A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper Posted March 23rd, 2022 on Niagara At Large
What an ingrate I am.
Here is Bob Gale, a Niagara regional councillor from Niagara Falls and long-time retailer in gas, wanting to give me and every other property tax payer across Niagara who rakes in less than $160,000 a year a $240 cheque out of the Regional Government’s reserve fund.
What a magnanimous gesture on Bob Gale’s part.
And I don’t want to take it!
Of course, I am sure that Gale’s generous proposal has nothing to do with the fact that he is also running in the Niagara Falls Riding (covering all of Niagara Falls and most of Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake) as a Doug Ford Conservative candidate in this spring’s provincial election, Who would be cynical enough to think something like that?
And no wonder so many people now hold such a cynical view of politicians and politics in general. In a front page story in this March 23rd’s St. Catharines Standard, Gale argues that some $60 million he would draw the $240 per household rebates from has been accumulated over time in the Regional Government’s reserve fund and, after all, is just sitting there at the moment.
Like all right-wing Conservatives have a habit of saying – going back at least as far as former Ontario premier Mike Harris in the late 1990 – , that kind of money represents an “overpayment” by taxpayers and should go back in their pockets because “they know how to spend it best.”
There is no doubt that if I and who knows how many tens-of-thousands property tax payers across Niagara received a $240 rebate cheque that we would spend it on something. BUT THAT MISSES THE WHOLE POINT.
The point is that municipalities keep money in reserve for emergencies, just as homeowners should try to keep some money in the bank in case our furnace, roof tiles or something else in or on our home is damaged or dies, and our insurance won’t cover it.
The money is there in reserve in case one or more of our communities experience damage from a severe storm or find our lives and properties harmed in other costly ways.
It is about keeping money in reserve to help people in the name of the public good, which is a concept that Gale and many other of today’s Conservatives appear to neither care about or understand.
What is finally so cynical about all of this is that Gale must know that he is now placing some 30 of his fellow Niagara regional councillors in the position of voting for or against distributing these $240 cheques. He puts other councillors in the position of looking like heartless misers if they vote NO.
Yet as much as I wouldn’t mind getting $240, I hope and pray that they vote NO because I see it – and so should the rest of us as a vote of YES for the public good. As for Gale, there is no way our money should be used in any way to pump up him or his provincial election campaign.
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