Education Minister Lisa Thompson says she is consulting with teachers and community members on how to improve education in Ontario, trying to calm fears that all-day kindergarten might be put on the chopping block. Meanwhile, both of Peel’s education boards say they have been kept out of the loop and are nervous about the possibility of losing full-day kindergarten and limits on class sizes.
Peel’s two major school boards are left playing a waiting game, as the PC government decides what the future of education in Ontario will look like.
As the Peel Police Services Board begins a national search for a new chief, Ron Chatha, who while leading a local Conservative riding association in 2017, was accused of offering to pay for membership fees so people would support Kevin O’Leary in the federal party’s leadership race, has been appointed by the Doug Ford government to the police board.
Chair of the board, Nando Iannicca, hopes for a chief with a social justice bent, keen on programs to discourage criminal behaviour. He’s also eager to see Peel Police face up to concerns about diversity on the force. Meanwhile, the police budget foresees spending millions to hire 55 new cops a year for the next few years in an effort to tamp down the violent crime that shook the city in 2018.
The tragic case of Rodney King led to the transformation of the Los Angeles Police Department. Its turnaround should serve as an example to those now responsible for the future of Peel police.
The PC government on Friday said there will not be two-tier healthcare in Ontario, after rumours of Doug Ford’s desire to privatize healthcare swirled Thursday following the leaked draft of a bill. If passed, the bill could prime the creation of a private medical system in Ontario for those higher income earners who don’t want to use the public system and for others who would be forced to use contracted services.
Brampton MPP Sara Singh, Deputy Leader of the NDP, slammed the potential new legislation, saying that it could make services in the public system far more expensive and called the PC's moves a particular threat to Brampton, where the ongoing healthcare crisis is ignored by the Ford government.
The dramatic gap between rich and poor is played out every day on the streets of downtown Brampton. It comes into sharp focus when one trains an eye on the services and the emotional support offered by the Regeneration Outreach Community. It offers our poorest a warm meal, and a chance to pull themselves free from a life on the streets.
Yet, its programs are limited by a lack of funding. The problems of hunger, homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, even crime, aren’t going away and will become even more acute as people of all stripes and social conditions continue pouring into Canada’s ninth largest city.
Darren John, a.k.a. Avalanche the Architect, has been granted financial help to pursue an appeal on his 2015 conviction for uttering threats, after years of defending himself in a winding court process.
The decision by Justice Anne Molloy overturns an earlier judge’s puzzling ruling that denied him that help while using inflammatory words about the rapper’s lyrics as having a “black macho flavour.”
The previous judge recently apologized to John for those comments after the rapper made a formal complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council.
Though regional councillors and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown acknowledge that Peel’s affordable housing crisis is leaving more and more residents homeless, budget deliberations saw little movement to address the issue.
Meanwhile, homeowners will be paying 6.5 percent more for their utility bills in 2019 and 2.7 percent more for the Region of Peel’s share of the property tax bill.
While frigid temperatures continue until the weekend, and Peel ignores the homeless crisis, Toronto has made a bold move to address its own dire situation, with 10,000 new affordable units and $280 million in incentives to developers for the plan. By contrast, Peel Region is offering developers $2.7 million to focus on affordable housing units.
Months after threatening legal action against Brampton’s mayor, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli has served an $8M statement of claim against Patrick Brown, which he received at a Black History Month celebration at City Hall on Friday.
The claim alleges that Brown’s tell-all book Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown contains libelous statements about misconduct accusations allegedly made against Fedeli by a former female staffer.
A newly implemented change has Caledon residents upset over how Peel Region is delivering paramedic services north of Mayfield Road. Starting Jan. 14, paramedics assigned to Caledon reported for duty in Brampton rather than the area they will be servicing. But, as a result, shortages in EMS coverage in Caledon could pull resources away from Brampton, making some already long emergency response times even worse.
Residents and the paramedics union are butting heads with paramedics chief Peter Dundas and the region over how to best deploy Peel’s biggest emergency service safety net for those relying on ambulatory care.
Many assume that Nando Iannicca, the former longtime Mississauga councillor and now the head of Peel Region, will help his city get out of the two-tier system of municipal government. But after the provincial PCs announced a review of the regional government model, prompting speculation that Hazel McCallion and current Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will get their wish, to pull their city out of Peel, Iannicca says, not so fast.
He tells The Pointer that regional government is working well and he wants to keep it that way.
“You’re going to have a fundamental disconnect when you don’t mimic the people that you serve,” says Nando Iannicca, who believes it’s time to take action to heal the rift between police and visible minority communities.
That will come as good news to community activists who have pointed to the lack of diversity on the force as a barrier to fighting crime. Meanwhile, concerns about racial profiling and discrimination continue even after new regulations put a curb on the oft-criticized practice of ‘carding.’
Much to the dismay of many Brampton residents hoping to sponsor their loved ones for immigration to Canada, an online form designed to expedite sponsorship applications hit its cap after being online for about ten minutes.
Families across the country are already expressing outrage. With routinely high numbers of people coming to Canada under the Liberal government’s quotas, one wonders why this was not foreseen and if the logjam is a result of a new immigration policy that favours economic immigration over family reunification.
Monday’s unrelenting weather added to the misery of the destitute in Peel’s municipalities. Not only are they toughing out a second cold snap in as many weeks, the blizzard will force many to dig in as a blanket of snow covers the region.
Peel’s elected officials have been mostly silent on the issue of homelessness. But Councillor George Carlson, who has housed the homeless himself, and Brampton’s Martin Medeiros say they are closely monitoring the desperate situation and will have fulsome policy requests to address the dire lack of support for the homeless during upcoming budget deliberations.
The Ontario leader is a sad example of what this week’s growing movement is not about. Doug Ford’s authoritarian governance on something as important as the health and well-being of young people stands in direct contrast to the Let’s Talk initiative across Canada.
Mississauga councillor Nando Iannicca was looking forward to leaving politics until a new challenge beckoned: leading Peel Region.
His philosophy is simple but daunting: make sure you have both an economic plan and an environmental one.
The former chair of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority wants to see booming economic development balanced by a green perspective that understands much of the devastation causing climate change happens because of bad decisions at the local level. Iannicca wants to help usher in a culture of environmental stewardship, while growing the local economy.
While Peel Police approached regional council hat-in-hand on Thursday to ask for a $21.6 million increase to their budget, acting chief Chris McCord admitted the force is currently running a deficit.
High salaries and a desire to hire more officers to deal with a spike in violent crime are driving a request for a 5.6 percent increase to the police budget for 2019.
Meanwhile, provincial grants for some initiatives are expiring, leaving police wondering how to make up the loss.
Premier Doug Ford’s government has announced it will pull a controversial section of a proposed new bill that would have allowed municipalities to override existing laws that protect the province’s expansive Greenbelt in Southern Ontario. Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark tweeted out the reversal Wednesday.
The move marks the second time Ford has flip-flopped on his pledge to developers, after he told them during the spring election campaign that he would open up Greenbelt lands, then recanted ahead of the election, before introducing the legislation in December that would have allowed the move. Facing a huge backlash across the region, his government is now removing the provision from the proposed bill.
Calgary, Brampton and Niagara Region have all been in the news over the conduct of municipal staff. In Brampton, the recent Inzola lawsuit, which the city successfully defended, revealed troubling behaviour inside City Hall. In Niagara just over a year ago a reporter’s notes were confiscated by regional staff and last year employees with the City of Calgary viewed a leaked newspaper column, prior to its publication, that dealt with the sudden and mysterious departure of a senior staffer.
While layers of oversight exist at the federal and provincial levels, for Brampton taxpayers, and those homeowners across the country whose tax dollars pay to keep huge municipal bureaucracies running, the question of accountability is a growing concern.
Premier Doug Ford’s hiring of Hazel McCallion as a special advisor, a role she also performed for Kathleen Wynne, was no surprise. Neither are the plans they will set in motion to dismantle Peel Region and allow developers to build in the Greenbelt.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.