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Andy Brandt Marina

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 09:25 -- Dan McCaffery

City council made the right move last month when it renamed Sarnia Bay Marina after Andy Brandt.

Brandt, who is 80 years old, was one of the most successful local politicians of the 20th century.

First elected as a councillor in 1971, he served in municipal government for nine years, including six as mayor. During that time he dramatically altered the appearance of downtown.

Few remember it today, but at the beginning of the 1970s Front Street was a shambles. Brandt once said the west side of Front looked like Berlin in 1945 when he became mayor. And he was right.

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We’re destroying their habitats

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 15:56 -- Dan McCaffery

One afternoon last month I was standing at the end of my driveway when a neighbour pulled over and excitedly yelled that there was a deer on the street.

Looking up, I saw the creature running down McMillen Parkway West, headed for Lakeshore Road.

At first I was thrilled to see such a beautiful creature close up.

A day or two later, on Facebook, I saw a video of two deer making their way down the sidewalk on Christina Street near the post office. A day after that, I read a story about a bear being spotted near Wallaceburg.

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Grits staying in the wilderness

Fri, 06/01/2018 - 08:15 -- Dan McCaffery

The Liberal party appears to be finished in Sarnia-Lambton.

As of this writing the results of the June election were not known. But what was known as I wrote this column is that the local Grits waited until the eleventh hour before even nominating a candidate. In fact, it was closer to 30 seconds to midnight – just a day before the deadline.

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Kiss our democracy goodbye

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 12:52 -- Dan McCaffery

When I first started reporting 45 years ago, this country had a vibrant, robust media.

And not just in the big cities like Toronto, or even medium-sized communities like Sarnia.

A case in point would be the former Moore Township, known today as St. Clair Township. In the mid-1970s I covered Moore Township council for the old Sarnia Gazette.

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The new Catholic reality

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 16:24 -- Dan McCaffery

The way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sarnia reduced to a single Catholic elementary school within the next two decades or so.

Consider this: When I was sent off to my first day in kindergarten back in the late 1950s, it was as a student at St. Peter’s School in central Sarnia. Or more specifically, an annex to St. Pete’s.

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Backroom boys

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 09:10 -- Dan McCaffery

Remember the good old days when the ‘back room boys’ picked party leaders?

People railed against that system, saying it was undemocratic, that the rank and file had little or no say in who was going to represent them.

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I hope Andy Bruziewicz loses

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 15:46 -- Dan McCaffery

I hope Andy Bruziewicz loses the upcoming provincial election.

Not because I think he would be an especially bad MPP. And not because he’s running for the Trillium Party. Frankly, I’d never heard of them until I read that Bruziewicz was going to be their standard bearer in Sarnia-Lambton.

These fringe parties never go anywhere. The best they can manage, in most cases, is to be spoilers. Every once in a while they get enough votes to hurt one of the three main parties. That’s about the only influence they have.

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Who gets the credit?

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 16:16 -- Dan McCaffery

One of the frustrating things about politics is that you can never know for sure whether your elected officials are doing a good job.

With a hockey coach you can pretty well tell whether he knows what he’s doing. The results are there for all to see at the end of the season. Either his team won the majority of its games or it lost most of them. It’s all very cut and dried. For the coach, there’s no place to hide.

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Is the cost of paper ballots is the price of democracy?

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 15:51 -- Dan McCaffery

Sarnia city council’s decision to go with electronic voting next year is a bad idea.

On the positive side, it will save some money. Reports I have read say the cost of continuing to operate with the traditional paper ballots would be more than twice as much as the new electronic system.

But I have little confidence that electronic voting would be safe. I fear hackers could wreak havoc with elections.

Even more worrisome than that is the fact that many older people will not be comfortable with it. These days, that’s a lot of people.

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The politics of personal destruction

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 14:15 -- Dan McCaffery

Ontario’s opposition leader has fallen into a Liberal trap that could have easily been avoided.

Patrick Brown misspoke a few months back when he suggested Premier Kathleen Wynn was on trial for corruption.

Wynn was about to testify at a trail of a pair of Grits at the centre of an alleged Elections Act bribery scheme. Although this was clearly an embarrassing episode for the Liberals, the premier herself was not on trial. She was, in fact, a willing witness who was co-operating with the Crown.

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