At Long Last – Here’s Hoping we are on the Eve of a Better Niagara Regional Council

A Brief Comment from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted December 5th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

“Sit down. … You are out of order. …. I said sit down! … If you don’t sit down, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. …Sit down. …  (to which, one speaker, at one time, responded: ‘I’m not finished.’) …. Yes you are…..  I don’t want to hear it. …. I told you to sit down. … Time’s up …. Sit down. You are out of order!” (word clips from numerous Niagara regional council meetings over the past four years).

Those were the days, weren’t they?

I can still hear these verbal missives – aimed over and over again by Niagara’s recently defeated regional chair Al Caslin at virtually any member of the Region’s council or delegation of citizens from the community who he and members of his cabal perceived to be a political opponent.

They are still  ringing in my ears.

This sign, still along a roadside in St. Catharines, the day after the October 22nd municipal elections in which Caslin was buried in the polls.

Thankfully, Caslin is now gone – buried in the polls in this past October’s municipal elections – and this Thursday, December 6th marks the beginning of new Niagara regional council with a majority of members serving on the council for the first time.

From what I have been able to see and hear, there are good number of people being sworn in as regional councillors this December 6th who are determined to put the wheels of governance at the Region back on a positive track, so I am hopeful that those words will ring no more.

 “It’s been a long time comin’,” to quote lyrics in an old Crosby, Stills and Nash song. “Don’t you know,” the song goes on to tell us, “that the darkest hour always comes before the dawn.”

From all of the calls and email I have received from many residents across Niagara over all of the weeks leading up to and following October’s municipal elections, I know that many people have been waiting anxiously for a new dawn in governance at the regional level. those members of the public can feel comfortable and confident they can work with again for the betterment of all.

Then maybe we can take down those awful signs Caslin and company had posted in the regional council chambers over the past year – signs warning that “aggressive and intimidating behaviour” and “harassment” will “not be tolerated” – signs that always seemed more appropriately aimed at members of the council than they did at anyone from the public who were sitting up in the gallery, enduring the ugly conduct down on the floor.

Here is to a new dawn in regional governance and to a brighter, more prosperous future for all of us in Niagara.

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



2 responses to “At Long Last – Here’s Hoping we are on the Eve of a Better Niagara Regional Council

  1. As a long time resident who decided this summer to be involved in local issues, I have learned a lot and been frustrated many times. I am curious if the odious signs you pictured were ever used against a citizen who did none of those things. Perhaps only criticizing council. I would love to hear some of those stories. I think the next issue regarding the NPCA is to get rid of the NPCA Foundation. which has given no money to the NPCA in the last few years and based on tax filings looks like the amount it spends on fundraising is almost the same as the amount it generates from fundraising. The added yuck factor is that members of the board that won’t leave are members of the foundation board and I imagine collect expenses and per diems from the foundation. Thanks Mr Draper for your reporting


  2. No schadenfreunde is derived.
    Respectfully, a new Regional Council, new interim appointed (3 months` NPCA board)…etc., what next? Change for the sake of change is never a good harbinger; electing a new council and appointing a new interim NPCA board has not even begun to repair the damaged done to the Governance institutions and structure of the Niagara Region.
    Regrettably, unoffensively posited, I have a news flash for anyone who thinks change is on the way; shaped, discredited, and damaged beyond repair by the biased politics of personal political parochialism, unfortunately, “Change” will not come from within the Region -ti will be if anything a painstakingly manipulated process of kick the can down the road.
    The Niagara Region is run by 124 politicians whose mantra is “job protection”. Do you really believe they will commit political sucide! No, the only pathway to change wil come from the outside (provincial legislature); the Council has/is being used as an abusive political tool-not to be cynical but, climatization for the new councillors is already under way, and or did you not listen to the speech by the newly appointed Chair (Bradley), or the question- answer period of the three Chair candidates, their obfiscation was blatent.
    In a political black hole, this Region breaches Charter Rights, the Act, Procedural By-laws, undermines the Ontario Integrity Commissioner, attempts to discredit Ontario Auditor General, hides public audits/documents, and is privy to the most lucrative Councillor expense claims in the province…etc.,-Change, in 4-years, really.
    The Regional Municipality of Niagara Act, enacted by the provincial legislature on June 26, 1969, has largely run its course. The Region, defined by the politics of parochalism for the last four decades, has no respect for “Democracy” or it`s “Institutioons”.
    Ostracized and dysfunctional, the Councillors defiantly thumb their nose at the temerity of outside influence while engaging in secret “Closed Meetings” contraventions/breaches-just go to the Ontario Ombudsman`s website and view the number of filed interventions for the Region.
    Yes, the Region has much to offer with great potential, but faces many challenges and stark choices; at a criticsal crossroads in its evolution and transformation those challenges and opportunities can no longer be squandered and sacrificed on the alter of parochial politics.
    The pathway forward for the Region is defined by the overall “Plan”; only a cursory read will inform you why the Region will go nowhere without Governance Structural Reform-you have an Upper/Lower tier structure with 12 munucipal fiftoms who, act like horse traders at the local farm auction-representing the Region is not part of their dictum.
    Any cluster of issues and reasoning I may have to offer will go to the provincial legislature in the hope someone will bring a resolution to this Regional morass.


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