Seven Qs for Candidate Cam Guthrie
Sunday, October 26, 20140 Comments
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By: Jared Brock
I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke about politics, and how it comes from two Latin root words- “poli” meaning “many,” and “tics” meaning “blood-sucking creatures.” While I’m sure you’ve experienced a fair share of that kind of cynicism on the campaign trail, feel free to ignore the sentiment. Because we’re in exciting times, aren’t we? This is the most anticipated mayoral race in Guelph in many years, and for that we have you to thank.
I recently watched a campaign speech from your May 29th fundraiser dinner. Congratulations. It almost reminded me of Sarah Palin. I’d like to wish you luck on raising enough money to pay for pizza for the movers to “get her out of your office.” Perhaps it’s a bit presumptuous, if not unprofessional and/or downright rude, but I wish you all the best.
Before we swear you in as King of the Royal City, I have a few questions that I’d like you to answer, in no particular order:
1. Why do you dislike the environment? Obviously we can cut the $1K/month City Hall green wall, but seriously, why rag on global climate change in one of the most granola cities in Canada? You’re not a climate change denier, are you? Even if you set aside that fact that jobs are flooding into Guelph because of our position as leaders in the eco movement, environmental stewardship should be a priority for any civic leader because, as this hippies say, “there is no Planet B.”
2. I was a little confused about your Walmart remarks. And your photos at Giant Tiger. And at that Mandarin Buffet. I know you launched your campaign at Costco, but are you really in favour of bringing even more big box franchises to Guelph? Because it’s pretty clear that multinational corporations decrease diversity and take away from thriving local business, which is why we love Guelph in this first place. Is this your plan to attract more business to Guelph? Will you cut commercial tax rates to do it? Will you use taxpayer money as an incentive?
3. I really appreciate that you’ve voted against raises for politicians. You mentioned that our municipality employs over 1900 people, and stated that an appalling 1 in 10 are on the Sunshine list. Let’s assume those figures are accurate. Can we also assume that you’ll trim at least 190 paycheques, starting with your mayoral salary? Perhaps forfeit it entirely as a show of good faith?
4. I checked out the platform page of your website. All 4 points are money-related. I checked out your Facebook page too, where I was greeted by a photo of a rainbow which included the caption “Guelph has a nice rainbow going on tonight! Now where's that gold??” Why the fascination with money? Did you grow up in the Great Depression? Isn’t there more to civic life than saving a couple bucks per family? Am I the only one who thinks the hyper-focus on “cut-cut-cut finances” seemed a little like Tim Hudak?
5. Why do you dislike bike lanes and public transport? Guelph is choked with congestion, and it’s getting worse by the day, so what’s wrong with a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative? I won’t ask if you own a bike or take the bus, but I’d like to know how you plan to legitimately improve these vital systems. Note: I really hope the plan doesn’t include privatization.
According to your website “Public transit, the arts, cultural events, environmental initiatives, and sustainable planning are luxuries, investments desired by the leftie elites.” But don’t these things contribute to a greater sense of culture and civic life? By your own admission, aren’t they investments in our city? Last time I checked ridership numbers, I was led to believe that 20,000 Guelphites do not see public transportation as a left-wing elitist luxury.
But following your train of logic... if sustainable planning is a leftie elite luxury, then unsustainable planning is what, exactly? A right-wing populist necessity? Why would Guelph want that? From the sounds of your website, our options for fun in Cam’s Better Guelph are a) backyards and b) rec centres. That’s it? Urban sprawl and ceaseless congestion? That sounds an awful lot like (insert any number of lifeless GTA towns.)
6. So if I understand your website correctly: no more parks, libraries, public works department, or Baker Street parking/library/college campus/housing, correct? But yes to an East End grocery store and a South End rec centre? How do you justify one and not the other? What do you consider ‘core services?’ Would you have built the Market Square that is enjoyed by thousands of residents every week? What are your plans for St. Georges? Would you have renovated the Guelph Farmer’s Market? How about cutting off the water supply to the nudie fountain downtown?
7. But back to your presentation- it’s very obvious what you’re against. I guess my last question is: Aside from cash money and big business, what are you actually for? Listen, I’m all for financial accountability, but you can "watch out for the pennies" as a private citizen or city councillor, right?
But I, for one, still have questions. I want to like you as a person Cam, I really do. I’d also like Guelph to become more sustainable, diverse, equal, local, community-centred, and people-focused, but I can’t shake the feeling that, as mayor of our great city, you’ll just turn Guelph into another boring ol’ commuter town.
Like you, Cam, I’m an tireless optimist who refuses to become cynical about politics. As I’m sure you know, politics doesn’t actually mean “blood-sucking creatures.” It means “concerning the citizens.” This whole election is about people. It’s about justice and long-term sustainability and equality and diversity and stewardship and community. This is what truly concerns all citizens. These are issues that can’t be ignored. And this citizen is concerned that they’re all being swept under the mighty money rug.