Getting away from retail politics, the time-consuming daily demands from constituents who need help with issues like snow clearing and fixing pot-holes, is something many Brampton councillors say they need to do.
On Wednesday, following the lead of Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon, they took the first step to move away from an administrative service role, by tentatively approving a new staffing model that will allow for extra hires to help them with big-city issues facing Brampton, like crime, transit, a new university and funding for proper healthcare.
Long after a hastily announced resignation on Facebook, Raj Grewal has yet to make it official.
Constituents don’t know if Grewal, who was kicked out of the Liberal caucus in a scandal involving gambling and huge debts, will continue to represent them in Ottawa.
Grewal had promised to make a final decision in the new year, but the next session of Parliament is fast approaching without a word on his political future.
The Pointer takes a look at the business left over from 2018 that will preoccupy council at today’s key committee meeting.
Issues that will dominate council debate include what happens to a campus planned for downtown, the state of city infrastructure, and a controversial move by some on council that could see members vote to boost their own staffing level to meet growing demands. If passed, the decision would fly in the face of Mayor Patrick Brown’s call for fiscal belt-tightening across the rest of city hall.
The possible dismantling or restructuring of Peel Region has been in the air for years and on Tuesday the Doug Ford government announced a review of regional governments across the province.
The move is hardly surprising — Ford, Hazel McCallion and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie have been signalling that change is needed. For Brampton taxpayers hoping the Ontario leader has the city’s best interests at heart, don’t kid yourself. Giving Mississauga what it has wanted for a long time could deeply hurt its neighbour to the north, not that those currently holding all the power care.
Friday’s Ontario-wide lottery to select 25 licence holders who will be allowed to open a legal retail cannabis outlet in the province drew almost 17,000 applicants. One of the winners is Brampton resident Clint Seukeran, who can now pick from the municipalities that allow cannabis sales to decide where he will open his store.
That puts even more pressure on Brampton council’s decision at a special meeting Jan. 21, one day ahead of the deadline for cities to either opt in or out of legal cannabis shops.
Michael Palleschi will represent Brampton as Peel Region forms an overall safety and well-being plan, mandated by the previous provincial government. The aim is to get local leaders more involved with problems at their doorstep.
Palleschi will be part of a panel that also includes councillors from Mississauga and Caledon, experts and residents, all focused on building a safer, healthier community. Over the next two years, they will be tasked with bringing together ideas and solutions to coordinate a new regional effort to prevent the root causes of crime and social decay.
Justice Michael Quigley admits to insensitive language in his ruling against Darren John’s application for legal assistance, but says he “did not intend to make any comment that could be perceived as racist.”
That’s according to a letter from the Canadian Judicial Council after John filed a complaint about the words Quigley used in turning down his request for monetary help in appealing a conviction of uttering threats. The chief justice, the letter says, “is satisfied that Justice Quigley does regret the unintended interpretation of his words.”
A special cannabis forum was held at the City Hall Conservatory Thursday night, and a crowd of 150 showed up, with another 200 watching online. Emotions ran high, and the question of whether recreational cannabis use is good, or very bad, was articulated in emotional outbursts. The town hall gathering sets up a dramatic January 21st council vote about the sale of a legal intoxicant in the city, but unanswered questions about cannabis use, and how it impacts society, are being argued right across North America.
Longtime Brampton-based filmmaker Chuck Scott has for years championed the city as a future arts-hub.
Now, despite recent moves that have hurt the cultural scene in the city, he says it’s time to change the conversation. The arts, which create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenues, could be just the economic driver Brampton is looking for.
A firestorm has spread across Brampton as new changes to GO train service have made an already overcrowded system even worse for thousands of commuters. The changes to routes servicing the city have created onboarding problems and lengthy delays, while cars and platforms have been dangerously overcrowded, according to many riders.
Thursday morning Mayor Patrick Brown went to see how bad things were and he also penned a terse letter to the provincial government. By the afternoon a band-aid solution of two extra passenger cars was announced by the PC government.
Thursday’s town hall meeting drew both passionate support and opposition to retail cannabis stores in the city.
Among the issues: Will legal marijuana reduce or boost crime? Will it keep cannabis out of the hands of kids or make it easier to get? And will having stores in the city (or not) actually make any difference?
Councillors were present to take it all in as they prepare to vote on the issue Jan. 21.
The decision by Justice John Sproat comes as a relief for the City of Brampton as it faces financial struggles that have stalled major projects.
Sproat’s ruling, the conclusion of a legal battle that began almost eight years ago, dismissed allegations that former senior staff were biased against builder John Cutruzzola and unfairly disqualified his company, Inzola, from bidding on a lucrative redevelopment deal.
It’s not clear who will pay the city’s legal costs in fighting the lawsuit.
A provincial online survey to collect ideas for making insurance more affordable is just wasting time, says MPP Gurratan Singh, who has pledged to change rules that he says allow insurance companies to discriminate against Brampton drivers based on their postal code.
The Brampton East MPP says the government should be putting up a bill now to give real relief to Ontario motorists — particularly those in the city, who can pay as much as $1000 more than drivers in Toronto with similar driving records.
Shortage? what shortage? says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, refuting widespread reports of a cannabis supply boondoggle, while blaming Ontario’s ‘rocky rollout’ of legalized pot on the Doug Ford government’s obsession with undoing the Liberal plan for cannabis under Kathleen Wynne.
Border Security Minister Bill Blair's spokesperson says that, contrary to Ontario’s “excuses,” there is plenty of product available, with 140 licensed producers and a large stockpile.
The province’s insistence that a shortage led to reducing retail licences to just 25 is complicating the issue for Brampton, which must make a decision on opting in or out of retail sales by Jan. 22.
A letter of intent claims the Ontario finance minister was libelled in an anecdote in Brown’s book about a former staff member’s misconduct complaint against Fedeli.
The incident was known to PC leadership before publication of the book, according to Premier Doug Ford, who said in the Legislature that it had already been investigated without a “shred of evidence” being found.
The matter has never been tested in court.
Community concern over a wave of violent crime spread across Brampton in 2018, as the issue remains the number one problem for the city’s residents. While crime needs to be confronted head on by Peel police, local leaders, other levels of government and the public, a look at the statistics over a longer period suggests 2018 might have been an anomaly, not part of a pattern of rising violent crime.
Population growth and other more random factors can sometimes explain increases in crime year over year. Overall, when looking at national and provincial crime statistics and numbers in Peel over the years to understand crime in Brampton and Mississauga, last year has to be compared with broader data.
The decision not to award a contract for replacement of aging water and sewer pipes follows Brampton’s decision to pump the brakes on its revamped streetscape plans.
Waiting will give the city a chance to deal with unknown costs and changes to the transit plan, but it could put downtown in additional peril because of aging infrastructure.
Consultants warned a decade ago that the utilities would be at a breaking point by 2019.
Allegations of misconduct against former senior staff with the City of Brampton and former mayor Susan Fennell have hung like a dark cloud for almost eight years since a $28.5 million lawsuit was filed in 2011.
The city has been admonished for dragging the lawsuit out, forcing motions to be filed so the plaintiff could get documents to help its case and cancelling its own attempt to end the suit before a trial when it withdrew its own motion for a summary judgment. Now, finally, after the nine-week trial wrapped up in September, a decision by the judge is expected soon.
The Pointer provides an account of the key points in the case and the main evidence presented at trial.
Brampton’s new council has been lauded by many as more representative of its people. But is it really? Does the new crew at city hall match up with the city’s demographics? And how does it compare to surrounding municipalities?
Charmaine Williams is the only Black council member in Brampton and Mississauga, where police street checks, or carding stops, have been aggressively supported by the outgoing chief.
Williams has picked up the torch, buoyed by a new report, to end the harmful practice that has targeted young Black men and to push for community-police partnerships that have been eroded. Will the rest of Brampton council strongly support her?
With the Downtown Reimagined plan now shelved because of unknown costs and unknown problems beneath the surface of the city-centre, retailers are anxious as the area continues to show its age.
They say two decades of neglect have done damage to business. But now, with a new council and a new, dynamic plan for the city’s future it's time to begin the transformation right in the heart of Brampton.
With budget season coming over the horizon, it’s time for council members to shake off the holidays and focus on getting the city’s finances in order.
City hall staff has provided the public with a timeline of when to expect what in the budgeting process.
One big-ticket item to be accounted for is the soon-to-arrive Ryerson University satellite campus and downtown innovation centre. Council will have to figure out how to raise the $150 million already pledged for that project — and where the money for many other needed projects will come from.
New councillor Charmaine Williams is ready to pick up the torch to ensure the committee she chairs will take Justice Michael Tulloch’s report on carding seriously and follow through on its sweeping recommendations for policing reforms, welcomed by critics of Peel’s force.
Tulloch’s review of carding across the province, released Dec. 31, concluded that random carding is ineffective, offers low-quality data, and is often practised discriminately — contradicting departing Chief Jennifer Evans’ claim that it’s an invaluable police tool.
His recommendations for a more diverse police force and a deep culture shift could set the tone for dealing with the number one concern of Brampton citizens: crime.
For residents worried about pot shops springing up all across the city, it might not matter if council opts in or out of allowing legal cannabis stores in Brampton. The province has released details of a lottery to decide where the only 25 retail cannabis licences to be issued this year in Ontario will go.
The entire GTA outside of Toronto is slated for just six stores, meaning that even if Brampton City Council decides at its Jan. 21 meeting to allow the stores within city limits, there won’t be a pot shop on every corner — or maybe any corner — in the city for the foreseeable future.
Despite the fanfare associated with pot legalization, a shortage of product means a much slower rollout than expected in cities that opt in across Ontario.
Justice Michael Tulloch’s sweeping review of what happened after “carding” was restricted in Ontario includes a call to ban random stops for gathering intelligence data, better public and police education on the limits of street checks, more diversity in forces that, like Peel’s, don’t reflect the community and a revolution in police culture. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga's Bonnie Crombie say the new report lays out the way policing should be approached in the two cities.
The judge’s report refutes claims by outgoing Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans that curtailing carding is connected to an increase in crime.
Residents can choose from several locations and dates to register their opinions with city staff on the issue of pot shops within city limits.
In addition, a town-hall gathering on Jan. 10 at city hall will include a presentation and a panel discussion; if you can’t attend, you can join the live-stream on the city’s Facebook event page.
The information gathered will help council make a decision on whether to allow the stores in the city or not, one day ahead of the Jan. 22 deadline.
Second-year Sheridan College computer science student Sylvia Roberts wants to fire up Brampton residents, to get them more involved in their city. She has been live-tweeting council meetings for a year, and says unaddressed housing issues are only going to worsen with a new university campus in the city. She also wants council to address the plight of seniors in a city with few housing options for them.
She’s raising the alarm through @BramRecorder, hoping to get council moving towards fixing these problems and many others hiding in plain view before the city's residents.
On the last day of the year, here's The Pointer's wrap on 2018. It was a rollicking year that set the tone in a city with huge potential, as residents now look to leaders who emerged over the past 12 months, hoping they will propel Brampton into a promising future. Linda Jeffrey is out as mayor and Patrick Brown is in. Raj Grewal is on the ropes and Doug Ford is looking for a fight.
The issues and people that made headlines throughout a wild 2018 in Brampton serve as reminders of things to come.
Mayor Patrick Brown wants a tax freeze for 2019, but history shows that while wildly popular, such a move can be devastating in the long run. An external audit of City Hall has been ordered and international firm KPMG will report its findings in the new year. Why not wait for a clear picture before setting the city on a course sure to be popular, and possibly fatal?
The Harrison family case, involving the deaths of three Mississauga residents, is one of many that have raised questions about Peel police's investigative practices and the competency of the force.
A newly constituted police board led by Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will oversee a police department racked with problems over its practices and its poor relationship with visible minority communities, which make up two thirds of the population in the two cities the force patrols.
This is the second and final part of a series that was originally published by The Pointer in September.
As residents look to their newly elected officials for solutions, media reports of violence in Brampton are dominating the headlines, the city’s utilities are in dire need of upgrades, and staff are without a leader to guide them through a watershed time for the city.
Addressing a healthcare crisis and finding $90 million pulled by the province for a new university campus are just two of the many other issues on the agenda. Voters who put them into power will be looking for council members to rise to the occasion as many challenges lie ahead in the new year.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will join the Peel police board in the new year. The most pressing issue facing the members that oversee the country's third largest municipal police force is the search for a new chief. Jennifer Evans will be stepping down in January and leaves a troubled force that under her leadership has been plagued by officer misconduct and a series of badly handled cases. With violent crime on the rise, many are calling for Peel police to reform itself as critics point to the growing list of problems.
The Pointer originally published this story in September and will feature part 2 of the series later this week.
Gary Collins is a long-time stalwart of the political wars and brings that kind of experience to the communications department inside the mayor's office at city hall. His trustworthiness and ability to build bridges between council and staff are most needed at a time of transition when a laundry list of challenges faces them over the next four years.
Part museum, part gallery, part archive, and part community hub, the Peel Archives Museum and Art Gallery has grown and changed over its half-century of collecting, curating and exhibiting in the fast-growing, cosmopolitan community it serves.
More than just a reflection of the past, or an entertaining spot to view our contemporary social and cultural environment, PAMA hopes to be a place that hosts thoughtful discussion and exhibitions that continue to reflect our dynamic, rapidly evolving region.
Thanks to Habitat for Humanity, seven Brampton families each moved into their new home yesterday, Saturday, just in time for the new year.
Affordable housing is an issue that comes into sharper focus around the holiday season, when thousands of families across the city struggle during a time of giving. Around the world, income inequality is becoming a significant problem as more and more people need help from food banks and housing agencies.
Anti-Muslim agitator Ron Banerjee, pictured here, publicly apologized after making discriminatory remarks about a successful Peel-based restaurateur, who is Muslim. A settlement after a lawsuit was filed compelled Banerjee to say sorry.
But in Brampton’s rapidly growing South Asian community local politicians say more needs to be done to make sure old-world divisions don’t create religious and cultural tensions here.
Peel Region will be setting up its own panel to deal with crime, but Brampton councillors say they need to tackle issues surrounding the rise in crime themselves, given the alarming increase in violence that has rattled residents this year.
Instead of scrapping the city’s committee as staff recommended, they will expand it to include more citizen involvement.
The fledgling transit committee will also be expanded to give residents a place to voice their concerns and hopes — signaling that this council, as one member said, is “paying attention to the details.”
An environmental assessment will help the city solve the downtown flooding risk while opening the way to create a signature urban destination in the heart of the city along its hidden riverwalk.
Ottawa has just committed $1.5 million for the study that promises to lift the floodplain designation hindering redevelopment of Brampton’s moribund downtown area.
The funding comes as local MPs prepare for next year’s federal election, when voters will be watching to see if Brampton’s needs are being looked after.
The City of Brampton’s former top bureaucrat testified earlier this year in the trial for a $28.5 million lawsuit against the city over a controversial $500 million downtown development deal.
On the witness stand she was shown evidence that contradicted her earlier testimony in the case. Dubenofsky told the court she had made “inaccurate” statements in her earlier sworn testimony.
A $2.25-billion project to build a bypass that would take freight trains off the rail route used by Brampton GO train commuters has been ditched by the province.
The Doug Ford government announced a couple of new weekday trips along the Kitchener GO line with the promise that it will achieve all-day, two-way service eventually under new agreements with CN, which owns the congested track.
Commuters impatient for more frequent, less-crowded and electrified service on the line have reasons to be skeptical about the wisdom of ending a project that had already gone through planning and technical analysis.
After almost a decade of stiff tax increases on the city’s share of the property bill, council, led by Mayor Patrick Brown, is trying to give residents some relief next year. An audit has been requested so staff can find efficiencies that will prevent any increase for the 2019 budget.
A 2015 analysis of the city’s finances found that excessive labour costs inside City Hall are not sustainable.
Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, was trotted out a week ago by the ruling PC party just as the legislature disbanded for the year. It could be the death knell for the Greenbelt in Ontario, or kick-up a furious reaction from both the public and municipalities in Southern Ontario that want no part of Doug Ford’s land gobbling plan.
Toronto opted to allow retail cannabis stores and Mississauga opted out, meanwhile Brampton remains in a holding pattern on the issue.
Peel Region, after a motion from a Mississauga councillor, could implement rules banning consumption of cannabis in public spaces when the issue comes back to regional council next month.
While Brampton does some soul-searching to determine the best course, it’s unclear if council will decide to follow Mississauga’s anti-cannabis stance or Toronto’s pro-cannabis position. Either way, what happens next door will have a direct impact here.
Brampton residents voiced strong support for the Main Street LRT route this week, as council moved forward with a unified plan to finally bring higher order transit to the city. Despite some lingering concerns about the Main Street alignment running through the heritage district and other potential barriers along the corridor, the only thing that appears to be an issue is the funding.
The approximate cost of $300 million has not yet been committed by the province.
Studies will also have to be done to ensure an LRT can be built along Main Street.
Few records exist about old water channels built long ago beneath downtown.
Failure to figure out where they are and what needs to be done about them has thrown a monkey wrench into the Downtown Reimagined project.
Wednesday, faced with still unknown costs related to the tunnels and new questions about the LRT and university campus, councillors voted to put the whole thing on hold.
A motion going before Peel Region Council on Thursday could result in a ban on smoking pot in all public areas.
The City of Mississauga voted to opt out of allowing retail cannabis shops in the city on Wednesday.
All of this is putting pressure on Brampton councillors to figure out where they stand on the issue before they need to decide officially on allowing stores in Brampton in January.
No reasons were given for the abrupt split with the man Linda Jeffrey brought in as a “change agent” in 2016.
Schlange, who fired 25 top bureaucrats in a major shakeup soon after his arrival, may be due for a hefty severance.
While the city looks for a new CAO, Joe Pittari, commissioner of corporate services and the city’s leader on the cannabis file, will be filling in.
Gurpreet Dhillon’s motion to move forward with a Main Street LRT, with a tunnelling option to be considered, is on the agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting. The possibility of going underground, suggested by Mayor Patrick Brown, was a way to get every member on board with the plan at last week’s committee meeting.
If passed today, the city will finally move forward with an agreed upon route for a future light rail system. Here are some of the details you should know.
With the city’s debate on whether to allow cannabis retail stores deferred to the new year, two true believers in the potential of the plant are making themselves heard.
One a cancer survivor, the other a recovering alcoholic, they’re going up against Councillor Charmaine Williams, who has signalled staunch opposition to retail shops in Brampton.
If the city wants to opt out, it will need to make that decision by Jan. 22.
Peel Region is ready to move ahead with fixing aging water and sewer lines downtown, but there’s a hitch.
The city is still facing unknown costs on its part of the project, which is to develop a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape.
Between unknowns beneath the streets and big question marks around the LRT and Ryerson campus, staff are recommending pressing the pause button on Downtown Reimagined.
Few issues in Brampton are as polarizing as secondary suites. Many in the city, including thousands of newcomers, rely on these affordable housing alternatives, until they can enter the property market as buyers.
But other residents feel the proliferation of secondary suites, also known as basement apartments, is taxing city services, as Brampton's residential streets become more and more crowded to accommodate dwellers of these popular units. A new council, facing a stretched budget and many frustrated constituents, will have to address this complex issue.
The story has been updated since its original publication in September.
Days after taking office, some city councillors are impatient to hire extra staff, which they claim will improve service to a growing number of constituents sending complaints and seeking help from their local representatives.
Brampton needs to start thinking more like the big city it has become, says Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon, who introduced the motion.
Others say adding 10 staff at city hall is a waste of money in an already stretched budget — and that the offices aren’t big enough to handle them. The city’s finances are already strained because of bloated labour costs. What happens next hinges on a report from the city clerk’s office.
The inaugural session of regional council might be the last in Peel if a group of political dissidents from the provincial and municipal world have their way. But will the possible dismantling of the region and council at the whim of Hazel McCallion, Bonnie Crombie and the Doug Ford government be good for Mississauga, bad for Brampton and Caledon, or will all three suffer? If Ford gets one mega-city, his PC party will feel the political fallout for years to come.
Recent statistics show that Brampton and Mississauga have a problem with increasing rates of youth crime. With money tight across the province, Peel police is looking to the federal government for funding help to curb youth violence.
Local MPs, The Pointer has learned, are now trying to help the force get the money it needs, while Peel police continues with other proactive initiatives to guide the region’s young people away from a life of crime.
Conservatives on the parliamentary ethics committee want to know when the prime minister’s office was informed about the ex-Liberal MP’s gambling problem and possible connections with an RCMP money-laundering investigation.
It’s not clear whether the Brampton East MP, who reneged on his pledge to resign last month, is being investigated in connection with a City of Brampton land deal that he’d received confidential information about, prior to a sale that cost the city an extra $1 million.
Grewal continues as an independent MP after being forced out of the Liberal caucus.
For the second time in as many municipal elections, a longtime Mississauga councillor has been chosen to lead Peel Region as chair of its council. Nando Iannicca won the job thanks in part to some Brampton regional councillors who broke ranks with their mayor.
Martin Medeiros, in a move against Mayor Patrick Brown’s choice, seconded Iannicca’s nomination, which was put forward by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who made her own split, away from the wishes of her one-time supporter, former mayor Hazel McCallion.
A Wednesday motion to reopen the possibility of a Main Street route for light rail, supported by some long-time Linda Jeffrey allies and council newcomers, raised the spectre of another acrimonious term.
Mayor Patrick Brown labelled Gurpreet Dhillon’s motion as “short-sighted” and likely to stoke division in a council that is trying to leave the past behind.
However, a compromise prevailed, raising the possibility that parts of the downtown route, if it ever gets built, might go underground through the city’s heritage district.
Councillors will hold a special meeting in January to decide whether to opt out of allowing cannabis stores in the city, with some questioning the results of a survey showing a slim majority of residents want them.
Meanwhile, the city’s controversial support for the Brampton Beast hockey club and the Riverstone Golf Club purchase were back on the table on Wednesday, behind closed doors.
The Brampton Beast hockey team bailout and the Riverstone golf club purchase are back on the agenda for the first committee of council meeting of the new term.
So are, not surprisingly, two longed-for items that the city just can’t quite seize: an LRT route into the heart of downtown and a university campus Brampton can call its own.
What happens in this meeting, with five new faces around the table — including Mayor Patrick Brown — could help set the tone for a whole new term.
An Environics survey commissioned by the city found 54 percent of Bramptonians somewhat or strongly support allowing private retail sales of cannabis within city limits.
But with the issue on Wednesday’s committee of council agenda for a possible vote (that would have to be ratified next week), some councillors would rather wait and see how the rollout of legal pot is handled in other communities before choosing to opt-in.
The province has given municipalities until Jan. 22 to opt out, for now. Those who don’t could have shops open by April 1.
Brampton’s roster of regional councillors is now set and will play a key role in choosing the new chair of Peel Regional Council this week.
But even with a complete revamp of the mayor’s office and a new-look council taking up residence at city hall, the question remains: will Brampton finally get its just rewards as one of the fastest growing communities in Canada? That would mean more services, more representation, and more respect.
A lot is at stake for each of Peel’s three municipalities, as regional councillors politic for a chair to serve their interests.
Staying true to his election campaign’s main pledge, Mayor Patrick Brown left a packed house at the Rose Theatre Monday night giddy with hope, as the hyper-energetic leader vowed to bring economic development and jobs to the city.
Brown laid out an ambitious agenda for the next four years to lift Brampton out of a decade-long rut. His fellow colleagues on the new council pledged to work as a team to help the mayor fulfill his lofty goals.
Meeting for the first time on Tuesday, Brampton councillors unanimously rejected the city clerk’s recommendation to disband committees focused on transportation options, community safety, and diversity and equity issues.
The move signals a desire by the new council to give special attention to concerns that were top of mind for citizens at the doorstep during the fall election campaign—and to avoid embarrassing missteps in a city that is more diverse than ever.
The actions of Brampton MP Raj Grewal and MP Tony Clement, a former MPP for the city, are jarring.
But the inaction of rookie Brampton PC MPP Amarjot Sandhu is even more troubling in a city whose voters are alarmed by the harm an elected official is doing to the place where they live.
Of 11 members, the mayor and four councillors are new, creating a more diverse governing body and possibly a new dynamic on a council that had been widely considered dysfunctional.
The last government left several major issues unfinished and the incoming members will have to pick up where they left off. Some hot topics: opting-out of cannabis stores in the city, funding the Ryerson University campus and restarting the sputtering LRT debate.
Social services issues at the region and for Mayor Patrick Brown, who will sit on the police board, mounting public safety concerns will all be part of a busy agenda for the city's leaders.
MP Navdeep Bains was asked about a photo showing him with a director of a Brampton company that sold a 20-acre property to the city early this year for about $1 million more than the municipality was originally going to pay.
The Pointer reported last week that former mayor Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff gave confidential details of the city’s deal with the province to buy the land to Bains and MP Raj Grewal. The deal fell through and the land was sold to a company that flipped it back to the city at a large profit.
In question period Monday, Bains denied any connection to the company. The company released a statement saying it did not receive any confidential information about the deal.
The company that bought a parcel of land from the province then sold it to the City of Brampton for the Goreway Bridge project has released a statement aggressively denying it used any information from politicians or political parties to help it acquire and sell the property.
The statement comes days after Brampton East MP Raj Grewal and Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains, who received confidential information about the city’s negotiation with the province from Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff, denied sharing the information with anyone.
Brampton East MP Raj Grewal released a video to The Globe and Mail published late Friday, in which he details his gambling debts and declares he will quit the Liberal caucus, but leaves open the possibility of holding onto his riding seat.
Grewal also says he did not disclose confidential details about a proposed Brampton land transaction that he received, unsolicited, from Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff.
The MP says he gambled recreationally since university, but the habit developed into a mental health issue when he started to play high stakes blackjack at an Ottawa-area casino next to the hotel he stayed at as a parliamentarian.
He apologized for his behaviour, to his family, constituents, colleagues and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Maple Leaf Foods is moving to consolidate operations in a new state-of-the-art plant to be built in London, Ont., by 2022.
Brampton’s aging facility, which employs 324 unionized workers, will close in the process, along with two others in Toronto and Perth South.
The move means more jobs in London, but the loss of a mainstay of the local economy marks yet another blow to Brampton’s dwindling blue-collar employment base.
The results of a City of Brampton investigation into a real estate transaction that cost taxpayers $1 million extra has been sent to the RCMP, after councillors learned Brampton East MP Raj Grewal and Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains were given confidential details about the pending deal—including the agreed price—by Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff, Hasneet Singh Punia.
The provincially owned property, needed to fix a traffic bottleneck at a railway crossing on Goreway Drive, was instead sold to private investors, who flipped it back to the city months later well above the price the city and province had agreed to.
If GM can suddenly call a halt to production in “Canada’s Automotive Capital” on the grounds that few are buying sedans anymore, can auto workers at Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton plant feel safe?
Like Oshawa, they’re building gas-guzzling sedans, a category quickly losing market share to SUVs and crossover vehicles. Meanwhile, the industry is moving toward the cars of the future: green and autonomous vehicles.
For municipal leaders, including new mayor Patrick Brown, Oshawa’s woe is a warning to make diversifying the city’s economic base a top concern.
An infusion of cash announced Wednesday will help a small Niagara hospital upgrade its aging facilities, a move trumpeted by Premier Doug Ford as part of “our plan to end hallway healthcare.”
The promised $8.5 million will go toward new infrastructure for the hospital.
Meanwhile, fast-growing Brampton’s desperately overcrowded hospital is seeing no signals of help from the province.
The federal government’s ethics commissioner was investigating Grewal over the appearance of favours given to a construction company from which he also received income, according to public disclosures.
Now, a Brampton law firm that was paying Grewal is not speaking publicly about its relationship with the former MP or what work he did for the firm while serving as an elected official.
The ethics watchdog responsible for complaints against MPs says the probe into former Brampton East MP Raj Grewal over his relationship with a local builder invited on a trip to India in January will continue, despite his recent resignation due to gambling problems.
Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail has reported details of an RCMP investigation into Grewal’s gambling and some of his recent spending that led to significant debt, including millions spent at an Ottawa-area casino.
Peel police wants to increase its budget next year by almost three times the current rate of inflation in Ontario.
Citing her concerns over increased violent crime, the lame-duck head of the force, departing Chief Jennifer Evans, has presented the police board with a proposed $423-million budget for 2019.
That represents a 5.4 percent increase over last year, money that will help in hiring 55 additional officers to deal with rising crime and the fallout from pot legalization.
But there are questions: With an expensive new contract kicking in next year, putting every single first-class constable on the Sunshine List, will Peel Region buy it? And will the Doug Ford government cheapskate Brampton again, by withholding its policing grant?
Departing Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey still hasn’t thrown her hat in the ring but acknowledges that she’s been “approached” about her interest in a job that, while out of the public spotlight, demands the sort of deep knowledge and experience a former mayor possesses.
Picking a new chair will be one of the first orders of business on Dec. 6, when a reconstituted Peel Region Council gathers for the first time since the municipal election.
Also waiting in the wings are several former Brampton and Mississauga councillors, and former Liberal MPPs who lost their seats in last June’s provincial election.
On Friday, a diversity and equity audit examining hiring, promotions and other practices inside Peel’s police force was expected to be revealed publicly at the last board meeting of the current term. It wasn’t.
A private firm handed it to the board in the spring, but it continues to play games with the community it’s supposed to serve.
Compliant, inexperienced police board members in the past, including a car salesman and a real estate agent close to Hazel McCallion, seemed more interested in approving tens of thousands of dollars to buy tickets for swanky private galas than in holding the force accountable.
Rookie Brampton backbencher Raj Grewal quit unexpectedly, amid a probe into an official trip to India he took with a Canadian businessman whose company had Grewal on its payroll, at the time.
The PMO now says that a serious gambling addiction was the reason for the resignation. Grewal leaves his vacated Brampton East MP seat open until next fall’s federal election. In the meantime, constituents will probably have to look to neighbouring MPs for any help with official matters.
Brampton’s unemployment rate is 46 percent higher than Ontario’s, and city residents who depend on social assistance while trying to re-enter the workforce will fall further behind under the PC government’s plan, announced Thursday.
A 1.5 percent overall increase in payments won’t even keep up with inflation.
But the government is promising a more coordinated approach to helping people find work and leave the system permanently.
Despite hints that a long-awaited equity and diversity audit report would be released during the Peel Police Services Board’s final meeting of the year, there was no mention of the audit on Friday’s agenda.
The Peel Coalition Against Racialized Discrimination says the report was actually completed in April but hasn’t been made public because it contains embarrassing details on how the force has failed to reflect the diverse community it serves.
Chief Jennifer Evans, who plans to retire in a few weeks, provided no information on where the report is or when it will be released.
A new Peel Police Board with the new mayor of Brampton and a new regional chair will have to find a new chief to replace Jennifer Evans, the controversial head of a force plagued by officer misconduct and allegations of systemic discrimination.
As violent crime spirals out of control, Brampton and Mississauga need a chief with fresh ideas who can bring a new, modern style of policing to one of the fastest growing, most diverse and complex regions in the country.
Set-top devices popular in the city’s large immigrant communities, and readily available in dozens of video stores, make it easy to employ illegal streaming services that are commonly used by people who appreciate cheap access to programming from other parts of the world.
But the business of piracy is a costly problem for licensed media outlets, large and small — including independent operators that once thrived by serving diaspora communities and offering legally obtained news and entertainment in languages such as Punjabi.
Trying to fight the illegal practice poses problems, as attempting to restrict access to pirated websites could lead to a violation of Charter rights.
Justice is not being served in Brampton, a judge has written in a scathing indictment against the provincial government for failing to properly fund the city’s main courthouse.
Cases are being delayed, there are not enough courtrooms and some people involved in matters before the court are being denied basic rights to access justice, wrote senior regional judge Peter Daley, who called out the provincial government Monday in a sharply worded report over its continued failure to take responsibility of the justice system in Peel.
The increasingly desperate situation at the Brampton courthouse on Hurontario Street is another issue on a growing list of poorly funded provincial services, including healthcare, public safety, regional transit and education, that are not keeping up with the city’s rapid growth, which is mandated by the province.
Rapper Darren John says he can’t afford a lawyer to fight his conviction on uttering threats against his former promoter.
But a judge who was to determine whether he gets help to pay for one brought quite a few observations into the mix beyond evidence given in court of his financial need.
The first question Peel politicians will need to deal with in this new council term is the future of policing in Brampton and Mississauga, where much will depend on the choice of the next police chief — and how willing the provincial government will be to pony up for more cops and resources to tackle rising crime.
Mayor-elect Patrick Brown has vowed to push for more resources in the community and on the police force. But will he go for new blood or push to hire within?
That’s just one of many questions faced by the Peel Police Services Board while awaiting the results of a police diversity audit, due out this week.
Brampton Mayor-elect Patrick Brown’s new memoir breaks the mould of stodgy, predictable political biographies that employ pedestrian language to bore readers into submission. Unlike other books beside it on store shelves, it’s not likely in this coming holiday season that copies of Takedown will be moved to the remainder bin.
It currently sits atop Amazon Canada’s bestseller list for political biographies where it stands out from other books in the staid genre.
It’s a tell-all thriller and political takedown of Ontario Progressive Conservative Party bosses that paves the way for someone, perhaps Brown himself, to begin a new Conservative movement in Ontario.
In Chapter 5 of his memoir, Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, titled “Night of Knives,” Patrick Brown describes what happened during the frantic hours after he learned of the allegations against him: the betrayal of trusted members of his team, the chaotic midnight conference call that sealed his fate, and his desperate attempt to persuade his party to let him tell his side of the story before killing his career in provincial politics.
Read the entire chapter in this exclusive excerpt on The Pointer.
(The language includes profanity and may be offensive to some readers)
Though it will come too late for last Sunday’s centenary of the end of World War I, a new memorial wall will provide a more fitting tribute to the 163 Bramptonians who have died fighting in Canada’s wars.
The project, the subject of a rare unanimous vote by city council, will be built in Ken Whillans Square once plans for a renewal project in that area are completed.
Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Legion’s local branch is dreaming about what the project will look like when it’s finally erected next to the long-standing cenotaph.
Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown was released at a Brampton launch party on Friday, already a top seller for its publisher.
The coming-out party at Carl’s Catering The Glen drew media, residents and the city elite, eager to hear how Brown expects to handle the fallout of his bridge-burning book about his meteoric rise and fall as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.
Brown shrugged off concerns, saying he hadn’t made any new enemies with the book.
The newly elected mayor of Brampton reflects on his spectacular rise, fall and resurrection from the political ashes of last January’s sexual-misconduct allegations in a wide-ranging interview with The Pointer.
He talks about his support of the #MeToo movement despite being caught in the “eye of the storm”, the “catharsis” of writing a book, why he doesn’t care that it will burn a lot of bridges and what he hopes to do for the city as he returns to municipal politics.
Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, has raised a ruckus even before its bookstore launch this Friday, with its pull-no-punches invective against Tory caucus members who ousted him from the party leadership last January.
The anger on both sides is palpable but should come as no surprise to observers of the fraught party politics that surrounded Brown’s ascendancy to the Progressive Conservative leadership and his tumultuous fall from grace within hours of a CTV story that made allegations of sexual misconduct — allegations he continues to vigorously deny.
The Hurontario LRT is critical for bringing higher-order transit into the city of Brampton. Now it looks like the project may be on the chopping block.
Following discussions with ministry reps, the Ontario NDP transit critic says the government under Premier Doug Ford is refusing to deny rumours that the Hurontario LRT project is set to be cancelled.
While the Conservatives claim they have yet to make any decisions surrounding the future of the project, the uncertainty itself is not a good thing for Brampton.
Brampton’s mayor-elect has penned a remarkably revealing political exposé detailing the spellbinding circumstances that led to his public dismemberment following allegations of sexual misconduct.
He has vigorously denied the claims, and now details his version of the events that stripped him of the chance to be Ontario's next premier.
The Pointer will feature an exclusive interview Thursday with Brown, a day before the official launch, and an excerpt from the book, the complete chapter titled Night of Knives, this Saturday.
Missing the Remembrance Day ceremony at city hall was just the latest example of rookie PC MPP Amarjot Sandhu’s ghost-like presence.
Sandhu may have been elected to represent the interests of residents of Brampton, but he has either voted against legislation crucial to Bramptonians at Queen’s Park or been absent during such votes.
The Brampton West MPP has also been largely unavailable for inquiries from the media, to the point that his voice mailbox has been full for months.
In the midst of Peel Region’s worst ever crime wave, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is giving $200 million to provinces to help disrupt the inner workings of black-market gun sales and gang activity across the country.
An additional $86 million investment in the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency may make a difference, particularly in stemming the flow of guns over the border.
But despite a Brampton MP’s attempt to promote her government’s tough on crime initiative, it remains unclear how the city, currently reeling from a guns and gangs epidemic, will benefit directly from an infusion of badly needed funding as the city's violent crime problem continues to grow.
Among the many unresolved issues inside Queen’s Park that could deeply impact Brampton’s future, decisions about funding the city’s transit needs are among the most important. With huge potential to attract jobs and investment, higher order transit could be the catalyst to move the city forward.
But as traffic congestion becomes more crippling every day, it remains unclear if Doug Ford’s PC government will invest in Brampton’s transit needs, even if a new council under Mayor-elect Patrick Brown puts forward a decisive plan for the city’s future.
Three high-profile resignations by Conservative politicians and a staffer over allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour in recent weeks, including MP Tony Clement’s admission of ‘sexting’ women, have Brampton MPP Sara Singh and others concerned about the conduct of men in the corridors of political power.
Singh lashed out at Premier Doug Ford inside Queen’s Park Monday, accusing him of trying to cover up the allegation against former PC MPP Jim Wilson, who resigned from cabinet and the party caucus two weeks ago, when officials claimed it was over “addiction issues”.
Wait times to file family court documents in Brampton’s Superior Court of Justice reached nearly five times the ministry standard earlier this year and remain among the longest in the GTA.
While a stiff increase in the number of people going to court without lawyers — and often struggling to figure out court bureaucracy — is a problem across the province, Brampton’s courthouse is particularly hard hit, frustrating court staff and ordinary litigants alike.
With no plans to increase staff or counters at the Hurontario Street court, it’s not clear when Bramptonians will see relief.
MP and former Brampton MPP Tony Clement, who retains deep ties to the city, issued a letter to his Parry Sound constituents Thursday evening apologizing for “acts of infidelity” to his wife and admitting that he “crossed lines that should never have been crossed.”
The open letter comes less than 48 hours after the news of the sexting scandal exploded, triggering Clement’s ouster from the Conservative caucus and his departure from a prominent position on Canada’s National Security Committee.
Clement’s wife, Lynne Golding, a Brampton native and prominent lawyer and author, issued her own statement on Wednesday, saying Clement would be “taking the action he needs to get help.”
While momentum builds for changes at Queen's Park to address Brampton's sky-high auto insurance rates, many who have been dealing with the issue for decades say some elected officials in the city are misrepresenting the facts. Higher rates of costly accidents, possibly due to excessive speeds that are allowed on many of the city's streets, can lead to more expensive insurance fees.
Other reasons not related to postcode discrimination could also contribute to Brampton's exorbitant auto insurance prices, according to some in the industry.
In a city that cannot afford any more reputational damage over controversy involving senior staff and council members, Guy Giorno’s decision to step down as integrity commissioner because of his long-time ties to Mayor-elect Patrick Brown leaves a hole that newly elected officials will need to fill, despite the sometimes uneasy relationship with the person who holds them accountable.
After a series of scandals in a number of large cities, new provincial law makes having an integrity commissioner mandatory in every Ontario municipality.
Meanwhile, the position of lobbyist registrar, which Giorno also filled, is now open at a time when the city looks for ways to limit influence by corporate interests, especially developers, on important decisions, such as land use.
Long-lived regional councillors are due for hefty pensions after as much as 30 years in office, on top of the unusually large severance payments they voted for themselves while sitting on city council several years ago.
The mayor, after only four years in office, is entitled to a more modest pension. But altogether, departing council members could end up, in the long run, receiving more than $2 million.
The long-time Conservative politician is dealing with a professional and personal crisis after admitting he sent inappropriate images to a woman. Things are moving fast around the MP and married father of three, as his party leader, Andrew Scheer, asked him on Wednesday to resign from the federal Conservative caucus.
As the news spreads, in an era when political survival after similar scandals has become hard to predict, Clement has made claims of extortion as a motive behind the story, and is now asking for privacy.
Brampton City Council will have just 48 days after being sworn in to decide whether to opt out of allowing cannabis retail stores in the city, which would mean turning down potential revenues in favour of waiting to see what impact legalization will have on community health and safety.
The short timeline, which follows the Doug Ford government’s decision to move away from LCBO-like regulation to allowing private retail sales, will mean a council with five new members will need to grapple quickly with a host of issues — and some sharply differing opinions among its constituents.
More than 50 percent of Brampton’s residents were born outside Canada. With the federal government’s announcement that it plans to welcome 350,000 newcomers into the country annually as of 2021 — the highest level in the modern era — city officials wonder how Ottawa plans to help the municipality, where a disproportionate number of immigrants settle.
The city’s finances are already stretched, hospitals are beyond capacity, affordable housing is vastly underfunded, and other services aren’t keeping up. A local Liberal MP, Raj Grewal, says city council needs to do a better job of advocating for Brampton’s needs.
Within Brampton's diverse mix of faith groups, one of the city's smallest religious communities offers inspiration to all, even as many of its members fear a return to darker days.
The impact of events south of the border, as nationalism gets stoked by politicians and those using it as a way to deal with economic hardship, is being felt right here in Brampton.
Brampton City Council and Ryerson University representatives gathered Friday for a special meeting to consider next steps after the province pulled out of a $90-million commitment for a satellite campus in the city.
While optimism was expressed about the project going ahead on schedule, it remains unclear where the missing money will come from and if the location chosen by the previous provincial government will be changed.
Notably absent from the council meeting were Brampton’s two Progressive Conservative MPPs, who were invited after defending their government’s decision to cut the funding.
Brampton car owners pay an average of $2,268 annually for insurance, 70 percent more than the provincial average. Critics say many insurance providers discriminate against the city’s drivers and use postal code data to target areas where rates are hiked dramatically.
But a move Thursday by Brampton NDP MPP Gurratan Singh inside Queen’s Park to end the practice was voted down by the ruling PC government, which favours a plan by one of its MPPs to reduce rates that could still be passed. Critics of that plan say it will not end postcode discrimination in Brampton.
An appointment to the position of Peel Region chair is still more than a month away, but speculation is swirling about the potential candidates. The decision of who will serve, which the new council will make on Dec. 6, could set the tone inside Peel Region chambers for the next four years.
Will Linda Jeffrey throw her hat into the ring? Will Mississauga, with its heavy vote count, insist on a Mississauga candidate? Will Brampton councillors who backed Patrick Brown get a boost?
Either way, with Brampton looking for more seats at the table—and more clout—and Mississauga’s mayor wanting to pull out of Peel altogether, the chosen chair could be in for a rocky ride.
Four retiring city councillors together stand to receive close to $730,000 from taxpayer-funded severance as they leave office this fall.
Gael Miles, Elaine Moore, John Sprovieri and Grant Gibson are entitled to one month’s salary for every year served at city council, up to 18 months — an extremely generous cap that the four voted for themselves back in 2013 under Susan Fennell’s leadership, despite a consultant’s report that showed the average severance paid by municipalities is 5.5 months.
According to the formula, each could receive nearly $127,000 from the city and a further $56,000 from Peel Region, which caps payouts at 12 months.
Despite this year’s high-profile municipal election, voter turnout was down in Brampton, to an embarrassing 34.5 percent. That should prompt new mayor Patrick Brown to look for ways to nurture the political engagement of Bramptonians when it comes to the day-to-day issues that matter most.
The Pointer takes a look at the ups and downs of political turnout in Peel Region and the GTA, and some suggested solutions to the widespread attitude of “I don’t know and I don’t care” when it comes to municipal politics.
A survey conducted by Toronto Region Board of Trade shows that a large majority of residents of the GTA-Hamilton-Waterloo region think a proposal for consolidating transit systems under a single entity — dubbed “Superlinx” — makes sense.
The board’s president says the current system, which sends municipalities begging to higher governments for transit money, hasn’t worked, so it makes sense to send decisions to a body “where growth revenues, planning authority, and financing capacity already exist.” Some 87 percent of the Peel Region residents who took part in the board’s online panel agreed that the idea has merit.
But what happens when Brampton’s needs are pitted against, say, Scarborough’s remains an open question.
The trial for a $28.5 million lawsuit still hanging over the city heard from three retiring Brampton councillors, who testified that a number of issues around a controversial $500 million downtown development deal raised red flags.
The $205 million price of the city hall expansion, costs that should have been paid by the builder for a 377-day delay and a building that is too close to the street were some of the issues they addressed during the trial that wrapped up last month.
After Premier Doug Ford's shocking decision last week, Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath’s move to put the money for Brampton’s Ryerson University campus and two others in the GTA back into the coming year’s provincial budget goes down to defeat in the legislature Monday.
Brampton’s two PC MPPs, Amarjot Sandhu (Brampton West) and Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South), were notably absent from the vote, after leaving the chamber shortly before the decision.
The traditional turban, which Sikh motorcyclists want to wear instead of a helmet, has a long and noble history as a symbol of the faith. Many consider it an indispensable and defining part of their identity.
An Ontario private member’s bill introduced by a Brampton MPP may finally succeed in bringing the province in line with other jurisdictions that have exempted observant Sikhs from helmet laws.
Doug Ford’s short-sighted decision to cancel funding for Brampton’s first full university campus won’t stymie the energy and ideas of young students and entrepreneurs determined to become the best they can be, both academically and economically.
But with all that Brampton represents and contributes to the provincial and federal governments, instead of using it as the launch-pad for their political parties’ election campaigns, they need to make investments to move the community forward.
Brampton MPPs have been busy inside Queen's Park as a pair of bills hit the floor touching on issues very close to the city.
Motivated by lobbying from the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario, Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South) tabled a bill earlier this month—with club members present—that would exempt turban-wearing Sikh motorcyclists from the helmet requirement. That bill arrived on the floor for second reading earlier this week receiving discussion and support from both sides of the aisle.
At the same time MPP Gurratan Singh brought forward his own bill looking to tackle Brampton's sky-high auto insurance rates.
The PC government’s universities minister had no answer Thursday to pointed questions about how much money had already been sunk into three university campus projects before their provincial funding was abruptly cancelled this week.
A City of Brampton official said its planned Ryerson University campus and an accompanying innovation centre project will move forward, though it’s not clear how it will make up the $90 million contribution promised by the previous government.
The city’s two PC MPPs are echoing the party line, claiming a budget deficit made the cuts necessary, despite projections that the campuses would be huge revenue generators.
Brampton’s two Tory MPPs remained silent Wednesday on the loss of $90 million promised for a Ryerson University campus in the city—cancelled within a day of Patrick Brown’s win in the mayoral election. Meanwhile, inside Queen's Park NDP leader Andrea Horwath and three Brampton NDP members of the legislature were calling the move myopic and disastrous for the city’s economic plans.
The Doug Ford government claims the money promised by the former Liberal government—and cheered recently by some Tory MPPs whose constituents stood to gain a new campus—was too much for the province’s strained budget.
After Doug Ford's government made its shocking announcement Tuesday night, pulling $90 million in funding for a new Brampton university campus that had been approved by the previous Liberal government, councillors say they are committed to finding alternative ways to pay for the project.
Critics of the decision to pull the provincial funding say the university would be a huge economic benefit for the city, and that the project is far too important to abandon.
“It’s not the Brampton I thought I knew,” one-term mayor Linda Jeffrey said Monday night in expressing her disappointment at the surprising ascendancy of her late rival in the race, former PC leader and newly repatriated Bramptonite Patrick Brown.
Jeffrey replaced a controversy-plagued mayor with promises to straighten out the financial mess at city hall. Despite her early successes at doing just that, she stumbled when it came to solving the bigger problem: a fractious council whose squabbling left residents disillusioned with her leadership. On Monday, voters opted, however narrowly, to give Brown a chance to do better.
In stunning fashion, Patrick Brown completes a spectacular political comeback, defeating incumbent Linda Jeffrey to become Brampton’s next mayor. Some 44 percent of the vote was enough to seal the deal, completing a campaign that has been both divisive and a clear view into the issues affecting the city.
In a victory speech before a cheering crowd, Brown recounted a number of these issues, while also delivering his message for the future.
Charmaine Williams, seen here, is one of the new Brampton councillors who will lead the city. While attention was focused on the Brown-Jeffrey matchup as the election drew to a close Monday night, there were exciting changes happening at the ward level.
Four fresh faces on council, boosting diversity at city hall, and a new mayor may significantly change the dynamic in the coming four years — if old divisions on issues such as transit don’t begin to play out all over again.
Can Patrick Brown rise above the petty political in-fighting that has ruined the chance to rule by the last two mayors in office, and find common ground? Can he set aside campaign nastiness for the kind of teamwork that made a couple of people named Davis so successful in their political and sporting lives? He will answer these questions very soon after his impressive win that makes him the 51st mayor in the history of Brampton.
One possible move, involving his recently vanquished opponent, could be a win-win for everyone, especially for the city.
Of Brampton's and Mississauga's 23 elected municipal representatives, only one is a visible minority. That should be shocking, considering that about 65 percent of the cities' residents identify as a visible minority. But it’s actually all too familiar. The lack of corresponding ethnic representation on councils across the GTA is an issue minority communities and civic activists have been raising for years.
With Brampton’s population growing at three times the national average, the future will bring a growing list of diverse needs. Is it perhaps time to take this issue seriously in deciding how we vote?
Brampton citizens and the leaders they are set to elect must show a burning desire to move away from the destructive forces that have held this city back since it was reformed after the installation of regional government in the early 1970s.
Since then, a series of clashes and long-held grudges have defined the lack of leadership that has kept Brampton from reaching its potential.
It's an unfortunate reality that municipal elections tend to favour the status quo, for the simple reason that incumbents possess the name recognition, the connections and often the leg-up on fundraising that typically lead to success.
For newcomers, especially those who violate most elements of the political stereotype — older, white, male, and well-connected — the path to election is much more difficult.
Yet, there are challengers, willing to take a risk and prepared to burn shoe leather going door-to-door in hopes of becoming a game-changer.
The Pointer takes a look at one such candidate.
Brampton’s growing healthcare crisis was front and centre in the provincial legislature Tuesday as members hurled accusations at each other over the failure to adequately care for patients in the city.
After stories were told of city residents languishing in hospital hallways at Brampton Civic, NDP leader Andrea Horwath, supported by three of her party’s Brampton MPPs, failed to push through a motion to fund a third hospital in the city. Premier Doug Ford and Brampton’s two PC MPPs did not show up for the vote.
The debate became deeply divisive, with MPPs attacking each other over who is responsible for the desperate conditions inside the city's only full-service hospital.
A poll by Forum Research published exclusively by The Pointer shows Patrick Brown and Linda Jeffrey are in a dead heat just days before Monday’s election. Forum surveyed 647 eligible voters in the city Thursday.
Brown was eight points behind Jeffrey, but in a little less than two months his dizzying campaign has managed to pull him even. Voter turnout, depending on which side can more effectively pull supporters to the polls, could determine Monday's result.
It’s not a secret to Brampton drivers that they’re forced to pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. Some blame high rates of fraud and high-speed collisions that increase the cost of claims in the Brampton area—which end up costing everyone who lives in certain postal codes as much as $1,000 more per year than drivers in other parts of the GTA. Now, a pair of private member’s bills from two sides of the aisle at Queen’s Park have come forward to address the issue.
Brampton NDP MPP Gurratan Singh introduced a private member's bill Tuesday at Queen's Park. He says he's heard enough talk on the issue, and like the thousands of Brampton drivers desperately seeking action, Singh says it's time the government does something about crippling auto insurance rates in the city.
The City of Brampton, Brampton Fire and Emergency Services and Peel Regional Police gathered Tuesday for a question and answer period to provide one final push of information ahead of the official legalization of cannabis.
As of October 17, the law now allows smoking or vaping pot in a host of places where ordinary cigarette smoking is currently allowed, absent municipal bylaws to place further restrictions on it. Brampton City Council has yet to gather public feedback on the law and its potential impact on the city, never mind deciding what it will do about allowing private pot shops within the city’s borders—which could come as soon as April.
The Pointer breaks down the perspectives of Brampton officials and what legalization may mean for residents of the city.
Ahead of his nine-day trip to India, which is wrapping up, The Pointer asked Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer if he would address with Indian officials the increasing concern being raised by advocacy groups and others about the country’s deplorable human rights record.
Brampton North federal Conservative candidate Arpan Khanna joined Scheer, seen here with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, and just like other politicians from the city who travel there, he was silent on the issue of the country’s treatment of women, religious minorities and “lower caste” residents.
But both Scheer and Khanna did take time during the visit to criticize a nearby country’s human rights record.
Incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey, late in her campaign for re-election, has just released a transit plan for Brampton. It signals that she will again make the Main Street LRT route a key transit priority.
The current council term became mired in dysfunction when Jeffrey tried and failed to get the Main Street option pushed through shortly after her election.
Her new set of transit pledges also appear to include a rejection of the plan put forward, and approved unanimously by council, under the comprehensive Vision 2040 document, which outlines how the city should manage its future growth. Jeffrey's new platform could be a sign that, if re-elected, she would scrap much of the transit planning already underway.
Linda Jeffrey scored a big endorsement victory yesterday as local MPs and MPPs from all three major parties showed across the aisle support for the incumbent mayor. It's a significant sign that Jeffrey would be able to work with both levels of government if re-elected.
The announcement came less than a week after iconic Brampton politician and former Ontario premier Bill Davis threw his support behind Patrick Brown, the former Ontario PC leader who is Jeffrey's main rival in the mayoral race. With a week left before the October 22 municipal election the competition between the two clear front-runners seems too close to call.
With two clear front-runners in the race to be Brampton's next mayor, here's The Pointer's breakdown of the big issues facing voters and what Linda Jeffrey and Patrick Brown have said about them, ahead of Monday's municipal election.
The Pointer commissioned a poll in late August to find out what's top of mind for Brampton residents. Only 36 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2014, but hopefully a more informed public will mean more people out at the polls, as the city faces a watershed election with many major issues that will determine its future.
Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, who is running to be the next mayor of Brampton, lays out his vision to The Pointer's readers in an op-ed.
For generations, the single-family home has been the holy grail of housing: a status symbol that has permeated the societal mindset and created wide, sprawling expanses of suburbia across the GTA, including Brampton. Data shows that the desire to own such a home has been passed on to the millennial generation. Nearly 60 percent of millennials could be on the hunt for a new home in the GTA by 2026.
That desire is on a collision course with the reality painted by the most recent report from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change. Our way of life needs to change drastically—and fast—if the planet is to avoid catastrophic damage.
A new report from Ryerson University describes one potential solution, but grasping it may involve a massive shift in how we think about what makes a home.
Controversial Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans announced Friday that she will be leaving the force in January. She informed the police board that oversees her of the pending resignation two months after it approved a probe of Evans' conduct by a police watchdog for the bungled investigation into three Mississauga family members who were found dead years apart.
After battling the board for much of the past four years, over issues such as carding, a practice she has strongly defended, Evans was given a two-year extension last year. But she announced that she will depart early in the coming new year.
It's a controversial issue: how do you balance Canadian values and laws protecting religious accommodation with saftey and fairness concerns that surround the Ford government plan to exempt Sikh-Canadians from wearing motorcycle helmets?
Local MPP Prabmeet Sarkaria, a turban-wearing Sikh, was a driving force behind the move announced by Ford in Brampton yesterday. In a place where Sikh-Canadians make up such a huge part of the city's fabric, The Pointer asked citizens here, politicians and experts what they think of the move by Ontario's government.
Patrick Brown gets a bump, after former Ontario premier and legendary Brampton politician Bill Davis "officially" showed his support for Brown, incumbent Linda Jeffrey's main rival, at an event Tuesday evening.
In what some are already calling a surprise move, after Davis backed Jeffrey four years ago, the show of support might prove significant in an already close mayoral race between the two clear front-runners.
The leader of the federal Conservative party is in India on a mission to “repair and strengthen” Canada’s relationship, following a controversial trip early in the year by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
But human rights won't be on the agenda. The Pointer asked Scheer if issues such as the widespread rape of women, attacks against religious minorities and the barbaric treatment of hundreds of millions of India’s “lower caste” residents would be addressed.
As is the case when Brampton politicians and other officials go there, human rights seems to be out of bounds. Canada’s position with India is inconsistent with its stance toward other countries, despite conditions that human rights groups describe as alarming and getting worse.
Jeff Chalmers thinks political engagement is the key to making positive decisions for the city's future. His unscientific polling method, to get people involved, has street cred. In fact, he has literally taken his form of surveying to the streets, in his mobile chrome eatery that serves up food-to-go while gauging the political pulse of the city.
Chalmers wants citizens to get interested in the decision-making process that impacts their daily lives. There's no better way to pull them in than food. With political polling being an inexact science that has, over the years, employed thousands of people and cost millions of dollars, The Pointer asked Chalmers, over a plate of one of his famous dishes, about the latest results from his recent poll, which asked patrons who they would pick in the race to be Brampton's mayor. You might be surprised by what he found.
An op-ed by incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey on why she wants Brampton voters to re-elect her in the October 22 municipal election. She makes her case to The Pointer's readers.
Ontario’s healthcare dollars should be distributed according to numbers and need. So why has Brampton – one of the fastest growing cities in Canada – been shortchanged, again?
Why isn’t part of the $90 million being handed out by the Ford government at Queen’s Park to help eliminate ‘Hallway Healthcare’ going to the city where the phrase was popularized in the first place?
Bramptonians have been looking to the provincial government for help to solve bottlenecks in the healthcare system that have led to bed shortages and hallway medicine at the city’s only full-service hospital, but it was ignored in a new funding plan announced Wednesday.
While the Ontario government’s growth targets for Peel Region continue to push Brampton’s population to a breaking point, Queen’s Park seems disconnected from the resulting problems, such as the city’s healthcare crisis.
With more than 4,300 Brampton Civic Hospital patients treated in hallways in 2016 The Pointer asked the two new Progressive Conservative MPPs, Prabmeet Sarkaria and Amarjot Sandhu, how they are representing Brampton’s interests inside their government as the healthcare crisis continues. They didn’t have much to say.
No part of Wednesday’s provincial government announcement of $90 million—$10 million less than the Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne offered at the start of the last flu season—will go toward relieving the crisis at overloaded, overcrowded Brampton Civic Hospital, whose rash of “hallway medicine” stories helped turn the problem into a provincial election issue last spring.
Nor is there any indication of how many of the promised extra long-term care beds will come to one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities, whose rapidly expanding healthcare needs and the urgency of fixing them already form a major issue in the upcoming municipal election.
If elected mayor, Patrick Brown pledged during a Thursday morning announcement to ease the city's crippling traffic. His plan touched on many issues Brampton residents have raised for decades, such as securing all-day, two-way GO Train service, but he offered few details about how he will actually achieve the ambitious set of promises he outlined.
In a recent poll commissioned by The Pointer, reducing traffic congestion was the number one issue respondents chose, when asked what they want council to focus on during the upcoming term.
The new-look North American free trade agreement fixes some, but not all of the inequities in the original NAFTA, and eases the tensions for the business community in Brampton. But at the macro level, Canada is trying to create a new-style business model that is impervious to American interests and Donald Trump’s bully-boy tactics. The new deal provides motivation for local and national companies to take stock of opportunities around the world, for them and our well-educated, dynamic workforce.
In recent weeks, the idea of effective representation has been thrust into the spotlight as Premier Doug Ford took a legislative axe to Toronto City Council. Can 25 people effectively represent almost three million constituents? Municipal councils across the GTA, whose members find their workload growing as the region booms, are struggling with the same question. Nowhere is this more clear than in Brampton, the second fastest growing city in Canada. What do we need here to feel effectively represented by our local elected officials?
Do we want them answering endless calls about snow on sidewalks and the annual pothole hysteria; or do we want them addressing complex urban planning issues and how to handle the challenges of modern policing? Or do we expect them to do it all? Speaking with councillors across the GTA, from Oshawa to Brampton, it’s apparent that people who hold the position often see the role differently.
Evidence presented recently at trial by a company that alleges it was unfairly disqualified from a $500-million downtown development deal shows Inzola Group’s bid to build the city hall extension was a little more than half the $205 million being paid by the City of Brampton for the building.
Evidence also suggests the finished building does not provide the amount of required administrative space detailed in the bid contract for the deal.
Thousands of the city’s auto-sector workers were on pins and needles while U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened tariffs as high as 25 percent on Canadian-made autos, which could have crippled the industry. A new deal officially announced Monday, clears the way for Ontario’s huge auto industry to keep expanding.
News wasn’t as rosy for the agricultural sector, particularly dairy producers, including companies in Brampton. The new deal could see more than $700 million of additional foreign dairy products enter Canada annually.
But the agreement might bring relief to Brampton’s large aluminum and steel sector, which was hit hard by recent U.S. tariffs.
While Ontario Premier Doug Ford doesn’t appear to know where exactly his government will allow legal marijuana to be used once new rules come into effect next month, Brampton officials, including incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey, aren’t even sure if the city will opt into plans to allow retail outlets next year.
Brampton’s diverse community groups, another council member says, will likely introduce a range of cultural values into what’s sure to be a complex debate on legal marijuana, one the city has not yet even initiated. With other GTA cities vowing to prevent pot sales, will a new council be ready to tackle this major issue?
Linda Jeffrey’s hopes to ease into re-election on Oct. 22 were shattered by the late entry onto the ballot of Patrick Brown.
Jeffrey’s performance during a debate Tuesday, which included pointed attacks on Brown and references to the scandals that got him turfed as Ontario PC leader, often failed to convey the sense of a mayor ready to unite a city desperate for leadership.
Mississauga’s massive $1.5 billion M City project is just one of many 905 developments that Brampton’s stagnating downtown is missing out on without a firm commitment by city leaders to finally resolve the decades-old downtown flood problem.
Critics say Brampton will struggle to keep up with surrounding cities that are quickly shedding their status as suburban bedroom communities.
While places like Mississauga continue to boom, with constantly rising skylines, Brampton’s downtown remains hampered by strict floodplain restrictions that make it difficult to create a dynamic city centre.
Incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey made her stance on the city’s current LRT study quite clear during a boisterous debate at Brampton’s Rose Theatre Tuesday night, calling alternative routes “foolish” and decrying the layout put forward in the ambitious Brampton 2040 Vision plan.
The debate also saw mud-slinging from all sides with Jeffrey’s main contender Patrick Brown taking the chance to criticize the lack of foresight in Jeffrey’s adamant support for the Main Street route, which council already turned down, while pushing his repeatedly used campaign slogan that Brampton is not getting its fair share.
U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum are already hurting firms in Brampton, and with the possibility of more levies on products such as cars built by Fiat Chrysler here, Donald Trump's anti-NAFTA stance could undermine the future of almost 4,000 workers at the Williams Parkway plant, and others.
With a huge manufacturing base, tens of thousands of Brampton workers could be negatively impacted by a bad trade deal, as the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement remains uncertain. While negotiations continue on the international level, many in the city are keenly aware of how big the stakes are locally.
With a new council soon making decisions inside city hall, a new provincial government and a new visionary plan for Brampton's future, a proposed Light Rail Transit system is surrounded by uncertainty. After council turned down a provincially funded $1.6-billion route that would have seen an LRT roll right into Brampton’s ageing downtown core, the city must now find alternative ways to get people moving. It could mean big spending on behalf of taxpayers. The Pointer takes a step back and looks at how Brampton arrived at this juncture, and what the future could bring as the population booms and efficient transit becomes even more crucial.
One thing is clear, the city can't afford another four years of council gridlock, largely caused by the LRT debate that dominated the current term.
With alarmingly low voter turnout, municipal elections in Brampton tend to proceed along depressingly predictable lines. Front-runners for the mayor’s job are usually drawn from a list of familiar names at city hall or higher levels of government. But this year a lineup of lesser-known candidates, such as lawyer Wesley Jackson, provides voters with some refreshing insights into alternative viewpoints and passionately conceived ideas about how to make the city stronger, wiser and richer in the things that make for a good life.
On September 20, The Pointer hosted a mayoral debate for all candidates in partnership with Sheridan College. Incumbent Linda Jeffrey called in sick, opening the floor for the other six registered contestants in the race, ahead of the October 22 municipal election. With a panel of four Brampton citizens asking most of the questions, the lively debate, which ran for more than two hours, offered voters insights about who to pick on the ballot.
To help voters make the important decision, here is The Pointer’s breakdown of each candidate's performance during the recent debate.
Linda Jeffrey did not attend Thursday evening's debate for mayoral candidates. In her absence Patrick Brown impressed audience members who frequently applauded the policies and vision for the city he outlined during more than two hours of lively debate at Sheridan College. Five other candidates also took turns introducing themselves to voters, many of them often criticizing Jeffrey, describing her as a failed leader with little support on her own council.
But Brown was the star of the night, evidenced by the vocal support expressed by many of the approximately 150 people in attendance.
This evening The Pointer will host a mayoral debate in partnership with Sheridan College, featuring all seven candidates registered for the October 22 municipal election. The Pointer believes it’s a critical time for the city as it faces a number of challenges and opportunities that will define the future of Brampton.
Political debates are a critical part of our democracy. They provide voters the opportunity to see the candidates in action, to get a real sense of how they handle pressure and relate to the citizens they hope to serve. The Pointer welcomes Brampton voters to come and attend this important event.
In this article we are publishing two key questions the election front-runners will be asked during the debate, as well as the criteria The Pointer will use to break down the performance of each candidate afterward.
After city council meetings were cleared off for most of the summer, with Brampton facing an onslaught of serious issues, all meetings have been cancelled from mid-September on to let councillors wrap up their term at city hall and campaign for re-election in the Oct. 22 municipal vote. Meanwhile, pressing issues such as increasing violent crime, choosing a route for an LRT system, funding for desperately needed hospital expansion and a long-term strategy for a new university campus are on the growing list of items awaiting serious council debate and decisions.
Amid plans to boost federal immigration targets, Brampton faces a newcomer-based population explosion without adequate funding for hospitals, affordable housing, transit and expanded policing. The annual Liberal barbecue attended Saturday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Brampton’s five Liberal MPs drew politicians, but no promises that help is on the way to fund services related to the city’s growth.
Progressive, community-based policing, modern technology, sophisticated intelligence gathering, the cooperation of citizens and a force that reflects the community it serves, are features experts outline to help curb violent crime.
With increasing violent crime, public frustration and slow responses from officials, Regional council considers what’s being done as Brampton residents question who’s keeping them safe.
Peel Police chief Jennifer Evans was not at Thursday’s meeting to answer questions, including those raised by incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey, who is now fighting her chief rival in the election, Patrick Brown, over who will best deal with crime in the city.
Some are wondering if their promises are too little, and too late.
In the final day of closing arguments in Inzola Group’s lawsuit against the City of Brampton, lawyers for the City defended its assertion that the company was rightfully disqualified from bidding on the deal. They attempted to poke holes in the case presented by Inzola’s lawyers and discredited a key witness, in an effort to dispel the cloud surrounding the decision-making process for what was to have been a $500-million downtown redevelopment.
In the first of two days of final arguments in the case of Inzola Group versus the City of Brampton, lawyers for Inzola delivered their final jabs against the city, summing up evidence of bias and lack of good faith presented throughout this summer’s lengthy trial. The Pointer breaks down Inzola’s final argument, ahead of the city’s final submissions to be delivered Thursday.
John Sprovieri feels politics is best done by those with experience. He’s not even close to the winter of his life, according to him, and says the mayor’s job would be a perfect way to cap thirty years of service to his city.
A chatty, one-on-one interview on a sunny summer morning in August with him ends with a jarring reminder of how vexing life in Brampton circa 2018 can be.
Evidence presented at trial by a company that alleges it was unfairly disqualified from a $500-million downtown development deal indicates some internal documents were altered before and after the company filed suit against the City of Brampton.
Peel’s police force has been racked with bungled investigations, officer misconduct, including serious charges against some members and problems with racialized communities in the diverse cities it serves. Critics say the force has no interest in being held accountable, and acts as if it’s above the law.
The woman who wants to be mayor again, opens up about her personal triumphs and struggles over three decades in politics, and the challenges of leading a complex city with a bitterly divided council.
She talks with The Pointer about the disease she battles. And issues such as hyper-growth in the city, crime and her failed LRT plan that have stretched the incumbent mayor for four years.
Now, as the municipal election looms, she wants voters to let her finish what she’s tried to start.
Those are the numbers that represent the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in each of Brampton’s last three municipal elections held in 2014, 2010 and 2006. So, one third of the city’s residents are deciding how the other two thirds will be governed.
An exclusive poll commissioned by The Pointer shows that almost a quarter of eligible voters have this one issue at the top of their list of worries heading into the October municipal election.
On Friday, Linda Jeffrey and Patrick Brown, the two leading candidates in the race to be mayor, traded blows over who will best handle the alarming issue.
With Brampton gripped by a recent crime wave, concerns mount that frequent misconduct in the force is putting public safety at risk.
A look at one of the most divisive issues in Brampton. It centres on a sometimes reviled yet arguably necessary form of affordable housing: secondary suites, a.k.a. basement apartments, nanny suites, or additional units.
With population growth nearly 10 times the national average these suites may be a necessary evil in Brampton.
Patrick Brown’s year began with a ten-point lead in the race to become premier. Allegations of sexual misconduct soon followed, and moments later the forced departure from the PC leadership. With his battle for the soul of the conservative movement in Ontario lost, Brown now hopes to cue his political comeback by winning the race for mayor of Brampton.
Brampton's is one of the hottest municipal races in the country. A Forum Research poll commissioned by The Pointer reveals the preferences of the city's voters on a host of key issues as mayoral candidates ramp up their campaigns ahead of the Oct. 22 election.
For the seven week sprint find out how things are shaping up, as residents decide who will steer the country's ninth largest city into the future.