The Bad News and Good News Around Ford’s Decision to Unplug the Election for Niagara Regional Chair

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

Posted July 27th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

As if the news earlier this July 27th that Ontario Premier Doug Ford – like a dictator in a banana republic – had pulled the plug on what would have been the first region-wide election for Niagara regional chair was bad enough. …

Niagara voters still have an opportunity with the coming muncipal elections to fill these Niagara Region chambers with a much better mix of councillors.

Later in the day, we were treated to more bad news that Al Caslin, Niagara’s current regional chair, had managed to file his papers before the 2 p.m. deadline to run for one of St. Catharines’ six seats on Niagara’s regional council in the upcoming October 22nd municipal elections.

That means that unless the dictator in the Premier’s office decides to cancel the municipal elections completely and Caslin manages to win one of those six seats, he could put his name in the hat for fellow regional councillors to appoint him to another four years as Niagara chair.

Just what our Niagara region needs. Another term of the divisive, unruly and mean-spirited conduct Caslin has presided over now for almost four years.

But the good news is this.

There are enough good to very good candidates running for the Region’s council in St. Catharines, including Haley Bateman, Mo Al Jumaily, Emily Beth Spanton, Peter Gill, former MPP Jim Bradley and regional council incumbents Brian Heit and Kelly Edgar, Tim Rigby and Debbie MacGregor, to knock Caslin off in the polls.

And while they are giving the electoral boot to Caslin, please do Niagara the favour of also defeating  Bruce Timms – a long-time St. Catharines regional councillor who has soiled himself as a board member and former board chair at a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority that has wasted our tax money suing a private citizen and a former NPCA employee, while devolving to a hollowed out shell of the great conserver and protector of our natural heritage that it once was.

Al Caslin has rapidly shifted from candidate for Niagara regional chair to candidate for a regional council seat in St. Catharines. If he wins the seat, a bid for a second term as regional chair could come later. File photo

There is more good news in other Niagara municipalities where promising people are running against rogues gallery of incumbents on the regional council who have often sided with Caslin, and in some cases, serve on the board of the NPCA.

Of the current regional councillors who have so often leaned Caslin’s way, it was encouraging  to look down the list of candidates running in Port Colborne and not see David Barrick’s name on it. Instead, there is Barbara Butters, a Port Colborne city councillor and former NPCA board member who has helped lead the push for a full forensic audit (now being completed) of the NPCA’s books.

And there  is more good news in municipalities like Pelham where the town’s mayor, Dave Augustyn, who was running for Niagara regional chair before Ford pulled the plug, managed to get his name on the list of candidates for a regional council seat before the 2 p.m. – a list that includes two other promising candidates, Diana Huson and Jim Hagar.

Should Augustyn win the one and only regional seat for Pelham, then decide to throw his name in the hat for regional chair and wins that job too, whichever one of others who comes in second on October 22nd would likely take his place in the council seat.

Whatever the outcome this fall, it looks like voters in Pelham have three good regional council candidates to choose from.

Across most of Niagara, there appears to be a good mixed of candidates who are older and younger, and who are experienced or at least passionate and energetic enough to learn, to make up a regional council for Niagara we can be proud of again if we, the people, do our homework before we vote, to raise the odds that the best of them get elected.

Premier Doug Ford’s shocking announcement earlier this July 27th was certainly bad news for those of us looking forward to a first-time-ever, region-wide race for regional chair in Niagara. It was also bad news for Toronto and for other regions in the province impacted by the sudden, radical changes he is making to a 2018 municipal election season already underway.

Premier Doug Ford’s last minute changes to municipal elections closed the curtains on former Welland Mayor Damian Goulbourne’s run for Niagara regional chair

It was certainly uninviting news for individuals like Damian Goulbourne, a former Welland mayor, who had recently launched his campaign for Niagara regional chair and who has reportedly now decided, this time around, not to run for any other seat at all.

Suffice to say, Ford and company gave little or no thought to impact his last-minute changes would have on people who, along with their family, friends and supporters, have put a great deal of thought and time into planning a campaign, only to have those plans completely dashed.

But those of us hoping and working for better municipal governance in our Niagara region cannot let Ford’s actions beat us down.

We still have all those promising people – from first-time candidates to seasoned incumbents – registered to run in the coming October 22nd municipal elections.

And as long as we have good candidates, we have the opportunity to use the power we have as voters to get what has been a dark and disturbing chapter behind us and move our Niagara region forward in more positive ways if over the next four years, and for decades to come.

That would be best news in this region for all of us. There are now less than 90 days left before we go to the polls. Let’s make it happen!

To review lists of who is running in the 2018 municipal elections across Niagara, click on –

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

6 responses to “The Bad News and Good News Around Ford’s Decision to Unplug the Election for Niagara Regional Chair

  1. Hi Doug, I’m upset that your article made no mention of defeating Sandy Annunziata in Fort Erie.



  2. You made no mention of Pelham’s current and long standing Regional Councillor Brian Baty.
    A far more honest and upstanding individual than Augustyn. You should get your facts straight before publishing your incomplete article.


  3. Diane DiFlorio

    Dave Augustyn is NOT the only candidate in Pelham. BRIAN BATY is running – you neglected to mention this…. terrible reporting – in fact — downright shameful.


  4. Diane DiFlorio

    Do your homework or are you just trying to mislead the public…..

    A Response to Diane DiFlorio’s Comment from Niagara At Large reporter Doug Draper –

    Thank you for sending the link for the list of candidates running in the coming municipal elections in the Town of Pelham.
    However, you did not need to send the link because it is already embedded in a link I posted at the end of the above news commentary – a link that directs Niagara At Large readers to lists of candidates for all municipalities across Niagara.
    I was also knew, and have known for several years, that Brian Baty is the incumbent regional councillor Pelham when I wrote the above news commentary and named those who, in this journalist’s and columnist’s opinion, are “promising candidates” for that seat in Pelham.
    I am also well aware that he is a member of the board of directors for a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) that has become the subject of so many questions and concerns over the way it has been spending millions of our tax dollars in recent years, that many Niagara residents, a majority of local councils across the region and members of Provincial Parliament for all three major parties in Ontario called for a full and independent forensic audit of that body’s operations.
    The findings of that audit, expected to be released by Ontario’s Auditor General in the weeks ahead should prove to be a real eye opener for the taxpayers of this region. Niagara At Large will be posting those findings for our many readers across the region as soon as they are available.
    – Doug Draper


  5. Linda McKellar.

    Mr Doyle – Agree completely. He MUST go!


  6. All of those councilors with anything to do with the NPCA or the audit or the ombudsman issue should go … all of them. It’s time to bring in people who will not be pulling off these self-serving acts.


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