Bob Pegg reveals the real reason why Joe won't step down

Much has been written and said in the wake of London mayor Joe Fontana’s arrest this past week on fraud, breach of public trust and forged document charges. And even more said about his subsequent refusal to step aside as mayor until the matter is resolved when he eventually gets his day in court.

Can’t say I was surprised at his refusal to do the honourable thing. Anyone who watches City Council meetings televised on Rogers is well aware that the man behaves like a bully and a thug and he isn’t going to back down for reasons of mere Common Decency.

Most pundits see it as just another example of his arrogance. His Liberal-party sense of entitlement. His ego.

And of course they are correct on all counts.

But let me go a step farther. I can tell you the real reason he won’t step down.

It is for reasons of culture and the arts and as such is of prime importance to all readers of The Beat regarding what we can do to make sure Joe takes a leave of office – the sooner the better.

In a word – The ISU World Figure Skating Championships to be held at the Budweiser Gardens in a matter of mere months – March 11-17 2013.

This event – to be televised worldwide – is the major reason Joe is hanging in there.
It has nothing to do with his delusional belief that the majority of Londoners like what he is doing as Mayor. Nor does it have anything to do with fulfilling his now-tainted mandate of broken promises given to him in the last municipal election.

Ever since being elected, Joe has had his eye on the prize – the spotlight which comes from being Mayor of the chosen city hosting a televised weeklong international event.

An additional perk is a chance to look like a Big Shot on other people’s money. If you happened to see the report this weekend in the London Free Press about Joe’s dubious claims on his expense-account then you know what I mean. Can you imagine how many thousands of dollars in wining and dining he’d be doing that week - all on the taxpayers’ bill?

His voting record on expenses for the skating festival itself is proof enough that Joe hopes this event to be his shining moment as mayor. Nightly light-shows, a new look for the Covent Garden walkway from Budweiser Gardens to Dundas Street, new street ‘furniture’ for anyone wanting to sit down downtown outside in the middle of winter, etc. All of which is nice but completely unnecessary at a time when Joe is pushing for a zero-tax increase in the city’s budget by cutting costs and services to every municipal department other than the Mayor’s office.

But think about it – as a citizen of London, do you really want Joe Fontana representing us on the world stage when the international media come to town? A mayor charged with fraud? A Mayor who – despite his claims on his ability “to speak to kings and queens” – is an embarrassment every time he opens his mouth when standing in front of a microphone or television camera? Geez, this guy makes Mel Lastman sound like Noel Coward.

Well I don’t – and I’m sure the majority of Londoners do not. And that is why we must do our best to make sure that day doesn’t happen. To ensure that Joe steps aside as mayor long before the first skate touches the ice come March.

And here are a few tips how to encourage Joe to do the right thing.

We must shun him. Any charity group out there must cancel all requests to have Joe attend your event. Given his current situation, the mayor lends absolutely no credibility to your cause and will be a distraction at the event.

We must “shame” him. Charity groups might be asking how would having the mayor be a ‘distraction’ at our event? Well, because all of us attending said event should boo him upon his arrival and departure from the event. Not during the ceremony itself. After all, we’re civilized people.

Mass demonstrations outside City Hall during all city council meetings and public events. And not just by the 20 members of Occupy London. We need all business-people, all tourist-industry workers, all the unemployed out there who realize that no reputable companies want to open up shop and create jobs in a city where the mayor is perceived on a national level as an alleged crook.

Embarrass him upon any public encounter. If you see him on the street, point your finger at him and loudly chant “Yo Joe! NO Credibility!”

If you happen to have a ticket for the Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the City Address (formerly known as The Mayor’s Breakfast,) scheduled for January 22nd at the Convention Centre, when you take your seat at the front table or if you see any group clustered around Joe, then walk over, loudly exclaim “Geez, what’s that rotten smell?!?” then look pointedly at the mayor and say, “Oh, sorry Joe.”

Given the man’s pride and thick skull, it is unlikely Joe will get the message and step down before the skating festival.

If not, one of Joe’s friends or loved ones should take him aside and tell him – in no uncertain terms – that if he doesn’t step aside, our local media will encourage all their visiting national and international colleagues to ask Joe ONLY about his criminal charges whenever he gets close to a television camera or microphone. And to assure him that for that entire week, they will be on him like ugly on an ape. That should do it.

Robert Pegg is a published author, currently working on his autobiography, “Living in the Past.” Visit for more of his musings.


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