Debate was tons of fun. I declare a winner!

Nobody goes to a political debate to hear about policy. If you want policy, get a white paper.

We go to see the candidates in action, sense their personalities, and watch them duke it out. By those measures, tonight’s political debate was a huge success. It’s a bit silly to name winners and losers, but if we must, I’d say Nicki Ward, the Green candidate, won. She was very impressive.

All candidates

Ahmed Hussen, Liberal, was spirited and confident, confrontational and in command of the facts. He did very well, and often spoke passionately. Having watched his career, I was surprised. He’s often seemed at turns needlessly defensive and aggressive. He was very good tonight, speaking with feeling and purpose.

I can’t think of a kind thing to say about his touts, though. They were atrocious. Several times they shouted over the speakers, yelling dim-witted criticisms and true-believer hoots. They reached a nadir when they shouted down Yafet Tewelde, making him impossible to hear. I can’t imagine what Hussen is thinking. His crowd is having an effect opposite to what he intends: they’re utterly off-putting.

Ahmed Hussen and Yafet Tewelde

Yafet Tewelde, NDP, punched back hard. He took Hussen to task on his record and his (supposed?) absence in the community. He went full-tilt against Hussen, fighting hard and tenaciously. He knew the facts and had some zingers. He went at Hussen like an underdog should.

 

Tewelde was very good, but principled too: he stood up for both his Liberal and Conservative peers when they were unfairly heckled. It was quite honourable.

The underdog to match, though, had to be Nicki Ward. I thought that the last of the three people to find the Green’s AGM had to run as the riding’s candidate. The party has no presence between elections—they don’t even tweet—they don’t seem to have an infrastructure or pull, and they never do very well. I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, I wasn’t expecting anything.

And was I ever wrong.

Nicki Ward started off the debate brilliantly. She emphasized her independence, saying the party doesn’t have a whip, and “the opinions expressed on this stage are mine. I’m a one-issue candidate. My issue is York South–Weston.” It was a bold thing to do: to promise her brain, rather than focus-grouped policy promises. It could have been a disaster of dim-witted improvisation and talking points. I’ll spoil the ending: it was anything but.

Nicki Ward and Jasveen Rattan

Ward was bold, well read, and aggressive. She jabbed her opponents and wrestled with the issues. Her principled, articulate, and passionate stand on Indigenous clean water rights was the most inspiring moment of the night. She made it clear she didn’t have a monopoly on truth, too: “Take our platform. Take our ideas. But for God’s sake, implement them”, she told her peers. They’d do well to.

 

Gerard Racine, the PPC candidate, was both physically and emotionally distant. He sat, somewhat unfortunately, off to the right of the rest of the candidates. It suited him, though. He doesn’t seem to have any pretensions about winning, and judging from his Twitter feed, I thought he was a bit of a kook.

Gerard Racine

He may be, but he was charming enough as a bit of a grump, all function and no inspiration, pointing out that the feds don’t do transit, childcare, or healthcare, that the climate crisis is merely a climate problem, and that “complex problems have complex solutions”. He put his foot in it a bit when he said that kids these days should “learn a little more about Canada”, but I doubt he cares. He said he wasn’t going to  pander. He kept that promise.

 

Jasveen Rattan, PhD, and the Conservative candidate, did fairly poorly. There’s a kind of academic who speaks knowledgeably, because she knows. There’s another who speaks bullshit, as if she knows. And then there’s the kind that figures out answers based on what they know already. I like this kind of academic. They puzzle things through. They’re honest. They’re great to drink with. But they’re not the least bit fun to watch.

I think Rattan is that last kind. She fumbled. She spoke in fragmented sentences as if she was figuring things out as she went—because, I think, she was. She didn’t nail any zingers as a result, and she didn’t seem in command of her platform.

Rattan also, frankly, screwed up. She said that she has a lot of experience with youth, “but not in York South–Weston” and humblebragged that she’s travelled to more than 200 cities and learned so much. She is a parachute candidate and privileged. She doesn’t need to emphasize that. When I met her, she said she was in the race to win. If that was the case, she should have spent more time prepping.

The organizers, as always, did an excellent job. They deserve our thanks. For the first time, the livestreamed the debate, and it’s well worth the watch.

 

Upcoming events

This Wednesday will be a super exciting day: the all-candidates debate. It will be held at Weston CI starting at 7. Be there and be square!


On Sunday, October 20, St Philip’s Anglican Church will be hosting a Jazz Vespers. It sounds great.


On November 29, the Diaz-Greco family will be hosting a fundraiser for infantile spasm research. Emma, their daughter, is a “miracle baby” and their inspiration.

Sine the last fundraiser, Emma was the first Canadian recipient of a kind of neurological pacemaker that stimulates her vagus nerve to prevent and treat seizures.

BIA posts update

The Weston Village BIA has posted an update on the Gaeta Farms expulsion. It isn’t particularly revealing of their side of the story, but it does say they are working hard to ensure a “successful market upon our return to John Street for the 2020 season.”

While trying to maintain the integrity and professionalism of the market, as well as the confidentiality of the Gaeta family, there have been several issues which have not been resolved, and in fact have escalated in recent weeks. We feel it is in the best interest of the Market as a whole, the Weston community and the BIA to discontinue our relationship.

We ask for your patience and trust during this difficult time. We assure you we are working very hard to ensure we have a professional, successful market upon our return to John Street for the 2020 season.

I tried earlier this week to reach Frances Nunziata and the BIA for comment, but I haven’t yet heard back.

Guest Post: Nicki Ward, Green Candidate

If Nothing Changes… Nothing Changes

By Nicki Ward

MP Candidate, York South–Weston, Green Party of Canada

As a “Blue-Green” I believe that our economic and political environment is directly connected to our natural environment. In other words we must address employment and economic development as part of our clean up.

I also have a background as a technical, scientific and medical writer – So I’m not a catastrophist. I’m a centrist who believes in evidence-based problem solving and that means tackling the things we can actually change. (One of which is who represents our interests in Ottawa)

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how York South–Weston has evolved from a beautiful collection of vibrant and self-sustaining communities to its current state.

Over the past 50 years, this area has been expropriated, annexed, absorbed and re-absorbed multiple times by neighbouring towns and cities. Some might argue that this is a normal part of growth and city living. However what is not normal is the speed and brutality with which this has occurred.

In addition to this, politicians have continuously and cynically manipulated our electoral boundaries. There are many examples, but one of the biggest Federal examples was in 1976 (and 1987, and 1996, and 2003) where they shoe-horned the distinct communities of York South, York West, Davenport, High Park–Humber Valley, and Etobicoke into a single voting block.

Gerrymandering is nothing new. But what is different is the speed and frequency with which this happens in York South–Weston. Each electoral shake up is disruptive and means that the newly created communities struggle to find their own voice and push back against political, financial and development pressure.

A cynic might suggest that since this so clearly favours incumbency that this is deliberate.

I’ve had several hundred conversations and met many wonderful individuals who continue to fight vigorously for the rights of their fellow constituents.

But this changes nothing if our pleas fall on deaf ears. If our elected politicians can only keep their job by obeying their boss in Ottawa, by being “whipped” to the party line, by being forced to vote against their conscience and their constituents…

…then York South–Weston loses…yet again.

It’s tempting to think of extinction events as singular dramatic moments like a meteorite hitting the earth. But most extinction events are slow, steady states of decay and are only visible when you look back over time.

Sadly, I think that there are signs that this is what is happening to Weston. Decades of mismanagement and misgovernment that have brought us to this point and that are pushing us further down the same dark path.

As to evidence? The long-term environmental symptoms are everywhere and the trend is all in the wrong direction.

Social issues like violence, mental health and addiction abound.
Institutional and multi-generational poverty continues to increase
Economic development (other than knocking down food stores to build condos) is absent.

Local water management allows massive quantities of sewage and other pathogens to enter our streets, basements and rivers.

Local air quality is dangerous, proven to be carcinogenic and potentially lethal. Air quality hotspots include: Weston Road, Jane Street, Keele Street, Black Creek Drive, Highway 401, Lawrence Avenue West, Eglinton Avenue West, St. Clair Avenue West and Rogers Road.

Overwhelming evidence that York South–Weston is in serious, serious trouble.

Can this tide be turned?

To be frank…If nothing changes… nothing changes.

However, you can vote for change.

With new representation and an active plan for political, economic, social and environmental solutions … then yes, we can turn this tide.

Nicki Ward

MP Candidate, York South–Weston
Green Party of Canada


We would be delighted to post a statement from other interested candidates. Send us an email!

Gaeta Farms ejected from Farmers’ Market

Gaeta Farms has been ejected from the Weston Farmers’ market, which is causing great concern and may have serious repercussions.

Gaeta Farms has been an anchor tenant since the market began  38 years ago. The farm posted on their website this weekend that they had been told they had breached the code of conduct and would no longer be welcome. They dispute this:

Breaching the code of conduct they say: My dad has always loved this market, this is where we started. His voice is for the market and what’s best for all farmers and the other vendors who attend, he wants this market to succeed. Is his voice too loud? The community needs to know that the board is giving the farmers a hard time with the move to the new location next year, which doesn’t give us enough space to operate safely. His voice is sticking up for us farmers.

In an email, Sabrina Gaeta, Joe’s daughter, said the issue goes back three years.  “Vendors have left, customers are no longer attending and nothing is being done to promote the market or address the issue that we have less vendors year after year.”

Next year’s  move to John Street has also been very contentious. Sabrina Gaeta says that vendors do not want to move to the John Street location because the space is not big enough. She also says they have not been supported by the BIA.

The Gaetas say the new John Street location will be too small for all the vendors and their wares, and cannot be used safely with the trucks and loading that needs to be done.

Losing Gaeta Farms may have serious repercussions for the market. Several people have told me that an inspector came on Saturday and found the market had too few vendors to qualify as a farmers’ market. This appears to mean it will be downgraded to a flea market.

I’ve emailed Frances Nunziata and the BIA, but I haven’t yet heard back.

Sabrina Gaeta said, in closing:

After 38 years my dad just wants to retire peacefully from the market and move on to spend time with his grandchildren. He doesn’t want me to pursue this, but the community needs to know how unfair we were treated. Out staff lost their jobs on Saturday, income they rely on. What hurt us the most: they took away the opportunity to say goodbye to the community, our customers who have become friends. We deserve the right to say goodbye.

 

Shooting at Weston and King

The police are investigating a shooting that took place at Weston and King around 5:30 this afternoon. They say that five males in a silver four-door car shot at another vehicle. No victims were located at the time, though 680 reports that a man checked himself into hospital a short time later.