Padovani: TD to keep ATM in Weston for now.

The TD Canada Trust branch at 1979 Weston Road. Note the Rockport rental apartment building in the background that will be home to hundreds of new residents when it opens in the coming months.

Toronto Council candidate Chiara Padovani has managed to wrestle a concession from TD Canada Trust, set to close its 1979 Weston Road branch on September 21. The building’s ATM will remain open for ‘the time being’ after the branch closes. The bank’s WiFi hotspot (who knew?) will not continue past the closing date.

Ms Padovani also wrote to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada; the 120-employee independent agency that according to its own site,

“ensures federally regulated financial entities comply with consumer protection measures, promotes financial education and raises consumers’ awareness of their rights and responsibilities.”

These are the people who sit on their hands while predatory payday loan companies fill the void left by departing bank branches. Apparently they’ve educated the public about those things so it’s ok. In their reply to Ms Padovani’s letter, FCAC alleges that TD provided adequate consultation with the community before announcing the closure. As a result, FCAC won’t compel TD to hold a community meeting.

If a letter announcing the closure counts as adequate consultation, then yes, the community was consulted adequately.

Undaunted, Ms Padovani also tackled TD who have relented somewhat by agreeing to keep the ATM open past the closing date. In the meantime, she is working with TD Canada Trust to set up a permanent ATM in the vicinity.

So far I have received confirmation that the ATM will remain at the current location while they search for a permanent home in the vicinity. While TD is hosting sessions on digital banking and financial literacy in the community, they have not committed to installing a WiFi hub to facilitate the use of such services for people who don’t have access to the Internet.

I’m committed to continue to advocate for accommodations for the members of the community who will be negatively impacted by the bank’s imminent closure.

Access to fair banking and financial services is especially important in Weston, given the increase in predatory lending that has sever consequences on socioeconomic health of our neighbourhood. As a social worker in the community, I’ve seen far too many hardworking people get trapped in debt through pay day lenders.– Chiara Padovani

Read more from the candidate here.

Read Adam’s excellent take on the issues here.

Banking in Canada is regulated federally. Incidentally; crickets from MP Ahmed Hussen’s office on the branch’s closing.

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.

Hussen’s tough week

Ahmed Hussen, our MP, has had a very tough week. First, he was (to my mind, unfairly) criticized for speaking at The Suya Spot, “known as a criminal hangout”. The restaurant, according to the Globe and Mail, “has been frequented by members of the Neo Black Movement – also known as the Black Axe organized-crime group.”

More seriously, Hussen also said that the comments of Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s new Minister of Children, Community, and Social Services, were “not Canadian”. MacLeod had been asking the feds to pay more for illegal/irregular migrants into Canada.

Hussen said “Ontario sadly has chosen the language of fear and division…. They’ve intentionally chosen to use false language with respect to so-called queue jumping…. [It] is irresponsible, it is divisive, it is fear mongering, and it is not Canadian. And it is very dangerous. And that is the politics of fear and division that they have chosen to take. They are regurgitating the politics of fear and division that the Harper Conservatives peddled in Canada.”

MacLeod said she took “great offense” to being called un-Canadian,  said she wouldn’t be “bullied”, and she asked again for the feds to pay for the extra costs the province has borne. Michelle Rempel, Hussen’s federal critic, slammed Hussen—and made the whole situation worse by using even less parliamentary language:

Hussen’s needless combativeness is, unfortunately, in character. He regularly blames opposition politicians for the state of his department (he did so 15 times in just one long day), dodges their questions, and publicly rejects their ideas–even the ones he adopts.

Neither MacLeod nor her comments are unpatriotic. Quite the opposite. Nothing could be more Canadian than her suggestion to “sit down and have a nice cup of tea, calm down a little bit and maybe phone me and apologize”.

Hussen should follow her advice.

Hussen announces summer jobs

Yesterday at Frontlines,  Ahmed Hussen announced 290 summer jobs for Toronto’s at-risk youth. These jobs are in addition to 5700 government-subsidized jobs across the city.

44 jobs are listed today within the riding on the government job bank, including at FoodShare, the LEF, the MDCA, and and the WKNC.

 

Hussen faces “Toy pile of shame” at office

Ahmed Hussen, our MP and the Minister of Immigration, had a ‘toy pile of shame’ outside his office this week. The toys were left there to protest the Canada’s policies against refugee claimants, and children in particular.

Critics, including Amnesty International, are calling on the federal government to rescind the Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires  claimants to seek refugee protection in the first country they land in. They say that the United States is no longer a safe country for refugees, especially in light of the separation of children and parents.

Because the agreement applies only at regular border crossings, tens of thousands of refugee claimants have crossed on foot.