A couple of days ago, I went on Facebook and posted a photograph of Federal Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer posing with Ontario premier Doug Ford. There’s a third politician who would have been right at home in this photo op. Guelph’s mayor, Cam Guthrie, would fill out this unholy trinity of hypocritical politicians.
Last February, Guthrie made his annual state of the city speech to the Chamber of Commerce. He threw a few nice words in the general direction of the Public Library:
“The (capital) forecast …suggests the new main library on Baker Street start in 2021. This will be a major redevelopment project with commercial, residential, and community institutional space in addition to a much-needed new library and an underground parking garage. This project will take a surface parking lot – and turn it into a major engine for economic growth, jobs, community-building, and downtown vitality.
“I want to thank the Library Board, who did an excellent job in providing the business case for the new library – and that was key to Council’s approval of the project.” (Cam Guthrie, February 07 2019)
A year earlier, when there was an election looming, he was even more loquacious in his support for the library:
“I am going to be totally honest with you. A few years ago, I was not shy about publicly questioning whether this city really needs a new main downtown library. But since becoming Mayor, I have come to see the new main library as not just a want – but a need in our community.
“As many of you know I like data, metrics and numbers. I have always appreciated the saying “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.” Well the library wins hands down. Library services are some of the most well used services in our entire city. With more users coming on stream every year and more items being used than ever before. The current main library is inadequate in almost every way – from size, to accessibility, to parking. I took a tour of the current building a couple of years ago and to be blunt – it’s a disaster and not living up to its full potential.
“I’m not afraid to admit, I’ve changed my mind on this one. And so this term of council has finally got the ball rolling on this project that has been talked about for many years.
“It’s important to remember though, this is not solely about a library – it’s about building up Baker Street into an economic engine in the heart of our downtown core. Estimates so far have new taxes, new revenue, coming into the city at well over $1 million dollars a year, where it currently contributes close to zero.
“Remember too that the Library is not fully paid for by taxpayers but with close to 30% paid for through development charges – and hopefully, fingers crossed, with other levels of government pitching in for this project.
“Folks, we cannot delay any further on this opportunity.” (Cam Guthrie, February 2018)
Now he has written a piece on his own blog in which he makes the statement:
“This coming Monday is not the right time to make a decision for a $67 million Library, and I feel confident that the silent majority in this city agrees with me.” (Cam Guthrie, September 13, 2019)
No, Mr. Mayor. The decision has already been made several times. The “silent majority in this city” support that decision. They said so when many of them voted for you in last year’s election.
That was when they thought you also supported the decision. That was when they thought you were an honourable politician.