Arts Culture & Sleazing for University Money at City Council or Dear Gerry Benson by Jamie Gilcig

Jamie & FitzyCORNWALL Ontario – I took Sunday off.  I wanted to mull this piece before scribbling it onto the web.

This weekend saw something incredibly positive happen for Cornwall that proves a major point I’ve been standing on for several years.

People in the region care more about Arts and Culture than they do about Sports.

That doesn’t mean sports are important, but it does highlight how much we lose when we spend $35M on a white elephant like the Benson Centre while cutting our tiny public gallery’s funding to FREAKING ZERO!

Said white elephant, the Benson Centre, drew more people Saturday for a comic con (allegedly over 4,000) than have ever been to the facility.    For one day every single parking spot was filled. They were parking on the grass.  They filled the Angelo Lebano lane way.

Carol Grant and Randy Sauve made Cornwall proud and put a lot of cash in their pocket.  Kudos to them and their entire team (except for that nasty Patty Edwards who if she is going to greet the public should be friendly about it).

Was CAPE perfect?  heck no.  Did Carol and Randy play silly politics to some degree?  Yup.    But they worked hard and they made magic happen and that doesn’t happen often in this town.    They deserve a round of thanks and applause by all that care about this city.

Hopefully after they recover and start to prepare for next year’s even they can analyze and make improvements for next years, and hopefully the city keeps its beak out and doesn’t ruin it like it has Lift Off, Winterfest, and other A&C activities.

Now speaking of wasting public monies Gerry Benson and his gang that essentially live off the public teat are back to council seeking more money.

They showed up originally seeking $ for a consultant report which came in years late.   Looking at the report I was scratching my head.  We certainly didn’t get value for our money.    We really are no farther ahead than when we started.

Now Gerry and his gang want another $75K, for another report.   This in many people’s world’s is called.  Insanity.

The list of the “steering committee” is also a weird hobbling of cliquesters and wannabees; mostly politicians.

It’s listed in alphabetical order:

Angie Baker, Gerry Benson, Dr. Wolfgang Bottenberg, Jim Brownell, MJ Joanne Lafrance-Cardinal, Tracy Collins, Grant Crack, Brad Crepeau, Dr. Francois Desjardins, Eric Duncan, Rick Eamon, Don Fairweather, Peter Garrow, Mai Habib, Carilyne Hebert, Tish Humphries, Bef Illauk, Gail Kaneb, Tom Kaneb, Guy Lauzon, Elaine MacDonald, Jim McDonell, Bill McGimpsey, John McMartin, Nicole Marion-Mills, Mike Mitchell, Leslie O’Shaughnessy (replacing Bob Kilger) Dianne Poirier, Jeff Ridal, Denis Thibaualt, and Roger Voyer.

Each of these folks, if they really care about this project should dig into their own pockets and kick in the cash.   They are after all steering and making the decisions.  The public has zero say. Not a world. Not a public consultation, and certainly no accountability.  Essentially this is a vanity project where these people, if a project comes to pass, will get to say they did something while we all paid for it.

Whey do we even need a steering committee if we’re just using consultants?

This is fiscal political abuse of tax dollars.  It’s embarrassing and shameful and frankly people should be very upset at this.

The last time this circus came to council Mayor Kilger and Councilor MacDonald didn’t even recuse themselves and they were on the committee asking for cash!

There are many paths to Nirvana and lord knows in this town we need more educated people, but this certainly is not an educated path to achieve that.  Looking over the proposal there now seems to be a link to companies that would potentially hire graduates, but those companies are not in Cornwall.

Do we really need to pay tax dollars to educated our young people so they can move away?  Again, insanity.

But then that’s what happens when most on a steering committee don’t have the very education they are asking to steer too or as I would posit, like asking Councilor David Murphy to perform brain surgery…. or coach hockey.    The good intentions might be there, but the remote possibility of success is minimal.

So Gerry, please dig deep into you and your own friends pockets and stay out of mine until  you have something of value to offer us.

What do you think dear CFN viewers, you can post your comments below.



  1. White elephant? The Benson Centre is very well used, but some just don’t see it. The Benson Centre was built to replace the Bob Turner and the Si Miller arenas, which were way past their ‘best before’ dates. It probably would have cost more than what was spent on the Benson Centre to bring the Bob Turner and the Si Miller arenas up to acceptable building codes or to replace the arenas on a one to one basis. And with the Benson Centre we gained an ice pad. My question for all….if the Benson Centre wasn’t built and the Bob Turner and the Si Miller arenas needed to be torn down what would have been the solution to solving needed arenas in Cornwall?

    TAG AGAIN?? I’ll say it once more. When TAG can prove that they are stable then the city can look at restoring their funding. A few months, IMHO, does not qualify TAG to say they are stable. The previous revolving door of the board of directors has stopped, for now. Who is to say it won’t start up again?

    CAPE?? I just don’t get it.

    I will agree with you on the “university steering committee.” Where did the last batch of money go that the city gave them? I just don’t think the city is big enough for a university campus, even if it is just a satellite location. I agree it is a vanity project for a lot of the names mentioned, their “legacy” I guess. And here’s hoping that Carilyne Hebert, Elaine MacDonald and Leslie O’Shaughnessy have enough sense to declare conflict of interest. But I’m expecting them not to, if previous events are any indication. In fact I believe Grant Crack, Eric Duncan, Guy Lauzon, Jim McDonell and Bill McGimpsey should be stepping aside as well, as they are current politicians and could be potentially voting on funding for the requested “university.”

  2. Back when the Cornwall Hospital was expanding, the crooked self servers at city hall (elected and non), missed an opportunity to make Cornwall a destination for retirees.

    Instead of piggy-backing on the McConnell Street hospital renewal — by keeping and updating the Second Street site as well — the city foolishly chose short term solutions like making a quick buck (along with ReMax) by selling city land and grabbing taxes from warehouse and call centre facilities… businesses that can move out over night, or even before opening.

    A longer term approach such as making Cornwall the destination for retirees, seniors, and the broad range of support workers and support industries (e.g. personal care workers, doctors, lab technicians, construction) would have served the community far better.

    So while the University team is largely self-serving and ego driven, attracting a higher learning facility is a welcome course correction for a city heading for the rocks.

    There are some good hard working and altruistic people working behind the scenes on this project (as such they’re not on your list), and hopefully a facility like the Nav Centre will soon host a full fledged health services faculty, a full fledged aviation trades and management faculty and much more.

    Perhaps the egoists on your list will quit being just hangers-on and actually work to revitalize Cornwall… by supporting the regional airport, re-establishing proper rail service, get moving on the Second Street medical facility, even reaching a little deeper into their own pockets.

  3. Education can be attained in this area, easily. There are three st.laurence colleges, and Algonquin. The real problem my wife and i can personally attest to, is crushing o.s.a.p debt and their high interest rate. That is what i fear for my children, is the debt repayment. Not access to educational facilities.

  4. I do not profess to know the educational background of the steering committee members but something is lacking in the leadership and information network of this group.

    Firstly consider employers and what their requirements are. The overwhelming consideration is given to diplomas right now and not degrees. We have a college and are well positioned with its credibility. The University of Ottawa off campus centre in Cornwall offers a general BA, Master of Education, B.Soc.Sc concentration in Criminology, Psychology and Sociology plus partial programs and courses that can lead to a degree.

    We have entered the Digital Age and the need for a physical campus has evolved to an online experience. Other universities programs are accessible as well. Yes the value of the physical campus is not to be discounted but education like everything else is in transition as we move forward.

    Someone really needs to inform this lame group of the current reality in education before they suck more money out of the taxpayer offering nothing in return except their own personal sense of having done something to make themselves feel relevant.

  5. Author

    David I just can’t believe that more people are totally offended by most of this group, who earn their dime off of the hard work of locals simply wanting to spend more of their money for a vanity project.

    They should be spending their own money and giving back to the community, all of them.

  6. The current reality in education may be on-line training, but the current reality in the job market is hands-on training and experience.

    And as far as college debt… anyone with half a brain only needs to look at the job market, and simply do the math; don’t invest in training and education that isn’t going to pay off.

  7. Simon….the province determined that Cornwall only required one hospital. It was the province that said the two hospitals were to merge into one and one site was to close with a definite date for that to happen. The province wanted one site, not two sites. Maintaining two sites made no sense, especially when they are about 12 blocks apart. The Second Street site had no room for expansion, so the obvious choice was to renovate and expand the McConnell St site. CCH was told by the province they would not fund two sites. So, the old General site had to merge its remaining services to McConnell Ave, close and be sold with the proceeds going to the CCH.

  8. Jamie, i agree with your latest statement 100%. And no person or group can deny that. If they do, they are disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing.

  9. Author

    Simon we are graduating illiterates from high school. Read facebook and you’ll see what I mean. Some of the kids don’t have the basic understandings to comprehend and solve problems or converse in an adult, never mind professional manner. We now have training courses for what essentially are minimum wage jobs.

    We’re two generations away from a zombie apocalypse essentially. It’s scary.

  10. Author

    You mean like Hugger Jerry? 🙂 Just teasing Hugger.

  11. Well Jamie I sure had a good laugh at this end I guarantee you that. I wouldn’t set foot I the White Elephant if you paid me. I saw that name before Mai Habib (a Lebanese) oh oh more trouble the Kanebs are enough. Habibe my loved one is what that word means. Maybe her name Habib means Love in English. LOL LOL. By her name she is a Christian. My stomach churned over Caroline Hébert and of course she is all part of the brown nosers. As for university in Cornwall it has been tried and failed so many times and it started when I was young and everyone laughed and shunned at it and it never turned out to be anything at all. Anybody who was intelligent left Cornwall for good and went elsewhere to good reputable universities and colleges. Cornwall is dead and will never ever recover. I figured that you were resting and enjoying those beautiful animals of yours Jamie and I love that picture of little Fitzie so very cute without a doubt. He is so sweet.

  12. Jerry the young people today are coming out not just with some degree and they are functionally illiterate like what Jamie said which is absolutely true. I have been on many forums some years ago and I couldn’t believe what I was reading like a grade school person who was supposed to have a degree. I completely and totally agree with you and your wife about the debts. I have read about the students coming out with $50K as well as $150K and more and are all debt slaves. When my daughter was in Cornwall and did a year a SLC that was the time she got sick with her thyroid and she owed $5000 or somewhere like that and with the interest it shot up to $10K because she couldn’t pay it until she worked. When she got her job she paid it up and wanted no more. There are no jobs at all and even high tech has gone over to India. My daughter keeps debating what to do and so far she said no way on going further in school because of the cost and no work and you are very wise to think like that Jerry. A lady that I met 11 years ago here in Ottawa has her degrees in high tech and was working from home through an agency and she got fed up and went out to university in Vancouver B.C. to get a degree in the health field in high tech which was something mighty rare to be able to find work. She was a woman close to my age at that time with gown up kids in university in B.C. There are no jobs. People today are only debt slaves.

  13. Kids today don’t talk as good as what we did back in the day.

  14. Author

    Furtz, Furtz, Furtz…..

  15. Hey…..I agree with you sometimes. In fact in regard to the “steering committee” I agree with you 100%.

  16. Author

    was just teasing Hugger. I have no problem with people agreeing or disagreeing on any issue.

  17. Furtz the real sentence should be “Kids do not speak as well today” and you too I caught you in your grammar and it should be me docked in points on my horrible English. I put the cart before the horse so many times. When I had Miss Kettles at CCVS as a geography teacher she would dock points off of my English – yes a geography teacher of all things. English was a poor as math for me – well just about. I scored very well in French but with all the years of studying that language it paid off.

  18. Jamie the young people today are literally zombies not just by literacy but look at those cursed cell phones in their hands and crossing the streets without looking and their noses pointed into those cursed cell phones. We are very close to the point of the end of time the way things are going and Pastor Newton will come on one day and say “I told you so” and then Furtz will come on and have some funny crack of something to blurt out to Pastor when Pastor would be right on. LOL LOL. ROLF!

  19. It’s no secret that one can graduate from high school in Ontario and be functionally illiterate; After teaching high school for some years, I found that the Ministry of Education is quite content to simply warehouse its young charges ’til age of majority.

    But Cornwall can make a difference, and fly in the face of politicians, self serving unionists, and teachers that have forgotten their responsibility; we can establish our own institute of higher education.

    We keep getting things “bass ackwards” in Cornwall; Had we earlier built an industry for senior living and senior care in Cornwall (instead of being a teat for crooked business and politicians), our needs would have pushed the province to maintain 2 health centres with its peripheral professionals and infrastructure.

    Now we have another chance, the chance to force the province and federal government to put us back on the map, by establishing an eastern Ontario centre of educational excellence.

    When this gets off the ground we’ll have road, rail and air services reinvigorated, communications infrastructure accelerated, and at last an influx of minds that aren’t rooted in small town politics and backroom business.

    We can hang the self-serving bastards later.

  20. Actually hangings too good… barbed wire enemas all ’round.

  21. Jules, you is the most funniest commenter on this sight! As for Newton’s fire and brimstone predictions, he is the second most funniest commenter on this sight. LOL LOL ROLF etc.

  22. I agree about kids being functionally illiterate. I had such a good laugh in youtube comments the other day. Someone was referencing this stunt dummy and didn’t know what it was. One person comments ” it’s a dumby you idiot”. Another comments “shows how much you know, it’s his dumby”. I laugh and point out that it’s spelled “dummy” and can’t believe someone spelled it like that, and that someone else spelled it like that too. Needless to say, they also showed their young age by making fun of my avatar and my mom LOL. DUMBY!! LOL

  23. MODERATED – Jules you may have written the best comment ever on CFN, but I will not read epic book length comments to find out. Please keep comments to no longer than a brief paragraph and try to be on topic, and try not to be hateful. Be nice. 🙂

  24. Jamie it is so mighty hard to type a small paragraph – it is almost impossible for me. Shucks! I am trying to get my point across without screwing up the king’s English as much as possible.

Leave a Reply