Editorials - May 26, 2023
As you were
A little more than two decades after the Conservative government of Mike Harris reduced the number of municipalities in Ontario from 815 to 447 in just a few short years, Premier Doug Ford’s government is looking at reversing the process, beginning with Peel Region.
The upcoming split of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon will likely be the test case for many municipalities whose forced marriages back in the 1990s have been fraught with tension and battles for resources without any of the promised savings. The act passed last week, dubbed the “Hazel McCallion Act”, proposes that the three municipalities will be standing on their own by Jan. 1, 2025. That seems to be a fairly tight window to accomplish a process that seems to be more heavily favoured by Mississauga than Brampton, setting up a potential messy divorce. Not only that, but it could leave Caledon out in the cold, as it relies heavily on its two larger partners for many services. Ontario is then planning on appointing regional facilitators to analyze six more upper-tier municipalities (Durham, Halton, Niagara, Simcoe, Waterloo and York).
Once again, Ford is throwing out some plans with little forethought that seem to backtrack on previous policy. Perhaps the drama is all to keep our attention away from proposed Highway 413 that is slated to run through Peel, eating up farmland and Greenbelt land. – DS
The road less travelled
“If you build it, he will come,” goes the oft-quoted line from Field of Dreams, which is often misquoted ending with “they will come”. This is used as a business motivator. Move ahead with your dream - is the implication - and, if you do good work, the world will find you.
Living that dream in recent weeks have been those behind FauxPop Media - the firm tapped to edit BlackBerry, directed by Matthew Johnson. The story should serve as an inspiration to many, especially those in a creative field. To scratch their creative, artistic itch, a handful of people created FauxPop and, after some relative success and film credits under their belt, they’ve found success on a project that has entered the Canadian consciousness and is making international waves.
For decades, smaller communities like Huron County have been told of the perils of the so-called “Brain Drain” in which the best and brightest young members of society leave to go elsewhere to get an education only to find both comfort and opportunity in larger urban centres, never to return. In the case of FauxPop and BlackBerry, a few enterprising professionals have turned that notion on its head.
We may not be destined for a Hollywood-like sign in Goderich and the streets of Clinton may not (yet) be awash with sightings of Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie, but what has happened in the past few weeks has to be encouraging to students weeks away from graduating. There is a roadmap to success that many can follow with hard work, intelligence and a bit of luck. But there will always be the road less travelled and sometimes, just sometimes, it can pay off in a way that can inspire people to do the same. – SL
A new approach
Several municipal councils in northern Ontario are advocating for revisions to the oath of office that mayors and councillors take before assuming their positions. These councils have recently passed motions urging the provincial government to modify the oath in order to explicitly include references to Indigenous and treaty rights. This lobbying effort is taking place at a time when some municipalities in Ontario are contemplating whether to entirely eliminate the loyalty pledge to the Crown from their oaths of office. Mayor Melanie Pilon of Wawa, who herself identifies as Anishinaabe, expressed her satisfaction with her council’s vote in favour of the new oath, viewing it as a small but important step in sustaining the ongoing conversation and progress.
However, Pilon personally disclosed her intention not to read the revised oath if the province implements the change. When she assumed the role of mayor last fall, she opted to recite an alternative oath that did not include a loyalty pledge to the Crown. This alternative oath was established in 2018 after Gaetan Baillargeon, a town councillor from Hearst, refused to take the regular oath, initially facing exclusion from the council table. Following this incident, the Ontario government eventually permitted Baillargeon to be sworn in using an oath that affirmed his identity as an Indigenous person and explained his view that pledging allegiance to the monarchy would contradict his perspective on the Crown’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.
Baillargeon continued to use the alternative oath when he was recently sworn in for another term, but would like to see the complete removal of any references to the monarchy from the municipal oath.
Some believe this is but a gesture that doesn’t go far enough. But symbols, much like words, are important and this inclusive approach, while imperfect, is a lot better than the previous model of systematically ignoring a painful and difficult aspect of the nation’s history. – SBS