It is totally inappropriate for Mayor Bratina to hold a secret meeting with Minister Del Duca on a Provincial commitment to LRT, especially after Bratina's own history of misrepresenting Council's LRT position.
By Ryan McGreal
Published July 16, 2014
Bob Bratina seems to be constitutionally incapable of doing the right thing when it comes to light rail transit in Hamilton.
The mayor who campaigned on a platform that included support for the city's developing LRT plan has spent his term trying to confuse and undermine that very plan.
His latest gambit is to invite Ontario Transport Minister Steven Del Duca to a July 25 private meeting of his governance advisory committee to discuss whether the Province will keep its commitment to 100 percent capital funding for the Rapid Ready LRT plan the City submitted last year.
Bratina sent the following email to Council on Friday, July 11:
I have confirmation that the Minister will be meeting with me and our governance advisory group (Clrs Merulla, Duvall and Powers) on July 25th at 10am in my office.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact myself or Peggy.
Among the three other members of the committee, Powers is the only member of Council who has broken with the otherwise unanimous support for the city's LRT plan, which Council approved in February 2013 and which includes a class environmental assessment, 30 percent detailed engineering and design on the system and a comprehensive land use plan.
Bratina is also opposed to the LRT plan, but he justifies his vote in support of Rapid Ready through a tortuous interpretation of the plan in which he claims it is not actually an LRT plan.
That's an interpretation City Manager Chris Murray laid to rest in a debacle of a Council meeting in April 2013 after Councillor Brian McHattie tried to pass a motion clarifying Council's support for LRT in response to Bratina's misinformation.
Ironically, Council also established the governance advisory committee in response to Bratina's earlier refusal to accurately communicate council's position on LRT to the Province.
It is totally inappropriate for the Mayor to try and hold a secret meeting with the Transport Minister on a possible Provincial commitment to LRT, especially after Bratina's own disgraceful history of misrepresenting Council's position on this very issue.
Councillor Sam Merulla has already said he will not participate in the private meeting on July 25. This private meeting must not go ahead at all.
Bratina has lost the moral authority to be trusted with engaging the Province on LRT, not only because this term of Council ends in a few months but more importantly because he has proven, over and over again, that he cannot and will not act responsibly on behalf of Council and of Hamiltonians.
It is extremely important for Minister Del Duca to come to Hamilton, demonstrate that he understands Council's position, and provide clarity on what the Province intends to decide in response.
But that meeting has to involve all the councillors, not just a small committee, and it absolutely must happen in the open, not in a closed-door meeting in Bratina's office. Otherwise, it will be just another cloud of smoke in the fog of drama and confusion that has been pouring from this Mayor's office since early 2011.
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