Albanese asks for “Fair Fare” (again)

Laura Albanese took the gloves off yesterday and released a letter asking for a “fair fare” for the UP Express. While she had asked for smart pricing of the train in August, this letter comes before the December 11 meeting of Metrolinx, where the fares are likely to be announced.

The letter is pretty scathing. She says “Metrolinx has not engaged in any meaningful and transparent consultation with the public” and that it should consult on “something so important as a fare that affects hundreds of thousands of transit users”. The train, she says, was once designed “exclusively for airport customers with no apparent concern for the communities surrounding it.”

Albanese is in favour of using the UP Express as public transit. She notes that the CEO of Metrolinx has said that there will now be six stops on the line: Union, Bloor, Eglinton, Weston, Woodbine, and Pearson. $30 fares would take the public out of the transit.

The fares should be priced differently for students, seniors, and those not travelling the full distance, she says, and,

To reiterate, the fare should reflect the fact that the UP Express is a publicly owned service, built and paid for with public tax dollars.


She closes with “Now is the time to seize the potential of the UP Express to serve multiple transit demands and the greater good.”

The letter is worth reading in its entirety if you have the time.

Leaf collection creates stir

Who knew? Only parts of Toronto get mechanical leaf collection. In fact, only parts of Weston get leaf collection.  Few streets north of Church get it, and no street south of the village does. Now Frances Nunziata is pushing the apparent unfairness of this; she and InsideToronto are saying that the city needs to be more equitable.

From Nunziata's office

Leaf collection in Weston

Nunziata told InsideToronto that “It would make sense that the city should implement it city-wide…. There are some places that you can’t because of on-street parking. But maybe the city should go out and collect the leaves.”

Nonsense. This is great politics, but it’s terrible economics. It would be silly, for instance, to collect leaves on Dundas St W, where I used to live: There are very few trees. It makes much sense to collect them in the Weston where flooding has been a problem (leaves clog catch basins) and there are many trees.

Even my kids know that fairness doesn’t mean treating everyone the same (if it did, we’d have a subway). Fairness means treating people right. It might make perfect economic sense to clear the streets of Weston.

Sullivan’s memories of shooting on The Hill

Mike Sullivan posted a memoir to Facebook of last week’s shooting on Parliament Hill.

Our caucus main door, leading to the Hall of Honour, was two double doors – an outer wooden door which opened out, and an inner padded door which opened in, for soundproofing. There were three other sets of doors into the room, all padded and doubled, and I hastily helped move a table against the door closest to me, to keep it shut. By this time we were hearing a hail of gunfire. It seemed to be first outside the main door, then it moved to outside our back door. I was too close to it, so I moved away and put my back to a stonewall. I was shaking like a leaf…


In related news, Mike Sullivan agreed with Thomas Mulcair’s opinion that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was a criminal, not a terrorist. Sullivan said, “Here, here” [sic], when sharing the opinion from Mulcair on Facebook. Mulcair has been criticized by Conservatives and Liberals for this position, but received wide support from the public.

My endorsement for councillor

Let’s start with this: Frances Nunziata is an excellent retail politician. If you call her, she will call you back. If you need something done, she’ll get it done.

But Weston has been suffering under her watch. Stores along Weston Road are struggling. Transit is gasping. We seem to be in a constant state of construction and disruption, and our town is getting very little out of work that will benefit everyone but us. Something is wrong.

And though this is not entirely Nunziata’s fault (she did not invent the digital camera that killed Kodak), Nunziata’s politics are not helping.

Frances—can I call her Frances?—is part of Ford Nation. She believes in subways, cars, and low taxes. She believes in business, the little guy, public-private-partnerships, and small government. And these are good things. Except for Weston.

They’re not what Weston needs right now. Weston needs public infrastructure and public goods. These are things that increased taxes buy.

What kind of public goods? Things that will make Weston a more pleasant place to do business and a more delightful place to live. Off the top of my head:

  •  Childcare
    • A city-subsidized childcare would make this a more desirable neighbourhood for young couples. We used to have one.
  • Functioning, funded transit
    • Buses, buses, buses. Bus infrastructure. Express buses. Articulated buses. Decent bus shelters (why do we wait outside in the winter?)
  • Bike paths
    • Join the Humber gap, create safe bike infrastructure to get to the GO, and build a bike path along Wilson to join North York and Toronto.
    • Build a path south to the Junction and Bloor. It’s impossible to get there now by bike.
  • Public art
    • Work with the BIA to make Weston Road lovely again
  • Trees and parks
    •  Trees along Weston Road and Jane Streets would calm traffic and noise and create a nicer pedestrian environment
    • The dilapidated houses on Weston must be expropriated and demolished.
  • Indoor community spaces.
    • A YMCA would be great, but let’s start small. There are no community programs at schools in Weston. Why not? The Elms and Amesbury have them. Weston could too.

These require taxes, government, patience, and cooperation. These are not the beliefs of Ford Nation.

You might then think that Dory Chalhoub would be my endorsement.

He is not.

Calhoub has guts. He’s running on a shoestring budget against an entrenched opponent. He shows up, he campaigns, and he tries. And he ought, above all, to be commended for that. I salute him wholeheartedly for his noble, and Quixotic, campaign.

But I cannot endorse him.

While Chalhoub he has put himself forward as the person to fix the riding he, too, appears to be fiscally conservative, and as long as he thinks that we can fix our problems without working together—and that’s just another way of saying “taxes”—then he is mistaken.

He has no experience. Chalhoub says that every new candidate starts off without it. True. But other candidates prove themselves in the minor leagues before trying out for the majors: Chalhoub, as far as I know, has not been much involved in the riding, certainly not in Weston or Mount Dennis.

Dory—can I call him Dory?—also lacks vision. He did not respond to PositionPrimer or InsideToronto to give details about his platform. (Nunziata did.) Dory did not even disclose which mayoral candidate he would back—surely the shortest cut to a platform he could take. His website is incomplete (the links to his policy pages are broken), he has no social media, and even the photos on his website are clipart: in this beautiful town, he chose a picture from Hamilton to represent neighbourhood beauty.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say he’s running on a very simple platform: “Not Nunziata. But close.” The lack of policy could be intentional. Like staring at clouds, we can see what we want to.

Our choice, then, is between two unsatisfactory candidates, neither of whom seems to have a long-term vision for Weston.

I cannot endorse either.

Municipal Election Viewpoint

Voting will take place in a few days and the campaigns for Council and Mayor will soon be history. The endless campaigning has produced a few surprises, one of which was the collapse of the Olivia Chow campaign. Before nominations opened, the Mayor’s job was waiting for her and the campaign seemed a formality that would end with an inevitable coronation. At the end of last year, my wife and I saw Ms. Chow lose a crowd of ardent supporters after speaking for only a couple of minutes. As she rambled on, the crowd began to murmur and my wife (who has an annoying habit of being correct) confidently predicted that Ms. Chow’s charisma shortfall would result in an unsuccessful campaign. The collapse of support for Ms. Chow has disappointed many who are leery of John Tory and more particularly, Doug Ford. While Mr Tory is undoubtedly a decent man, his natural inclination leans towards business interests and his ideas on transit and transportation are poorly thought out. It seems likely he will win as the alternative spectre of Doug Ford makes a vote for Olivia too risky for many. The Provincial Liberals have committed themselves to implementing ranked balloting which will finally eliminate the need for strategic voting in the future. For now, John Tory is probably the safest candidate to choose.

In Ward 11, WestonWeb was despairing that any candidates would step forward to oppose longtime incumbent Frances Nunziata. Eventually a couple signed up, Jose Garcia and Dory Chalhoub. These two unknowns were seen as incredible long shots against the veteran of several successful campaigns stretching back decades. One candidate has used the long period of campaigning to his advantage; Dory Chaloub, whose confidence has grown as his talking points have resonated with voters. In particular, Mr Chaloub is articulate and has been able to connect the dismal state of the ward directly to the inability of Ms. Nunziata to lift York South-Weston out of its deep and decades-long malaise. In addition, Ms. Nunziata’s increased profile as Council Speaker has exposed her flaws to a wider audience. Although there is not much to choose from politically between the two, Mr. Chalhoub understands that York South-Weston needs change and is not stuck in denial about the status quo. He has a background in business and seems intelligent and assertive enough to deserve a chance. Ms. Nunziata sees no problems and therefore seeks no solutions. Her political ambitions lie in city hall; focussing on improving York South-Weston only gets in the way. It’s time for a change.

Star does not endorse Nunziata

The Toronto Star has endorsed Dory Chalhoub, not Frances Nunziata—although it is clear they seem him only as the better of two bads:

With almost 30 years in local politics, incumbent Frances Nunziata (open Frances Nunziata’s policard) has lingered far past her sell-by date. Painfully ineffective in recent years, she has been one of council’s most complacent Ford followers. Dory Chalhoub, a young entrepreneur, is energetic to the point of being brash. We disagree with some of his policies, such as his support for a casino, but this ward needs a dose of vitality. Chalhoub gets our nod.

Sullivan votes against raising murder minimums

Conservatives like mandatory minimums—the sentences that lead to life sentences for stealing a pair of socks. These laws take away judge’s discretion to tailor punishments to the crime.

It’s odd for Conservatives to give judges more discretion, but, in a weird way, that’s what they’re doing with bill C-587, which would allow judges to give longer sentences than required by the current law. Murderers who rape or abduct could be sentenced by their judges to up to 40 years without parole, instead of the 25 years—and only 25 years—they get now.

Judges would ask the jury for instruction. The judge could then, if she wished, give a life sentence without parole for a term between 25 and 40 years. Presently, all people serving life sentences are eligible for parole after 25 years.

C-587 is a private member’s bill, and it passed first reading with support from the Liberals. The NDP, including Mike Sullivan, voted against the bill.