Camaro still a topic of Oshawa controversy

 Oshawa Mayor John Gray has been an easy target for opponents as he drives about town on government business in his distinctive, blazing orange Camaro.

The Oshawa-built car serves as a rolling endorsement and recognition of the importance of General Motors in Oshawa both currently and historically. And despite the sniping from opponents, primarily mayoralty challenger Louise Parkes, the mayor showed astute political instinct in having the City purchase the car. It symbolically underscores the deep relationship between the City of Oshawa and General Motors Corporation, provides visual reassurance here at home of the resurgence of the automaker and reflects Oshawa's primary economic contributor.

Opponents have spent a great deal of time in recent months demonizing the mayor for choosing to accept such a high-profile ride and making political hay over its seeming extravagance. Coun. Parkes, for example, says she'll auction off the vehicle and return the money to the reserve account in a bid to set a new tone of restraint in Oshawa.


If mayoralty challengers want to show fiscal restraint, they'll start by tackling issues of substance. They won't go off spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on collectibles as they did with the Cullen Miniatures (of which Coun. Parkes was a leading supporter) or strike ill-advised deals with charismatic theatre impresarios, or waste staff time -- and tax dollars -- exploring pie-in-the-sky CFL franchise relocations.

The notion that taxpayers will receive some benefit in an auction of the mayor's Camaro is disingenuous. Every single City councillor is given a $5,400 annual stipend they can use to lease or purchase vehicles. They mayor is given no such similar benefit. Over their four-year term of office, taxpayers pay $21,600 for each councillor. At the end of their term, councillors can continue to possess their taxpayer-subsidized automobile. Not so for the mayor.

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