A Shining Example of a Niagara Regional Council Standing Up for the Greater Good

“I am sitting here in this chair because during (October, 2018 municipal) election, people were asking me why do you want to run for the position. … I said it was about restoring honesty, integrity and bringing good faith back to government in the Region of Niagara.”                                                                                   – Niagara-on-the-Lake Regional Councillor Gary Zalepo before the Region’s council voted, this December 5th, to call on police to investigate the circumstances around the 2016 hiring of the Region’s former CAO Carmen D’Angelo

At this special meeting of Niagara Regional Council, councillors voted to call for police investigation into circumstances around CAO hiring affair. Photo by Doug Draper

 A News Commentary by Doug Draper, reporter and publisher of Niagara At Large

Posted December 6th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

A year ago this December 6th, Al Caslin, standing at back and at left, performs his final act as Niagara’s regional chair and hands the chain of office over to Niagara Region’s new Chair, Jim Bradley, and the culture in the regional council chambers turned from black to white, just like that. File photo by Doug Draper

Niagara, Ontario – It was a year ago on this day – December 6th, 2018 – that Niagara’s new regional council was sworn in, and Jim Bradley, the former veteran MPP for St. Catharines, was elected by a majority on that newly sworn-in council to serve as Niagara Region’s new Chair.

It was an inauguration day like no other in Niagara Region’s 50-year history, if for nothing more than the sheer number of new faces taking the oath of office.

Only nine of the 32 of the individuals sworn in that day had served on regional council during the last term, and with the exception of Niagara Falls’ Barbara Greenwood, who had sat on the council a few terms ago, 22 had never served on council at the regional level before.

It made for an unprecedented number of newcomers at the regional level following October 2018 municipal election that saw an equally unprecedented drive by citizens across Niagara for sweeping change on the Region’s council after four years of a council, dominated by then regional chair Al Caslin and what came to be known as a “cabal” of a dozen or more councillors, that felt like a trip through Dante’s inferno for many people. Continue reading

Niagara’s Regional Council is Calling on Police to Investigate CAO Hiring Affair

Council’s Move Follows Release of Ontario Ombudsman’s Report calling process around hiring of former CAO Carmen D’Angelo “compromised,” “unjust,” and “wrong.”

​“We value the thoughtful advice of the Ombudsman and we are confident that the implementation of his recommendations will serve to ensure that these activities should not occur again.”          – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

A News Brief by Doug Draper with Updates to Come

Posted December 5th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

At a special meeting of Niagara’s Regional Council, councillors vote unanimously this December 5th to refer the findings in an Ontario Ombudsman’s report on the circumstances around the hiring of the Region’s former CAO Carmen D’Angelo to police for investigation.

Niagara’s Regional Council votes to bring police in to investigate circumstances around hiring of the Region’s former CAO Carmen D’Angelo

Councillors’ support for a police investigation came after a  lengthy closed door session with legal counsel and was followed by a spontaneous round of applause and calls of “thank you” from citizens filling the gallery in the council chambers.

The passage of that motion to pass the investigation request on to the Niagara Regional Police Service which, in the case of matters involving possible wronging at the municipal government level, will likely to referred it onward to the Ontario Provincial Police, was followed by the passage of another motion to turn contracts the Region signed with certain former senior administrators over to the Region’s external legal counsel “to investigate all options of legal recourse.” Continue reading

Regional Council has a Duty to People of Niagara to Call for Police Investigation

Never Mind Saying that the Key Players in Niagara  Region’s CAO Hiring Scandal Have Suffered and Been Embarrassed Enough

Regional Councillors Should Remember the Real Victims of this Dark, Demoralizing and Costly Affair – The People Who Pay Their Hard-Earned Money for Good Governance in this Region

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher           Doug Draper

Posted December 4th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

There is a growing call for a police investigation into the circumstances around the hiring of this man – Carmen D’Angelo – to Niagara Region’s top administrative job in 2016. Will Niagara’s regional council heed that call.

Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, the municipal affairs critic for the Official Opposition Party of Ontario, did the right thing this December 4th when he wrote a letter to the province’s Police Commission, Thomas Carrique, urging him to launch an OPP investigation into the sordid circumstances around the hiring more than three years ago of Niagara Region’s now former CAO Carmen D’Angelo.

Indeed, the findings that Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube spent more than a year investigating and detailed in a lengthy report, appropriately titled “Inside Job” and released by his office his this past November 29th,  are disturbing and disheartening enough to cause even the most positive-thinking people among us turn cynical about politicians, and about politics and government in general

I have hardly talked to a single person in the days since the Ombudsman’s report was released – people who I have met in a grocery store cash line, the parking lot of a local library … people I don’t even know – who are unaware of the findings in this report and who do not want the police called in to investigate any possibility of criminal conduct here. Continue reading

Make Sure You Have Your Say in Developing a Climate Change Plan for Niagara Region

Deadline for Public Comments on Climate Plan is December 31st, 2019

A Link for a Copy of Niagara Region’s Climate Plan Discussion Paper is Available Below

A Call-Out from Macie Jacklin and Community Voices of Fort Erie, a citizens group now fighting to keep urban development from despoiling one of Niagara, Ontario’s beloved natural heritage sites, Waverly Woods

Posted December 4th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Hello everyone,

Niagara residents, there is an opportunity for you to provide feedback on the Niagara Region’s climate change report. This report was prepared as part of the review of the Niagara Region Official Plan.

Go to – https://www.niagararegion.ca/official-plan/default.aspx

To read the Climate Change discussion paper, click on – https://www.niagararegion.ca/projects/rural-and-natural-systems/pdf/climate-change-discussion-paper.pdf

This is a great opportunity for the public to show their support for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

For the second time in three years, walls of sandbags were used to protect St. Catharines’ popular Lakeside Beach and park, and the historic carousel in it from near record-high waters in the lower Great Lakes. File photo by Doug Draper

I draw your attention to section 5.4 page 29. This may be an opportunity to increase pollution controls, create a fact based Natural Heritage System; stronger protection for endangered species and habitats such as wetlands and an enforceable Tree By-law. Continue reading

Ontario Auditor General’s Report Exposes Ford Government’s Climate Plan for the Empty Shell It Is

Rather than putting together a real plan for addressing the climate emergency, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has spent millons of tax dollars on a p.r. campaign and court battle against federal government efforts to put a price on carbon pollution

“The current Ontario government isn’t just a dragging their heels when it comes to fighting climate change. They are blocking real action.”                                                        – Sarah Buchanan, program manager, Environmental Defence

A News Release from Environmental Defence, a Canada-based advocacy  group for environmental protection

Posted Decembert 4th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

A Statement from Sarah Buchanan, Clean Economy Program Manager at Environmental Defence, on the Auditor General’s Annual Report which slams Ontario’s climate change plan –

The Auditor General’s Annual Report, released (this December 4th), confirms that Ontario’s climate change plan falls apart under serious scrutiny.

There is no credible evidence to support, and little reason to believe, that the plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to meet Ontario’s 2030 target, which was significantly weakened last year. A failing climate change plan is terrible news for Ontarians and also jeopardizes Canada’s ability to meets its climate targets. Continue reading

BREAKING NEWS – Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch calls for Police Probe into CAO Hiring Scandal at Niagara Region

Niagara At Large reporter Doug Draper with ome Breaking News

Posted December 4th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch  – a member of Ontario’s Official Opposition/NDP Party has sent a letter to the province’s Police Commissioner, Thomas Carrique, asking the Ontario Provincial Police to follow-up on a released Ombudsman report  on the circumstances around the October 2016 hiring of Niagara Region’s now former  CAO Carmen D’Angelo.

The Ontario Ombudsman’s report, titled “Inside Job” and released this past November 28th, concluded, following an investigation that last well over a year, that the process used to hire D’Angelo under the watch of the former regional council of Al Calsin, was “compromised,” “unjust,” and “wrong.”

In the days since the release of Ombudsman Paul Dube’s report, at  least two members of Niagara Region’s current council – Wainfleet Mayor and Regional Councillor Kevin Gibson and Fort Erie Regional Councillor Tom Insinna, both veteran  RCMP officers – have concluded that the involvement of police in a “criminal investigation” of what went on around D’Angelo’s hiring to the top administrative job at the Region is “warranted.”

Now former Niagara regonal chair Al Caslin and the Region’s former CAO Carmen D’Angelo, still running the show two years ago. Calls are growing for a police investigation into the circumstances around D’Angelo’s October 2016 hiring. file photo by Doug Draper

In his open letter to Ontario’s Police Commissioner, circulated earlier this December 4th, Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch said, in part –

“Mr. Paul Dubé’s report (enclosed) titled Inside Job, found that the hiring of Carmen D’Angelo was orchestrated from the office of former Regional Chair Alan Caslin and involved other politicians and bureaucratic staff. …

“I am urging the OPP to review the report in detail and to open an investigation. I hope the OPP can ensure that those who engage in wrongdoing and exploit our democratic institutions for their own personal gain can and will be held accountable.” Continue reading

Our Planet and All Life on It at “Critical Juncture” in Climate Emergency Battle

“There is no time and no reason to delay. We have the tools, we have the science, we have the resources. Let us show we also have the political will that people demand from us. To do anything less will be a betrayal of our entire human family and all the generations to come.”                                                                               

U.N. Secretary-General Antonneo Guterras

U.N. Secretary-General Antoneo Guterras, in an address to representatives of nations around the world, this December 2nd, at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain

News from the United Nations

Posted December 3rd, 2019 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

The U.N. Secretary-General at a Climate Action Summit earlier this 2019 with young climate activist Greta Thunberg.

I am posting some of the key lines in this address  by the U.N. Secretary-General Antoneo Guterras because I think that these are words we all need to hear from one of the strongest voices for climate action in a position of leadership on the world stage today.

I think we especially need to hear them in Canada where we have a Prime Minister in Justin Trudeau who looks like he may be on the verge of using our tax money to throw subsidies at those filthy Alberta tar pits, in a pathetic effort to keep his minority government in power by appeasing that premier’s loud-mouth populist premier Jason Kenny.

Trudeau runs up against young climate activists at a town hall meeting in British Columbia last year, after his government invested billions of dollars on a tar sands pipeline.

It’s bad enough that Trudeau spent more than five billion of our tax dollars on a pipeline for that tar during his last term of office. Watch out for him throwing even more of our money away on a source of energy that has no future in the 21st Century place – so much so that  financial institutions in Europe and other parts of the world no longer want to invest in it. Continue reading