Glorious morning sheds light on closed-door council voting


The June 30 ground-breaking ceremony at the Elgin County Courthouse thrust MPP Steve Peters into the MC spotlight – not unfamiliar territory for the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
It was an opportunity to savour the fruits of nearly three decades of personal lobbying.
“There was a period where I was concerned, but I think today just alleviates any of those concerns. It’s been a long time to get to this point, but it’s very gratifying to see that there’s going to be a future,” he observed.

It was a glorious morning for the Liberal party faithful, including Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley, who didn’t skimp on the adulation.
“I can tell you, without equivocation, that but for the dogged determination, the hard work, the tenacity of Steve Peters we would not be standing here today.”
A time of unity for local Libs.
So why was Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands smiling and basking in the warm glow?
Sure she’s the Liberal candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London, but as she reluctantly admitted to the Times-Journal following the ground breaking, she did not support all in-camera motions dealing with the complicated process leading up to the ceremonial sod turning, although she wouldn’t elaborate.
And, Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman observed at the time, “It certainly wasn’t 100% unanimous on every vote. There were a lot of issues around property acquisitions, a lot of things that had to happen in camera.”
In fact, City Scope has confirmed Baldwin-Sands was the lone dissenting voice on almost all of the preliminary votes.
Her allegation “There were things that were done in closed session without consulting the public on certain items for which I wanted to make sure the public had the full (disclosure),” is a grand example of political posturing when challenged by T-J reporter Nick Lypaczewski.
And, in an effort to save face, Baldwin-Sands levelled a cheap shot at her peers by implying there was some sort of skullduggery underfoot when council met in camera to debate matters dealing with legal and property issues – a course of action entirely within their jurisdiction.
Worse still, it undermines the integrity of city clerk and now CAO, Wendell Graves, whose judgment has proven impeccable when determining when council can discuss city business behind closed doors.
The only time Baldwin-Sands fully endorsed the new court facility was in the light of day with cameras rolling and the final vote subject to public scrutiny.
On this June morning, the Liberal candidate was the dark cloud in a silver lining.

What a joy to see Edra Sanders Ferguson grace the front page of Thursday’s T-J after being named to the Order of Canada.
At 103 years of age, she is a breath of fresh air – an inspiration to young and old.
Unfortunate that school trustee Tracy Grant and her naming committee can’t see beyond June Rose Callwood as the new handle for Edward Street Public School when expansion is completed in September.
If that’s the best you can come up, then leave the name as is. For the sake of the existing students who had to labour through the noise, dust, odour and general disruption of the past year.
They deserve that respect.

It was the city’s tourism showcase at last September’s International Plowing Match – a replica of the London & Port Stanley Railway station, once located in downtown St. Thomas.
The replica station, complete with period fixtures inside, was a project of Elgin-St. Thomas Home Builders’ Association, St. Thomas Energy and the City of St. Thomas.
At the time, praise flowed freely.
“There hasn’t been greater co-operation between the city and Elgin county for a long time,” enthused then mayor Cliff Barwick.
“For the rest of my life, I will be able to drive down the main street in St. Thomas and I’ll be able to recognize the building,” gushed Duncan McPhail, chairman of the Elgin-St. Thomas 2010 International Plowing Match.
You see the plan was to dismantle the building after the plowing match and move it to St. Thomas, to be erected at the original L&PS site on Talbot Street, east of St. Catherine Street.
So what happened?
Talk about missing the train – where’s the station?
Has the project run out of energy? What’s dampened the enthusiasm so prevalent 10 months ago?
Strike a committee, call on the city’s rail community – do whatever it takes to locate the replica where it belongs.
McPhail’s wasting a lot of gas cruising up and down Talbot Street on his Harley in desperate search for the tourist magnet.

“Now they’ve flip-flopped on it so I don’t know if they’re going off-track or they’re going backwards.”
Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands, the provincial Liberal candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London, claims Ontario PCs have flip-flopped on the much-hated provincial eco tax. Baldwin-Sands knows a thing or two about changing stripes after her about face on the city’s new consolidated court facility.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to:

One thought on “Glorious morning sheds light on closed-door council voting

    Nice to know it was Lori Baldwin-Sands that our “mayor” took a cheap shot at with her oblique tweet on twitter.
    “HJacksonChapman How can you stand there & smile when you didn’t support the project?”
    Talk about displaying an impeccable lack of judgement, leadership and teamwork, it’s hard to believe we could go downhill from the Barwick-era but here we are… anybody seen the “100 day plan”?


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