Today, The Mayor issued a press release that questioned my job performance at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. His press release is another example of his tendency to shade the truth.
I left the Sarnia Chamber because I had the strength, good judgment and integrity to stand up against a board member who had been accused of domestic assault and against a board member due to a conflict of interest surrounding a real estate transaction. I am sure the Mayor did not research these facts before he issued his press release. It is certainly telling that he would shade the truth on such serious matters of personal integrity and good governance.
During my tenure at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, the business community was suffering from, among other things the loss of the Motor Vehicle License Bureau contract: a loss of over 35% of the Chamber’s revenue, heavy cross boarder shopping due primarily to a favourable exchange rate at the time. Consequently, the Chamber was challenged to renew membership. I developed a plan to drive more revenue and cut costs. That plan took root and the chamber benefited from that work in the years that followed. I was recognized for my performance by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce President, Allan O’Dette, who is a highly respected member of the business community in Ontario and Canada.
When I started my role at the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber it was on the cusp of one of the worst times of economic uncertainty in the history of the city as Essar was in CCAA. Our members, your local friends and neighbors, who are employers and innovators and tradespeople, were suffering. Some of them lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Membership fees suffered as a result.
However, unlike the Mayor, I rolled up my sleeves and I worked harder. I took on more work and made some very difficult decisions to ensure the long-term viability of the organization I was leading. During this same time the Mayor was using $575,000 of taxpayer money pursuing a futile lawsuit against Essar. I put my nose to the grind stone while the Mayor put his hands in your pocket, raising taxes by 11%. Also increasing the industrial tax rate by a whopping and unprecedented 56%.
When times were tough in the community, I was honest and direct with what was needed. I, the staff and the Board of Directors did the work and I helped our local employers. The Mayor, on the other-hand was busy making a disastrous tax deal with Algoma, which he disguised as a reassessment, and for which he refuses to take responsibility.
The Mayor is right on one point. The city can’t run a deficit. But what he didn’t tell you is that instead of doing his job, he simply opted to raise your taxes when you could least afford it. Is that leadership?