Selwyn Township councillors to Thornhill MPP: Stay home!

·3 min read

Some Peterborough County politicians are dismayed that Thornhill Progressive Conservative MPP Gila Martow has been visiting her cottage on Chemong Lake despite the province being in COVID-19 lockdown.

Martow told The Examiner on Monday that she spent the Christmas week at her cottage on Pinehurst Avenue in Selwyn Township, while her 28-year-old son, along with seven of his friends — some of whom are his roommates, according to Martow — were there this past weekend to celebrate the new year.

When visiting her cottage, she goes to local stores, she said.

“I have been to some local stores, of course. If I do, I wear a mask and I follow all of the proper procedures,” Martow said.

To that, Selwyn Township Coun. Gerry Herron said, “My message to her: Stay home. Don’t come up here. We don’t want you.”

Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis said the personal actions of some MPs and MPPs throughout the pandemic have been quite disappointing.

“It just adds to the many mixed messages that people are hearing during the pandemic, which makes it confusing because we’re told one thing and then they do another,” Senis said.

Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones said he would have expected an elected member of provincial parliament to lead the way by obeying the rules.

“If she’s an MPP, she should be adhering to the rules and taking a much higher leadership role,” Jones said.

Selwyn Mayor Andy Mitchell agreed: “If we’re going to be able to control this pandemic, then it’s going to be really important that people follow the guidelines as they’re outlined.”

Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith defended Martow, saying there are no restrictions for someone travelling to their own property anywhere in Ontario.

“In this riding alone, we have almost 30,000 people who are considered seasonal residents who come to Trent Lakes, who come to North Kawartha, to Havelock, to Douro-Dummer, to Selwyn, because they have properties here as well,” Smith said.

A husband and wife who are permanent residents near Martow’s cottage said they’re angry that Martow’s been visiting her cottage on a regular basis. The Examiner has agreed to keep their names confidential.

“When we’re talking about a (Progressive) Conservative MPP from the GTA, which is a hot spot, it really angers us that they’re here on a regular basis. Like every weekend,” said the husband. “And especially when we’re all being told to see people only from our own household. My wife and I have been religiously following this.”

The husband said he saw nine people at Martow’s cottage this weekend.

In response to the husband’s comment, Martow said, “I guess it’s hard for a neighbour to see a bunch of young people getting together with their friends for New Year’s. Eight people; not exactly what they’d normally do. It’s probably normally 800 people.”

Martow, who is currently in a hotly contested two-way race for the federal Conservative nomination for the Thornhill riding, has previously spoken out against her own Progressive Conservative provincial government about the lockdown.

“Big-box retailers like Walmart should not be allowed to enrich themselves on the backs of small businesses simply because they can afford to hire well-connected lobbyists like Melissa Lantsman to get them preferential treatment,” Martow stated last month in a letter posted on Twitter.

Martow should be setting an example for other Ontarians, said the husband.

“This isn’t political or anything like that. It doesn’t matter if she’s Liberal, Conservative, or NDP to me at all, I would still be angry if it was just some other person who bought it and was doing this,” he said.

Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: mlentz@peterboroughdaily.com

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner