Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Harper Government Cuts to transfer payments to provinces should surprise no one

Canada News: Ottawa to scale back health transfer payments - thestar.com
This has been Harper's plan all along - cut federal money spent on healthcare and social services. The premiers should not be surprised that the federal government is going to reduce the transfer payments.
Of course Harper's looters in suits will continue to waste Canadians' money on more corporate tax cuts and buying non-functioning fighter jets and building un-needed superjails.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Rob Ford: Coward of the Year

2011 Villain: Rob Ford | NoIndex | Torontoist

Rob Ford campaigned on lies, and blatant lies at that. A tough man in his position would fess up and admit he was mistaken about Toronto’s finances (or, alternatively, admit that he purposefully deceived the Toronto electorate so he could become mayor, and the question of which of the two of these scenarios is more accurate relies on your belief as to whether Rob Ford is more greatly motivated by malice or stupidity), but Rob Ford isn’t doing that.
Rob Ford is not a tough man. Rob Ford is a coward. The sooner we all recognize that, the better off we will all be.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rob & Doug wasting Toronto Money - Again

Toronto agency backed by Mayor Ford spent $55,000 on single-source contracts - The Globe and Mail

Asked if there was a discrepancy between his anti-sole-source rhetoric and his backing of sole-source waterfront proposals, he said “it all depends” before referring all further questions to Michael Kraljevic, president and CEO of Toronto Port Lands.
“There are circumstances when sole-sourcing is acceptable,”
How much would it have cost for Rob and Doug to run their plan by council to see if they would support it before going ahead and spending $55,000?

Rob Ford's Gravy Train amount: $55,000

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Rob Ford = Fundamentally Undemocratic

Toronto mayor feuds with Canada's biggest daily
Conter likened Ford's war against the media to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's tight limits on media access during the recent election race, during which he only allowed five questions from reporters at each daily news conference during campaigning.
"With the five questions, it isn't just vetting questions, it is limiting access to the prime minister," said Conter. "So it is effectively blocking access to a whole bunch of people."
The concept, said Conter, seems to have inspired Ford in his war against the Toronto Star.
But it goes against the democratic duty of public officials, he added.
"Public officials in a democratic country have the duty, if not to answer all the questions of every reporter, at least to disseminate amongst all media press briefings, announcements, all that sort of thing," said Conter. "To cherry pick who you send your releases to is fundamentally undemocratic."

And, from the Huffington Post:
The recent revelation is that Rob Ford is holding the Toronto Star hostage by refusing to speak to it and provide it with news releases. The paper claims his staff are actively attempting to keep it in the dark on media stories provided to all other outlets covering Toronto City Hall, highlighting a dangerous abuse of power threatening to erode fundamental societal foundations. (Ford has since denied freezing out the Star.)
What's next for Toronto? Why don't we just close down all press and open an official propaganda office so that Mayor Ford won't have to worry about who writes what about what he is doing with other people's money in a city he shares with millions? The Chinese do it. North Korea seems to be OK at it. Soviet Russia must have left notes behind on how to run a propaganda office.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Rob Ford's Budget Con Job - "a giant scam being perpetrated on the citizens of Toronto."

The Grid TO | Budget 2012: Rob Ford's sleight of hand

If Rob Ford hadn’t cut or cancelled all those taxes, we’d have enough to cover the entire budget hole without eliminating a single bus route, library hour or arts grant, without laying off a single staff member, and without drawing on reserves.

Just to repeat so it’s perfectly straightforward: Dollar-for-dollar, every single cut in the 2012 operating budget was made necessary by Rob Ford’s 2011 tax cuts. Period.

An unnamed “top official in Rob Ford’s office” told Robyn Doolittle of the Toronto Star that this was the plan from the beginning. In November 2010, he said that because of the tax cuts, the “safety net” would be gone: “Councillors will be forced to approve whatever we put forward.”

There are many Torontonians who think the city overspends on staff salaries, grants to community groups, bike lanes, transit and all kinds of other things. That’s fine. An honest politician could make that case, and cut those services deemed unnecessary or unwanted. And then, with the savings, that honest politician could either redirect the money to more necessary programs or cut taxes. Plenty of people would disagree loudly with those decisions, but at least the process would be prudent and truthful.

Instead, Ford cut revenue first so that a “crisis” would force us to cut services even if we thought they were necessary or desirable. It’s as if you looked at your household budget, decided that your spouse’s decision to buy organic vegetables rather than regular ones was making it a challenge to get ahead, and then quit your job as the first step to solving that spending problem. You could try to blame your sudden inability to pay the mortgage on your spouse’s gourmet-food habit, but it would remain obvious that your decision to eliminate income was the real cause of the crisis.

That’s what Rob Ford has done here. He calls it “respect for taxpayers,” but it looks more like a giant scam being perpetrated on the citizens of Toronto.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Toronto G20 Protests - Police Officers Were Given Orders to Make Illegal Arrests

Toronto News: Man settles G20 lawsuit, claims police brass ordered false arrests - thestar.com

Officers detaining Wall on June 27, 2010, told OPIRD investigators they were instructed to arrest people wearing bandanas, masks or gas masks concealing their identity. One officer said he was told to search anyone with a backpack, and if that person refused, he or she could be arrested for obstructing police.

Davin Charney, Wall’s lawyer, said the report shows the many unlawful arrests of that weekend were not just the result of a few bad apples or overreaction from front-line officers. “The orders must have come from the top.”

Sunday, 16 October 2011

More gangster politics/backroom dealing from Ford Nation

NOW Magazine // Daily // News // Mammoliti slams door on councillors
Giorgio Mammoliti, acting on behalf of the mayor, barred councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Janet Davis from the recent Child Task Force meeting. The meeting was supposed to be an open meeting. Wong-Tam just wanted to observe, and with good reason - she sits on the Community Development Committee, which delivers childcare.

Ford, during the campaign, said he would put an end to what he called "sweetheart backroom deals". But, since being elected, he has turned around 180 degrees on this issue. Ford's been keeping the majority of council in the dark on many things, and now this.

Ford appointed Mammoliti to the child care task force back in July.
Its goal is to investigate alternative funding models for the child care
spaces the city subsidizes, and many observers believe Mammoliti will
recommend privatization. Wong-Tam and Davis would strongly oppose that

“Whether or not they agree with my politics or I agree with
their politics is not the point,” Wong-Tam said. “The point is we have
to respect our democratic civil institutions and the tools that give us
good government.”

Toronto mayor Ford still confused after provincial election. Better chance now for Transit City comeback

NOW Magazine // Daily // News // Transit City’s minority report

The results of the provincial election have encouraged progressives
still holding out hope for the resurrection of Transit City. 

Adam Vaughan is among the devotees waiting for the transit plan’s
second coming, and lately he’s seeing good omens. One of them is that
the mayor’s replacement for Transit City has stalled, for the time being
at least. The province agreed to fund part of it (the underground LRT
along Eglinton), but so far Ford has been unable to secure enough
private funds for an extension of the Sheppard Avenue subway. 

encouraging sign for Vaughan is the results of last week’s provincial
election, which saw the pro-Transit City NDP gain more power in a
minority government, and confirmed that “Ford Nation” no longer has the
ear of the province. The political playing field is looking rather
different than when Dalton McGuinty acquiesced to a newly-elected and
still popular Ford on Transit City.  

“You’ve got a group of
councillors who support Transit City, and you’ve got a significant group
of provincial legislators from the GTA who want light rapid transit,”
says Vaughan. “Meanwhile you’ve got a mayor who’s still dreaming in
Technicolor when it comes to Sheppard avenue. The mayor’s just one voice
in a sea of people with a lot more power than him.” 

On the
transit file, Ford is looking increasingly desperate. The morning after
the provincial election, the first thing he did was venture out of his
cocoon of protective right-wing media for an interview on the liberal
CBC in which he publicly aired his demand for more provincial funding
for Toronto transit. 

A spokesperson for transportation minister Kathleen Wynne says the
province has no plans to give the city more transit money at this time,
but if that changes, NDP transit critic Cheri DiNovo says any provincial
funding should come with strings attached. 

“If the province is
going to be paying huge amounts for more transit, the province should
have a say in what it’s used for,” DiNovo says. “And Transit City is the
best way of spending it. I’m sure Ford would rather see something built
than nothing built. If we’re paying the piper we get to call the tune.”


There remains one development that could alter the political
equation. When Ford decided to cancel Transit City, he made Toronto
liable for the costs associated with work already underway. 

bill from the province is expected to be upwards of $49 million, but
mercifully for Ford, who is in the middle of a crusade to stop waste at
city hall, it has yet to arrive. Once it does, Transit City may start
looking a lot more attractive, says Vaughan. 

“There is no
$49-million bill to repay if Transit City gets back on track,” he said.
“For a city and a province looking to save money, the easiest way to
save money is to stop canceling things and to start building things.”

Friday, 7 October 2011

Aid blackmail in Palestine

Aid blackmail in Palestine - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
Once again, Palestinians are being punished for daring to exercise a choice.

It happened before in 2006, when they took part in what was deemed to be the wrong kind of democracy and picked the wrong (Hamas) government. That mistaken execution of free will caused the international community to close its funding tap - cutting Palestinian aid and salaries.

Now, there are penalties for taking another 'wrong' turn, despite repeated threats and warnings: US congress is blocking US $200 million intended for the Palestinian Authority (PA), which persisted with its UN statehood bid in the face of US disapproval.

Few things typify international complicity in stalling Palestinian aspirations like this on/off money switch. The current cut in cash will affect health and social projects - but not, it is said, the PA's security commitments (coordinated with Israel). In other words, the pinch is designed to cause Palestinian suffering - but is calibrated so as not to upset Israeli concerns, or totally derail the stagnating status quo. ...

Top 10 under-reported facts about a decade of war in Afghanistan

Top 10 under-reported facts about a decade of war in Afghanistan | rabble.ca
Excerpt regarding "Women's Rights"
The "women's rights" rationale has been exposed as a cynical sham. I'm not sure who really takes this fraud seriously anymore, but it's important to remember that this was presented early on through wall-to-wall media coverage as a key reason for occupying Afghanistan. Afghan women's rights boosted the careers of many western NGO spokespeople, but from the beginning the post-Taliban government installed by NATO was full of anti-women fundamentalists. Rapists continue to enjoy widespread impunity in Afghanistan; female suicide by self-immolation is higher than ever. Many outspoken women's activists have been murdered, either by the Taliban or by fundamentalists linked with the Afghan government. Others, like Malalai Joya, have been banished from elected positions.

Analysis of ON 2011 Election Results vs My Prediction

My prediction vs the election results.

Party - Prediction - Election
Lib - 50 - 53
PC - 31 - 37
NDP - 26 - 17

I was pretty close with my Liberal prediction, but off in my PC and NDP predictions significantly.

NDP prediction
I put too much credence in the trend of the NDP continuing to rise. It seems that the debate may have given the NDP a rise in some specific ridings, but not across Ontario in general. As a result, there were a number of ridings where the NDP came in a close 2nd that I thought they would win. Probably the biggest recipient of any last minute boost to the NDP came in Bramalea-Gore-Malton, where Jagmeet Singh won for the NDP. I don't think this area has ever elected an NDP member to parliament.

PC prediction
There were a few upsets that weren't predicted in the polls where the PC upset a Liberal incumbent (where it was deemed a safe seat for the Liberals). And, there some close PC-Liberal races where the Liberals had the slight edge in the polls, but the PCs gained even more support on election day.

I figured we would get a Liberal minority government and we did. A step in the right direction - a baby step.

Am I happy with the result. Of course I would have preferred an NDP government, but at least now, there will be some instances where the NDP may be able to bring some pressure on the Liberal government to implement some measures they would like to see.

Unfortunately, we will still see our money squandered on more useless corporate tax cuts (since the PCs and Liberals both want these). This will make it more difficult to reach a balance budget while providing services and support to Ontarians.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Ontario Election Predictions Oct 2011

My predictions
(based on riding projections from 308.com, recent polls, polling trends, individual riding polls)
Liberals 50 seats (minority government)
PC 31 seats
NDP 26 seats

threehundredeight's predictions
LIberals 57 seats (majority government)
PC 30 seats
NDP 20 seats

Tight races the NDP are in:
Northern Ontario
Saulte Ste Marie - Liberal/NDP
Sudbury - NDP/Liberal

Eastern Ontario
Kingston & the Islands - Liberal/NDP

SW Ontario
Essex - Liberal/NDP
Sarnia-Lambton - PC/NDP
Windsor West - NDP/Liberal
Windsor-Tecumseth - Liberal/NDP

Scarborough-Guildwood - Liberal/NDP/PC
Toronto Centre - Liberal/NDP
York West - Liberal/NDP

Reasons to vote NDP in Ontario on Oct. 6, 2011

Here is what the NDP will do for the people of Ontario:

Economy, Taxation, Jobs
Rolling back corporate tax cuts.
History has shown that lowering corporate taxes does nothing to create jobs. In fact, often, what happens is the corporation uses the new money they have gained from the tax cut to line their pockets with money, give their CEOs huge raises, close local plants and set up shop in other countries where the cost of labour is lower. Over the past years of corporate tax cuts under the PC and Liberal governments, business investment in Ontario has actually dropped. Corporate tax cuts don't work! The Liberals and PCs plan to cut the corporate tax rates even further (from 11.5% down to 10%), costing the province another $2 billion per year. We can't afford this and it won't help anyone except the corporations. The NDP plan to roll back the rate to 14%, which is still lower than in most other North American regions. The revenue for the province from this will go a long way to pay for  services for the people of Ontario, help offset costs that the Mike Harris PC government downloaded to cities (thus helping municipal budgets), and to reduce the Ontario budget deficit.

Economic Stimulus/Job Creation
"New Democrats would deliver the most stimulus and job creation at the lowest fiscal cost by focusing on measures with the biggest bang per buck: direct public investment and targeted tax credits. By contrast, Liberals and Conservatives have prioritized slashing tax rates on corporate profits, the least effective way to stimulate the economy." (see
for details)

The NDP will give tax credits to businesses that actually invest in their business in Ontario and to businesses that actually create jobs.

The NDP will lower small business taxes.

The NDP will buy Ontario products when comparable (within 10%) to the lowest bid for products for Ontario (this will help create jobs and put more money in the Ontario economy), and, they will work towards improving industry here (like processing our own lumber instead of shipping raw lumber to the USA - selling processed lumber will result in more money and more jobs in Ontario.)

The NDP budget has been fully costed and independently verified. Their budget costs LESS than the plans of the other big parties, has a larger contingency fund (in case of difficult economic times), and doesn't waste $2 billion/year on corporate tax cuts. All the parties plan to balance their budget within the same time span, but the NDP plan is the most realistic and is actually the most fiscally conservative of all the budget plans.

Stop spending $1 million/day on consultants

Cap government CEO salaries.

Transportation, Municipalities
The NDP will return the provincial funding of public transit to municipalities -  50% of the operating cost of public transit to municipalities (which is much more than anything fare hikes would net) if the municipalities promise not to hike fares. This will a) go a long way to help municipal budgets, b) improve public transit, and c) help people better afford public transit.

Change the way healthcare services are prioritized in order to improve services to people and to reduce costs. Also, cap healthcare CEO's salaries (which are already close to $1 million!)

Reduce emergency room wait times.

Give seniors the support they need to live in their homes.

End ambulance fees.

Ontario has the highest tuition fees in Canada. Since the Liberals have been the governing party in 2003, tuitions have gone up 30%. The Liberals plan on allowing SOME students a 30% rebate, but allow tuition to continue to increase. The Liberals promised to lower tuition fees in 2003 and 2007 down to the Canadian average, but didn't. The NDP plan to freeze tuitions at current rates as well as eliminate the provincial portion of the interest on student loans. (Differences here will be made up out of provincial funds, not on the backs of students or the institutions.)

Ban course fees in high schools

Reduce school reliance on parent fees and fundraising (by improving school funding)

Power, Environment
Freeze Transit fare for 4 years to encourage more public transit use (and less car use).

Return to funding 50% of the operation cost of public transit for municipalities so they can better afford to maintain and improve these services.

Offer up to $5,000 in home energy retrofit rebates

Phase out coal-fired electricity

Invest in cycling infrastructure

Make sure that polluters bear the costs of clean-up, not municipalities.

Invest in green energy.

Promote energy conservation.

Making life more affordable, Housing
The NDP will remove the HST from home heating and hydro, remove the HST from fuel, freeze transit fares and tuitions. They will also work on stopping price gouging at the gas stations.

Increase the minimum wage to $11/hour.

Bring in a new housing benefit to help low-income Ontarians better afford their rent

Build 50,000 new affordable housing units over 10 years

Create a new dental care program for low-income Ontarians

Rural Ontario
When the government purchases produce, they will look to buy Ontario produce first.

Increase shelf space for independently-produced Ontario wines at the LCBO

Encourage on-farm processing by relaxing municipal taxation and zoning

Establish a Rural School Stabilization Strategy

Forgive tuition fee debt for medical students who work in rural areas

Respect for Northern Ontario
Make it the law that resources that can be processed in Ontario won’t be shipped away

Take the HST off of electricity and home heating and start to take it off gasoline

More doctors for under-serviced communities and new family health care centres

Ensuring First Nations benefit from resource development and are empowered to play a full role in improving their communities

You can find more details at

Isn't it time you voted for a party that is looking out for you, the people of Ontario, instead of the wealthy corporations? On Oct. 6th, you can - vote NDP for a better Ontario.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

NDP Finance Critic Peggy Nash's motion passes unanimously

NDP finance critic hails symbolic economic victory over Tories - The Globe and Mail
It's rare, and non-binding, but it's a positive step. The motion calls for "the government to act immediately to create jobs and keep Canada out of a recession."


Ms. Nash, a Toronto MP and architect of the motion, said she was surprised at the result of the vote.

“It’s a positive step,” she told The Globe Tuesday. “Our motion really
laid out the points we have been raising since the last election in
terms of infrastructure investment, tax incentives for new hires, tax
reduction for small business.”

It also called on the government to move away from what Ms. Nash
describes as its “illogical and unnecessary across the board corporate
tax cuts.”

To be clear, a motion is not a law and is in no way binding on the
government. But Ms. Nash is encouraged nonetheless, arguing that
accepting a motion in good faith indicates “intention.”

She is now hopeful the Conservatives will follow up with action. Indeed,
since the return of the House from its summer break two weeks ago, the
NDP has been hammering the government over economic issues, demanding it
detail how it intends to create jobs and abandon its plan to give
corporations tax cuts.

The vast majority of questions New Democrats have asked in Question
Period have related to the economy. And the NDP’s first opposition day
motion, which was tabled last Thursday and went to a vote Monday night,
was a laundry list of demands about how to fix the economy.

“Who says you can’t get things done in a majority government,” Ms. Nash
said, adding quickly: “Well we are waiting for action, actually.”

She may be waiting for awhile, however. So far, she has heard only
speculation about what the government might do – some small
infrastructure stimulus, some help to small business.

It is very doubtful, however, the government will go as far as
abandoning the corporate tax cuts. “I don’t know when the dust settles
what they are actually introducing, if anything,” she said.

Harper and Flaherty did not vote.

A message of support from Olivia Chow for Andrea Horwath

A message of support from Olivia Chow for Andrea Horwath - YouTube
NDP momentum is spreading. Don't let them tell you it can't be done. Put people first, vote NDP!

A message of support from Olivia Chow for Andrea Horwath

Thursday, 29 September 2011

ON Election Fact Check: NDP spending least, PC spending most

In this new article, Tim Hudak claims that the NDP is a "big spending" party. Let's look at the facts.

Both the PCs and Liberals have committed to spending almost $2 billion dollars on another wave of corporate tax cuts. But the PCs go further by committing to a total of $5.565 billion in tax cuts.

The total cost of the PC platform is $5.995 billion - this is mainly tax cuts to corporations and wealthy, and many service cuts (and they're not saying what they will cut).
Meanwhile, the total cost of the NDP platform is only $3.352 billion - no corporate tax cuts - mainly contingency funds, discounts, and boosts for services that most people could use, and tax cuts only for businesses that actually create jobs.
   See: Fiscal Cost of Ontario Platforms here.

So, Hudak is very misleading to say the least as his party is the biggest spender and remains faithful to the term Looters In Suits - taking our money and giving it all away to the rich.

See the full costing of the NDP platform here.

Andrea Horwath the real winner of the debate

Horwath Wins Ontario Debate: MSM Miss the Boat | rabble.ca
Ethan Cox writes about what the MSM missed - that there was a large improvement of opinion regarding Andrea Horwath's performance in the debate by those who were interviewed before and after.
There appeared to be little change in opinion regarding the other 2 party leaders. But, 14% said they changed their mind about who they were going to vote for. This has the possibility to help push the NDP support over the 30% mark, at the same time lowering the support for the other parties, and putting the NDP neck and neck with the Liberals and PCs.
Excerpt from Ethan's post:
But that's only the beginning of the story. The second most compelling stat in the report (I'm coming to the first, don't worry), was the stunning number of Ontarians whose impression of Horwath improved. Let's go to the report again:

it was Andrea Horwath who made the biggest impression on Ontarians as 67% say they have an improved impression of her as a result of the debate, while just 10% say their impressions worsened, representing a net score of +57, effectively making her the real winner of the debate. By comparison, Jack Layton’s net improvement score in the English-language federal debate was +41 points, and +42 in the French-language debate. Three in ten (29%) have an improved impression of Dalton McGuinty, compared to a similar proportion (31%) who have a worsened impression, representing a net score of -2. Four in ten (37%) say that their impressions of Tim Hudak improved, while one in three (34%) say they worsened, a net score of +3.[emphasis mine]

Now that is a pretty stunning number, but Liberal and Conservative spin doctors would no doubt argue that people's impression of Horwath may have gone up, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll vote for her. After all, someone who hated her before might have had their impression softened, but still prefer another candidate.

So let's look at the most important piece of information in the poll, as far as I'm concerned. Back to the report we go:

With the NDP leader performing so well compared to expectations, it is interesting to note that one in ten (14%) viewers say they changed their mind about who they were going to vote for as a result of what they saw tonight, with the NDP appearing to be the biggest beneficiary among those who viewed the debates and reportedly switched their vote.

Horwath was also chosen as the leader with the best ideas and policies (35% +10), the most likeable leader (52% +8) and the most "visually attractive" (54% +12). On the issues, Horwath came out on top with viewers as the candidate they most trust on Healthcare (35%, +11) and came second on Taxes (24% +5) and Education (29%, +10).

So in summary, Horwath was the runaway winner of the debate, improving the opinion of 57% of viewers, and 14% of viewers will shift their vote as a result. So could one of the numerous pundits opining that no one won the debate, and that no one succeeded in moving voters, explain their position to me please?

Even taking into account margin of error and the fact that not all Ontarians watched the debate (although they'll certainly hear about it around the proverbial water-cooler) we're talking about a minimum of 5-8% shift from the other parties to the NDP. Transpose that onto the most recent poll results and you're looking at the NDP above 30% and in a three way dead heat with the Libs and Cons.

In other words, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a ball game. So I wonder if journalists didn't bother to read the Ipsos report through, inexplicably failed to notice the huge shift to Horwath which the report writers underline on several occasions, or chose to run with the story that the debate was a wash because it fit better with their own narrative of the campaign?

In any case, barring the remote possibility that Ipsos produced a rogue poll, I expect to see a significant swing to the NDP in the polls over the next week. This will leave us with a thrilling three way race to the finish, in which Horwath has as much chance of snatching the Premier's chair as either of her opponents.

The NDP are back in Ontario, and that, coincidentally, is very good news for their federal cousins. It's going to be one hell of a finish. I'm certainly looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Doug Ford's backroom sweetheart dealings on waterfront breaks Ford Nation campaign promise and the Toronto Municipal Code

Toronto News: Doug Ford’s mall dealings spark complaint - thestar.com
Doug Ford claimed to various newspapers that he had been in talks with The Westfield Group regarding proposals for the Toronto waterfront development of the Portlands.

This has sparked a complaint to the City of Toronto's lobbyist registrar. According to the Toronto Municipal code code of conduct for councillors, councillors
“should not engage knowingly in communications” with anyone who should be registered as a lobbyist but isn’t.
The Toronto Municipal Code
states anyone communicating with a councillor or their staff on matters
including development, planning approvals and other specified topics
must first register with the city as a lobbyist.

The online lobbyist registry was created in response to the MFP computer
leasing scandal that revealed how lobbyists had wined and dined senior
staff and some politicians in the course of gaining contracts.

One of Rob Ford's campaign promises was to stop alleged backroom, sweetheart deals.

If the Westlake Group is not registered with the City of Toronto as a lobbyist, as it seems it isn't, then Doug Ford has admitted to breaking the Toronto Municipal code and one of his brother's campaign promises. And, Rob Ford, by allowing this to happen, or at least by not having immediately launched an investigation into the breach of code himself, is breaking yet another of his campaign promises.

Continue to put pressure on your city councillors to hold council and the Ford brothers accountable to the people of the City of Toronto.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Ford Nation is now a little clam. And, Tim Hudak is as out of touch as ever

Toronto News: Hudak plunges into dangerous liaison with Rob Ford - thestar.com

According to the Toronto Star, Rob Ford's popularity has been steadily declining since the election in Oct. 2010.

Ford’s popularity is sinking, according to polling data, as his hunt for
“gravy” falters and his administration wobbles. Just as the provincial
campaign takes off, Ford is wading into budget deliberations seemingly
eager to inflict deep spending cuts despite a promise not to.
And Tim Hudak must have drank a lot of the Ford Nation kool-aid because he thinks that, under the Miller administration in Toronto, services went down and a deficit was run.

Hudak told reporters after the more than hour-long meeting in Ford’s
mother’s sprawling bungalow they talked about the mayor’s efforts to
clean up the financial “mess” left by his predecessor, David Miller.

“Taxes went up and services went down and they have a significant deficit,” Hudak said.
Actually Tim, services were maintained or went up, and they ran a surplus, not a deficit. And the fact that Hudak thinks there still was a "gravy train" when it has been proven that, without a doubt, there was no "gravy train" at City Hall, goes to show just how out of touch he is with reality and Toronto.

And Ford has been asking the provincial party leaders for money for his failed Sheppard subway extension. The subway extension that was supposed to cost the taxpayers nothing since he would be able to get private business to pay for it all. But, no offers are forthcoming.

And then we have a quote from John Capobianco, a PC party activist and Rob Ford adviser claiming about Rob Ford:
“He was elected with a sweeping mandate for change at City Hall and he
has done a phenomenal job of cutting spending and keeping taxes down.”

Actually, John, Rob Ford has increased spending, and reduced income, and will have to put a huge tax hike in place to balance things out sooner than later.

Here is the most heartening part of the article:
But the Star has learned of polling data showing Ford’s
popularity steadily sinking from an almost 70 per cent approval rating
after the Oct. 25 election to only 45 per cent in early August.

Nelson Wiseman, a veteran political  scientist at the University of Toronto, also believes the Fords’  rock-star appeal has dimmed, scoffing at the mayor’s past threat to
unleash his “Ford Nation” supporters to topple McGuinty.

Ford Nation is now a little clam,”  Wiseman said. “Sometimes it seems to be two people — Rob and his brother who, since the election, have come across like Abbott and Costello.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Doug Ford is not representing the will of the people

Toronto News: Australian firm eyeing waterfront mall - thestar.com
The driving force behind a member of city council should be the people he represents, the people of Toronto, not some rich foreign company!

An Australian company that’s one of the world’s largest shopping centre
owners is a driving force behind Councillor Doug Ford’s mall-based dream
for Toronto’s eastern waterfront, the Star has learned.

Toronto Police Services Board shows some spine

Toronto News: Police board refuses to promote G20 officers - thestar.com
Good for the board!

The Toronto police board has taken
the unprecedented step of refusing to promote nine officers who were
disciplined for removing their name tags during G20 demonstrations.

Chief Bill Blair recommended those
promotions and the civilian oversight board’s refusal to agree suggests
cracks in what has historically been a close relationship.

On Tuesday, the police association
filed a grievance. If the arbitrator sides with the police board, it
will make clear a currently gray area regarding the board’s powers to
refuse promotions.

In the past, the board has passively
pushed through reclassification recommendations from the chief,
including for officers who have unbecoming conduct on their records.

That practice has been a sore spot
for years among some on the board, who feel uneasy about giving more
authority to officers they believe have shown questionable judgment and

As they should believe. Officers who clearly display questionable judgment and character should NOT be given more authority. They have shown that they will just potentially abuse more power and public trust.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Ontario NDP continue to rise in the polls

Ontario Liberals close in on Hudak’s Conservatives: poll | News | National Post
The Ontario NDP continue to rise in the polls.
In the latest Forum Research poll, support for the NDP has risen to 26%. Previously, in Forum polls, they were at 24% in late July, and 22% in late June.

Since late June, the Conservatives have dropped 6 points from 41% to 35%. The Liberals have risen from 26% to 30%.

If all these trends continue, we could indeed see a very tight 3-way race.

Support in 2007 for each party at Election time was: Liberals 42.3%, Conservatives 31.6% and NDP 16.8%. The change compared to the current levels of support: Lib -12.3%, Con +3.4%, NDP +9.2%

The Forum Research poll was based on an interactive voice response
telephone survey of 2,310 randomly selected Ontario residents. Conducted
from August 29 to August 30, the poll has a 2 per cent margin of error,
19 times out of 20.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

NDP now tied with Conservatives federally

Public grief over Layton puts NDP even with Tories in poll - The Globe and Mail
The Conservative support has dropped since the election and the NDP keeps on rising. The 2 parties are now tied with 33% support each. Liberals are in 3rd place with 21%.
Pollster Allan Gregg attributes the rise in the NDP support to the effect of Jack Layton's passing. But the NDP was slowly rising already before their leader passed away. And this doesn't explain the big drop (7%) in Conservative support (or does it?).

I've read about many people who didn't vote last time say that they will vote NDP next time. So, maybe we are looking at added decided voters supporting the NDP.

Doug Ford pours on the lies. Will the public continue to bite?

Do you like Doug Ford's preliminary plans for Toronto's waterfront? - Your Community
They have to keep piling it up. One lie after another. The next one has to top the biggest one before.

Regarding Doug Ford's plans to mess up the Waterfront development:
Ford says the private sector would fund the project. "People from all
over the world are calling us with billion of dollars to invest
," he
said, "and Toronto's open for business."

Hands up everyone who believes this line. .... Didn't think so.

Doug Ford wants to replace this:
Sustainable Urban Design on Toronto's Waterfront (this is the plan in place/being developed)
with this:
Doug's Folly

Remember Transit City - a great, already budgeted plan to provide the whole city with rapid transit? Trashed by Ford Nation. Now they want to do the same to the Waterfront.

Can we get rid of Ford Nation now, please?

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Right wing group Toronto Taxpayers Coalition backs contest to win lunch with Doug Ford

Toronto News: Readers wonder: What’s lunch with Doug Ford without any gravy? - thestar.com
These groups that purport to be in support of taxpayers are nothing but a front for hard-right-wing conservatives and libertarians who care nothing for anyone but themselves. They are greedy and would rather not pay any taxes than have the services and things that make the city great. What would they say if the services they rely on (water, electricity, firefighters, police, roads, etc.) no longer existed? 
The fact that the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition has set up a contest to win lunch with one of the main people (Doug Ford) behind the Let's tear it all down. Let's make Toronto a crappy place to live movement (aka Ford Nation) speaks volumes as to what they are all about.
Don't be fooled taxpayers. This group is not supportive of you (unless you are a fool too).

And still others would like to know more about the taxpayers coalition.

“An even more pertinent question: Who is the ‘Toronto Taxpayers
Coalition?’ It seems very strange that Doug Ford would be pumping a
non-partisan group in his talks that he has no links to. Also, it seems a
little stranger that there are no names whatsoever listed on the site.
Their ‘wiki’ only got action at the very beginning of the year and there
was just a huge flurry of comments and article updates. Who are these

They are definitely NOT a non-partisan group. They are about as conservative as you can get. Conservative as in Let's set the clock back a couple of centuries.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Rob Ford's War On Graffiti Is Out Of Hand and Costly

Strutting And Fretting « All Fired Up In The Big Smoke
Read the link for a story about someone getting a notice to remove graffiti from their back-alley garage door. The garage door is pretty much out of site. If Ford Nation is targeting situations like this, they must be spending a lot of money/resources to do so as this is obscured and petty.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Stephen Lewis' Eulogy for Jack Layton

Full text of Stephen Lewis’ stirring eulogy for Jack Layton - The Globe and Mail
Stephen Lewis gave a very moving eulogy for Jack Layton at the funeral. The audience broke into long applause a number of times.

Here is the eulogy:

Never in our collective lifetime have we seen such an outpouring, so
much emotional intensity, from every corner of this country. There have
been occasions, historically, when we’ve seen respect and admiration but
never so much love, never such a shocked sense of personal loss.

Jack was so alive, so much fun, so engaged in daily life with so much
gusto, so unpretentious, that it was hard while he lived to focus on how
incredibly important that was to us, he was to us. Until he was so
suddenly gone, cruelly gone, at the pinnacle of his career.

To hear so many Canadians speak so open-heartedly of love, to see young
and old take chalk in hand to write without embarrassment of hope, or
hang banners from overpasses to express their grief and loss. It’s

Somehow Jack connected with Canadians in a way that vanquished the
cynicism that erodes our political culture. He connected whether you
knew him or didn’t know him, whether you were with him or against him.

Jack simply radiated an authenticity and honesty and a commitment to his
ideals that we know realize we’ve been thirsting for. He was so civil,
so open, so accessible that he made politics seem so natural and good as
breathing. There was no guile. That’s why everybody who knew Jack
recognized that the public man and the private man were synonymous.

But it obviously goes much deeper than that. Jack, I think, tapped into a
yearning, sometimes ephemeral, rarely articulated, a yearning that
politics be conducted in a different way, and from that difference would
emerge a better Canada.

That difference was by no means an end to rancour, an end to the
abusive, vituperative practice of the political arts. The difference was
also, and critically, one of policy – a fundamentally different way of
viewing the future of Canada.

His remarkable letter made it absolutely clear. This was a testament
written in the very throes of death that set out what Jack wanted for
his caucus, for his party, for young people, for all Canadians.

Inevitably, we fastened on those last memorable lines about hope,
optimism and love. But the letter was, at its heart, a manifesto for
social democracy. And if there was one word that might sum up Jack
Layton’s unabashed social democratic message, it would be generosity. He
wanted, in the simplest and most visceral terms, a more generous

His letter embodies that generosity. In his very last hours of life he
wanted to give encouragement to others suffering from cancer. He wanted
to share a larger, bolder, more decent vision of what Canada should be
for all its inhabitants.

He talks of social justice, health care, pensions, no one left behind,
seniors, children, climate change, equality and again that defining
phrase, “a more inclusive and generous Canada.” All of that is entirely
consistent with Jack’s lifelong convictions. In those early days of
municipal politics in Toronto Jack took on gay and lesbian rights, HIV
and AIDS, housing for the homeless, the white ribbon campaign to fight
violence against women and consecrate gender equality once and for all.

And of course a succession of environmental innovations, bike lanes,
wind power, the Toronto atmospheric fund – and now Michael, his
progressive and talented son, as councillor can carry the torch forward.

And then came his tenure as president of the Canadian Federation of
Municipalities, where he showed that growing deftness of political touch
in uniting municipalities of all sizes and geographic locations,
winning their recognition of the preeminence of cities and the
invaluable pillar of the public sector. Jack made the leap to federal
politics look easy.

The same deeply held principles of social democracy that made him a
superb politician at the city level, as I know, transferred brilliantly
to federal politics. And also, from the many wonderful conversations we
had together, I know led him to a formidable commitment to

He was fearless in his positions once embraced. Thus, when he argued for
negotiations with the Taliban to bring the carnage in Afghanistan to an
end he was ridiculed but stood firm. And now it’s conventional wisdom. I
move to recall that Jack came to the New Democratic Party at the time
of the imposition of the War Measures Act, when tanks rolled into the
streets of Montreal and civil liberties were shredded, and when the
NDP’s brave opposition brought us to our nadir in public opinion.

But his convictions and his courage were intertwined – yet another
reason for celebrating Jack and for understanding the pain and sadness
with which his death has been received.

Above all – and his letter makes this palpably clear – Jack understood
that we are headed into even more perilous economic times. He wanted
Canadians to have a choice between what he described as the unfairness
of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and an
economy that would embrace equity, fairness, balance and creative

This was the essence of the manifesto. That’s why he insists that we’re a
great country, but we can be a better one – a country of greater
equality, justice and opportunity. These were not rhetorical concepts to
Jack. They were the very core of his social democratic philosophy. He
was prepared to do ideological battle, but as all things with Jack there
was nothing impulsive or ill-considered.

He would listen as he always listened – he was a great listener – he
would synthesize thoughtfully as he always did, and he would choose a
political route that was dignified, pragmatic and principled. He was so
proud of his caucus and what they would do to advance the agenda of
social democracy.

He cultivated and mentored every member of that caucus, and as the country will see, that will speak volumes in the days ahead.

The victory in Quebec – and I will be followed by a eulogist in the
francophone language – the victory in Quebec was an affirmation of
Jack’s singular personal appeal, reinforced by Quebec’s support for
progressive values shared by so many Canadians. And his powerful belief
and trust in youth to forge the grand transformation to a better world
is by now legendary. Indeed, the reference to youth spawns a digression.

From time to time, Jack and I would meet in the corridors of my
foundation, where his supernaturally competent daughter Sarah works, and
we would invariably speak of our grandchildren. You cannot imagine – I
guess you saw it in the video – the radiating joy that glowed from Jack
as he talked of Sarah’s daughter, his granddaughter Beatrice, and when
he said as he often said that he wanted to create a better world for
Beatrice and all the other Beatrices to inherit, you instantly knew of
one of his strongest and most compelling motivations.

He was a lovely, lovely man. Filled with laughter and affection and
commitment. He was also mischievous and musical, possessed of normal
imperfections but deeply deserving of the love you have all shown. His
indelible romance with Olivia was beautiful to behold, and it sustained
them both.

When my wife and I met with the family a few hours after Jack died,
Olivia said, as she said in the video, that we must look forward to see
what we all can accomplish together.

I loved Jack’s goodness and his ideals in equal measure. Watching all of
you react so genuinely to his death, the thousands upon thousands who
lined up for hours to say a last goodbye in Ottawa and Toronto, it’s
clear that everyone recognized how rare and precious his character was.

We’re all shaken by grief but I believe we’re slowly being steadied by a
new resolve and I see that resolve in words written in chalk and in a
fresh determination on people’s faces. A resolve to honour Jack by
bringing the politics of respect for all, respect for the Earth and
respect for principle and generosity back to life.

My wife Michele reminded me of a perfect quote from the celebrated
Indian novelist, activist and feminist Arundhati Roy. Jack doubtless
knew it. He might have seen it as a mantra. “Another world is not only
possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”

Thank you Jack.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Response to Ms Christie Blatchford

A Response to Ms. Christie Blatchford « Joshua Hind: No Humble Opinions
Joshua responds to Christie's attack on Jack Layton on the day of his death with a version of Marc Antony's speech from Julius Caesar inserting Jack and Blatchford. Very well done.

Monday, 22 August 2011

A letter to Canadians from the Honourable Jack Layton

A letter to Canadians from the Honourable Jack Layton

August 20, 2011

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to
wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your
thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your
spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am
giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the
circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in
the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that
our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party
and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live
their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey
hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope.
Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this
disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused
on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with
those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things
together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the
New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your
support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted
to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give
up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer
them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember
our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public
pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move
forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before
us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been
privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings
were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great
deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be
closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will
make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by
demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned
us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic
decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative
federal government with something better was by working together in
partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You
made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and
it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when
we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New
Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in
the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things
better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I
continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have
been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so
many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for
change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to
change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our
party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share
with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world.
There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of
climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many
from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more
inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your
vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs
today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life,
and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great
country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a
country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a
prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly.
We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our
children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can
restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things
because we finally have a party system at the national level where there
are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can
actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New
Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in
our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful
hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a
better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them
tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and
optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton.

Jack Layton

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Why Boycott Israel?

Why Boycott Israel?

Author and history professor Mark LeVine speaks with sociologist Lisa Taraki, a co-founder of the Palestinian campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
Mark LeVine: What is the "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" movement and how is it related to the academic and cultural boycott movement? How have both evolved in the past few years in terms of their goals and methods?

Lisa Taraki: The BDS movement can be summed up as the struggle against Israeli colonisation, occupation and apartheid. BDS is a rights-based strategy to be pursued until Israel meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and complies with the requirements of international law.

Within this framework, the academic and cultural boycott of Israel has gained considerable ground in the seven years since the launching of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) in 2004. The goals of the academic and cultural boycott call, as the aims of the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions issued in 2005, have remained consistent: to end the colonisation of Palestinian lands occupied in 1967; to ensure full equality of Palestinian citizens of Israel and end the system of racial discrimination; and to realise the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The logic of the BDS movement has also remained consistent. The basic logic of BDS is the logic of pressure, not diplomacy, persuasion, or dialogue. Diplomacy as a strategy for achieving Palestinian rights has proven to be futile, due to the protection and immunity Israel enjoys from hegemonic world powers and those in their orbit.

Second, the logic of persuasion has also shown its bankruptcy, since no amount of "education" of Israelis about the horrors of occupation and other forms of oppression seems to have turned the tide. Dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis, which remains very popular among Israeli liberals and Western foundations and governments that fund the activities, has also failed miserably. Dialogue is often framed in terms of "two sides to the story", in the sense that each side must understand the pain, anguish, and suffering of the other, and to accept the narrative of the other.
This presents the "two sides" as if they were equally culpable, and deliberately avoids acknowledgment of the basic coloniser-colonised relationship. Dialogue does not promote change, but rather reinforces the status quo, and in fact is mainly in the interest of the Israeli side of the dialogue, since it makes Israelis feel that they are doing something while in fact they are not. The logic of BDS is the logic of pressure. And that pressure has been amplifying.

Click the top link to read the rest

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Apocalyptic crisis budgeting

Apocalyptic crisis budgeting - thestar.com
This is a good article by Edmund Pries in the Star regarding the recent budgeting of conservative governments.

Here it is below. I've highlighted a few parts:
The headlines have been apocalyptic and relentless. Unless the U.S. cuts trillions in social spending, it will go bankrupt. Unless Canada cuts billions in federal spending, our economy will go bust. Unless Toronto cuts more than $700 million in program spending, the city will
collapse. We live in an age of apocalyptic crisis budgeting. Unless the most drastic social spending cuts are implemented, the world as we know it will sink into the quicksand of debt, never to reappear again. How could this happen?

During the Reagan era, a friend and former colleague, a professor of American history, was invited to the deliberations of a Washington think-tank that provided policy direction for the Republican Party. As they discussed growing the debt and increasing the deficit, he was
flabbergasted: “Are you not the party of balanced budgets and debt elimination?” The reply was unequivocal, “Our goal is to grow the deficit as much as possible in order to create political space to eliminate government-funded programming. Until then, we want high deficits while lobbying for a balanced budget — and promoting social program cuts as the only solution.”

To create this useful deficit, tax cuts to wealthy individuals and corporate sectors would be dramatically increased, especially to the banking, energy and military segments. In short, one would implement a transfer of the state’s revenue supply obligations from the wealthiest to the poor and middle classes in order to permit an even greater transfer of wealth from the middle classes to the rich thereafter.

The only trick was to convince the poor and middle classes to “buy in” via a mixture of patriotism and structural necessity so that they would vote in favour of cutting the very programs that benefited them.

Canadians have had front row seats to observe this structural engineering over the past two decades. After years of sky-high deficits, Bill Clinton’s Democrats balanced the budget and produced a surplus. Then George W. Bush granted tax relief for the wealthiest and went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq to create the largest deficit in American history. As Bush exited from office and Obama entered, trillions of dollars were transferred by the government (funded mostly by middle-class Americans) to the banks. As a thank you, the banks foreclosed on the homes of more people than at any other time in history. The recent debt ceiling settlement follows the pattern as additional social spending cuts are implemented without cancelling Bush’s tax cuts to the very rich.

Like Clinton in the U.S., the federal Liberals left office with a budgetary surplus. The Conservatives created the largest deficit in Canadian history and, unbelievably, ran an election campaign on financial management savvy! Of course, they created the deficit in part by implementing tax cuts and engaging in discretionary spending designed to produce the deficit which, we are told, now needs to be eliminated by cutting programs.

The same approach has now come to Toronto and is being mimicked by Rob Ford. He, too, was left a surplus by his predecessor. Nevertheless, the agenda marches on. First, create the crisis by reducing the revenue base through tax cuts and then take the budget knife to Toronto’s city-wide programs. Instead of articulating a vision for building a great city, it is simply a slash and burn approach to a manufactured crisis.

Some have pretended that the budgetary crisis is real and not manufactured. Let us be clear: our relative wealth is greater than atany time in our history. Our collective ability to build a strong,caring and inclusive society in which everyone can participate has never
been greater. This also holds true for the community of nations: wehave the capacity to build a just global society.

Our preparedness to do so, however, seems utterly lacking, for an extreme individualism has taken over the mindset of many. We believe, falsely, that we are best served by hoarding as many resources as possible and letting others fend for themselves. The opposite is true. We are best served when we build a society together where all, including
each reader of this article, can benefit through the building of community-wide programs.

In many 16th century European cities, each citizen was required to swear an annual citizenship oath to the city (or community) in which they resided. In it citizens affirmed, among other things, their commitment to “support the well-being of their neighbour” and “promote the common good.” Toronto’s early history as a community, like Canada’s as a country, speaks of similar goals and aspirations.

Have we really lost our sense of the common good? Or is each person now on his or her own? There is no apocalyptic budgetary crisis other than of our own making. The crisis is in our orientation. 

Edmund Pries teaches in the department of global studies at Wilfrid Laurier University

Friday, 12 August 2011

Toronto - Shouldn't the mayor be held to account?

Ford should have known he’d break promises on service cuts and layoffs - The Globe and Mail
And so should the people of Toronto during the election campaign.

Lying or just plain stupid, he should still be held accountable.

Mr. Ford ran for office claiming to be something different than the usual smooth-talking politician. He was the no-nonsense ordinary guy who would cut through the baloney and tell it like it is. As the whole city knows now – and should have known then – he was peddling a line of  guff. The idea that he could cut spending, taxes and debt without
cutting any services or putting a single person out of work was an obvious fantasy from the start. Now it is being exposed as such. Shouldn’t the mayor be held to account? Are we supposed simply to forget that he was elected on false pretenses? If his promises to avoid
service cuts and layoffs were fake, what are we to make of his election promise to achieve $2.8-billion (yes, billion) in budget savings over four years, to produce $1.7-billion in operating surpluses, to pay down debt by $800-million? It’s not hectoring to expect a mayor to be straight with the public.

A comment from below the article:
He's a liar, a common, garden-variety liar. You can dress it up all you want but he's just a liar. You should recognize him from playground days, he was the bombastic kid who would say anything.

Ford Nation deserves what they voted for. Trouble is, the rest of us have to put up with this joke of a man and his psychologically disturbed cronies on Council. He will severely damage Toronto and turn it into a second-rate city. It will be years before we overcome the destruction he will bring to the fabric of our city.

Think riots in London were bad? Wait till he cuts services here...that's the direction he's taking us.

If you mishandle this situation, you will not be sitting here four years from now

Toronto Spoke: “You’ve been very arbitrary with your choices,” says Jason Adam Robins « Ford For Toronto
Click the link to watch the video.
Here is the transcription of the video. Jason Adam Robins was one of the deputants to speak at Toronto City Hall to the Executive Committee.


I'd like to start by saying I'd like to thank all the concerned Torontonians who have shown their support, or lack thereof, for the measures that this committee has seemingly pushed forward and is obviously going to pursue. I'd truly like to say that it's extremely disturbing that this Executive Committee is making decisions that affect so many and have an expectation of sacrifice for so many when they themselves don't seem to have any affect in this way, shape, or form. I don't believe that any of you [members of the Executive Committee] will suffer as a result of these cuts. I frankly believe that you don't understand what you are doing.

You're elected officials. I don't think you understand the weight of your office - it's clear by your choices that you don't. You've been very arbitrary with your choices up until now, and I don't really believe that that's going to change.

I ask you all this one question: Are you prepared to hinder and hang your entire political life on this KPMG report? Are you confident enough? Because, I guarantee it to you, if you mishandle this situation, you will not be sitting here four years from now.

What you have done, to your credit, is galvanize a giant machine of individuals who are fed
up with watching their democracy be hijacked by foolish behaviour. I truly hope that you are ready to reap what is coming, because sitting in this room and in this building for the last – I can't even count because frankly I've been here with them all day. And I haven't been
absent, mayor, I have been here the day, just like many others. All of these people are standing up in front of you asking you very kindly to think before you act. And I frankly believe, like many of the people sitting here in this building right now, that this is an exercise in futility. This is an ugly version of politics that us, as Canadians, and we as Torontonians, are not used to seeing. 

I urge you. I, in fact, warn you, if you do not change your ways, you will not be sitting
where you are today.

I don't expect that you're going to have any questions for me because I didn't sit here and put up any figures, and I didn't support a specific group, and I didn't do any of the things the litany of experts that have sat in front of you have done.

But, I urge you, with this balance or lack of balance with KPMG, why would you not take the
advantage of seeing these community leaders and sit down and see how the external factors of your decisions will destroy the social fabric of our city. Think of this when you are making these choices. I urge you.

Rob Ford is asking for solutions

Toronto News: Take buyout or be laid off, Ford warns workers - thestar.com
... but, we know (from the past 8 months as an example) that he won't listen.

Rob Ford: "If someone else can come up with a solution, let me know."

I have a solution for him (regarding this issue about threatening city staff with layoffs):
A) Act like a mayor and not a buffoon. Do what a mayor should be doing - which is working out how to increase funding and fine-tune spending (not take an axe to something that is already very efficient and not wasteful). Do research, talk to people with experience, councillors from all political leanings. Actually listen to the thousands of citizens who filled out the questionnaire, and to all those deputants who spoke at City Hall in July.
B) Stop wasting money and cutting city income and turning down offers from the province.

and you will be able to balance the budget without extreme layoffs. Other mayors before you did it. It is not easy, that is what the job is all about.

Rob Ford's bad math and lies continue to dog his steps

Toronto News: Ford poised to break promise of no layoffs - thestar.com
Rob Ford promised he would balance the books by getting rid of the gravy train - he found there was no gravy train.
Rob Ford promised to not cut services - he is working hard to cut services.
Rob Ford said the attrition rate was 6%, so he would be able to save money by a combination of this attrition rate and not hiring new staff - He found the attrition rate is actually 2.7%. So now he plans to lay off hundreds or thousands of staff - staff who supply much-needed services to the people of Toronto (see the 2nd point above). This plan includes laying off 400 firefighters. Sure, let Toronto burn, Nero Ford.

(photo from http://progressiverambler.blogspot.com/2011/07/fords-vanishing-act-leaves-vacuum-at.html)

Whoever the next mayor is (and, make no mistake, there will be a different mayor after the next election), they will have a lot of work on their hands picking Toronto back up.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Toronto G20: The only organized agression was perpetrated by police

Toronto News: Aggression during G20 rally ‘perpetrated by police,’ judge rules - thestar.com
Although we now have a judge's statements that the police were unjustified aggressors on the weekend of the G20 protests in Toronto (June 2010), the statements are regarding a trial of one defendant (found not guilty of all charges), and not as part of a much-needed federal public inquiry.

A Toronto judge has ruled that “adrenalized” police officers
acted as aggressors at a peaceful political rally that led to dozens of
arrests during last year’s G20 summit.

The only organized or collective physical aggression at that
location that evening was perpetrated by police each time they advanced
on demonstrators
,” Justice Melvyn Green ruled on Thursday. He was
referring to a demonstration at Queen St. and Spadina Ave. on Saturday,
June 26, 2010.

Green stated police criminalized political demonstration, which is “vital” to maintain a “viable democracy.”

Green’s stern words echo widespread criticism of police during the
G20, in which more than 1,100 people were detained in the largest mass
arrest in Canadian history. A Toronto Star/Angus Reid Public
Opinion poll conducted on the one-year anniversary of the G20 found a
majority of Torontonians (54 per cent) now believe police response to
demonstrations during the summit were unjustified.

“The zealous exercise of police arrest powers in the context of
political demonstrations risks distorting the necessary if delicate
balance between law enforcement concerns for public safety and order, on
the one hand, and individual rights and freedoms, on the other,” Green
wrote in a 29-page judgment.

Where does he live - in a hole somewhere? Norman Jewison on Doug Ford

Toronto News: Norman Jewison wades into Ford-Atwood spat - thestar.com

Acclaimed Canadian director Norman Jewison says he was “shocked” by
Doug Ford’s dismissive comments on Margaret Atwood, accusing the city
councillor of betraying the author and all Canadian artists.

Asked by CBC Radio if he had any
comment on Ford’s statement last month — after Atwood criticized his
desire to close libraries — that, “If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a
clue who she is” — the 85-year-old director of films including
Moonstruck and Jesus Christ Superstar didn’t hold back.

“I don’t think we celebrate our
artists like we should and other countries celebrate them. So when you
get somebody in Toronto on the city council and he doesn’t know who
Margaret Atwood is, that’s shocking to me. I’m just absolutely shocked,”
he said.

“The world knows who Margaret Atwood
is. I mean, why doesn’t he?” said Jewison, the Toronto-born, U of
T-educated founder of the Canadian Film Centre on Bayview Ave.

“Where does he live — in a hole somewhere?”

Jewison noted he has made many films
on the theme of betrayal, adding: “I felt that Margaret Atwood was
betrayed, but I felt all Canadian artists were betrayed by a statement
like that. It just shocked me.”

NY university names David Miller a city-building fellow

CTV Toronto - NY university names Miller a city-building fellow - CTV News
From One Toronto:
Rob Ford, a Mayor without Vision
Toronto residents should be proud to have our former mayor, David Miller, recognized as a city builder. From Transit City, to cleaning up the city, to working on poverty reduction to sustainability, Miller had vision. Contrast that to our current mayor Ford who, as he promised during the election, has worked to dismantle almost every part of Miller’s vision for a sustainable city.

CTV Article:

Former Toronto mayor David Miller has been named to a prestigious
post by a New York university that hopes to harness his city-building

Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) announced
Tuesday it had named Miller, Toronto's mayor from 2003-2010, as a Future
of Cities Global Fellow.

"Mayor Miller’s unique insight will guide us as we explore the
interplay between intelligent city infrastructure and economic,
environmental and social sustainability," NYU-Poly Provost Dianne Rekow
said in a statement.

The engineering school, which is an affiliate of New York University,
said Miller will deliver lectures, design courses and provide strategic

NYU-Poly spokesperson Kathleen Hamilton said Miller will also be
working with New York University, which has its own urban studies
programs, to ensure the two institutions' efforts are properly

Miller will continue to be based in Toronto, she said.

 Miller said in a statement that the school is uniquely placed "to
help its students – and the world – find solutions to pressing urban
issues that can improve livability, prosperity and opportunity for all."

While serving as Toronto's mayor, Miller led the C-40 Cities Climate Leadership Group from 2008 to 2010.

During his term, Toronto made many steps forward to reduce its carbon
emissions, such as green roofs for transit stations and recladding
older highrises to conserve energy.

Toronto received a low-carbon leadership award from the C-40 and other honours, noted the NYU-Poly release.

Since leaving office, Miller has returned to his original career as a
lawyer. He practices with Toronto's Aird & Berlis LLP, where he
specializes in international business and sustainability.  Miller had
been a partner in the firm before entering municipal politics in 1994.

He has worked as a consultant on creating green urban jobs and has been appointed to an advisory role with the World Bank.

Can we have our old mayor back please!?

Ontario - Cyclists are here to stay - get with the program

Toronto News: Hume: What goes around in Quebec comes around in Ontario - thestar.com
This isn’t a matter of right or left, but of right and wrong. Due to
circumstances well beyond the city’s control, this is the direction we
are headed. For any number of reasons — climate change, fuel costs,
congestion and diminished resources — the heyday of the car is over and
alternatives are needed.

Toronto and Ontario’s unwillingness to take the bicycle seriously is a
sign of culture grown tired, irritable and brittle. Whether it’s wind
turbines, road tolls or bike lanes, we’re unable to keep up. Provincial
Conservative leader Tim Hudak has made it clear clean energy and the
environment have no place in his party’s platform.

Same thing with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s regime, which
announced recently it plans to lay off 700 staff at the federal
environment ministry, a shocking display of contempt.

“Cycle tourism has been wildly successful in other places,” notes
Toronto MPP Tabuns, who met this week with various cycling groups that
hope to use a $351,800 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to
promote bicycle tourism.

“I am glad we are doing it here,” says Tabuns, “promoting clean, green, healthy jobs.”

The fact remains, however, that cyclists are generally unwelcome on
the streets of Toronto, let alone Ontario. We’re not talking here about
bike lanes on the 401, but many other provincial thoroughfares where
there’s room.

According to our licence plates, Ontario is “Yours to Discover.” “Yours to Recover” might be more to the point.

Ahem, Ford Nation. It didn't have to be this way

City Budget: This isn’t about austerity & four other notes « Ford For Toronto
Here is a great look into the current numbers game at Toronto City Hall.
(read the link for the details)

It’s been noted again and again, but a
simple combination of a small property tax increase in last year’s
budget and a partial retention of the Vehicle Registration Tax would
have resulted in very straightforward budget processes for both 2011 and
2012. This would have allowed the budget committee to focus on a
long-term strategy for reducing the city’s annual structural shortfall
through a combination of further monetization of city assets, good faith
intergovernmental negotiations and some efficiencies — and, yes,
potentially cuts — to programs and services.

That’s the part that’s so hard-to-stomach
about this whole process. It didn’t have to be this way. But now our
city faces an utterly avoidable scenario shaped by a mayor that
seemingly harbours a naked ambition to gut services.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Ford Nation planning to fill city boards with unqualified conservative cronies

Toronto News: Ford accused of stacking public appointments - thestar.com
Early this year, we saw Case Ootes appointed to completely replace the TCHC board, and then Gordon Chong (part of Rob Ford's transition team) was appointed to to a job for $100,000 that the TTC does anyway.

Now, we find that Ford plans on gutting a lot of city boards of qualified and caring members and replacing them with unqualified conservative yes-people who will just do Ford's bidding (as opposed to doing what is best in relation to the board they are on). 

Here is the list of what Ford and his lackeys are doing:

- They only posted the job openings in The Toronto Sun. Everyone knows this is a very right-wing paper that is read mainly by hard right wing conservatives, and that their readership is not going to contain the best and the brightest.
-No current members of boards will be allowed to apply for membership this time around. City guidelines suggest keeping some current members and appointing some new members, and that membership should reflect Toronto's diversity. And citizens can't serve more than 2 continuous terms.
- Ford Nation councillors Francis Nunziata, Doug Ford and Georgio Mammoliti are picking applicants for a shortlist to recommend to Council for all the agencies, boards and commissions (including Toronto Public Library, Police Services, Toronto Water, Yonge-Dundas Square and all the others for the city - more than 200 positions)

Excerpts from the Toronto Star article:

Critics claim all this as evidence that Ford’s administration is
putting connections and right-wing beliefs ahead of committee-related
qualifications in a way that didn’t happen under Ford predecessors David
Miller or Mel Lastman.

“I think we have moved from a skills-based process to one based on
patronage and political affiliations,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc, a
former appointments committee member who recently visited a closed-door
session of the current committee chaired by Councillor Frances Nunziata.

“Instead of getting the best and the brightest we’re going to get the ones who are politically connected, and that’s a tragedy.”

Excerpts from the comments on The Toronto Star article:
What a surprise... Isn't that what was originally promised wouldn't happen? The worst thing that can happen to any city run agencies, boards, etc. is that it is run by people that are chosen for their affiliations, rather than their subject matter expertise. Now, if there are two candidates with equal expertise, no one could blame the mayor is he chooses one that is sharing his political view than someone who doesn't.

Qualified Candidates?  They advertised in the Sun, and received qualified candidates? I find that hard to believe.

That sound you just heard was the last remnants of social responsibility being flushed down the toilet by this administration.

People need to understand what is going on here.
City agencies should not be run by political ideologists - the purpose
of those agencies is to represent all Torontonians and to keep the
citizens interest at the root of their decision making. These
appointments are being made to stack these boards so that they will
serve a bigger political agenda. This is not how a democracy should
work - this is how fascists and dictators operate.

If the Ford administration just once did something
that was positive or made sense to the intelligent reader, rest assured
that it would be duly noted. Unfortunately, such a phenomenon has yet
to occur. It is close to impossible to write anything positive about an
elected official who makes one dumb move after the next...