Rob Ford will likely cut funding to Weston

On Thursday night, Rob Ford, the mayoral front-runner, said that he “hasn’t seen the benefits” of money sent to Toronto’s 13 priority neighbourhoods. Weston–Mt. Dennis is one of those neighbourhoods.

In a debate with the other mayoral candidates, Ford said “I haven’t seen the benefits from these initiatives. As you know, I coach football in a priority neighbourhood and I haven’t seen the benefits. I wouldn’t commit to anything… If we aren’t seeing results…. I can’t sit here and say I’m going to keep throwing money away at an issue that’s not getting results.”  According to The Star, he said “that as he has not yet seen any proof the initiative is working, he has trouble committing millions of city dollars to the program.”

Outgoing mayor David Miller says that scrapping the investments would be a “tragedy”. He says “the mayoral candidates should be competing to say how much more money they’ll put in. That’s how important it is”. He watched the debate with “incredible frustration and distress because what I see is candidates who want to tear this city down”.

The priority neighbourhood plan was started in 2005, and Weston–Mt Dennis was added to the list in 2006. The idea is to strengthen the most vulnerable neighbourhoods in Toronto by improving their community groups and social infrastructure , things like parks and play areas. The Jane St Hub, which will open next week, came to Weston as part of the initiative.

Joe Pantolone said “‘I would extend it, and I would expand it. The 13 neighbourhoods project has been very successful.”

George Smitherman extolled the community health centres he helped start as Health Minister and criticized the instability of funding to the neighbourhoods. He said, though, that funding shouldn’t be restricted to the 13 neighbourhoods:  “I support priority neighbourhoods…. But I’m interested in priority people. I think you have to sustain those funds for priority neighbourhoods. But don’t stop there… It’s not good enough to tell those young people that are struggling to find community space [in other areas] that because they’re not on the list, they don’t matter”.

Rocco Rossi criticized Ford to loud applause and said “the programs are working and need to be expanded.”

Jane St Hub to open on Tuesday

The new social-services hub on Jane St will open on Tuesday, October 12 after years of delays.

The Hub makes it easy for clients to access many social services in a central location. Health care, counselling, employment services, and settlement services are all available in the same place—the old Food Basics store at 1541 Jane near Trethewey. An article in today’s Globe and Mail extols the virtues of the hub philosophy: the proximity of the services creates synergies for both clients and staff. Clients are able to do ‘one-stop shopping’, and staff are better able to track and provide for their needs.

Weston got the Hub because it is one of the 13 priority neighbourhoods in Toronto. It was conceived in 2007, and had been originally (and optimistically) planned to open in 2008.

There will be an open house on Thursday, November 11 between 4 and 6 pm.

Tonks one of the “best looking” MPs

Alan Tonks has certainly been earning his salary. This week he spoke no fewer than eight times on topics ranging from horse meat to stealing cars.

While the House is usually a pretty staid place, Tonks got a bit of a puff from his colleague on Friday. After lobbing a slow pitch question to his Liberal teammate Massimo Pacetti,  Tonks got the following compliment:

Mr. Speaker, my seat mate is one of the best MPs in the House and one of the best looking and he represents his constituents with a lot of hard work and devotion to his riding. I commend him for all the work he does, because I see it personally.

I’ve met Mr Tonks. And he’s a good-looking guy… but he’s no Maxime Bernier.

Tonks responds to shootings last week

In a long and thoughtful email, Alan Tonks has responded to the double murder last week in Weston.

I asked Mr Tonks three questions:

  • What is the Liberal Party of Canada doing to address violent crime in Weston?
  • What is the government of Canada doing?
  • What are you in particular doing?

In his response, he speaks out against the “murderous victimization of the innocent in our community” and castigates the gangsters who have caused the “intimidation, street violence, and murderous drug wars”.

Tonks also explained the government’s response. With Liberal support, the Feds have increased mandatory sentences for violent crimes, built more jails, and increased the number of police across the country. His party, he says, has reservations about rehabilitation and dealing “with the disease of criminal activity and not just the symptoms”.

The full text of his email is below.

I am sorry that once again, with two more shootings, I find myself responding through your web-site on this issue of violence. Obviously, I would prefer to comment on the quality of life issues and actions businesses and residents are taking in Weston.

It is increasingly perplexing that the circumstances around these two murders, according to the news, involve a student at Weston Collegiate and a young person, gainfully employed and in-training as a chef. Perplexing, however, as part of our community-based strategy is to offer attention to vulnerable youth.

What then went wrong here? I suspect that, as police have suggested in other cases, gang and drug activity and its barbaric pull have resulted in intimidation, street violence and murderous turf wars.

To answer your questions on institutional and personal response; the government has increased mandatory sentencing for violent acts of crime, instituted stronger parole/court obligations, committed to building more jails and announced an increase in funding for 25,000 police officers across the country. The Liberal Party has supported all these intentions with the following caveats. The 25,000 police officers increase has not yet been delivered. Prisons on their own will incarcerate but not rehabilitate and more support must be given to community-based initiatives that deal with the disease of criminal activity and not just the symptoms. Here, in Toronto and York South-Weston, we have supported police officers working with young people in our schools and the special creation through 31 Division and 12 division of drug and gang squad officers working with intelligence to act before the public and innocent youth are victimized

For my part, personally, for over ten years, I have been supporting the mentoring program with our Trades Council on pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeship training. The most recent program is highlighted in my Fall 2010 Householder – The Hammerheads Program approved by the Central Ontario Building Trades. The important thing is to ensure that our local young people have jobs to go to when they graduate and this requires local job creation in projects like the Kodak redevelopment, GO Expansion and Eglinton Rapid Project.

Please be assured that over the next few weeks we will be meeting with 31/12 Divisions to pursue expansion and co-ordination of our private and public street camera system and any other initiatives that will deter this murderous victimization of the innocent in our community.

Double Double trouble trouble

241-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh indeed.

Double Double Pizza and Chicken on Jane St got yellow-carded on Oct 1 for being generally gross. The franchise was dinged for failing to provide a hand washing sink, having a food handler without headgear, and for failing to properly clean rooms and equipment.

Two pizzas with double quease, thanks!

Tonks breaks ranks with Liberals to vote against war dodgers

Alan Tonks was the sole dissenter in the Liberal Party when it came time to vote on a bill that would allow war resisters to find haven in Canada.

Bill C-440 was proposed by Weston resident Gerrard Kennedy. According to Dean Del Mastro, (Conservative MP for Peterborough), the bill:

would let military deserters from any country participating in an armed conflict not sanctioned by the United Nations stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. It proposes to allow those individuals to remain in Canada based on a moral, political or religious objection. It would allow those subject to compulsory military service to refuse to return to service in their country of nationality. It proposes that the government would stay the removal for these applications until a decision on permanent residence for the individuals could be made.

Support for the bill broke along party lines, but with notable walkouts. The Conservatives voted against it. The Bloc, NDP, and most Liberals voted for it. But, because many Liberals, including Michael Ignatieff, left the House right before the vote, it did not pass.

Tonks has a history of voting against his party. Notably, in the past, he voted against same-sex marriage.