Friday September 29th, 2023 - 02:54:46 AM

September 30, 2010
Category: Rapid Response — Austin Wright @ 5:11 PM

It’s deja vu – a potential investor has politicized a major development announcement with an endorsement of Randy Hope, promising to take his millions and leave if Hope loses. This places other candidates in an untenable position, considering that Mr. Boutin made his announcement without even talking to those lined up to replace Hope.

Had he done so, Mr. Boutin might have found that my vision for Chatham-Kent is much more progressive and business-minded than Hope’s meandering myopia.

Now, candidates are vexed by risking an investment in our community simply by challenging Hope, which has very undemocratic connotations. A Brampton-based corporate agenda seems to have redefined the election, paradoxically pitting every opposing name on the ballot against a development that I personally supported.

If Chatham-Kent doesn’t re-elect Mayor Randy Hope, there’s no hope for a multimillion-dollar hotel/condo project in downtown Chatham.

That, according to Brampton-based developer Victor Boutin, president of Everlast Group, who made the comment Thursday morning after unveiling plans for the project, named Boardwalk on the Thames.

He said if Hope wasn’t at the helm of the municipality it “would change everything.

“This man has got a vision.” - Chatham Daily News

Ouch. Boutin didn’t do his homework there. Anything good that happened in Chatham-Kent over the past 4 years was in spite of Randy Hope, who opposed virtually every progressive idea and took credit for the work of many others. I suggest the blame lies on Hope for misrepresenting his accomplishments.

Mayor Hope cited the Capitol Theatre for creating this kind of new interest in the downtown – a venture he strongly opposed and impeded every step of the way until the ribbon-cutting photo-op. Did he tell that to Mr. Boutin?

With one nay vote, Hope went against council and single-handedly killed the Rec Centre – poisoning relations with a major educational institution in the process. It’s ironic Hope is now being credited with having vision. Perhaps he embellished his resumé.

In a way, it’s no surprise that four years’ worth of stagnation, inaction, failure and bumbling is being countered in the 25 days prior to the election. I had anticipated a flurry of eleventh hour publicity stunts and good-news announcements. What did Hope do the other 1396 days except play games and miss meetings to cut ribbons for page one?

The mayor approached members of the media following the press conference to discuss Boutin’s comments and attempt to shed light on the developer’s position.

“I was very surprised at the strength of the comments,” he said. “I don’t need people threatening.”- Chatham Daily News

Mayor Hope has thrived on situations throughout his term where opponents were intimidated and muzzled. His handlers threatened people at their workplace for bringing confidential concerns to council. Innocent citizens were sued for $1.1 million to protect Hope from scrutiny – which tax dollars may have financed. This mayor is no stranger to political mischief.

Bearing similarities to today’s announcement, Hope capitalized on a scheme in the last election promising a $70 million investment that was also contingent on him winning. In the absence of any progress despite a trip to South Korea, we can only conclude it was a hoax perpetrated on the voters by Hope’s Machiavellian campaign supporters. When this was examined during an official investigation, Randy Hope lied in testimony about the incident.

So voters are faced with a decision to re-elect an unethical mayor to secure a purported large investment, or else chose a new mayor with the genuine vision to move Chatham-Kent forward for real on behalf of all citizens, but maybe jeopardize one project in the process.

I don’t think Mr. Boutin is being fair by pronouncing his endorsement without speaking to the rest of us. I’ll give him the benefit of not knowing Hope’s prevailing modus operandi. I have no doubt Hope personally “informed” Mr. Boutin about each of his opposing candidates, and knew this ringing endorsement was coming when he kicked off a campaign with no platform.

I am more than willing to sit down with Mr. Boutin and discuss my vision for Chatham-Kent’s future. He might be pleasantly surprised, and I trust his comments today were made off-the-cuff based on Hope’s faulty information. My platform proposes a great deal of teamwork to secure prosperity, and I’ll perform due diligence with every matter that’s above-board.

In the meantime, perhaps Mr. Boutin will withdraw his comment and allow the election to unfold naturally. After what happened last time with the $70 million incinerator ruse, this investment with strings attached risks being labeled as more of Hope’s election theatrics and not taken seriously.

Remember Canril and Home Depot in 2003? It’s unusual for an investor to go through all that trouble based on a particular mayor being in office – the election date was no secret when the Boardwalk was first proposed.

Elected as mayor, I’ll do everything possible to prepare Chatham-Kent for new investment and economic development, while advocating on behalf of the people and our businesses. Mr. Hope has done enough damage, and I hope voters will not fall for the same kind of strategy twice whether it’s intentional or not.

The only thing missing now is some kind of boycott, and Mary Lee dropping out to endorse Hope.


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