116 posts categorized "community"

November 03, 2009

Dean Del Mastro as the Patron Saint of Political Ad Spending

You would think that before Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro was invited to play the role of the Patron Saint of Political Ad Spending, someone might have posed the obvious question: is he the right man for the job?

Some folks in Peterborough Riding are shaking their heads, thinking about all those CPC-branded hockey pucks that were handed out at the United Way kickoff breakfast back in September -- and the annual Dean Del Mastro hockey tournament that is as much about scoring political points for the Conservative Party of Canada as it is about raising dollars for the United Way.

Raising funds for the United Way is a great idea, of course. But if you're doing it for the right reasons, why not leave the Conservative Party of Canada hockey jerseys in your hockey bag and invite politicians from all parties to get in the game. In this case, the reason is obvious: it's a branding opportunity for the CPC -- and you can't brand properly if there aren't any logos on parade.

And as for Del Mastro's intention to ask Sheila Fraser to investigate the sponsorship scandal? Given that Fraser has already done her job on this file -- her investigations led to the Gomery Commission -- Del Mastro comes across looking like another John Baird: a Harper wind-up toy who will carry out the will of the PM, no matter how foolish or facile.

[BTW -- Don't miss this deliciously snarky lesson in Parliamentary procedure, courtesy of Kady. I'm sure Del Mastro will be taking note of it in future.]

September 18, 2009

Political Etiquette 101: It's Not Cool to Hand Out Political Materials at a Charity Event

Sure, there's bad timing in politics -- the unfortunate result of political time moving at a much more rapid rate than postal time.

But then there are those acts of political strategy that would be ill-timed (or ill-advised) no matter when they occurred.

The buzz I'm hearing around town right now indicates that some folks are none too pleased about a rather tacky stunt that was pulled at the kickoff for the annual campaign for the largest charity in our hometown this past week.

Local MP Dean Del Mastro, has been a great supporter of that charity in the past, organizing successful charity hockey games to raise badly-need dollars. His efforts have been appreciated.

What wasn't appreciated by some was the fact that he handed out Conservative Party of Canada branded hockey pucks to everyone in attendance. (The pucks contained the non-profit organization's symbol and a Conservative Party of Canada symbol.) And those who weren't able to attend the charity campaign year launch were directed to Del Mastro's Constituency Office to pick up their Conservative-branded campaign kickoff souvenir.

Some might try to argue that there was every reason to include that logo: all the politicians on the team are members of the Conservative Party of Canada (with a few celebs to round out the roster). But that would be looking for an excuse to do the wrong thing as opposed to taking the high road and doing the right thing.

The charity in question -- which fund-raises on behalf of a huge number of groups in our community -- is a non-political organization (national policy guidelines .pdf) that requires support from all members of the community to reach its fund-raising targets. People from all political parties work side-by-side to achieve these goals. No one should be trying to score political points by handing out politically-branded materials at the launch of a charity campaign.

It's a charity campaign, not a political campaign, after all.

September 05, 2009

Del Mastro's Input Results in City of Peterborough EI Letter Changes: What Would Elizabeth May Say?

The Peterborough Examiner is reporting that City officials have "toned down their request for Employment Insurance program changes" after MP Dean Del Mastro opposed the initial City wording of the request they intended to make to the federal government.

Some of the very specific wording and suggestions that were in the initial draft of the letter had been brought forward by the Peterborough and District Labor Council.

Instead of asking for specific changes to the legislation, the city will now ask the federal government to change the EI program to “improve access and equity in order to ensure that municipal government does not bear the burden of income distribution.”

In her book Losing Confidence: Power, Politics, and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy, Elizabeth May points out how very undemocratic our government has become: how Harper micromanages the running of our country from the PMO's office.

It appears that Peterborough's MP has decided to adopt a similar style of leadership here in Peterborough Riding, taking on the task of overseeing local government. (First there was the Little Lake ballot; now Del Mastro is trying to influence the content of a letter sent from City Hall to the federal government.)

It appears, however, that his actions over the past three years (agreeing with and enforcing all Prime Ministerial edicts) have pleased the Prime Minister greatly.

Del Mastro has gone from being a rookie back-bencher to Parliamentary Secretary in just three years. He accompanied the Prime Minister on a G-8 meeting, where he had the opportunity to meet the Pope.

As for ensuring that democracy lives on in Peterborough Riding?

That's somebody else's problem.

Yours and mine, to be specific.


Peterborough Named the Fifth Most Walkable City in Canada by WestJet's in-flight Magazine

Peterborough has been named the fifth most walkable city in Canada by Up, WestJet's inflight magazine (Peterborough Examiner: "The city that walks"). Vancouver, Toronto, Victoria, and Halifax, took top honours.

This should serve as an important reminder to those who view green space in the city as missed opportunities for development that Peterborough is most marketable as a green city.

That will be an important point to bear in mind during the months ahead when the Master Plan concerning the future of Little Lake is brought back to City Hall.

June 17, 2009

Facebook Group Created for Those Who Oppose MP Dean Del Mastro's Little Lake Development Plan

IMG_2698 I just posted this to the wall of the newly created Facebook group We Oppose MP Del Mastro's Little Lake Development Plan:

I'm every bit as opposed to the process (the balloting process; how inappropriate it is for our MP [Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro] to be pitching a project on behalf of one private developer) as I am to the project (environmental concerns, conflict between Parks Canada mandate to project the land for everyone's enjoyment vs. how the land would be used by public developer).

Our MP should have backed away from this project the moment early objections about the project and the process were raised, as opposed to forging ahead with a highly flawed and undemocratic balloting process. Every day, more facts emerge about this situation that raise additional concerns about the project and the process.

So far, political checks and balances aren't serving the people of Peterborough well.

Perhaps a major media outlet with the investigative reporting resources to thoroughly research this story can help the citizens of Peterborough get the answers they deserve.

Related:

Impolitical: Conservative Dean Del Mastro Should Run for Peterborough City Council

Impolitical: Why Is Dean Del Mastro Taking Surveys on Behalf of a Private Developer?

Impolitical: Checking in on Dean Del Mastro's Survey on Behalf of a Private Developer

May 27, 2009

Can You Reclaim Editorial Neutrality Once You've Lost It?

Here's an interesting journalistic case study, courtesy of Peterborough This Week (a.k.a. MyKawartha.com).

First they back Dean Del Mastro's Little Lake Proposal (after first spelling out many of the proposal's fatal flaws).

Voting on the future of Little Lake  MyKawartha.com, 4/21

Votingonthefutureoflittlelakeouropinion MP Dean Del Mastro cannot seem to dodge criticism on the idea of developing the Parks Canada land along Little Lake's shore.

He brought the idea to council without checking with the public, some critics say. He is promoting a complex that will only benefit a private developer, say others.

He will ruin the lake. He will only bring low-paying service jobs to the community. He is selling an idea that will never fly!

We've heard them all. At least he has the courage to try....

[Del Mastro] has always been entrepreneurial and this is a wonderful example of him seeing the potential in a waterfront property with good road access and a water taxi in the summer.

So, we can take a chance and do something really creative or we can turtle.

In the past, we have voted on the side of caution. Is that what we really want?

Then, one month later, they (attempt to) adopt a more neutral editorial stance.

Open Your Mind and Join the Debate  MyKawartha.com, 5/20

Openyourmindandjointhedebateouropinion The best decisions are made when the people making them have information and understand that information. As the community newspaper that reaches all 91,000 voters, we feel responsible to deliver that information in a way that is clear and neutral.

We're hoping that voters will judge the project on its merits and not get caught up in the partisan who-said-what hooey that, frankly, is takes the level of debate down a notch.

So here's my question. Can a media outlet reclaim its editorial neutrality once it has lost it? If so, how long does it take to get it back - to earn back audience trust?

Please Note:
Screen captures were added 5/31 to address a reader concern raised in the comments section below. Please note that each piece contains the tag "Our Opinion" in the story header and each is written in the style of an editorial opinion piece (e.g., "We've heard" and "We're hoping") as opposed to a news story.

Related:

Canadian Broadcast Standards Council: Decision re: CJCH-TV (CTV Atlantic) re CTV News at 6 (Stéphane Dion interview)

Canadian Broadcast Standards Council: Decision re: Mike Duffy Live Prime Time (Stéphane Dion Interview)

Press release summarizing above two decisions


The Timing of Del Mastro's Survey "Couldn't Have Been Worse": Peterborough City Planner

"The timing with [Dean Del Mastro's Little Lake] survey couldn't have been worse for us," said City planner Mary Gallop, at the City of Peterborough's first community meeting to develop a master plan for Little Lake.

"Many people who turned out to Tuesday's meeting wanted to vent about MP Del Mastro's proposal for a 7.2-acre parcel of land where the Trent Severn headquarters are currently located," noted MyKawartha.com.

Citizens aren't happy about having their Federal MP jumping the gun on the city's own planning process - particularly given that their municipal tax dollars are being spent to pay The Planning Partnership, a planning and design firm based in Toronto, to take the community through a community-based planning process to determine the future of an historic and much-loved public green space.

That's not to say that they're entirely happy with the city-led planning process. According to The Peterborough Examiner, citizens who showed up for the kick-off meeting grilled City officials about the integrity of its own planning process for Little Lake:

There was applause when Rob Cory asked why the city would want to reverse its policy of buying waterfront property in that area to create more waterfront space for public use.

“The city taxpayers bought frontage for its natural environment and public use,” he said. “Why would the city want to reverse that policy?

“Now they want to put a wall of condominiums up there.”

Another person at the table said that’s Del Mastro’s plan, not the city’s proposal.

Del Mastro’s plan has brought people together to defend the green space, said Mary-Anne Johnston, a Lakefield resident.

“His plan [to allow a private developer to build on the Trent-Severn Waterway headquarters property that’s owned by the federal government ] has totally galvanized people against it,” she said.

Meanwhile, citizens continue to sign a petition designed to declare Del Mastro's ballot about the future of Little Lake null and void. After all, voting about the future of Little Lake before citizens have had a chance to participate in the city-led planning process (which will continue into the summer) certainly isn't in the best interests of the citizens of Peterborough. That certainly begs the question: in whose best interest is it to have those ballots signed, mailed, and delivered to Ottawa in such a hurry?

Related:

Impolitical is also asking questions: "Why Is Dean Del Mastro Taking Surveys on Behalf of Private Developers in Peterborough?"

April 19, 2009

Flora MacDonald to Speak in Peterborough Tomorrow Night: Event in Support of YWCA Peterborough

This comes via Betsy McGregor (Peterborough Federal Liberal candidate):

An Evening with Flora MacDonald

The Hon. Flora MacDonald will be speaking on Monday April 20th, at 7:00 PM, at the Princess Gardens Atrium in Peterborough. Donations will support YWCA Peterborough Victoria and Haliburton's fundraising efforts for its new women’s shelter.

The evening will commence with the showing of her recent CBC documentary Flora’s Mission about her courageous work building girl’s schools in Afghanistan and promoting the use of solar panels in mountain villages. That will be followed by a short talk by Flora on Canada’s challenges; and an open community discussion.

Flora MacDonald has been active in Canadian politics since the 1970s. She served as an MP and Cabinet Minister, and in 1979 she became the first woman to be appointed Secretary of State for External Affairs. Since leaving politics in 1989, Flora has been deeply involved in a range of human rights and environmental activities around the globe, and is currently working in Afghanistan and India.

Flora MacDonald has received numerous honours in her life, including the Order of Canada and Companion of the Order; the Pearson Peace Medal; the Churchill Society’s award for Excellence in the Cause of Parliamentary Democracy; the El Kawkab Medal by King Hussein for significant contribution to public service and was the Padma Shri Award (India’s highest award to civilians) from the President of India for distinguished service in the field of public affairs. She was given the EVE award from Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan advocacy organization committed to promoting the election of more women to every level of government, and to raising awareness about the under-representation of women in Canadian politics. Ms. MacDonald holds honorary degrees from universities in Canada, the United States and United Kingdom.

This remarkable woman was born in North Sydney, NS, in 1926, is a sixth generation Canadian whose forebears came to Canada from the Scottish Highlands in the 1790s. She also worked in Peterborough in her early career, singing in a local church choir. She will be departing within weeks of this event for her 11th solo trip to Afghanistan.

There is no charge for this event.

Seating is limited so please come early.

February 17, 2009

The Globe and Mail: Dean's Train is Officially a Ghost Train

I'm pretty sure this was the funding announcement that Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro was anticipating when he assured area residents as recently as a few weeks ago that ground would be broken in 2009 for the much-talked about Toronto-Peterborough rail extension (a project that has recently earned the nickname "the ghost train" around town).

Problem is, a train that doesn't head any further east than Markham isn't going to score many points with the voters who were railroaded into voting for Del Mastro by his promise to bring the train to Peterborough.

It would appear that the ghost train has met the same unfortunate fate as the ghost battery plant. Guess that leaves the ever-optimistic voters of Peterborough Riding with just two of four Del Mastro campaign promises to pin their hopes on: the constitutional amendment regarding property rights and the resort complex for Little Lake -- both far-fetched but not officially dead yet.

Return on campaign promise investment (current stats):
2 out of 4, just four months post-election.

Rating: Not impressed. Not surprised.

Related:

GO Transit infrastructure investment details (Government of Ontario press release)

Comments @ Maclean's Magazine about potential for Montreal-Toronto high-speed rail: A couple of readers can't figure out where Peterborough would fit into the picture, except as a political-point-scoring pitstop: "Dean likes this route to Ott/Mtl because his riding is along the way." "Despite the fact I would love and use a Peterborough stop, it should go along the lakefront." "I’m a big fan of high-speed rail but when it comes to Dean Del Mastro - what a chooch(oo)!"

Metrolinx: The Big Move: Regional Transportation Plan: Peterborough is included in the long-term plans (15 to 25 year time frame). These are the immediate plans. Of course, all this has to make its way through the provincial government approval process. And anything can happen when the infrastructure fairy godmother is dropping taxpayer money from heaven.

January 15, 2009

Books Run in My Family: What I'll Be Talking About at Frontier College at Trent University's 9th Annual Literacy Conference, Sat. Jan. 24th

FCTU Brochure09FINAL

I'm the keynote speaker at Frontier College at Trent University's 9th Annual Literacy Conference later this month. Here's the scoop. (Be sure to tell your friends you read it here first!) The conference is being held at Peter Gzowski College at Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario) on Saturday, January 24th.

The event runs from 11 am to 4 pm and will feature a variety of guest speakers throughout the day. You can register online. Admission is FREE.

I'll be presenting from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. I'll speaking for between 30 and 45 minutes and then answering questions for the remainder of the time.

The topic I've chosen is "Books Run in My Family" -- all about the way books and the love of reading have been passed up and down my family tree. (There are quite a few published authors in my family. I'll be talking about that, too.) If you've ever heard me speak, you already know that I have a pretty chatty style. I'm big on sharing personal anecdotes, life lessons learned (particularly anything learned through the School of Hard Knocks), practical tips and advice -- plus as many from-the-trenches author war stories as I can possibly fit in. (That's the whole reason to come out to an event like this, isn't it?)

If you do come out, be sure to ask me about my worst-ever book event (it's pretty awful) and the worst event any author ever had (it's about as bad as you can imagine -- but, thankfully, it didn't happen to me). I hope to see you on the 24th. Be sure to bring a friend or two -- or your entire book club. The more the merrier, after all.