Category Archives: Politics

A Place To Stand…

Ontario_L

Three dudes in a hot tub.

Ridings

Toronto-Danforth

This is my riding. I’ve lived here for 6 years now, and I absolutely love it. It’s an amazing part of the city, and has been represented provincially throughout that time by the NDP member Peter Tabuns. Tabuns was in the running for party leader against Horwath, and it’s a pity he didn’t win. He’s a great representative for Toronto-Danforth, and a strong voice in parliament.

During the last election, the Liberals ran a candidate who after a 10 minute chat, I determined to be an idiot. This time the Liberals seemed to care about the riding, had hopes, and were reliant on Horwath draining support away from Tabuns. They ran Rob Newman, and they were able to take a significant amount of support away from Tabuns. Hell, they got my vote. My vote wasn’t a vote for Newman, or a vote in protest of Tabuns. I wanted Tabuns to continue to serve Toronto-Danforth, just that there was a chance the riding could flip red, and that would be one more riding to help secure a Liberal government.

Turns out it stayed NDP, Tabuns was re-elected, and we got a Liberal majority. So it seems win-win. Great local representation, and a competent party governing.

Thornhill

This is my other home riding. I grew up in Thornhill. Once upon a time it was a Liberal riding, but Stephen Harper’s uncritical and unwavering support of Israel makes it always go Conservative. The recent provincial byelection in the riding was close, and both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives were running the same candidates. This one was hard to watch as it kept on flipping back and forth between the two candidates.

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When there were only five polls left to return, Martow, the PC candidate had one vote over Yeung Racco. It was insane to watch. Fifteen minutes later, 85 votes determined that Yeung Racco was elected as the MPP for Thornhill. Kind of crazy. While I think that this speaks a lot for the province as a whole, it really shows that the PCs have a strong base in Thornhill. The only reason they so narrowly lost was because Hudak wasn’t able to extend his red tories.

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Parkdale-High Park

This was only interesting because something unexpected happened. It was a close race. A really close race. Cheri DiNovo, the NDP candidate, has been an incredible voice in the Legislature. She’s stood up for Trans rights, a minimum wage raise, and poverty. She’s an excellent member, and if she had lost, it would have been a true disappointment for Ontario as a whole.

Trinity-Spadina

This riding was really interesting to me because of the upcoming federal byelection. If you were to wander around downtown Toronto, you’d see so many campaign signs. Two Liberals, two NDP, a Conservative, a Progressive Conservative, two Greens, and all the fringe candidates.

This riding went to Liberal candidate Han Dong. This leads me to be hopeful that Adam Vaughan, former city councillor, will be able to win this riding that used to be held by NDP Olivia Chow.

Adam Vaughan has been an outspoken member of council. He stands up for what he believes in, and (usually) thinks before he speaks. It’s a huge loss to have had him leave Council, but I cannot think of a better voice to have in Ottawa for the City of Toronto and all Canadian urban centres.

Davenport

Didn’t expect Jonah Schien to lose his seat.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore

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Doug Holyday spent much time yelling and screaming in City Council. In a recent byelection, he won the seat over fellow councillor Peter Milczyn. Yesterday’s rematch flipped the outcome. I am very happy about this. Not because I dislike the Progressive Conservatives, but because Holyday is an idiot, an asshole, and shouldn’t have a place in provincial legislature. During the debate to allow municipalities to used ranked ballots, his arguments were made from a place of ignorance. Holyday does not deserve the seat he once held.

Leaders and Parties

Tim Hudak & The Progressive Conservatives

This election was Hudak’s to lose, and he lost it. Badly. Hudak’s insistence to campaign from the far right alienated many Ontarians. He did win the debate, the was obvious, he was able to come across as a human during that debate, something I was very surprised by. I don’t think anyone could have predicted this loss.

Hudak has announced he will step down. No one was surprised. If the Progressive Conservatives want to form government, they’ll need to find a leader and platform that speaks to Ontarians, and going hard right will not do that.

This means one good thing, a leadership battle. One in which Doug Ford will most likely run. Then we can watch Ford get crushed. That will be a lovely thing to watch.

Andrea Horwath & The New Democrats

Horwath will spin this as a victory. Her party increased their popular vote, but it didn’t translate into seats. The NDP held 21 seats, they now hold 21 seats. Horwath took a gamble by not supporting the Liberal budget. The Liberal budget was one of the most progressive budgets in Ontario history, and Horwath refused to support it in hopes of political gain. She went from holding the balance of power to absolutely no power. The party lost everything. Everything.

Horwath needs to step down.

Kathleen Wynne & The Liberals

The first out woman premier of Ontario has now lead her party through an election, and won. Most importantly, her sexual-identity and gender played no role whatsoever in the campaign. She was judged for her skills. Wynne is a skilled woman. She has proven she governs by research and intellect rather than ideology. She has faced scandal, but took measures to address it. I’m still pissed that McGuinty’s office deleted data before Wynne took over as Premier, but she was the only reasonable option for Premier.

TVO

I watched TVO’s coverage this year. Never watched them cover an election, but Steve Paikin is probably the best talking head on TV. I was really impressed with the PC pundit they had on. He was critical about his party, and honest. Usually you just see people shrieking their party platform, but the PC guy was intelligent about it.

The best part of the coverage was during the discussion of the size of Han Dong’s win…

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TVO also took their time to announce a Liberal government, and then later a Liberal majority. Seems they were the last to announce those, but honestly, I’d rather they don’t rush to that conclusion and instead take their time.

I Love You, Ontario

“The equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world …  these principles have been confirmed in Ontario.1

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Your borders don’t define you.
Your people do.

We swim in your great lakes.
We camp in your parks.

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Snowmen line the yards.
While wet mittens sit on the radiators.

Anishinabe, Missassauga, Mohawk, Algonquin, Cree, Ojibway.
India, Brazil, Sudan, Ghana, Greece, Poland.

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Refugees and survivors.
A place to build a home.

From John Sandfield to Kathleen.
Banting and Best, Cuddy and Keelor.

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French and English.
Cantonese and Farsi.

We sit amongst the trilliums,
while seeking shade under the maples.

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Dancing in your clubs.
Skating in your rinks.

Driving on the 401.
Riding the 501.

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A road trip to Ottawa or Thornbury.
Staring up at the stars from a dock on a lake.

Eating pho and schnitzel, or
Bagels and injera.

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In our cities with skyscrapers and
our LCBO in the centre of our small towns.

We drink and play.
We kiss and dance.

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We strive to be greater
than the sum of our parts.

We define ourselves by what we’re not,
and often miss who we are.

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                                                            It’s ours to discover.

  1. Human Rights Code, http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h19_e.htm []

Ontario Declines to Vote 2014

Horwath. Hudak. Wynne. Horwath. Hudak. Wynne. Horwath. Hudak. Wynne. Horwath. Hudak. Wynne. Horwath. Hudak. Wynne.

No.

Tonight the leaders of the three major parties debated. We saw Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, leader of the Liberal Party. Her major contender Tim Hudak, leader of the opposition and leader of the Progressive Conservatives. Also on the stage was Andrea Horwath leader of the New Democrats.

Party Leaders

The debate was horrible. My lord. Okay, let’s look at this.

Mike Harris 2: Electric Boogaloo

Tim Hudak is promising insane things he cannot deliver. Hudak is saying that he can deliver a million jobs to the province, but it doesn’t add up. Not only is stretching each job over eight years and counting them eight times, he’s also doing this through tax cuts, because that has never proven to generate jobs. Hudak wants us to believe that magically jobs will appear because corporations don’t hoard money unless there’s strings attached.

He also wants us to slash 100,000 jobs. Those public service jobs are of course going to be magically unnecessary it will be through retirements, not anyone who wants to stay. It won’t cut our services and of course it won’t affect healthcare or education. BULLSHIT! We saw Mike Harris destroy Ontario’s education system and the only reason it’s mildly effective now is that Dalton McGuinty took charge to fix the mess that Harris made. Hudak sat in Harris’ cabinet.1

Hudak also promised that if his million job plan doesn’t work, he’ll resign… it’s an eight year plan.2

n All that said, Hudak won the debate. He stayed on message, he hammered his points in, and he did while appearing friendly, well informed, and calm, cool and collected.

Andrea Horwath

The NDP leader has been drifting right for a while. She came across in the debate as unprepared and unsure of herself. She has to fight to get anywhere in this election, but is failing miserably at it. The debate did not help her at all. She was a backdrop to the conversation.

Kathleen Wynne

She’s the Premier, and the only one of the three who should be. That doesn’t mean I want her to win. She doesn’t deserve to win. Wynne is intelligent, and weighs her options before making a decision… usually. Except sometimes she does things that are more for her party than for the good of Ontario.

The cancellation of the gas plant cost us a billion dollars, but there was something much more heinous than that, staff in the Premier’s office deleted data relevant to an police investigation into the scandal. That is just completely unacceptable.

Spacing recently did an amazing exposé on the Scarborough subway fiasco. Transportation Minister Glenn Murray had all the information telling him that should Toronto build a subway, the costs to the city would be much greater than we currently know, the need for the subway (rather than LRT) will never actually be there, and the line services fewer people. And yet he and his Premier (Wynne) ran a byelection in Scarborough on a subway platform3.

Conclusion

If these people are my choices, I choose not to vote for any of them. They don’t deserve my choice. I could spoil my ballot by writing in “Kodos,” but then it would be counted as a spoiled ballot which I think most people would figure to mean that I’m too dumb to know how to draw an X beside the candidate’s name.

Instead I could decline my ballot. When I get my ballot, I can return it immediately and say that I decline it. This is counted separately and basically means to all who look that I refuse to vote based on the choices. I took the energy to show up at my polling station, but declined to vote.

I was shocked when debate host Steve Paikin ended the broadcast to remind us to vote “even if we decline our ballot.” Seriously. What the fuck. I’ve never heard that in a debate. I guess we all felt the same way.

Local Candidates

What many people forget is we don’t vote for government. That’s just not how our system of government works. We vote for those who represent us in the legislature. From those people, the party leader who can gain the confidence of the house forms government.

I decided to walk to my friend’s place. She live in the same riding as I live. I watched the debate. She lives at Greenwood and Danforth. I live at Broadview and Danforth. It’s a bit of a walk, about four subway stops. En route, I got to The Pape, and saw the Liberal candidate’s office was open. I stopped in. I also saw the incumbent-NDP candidate’s office was open. I stopped in.

The first thing I asked each campaign worker was “Why should I vote for…”

Rob Newman, the Liberal candidate’s worker said, “He’s a Liberal.” Worst possible answer. I know he’s a Liberal, tell me what he will do for Toronto-Danforth, for Toronto, and for Ontario as a whole.

Peter Tabuns’ staff grabbed me a flyer filled with quotes from community members talking about all the things Tabuns has done in his eight years as an MPP. He talked about the legislation he’s helped put through, he talked about the legislation he’s fought against.

While the Liberals were more concerned about talking about the party as a whole rather than about Newman. Tabuns’ volunteer wanted to talk about Tabuns and his record.

I asked why Newman left the Green Party to join the Liberals, and the office staff didn’t know. Odd.

As much as I hate the idea that this vote would be going towards validating Horwath, I feel Tabuns is the best bet of the choices. I’m still debating declining my ballot, but if not, Tabuns.

You might notice I didn’t mention the PC candidate in the riding. The PCs have no chance of winning the riding and I don’t even know who’s running or care.

  1. I’m now picturing Hudak crouching in Harris’ kitchen cabinet. []
  2. If you buy that, I’ve got some snake oil to sell ya! []
  3. Not a physical platform. []

Alex P. Keaton

familyties1I sometimes feel like I’m surrounded by Alex P. Keaton.

Conservatives are everywhere. The generation that grew up before me were fighting against the hippies before them. So they went right wing. We had Reagan in the States, Mulroney up here, Thatcher in the United Kingdom. Ugh.

I recently listened to a student talk about social justice, but the framework she used for her discussion was economics. It kind of disgusted me that the discussion wasn’t how to help people, but how to make things better for business to help the economy, to in turn help the people.

The logic of trickle-down economics have been discussed over and over again, and danger of wealth inequality has been drummed loud and clear. I could cite sources, but I’m lazy. I remember something perhaps from the IMF, a few universities. I dunno. You do the research. Comment down below.

But this bothers me. It means people are putting corporations ahead of people.

That’s not cool.

Currently I give financially to non-profits and I don’t generally talk about it, I think I now need to talk about it. I think I also need to be more active and actually do stuff. Rather than just help with my wallet, help physically.

Some organizations I donate to that you could donate to, too.

Toronto Public Library Foundation The Leo Baeck Day School Canadian Cancer Society Heart and Stroke Foundation

Rt. Hon. Paul Martin

Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada, came to my place of employment to talk to the students. He spoke about the future of Aboriginal education. It was an interesting talk, and I got to take a few photos. I’m only publishing one that doesn’t have any student faces.

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Chester Station second exit

I am so happy I’m not an elected official. I went to the TTC’s meeting about the second exit for Chester Station. My councillor attended and she tweeted this just a moment ago.

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Since I don’t seek public office I can tell you the truth. What Councillor Fragedakis tweeted can be summed up as such…

LIES!

That was not a “good discussion.” The angry man who interrupted the session to proclaim that the TTC would have to buy his house if they wanted to put elevators at the main exit of Chester Station was not a good discussion.

The man who decided to deride the TTC staff for calling the meeting on such short notice was not good discussion. They advertised this meeting weeks ago.

The people who couldn’t comprehend that the details of the “station box” would be provided at the first meeting of the working group, and would be a guideline for them to make their recommendations were not “good discussion.”

I went in to listen and find out what was happening in my neighbourhood. I ended up volunteering for the working group because these people shouldn’t be on it.

If they see this post, though, that will probably rule me out.

Campaign Rally

I did something today I’ve never done before. I went to a campaign rally. Here’s photographic evidence. Ignore that it’s a bad shot, as it was taken on my iPhone. Ignore Kristin’s head in half the shot. Ignore the fact that Councillor Mike Layton is giving me a death glare.

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Not only did I go to a campaign rally for the first time, I’ve also donated to a political campaign and have volunteered to help out Ms. Chow’s campaign.

It’s no secret that I think Rob Ford was the worst possible choice for mayor. Amongst the three million possible Torontonians, he’s definitely near the bottom, but we’ve had to put up with him for four years1. Since the election campaign started on January 2nd, we’ve had Rob Ford, Karen Stinz, John Tory, and David Soknacki throw their hats in the ring. That’s a lot of right-wingers. The left has stayed quiet. Three days ago, Olivia Chow announced her candidacy, and finally we have a mayoral candidate who I can get behind. So I decided to go to her campaign rally. I stood near the front, as Kristin wanted to photograph the event… I’m sure she has better photos than this one.

What I learned:

  • O-liv-i-a O-liv-i-a is a terrible chant. Too many syllables.
  • “New mayor, better city” is also a terrible chant.
  • Ms. Chow looks good in a yellow dress.
  • Councillor Mike Layton, her step-son, is supporting her bid for mayor.
  • Deepa Mehta, who spoke before Chow, is fucking amazing.
  • “It’s time to pack up that circus tent at City Hall.” Okay, I knew that before, but I like the line. It’s clever.
  • I feel awkward cheering along to soundbites.

Seriously, here’s the problem, a campaign rally is no place for intelligent discourse, it’s a way to rally your troops, get people excited. It doesn’t get me excited. Tell me about your plan. I’m not here for hero worship and idolatry, it seems others are, but I want to know how you will make the city better. I know you’re intelligent, and I’m putting a lot of faith in you, just tell me what you plan to do. Give me details, and talk to me like an adult.

What do I want to solve that? A debate, I guess. One on one discussion would be nice.

I’m not a member of the cult-of-Olivia, and I never will be, I can never blindly support a single candidate, but I will work hard to ensure that Ms. Chow becomes the next mayor of Toronto, as she is the best option for this city. Just don’t expect me to chant “O-liv-i-a.”

  1. or is it Ford years? []

Rob & Doug

How were these two so prescient?

Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story by Robyn Doolittle

Sigh.

I kinda feel sorry for Robyn Doolittle. She’s an excellent reporter for the Toronto Star, but sadly her name is most associated with Rob Ford.

Crazy Town is a book about our mayor, his family, and his problems. Crazy Town at times is extremely hard to read. We’ve lived through this drama for the past three years (longer, if you include his time as councillor). We’ve seen the insanity.

Reliving it is not something you really want to do. However, Doolittle does add some interesting new revelations into her book that make it quite interesting.

For non-Torontonians, I think it is a must-read. Anyone outside this city who has seen a few tidbits of who Rob Ford is, should really see the disaster he has put upon Toronto.

Political Parties

Parties are no longer about commitment, in the sense of principles, loyalty and tradition. Long ago, partisans rallied to Sir John A. Macdonald’s Tories under the slogan “the Old Man, the Old Flag, the Old Policy.” No more. A party is not a collective project. It is a “mutual fund.” Commitment has become investment, and investment demands appropriate returns. If “wasted,” it should be pulled out and put “elsewhere.” The party’s name and symbols are no longer marks of allegiance, but are merely a “brand.” Brands are corporate marketing devices for products. Brand identification is intended to promote sales. If sales falter, re-branding may be required.” – Reg Whitaker writing in Policy Options, as quoted by Susan Delacourt in her book Shopping for Votes.

I’m reading Susan Delacourt’s Shopping for Votes which evaluates the idea that politics is turning into consumerism. She tracks this trend from the end of World War II to the modern day in Canada’s politics.

She quotes this piece from Reg Whitaker. It’s rather interesting as it makes me question my hatred of party politics. I have always seen political parties as a cheerleading party for governments, which seems weird. People who will defend a government to their last breath, regardless of the mistakes they may have made. Whitaker’s framing of a political party as a collective project, a project spanning generations to make the country and world a better place, now that sounds appealing.

Sadly he’s lamenting its passing.