Voter turnout 45% in October 7 election.

As analysts begin poring over the chicken entrails disgorged in Thursday’s elections, a sad announcement was made here on Weston Web. Paul Ferreira will likely quit politics as a result of this election. His shock announcement came in response to Weston Web readers yesterday.

What are we to make of this election? No doubt the full story will be told over the next few days. A quick rundown of the numbers from Elections Ontario using April’s eligible voter numbers gives an approximate (and unofficial) view of the voter turnout and percentage of the total number of voters in the riding (68,978 in April).

  • Laura Albanese..(L)…20.1%
  • Paul Ferreira..(NDP).18.9%
  • Lan Daniel..(PC)……..5.02%
  • Keith Jarrett..(G)……..0.6%

Total votes cast: 31,043

Approximate voter turnout: 45%. This is even lower than the dismal 51% in April in which Mike Sullivan defeated incumbent Alan Tonks. With so much at stake for Ontario’s second poorest riding, one must ask why voters couldn’t be bothered to move themselves to vote. Lord knows we have enough compelling issues – lack of jobs, poverty, atrocious rental housing, lack of decent transportation, large numbers of diesel trains about to pollute the area – the list goes on and on. The winning candidate only seemed to come to life and muster up some fighting spirit for the election and will no doubt slip back into obscurity once the dust settles.

So the bottom line is, a winning political candidate in York South Weston only needs to convince about 1 in 5 eligible voters to get out and mark an x.

That is truly pathetic.

Bending The Rails

Over 60 people attended last night’s showing of Jeff Winch’s documentary ‘Bending The Rails’, which is about the plan to operate 140 diesel trains daily along the line that runs through the middle of Weston. Jeff’s documentary style is reminiscent of Michael Moore. In addition the inclusion of his daughter, Nellie, is used to highlight the vulnerability of people living along the rail corridor who will be affected by the increase in noise and air pollution. A picture emerges of an organized political effort to minimize these effects along with a stubborn refusal to consider electrification of the line anytime soon, even though electrification would be cheaper in the long run, allow faster transportation times, quieter and far less polluting. The driving force behind the line seems to be the 2015 Pan Am games. Even though the games will only last for two weeks, the airport link will be with us for a long time.

Afterwards, Jeff and York South-Weston MP Mike Sullivan (who once headed up the Clean Train Coalition) answered questions about the topic of the movie. Also present was Paul Ferreira, NDP candidate in Thursday’s Provincial Election.

Mike Sullivan (L) and Jeff Winch answer audience questions.

Mike Sullivan’s Latest Commons Remarks

Our newest MP Mike Sullivan continues to advocate for York South-Weston in his latest remarks yesterday in the House of Commons. Despite having to be corrected for not addressing his remarks to the Speaker – a common rookie mistake apparently, he certainly told MPs about the riding, its large manufacturing base that has disappeared and the problems facing the area. Here are the relevant links to his speeches:

On the forest industry:

The economy and York South-Weston:

The banking industry, corporations and taxation:

On the Buy America policy:

On electrification of the Airport Rail Link:

Bending The Rails

Just a quick reminder that the movie ‘Bending The Rails’ will be screened tonight at Weston Park Baptist Church (1871 Weston Road). The movie covers the proposal to run diesel trains between Union Station and Pearson Airport. There is no charge for admission and in addition, the maker of this documentary, Jeff Winch and MP Mike Sullivan will be there to answer questions.

Time: 7:00 – 9:00pm.

Pot To Kettle…

Just a brief update to the story regarding a pamphlet issued by Mike Sullivan. According to Paul Ferreira,

“…no one objected when the former MP (Alan Tonks) regularly featured the current MPP (Laura Albanese) in his newsletters both *before* and since the 2007 election.”

If this is the case it would seem that this is an arbitrary complaint about something practised by both sides.

Candidate Ferreira adds,

“I think our Liberal friends should spend more time focussing on what’s important to local residents, than creating distractions to suit their interests.”

With York South-Weston in the shape it is, there are far more pressing issues and ideas to wrestle with. As for the originator of the complaint, Liberal MP for York West Judy Sgro, it seems she has had her own experience of breaking the rules.

This article was updated to correct an earlier version that misquoted Paul Ferreira. I apologize for the error.

Weston Losing Its Split Personality

As a result of Toronto Police Service boundary changes, from Monday, September 26 Weston will no longer be split into two police divisions. 12 Division’s new northern boundary will now be Highway 401. This makes a lot of sense as Weston will no longer straddle two jurisdictions. This should lead to better coordination of effort north and south of the old boundary on Lawrence Avenue West. 12 Division’s southern boundary also moves north and will now be along St Clair rather than the CP line. Read the press release here.


TAVIS – Another Viewpoint.

A disturbing incident came to my attention yesterday.

A friend of mine, let’s call him Bruce, is a keen wildlife photographer. Bruce was in Lions Park by the Humber footbridge last Thursday, intent on photographing an elusive heron. Four young men walked by and two of the men got chatting to Bruce and eventually asked him if he would take their photograph and email it to them. As the two and Bruce gathered around the camera to see the image, there was a sudden skidding sound as six police officers on bikes (from the TAVIS program) swooped down and surrounded them. They asked ‘What’s going on?’ and searched one of the young men and his backpack, finding a tiny quantity of marijuana. He was arrested and placed in handcuffs. Meanwhile, the other young man became indignant at this breach of Charter rights and voluntarily stripped to his underwear in frustration and to demonstrate that he had nothing to hide.

The attention then turned to Bruce who was asked by one of the officers ‘What exactly are you photographing?’ Bruce felt intimidated by the officer, the question, and indeed the whole incident – and feared for his own personal safety if he said anything or intervened to protest the treatment of the young man. He had the impression that this was a way of filling an arrest quota. As if the six officers weren’t enough to keep order, a seventh arrived, also on a bike. Bruce beat a hasty retreat.

Apparently, possession of small amounts of marijuana is now treated as a serious crime and no longer regarded as a minor violation. No doubt this will be thrown out of court in two or three years when the judge finally hears of this breach of the young man’s right not to be subjected to arbitrary search and seizure. In the meantime, this charge will hang over the young man’s head.

The headline to this story could have been ‘Armed Gang Intimidates Park Visitors’. Although slightly misleading, it is the absolute truth from the viewpoint of the people involved. Readers might understand the story better with the additional information that the only white people in this incident were on bikes.

What to make of this? Is such behaviour acceptable on the part of police officers? Is this racial profiling? Do we know the whole story? – probably not but the optics are not good. Would young white men have been subjected to this treatment? I doubt it very much.

The TAVIS program, in addition to reducing major crime and increasing safety is designed to enhance public trust and confidence and build relationships. It is hard to see what the harassment of these young men has accomplished other than inducing fear and mistrust.

When I was growing up, a long time ago, police officers walked the beat on their own and built relationships with business owners and people they met along the way every day – not just during a barbecue and photo op. Not being in groups, individual officers could spread far and wide, covering a large area in each shift. Their presence was enough to detect and deter much criminal activity and to be a set  of eyes and ears on the street. Nowadays, such policing is considered old-fashioned and perhaps requires a modicum of courage from the participants that today’s police academy graduates are no longer willing or able to provide. Evidently it’s OK to ask firefighters to put their lives on the line but police officers need to be in a posse in order to feel safe.

As Weston Web has pointed out, crime in Weston is no higher in here than elsewhere in Toronto. We live in a safe community where rates of crime continue to drop. To receive an influx of police officers during the summer was a fabulous opportunity to build bridges and humanize the face of policing. Tragically, incidents like this one destroy any good will that might have been created.