Who is funding Anti-Airport Politics in Pickering?

By Mark Brooks
five of the six local municipal governments, including the city of Pickering, support building  a new airport and economic development zone. But aviation is a federal jurisdiction and one of the local Members of Parliament, Jennifer O’Connell, is opposed. The new airport, to be built on land already set aside for it in Pickering, requires approval from a distant federal cabinet in Ottawa.

In an attempt to stop the airport, the MP has released misleading statements on the contents of a government report. However, the Aviation Sector Analysis report, commissioned by Transport Canada, states that new aviation capacity is needed and suggests breaking ground on a new industrial utility airport in 2026. Recently the MP authorized an E-petition in the Canadian Parliament that states the report says the airport is not needed. This petition is open for signatures from across Canada and is now being promoted by an anti-airport lobby group. It has turned a local debate into a national scandal.

For years someone has been funding anti-airport lobbying efforts just like this, but who and what is the relationship with the MP and her actions?

Follow the money” has been a popular political catchphrase since the 1970s. From special cause advertising, to direct donations to political candidates, determining who is spending money can be a great way to determine motivation. In Canada, some lobbying can be easily tracked, some slips by riding behind one band wagon or another. Unlike other countries, Canadian Election law requires open and public reporting of campaign donations (eventually)and only individuals can donate.

What can campaign donations tell us? Elections Canada has not posted the contributions and expenditures for any candidate from the 2019 federal election.  But a donors list is available for the 2015 campaign for Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell, a strident opponent of the airport.The MP spent $92,000 on her initial election campaign in 2015 with $26,000 coming from donors. As mentioned, companies are not allowed to make political donations directly to candidates in Canada only individuals. By value, at least 47% of the MPs donations were from individuals who appear to have a connection to the construction and land development business. You might think that this is an interesting revelation. For comparison, another nearby liberal MP, Mark Holland, received $0 dollars from developers in 2015.

Political donations have in the past been the starting point for conspiracy theories on how developers are pulling the strings behind the scenes. It is easy to let your imagination run wild on motivations as to why someone in the construction business would donate to an MP fighting to stop the airport. Is it to reduce development levies on a current project?  To build houses instead of an airport? Create scarcity for profit? The truth appears to be a lot more boring, just business as usual.

The problem with the developer as boogeyman theory is that the amount donated is just not that much money, only $12,000. Also, developers regularly make donations to both pro and anti-airport candidates. Consider too that building the new airport is not the only, or most important political issue in our democracy. Personal choice, the ability to be heard, any number of reasons could be motivating these donations. To help set the record straight, Dave Wilkes, the CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association) came out strongly on the need for the airport in an article in the Toronto Sun in 2019.

So, what about the lobby group now promoting the E-petition and its misinformation? Called Land Over Landings, only some of its donors are public knowledge. Many have no doubt been sold into giving money to the group by its virtue signalling on climate change, antiglobalization and prolocal agricultural messaging. But the lobby groups goals may have a deeper significance to a select few. Land Over Landings stated goal is not just to stop the new airport but to extend the current leases forever on the land set aside for the airport. The fact that the land is worth a fortune and that many in the group (including both its chair and family of its vice chair ) are leaseholders is glossed over, if mentioned at all.

Who is
this lobby group supporting politically with the money it raises and who are its biggest donors? According to Elections Canada, the group spent $2,300 on election advertising with Durham radio in September 2019. Was this in support of a wellknown opponent of the airport, local Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell’s re-election campaign? It seems possible as the groups chair has bragged about working on the MPs campaign, posted on Facebook about it along with a picture with liberal party leader and Canada’s current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Here is a quote from Land Over Landings “lead by example” Website page that describes some of their most important donors and their motivation:

“ Tapscotts, Millers, Reesors and others who have stayed to farm these lands want to restore mixed farming, revive communities, and make it possible for young farmers to make a productive living here, but none of that can happen until the threat of an airport is gone, and long-term leases are granted. Maybe then Ron can buy that new $600,000 combine he needs. Now that’s big business!”

A recent response to a (FOI) Freedom Of Information request on who is leasing the Pickering lands has revealed that individuals and corporations with those names control thousands of acres of Pickering airport land leases. It makes sense that they would be lobbying to stop or delay the airport and to extend their land leases. Is the local MPs promotion of erroneous information on the critically needed airport just a bit of payback for the lobby groups support?  In so doing has she abandoned her Oath of Allegiance as an MP to conduct herself in the best interest of the country?

While concerned citizens look forward to reading Jennifer O’Connell 2019 election expenses and donors list, don’t expect to find much. Unfortunately, Land Over Landing donors list is not as transparent. If we follow the money all roads appear to lead back to the leaseholders and others with a direct financial interest in stopping the airport.

It is time to push aside this lobbying effort and get on with building Pickering airport.


Land Over Landings Billion dollar ask of the Canadian Tax Payer

National Post Follow the money database

Toronto Star BILD article supporting the need for Pickering Airport

Are Pickering Airport Land lease insiders setting up a Billion dollar wind fall?

Does Land Over Landings have a conflict of Interest?


17 thoughts on “Who is funding Anti-Airport Politics in Pickering?

  1. Who is funding you and ur 10 billion ask of the canadian taxpayers??
    First rule of transparency..do it yourself..
    You never do and you never answer direct questions.
    Smoke screens and straw man arguments..
    Publish your “bonafides” and that of your colleagues. Standard stuff with any article.
    Otherwise you just seem to be some kind of Trumpian hack.
    After all, do you not think it is about time your readers should know who you really are?
    Short bio would suffice.

  2. Who is funding you and Ur 10 billion ask of the canadian taxpayers for “Pickering Airport?
    First rule of transparency . . do it yourself.
    You never do and you never answer direct questions.
    Smoke screens and straw man arguments.
    Publish your “bonafides” and that of your colleges.. Standard stuff with any article.
    Otherwise you just seem to be some kind of Trumpian hack.
    After all, do you not think it is about time your readers should not know who you really are?
    Short bio should suffice.

    1. A bit impatient today Ivan? No need to repeat yourself, Some of us work for a living you know. In my case Flying in and out of utility airports now choking with traffic. Buttonville, oshawa, Waterloo, all above Pre-Covid levels. My Bio is impeccable, check Linked in, just doing the right thing volunteering my time and expertise for our country. Read all about it in the about section.
      But you on the other hand seem to have some demons. Let’s start with your interests in the south side of oshawa airport. Now why oh why did you ask for a closed door session with the oshawa city council to try and get them to reverse the decision to preserve the buildings on the south side of the airport. Don’t like preserving campX? Planning to pave something over?


      You have a bit of explaining to do, start now.

  3. Re :
    – impatient…no
    – Repeat. ..only in response to your endless repetition.
    – You Work. ..for a living?? ..at what? ……Itinerant Free lance instructor.?? chicken @#$&*
    – Out of where.?? .oshawa, buttonhole, wa wa whatever …again chicken doodoo. Try Toronto, Resolute, Vancouver ,New York, Copenhagen, Bogotá, Nice..magadan and petroPavlosk, Luxor , Singapore , Vin Tao, Yinchuan, etc .etc
    on schedule Service. In Far 25 stuff. .
    – Impeccable.. Expertise ..you…??not. nearly… not even close.

    South oshawa….again as before ..not me… careful ..

    I don’t have anything to explaining to do. …. you clearly do.

    And didn’t…

    1. What do I want, what motivates me? I don’t want to attend any more funerals of pilots and passengers gone before their time. I do want a functioning safe utility airport system for the simple reason that I fly out of and use these airports everyday working for local well respected companies. Companies who face being culled due to lack of local accessible aviation capacity.

      You clearly do not fly out of these airports regularly. I have never met you. To the best of my knowledge, none of the other commercial pilots or companies using these airports ( now choked with traffic), seem to know who you are.

      Yet you stridently claim that you know better than all of us and the experts at transport Canada and the GTAA combined.

      When was the last time you flew Ivan?

      Why are you so Insistent on overbuilding oshawa airport to the detriment of the local residents, the city and the safety of its users?

      Why do you oppose protecting the heritage sites on the south side of oshawa airport?

  4. Hi Mark
    It is not about me . You asses the information available and conclude publicly, based on your self professed aviation expertise Pickering Airport proposed is necessary based upon Toronto airports “overflow” Capacity. No real expert currently agrees with that. Not the GTAA nor the Minister of Transport based upon their release of the recent KPMG report.

    The assessment of Toronto Capacity is a the product of 2 mathematical formulae. They are delivered and explained in great detail in the GTAA’s 2007 , 20 year plan. That plan is still within its time limit. Those formulae are repeated in the GTAA’s report NASPL(Needs Assessment Study Pickering Lands) of 2011 to Transport Canada. In 2017 the GTAA released its next 20 year plan.

    As an aside
    GTAA are required to produce said plans every 10 years as outlined within the Ministerial document PAP (Public Accountability Principles for Canadian Airport Authorities ) and their “Ground Lease”,.(that is subordinate to the PAP,) with the Ministry of Transport. GTAA are also required to produce annual reports, have an annual public meeting, and make 5 year projections. They are responsible to the federal government as a Not for Profit Corporation and come under the Minister of Innovation, Science , and Economic Development as was. Most of these documents are available on the GTAA web site Under Reports and publications
    The “Ground lease” is out of amendment date at amendment 14 and you will find that there is a great deal more where GTAA are out of compliance, —-but that is a whole other story. -Hence any faith in them or Transport who are required to oversee them is not compelling.

    Both GTAA and KPMG/Transport agree that the capacity issue is fundamentally based on the Airport itself and its’ ability to handle a prescribed number to aircraft movements (take offs and landings) on an hourly basis. This is then scaled to an annual number by multiplying the operational hours in the day (18) , operational days in the year (365) and the overage/nightime allowance (3%). The KPMG report stated in their opening remarks they would re-examine the Toronto capacity formulae. They did not, they accepted the Toronto “Planning” number of 90/hr. To be clear, they accepted a planning number and did not review Capacity calculations as mandated. Both reports conclude there is no capacity issue within the duration of the report time which happens to be to year 2037.

    Both GTAA’s 2007 and 2011 plan/reports said otherwise. Both projected the a 5 and 6 runway capacity limits in time. The 2008-30 master plan said 5 runway capacity would arrive in 2013 (practical)-2019 full max.) and 6th proposed runway capacity in 2017-2023. NASPL 3 years later hedged that “bet” and projected 2023,, probably 2027-2029, delay/ pessimistic scenarios 2034-2037 to a maximum of 2041. It is worth noting that the Durham White paper on the need for Pickering and the Ontario Chamber of commerce 2016 Aviation report were based on these 2 reports. Their support for Pickering is/was in error..

    Both current GTAA KPMG 2017/9 reports made no capacity limit dates at all up to 2037 and provide no planning or hint of issues beyond. (COVID 19 was not at issue.) Hence I have no compelling faith in GTAA KPMG or Transport.

    You however do…. somewhat. You provide no rational as to why you accept old and erroneous information and have repeatedly refused to accept the most recent information.

    As you know I addressed Durham council and Pickering council long before the 2017 master plan , advising them that the numbers provided in NASPL were incorrect and capacity timelines would have to be significantly revised upward. I again addressed Durham council after their White paper suggesting it was in error and advised them that the forthcoming KPMG would not address the issue of Capacity correctly and responsibly. I ask that the white paper be withdrawn . It was not. Both my predictions were correct.

    GTAA, KPMG and Transport Canada have consistently and massively failed to predict future runway usage requirements at Toronto International airport That is just plain mathematical fact. There is no debate on that issue. This is not my formulae and math. It is Toronto’s.The failure/s therein are consistent over 50 years and ongoing. You can see it in Pickering history, these reports and in Toronto’s annual report. There is no clear evidence that any of these parties to all this understand why they error and given the difficulty of turning around the bureaucracy involved there is no reasonable assurance that they are capable of either understanding and/or self correcting. Those failures have resulted in significant long term miscalculations to Durham, Ontario , Canada and aviation in general.

    Covid 19 may well force the issue, but trains to Quebec City will not. That has been tried before.

    Mark I have tried to engage you in understanding this (a) small part of the mathematical predictive failure, but you are blind and resistant, for whatever reason. Until you able at least agree there is a failure of prediction I am wasting our time. I can take you no further.

    For your readers an understanding of Capacity at Toronto is reviewed under my name on You tube. The documents PAP, NASPL and the GTAA 2008 2030 master plan can be found on my web site listed below. GTAA no longer publish them, for their own good(?) reason.

    For those who wish to understand further: Transport erroneously predict passengers based on Population . (SEE NASPL and KPMG. and GTAA annual reports). Passengers do not drive Airport overload. Movements do. Aircraft size, that is filled seats per aircraft, inversely effects Movements. This actual and recorded growth for which Transport and GTAA have little control exceeds all predictions by a very large margin. GTAA/Transport/KPMG do not and have not understood the process by which this happens. Any professional and experienced passenger carrying AirlineTransport Pilot or airline executive would be dumbfounded as to this complete lack of understanding.

    In fundamental fact the predictive error is two fold.

    1. I live and fly in the real world Ivan. Not interested in your perfect world math tricks to delay building Pickering. In the real world congestion at oshawa is causing safety and noise concerns and the culling of one of Canada’s busiest flight schools. In the real world Buttonville hangars are stuffed with a double digit waiting list and soaring CADORS. In the real world I did an overshoot on an ifr approach into Waterloo on Saturday because of congestion! ( has it been 8 years since you last flew, or longer?) All three of the utility airports I just mentioned had aircraft movements higher than pre Covid levels in September.

      In the real world people don’t want to drive for hours to another community to use someone else’s airport, it is time to build local accessible, safe, noise buffered Pickering airport. like the ASA report suggests, breaking ground in 2026 or sooner and opening stage 1 as a utility airport in 2029. Built with private money and the full support of the businesses and relieved citizens of oshawa, Pickering and Durham region. No amount of fear mongering, insults or disinformation is going to change reality. It didn’t work for trump and it’s no working for you!

  5. Correction 2nd last para
    Transport erroneously predict passengers based on Population
    should read
    Transport erroneously predict airport growth based passengers, based on Population growth.

  6. “I live and fly in the real world Ivan. Not interested in your perfect world math tricks to delay building Pickering.”
    Ha ha. You like your math. You don’t like mine.
    But mine is not “mine”. It belongs to Transport Canada/ GTAA. And everybody knows how many days there are in a year. No?
    I just quote their stuff, ….in their reports.
    As to insults, sorry but Buttonville is not the centre of the universe.
    A Pickering will vacuum all aviation infrastructure $ nationally. A “Giant sucking sound” …. To keep you happy??…I don’t think so.
    A reminder https://www.worldabandoned.com/montreal-mirabel
    PS the web site that contains the documents mentioned above and where the math comes from..
    The math on a 5 min you tube video . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yi0FZz5A4z0
    The model for Oshawa. London City. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF9aSR6pgUM
    What is not to like.

    1. Wow Ivan, you are going all out with your unworkable runway math, and, just to be clear, it’s your math not transports or anyone else. Also you have fixated on the leases restrictive metric of any airport, what about gates? Road side access? Terminal space?
      Just a reminder, we live in Canada, land of ice and snow. No room for weather? Or variable sized aircraft? Or safety margins ? Or less than impeccable pilot performance? Or new Covid biohazard and cleaning standards (ventilation and Personnel space , space for testing etc) that are expected to have a long term effect on the industry?

      As recently as nov 18, the GTAA board member Johan Van THof stated at an ULI event that Pearson’s capacity could be as little as 25 million passengers a year with new Covid standards.

      Then there is that pesky problem that no one except you wants to rebuild oshawa into a massive airport. Who would fund your dream?
      You need to give up on the idea of expanding the oshawa south side, I am sorry if that will cost you money, but that’s the way it is.

      And you need to stop insultIng folks if you want to be taken seriously.

    1. Ivan, Your hilarious! a runway is already the least restrictive capacity factor. To then strip off safety margins, assume impeccable pilot performance, ignore weather and more than a dozen other real world restrictions on capacity is, just hilarious!

  7. Mark
    Your lack of understanding is profound. I suggest a review on your part.
    You clearly do not comprehend the calculation and it’s background as plainly outlined in the 2007 Master plan and NASPL that says:
    “The airside system is instrumental in defining the overall capacity of the Airport for the following key reasons:” 2008 report chapter 5 2nd para.

    There is no “weather strip-off”. Weather is totally integrated into the capacity formula, using reductions for the wind/ weather and NS runway use, see the 14 % reduction on EW runways for IFR conditions and the 1% time used in the calculation for:
    “The final type of operation shown in the capacity coverage chart is termed “irregular” operations, which includes operational conditions that typically result in an airside throughput significantly below the other three more “regular” types of operations” They then go on to describe them.
    Also please see Master plan 2008 Pages 11 and 18 as clearly outlined…. Links in previous posts.

    These calculations for max. capacity are standard world-wide .. see Gatwick that states capacity 55 movements/hr single runway /high speed exits . Toronto being 56.
    As to the source of this formula and method, it has been around for a long time. Please see GTAA’s Community environmental and noise Advisory Committee Nov 10 2010 page 7 of 10 Toby Lennox response to L Perlman . Further these types of calculations go back to the 1970’s and were outlined at that time in Walter Stewarts book the “Paper Juggernaut” on page 19.

    GTAA reiterates the 56 max VFR capacity number in their 2017 Master plan for their single runway. Not me… GTAA. It is worth noting that GTAA also state they, can do 90 movements per hour on a “twinned”runway in their 2017 Master plan, and note ( that number was increased from 75 /hr in the 2007 Master plan) wherein they say:
    “Our analysis of recent data indicates that the capacity of the north/south runways is nearly 90 aircraft movements per hour under visual meteorological conditions (VMC), which are typical when the north/south runways are in use.” See 2017 Master Plan Page 48

    Clearly “Impeccable pilot performance” is commonly attainable.

    It is not unreasonable to use the full (not nearly) 90 M/HR. for a 20 year outlook timeline if the numbers have increased from 75 in the last 5-7 years.
    It is also worth noting the following.
    A) A 6 runway GTAA would have two twinned runways thus the expectation of 90 + 90=180 total movement capability on a summer afternoon in the future if needed.
    B The 90 /hr was not undated into the formulae in the 2017 Master plan and thus the their capacity calculations were wrong by their own definition.
    C) High update radar (HUR) in the US, delivers capacity increases to the twinned NS runways from 90 to 112(56+56), as it then allows the runways to be considered as independent and Parallel, not twinned. That is confirmed as “under study” by VP NAV Canada, in writing. For HUR close proximity FAA studies see:
    There is no HUR at Toronto last I checked. (available when needed??)

    These are BENCHMARK capacity numbers. It is not unreasonable that there will be times that they can not be met.. Those failures need to be explained and clearly understood and fudging calculations for whatever reason, is just plain fraud in my opinion. Especially when GTAA were clearly invited to re-examine the capacity formulae (with KPMG) in so public a way.

    Glad to amuse. You should not feel insulted . Clearly all of KPMG did not understand, You are not alone Either does much of TC and NAV Canada. Some however do. . and did..

    1. Again, you completely missed the point, your fixation on runway capacity, the least restrictive metric, is the problem.

      More over even your runway math is dead wrong. Pearson can not run six runways at once. It can’t even run 4 independent runways at once. That is not possible even with a ten billion $ rework of the airport unless we trash safety standards and that is not happening.

      Then there is the problems of traffic mix, supporting infrastructure like de-icing bays, fuel and gates etc.
      I understand that you have not flown in years, but that is no excuse for your behavior. Cherry picking just a few morsels from a careful validated Body of work may fool some, but not the folks that count.
      Professionals like the KPMG team, Transport and Nav Canada, and the GTAA staff have modern simulation software that take all of these various factors into account. You need to be more respectful of their work.

      Your use of misinformation, insults and bullying have no place in this discussion.

    2. Ivan, I came back from a long days work to discover that your latest comment contained a link or links that apparently tried to steal personal information, you will be blocked. That is beyond the pale. On the chance that this is just a mistake Or that you have been hack check the links in your post.

  8. Bit dramatic don’t you think? Seems Akismet didn’t like something in a copy over from a GTAA web site address?? As I recall all other web sites on that post were copy downs from my previous posts above in the list and from your web site. I would suggest you check your web site. Unfortunately WordPress reply is a very limited edit tool and retains nothing. Appears to have limited memory management and no bump back to author as well, so I can not search out the source of the issue. You can of course send the document back to me by email so I may check it if you have that capability.

    I have no need or ability to steal your information. You give me credit not due.
    Malwarrebytes regular scans this computer. Nada. Hope you do the same.
    I shall keep copies of all future responses.

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