Councillors abide by the traditional independence when sitting on Council, however, in their personal lives, many of them participate in federal parties in one way or another, whether via quiet support or full-out endorsements.
One of the most off-putting barriers to getting involved in Guelph politics is rooted in the many, many nuances and intricacies of who’s with who and what’s what. Let this act as a brief, accurate but incomplete guide for where Council sits heading into this fall.
Now, not all of Council is recorded here, but as The Post reaches out and confirms with councillors and continues to carry out research, this story will be updated. By the time signs are being put up around Guelph, there will be some indication of where they sit.
Why does it matter? Transparency is definitely a key reason, as is curiosity, and to open up what is usually a tighter knit community that expects one to “just know” where people lie on the political spectrum, a lesson learned by many when they first step into local politics.
James Gordon, Phil Allt
Couns. James Gordon and Phill Allt are up first because their allegiance is most obvious, and usually the most identifiable with a federal party — in their case, the New Democratic Party. Gordon has been a provincial NDP candidate and Allt a federal one in the local riding.
Both were supportive of provincial candidate Agnieszka Mlyarnz last year and have their names in news articles dating back nearly a decade. They are still active, as Gordon endorsed 2019 nominee Andy McCann-Pappin and both were at the nomination meeting on Saturday.
Coun. Mike Salisbury is part of the Green Party. Though not as obvious about his party affiliation as the New Democrat supporters on Council, his connections to the party stretch back several years and he even once ran for the provincial Green nomination, in 2011.
Coun. Leanne Piper is a Liberal Party supporter, according to multiple sources. She was also present at the acclamation of MP Lloyd Longfield last fall. She does not appear to be as active as Gordon and Allt are for the New Democrats.
Coun. Dan Gibson could have been just the most recent Council member to try the federal politics route. Earlier this year, Gibson was considering a run on behalf of the Conservative Party, who confirmed at the time that there were three nominees vying for the candidacy.
“It’s no secret I’m feeling a pull towards federal politics but I’m weighing that against my family’s stage in life, my career and my desire to continue contributing to Guelph City Council,” he said in a statement at the time. He would not have had to step down from Council to run, only if he won.
As it turned out the second-term councillor, who was re-elected last fall, did not end up publicly running for the nomination. Though because there ended only being two nominees vying for the candidacy for the Tories, he could have been that third nominee. It is unclear at this point if he will get involved in supporting candidate Dr. Ashish Sachan.
Where the others lie?
The other councillors and the mayor have not declared allegiances ahead of the fall federal election and it would be unexpected for the ones not already named to step forward in favour of any specific party. However, there are some past ties that may give an indication in regards to where some may lean.
Mayor Cam Guthrie has ties to the provincial Progressive Conservatives. Ties that have caused him to previously deny rumours over a potential bid to run in the 2018 provincial election on behalf of PC Party in Guelph.
Couns. Dominique O’Rourke and Rodrigo Goller have not publicly stated any allegiances for the fall federal election, and there is not any information available now that appears to point to the pair of new councillors having a known history.
Coun. Christine Billings is widely considered a more right-leaning councillor but has very little digital history beyond Council votes and a professional LinkedIn profile, something she said last year was intentional. There is no evidence pointing to which party she will will vote for this fall and the same is true for Coun. Bob Bell and Coun. Cathy Downer.
Coun. June Hofland is a councillor that has often been pegged as an ally of Gordon and Allt on Council and classified as a leftist politician. She does appear to have any formal ties to a party in Guelph ahead of this election but was a close ally of former mayor Karen Farbridge, who was close with the local Liberal Party.