Archive for ‘Toronto politics’

October 25, 2014

Ybia Anderson: why I’m supporting her for school Trustee

A creative, responsible, fresh face for Toronto District School Board in Trinity-Spadina.

Voting for Toronto District School Board trustee is a much overlooked but huge responsibility. Our future really does depend on public schools more than most other social services.

Most importantly, in my mind, public schools represent the most social levelling and integrative institution we have. Anyone who has looked at the TDSB can only wince at the dysfunctional cabal that it is (yes, worse than City Hall). I say cabal because if you read articles both in today’s Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail you can smell the whiff of corruption.

Even those so-called ‘progressives’ we elected are acting in the most undemocratic fashion. They treat the TDSB as if it belongs to them instead of to all of us.

We desperately need new progressive faces.

Two days ago I had the opportunity to meet with one of the candidates running for Trustee in Trinity-Spadina, Ybia Anderson.

Here is why I like her. She is young (at 32) but not, like the leading candidate, a 20-something with no life experience beyond politics. She is a single mom with a young child. She actually holds down a real job at a major company where she has to look after financial issues. She can juggle numbers and believes accountability is important. I mean she truly believes this. I know all candidates are saying this but I know at least one of them who has a track record of just the opposite.

She also believes that economic disparities are important. Where Michael Sims, a progressive candidate for Trustee, says that the dome proposal to privatize the field at Central Tech is THE issue of the district, Ybia would feel that children in lower income areas showing up hungry to school is more important (I should note that she also opposes the dome).

She has creative ideas about new approaches to not just fiscal responsibility but to management at the TDSB. Would a green roof on top of Central Tech provide an interesting project for students and perhaps food for a breakfast program at Ryerson Public School?

I think Ybia is bright, thoughtful and creative. And I think she is the true deal.

I worry that the front runner comes from the old school of knee jerk politicians that promise change but bring more of the same.

November 5, 2013

An open letter to the supporters of Rob Ford

Truly, I’m trying to understand.

I know Ford’s schtick is that he’s for ‘the little guy’. I can see why that idea is attractive. Most Torontonians are little guys and, of late, the bureaucracy has been more evasive…more distant.
Many officials treat the public with disdain. The economic recession has left a greater gap between haves and have-nots. There is much to be pissed off about.

But how is Rob Ford a reasonable response to this unease and sense of distance from our government?

Let’s just look at some facts. Many of the people I see interviewed on T.V. Who speak in support of Ford look like people who are self made and worked hard. But what about Rob Ford?

He grew up in a rich family. His father was a wealthy business man. HE may have been self made. Rob? He grew up rich. Did he use that privilege to go out and make something of his own?

No. He went into Daddy’s business … with his brother Doug, also a non self starter.
Their father was an MPP in Mike Harris’ government. Hardly an outsider by anyone’s definition.
So from where does this ‘outsider’ status accrue to Rob Ford? He’s been a politician for years. His Dad was one. He grew up rich and he lives rich. How many of you are riding around in a Cadillac?

Ok, then, but his policies are for ‘the little guy’.
Who uses public transit more: the rich or the poor and working class? Rob Ford has supported every policy in favour of cars over transit. In fact, his cancelling of Transit City when he came to office cost far more ($82,000,000) than any savings he has found on the gravy tran.
He supported cutbacks for the Toronto Public Library system and doesn’t support spending on community clubs in ‘at risk ‘ neighbourhoods. He doesn’t support public housing either.
So just who are the ‘little guys’ then?

When his private company held a party he called the City and asked it to pave the street in front of his building. They did.
When his football team needed a bus he called the Chair of the TTC … directly. The bus arrived.

Can you or I do that?
Is that the actions of the little guy or the privileged? You tell me.

So what about Rob Ford draws you to him?
He comes from the upper class and lives the lifestyle (out of the camera’s glare) and certainly behaves as if he is entitled.

Now, if you are just right wing and, on principle, believe that there is little or no role for government and that taxes are simply theft on your private wealth then I can see that you’ve found your man.
And I know that some working class people, in addition to many of the wealthy, have this point of view. I disagree with it but that’s democracy.

But for the majority of you for whom Rob Ford’s policies are destructive … I just don’t get it.

And this talk of ‘the elites’ out to get Ford. Well I have already covered this. How many of you can get the Prime Minister out to a barbeque, along with the Minister of Finance? That’s an outsider? C’mon, wake up folks!

November 30, 2012

Rob Ford, the Right and the failure of our education system

Yep, your heard me. They are all involved.

Rob Ford has been found guilty on conflict of interest charges. The prescribed penalty is banishment from office. You may think the penalty a bit harsh but that’s what it is. So now many members of the  body politic are up in arms. They say it’s undemocratic that a judge over ride the democratic choice of an electorate to remove Ford from office. I’m not going into this in a substantial way because in the past few days many others, more articulate than me, have done so. I just want to say that if you think an elected official found guilty of conflict of interest should not be punished then you have no clue as to what democracy is all about.

Why do we have laws to keep politicians in check if we aren’t going to use them? I find it disingenuous that the Right screams that it’s a left wing conspiracy that one of their own is found with their hand in the cookie jar and then claim it unjust when he is punished. And to make matters even more absurd, the proponents of mandatory sentencing rail at the harshness of the punishment meted out. They claim it is out of proportion to the circumstances that this should be taken into account.

Well, I say, welcome to the world of your own creation. How do you like it so far?

Nope, we’ve made a huge mistake in our school system. By putting so much emphasis on testing and acheivement we’ve forgotten about civic knowledge. It’s not that we need more ‘cooperative play’ in the schools. we have a lot of that and it doesn’t seem to have done much for us. What we need is a deeper pedagogy of teaching the roots and practice of democracy and our political system. Young adults have to graduate with critical faculties and the skill to understand and work with subtle nuances. Our educational system has proven itself not up to the task of teaching civics and critical thought.

If I were a teacher, I’d be ashamed of myself and my workplace right about now.

Otherwise, look what happens.

November 27, 2012

Better get used to Stephen Harper

Because, as last night proved, the Conservatives can hang on to power for as long as the left in Canada says they can.

In Calgary Centre the Conservative candidate won with 37% of the vote to the Liberals 32%. The Greens did well with 25% and I don’t blame them for hanging in there. However, if I were the NDP candidate I would have made a speech on election eve saying something like ‘I would like to thank all my supporters for the work they’ve done so far but it is apparent that I cannot win this riding. I think it is important to send the Conservatives a message and to signal to all Canadians that we have an alternative to allowing Stephen Harper t0 bully all of us. In a spirit of cooperation I urge my supporters to vote Liberal in order to defeat this particularly obnoxious Conservative candidate’.

Until such a speech can be made I don’t want to hear any more complaining about Harper.


November 27, 2012

I smell a rat!

So Ford may be finished as Mayor.

There is a quote on the front page of today’s Globe and Mail: “The ship is sinking and the rats are jumping.”

During the first year of Mayor Ford’s reign, Councillor Josh Matlow voted frequently with the Mayor to support the right wing at Council. In the second year, as Ford began to lose support, Matlow, with his moistened finger firmly in the air, began to vote more often with the progressive faction at Council.

Who do you think the above quote is from? Yes, from the Councillor looking in his rear view mirror to see who has now jumped into the water with him.

Hello Josh Matlow!

September 27, 2012

Is Rob Ford really an indictment of our educational system?

This has been troubling me for a long time.

Rob Ford was elected on the basis of ‘respect for the taxpayer’. Having said that, he has skirted conflict of interest issues for several years. He has been caught using City staff to help in his private affairs (like coaching football kids).

Now there are allegations that he wielded influence to get the City to do some paving at his business.

He has cost the City millions in cancelled transit plans that were previously committed. He wants to build subways in places that planners warn are not economically viable and will, therefore, cost us millions down the road.

He hires expensive consultants to advise on budget cuts, none of which have panned out.

And now that he cannot ram through City Council any of his ideas he has taken his marbles and, essentially, gone home. At taxpayers’ expense. He calls this ‘respect for taxpayers’.

His brother this week called all reporters ‘pricks’ for asking the Brothers Ford questions they don’t like.

Just two weeks ago a public opinion poll showed 42% of Toronto residents (yes, mainly suburbanites) have a favourable view of Rob Ford.

So, what’s happening here? Why is Rob Ford so obviously a useless Mayor with so high an approval rating?

The only thing I can come down to is our educational system. We may score well internationally in Math and Reading skills. But I am guessing if there were a test for critical thinking Canada would do awfully poorly. How else could people read the newspaper and not say about Ford: ‘what an idiot’?

Surely it’s time to question an educational system that allows this to happen. Now, I know that there is a tendency for all progressive people to assume that an educated populace with perforce be left wing. And I admit to similar feelings. However it is possible that one could come to an informed conservative conclusion. But even so, people like Ford would not be electable. The point is that people should be able to at least spot a sham and ask questions to come to an understanding of issues.

And isn’t that really the main purpose of our education system? Oh, I know. Everyone is all up in arms about teaching kids things so they can get a job. But an informed citizenry is really what it’s about. And we are failing miserably at that. And our toady and uneducated press isn’t helping.

Frankly, if I were a teacher (or any kind of educator) I would be embarrassed by the election of people like the Fords. I think every school teacher should look in the mirror and ask what they can do in the classroom to make sure that their students can think. Otherwise, why go through the motions?

July 18, 2012

Mayor Rob Ford–really??

I am just apopleptic today. A day after another outbreak of gang violence in Toronto and the Mayor has spoken.

This is the Mayor who cannot deal with public transit improvement–who can only say ‘no’ to every workable plan, a Mayor who cuts back on libraries, public housing and community expenditures.

This is a Mayor whose sole focus is on Torontonians as taxpayers rather than citizens. A Mayor whose sole focus is tax cuts.

This Mayor’s solution to gang violence is to increase the police budget. And, this Mayor is so gutless that he won’t even try to fund such increases out of the City budget but rather is asking other levels of government to pay. He doesn’t even have the guts that Councillor Karen Stintz has. At least she believes that citizens of Toronto are mature enough to be asked to pay more in taxes in return for an increase in transit services.

Nope this chicken of a Mayor doesn’t even have the courage to spend Toronto’s money on something he truly believes in (notwithstanding that it is entirely misguided).

I’m disgusted by his lack of ANY understanding of social mechanisms and his complete lack of guts in tackling real problems.

He’s just the bully we always thought he was. Talks loudly and runs fast.

February 21, 2012

Mayor Rob Ford: Is he fit to serve?

Today Mayor Ford’s toadies on the Toronto Transit Commission fired TTC Manager Gary Webster.

Whatever you may think of him, the only reason for his firing was because he called into question Ford’s absurd plans for Toronto transit. That is, he was doing what he is paid to do…advise on transit issues.

Rob Ford is the most crass Mayor this city has seen. He is almost obscene in his politics.

Now, Mr Respect for Taxpayers, has incurred another $500,000 in severance pay so he can sack someone with the temerity to gently express doubts about yet another dubious-politics-before-reason policy thrust.

Even conservative Karen Stintz is having difficulty swallowing this stuff.

There really isn’t much else to say. The latest opinion poll shows Ford with 49% support. What are people thinking?

February 9, 2012

Do the Brother Fords understand the concept of democracy at all?

Like Stephen Harper, Rob Ford thinks that winning an election every four years constitutes all the citizenry consultation necessary. Ford thinks he was elected dictator and that for the next four years ‘l’etat c’est moi’. The last leader with that attitude faced the guillotine.

Since his election, Ford has refused to listen to citizen deputations… the people have spoken and they have elected me.

He doesn’t feel he has to re-think his ludicrous transit plans. City Council’s votes are ‘irrelevant’….the people have spoken and they have elected me.

Because he was elected, no other forum constitutes democracy. In fact, though, he does occasionally ‘consult’ the people. He has his own pipeline to god—his cell phone. He often speaks of ‘hearing form the people’ by which he means someone (always someone who agrees with him) came up to him on the street or called him and said he is doing the right thing. This is all he needs to know the minds of the people.

If the Brothers Ford weren’t so dangerous and in a position to screw up this City, it would actually be funny.

For those of us expecting Ford to be a one term Mayor because he cannot help but screw things up, this has indeed happened. The difficulty will now be managing the next three years until we can throw the bum out.

What continues to confuse and amaze me is how the so-called ‘centrist’ Councillors can continue to put up with this buffoon. I continue to hope that this is the last straw and people like Josh Matlow find their genitals before he is forced to eat them in the next election (I believe the Beaver is still the official animal of Toronto).

L’etat, c’est moi, indeed!

January 10, 2012

Has Josh Matlow grown testicles?

As Rob Ford’s budget process winds its nefarious route through the process at City Hall, Josh Matlow, the renowned conservative Councillor who sees himself as the leader of the ‘independent’ group of Councillors has declared ‘I doubt any of the independent Councillors would support it’ (the current budget).

Should single hetero females take heart? Has Josh actually discovered his manhood? Will he set aside his self aggrandizing pulpit to actually take a stand? Only time will tell.

My advice? Don’t get out your evening wear yet. I’m thinking it’s still too early for facial hair on this one.

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