known that traffic will travel the easiest, most encouraged path. That the drive via Alma adds on additional kilometres and carbon emissions to the trip while pounding the life out of roads paid wholly through local taxes was a missed discussion point.

As it stands, without a motion to reconsider, any further discussion is over. It is over without an option for a bypass, a plan to handle ever increasing volumes in town due to development, no figures as to annual maintenance costs and, oddly, no holistic plan for cycling and pedestrians.

The cart is before the horse on this one.