Over the past two weeks I’ve heard from many of you, both in support and in opposition to a “mandatory mask” order for public spaces.

    I’ve heard many “while Toronto is doing it…” or some other community. This is a refrain I heard about the supposed river front renewal of “Back to the River”, and many other issues from BRT to flex streets, to industrial land use. I want to be very clear, while I will always look at the experiences of other communities and possible lessons learned, my focus will always be on what makes sense for London. The same is true of masks.

    I’ve had a number of people say, “we need to do this now, look Kingston was doing well too and then they had an outbreak of new cases”. It is true, Kingston did have an outbreak, connected to a nail salon where masks were already required under provincial orders. Masks orders did not stop the Kingston outbreak from occurring. Again, while I will look at the experiences of other communities, I will look to do what is best for London.

    I think it is also worth noting that in other communities, action has also been taken in coordination with or directly by the Medical Officer of Health for the regional health units of those communities.

    Last night at Council’s Strategic Priorities Committee, we had a motion brought forward with only 3 hrs notice asking staff to consult with the county and Middlesex-London Health Unit and come back with recommendations for a temporary by-law.

    First, I will say I was very critical of an important motion coming forward on such short notice. This by the way highlights one of the problems with a so-called “part-time” council. Several colleagues were at other jobs and had less than an hour’s notice on this. That is not acceptable.

    We ultimately ended up amending the motion (thank you Councillor Josh Morgan for your leadership on this amendment) to have our Chief Medical Officer of Health come before council at the earliest opportunity to answer our questions about masks, the advisability of by-laws, and what impact, if any, it would have in terms of public health benefit.
    Continue Reading

  • London COVID-19 Update April 4th

    Dear Londoners,

    We are in a critical period in the London region. The next 10 days or so are going to be very important in determining whether we are going to be able to start returning to a more normal situation for everyone sooner, or whether it is going to be a lot longer.

    I want to recognize the efforts of a large number of Ward 2 constituents, and those across the London who have already rallied to the call. Many of you have been stalwarts in doing your part to adhere to the changes required to flatten the curve. I know this is not being done without sacrifices on your part and on behalf of the City of London, I thank you for your steering the change needed to get through this.

    To quote our Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie from a statement made earlier this week:

    “I can’t make this any clearer, what we do now will determine how the situation unfolds…it is time to stay home and only go into the community for the essentials.”

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    Dear Londoners,

    We are in the middle of an unusual time as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much in such a short time.

    I do not want to downplay the upcoming challenges to the residents of London, not just the immediate public health situation, but also the difficult economic recovery afterward. Trying times need us to take on these challenges together. As your Councillor, I will be a strong voice advocating to ensure Londoners not only survive today, but flourish tomorrow.

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  • Making a Responsible Budget Decision

    In the 2019 Budget deliberations an item of contention arose around removing $521,000 from the anticipated budget costs that was earmarked last year for a provincially legislated minimum wage hike. With the change in provincial government, that requirement was removed. It was the staff recommendation that we not proceed with a wage increase and remove that earmarked amount from the budget.

    Advocates have argued that “it was in the budget already, you shouldn’t remove it”. But of course things that were not anticipated had to be added to the operating budget, including additional funding for ambulance services to tackle growing response times ($590,000), cycle network maintenance ($408,000, required to meet new provincial standards), mental health funding for police officers ($161,000) and restoring seniors bus tickets ($285,000) transit access at a more affordable rate. In total, over $1.4 million in operating costs not planned for were added.

    The result, the increase this year is 2.7%. In comparison a senior in our community living on Canada Pension Plan benefits will receive only a 1.5% increase.

    Making budget choices is never easy. And whether in a council seat, or as resident of the city, budget decisions need to balance care and cost, and also need to be considered in context and in impact, not ideology. Continue Reading

  • The London Free Press Candidate Survey

  • Talking Tourism Goals for London

    On October 25th, I had the chance for the third time this year to sit down with the chief of Tourism London, John Winston. The impact of tourism on our local economy is really underestimated by most London residents, but it is huge.

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  • Why All Londoners Should Stand with Striking Cami Workers

    The reality is the economic under pinnings of London have been allowed to slowly rot away over the 20 years I’ve called this city home.

    First the internet’s digital revolution came for the white collar jobs, as the insurance and financial sectors downsized dramatically.

    Then automation started coming for the blue collar manufacturing jobs, that so many in the community looked down on as unimportant. And it wasn’t just the auto sector, places like Phillips lighting, where I once worked disappeared too.

    And throughout, corporate greed, empowered by so called free trade agreements, and the hollowing out of worker’s rights by provincial governments, made even good paying jobs more precarious.

    So in the face of that, it’s more important than ever that when our friends and neighbours go out on strike like the workers at CAMI have done, that we rally around them and say, enough is enough! Continue Reading

  • AM980 Roundtable, featuring Caranci, Caranci, and Lewis

    From today’s AM980 London News Roundtable…with 2x the Caranciness as both former City Councillor Roger Caranci & his son, former Conservative MP staffer Nathan Caranci were on the air with me and London’s best talk radio host Craig Needles, talking downtown development, BRT and whether or not police should be welcome at Pride.

  • Talking London’s World Junior Hockey bid & value of tourism on @LdnOntTV