Skip to content

OPINION: Bradleygate, and that darn bear

George Mathewson The mountainous mess at city hall – inevitably known as- Bradleygate – has a deep vein of irony running through it.
Killarney canoe trip with Dan Pieter, Naz, and Hendrick
A black bear like this one encountered in Northern Ontario in 2014 has been sighted numerous times in Sarnia-Lambton over the past six weeks. Glenn Ogilvie photo

George Mathewson

The mountainous mess at city hall – inevitably known as- Bradleygate – has a deep vein of irony running through it.

For one thing, the damning report by Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze would never have been written if Mayor Mike Bradley hadn’t push for his hiring in the first place.

It was the mayor who, early in 2015, first advocated for an integrity commissioner and new code of conduct for Sarnia.

“Over the years, we’ve had issues about the conduct of (council members) and there’s been no vehicle to deal with it apart from elections,” Bradley told The Journal 18 months ago.

“The only mechanism that’s there now is the court of public opinion.”

Swayze’s June 28 report found Bradley misused his authority by meeting privately with union leaders and breaching a section of the Code that prohibits “intimidating, threatening, coercing, commanding, or influencing” city hall staff.

And there’s another irony.

In 1997, Bradley helped two talented but politically green individuals get elected to city council.

One was Mike Kelch, now serving a sixth consecutive term.

The other was Caroline Di Cocco, a two-term MPP for Sarnia-Lambton who eventually became Ontario’s Minister of Culture.

Ten years ago Di Cocco doggedly fought to have “transparency and accountability” amendments added to the Municipal Act. It was a rare victory for a private member’s bill.

As a result, Ontario municipalities gained new powers to adopt a code of conduct and hire an integrity commissioner to investigate complaints, and to have the results of the investigation made public.

The bear necessities

There’s a black bear in Lambton County, and I can’t stop thinking about him.

Wildlife officials believe it’s a male that wandered south to stake out territory and find food. He’s been spotted in north, central and south Lambton. Outside Petrolia a busload of elementary school children even took photos and video of the poor creature.

I say ‘poor creature’ because this fella’s big adventure will not end well, I fear.

Lambton County had black bears until the mid-19th century when the last few were shot and the forests cleared for farmland.

Some experts believe recent habitat improvements might allow a few bears to re-inhabit some parts of southern Ontario. But 90% of Sarnia-Lambton is agricultural or urban with little deep forest for a large and mobile creature to avoid excitable humans.

The odd bear and moose that wandered this far south before were either shot or struck and killed on roads.

I really hope this bear can wander his way back home. It might be his only hope.

Join the Community: Receive Our Daily News Email for Free