CollingwoodToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a profile of Progressive Conservative candidate Brian Saunderson, published May 20. Rowe sold memberships for Stella Ambler in her drive to become the PCs' Simcoe-Grey candidate.
A recent profile of PC candidate Brian Saunderson, titled “Local PC candidate wants provincial standard code of conduct,” was a striking example of the lack of irony Saunderson is aware of when touting his $10-million judicial inquiry as something that he will attempt to implement province-wide.
The irony is that someone so concerned with standards and process was without any regard for an open and transparent nomination process when he accepted the appointment by Doug Ford for his current role as the riding candidate for the PC party. Saunderson seems to see no irony in a person so concerned with fair and due process, “taking a leave” as Collingwood mayor instead of officially resigning to ensure there can be no sign of conflict or influence as he seeks higher office. Is he planning on returning as mayor if he loses? He was perfectly comfortable to stay on as mayor when openly running in the Progressive Conservative nomination process, again seeing no concern how the taxpayers would perceive this dual role.
There was speculation in 2019 when Premier Ford visited Collingwood’s last Elvis Festival and stood smiling shoulder to shoulder with Saunderson that he was Ford’s preferred candidate in this campaign. However, four other candidates stepped forward representing a diverse range of the voices, experiences and backgrounds. These candidates spent thousands of dollars on their campaigns and seven months of work towards a democratic nomination process, which would have allowed the party members to elect their candidate. That all went to waste the moment Saunderson accepted Ford’s appointment.
Stella Ambler, a strong contender for the nomination, ended up taking the party to court in an attempt to uphold democracy. Saunderson, who now seems to be positioning himself as the champion of standards and procedures, seems to want to ignore that his very nomination was tied up in a legal battle and lacking in a democratic selection. His championing of the inquiry glosses over the cost, which was presented to the Collingwood taxpayer as $1 million, which continued under his role as mayor to balloon into nearly $10 million of Collingwood taxpayer money. Such lack of fiscal responsibility could bankrupt smaller towns and leaves Collingwood forever wondering what tangible good the money could’ve actually gone towards.
As Saunderson now eyes Queen’s Park, taxpayers are left to wonder how many more lawyers could benefit from such inquiries when Saunderson gets access to hundreds of millions of dollars.
It’s fair for the Collingwood taxpayer, now seeing the inquiry they funded, without public consultation, being leveraged by Saunderson as his legacy, to question if they paid for an inquiry or the foundation for Saunderson’s political aspirations.
Ted Rowe Sr.