Dear Ezra and Lian,
David Arnill was the housing developer I wrote to you about in an earlier letter. He tried to by your grandparents’ farm. Instead he bought Grandpa’s aunt’s farm beside us. He used it to build a golf course and a housing development. When we volunteered together, David wanted to give me a life lesson about the importance of getting things done right. He ended up giving me a few other lessons as well. Here they are.
Back in 1990, Mr. Arnill was selling about 133 housing lots beside our farm. To buy one, one just needed to put down a $1000 deposit. Over the course of the summer of 1990, the housing market took a downturn. Then on September 6, 1990 the unexpected happened. Bob Rae’s New Democratic Party (NDP) won the provincial election in an upset. This shocked the people of Ontario, even those who voted NDP.
Seely & Arnill’s gravel business took an immediate hit. The very next day after the election, the phone at his office rang off the hook. It was business people canceling orders. Housing contractors, road builders, condominium developers and individual home owners all called in. They had completely lost confidence in Ontario’s economy with a new government in charge. Seely & Arnill had to lay many people off from their jobs. He had to do this to keep his company from going bankrupt. Ontario’s economy never bounced back until the NDP were out of power years later.
A similar thing happened to the housing business. All those people who had put down $1000 a building lot, decided they would not pay the remainder of the purchase price. They changed their mind about building new houses. The value of the lots had plummeted in a few short months. Every single one of those 133 lots had people walk away from their deposits. Not one single person now wanted to buy the land.
To collect all the deposit money, Wasaga Sands Developments had to file all the paperwork by a certain date. David showed up 1 day late. He lost all the money because he didn’t pay attention to the exact date he was supposed to file. He legally had to return all the deposit money back to purchasers.
It was years before the housing development was ever finished. I spent most of the 90s walking our dog Duke through an empty “subdivision” on an unpaved roads. Once to generate interest in the housing development, they held a live auction of 5 lots. I attended to watch. Lots which had sold for $60,000-$75,000 years earlier were then were auctioned off for $12,000-$22,000. I should have bought one.
Law and regulations can be very unforgiving. Sometimes there are no second chances. One little mistake will cost you $133,000. Actions have consequences. Elections also have consequences.
There’s going to be a federal election on October 19, 2015. The number one reason the NDP probably won’t win a majority government is because of an election 25 years ago. Everywhere else in Canada, voters were willing to give the NDP a chance. They were leading the opinion polls. Yet in Ontario, Canada’s province with the largest population, they were stuck in 3rd place. There are millions of Ontarians who remember the worst circumstances since The Great Depression. Those people, like me, remember the economic misery (relative to Canada) that the NDP brought about. Their mismanagement of the government inspired a loss of confidence. The NDP still suffers for it. If they by some fluke, the NDP were to win again, expect the same thing to happen. We just have to watch what has happened in Alberta this year since the NDP formed the provincial government there.
The choices we make have consequences. Sometimes those last for years. Don’t forget that. Choose wisely.