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"The sun is shining" and "this is not Wonderland:" what we know on the Peel divorce
Plus: one Hsu in, Bonnie and Naqvi enter the fray, LRT blunders (Part II), MZOs in the 905, Stiles staffs up, who's who on Crombie's exploratory crew
The provincial Grit leadership race is growing with three bidders jumping into the fray. But first — the Ford government has kiboshed Peel Region in what could be the start of a nasty legal divorce between Mississauga and Brampton.
"The sun is shining." "This is not Canada's Wonderland."
That's the reaction to the Ford government's decision to kibosh Peel Region — paving the way for Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon to become their own standalone municipalities in what could be the start of a nasty legal battle amongst the cities in the splitting region.
The region's divorce was looming. Premier Doug Ford, speaking to reporters alongside Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, said he had "always been for an independent Mississauga." A day before, joined by Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, Ford said he thought "Brampton and Mississauga are large cities that can stand alone." Ford guaranteed that "Brampton will always be taken care of and made whole, so will Mississauga and Caledon."
Behind the scenes, one insider says the decision was cooking for a while. While cabinet didn't approve the divorce until the eve of the legislation being tabled, one Progressive Conservative source said "it was kept secretive.". "I'm surprised that there weren't more rumblings about this," they texted.
What we know: The Tories say the legislation "would provide stability and fairness throughout the dissolution process, prioritize respect for taxpayers and value for money, and ensure front-line services and workers can continue without disruption." A second bill will hit the Clerk's table to address "any outstanding matters" prior to dissolution taking effect.
A transition board will be established to ensure the divorce "is fair and balanced," overseeing the region's financial affairs and making recommendations on implementing the restructuring of the municipalities. The board members will be appointed by Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark.
Services will remain intact, with the government expecting facilities and services to continue operating without interruption. The fate of those services after the region's disbandment takes effect will be determined by advice from the transition board.
The government has set a timeline for the divorce to be finalized in two years, which is earlier than both Crombie and Brown had anticipated. Before the second legislation is introduced during the fall next year, the transition board will provide recommendations over the summer.
What this means for the child in the divorce: We don't know. Caledon Mayor Annette Groves said "we just have to figure out how we ensure that the children are not impacted" in this divorce, one the city didn't want to see. "It isn't something that we wanted, but at the end of the day, we're here with this decision today and I think we just have to work with it," she added.
On the region's employees: Their fate remains unclear — with more details to be determined in the fine print of the exit deal.
"We want to make sure that they feel secure," local Mississauga councillor Alvin Tedjo said. "I know that they are worried and they do see this announcement as something that is obviously concerning for them. At the end of the day, we still need to serve the same number of people, right? We're just eliminating a duplicate. But I would say no, it is going to be concerning but we are going to try to take care of as many people as we can," he added.
Tit for tat: During a heated presser at the Pink Palace, Crombie and Brown both made faces and shared eye rolls while the other spoke, though Crombie maintained that both "will be able to work this out amicably."
Tedjo called it "a really exciting time." "We're talking about the opportunity for Mississauga to completely decide its own destiny when it comes to planning and growth," he said in a phone interview.
On his part, Tedjo doesn't foresee the divorce will get nasty. "I do think at the end of the day, the adults in the room will sort it out. And the politics and the political theater of it will subside at some point."
Meanwhile, Brown maintained that while it was "not necessarily a surprise that it arrived," the timelines are "a little bit ambitious" but the decision could bring "some advantages and opportunity" for Brampton. We caught up with Brown to chat about the decision. Here are the highlights of the conversation:
On provincial consultation on the decision: "There was no formal consultation process. But there's been a public debate for a very long time."
On the possibility of a legal battle: "I would view [Crombie saying the assertion that Mississauga owes Brampton something is incorrect] as an attempted theft. The wastewater facility, the police headquarters, the four additional paramedic stations in Mississauga, we paid for. The regional roads around the airport, the services there, we paid for, and to take those resources from hardworking Brampton residents would be theft. I'm not opposed to independence but if Mayor Crombie wants a free ride, this is not Canada's Wonderland and she's not going to be able to have that luxury."
On making faces at the heated Queen's Park presser: "Well, how would you feel if they were trying to steal from your city? I will not tolerate the theft of taxpayer dollars from the residents of Brampton. We're not attempting to take resources from Mississauga, we're not going and trying to take any infrastructure that they've contributed to. And so it's a very different dynamic. I would say we can have a cordial divorce and we will support independence as long as we're paid back for what we put into it."
On Crombie's provincial leadership aspirations being a factor in the decision: "You'd have to ask that question to the Premier or to Mayor Crombie. I've been asked if there's some side deal. I'm not privy to any. It would be inappropriate for us to speculate."
On the transition board: "They haven't named the members of that panel and I'm told that they can't even start the process until the legislation has passed."
In other news: The Tories will name regional facilitators in Durham, Halton, Niagara, Simcoe, Waterloo and York to review if the cities are "mature enough to pursue" dissolution. Expect appointments to be official in "the coming weeks."
The race for Liberal leader, plus three
Ted Hsu has officially entered the fray while Bonnie Crombie and Yasir Naqvi are running for Grit captain — set to formally launch their leadership bids as newsBeyond scooped over the weekend.
Here's what you need to know from this long weekend of leadership buzz:
— Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will enter the race and has formed an "exploratory committee" to speak with more card-carrying Liberals before filing her nomination papers, according to a source in Crombie's camp. Read on for more on who's who on Crombie's crew.
We were the first to break the news on Crombie's incoming bid, according to multiple, unconnected Liberal insiders. Privately, Crombie had been telling supporters that “she's running [for leader] and needs their support,” one source familiar with those conversations said. Read up on our Saturday scoop that sent Liberal circles buzzing over the weekend.
Crombie's bid was set to launch earlier, a few insiders said, but the kickoff was postponed with indication the province's decision to kill Peel Region was coming, one she had long advocated for.
Her campaign site went online yesterday morning. After we asked her team to confirm the authenticity of the site, it immediately went down.
"I want to be leader of a Liberal government that puts people first," read a pitch from Crombie. "We cannot afford more of what this government has done over the past five years. I've seen it firsthand in my community, and the burden it has placed on the residents of Mississauga. It's time to put an end to this," she spelled out, adding that the province has "serious problems" and that she "can't stand by as the current government takes us down the wrong path." Catch up here.
Viewed as a formidable opponent to Premier Doug Ford at Queen's Park, the longtime chief magistrate is a heavyweight contender. "If she becomes leader, it's going to accelerate the party's rebuild," one Tory source conceded.
A "game changer" in the race, according to a Liberal insider. "We're lucky that so many passionate people want to run the party," they said.
— Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi will throw his hat into the race in June, as we scooped on Friday night. Naqvi had been considering a bid since December, forming a committee to seek advice on the move in December while recruiting veteran Grit strategists to advise him.
We obtained an email from Naqvi to supporters, with the former attorney general urging allies to "join me" to “rebuild our Ontario Liberal Party." Naqvi will formally enter the fray on Saturday, June 3, with a breakfast gathering in Ottawa and an evening launch event at a local banquet hall in Mississauga for GTAers. The campaign also unveiled fresh pink red branding, with a new campaign slogan, "Libéral. Leader," ahead of the official kickoff. Read more.
Crickets, crickets: His team is keeping mum on our scoop, with one Team Naqvi operative teasing a "great day."
— We told you first! Liberal MPP Ted Hsu has jumped into the race for captain — officially registering to run with Elections Ontario. The chatter we first scooped in this newsletter was growing among Liberal insiders on the prospects of Hsu launching his leadership bid in days.
Hsu is set to headline a "special announcement" on Sunday at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour in Kingston. More on Hsu's biggest moves.
Crosslinx Transit Solutions — the consortium behind the Eglinton LRT — has told Metrolinx they're going to court. The companies say they "intend to litigate and stop working with the TTC," who will operate the Eglinton crosstown. "This is another unacceptable delay tactic by CTS at a time when they should be submitting a credible schedule to Metrolinx for completing the project,” Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster fired back. CTS says it filed a notice of application against Metrolinx due to the transit firm's "failure" to maintain a crosstown operator.
Housing Minister Steve Clark has issued two MZOs in Mississauga to "facilitate the province's work to tackle the housing supply crisis and ensure that housing supply growth is aligned with" the province's transit investments, around the Hazel McCallion crosstown and the electrifying of the Lakeshore West GO line. More from the province.
More cash is coming to keep Stellantis from pulling out of building an EV battery plant in Windsor. Premier Doug Ford teased the increase on Friday, saying "we're putting more money on the table." "This is all about saving jobs and giving people the quality of life they deserve in southwestern Ontario," Ford added. Stellantis threatened to scrap the plant unless the feds and Queen's Park boost subsidies to match those given to Volkswagen.
No inquiry, yes hearing: Former governor general David Johnston has advised against a public inquiry on foriegn interference in federal elections. The "special rapporteur" concluded that a formal inquiry would "not be the correct" choice, citing the confidentiality of top secret intelligence. "When I began the process, I thought I would come to the same conclusion — that I would recommend a public inquiry," Johnston concurred. "While it would have been an easy choice, it would not be the correct one."
But wait: there's a Pink Palace connection. PC Vincent Ke quit caucus "out of an abundance of caution," after his name was tied to allegations that he was part of a Beijing interference network. "While the allegations against Mr. Ke are not proven, they are serious," said the Premier's office. Ke has since kick started the process of taking Global News to court over a "false and defamatory" story. Get the rundown.
Federal oppo parties were quick to fire back. Conservative captain Pierre Poilievre said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "ski buddy" is "sweeping Trudeau's foriegn interference coverup under the rug." NDPer Jagmeet Singh called the decision "disappointing" and said the party's belief is Canadians "benefit from a fulsome, public investigation that maintains the integrity of our intelligence that must be kept confidential."
Cashin' for the Grits: Four Liberal leadership contenders will headline a pasta gathering at the Merritton Legion in St. Catharines, with dinner being served. Salad, penne with meatballs and sausage, rolls and butter, hot drinks and dessert is being served. It goes down at 6pm. Invite here.
Over in Tory territory: The PCs are holding a fundraising event for Northumberland—Peterborough South with Environment Minister David Piccini. The event gets underway at 6pm at Concord in Vaughan. The deets.
AT THE PALACE
It's constit week. The House is off — MPPs are back at it on Monday.
The Infrastructure and Cultural Policy committee will huddle tomorrow to consider Bill 97, Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act. MPPs meet at 10am and reconvene at 1pm and 6:30pm.
The Justice Policy committee will meet on Thursday at 10am to consider Bill 102, Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act. Committee will reconvene at 1pm and 6:30pm to continue the review.
We had the scoop on the names of Crombie's fourty-member exploratory committee. The list includes former Grit candidates, MPPs and cabinet ministers. Plus, current MPs and local and regional councillors. Here are some notable names: Amber Bowen, Dipika Damerla, Tyler Banham, Qasir Dar, Dwight Duncan, Brad Duguid, Lee Fairclough, Alison Gohel, Nadia Guerrera, Iqra Khan, James Maloney, Elizabeth Mendes, Reza Moridi, Joyce Morocco, Tim Murphy, Jull Promoli, Leah Taylor Roy, Kim Rudd, Soo Wong, Tyler Watt, Rechie Valdez, Alvin Tedjo, Francesco Sorbara, Sonia Sidhu, Ruby Sahota. See the full slate here.
Also on Crombie's camp: Aurora Strategy Group president Marcel Wieder. His role on the campaign is unclear but Wieder is a veteran Grit insider who is handling Crombie's public affairs and media. Wieder was spotted at Queen's Park with Crombie last Thursday.
Stephanie Nakitsas is now principal secretary to NDP captain Marit Stiles. She is no stranger to progressive politics — Nakitsas served as chief of staff to former Toronto city councillor Mike Layton prior to working with CUPE Ontario as a campaign organizer.
Jason Wagar has joined Team Stiles as communications and strategic planning director. Wagar is a "communications professional," who has "more than a decade of experience working" with progressive nonprofits and political campaigns, recently working on NDPer Bhutila Karpoche's campaign in Parkdale—High Park.
The role had been vacant since the departure of Michelle Ervin, who served as the acting director following the election. Ervin is now working on Olivia Chow's mayoral campaign.
Shirven Rezvany — who served as Stiles' campaign spokesperson and rejoined the NDP's communications office after he inauguration — has bid adieu to the Pink Palace. He's also joined Chow's team.
Stiles has found a new constituency assistant in Amy Lester — who has joined the chief NDPer's office in Davenport. Lester is a party fundraiser and campaign organizer who was the fundraising coordinator for Stiles' leadership campaign.
Former NDP MPP Gurratan Singh has joined Crestview Strategy as a Vice President, where he'll offer clients with "strategic advice across government relations, campaigns, crisis management and community engagement."
WHAT WE'RE READING
THE TRILLIUM: "Therme picked from over 30 suitors to redevelop Ontario Place" by Charlie Pinkerton
CANADIAN PRESS: "Ontario engineer regulator drops Canadian experience qualification" by Jordan Omstead
CBC NEWS: "Roadside zoo season is set to begin in Ontario and advocates say it's time to shore up animal welfare laws" by Vanessa Balintec
TVO: "Divorces are expensive, even when they’re municipal: Is Queen’s Park ready for the bill?" by John Michael McGrath
THE SUN: "Bickering shows how nasty it could get Peel-ing region apart" by Brian Lilley
Thank you for reading POLICORNER — the newsletter Liberal circles and Queen's Park watchers were buzzing about all weekend. Are you a Grit operative? A fly on the wall at the last cabinet meeting? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with the spicy gossip and you'll stay anon. Stay in the know — join the community and get the newsletter in your inbox today.