Friday, June 12, 2009

Welcome Back From
Your Taxpayer-funded Holiday

While Oshawa is suffering record unemployment and job losses, extended GM summer closings and the potential shuttering of GM, the highest taxes in the GTA, and a train wreck, many of our councillors have been holidaying at our expense in Whistler, British Columbia.

They were there to attend the June 4-8 National Conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). Of course they would have flown out a few days earlier and stayed a few days after to provide a decent holiday of sightseeing beyond what was provided by the conference. They would want to make the most of it as the holiday and expensive accommodation and transportation was paid for by Oshawa taxpayers who scraped together the tax dollars out of their empty pockets to pick up the politician's holiday tab.

While in Whistler, our councilors no doubt took advantage of every learning opportunity provided by the conference.

To be really valuable at this conference, our councilors should have organized a seminar showing their fellow municipal politicians across the country how to ram the general vote into their citizen’s throats as our city politicians did to guarantee their re-election and future attendance at many of these taxpayer paid FCM holiday junkets across the country. They could have counselled their fellow municipal politicians to design an incomprehensive plebiscite question designed to solicit the desired answer from unsuspecting voters and then keep the question secret to catch voters cold in the voting booth and refuse to provide voters information about the question so they could understand what they were voting for. They could have counselled politicians from across the country the strategy of how to introduce Oshawa’s new voting system that is not used in any large jurisdiction in the country. It goes without saying, of course, that the Oshawa’s system is not used because it is undemocratic, unrepresentative, and unaccountable, produces an unproductive council utilizing an incomprensible ballot with upwards of the names of 75-80 candidates for city-wide elections.

Instead of this valuable service, no doubt our politicians took advantage to take “study tours” featured on the conference program to the Olympic Sport Venues including the Whistler Sliding Centre which will host the bobsled, luge, and skeleton events, the Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park which will host the biathlon, cross country and ski jumping events, Whistler Creekside which will host the downhill skiing events, the athletes village, a slideshow/video presentation about a 430-day Antarctic scientific mission (not an Arctic Mission which would have at least been relevant to Canadians), and enjoyed a gondola or quad chair ride to the top of Whistler or Blackcomb mountain to enjoy a casual evening buffet of west coast cuisine and local entertainment (to insure our city politicians didn’t get bored, they were also able to traverse back and forth between the mountains in just 11 minutes on the new Peak 2 Gondola to enjoy the breathtaking views from both mountains),

Additional tours with extra costs were organized to Ancient Cedars Hike ($135), a driving and hiking tour to explore some local waterfalls ($135), a Squamish First Nations Cultural Centre Tour ($23), a Zipline eco-tour ($145), a tree-trek canopy tour ($50), a Whistler Village walking tour ($13), a Lillooet Canoe tour ($135), an ATV wilderness tour ($147), a Whistler Art Tour ($33), and a Horseback Western Ride ($100). By golly, with all of the banquets, tours, and activities, there was hardly any time for serious business. But hey, our tax dollars have to treat our politicians well don’t they?

So you might be interested to know which of our city politicians took advantage of our largesse to entertain themselves on this junket. I shall find out for sure soon along with all of their expenses charged to city taxpayers but I did send an email to all city politicians asking if they were attending this conference, whether they were being accompanied by a spouse/significant other, and who was footing the bill. I also asked if they were going to write a report on this conference on their return documenting the new information they gleaned to introduce to Oshawa to provide taxpayer value for subsidizing the trip.

I received responses from John Neal, Robert Lutczyk, April Cullen, Brian Nicholson, John Gray and John Henry, all of whom stated they were not attending the conference….Good for them!

The others, Nestor Pidwerbecki, Joe Kolodzie, Louise Parkes, Tito Dante Marimpietri, and Maryanne Sholdra did not respond to my email. I must therefore assume one of two things…1) They attended the conference but wanted to keep it a secret as best they could, or 2) They do not respect Oshawa taxpayers enough to respond to legitimate queries from them. The truth will be discovered soon! I shall file a freedom of information request to establish who attended and the costs for each that has been billed to the Oshawa taxpayer.