Mayor Cam Guthrie has received some backlash for posts on Twitter endorsing statements made by provincial and federal Conservative officials this week, including a response from an elected school board trustee.
The first and most responded to post was on Tuesday when Guthrie retweeted Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott saying that he fully trusts her “100 per cent” when the minister said that she will work with municipalities “to make our [healthcare] system better.”
Elliott was reacting to reports that the Provincial Budget revealed earlier this month would be looking at integrating its 59 ambulance services and 22 dispatch centres. Elliott said in an event last Tuesday that the Province was actually increasing spending on emergency services, while Premier Doug Ford said, “There’s always going to be the same number of paramedics, that’s a guarantee.”
Many critics though, including the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, who Elliott originally retweeted, were both concerned about the lack of consultation on the decision. Exact details are scarce, and critics say that this will significantly worsen emergency response times in rural areas.
“First responders in my riding have told me that local knowledge is essential for a quick response time. We’ve all heard horror stories of ambulances being sent to the wrong place, while someone dies alone,” said Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner in a press release.
“The risk will only go up if we have non-local dispatchers trying to interpret frantic emergency calls with landmarks they’ve never heard of.”
“Do we need to know more? Sure. But give it time. Let’s work together,” Guthrie said his tweeted response.
Mayor Vs School Board Trustee
In a response to Guthrie’s comment to Elliott, Upper Grand District School Board Trustee Mike Foley said that Guthrie’s reaction was “that’s mind bogglingly idiotic to follow that level of belief. Really.”
Guthrie got sarcastic in his response, saying “how respectful @ugdsb trustee for calling me an idiot. You’re a great example for your next anti-bullying campaign you want to promote in your schools.”
Former trustee Susan Moziar then chimed in and called the mayor’s response to Foley “embarrassing”. Moziar served as an elected trustee from 1991 to 2018.
Guthrie received several other negative responses to his retweet of Elliott mixed with two that did not criticize him. “I appreciate the non-partisan take,” a user by the name of Anthony said.
Craig Burley commented via a meme that “it may not be perfect but it’s still the best government we have…for now” and another said “kudos, Mr. Mayor, no chance of a photo?”
“Mr. Mayor, I’m wondering if you have the same confidence in Christine Elliott to have the best interests of our municipality’s health services in mind in light of recent news,” read one response, citing the Ontario government’s controversial decision to slash public health funding.
Guthrie did respond to this tweet, saying “I don’t know enough about this change yet, but knowing her and her background I do believe she wants what’s best.”
“Your truth. Not mine”
On Wednesday, Guthrie retweeted Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt who wrote that a “pro-tip” for those seeking political office is that the “voter always gets it right”, referring to the United Conservative Party victory in Alberta.
“You can be disappointed in the result, but best to avoid criticizing people for how they voted,” Raitt posted, which Guthrie retweeted, commenting with the word “truth”.
The response to the mayor’s comment and retweet here was also was negative. A reply from Kelly Caldwell that received five likes read, “your truth. Not mine.”
Another person who identified themselves as a member of the LGBT community said that he “can’t help but think Alberta got it wrong.” During the campaign, Alberta’s Premier-designate Jason Kenney said that a UCP government would remove the prohibition on parental notification if a students joins a gay-straight alliance group at their school.
The third-rated comment from user @EmilyJS7 said she respectfully disagreed, adding that “some people vote based on a single issue” and that the elected official may not be the right fit for “broader governing”.
“Some politicians win based on false promises. Are we still right? How many Germans in 1940 regretted their vote in ‘33?” they said.
The rest of the replies ranged from simply “nope” to “that’s nonsense” – but almost all were in disagreement with the mayor with the exception of a user going by @stevelidkea, who appeared to agree with Guthrie’s comment.
Guelph political Twitter has been a hub of controversy lately, with city councillors going back and forth last month over the possibility of declaring a climate emergency, no motion for which has yet to be brought forward.