TAVIS Barbecue Tonight, June 16, 2011.

There will be a barbecue tonight from 5 – 7 pm hosted by 12 Division TAVIS initiative officers and Councillor Frances Nunziata. This is to let the community know that an additional 32 police officers have been made available during the summer for street patrol in the Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue area. Check out the PDF version of the poster here.

Mike Sullivan Speaks in the Commons

Mike Sullivan, our newly elected NDP MP spoke for the first time in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Here are his comments:

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the voters in York South—Weston, who sent me here to advocate for them. I will do my utmost to bring forward their issues in this House, like public transit.

Public transit supports economic activity, improves productivity and, done right, it helps clean the air. In York South—Weston, public transit is an important public service, as it is across Canada.

Unfortunately, public transit is not a priority of the government. Aside from the gas tax rebate negotiated nearly a decade ago by then-FCM president, the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth, the current federal government refuses to support this crucial element of our economic life. This must change if we are to help Canadians in their daily life.

The federal government must develop a national public-transit strategy so that sensible investments in public transit like electric light rail can be made to meet the needs of millions of Canadians.

Mr Sullivan made a name for himself here in Weston as a passionate supporter of the Clean Train Coalition and it’s good to see that he is still chipping away on the same topic. His unseating of Alan Tonks was one of the many surprises in last month’s general election.

He made further remarks on June 9th, describing York South-Weston and the problems facing our community.

Humber Trail Likely Stuck for this Year.

 

 

The trail ends between buildings and leads up a steep slope to busy Weston Road.

Although plans are in place to continue the Humber Trail beyond its current abrupt ending in Cruickshank Park, it’s unlikely we’ll see any progress on the ‘Weston Gap’ this year. According to Transportation Planner Jennifer Hyland, City Transportation Services are involved with negotiations on property transfers with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. This would take the trail to Mallaby Park.  In addition, there are plans to incorporate a 4m wide path on the west side of the railway bridge by 2014.

Where the trail is set to continue.

Ms Hyland also says that progress has been slow because of the ‘varying property interests’.

Let’s hope that planners and politicians can redouble their efforts on this important project so that cyclists and trail walkers can appreciate the stunning beauty of the Weston section of the Humber Valley. This will also allow Weston to capitalize on its bicycle connection.

 

Election Results: The 20% Solution.

With no word from Alan Tonks about his stunning defeat, regular folks and political insiders are buzzing about Mike Sullivan’s upset victory in York South-Weston.  Sometimes statistics can provide an insight into what happened.

The voter turnout this time was 51% which is well below the average of around 61% for the country. In 2008 it was 50.4%. Why is our voter turnout so low? Who knows; maybe non-voters feel disconnected from the process or perhaps they feel that it doesn’t matter who wins. Either way, democracy is not well served when half of eligible voters decide that it is a waste of time to vote. The winning candidate won by a comfortable margin yet received 14,119 votes –  that’s only 20.4% of the riding’s 68,978 eligible voters. Think about it; 20% of voters decided the result.

Here are the vote counts and electorate percentages:

  • Mike Sullivan 14,119 …..20.4%
  • Alan Tonks 11,481 ……..16.7%
  • Jilian Saweczko 8530 …..12.4%
  • Sonny Day 1045 ………….1.5%

In municipal elections, voter turnout is even lower – only 40% bothered to vote in Ward 11 last time.

A determined candidate needed to marshal less than 20% of the vote this time—Mike Sullivan was that candidate. Without taking away from Mike Sullivan’s message and excellent campaign, this should be a warning to all politicians who feel that they own a safe seat. The fact is that where voter turnout is traditionally low, a candidate with credibility and determination can overcome even the most comfortable of incumbents.

Our Election Pick

On Monday, May 2, democracy is calling. Voters have a realistic choice between incumbent Alan Tonks (Liberal) and longtime resident Mike Sullivan (NDP).

Conservative candidate Jilian Saweczko has played a peek-a-boo campaign – if anyone has seen her please would you let us know?

The Green’s Sonny Day struck us as a true gentleman but is very inexperienced and will need some time to learn the ways of politics.

Let’s look at the two front runners:

Career politician Alan Tonks, has been the Liberal member for York South-Weston since 2000: half of that time as a government MP and half in opposition. In all that time, there has been no great achievement on which he can stake a claim. In fact, since 2000, York South-Weston has continued its steady decline. While his style is congenial and he is by all accounts well-liked in Ottawa, as has been pointed out in WestonWeb, Mr Tonks is the Liberal who voted with the Tories more than all but one of his colleagues. Tellingly, Mr Tonks no longer resides in his own riding.

Mike Sullivan has worked hard to bring improvements to Weston and was the NDP candidate in the 2008 election. For the past seven years he has worked to bring some transparency and accountability to the Air Rail Link project and has battled to make it an asset to Weston rather than a source of noise and disruption. As head of the grassroots Clean Train Coalition, he applied pressure (with some success) to electrify and/or cover the line so that Weston residents would not be subjected to the noise and pollution of diesel locomotives. It was through such activism that the Air Rail Link was pressured into stopping in Weston rather than barreling straight through. We need continued advocacy to ensure electrification now, not at some future date as well as minimizing disruption to residents. He is also working to bring jobs to the empty Kodak site.

Sullivan is intelligent, articulate and well-informed. As a Weston resident of two decades’ standing, he knows the issues.

We need a strong, knowledgeable, well-spoken advocate for Weston with a proven record of getting things done. Alan Tonks’ would be a great MP for Rosedale where everything is going swimmingly, but Weston is in dire straits and we need someone who can advocate with knowledge, passion, intelligence and forcefulness. The fact that Mike Sullivan is a long-time resident is another plus.

WestonWeb’s endorsement therefore goes to Mike Sullivan.

Fool me once…

Google the phrase ‘Conservative candidates missing from debates 2011’ and you will find a veritable treasure trove of Tory candidates skipping out on debates. Here in York South Weston, Conservative candidate Jilian Saweczko, running against Sonny Day, Mike Sullivan and Alan Tonks has missed the two held so far. Either this is a brazen contempt for voters or an attempt to hide an embarrassing ineptitude at public speaking – neither of which is the hallmark of a suitable candidate.

Perhaps Conservative candidates are taking a page from the playbook of Julian Fantino who, despite a similar absence from all debates, managed to squeak into first place in a by-election held in Vaughan last year. This year, he continues to absent himself hoping to repeat his good fortune.

These two are not alone. All over the country, a disturbing number of Conservative candidates are unwilling to face the people and answer questions. In the end, it is up to voters to judge the meaning of all this but as the old saying goes; Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.