Candidates who refused to sign tax pledge come out swinging

Candidates who refused to sign tax pledge come out swinging
Candidate Pat Clarke signs a document pledging to find tax reductions if he is elected.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Twenty three candidates for city council have signed a pledge to mitigate skyrocketing taxes in Cornwall.

But those who didn’t want you to know why.

The Community Action Group (CAG) Tuesday released the names of the individuals who signed its pledge to “roll back” property taxes during the next four years.

The candidates include: Davey Bedard, Todd Bennett, Roland Besner, Denis Carr, Pat Clarke, Maurice Dupelle, Brock Frost, Syd Gardner, Jamie Gilcig (mayor), Glen Grant, Mary Ann Hug, Greg Kielec, Rony Macarone, Mark MacDonald, Claude McIntosh, David Murphy, Mike O’Neil, Denis Sabourin, Gary Samler, Gerald Samson, Geoff Stephenson, Justin Towndale and Stephanie White.

“This is more evidence that proves my point, taxes are an issue in this election,” MacDonald said in an e-mail to city clerk Helen Finn.

MacDonald wants the list of individuals forwarded to the city’s audit committee.

Andre Rivette, an incumbent who refused to sign the pledge, said it takes more than one individual to make a difference at the council table.

“As you know one needs six votes to make (policy changes) so I don’t think you need my signature on a document to prove my commitment to keeping taxes in check,” Rivette said. “There were mega dollars spent in the past term of council because the majority of council refused to hold people accountable.

“The majority of council chose to spend $2 to $3 million and counting for payouts, legal fees and lawsuits.  These dollars would have went a long way to help reduce the tax base in Cornwall. It was very frustrating on my part seeing this occur.”

Heather Megill, another candidate for councillor, was of a similar mind.

“It would be presumptuous of me to think that I would have all the answers before I am presented with draft budgets,” she said. “I also expect I would receive a certain amount of training in the new role as city councillor and some of this would certainly include budgeting and city taxes.

“I do intend to be a city councillor for all citizens of Cornwall not just special interest groups.   Keeping the tax rate lower at the expense of maintaining important city services and infrastructure programs is counter-productive.”

Guy St-Jean said the CAG strategy may backfire.

“I do not believe that publishing this document, of who signed and who did not sign, will be effective in pushing the CAG agenda,” he said, adding some of those that did sign the document are incumbents who weeks ago agreed to a massive raise for the incoming council. “Some of the councillors who voted for their raise, are also signing to ‘roll back’ property taxes. That makes no sense to me.

Sandy Cameron, one of the leaders of CAG, could not be reached for comment.

CAG’s list of signatures is current as of Monday evening. CAG is a collection of local business people and other stakeholders who have lobbied for tax reform and fiscal restraint at city hall.

Share this article