​All candidates “Smackdown” at the Legion:

Ok I know, it wasn’t actually a “Smackdown”, it was really rather a timid affair. But in the last election I started with the boxing and wrestling metaphors, with this event, and now I’m stuck with them. 

1. The highlight of the evening for me, was the lady sitting in front of me nodding her head profusely when Shawn Cooper, Tina Comi, Dale West even Sal Greco and George were talking at the podium. Conversely she was shaking her head from side to side when Steve Berman, Kathy Jeffery, Deb Doherty, Cam Ecclestone were at the podium. She reminded me of one of those bobble head toy dogs old people used to put on the dash of their cars. She was (how can I put this delicately, in these politically correct days) a larger lady, and she was glaring at her much smaller seat mate anytime he wasn’t being as animated as she expected him to be. 

2. Deb Doherty was asked a pretty off the wall question: “What was the the biggest waste of money this past term that council had to deal with?” I heard a bunch of people in the audience snicker and laugh like the answer was all pretty obvious. Deb kind of talked around the question with bromides. I was sitting at the back like the smarty pants kid in the class with my hand up “pick me pick me”. The answer should have been: the seven hundred thousand dollars per year wasted running the rec tents. That might have shut the snickering up. 

3. Someone on my last post already mentioned this, but I will also run with it: From what I hear Shawn Cooper is as vacuous as his mother. So how come when Shawn got asked a question about “communicating with constituents” he didn’t hesitate to think about his answer, like most of the other candidates. His answer rolled off his tongue like he was a pro. It was almost as if he knew what the question was before he was asked it??

4. In continuation with #3: what was all that over the top talk, similar to the Mayoral and Deputy Mayoral candidates meeting, about “the transparency of the glass jar” and “you can see the questions on these little pieces of paper in the glass jar”? Just because you point it out doesn’t make it so. 

5. Bob Madigan hit it out of the park tonight he is the full package: Articulate, funny, on point, he can think on his feet. Add to that he is a local boy. You heard it here first at VFAN: Unless there is something lurking in his past one day Bob Madigan will be Mayor of Collingwood. A suggestion though Bob: Maybe a pair black brogues could be on a future shopping list? The “Miami Vice” footwear was a little too “casual Friday” for me. 

6. I had all kind of adjectives ready for George Dickenson and Sal Greco tonight, on this blog : “Train Wreck, Dumpster Fire, Debacle, Disaster” I can’t use any of them, both did fine tonight good for both of you. 

7. The “participation award” goes to Kathleen Knoll. (Sigh, this is what happens when you sit down and actually talk to people before you write a scathing blog post). 

8. How come Bud Christiansen is always at these types of events? Bud, don’t you have someone up in Clearview Township you can go and annoy? You’re taking up a valuable seat that an actual Collingwood voter could use. 

9. I walked right past Berman tonight, didn’t even recognize him, in his fancy suit, shirt and tie. I guess he’s taking this whole political thing seriously this time. 

10. Chadwick and I had an awkward moment. He walked down my seat row handing out leaflets. When he got to me he realized who I was and said “I guess you won’t be wanting one of these? I said” No I already know what’s in it”. I realized that that was probably the first time I have had an actual face to face encounter with Mr. Chadwick in 15 years. I started to get all misty thinking about all those times when he locked me out of my mailbox and wouldn’t sign for my registered mail and parcels because I had violated one of his petty UPS store rules and regulations. Ah those were the days. 

11. Back to Shawn and his softball question that he answered with the skill of a seasoned pro, because it looked like he had been practicing the answer all day. Regarding his answer about communication with constituents. I’ve sent Shawn about 5 emails with questions. I have visited his Campaign for Shawn Cooper Facebook page, asked him questions on his posts, not once has he responded to me. What am I Shawn chopped liver? 

12. Where was Jason Booth tonight? I haven’t seen much of him since he made the cut on my last “Candid Camera” post. C’mon Jason I wasn’t “fat shaming” you with my cup cakes gag, it was just a bit of fun buddy. The lady above needed another candidate to nod her head to. 

13. Finally this whole concept of the Chamber of Commerce running these things really is rather small town bush league. It is by no means impartial because by its very nature the organization is filled with people that have an active interest in the outcome of the election. Next election things need to change. 


Kelly Leitch campaigning for ​Tina Comi proves yet again both are completely tone deaf.

On Saturday, I was out in my back yard doing a bit of fall clean up. I don’t usually get very many phone calls on a Saturday, so I left my phone in the house. When I went back inside and checked my phone, it had gone bonkers while I was away with missed calls and texts. I have a couple of friends and acquaintances who live in Georgian Meadows. The kerfuffle was because Kelly Leitch was campaigning for Tina Comi on Saturday afternoon through Georgian Meadows and some folks were none too happy about it. 

When Tina Comi first announced that she was running for council, a few people, with whom I have a great deal of respect, were singing her praises, so she was immediately put on my list of candidates that I might/will vote for. That changed the first morning when election signs were being distributed and everywhere there was a John Trude sign right next to it there was a Tina Comi sign. I messaged her to ask if she was actively campaigning with John Trude and her immediate response was “No it’s just a coincidence”. I found out later that day that statement was a bald-faced lie, because a number of people had seen her signs being distributed by the same person who was putting up Trude signs. Then after being very quick to answer a couple of early softball questions, she then would not respond to my question about the judicial inquiry (no answer is better than the wrong answer). 

As the campaign has moved along, she has been endorsed by Ian Chadwick, did a joint campaign event with John Trude and now the icing on the cake is having Kelly Leitch do her door knocking for her (I just heard that Ms. Leitch is campaigning for John Trude also, but that has not been confirmed).

My personal thoughts on Tina are she is obviously very well educated and does camera very well, she seems to be sincere in her campaign. But, and this is a very big but, she is completely tone deaf to the way politics are done in this town. If she wants to support Trude and Chadwick that is her prerogative, but doing it as blatantly as she has done, then lying about it, is not what most of us want to see in a candidate. Also, at some point she might have to work with Brian Saunderson and/or Keith Hull, so openly campaigning for their opponents shows a complete lack of political judgment. I know a few candidates that are silently supporting Saunderson/Hull and “silently” is the operative word. 

I get the impression that because she has decided to run, Tina thinks that it is now her right to have a seat at the council table, the rest of us just need to catch up. Also, she has the biggest fanciest signs out of any of the candidates, the conspiracy theorist in me has to think that she has some very serious money backers behind her. All will be revealed when she has to make her campaign finance declaration, but by that time it’s all a little too late, isn’t it?

Last but not least, anyone running for municipal politics will tell you that you do not bring in a politician from another level of government to actively campaign for you. By doing so you alienate at least 50% of the municipal electorate and with someone as divisive as Kelly Leitch that’s about 70%. It makes me wonder did she not see any of the #NotMyMP signs that sprouted up like weeds all over town a few years ago? 

Anyway, I guess if she does get elected to council, maybe Kelly will help her set up that “Barbaric practices hotline” locally (I’d be reporting Chadwick’s blog), which ended up being the final nail in the Harper governments coffin in the last federal election. 

As I said earlier “completely tone deaf”. 

Mayoral candidates speak at Rupert’s Landing:

Actually, all candidates spoke at Rupert’s Landing and also answered the odd question or two.  This time Trish Irwin and the Chamber of Commerce weren’t there to play interference for their chosen candidate. I am only posting the Mayoral candidates interactions, because in my humble opinion Chadwick has no chance of beating Hull, and the town can probably live with most of the choices that they have as councillors. I actually do not see a realistic path where we end up with five members of council that will not continue with the 2014-18 council’s agenda. I am obviously supporting seven councillors and I would be happy if my seven choices were elected, but moving forward my focus is now on who becomes Mayor. This is going to be a tough battle and I maintain that this is too close to call. 

In this video you can see the stark comparison between Brian Saunderson and John Trude. In my mind I know who I would prefer to be representing our town to the world. 

I will no longer talk about Michael Blair because of his veiled threat of litigation against me in the comment section of my last “Observations” blog. I will however leave you with this final comment Michael, not by me, but by one of my readers:

“The liability for Libel – if you are so thin skinned, how would you be as Mayor?

No worries, we will never know!”

Back to the real Mayoral candidates. I noticed that for the first time John Trude actually said that “There is no issue with the hospital” so if that is now John Trude’s position why is the hospital still the first item on his campaign website? Also, when he was asked “Why was there a delay?” why did he suddenly develop a case of amnesia, when the made up hospital delay story is still plastered all over his campaign web site?

Anyway here is the link: (You can skip to 4.38 if you want to avoid listening to Michael Blair’s self aggrandizing waffle).


Candidates meeting shambles, needs a rethink. 

The Mayoral and Deputy Mayoral candidates meeting last week, was a complete joke. It amazes me that this debacle and the debacle that will surely follow next week is the only opportunity in a seven week election campaign to actually see the candidates in person. 

I noticed a thread on Steve Bermans Facebook page the other day, everyone was being polite and saying “it’s great that the Chamber of Commerce stepped up”. But let’s be honest it was a disaster. For starters the venue was too small. The legion was probably great for these types of events, when Collingwood was a sleepy back woods town where the same half a dozen people ran for council each time. These days it’s a little different, people are engaged. For a hundred or so people to be turned away is  unacceptable and shows someone didn’t do their homework. Then to add insult to injury, they couldn’t figure out the live feed and everyone trying to watch it online gave up. This is basic stuff these days. Also, who figured out this format? When John Trude was huffing and puffing up and down the stairs, I was scanning the room to see if there was one of those portable diffibulators on hand. Only three out of the five questions were actually relevant to the current election campaign and one question was tossed out bacause it was too similar to the previous question. The whole thing was a complete amateur hour.

Trish Irwin from Collingwood Chamber of Commerce was online doing her best to explain the debacle, snapping and scolding at any detractors, but realistically the thing has obviously got too big for them to handle. 

The other thing that was strange, is back in 2014 the candidates were in a line on the stage, they were asked questions and were allowed to ask questions of each other. That format suited Sandra Cooper, because as expected Joe Gardhouse was a complete trainwreck and Chris Carrier ended up looking like he was bullying his grandma into eating her strained vegetables, all that asking Sandra difficult questions about budgets, town debt and stuff suited her made up persona that she was just trying to do her job. That format also suited Brian Saunderson. Who can forget that zinger from Brian when Rick Lloyd asked him about conflict of interest? If you want a chuckle read my review on the 2014 candidates meeting here:


This time around the format completely changed, which actually suited John Trude. With his limited platform of platitudes and “I’ll get out of the hospitals way” schtick. I have to point out the obvious, was this softball candidates meeting set up in a way purposely to shield John Trude from facing Brian Saunderson in front of a live audience? Maybe someone saw the mincemeat he made out of Rick Lloyd at the same event in the last election? Enquiring minds…. 

By next election this needs to be sorted out. No private group or organization should be expected to foot the bill for this important part of the democratic process. Also, when it’s a private group running this event it is open to being formated to suit a particular candidate. 

The town should start hosting these events itself, they don’t have a problem when it’s Elvis, in my mind this is much more important. Blank out one of the hockey arenas for two nights and have a line item in the towns budget called “Candidates Meeting”. That way, everyone who wants to, can get to see a candidate in person in a hostile environment, answering and asking difficult questions to and from their opponents and the public. 

I will be pushing for this to happen next term. 

Lattes, craft beer, 100 mile diets vs. Timmie’s, Budweiser and Boston Pizza.

Back in 2014-15, around the time of the last municipal election, I wrote a couple of posts on a subject that I called the “Two Solitudes”. I won’t get into explaining my ideas behind that premise here, because I don’t entirely agree with it any longer. The following is a post that I wrote trying to explain it:


I still believe that there are two very different groups of people living in  Collingwood. After the last election I think I have figured out the real dynamics behind each group.  Both groups seem to want different things from our town. I think those differences have been exploited over the years by certain individuals for political and personal gain. 

Let’s take a quick look at an example of a person from each group:

Group A:

Dwayne – his family has been in town for at least two generations. His dad worked at the shipyards, mom worked at Kaufmans. His brother has worked for the town since he left CCI at the age of 18. He himself worked one year at the Shipyards until it closed in 1986. He now runs a small handyman service company around the Collingwood area. His wife has a small book keeping business which also includes balancing his company books. His son has moved to Oakville.

The small red brick house, on one of the tree streets, that he bought for $85k back in the mid 90’s is getting surrounded by monster renovations and monster houses on infill lots. A realtor just told him he could get him $600k for his house if he wanted to sell. He would sell, $600k is a lot of money, but where would they go? 

He drives a Chevy truck just like his dad did. His phone is a Samsung 5 with a cracked screen. He thinks Amnesy International is group for people who have bad memories. 

He likes his Rockdell steak well done with ketchup on the side. He likes his coffee double double, his beer Budweiser from the bottle and his Leafs hockey on the big screen at Boston Pizza.

He used to play hockey, but has a bulging disc in his back so does not participate in any sports these days.

Group B

Nigel – he moved to Collingwood in 2009 with his wife and two small kids from downtown Toronto. He does IT work for an internet start up from Waterloo. He bought his house brand new in Georgian Meadows back in 2009, it is three times the size of the town house he sold in Toronto and cost $100k less than what sold the TO town house for. His next move will be closer to downtown, probably renovate a house on one of the tree streets. 

His wife is a teacher at one of the local elementary schools. One child goes to Mountainview the other goes to CCI.

He drives a Toyota Prius, has an Amnesty International Visa Card and his phone is an Apple iPhone X.

His restaurants are usually 100 mile or for a quick snack downtown, Freshii fits the bill. He likes his no foam soy milk latte from Ashanti. His beer has to be craft brewed. When he watches the Leafs on the big screen at Northwinds, he will be drinking a pint of Broken Paddle Cream Ale.

He does Pilates on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Cycles weekend mornings on his $8,500 Pinarello Italian bicycle with his buddies at the Collingwood Cycling Club. He skis at Craigleith in the winter through a family membership.

Now just for shits and giggles, why don’t you tell me who’s voting for who in the next municipal election? 

I will expand on this post in the next week or so.

Back to Don May re: Hospital Redevelopment


I thought your Open Letter to me deserved a response – as it remains on your Mayoralty Campaign site with an older letter from someone else re-issued from 18 months ago. I do not have a web site for politics and my social media skills are limited so I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with you in an open forum.

Response by Don May to the John Trude Open letter of September 13, 2018 to Don May (posted on the John Trude Mayoralty Web Site)

Let’s be clear, the Hospital, The Town of Collingwood and the other partner Municipalities, and the Community at large all want the same thing – the best new hospital that can provide excellent health care to all the residents of our Region.

We should all be able to agree on the following:

  • The Program and Location of the new Hospital is decided by the Province
  • There are two main options in the Phase One Study to the Ministry by the Hospital:
  • A New Hospital on Poplar Side Road
  • A New Hospital on an expanded Hume Street Site (which could be phased)
  • The Province must determine the Program before they can decide between the siting options

Why are we focusing on the past instead of the future?

How have we gotten so far ahead of ourselves with so many “volunteer experts” telling us that the new Hospital on Poplar Side Road is ours but for the dissention in our Community. Sounds like the Recreational Bubbles that we found ourselves in between 2010 and 2014! Remember the old saying – “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Are we to repeat our recent history or create a more intelligent process that promotes collaboration and respect – with controls that will prevent abuse of power and lack of process.

With the greatest of respect to you John – and in the same spirit that you expressed your opinion to me – I believe there are people:

  • Who are trying to maintain power for a few select “volunteers” who think they know what’s best for our Community.

  • Who believe that the Town Council should have disregarded their required municipal process and complied with the “Hospital Volunteers” demands.

  • Who want to blame others in our Community.

There are also the vast majority of our Community who:

  • Are quietly watching this “gong show” with major confusion as to what and who to believe – but wanting desperately to have our Community come together with understanding, tolerance and positive leadership.

There are other communities in Ontario facing losing their Hospitals and we are in the favorable position of having the Province decide where our new Hospital will be located. Our elected leaders must be committed to bringing everyone together if we are to achieve a unique Hospital for Southern Georgian Bay as envisioned in the Phase One Submission.

In my opinion:

  • There was nothing wrong with the Town initially stating a preference for the complete rebuild of the Hospital on the existing site. The Town expressed their commitment to expropriate adjacent lands to provide a much larger site for the Hospital to do a complete rebuild on Hume Street. The Town Council’s response was based on the Town’s Official Plan and their inability to rezone the Poplar Side Road site – given the advice they had received from the County and Province.

  • There was nothing wrong with the Hospital determining that a new build on Poplar Side Road would be best for a more regional perspective and the construction could go easier on a greenfield site.

  • Both of these “preferences” led to the two options being shown in the Hospital’s Submission to the Province.

  • We have lost sight that the Hospital’s submission has both options before the Province. The Poplar Sideroad option requires the Province to spend $430 million dollars to build a new Hospital on Poplar Side Road. The expanded Hume Street option gives the Province the alternative option to phase our Hospital over time.

  • All options are on the table with the Ministry in this process and we need experienced professionals to help the Hospital get the best facility(s) for our Region.

  • We are in Stage 1 of a 5 – stage process where the site is not determined till we get agreement on the future Program and a financial commitment. In other words – while a preliminary site review is necessary in Phase One – the main purpose of Stages 1 and 2 is to determine our future program.

On a point of clarification from your recent response to me – I specifically said that the Professionals involved in the preparation of the submission have not been involved since August 2016. I did not say they were not involved in the preparation of the Submission. I believe the Submission was well done except for a little collaboration that was missed with the Town staff regarding the site selection analysis. This can be picked up in Stage 2 as the siting is not critical at this point.

Further facts:

  • The Town has little to do with the Hospital process and even in the case of the Poplar Side Road site option – if the Province decides that this site is the best site for a new Hospital – then it is the Province (not the Town) that must provide a Ministerial Order to cut through all the red tape for a building permit to be issued. The Town is on record that they will support and facilitate the services required for either option.

  • I must speak up as an experienced Hospital site planner because I have a duty to share my knowledge. My experience is that a Hospital should not be planned in conflict and the public needs to know all the facts as our health care system evolves through collaboration and respect for all the stakeholders within the Community. In trying to stay objective – I hope the Community will appreciate a more balanced approach to the facts.

  • The main purpose of Phase One is to determine the Program for our future Hospital. Choosing the site for the future Hospital is part of later stages – once the program is decided and whether phasing will be required by the Province.

  • During the past two years – the Province has reviewed the Hospital’s Phase One submission and provided a series of questions which require a professional response from the Hospital (this is part of the normal Provincial process). Designated volunteers and the Hospital Foundation should not (in my experience) be directly involved in this technical aspect of the Provincial process. The Log is referenced for everyone at the end of this response in the Appendix and should be followed as further progress is made with the Ministry. We all should appreciate the CGMH web site which provides Redevelopment updates.

How do we bring our Community Together?

The bigger question and the greatest challenge for our Community is to create a unified community.

John – because you have made the Hospital a “negative blame” issue in your campaign – how are we going to bring our Community together to move forward?

Bringing the Community together requires:

  • Respect for all

  • Open dialogue

  • Respecting the roles of professionals

  • Sharing facts – As an example – there was an excellent report done by the Hospital in the Spring of 2016 which I am sharing with everyone to raise awareness and knowledge within our entire Community to understand what all of this about (see my appendix at the end of this response for reference to this important study prepared by CGMH).

We should all give the CEO of CGMH – Norah Holder a chance to lead the Hospital and this Community through the Provincial process to determine our future Hospital (including me).

John – I do not want to argue or debate anymore.

  • If you really want to give our Community all the facts so they can have their own opinion – would you do me a favor and post this response on your web site – given you sent the open letter to me via your web site. To not post my response is to confirm that political campaigns are not about helping people to inform their own opinion.

  • The public needs to know that we have two positive options for our future Hospital and that we need a respectful and cohesive Community to move forward. To those who would like some facts to help them understand this issue for themselves – I have provided two appendix references which support my position that we are on the right track for a major redevelopment of our Hospital and we need to come together and help the Hospital achieve our Regional goals.

  • Blaming the Town Council and Brian Saunderson in particular for all our woes may serve your purpose to want to be Mayor – but it does not help to bring our Community together for our future hospital in whatever form and location the Province decides.

  • Being an arm chair critic after the fact is easy – but being in the shoes of either the Hospital or the Town over the last 2 years has not been easy. We need positive, conciliatory collaboration at all levels – with inclusive leadership to move forward.

  • It is a privilege to express opinions in a Community that welcomes open dialogue and encourages people to speak up. I do appreciate the opportunity to speak up when it is not personal or a challenge to one’s character.

Best regards – Don May

Appendix 1

For those that want to know more about the planning for the new Hospital – please go to the following site and take the time to read this excellent summary:


This is an excellent overview from early 2016. The sketches in this presentation for Option 2 (existing / expanded site) and Option 3 (greenfield – Poplar Side Road) are based on a future two storey hospital and in my experience the Hospital in either location is built under the direction and management of Infrastructure Ontario would be at least 4 stories high – so these footprints in fact will most likely be smaller to achieve the same building square footage on either of the sites. By working with a smaller – more efficient foot print you may be able to avoid the need for a costly parking garage (and higher parking rates). We end up with the same hospital essentially in either location.

Appendix 2

The Ministry Log on the CGMH web site at:


The Ministry is responding to both the proposed program and certain location / phasing questions.

In plain language – the Poplar Side Road Hospital is far from a done deal and blaming individuals for delay is irresponsible. The priority is answering these questions so that we can move forward to Stage 2.

My respectful opinion is that:

  1. The Hospital needs assistance from independent – objective – experienced professionals (ie. the original consulting team) to provide the answers required by the Ministry’s comments and to engage with the Community in frank open dialogue.

  1. We need more input from our physicians and health care providers to tell the Community what our local health needs require from a holistic perspective.


I hope my comments are helpful to your understanding of some very complicated issues related to the Hospital redevelopment and I have previously declared my biases and preferences – please do your own further research. These are my thoughts based on my knowledge/experience and are shared with no purpose other than to inform people in response to residents who have asked for my opinion and thoughts. Being a professional planner experienced in hospital redevelopment requires me to speak up in the same way a professional engineer cannot stand back when they see a bridge being planned in a manner that is certain to fail. I have copied the “email traffic” out there and would appreciate anyone forwarding this to people within our Community you think might be interested in knowing more about this subject.

More observations from the campaign trail

1. This past week, I recieved a couple of good old fashioned school maam dressing downs. One from Janet Trude and the other from Joanne Cunningham. Seriously, it reminded me of Mrs Stevens at Oak Lodge elimentory school. I had to wash my mouth out with soapy water and sit in the corner of my living room, with a dunces cap for hours.

2. Apparently one of the nicest most genuine candidates has been subjected to “lawfare”. The person received a “cease and desist” letter from a local law firm. Ordering him to stop talking about Sandra Cooper, the first Collus sale, and the Paul Bonwick $756,700 payment, while knocking on doors and talking to constituents.

3. No fair, No fair!! Where’s my “cease and desist” letter?

4. Comments of the week:

You really need to be more objective VFAN and curb this “bromance” you are having with Brian Saunderson 😀

(Michael Blair I didn’t hear his exact words so I’m paraphrasing. All good now Michael?)

You commented in support of a Macleans article in 2007, so you must be Islamaphobic.

(Take a wild guess).

“I admire your candour in labelling your blog with the adjective “uninformed”. It is an accurate characterization.

(Michael Blair on my Twitter feed)

“Sorry I don’t read that toxic site. I prefer factual content with a writer with morals and ethics”

(Chadwick about VFAN). 🤣

5. I’m not the only one Mr. Chadwick has been trying to paint a certain way. Apparently one of the candidates is a spousal abuser and one was fired for inappropriate behavior towards kids. This is a dirty dirty campaign.

(C’mon guys where’s your cease and desist letters?)


🎵 You got a friend in me…….. 🎵

(Sorry Bob had to do it) 😂

7. How come when I drove along First St the other morning. I saw Saunderson, Berman, Madigan, Hull signs all kicked over in a row and Trude, Comi, Booth signs all still standing? (Ian have you been walking your dog at 1am again?)

8. I saw a video online the other day of Tina promoting new changing rooms and washrooms for Fisher Field. GOOD FOR YOU TINA !!

(But why weren’t you wearing any shoes?)

9. Keith Hull…….. em…….. em………. em…….. alright I’ve got nothing.

Keith why do you have to be such an eagle scout? You’re killing me here.

10. John Trude is happy to be campaigning with Tina Comi.