Upcoming events

Lots to do the next couple of weeks!

Buskerfest will be this Saturday,  July 28. It’s a blast, and I know the BIA has been working very hard on it.

The Driftwood Theatre’s Bard’s Bus Tour will be performing As You Like It in Little Avenue Park on July 29, starting at 7:30.

The 14th annual Neighbours’ Night Out will be on August 2. If you’d like to volunteer, you can email Patricia at .

ShotSpotter is a misguided response.

Apparently this unfortunately named thing is an expensive, microphone-based technology designed to triangulate on the sound of gunfire and pinpoint its location. The company responsible admits that its technology is only about 80% accurate in identifying gunfire yet charges a hefty amount for the installation plus an annual monitoring fee of around $300,000 for a city the size of Toronto.

Microphones throughout the community. From YouTube.

Councillor Frances Nunziata, the newest member Toronto’s Police Board was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying, “We’re all fed up with gun violence” and, “It’s enough playing political games, we need to get this done”.  Ms Nunziata, in office since 1988 has herself played political games for decades by voting for low property taxes and against efforts to ease poverty. The results of the city’s collective failure to deal with poverty are becoming evident in Toronto’s recent surge in gun crime.

ShotSpotter is a technology that gets around the need to work with a community to report crime. Instead, it is imposed on them and treats a community as hostile by using the police as an occupying force.

Readers may be aware that Michael Tibollo, Ontario Minister of Community Safety has been heavily criticized for announcing that he donned a bulletproof vest and went on a Toronto Police night shift in the Jane / Finch area. (To their credit, Mayor Tory and Premier Ford chose to take the same excursion without the vests.) Not to be outdone, council self-promoter Giorgio Mammoliti got in on the act Friday, doing the same tour (Jane and Finch is in his ward) and seeking the protection of a vest. As of Saturday morning, there was no indication that the councillor had survived his ride-along. Mammoliti has been representing the people of Jane and Finch since 1995. Sadly, most of his efforts seem to go into self-promotion and erecting a giant flagpole rather than doing anything to help constituents.

The new minister and veteran Councillors Nunziata and  Mammoliti ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of people live and work in areas like Jane and Finch every day of the year yet have no protection from crimes and other dangerous random events. Minister Tibollo’s accusers have called him a racist but his ignorance of community safety issues does not bode well either.

As for ShotSpotter – it’s something that will allow the Police Board to say that they have done something but it’s largely ineffective. What is needed from our short sighted Police Board and Council, is money spent on citizen outreach so that police aren’t seen as an occupying force but rather the arm of every community in this city. That’s what will achieve results, not gimmickry. We also need money consistently spent on fixing public housing and anti-poverty programs, not one-time reactions to perceived crime waves.

Incidentally, ShotSpotter is listed on the Nasdaq exchange and its price has risen more than 54% in less than two months. Coincidence? With North America’s fourth largest city about to sign up, you be the judge. Let’s hope that decision-makers holding the stock have declared a conflict of interest.

 

Woman wanted in Mount Dennis attempted robbery

Toronto Police are looking for Shanta Ramessar, 39, of Toronto. She is alleged to have hit and bitten a 67-year-old man in an attempted robbery near Jane and Eglinton on July 15. The victim required many stitches and was severely injured.

Ramessar is 5’6”, 145 lbs. and has curly long black hair.

Hussen loses a page from his portfolio

Having laboured over my last post, I see that it was mostly for nought. Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet this week. Ahmed Hussen, our MP and the minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship, has had an important page taken from his portfolio.

Bill Blair, Toronto’s former Chief of Police, is now the minister of border security and organized crime reduction. Blair will oversee irregular migration and refugee claimants and will also serve to antagonize Doug Ford—a job I covet.

Hussen responds

Responding, doubtless, to WestonWeb’s recent post, Ahmed Hussen wrote an article in the Toronto Star explaining what his government is doing about an increasing number of asylum seekers.

I’m trying not to be churlish—I really am—but I just don’t think his answer measures up.

Two issues have been in the news. The important one is the Safe Third Country agreement, which governs our commitment to refugee claimants. The unimportant one is how Hussen is getting along with his provincial counterparts. Hussen wastes a lot of pixels patronizing his opponents, but he never mentions the important issue: the STCA.

To understand the STCA, imagine, if you can, that you are a refugee claimant. You arrive in the USA, and realize that it is looking increasingly like the newly hard-hearted immigration authorities will deny your claim. You decide to try a more welcoming country: Canada. You pack your bags, board a bus, and make your way north.

And here you face a choice. If you cross at the Rainbow Bridge, you’ll be sent back to New York within a day or two. Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement says that you get only one shot at claiming refugee status, and you have to do it wherever you land first. That’s the USA. No do-overs.

But, bizarrely, if you decide to cross into Canada at a place that is not a ‘port of entry’ (through a farmer’s field, say), the STCA does not apply, and you are free to have your case (re)heard in Canada. The STCA  simply doesn’t cover the possibility that people might walk across. I’ve read it, and it sure looks like the authors of the agreement simply forgot our long, undefended border.  You can literally hike through this loophole.

Tens of thousands of people have done just that. It’s very far from a crisis, but it is causing problems.

In his column, Hussen says, basically, ‘No big deal. We’ve got this’:

Let me be clear: those who do not qualify for Canada’s protection are not allowed to stay. We’ve been clear about this in our outreach, both at home and abroad. For more than a year now members of our government, from the prime minister on down, have been bluntly reminding people that the asylum system is not a free ticket to Canada.

I’m inclined to believe that we do, in fact, got this. I trust our civil servants to assess claimants fairly, and I know we can afford to duplicate the work of our American counterparts. No big deal.

Hussen and I part ways on what follows, though:

Attempts by Conservative politicians to distort and mislead on this point are irresponsible. Like they did during the last federal campaign, they are playing to the politics of fear…. It is time for the misleading, divisive, and dangerous political rhetoric to end.

I think Hussen is saying that Conservatives are racist. At the very least he’s saying that the PCs are facilitating racism in a cynical political ploy.

First of all, I doubt it. Second of all, ad hominem. (That’s Latin for ‘cut that crap out’.)

Conservatives have legitimate complaints, though Hussen never mentions what he’s doing about them:

  • Border staff say the backlog is causing misery, and wait times to hear refugees overseas are increasing. Very few claimants in Canada are being processed quickly, and a hearing now takes about 2.5 years.
  • The STCA has a loophole. The Conservatives say that the whole border should be considered a port of entry. Maybe it should.
  • There’s a case that provinces and municipalities shouldn’t have to spring for this. And shelters are full.

Reading Hussen’s article, you’d think the PCs are dog whistling their rabid base. You’d never know that Canada is failing the very people he sincerely wants to help: refugees, both in Canada and abroad, seeking asylum.

Ahmed Hussen should recognize an obvious fact: friction creates sparks. He will have better ideas if he debates, and never dismisses, his opponents.

 

 

Some reflections

We’re officially in the summer doldrums – at least I am. Adam’s still incredibly productive.

In spite of having a new premier with his early announcements and the delicious prospect of October’s civic election, my side of Weston Web’s virtual office is eerily quiet with ceiling fans gently moving stale air over the desks, typewriters and silent telephones.

WestonWeb’s imaginary virtual office in busier times. From Early Office Museum.

Before the civic election campaigns begin in earnest, this might be a good time to take a breath and reflect on some of the almost 3000 articles that have appeared on Weston Web since Adam began publishing in 2010. Incidentally, every article written on Weston Web is still available and can be searched by topic or date.

WestonWeb uses WordPress which keeps statistics on the number of times each article is viewed. Interestingly, some articles have a life of their own and are constantly being read – even years after publication. Many of these most popular articles were written by student writers who are paid a small stipend for their efforts.

Grab a beverage and get comfortable; here’s a list with links to the 20 most popular Weston Web articles of all time – in reverse order. You’ll have to supply your own roll of the drums.

20. St John’s Anglican Church up for sale. February 2016. The mid-19th Century church at 2123 Weston Road was for sale at that time.

19. Weston Wins. February 2016. This is about former Premier Wynne’s (those were the days, remember?) decision to lower fares on the UP Express that resulted in dramatically increased ridership.

18. Drake general store pop up hits Mount Dennis. December 2016. Whenever you have an article with the words ‘Drake’ and ‘Weston’ in it, there’s bound to be lots of interest. Sadly for Drake fans, this was a Drake Hotel pop up.

17. Atlantic Salmon should hit Weston this weekend. September 2013. This one is popular when salmon are running in the fall.

16. 5 buildings to be ashamed of in Weston. May 2010. As a mark of Weston’s transformation over the past eight years, all of these buildings have disappeared entirely except for the Plank House which continues to sit empty and unloved.

15. TV show filming in Weston. March 2011. An interesting article on Weston’s film operations at the time. Scroll down to view an informative comment from Weston Historical Society’s Martin Proctor.

A prop NYPD car outside Weston Lions Arena in November 2012

14. Longtime York South-Weston resident and advocate to become NDP candidate. November 2017. This article about (now MPP) Faisal Hassan is from guest writer Riley Peterson.

13.  WCI home to the youngest recipient of Volunteer Toronto’s Legacy Award. June 2016. This was written by one of our student writers, Natalie while she was a student at Weston Collegiate Institute.

12. Weston youth flies to Sweden to represent Canada in Youth World Cup. July 2014. An earlier article from Natalie about a talented WCI soccer player.

11. Zeal Burgers; real burgers. October 2016. Yet another of our student writers, Lieselotte Noort writes about the best burger joint in town.

10. P&Ms – lots of history and a bright future. June 2012. Guest writer Melissa wrote this about the restaurant that has been serving Westonians for decades.

The old P&M location.

 

9. New vegetarian restaurant. March 2016. This is about Budda Chay, the vegetarian restaurant at 1784 Jane.

8. Wakame Sushi is the best sushi joint in Weston. March 2012. Another of Adam’s excellent restaurant reviews; Wakame Sushi is still going strong at 2625 Weston Road.

7. Book review: Safe as Houses. August 2012. Adam’s review of an excellent novel by Eric Walters, written for young adults based around the historical background of Hurricane Hazel.

6. Mark DeMontis is PC candidate. November 2017. This gentleman generated considerable interest during his campaign to become a PC MPP. Adam’s astute observations proved to be correct.

5. Lutong Pinoy: A new Filipino restaurant on Weston. June 2016. Guest writer Charlie Siddayao wrote this about Weston’s first Filipino restaurant, still in business at 1754 Weston Road.

4. P&M: Ready for the Move. January 2015. The story of P&M Restaurant in the weeks before moving to its spanking new location in May 2015.

3. Irving Tissue expanding. July 2012. Irving Tissue is the last of the big employers on Weston Road and guest writer Laurie Mace covered the proposed expansion of the plant.

2. Scarlett Heights Academy to close. October 2017. There has been intense interest around the closing of this school which is not strictly in Weston but obviously of interest to residents locally.

1. Ahmed Hussen wins YSW Liberal nomination. December 2014. The dramatic federal Liberal Party nomination of Ahmed Hussen astonished pundits who expected former councillor Bill Saundercook to win. This story has been accessed more than 2000 times.

Just a couple of observations: the restaurants reviewed in our top 20 are still in operation. If you want them to stick around, keep patronizing them. It’s easy to forget that Weston has undergone some quite remarkable changes in the past eight years with more still in the pipeline. With large numbers of people about to make Weston their new home, the next few years will be interesting.

Neighbours’ night out this August 2

Weston’s 14th annual Neighbours’ Night Out will be Thursday, August 2nd.

The organizers are hoping that some kind souls will volunteer. If you’re game, email Patricia at .