CFBB Opinion : Council’s proposed motion to hold media accountable June 14

Firstly, we fully support the freedom of the press and an open and transparent City Hall.

Overall we feel the Brampton Guardian has done a good job reporting on the important issues emanating from City Hall this term of Council.  As well, we feel that the media has played an important role in shaping the course of Brampton politics and history over the past few terms of Council.  Without the efforts of the Toronto Star, many important issues and scandals might not have been uncovered or exposed. We simply don’t have enough mainstream media outlets in Brampton to report on the daily issues that affect our growing and diverse city. Unlike other major Canadian cities, Brampton does not have its own TV or radio station. Our own Guardian has been incorporated into large conglomerate of community papers with offices located outside of our city with scarce resources to cover all of our issues.  Even articles covering important topics are streamlined and compressed  to fit in within a certain word count to make sure that there’s room for revenue generating advertisements.  Press conferences are a rare event and there is no question period like at Queens Park or Parliament Hill.  Even Rogers Cable 10, a staple for covering municipal politics will be shutting down next month after decades of local coverage. Most residents will now have to rely on social media and the internet to try and weed through the vast amounts information and disinformation available online.

We believe the media must be able to ask the tough questions of our elected officials and receive a timely response so that  politicians are held accountable. Having said that, the media also needs to accurately report and not selectively use quotes or statements that might be taken out of context. It must work both ways for our democratic system to function well so that we can trust both our media and government institutions.

As we have witnessed south of the border, a statement or comment can be interpreted quite differently by one side or the other and used to present a  favourable view or spin.  Lately terms like “fake news” and “alternative facts”  have regrettably entered our mainstream vocabulary. If you ask someone’s opinion on the street, there appears to be confusion and mistrust of the politicians and the media.  These days, most believe the truth might lie somewhere in the middle.

The motion that was tabled at Wednesday’s Committee of Council meeting we feel is unnecessary. Just because there might be an unfavourable slant or a quote taken out of context, doesn’t require a knee jerk and sudden response by Council. However, there needs to be a mechanism to ensure  that what happens at City Hall is as open and transparent as possible so that the media doesn’t present an alternate view of the events.

This is why it’s important that the city accelerates its plans to live stream and record both the Committee of Council and Council meetings on the City of Brampton website.  This will allow residents the opportunity  to view and decide for themselves if the media accurately report on events.  As well, minutes of all meetings should be per vadum and not simply someone’s interpretation of what was discussed around the Council table.  We are also supportive of the idea for Council to have an opportunity to clarify or comment on any media story as part of the meeting agenda. This could stir potentially healthy debate on important and sometimes controversial issues.

Finally, we believe that there has always been an adversarial relationship between politicians and the media.  This is nothing new. Without it, our democracy is threatened and trust eroded.

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden

Co-Chairs CFBB

CFBB OPINION – Ryerson/Sheridan University Announcement

We are pleased to hear that both Ryerson and Sheridan College have partnered to participate in Brampton’s University bid.

In the days ahead, it will be extremely important for this “transformational” infrastructure addition to be seen as a fundamental part of a new vision for Brampton and its future. That vision incorporates other infrastructure improvements and initiatives on hold or underway in the community that will see All Day, 2 Way GO service for the Kitchener GO line (Innovation Corridor), a significant Downtown GO Mobility Hub redevelopment with fast and reliable LRT service, and the completion of the Etobicoke Creek revitalization project (Riverwalk) which in turn will bring remediation to the Downtown Flood Plain which has so restricted the redevelopment and refreshment of the inner core of Brampton for so many years.

It is to be hoped that site selection will reinforce City building and planning directions already in place, taking into account catalytic and synergistic opportunities for the betterment of the community.

We believe that, given the present size of Brampton (610,000) and the explosive growth now being experienced, provincial funding commitments already announced will favour this community over others, and in keeping with Canada’s 9th largest City.

We would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to thank the Mayor and everyone on the Blue Ribbon panel for their dedication and insightful work to bring a University to Brampton. It will be a “game-changer”.

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden

Co-Chairs – CFBB

CFBB OPINION:   Avoid any Sister City Agreements

For the Mayors’ staff not to communicate properly with the rest of Council is unacceptable.   The December 20th press release was a clear contravention to Council’s resolution and could very well be in violation of the City’s own Code of Conduct.  Mayor Jeffrey and Councillor Medeiros are the architects of this controversy and should make a formal apology to Brampton’s Tamil community for misleading  them to think a Sister City agreement was forthcoming.  Just like the recent Sister City Agreement with the Town of Ribeira Grande , Sao Miguel, Portugal,   CFBB feels that there has been little evidence over the years of any real economic benefit to the City of Brampton with these types of arrangements.  In our opinion, these politically motivated sister city agreements are just vote pandering and an excuse for Council members to take junkets at the taxpayers’ expense.  In our opinion, the best policy moving forward should be to avoid any new sister city agreements entirely.   Don’t we have more important matters for our Mayor and Council to focus their attention on?

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden

Co-Chairs CFBB

OPINION – CFBB supports Durham Health Coalition’s call for the Province to address Hospital bed shortages

We would like to share an Editorial from Durham (Oshawa This Week) with our followers.
The editorial highlights a serious issue that CFBB has raised repeatedly over the past few years, that Brampton is the most underserviced Top 10 city in Canada with less than 1.0 bed per 100,000 residents. It is also the ONLY city with ONE ER department, an unacceptable situation! (National average is approximately 2.3 beds per 100,000 residents)
In 2017 we will be opening  a new healthcare facility with NO additional beds,  and we just recently received $6 million of funding to FINALLY open all 608 promised  beds at Brampton Civic.  The additional beds, CFBB have confirmed, will take anywhere from 6-9 months before fully operational, a full decade since Brampton Civic opened its doors!
Once again, we are calling upon Mayor Jeffrey, Council, and all of our Liberal Brampton MPP’s to demand that Peel Memorial Phase 2 planning commence immediately which will include a second ER with a minimum of 200 inpatient beds.

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden

Co-Chairs CFBB

January 13, 2017