First it was urban chickens; then religious icons, and now Mayor Drew Dilkens has directed his ire at charities and their supporters.
In response to an ongoing lawsuit between charities and municipalities, the City of Windsor has launched a taxpayer funded campaign that includes a video that shames charities that do not opt-out of the class-action lawsuit.
In 2008, a class-action suit arguing the licensing and administration fees charged to charities are illegal taxes, was launched by the bingo industry and local charities.
In 2013, Windsor and Tecumseh attempted to limit the scope and the number of charities involved in the suit, but the Supreme Court of Canada sided with the litigants, and awarded legal costs to charities.
Mayor Drew Dilkens defended the campaign on Blackburn News saying, “Considering how much revenue these organizations made from these bingo events, opting out of the lawsuit is a clear sign that they too support our municipalities.”
The campaign video claims that $70-million could build 6 or 7 community centers or 70 kilometers of reconstructed roads.
This is rich coming from an administration that has closed community centers, pools, parks and arenas, and dismissed those calling for increased spending on roads and sewers as naysayers, whiners, or conspiracy theorists.
But does this mean the city will reopen the community centers, pools and parks council closed if the charities are unsuccessful?
Of course, the city can ask charities to opt-out, I have no quibble with that.
In fact, I would hope the city would try to at least find common ground with the parties involved.
However that doesn’t seem to be the case considering the Mayor said, “opting out of the lawsuit is a clear sign that they too support our municipalities.”
And if they don’t? Obviously, they are against Windsor.
Facing criticism for the campaign from a local journalist, Dilkens fired back on Twitter, “I’m sure you aren’t suggesting we pull our ads from the Star? @martybeneteau,” effectively illustrating what the Mayor believes the role of media to be.
His comments were a low blow, but they clearly show the intent of the campaign – a public relations exercise designed to sway public opinion against charities.
It’s public shaming using tax dollars intended to support city services.
While $70-million is a significant amount of money, this does not warrant a divide and conquer public relations campaign, because if the city’s case is as strong as former CAO Helga Reidel claimed in 2013, why the hard-sell?
Conversely, if charities are successful – whether in part or in full – I would expect municipal governments to challenge the provincial government.
But to portray those organizations, and the people who have devoted their time to assist innumerable people across our community as being against Windsor is repugnant.
Do constitutional challenges, or the city’s threatened lawsuit over Greenlink mean the Mayor and council do not support the province or nation?
No! Only a fool would make such a claim.
The City of Windsor should make their arguments in the courtroom where they belong, and not engage in what is nothing more than bullying local charities.