‘Stop Facebooking about bake sales,’ Chopp advises MPP

Norfolk Mayor Kristal Chopp jpg, DN

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The gloves came off last week as Norfolk Mayor Kristal Chopp dismissed local MPP Toby Barrett as an ineffective representative who is more a hindrance than a help.

“Having ‘negative’ help from your MPP doesn’t get our critical water issues solved, doesn’t help find a solution to our leaking gas well problems, and certainly doesn’t help renew our aging infrastructure with more modern and efficient solutions,” Chopp said in an email.

“Maybe Toby should stop Facebooking about bake sales and tractor pulls and instead roll up his sleeves and come and work with us and find out the real information about what’s going on with the financial issues of the county.”

Chopp has complained in recent weeks that Barrett did not support Norfolk and Haldimand deputations at the recent Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in January.

Barrett attended the event in Toronto for farm-related matters. But Barrett says Norfolk and Haldimand did not invite him to ministerial meetings, something Chopp disputes.

Matters came to a head on Feb. 12 when Barrett criticized Chopp for a presentation she made at ROMA to Municipal Affairs Minister Steven Clark.

After sharing news articles chronicling Queen’s Park’s alleged neglect of rural Ontario, Chopp presented Clark with a drawing of a “shit sandwich” as representative of the province’s record.

Barrett said, “This is not how we do business down here.

“I don’t use that language,” he said. “I don’t know if language like that is used at council. I know it’s not used in my office.”

Promoters of a $50-million recreational hub in Simcoe were also put off when Barrett said on social media on Feb. 10 that there is a good chance Norfolk will not get the funding it seeks.

“High expectations have been raised,” Barrett said on Twitter. “However, the province and the feds may probably not kick-in two-thirds of the money. The $1-billion grant program has been significantly over-subscribed with close to 1,200 applications.”

Barrett was asked whether he supports the hub proposal and whether he is promoting Norfolk’s bid for two-thirds funding.

He replied, “The majority of people have indicated to me they feel the county cannot afford the hub project.

“I have asked that the money be allocated to both Haldimand and Norfolk in an equitable way.”

In reaction, Chopp said Norfolk has been waiting a long time for Barrett to state a position. If Barrett is unwilling to support the bid, Chopp says he should have said so last year.

“We have been trying to get a straight answer out of Toby for months,” Chopp said. “I have to go on the record all the time and support or not support something. I don’t hide. I guess Toby has spent so much time in opposition that he can’t seem to remember how to make a tough decision.

“Everyone knows that — if you don’t have the support of your MPP — you aren’t going to get the funding.”

Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt also shared concerns about Barrett’s apparent indifference to local issues.

Hewitt sent Barrett an email concerning Norfolk’s and Haldimand’s meeting at ROMA with Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott. On the agenda was a proposed water pipeline from Nanticoke into Port Dover and Six Nations.

“Your absence was a surprise, but your assistant showing up late with little or nothing to offer was even more noticeable,” Hewitt said. “Again, seems very odd given the importance of this issue.”

Barrett replied that the province cannot discuss the water project until it sees engineering reports, environmental studies and accurate cost estimates.

The emails between Barrett and Hewitt were shared with Haldimand, Norfolk and Six Nations councils at the end of January.

 

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