Editorial: Do Durham’s Finest Need a polish?

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This writer is not one to criticize the fine work that police officers across the country do. The horror stories associated with the job are what make them so worthy of credit. Like most front line government employees, the perks they receive are little in the way of compensation for the enormous task their professional qualifications are put up against.

But before our first-responders can help us, we need to first help them.

Last year, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin was the subject of hateful and abusive tweets – sent by a detective from Durham.

“It’s unfathomable to think that this could happen in a police station. Police services are not supposed to be run like National Lampoon’s ‘Animal House’,” Marin said at the time.

The Ombudsman, who’s job it is to identify maladministration in the province, went on to chastise the chief for advocating withholding the name of the detective.

Oddly, this places Durham in an uncomfortable but fortunate position; the province believes our Police Force is run like Animal House – the Citizens have the chance to directly elect the chairman.

While Chief Ewles is set to resign in May under what the Toronto Star called “…six years not lacking in criticism”, it is imperative that the Region steps up and provides better oversight.

Read More:

Durham police chief to retire after multiple controversies

Ombudsman accuses Durham police of being dysfunctional

Rocky Varcoe Not Ruling Out Mayoral Bid

Rocky Varcoe, Owner of Liveact in Whitby

Rocky Varcoe, Owner of Liveact in Whitby

Prominent local business owner and community activist Rocky Varcoe has apparently been approached by numerous residents seeking him to return to the Mayoral race. In 2010 Mr. Varcoe unsuccessfully sought the position in a tight and, at times, vulgar campaign.

“I sincerely appreciate all of the messages via facebook, email and phone in regards to the Municipal Election….but folks its still 10 months away !” said Varcoe in a January 7th posting to Facebook that garnered 26 likes and a share as well as nearly 40 comments.

“I will not be making a decision if I am running til at least March,” continued Varcoe, “as there are so many other factors to consider other than my personal feelings.”

“We need a few changes in our leadership and in that sense Oct 27th can not come too soon for the great folks of Whitby.”

- Rocky Varcoe

Varcoe, were he to begin a campaign right now, would be the only other declared contender to face Patricia Perkins. 2010’s campaign was a three way race, which may have had an impact on Varcoe’s electoral success.

Rumors still swirl however about other possible Mayoral competitors, despite no one other person coming out publicly about their intentions. What the final match-up looks like remains to be seen.

Editorial: Ford’s Waves May Hit Whitby

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Mayor Rob Ford

2010 was a strange year for municipal politics. It saw the elevation of Robert Ford from City Councillor to fully fledged Mayor – as well as Sex, Lies & Dirty Politics in Whitby.

Most saw Rob Ford as a longshot when he decided to run. Indeed, his time on council was marked by outlandish statements that would ordinarily ruin a high profile politician. His reference to Asian-Canadians as “orientals”, his outbursts that would shutdown council meetings and his overall lack of veneer made him the underdog. Rob Ford was not the kind of downtown city slicker you would expect to run Canada’s Largest City.

In Whitby, the townsfolk were not spared controversy either. In a Toronto Star articled titled “Sex, lies and dirty politics between Whitby mayoral rivals”, the Town was painted with nauseous green slime. It was something many residents thought would make us the laughing stock of Ontario and would reduce our political landscape to nothing more than smut and libels.

Enter Rob Ford.

After four years of vociferous opposition to Fordian antics in Toronto, Ontario has found itself scandal weary. It is easy to forget that not long ago Whitby was a microcosm of what Toronto would soon morph into, devouring all other issues and making almost every mayor across the province, if not country, seem extremely palatable by comparison. The whole world is aware of the depths to which GTA politics can now go.

The temptation therefore will be for just about every candidate to paint themselves as an upstanding gentleman or lady to counteract the perception of municipal government being bogged down in scandal. The easiest way to do this, as politics so often ends up doing, will be to smear the opponent. Whitby is ready and capable of bursting out in “Sex, Lies and Dirty Politics” and the ground is fertile for it to rear its ugly head once more.

Hopefully, we can rise above it – wouldn’t that be stupor.

Nominations Open, But No Candidates for Regional Chair

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Regional Chair, Roger Anderson

The 2014 Elections in Durham will have a marked difference from their preceding years: the office of Regional Chair is to be contested in the public arena.

Under previous structures, the Regional Council, composed of locally elected Regional Councillors and Mayors, would select the person to hold Durham’s top job.

In 2012, a vote was held inside the Regional Headquarters to determine if the job should be elected or remain a position to be filled by the whims of council. That vote was won, 24-2, with our own Mayor Perkins absent for the vote.

According to a durhamregion.com article:

“Mayor Perkins says she had an appointment for medical tests and chose to go for the sake of her health.

“I’m not trying to skirt the vote … I’ve never dodged a vote and I don’t plan to,” she said.

For the record, she says she would have voted in favour of the bylaw.”

The vote largely passed thanks to an October 2010 referendum. That referendum, which was non-binding, saw 79.7% in favour of direct election.

As of January 8th 2014, no one has put their name forward for Durham’s Regional Chair position. It is also unclear if Mr. Anderson, the current chair, will be participating in a public election.

Municipal Election Season is Upon Us

Glad Seasons Tidings To You!

With the Christmas festivities wrapping up and New Years drowned in a champagne coloured blur now lost to last year, it’s time to indulge – or be dragged through – a municipal election season. The only jolly men in suits giving toys for good behaviour now are politicians looking to curry votes. Of course, Whitby has the decidedly marked advantage of having a good deal of women representing it as well.

As with all election campaigns, this one has not begun with a bang. As of January 7th, most positions are either uncontested or have only one nominated candidate, the notable exception being Councillor Roy’s seat of West Ward.

Chris Leahy and Matthew Cardwell will be vying for that particular spot.

Mayor Perkins is following suit with an early (or timely) announcement that she will be once more seeking the office of Mayor of Whitby.

A Tale of One City

The air around questions pertaining to the 2014 race always seems to carry dark undertones. Shadows linger as people converse about who will be running and who should definitely not. Those shadows are of course from the 2010 campaign, one noted for its obscene use of personal attacks and one which is repeatedly described to have been a matter of “playing games”.

The governance of Whitby, so the stalwarts of council affairs say, should be able to rise above such nonsense. High hopes are being placed in the current candidates to tackle pertinent issues and to debate matters affecting Whitby – not the matters of candidates personal lives.

A Tale of TWO Cities

Of course what makes this all the more interesting is Rob Ford and the Toronto Civic Elections. If Whitby hopes to rise above petty personal politics, it will be forced to turn a totally blind eye to what will undoubtedly be a referendum on whether or not a person’s personal life should matter towards their electoral success. How that will influence local candidates will have to be seen. It can only be hoped no one attempts to paint their opponent as the local Ford in the hopes of making gains.

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