Signs, signs, everywhere signs

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That traditional part of election campaigns continues this year: candidates’ signs are disappearing from the streets and byways of North Grenville. It is a familiar, yet baffling phenomenon: are people so scared of competition that they can’t risk having other peoples’ signs on display? Surely, their candidate should be strong enough to survive having opposition signs here and there? One candidate has complained to the OPP, who want the public to know that it is a criminal offense to remove, deface, or destroy these campaign signs. Be warned.

Not all of the missing signs were taken by the insecure, however. Bylaw enforcement has had to gather up many signs that were located in places not permitted by law (municipal law, in this case). Signs too close to a road junction, on roundabouts, municipal property, and other places, have to be moved or they will be removed.

At the same time, there are signs still standing, primarily by David Gordon, Elwood Armour and Frank Onasanya, that break the rules laid down in provincial and municipal regulations. All signs are supposed to have text confirming that they have been authorised by the candidate in question, but not all do. It is staggering, really, that a mayor and member of council continue to break bylaws for which they themselves are responsible. Not a good sign.

David Gordon has also raised hackles of many with his Facebook page. In listing the organisations he has been involved in over the years, he has used their logos freely. This implies that these groups endorse him for mayor, but that is not necessarily so. Has he asked their permission before using their logos? Is it proper that he includes the logo of the Conservative Party, when municipal elections are meant to be non-partisan. No party politics are meant to impinge on municipal politics.

Both David Gordon and Frank Onasanya are said to be using the North Grenville logo on their election material. That, too, is not allowed, and the Municipal Clerk, Cahl Pominville, has informed those guilty of this to have the logo removed. All candidates, according to the Clerk, “were provided with the election sign by law and the Use of Corporate Resources Policy (i.e. NG logo)” when they submitted their nomination papers, so ignorance of the law is no excuse here.

David Gordon also claims, on his Facebook page, that he has “strong and productive relationships” with the media. That may have been true at one time of his relationship with the Times. Not so any more. Referring to the media as a threat to the democratic rights of the people of North Grenville is not a way to keep relationships strong, especially after he had accused the Times of printing unsubstantiated articles, articles he knew were factual and accurate. Three of the current members of council signed that letter in which they also said that it was “unacceptable” for the public to “ridicule” council or staff, or to question their professionalism. That, alone, should disqualify them from representing us again.

This newspaper has had a standing offer made to all municipal representatives; they have a half page every month in which they can write what they wish, with no editing, no censorship, from the paper. For years, I have helped David Gordon with those articles, only for him to turn around, without warning, and attack the Times. I still don’t know why he did that. Politicians play by their own rules sometimes. But that is not the act of a friend or a trustworthy man.

At least the mayor did use the Times to communicate with residents; something others didn’t bother with.

We are expected to obey the rules, stay within the law, act honourably and with integrity. We all expect that of ourselves. We should be looking for that kind of person to represent us on council. We can’t be at every meeting to make sure they act in our best interests, so we have to be able to trust them to do so without supervision. Unfortunately, there is too much secrecy, lack of transparency, and lack of integrity in politics. There’s too much we are not being told about, too many issues that need to be addressed during this campaign.

How bad or good is the financial situation of the municipality? How much is being drained by the Municipal Centre, litigation, paying off ex-staffers, buying and maintaining the Kemptville Campus? How serious is the water supply situation in Kemptville, and do we have enough water to supply the new developments being approved by council? Are we allowing too much development, and can the infrastructure handle it all?

These are basic questions about which we need to get more information. Why is North Grenville known as a black hole by surrounding municipalities? Because, it is said, we are not attending the workshops available, not applying for the grants and subsidies that are available. Is this true? The mayor is fond of saying that you grow or die. Perhaps too much of the wrong kind of growth can kill too. These are issues and questions that must be addressed before the election, so that, if things are all going well, we can be reassured. And if things are heading in the wrong direction, we can elect people who will steer the ship in the right direction.

As I keep saying: North Grenville deserves better.

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