Small beige wave’s a comin’

From surfysurfy.net

With great uncertainty and mixed polls, the October 21 general election is anyone’s to win or lose. After nearly four years of a Trudeau Liberal government, local MP, Ahmed Hussen is hoping for a second term. During the last election, a dump Harper movement coincided with a charismatic photogenic new Liberal leader. If that wasn’t enough, the NDP leader talked more like a Red Tory than the rabid socialist his opponents would have preferred. People had their doubts about Trudeau but gave him a chance and he won a majority government.

As the next election looms, the NDP and Tories have new, young leaders – Trudeau at 47 is the old man to Singh’s and Scheer’s 40 – even though Andrew Scheer is looking more and more like a young version of one of his Tory predecessors – John Diefenbaker.

A return to the good old days of Dief the Chief?

Sadly, this time around, there is no clear and compelling reason to vote for any of the three main leaders (realistically, neither the Green Party’s Elizabeth May nor the People’s Party’s Maxime Bernier will form a government). During the last election campaign, Trudeau made and later ignored important promises. His promise of electoral reform was broken when the party realized that it meant fewer elected Liberals. On the Aboriginal file, he’s been less than stellar but in fairness the job is monumental and will take a lot more effort, time and money to deliver. Other negatives are his virtue signalling prissy mode, the firing of two cabinet ministers and his cringe-worthy trip to India. Justin’s costume changes are gifts that will keep on giving during the campaign. On the plus side, he’s almost universally hated in the prairie provinces.

Trudeau’s major achievements are that he legalized cannabis, instituted a carbon tax and didn’t give away the (non-dairy) farm during NAFTA negotiations.

Under-dressed Bollywood star, Shah Rukh Khan meets er, the Prime Minister of Canada.

In the meantime, Andrew Scheer promises to be the reddest Tory ever and wants us to believe he would fail to pick out Doug Ford in a police line-up.

Leading the NDP is Jagmeet Singh, a dynamic and charming man who, judging by recent polls, is failing to connect with the people of Canada. Fundraising is also becoming an issue for the NDP and a lack of money will hurt them in the final stretch of the campaign.

York South-Weston has been a Liberal riding since its formation in 1979 with two brief exceptions. Liberal John Nunziata (and brother of Councillor Frances Nunziata) was kicked out of the party and sat as an independent from 1996 – 2000 and more recently, Mike Sullivan unseated multi-term Alan Tonks in the Jack Layton propelled orange wave of 2011.

To win in York South-Weston therefore, it takes a compelling candidate plus a small red wave, large orange wave or a never before seen blue tsunami. Interestingly, for the 2019 election, it looks like a small beige wave is on the way. This should favour the incumbent.

The major candidates:

Incumbent Liberal Ahmed Hussen is currently making up for lost time in the riding and has increased his local presence considerably in the past few weeks.  He has adopted the ‘meet, greet and feed’ style of Doug Ford in his latest encounters with constituents.


Mr Hussen has the power of incumbency. As Immigration Minister (and first ever Somali-Canadian in Cabinet), he has travelled extensively and rubbed shoulders with international leaders (not all of them savoury). His background is compelling having arrived in Canada as a refugee. Being a rookie MP and a cabinet minister is not for the faint of heart and Mr. Hussen seems to have coped well with the huge learning curve presented to him. I get the feeling his ambitions go beyond a cabinet appointment. On the negative side, Minister Hussen seems to run a pretty aloof and unresponsive operation and doesn’t live in the riding.

Yafet Tewelde is Ahmed Hussen’s main challenger. He has a solid organization and strong connections to YSW, not just as a resident. He’s been politically active in the community for a while. Mr. Tewelde is well educated and immigrated to Canada from Eritrea. Style wise, he’s as charming and talkative as Ahmed Hussen is quiet and reserved.

Tory nominee Dr. Jasveen Rattan is a successful and well-educated candidate with a compelling story having come to Canada as an infant. Her PhD is in recreation and leisure studies and she has been active as an organizer in provincial and civic politics.

Mr. Tewelde will need to run an exceptional campaign and Jagmeet Singh will need to connect with voters Jack Layton style in order to return York South-Weston into the NDP fold. Without that, it looks as if Ahmed Hussen will win another four year mandate.

As for Dr. Rattan, based on past results and barring a miracle, York South-Weston’s seat will have to be be a long term goal for her. The Harper years failed to register in YSW. She will need to make herself known during this campaign and stick around if she hopes to capture the seat in 2023 0r 2027.

Streety McStreetface

From nzherald.co.nz

A while back according to BlogTO, Toronto residents were asked to submit possible street names for the reconfigured Six Points area where Bloor, Kipling and Dundas used to merge in the form of a 1960’s dystopian mini expressway. The dystopian part is being demolished and replaced with some new streets and the city wants us to help with the naming via an online survey. Six hundred names were originally submitted by the public and the short list (chosen by city staff) is to say the least, interesting and contains a controversial name.

One of the contenders for your vote is the late local councillor and Mayor Rob Ford. According to the CBC, Rob Ford’s name was submitted for consideration, “…with a signed consent form from a representative of the Ford family”.

As if to steer voting towards the Premier’s brother, few of the remaining nine choices are compelling and even include the names of living people.

Here’s the list:

  1. Adobigok (Missisauga First Nation Word from which Etobicoke is derived.)
  2. Wadoopikang (Another Mississauga First Nation word – both mean, ‘Place where the alders grow’.)
  3. Biindagen (An Ojibway word – means ‘welcome’ or ‘come in’.)
  4. Darwyn Cooke (DC Comics artist and Etobicoke resident who died in 2016.)
  5. Diversity (From Toronto’s motto, ‘Diversity is our Strength’.)
  6. Jerry Howarth (Former Blue Jays broadcaster and current Etobicoke resident.)
  7. Dr. Judith Pilowsky (Etobicoke-based clinical psychologist.)
  8. Rob Ford (The late former Toronto councillor and mayor.)
  9. Westwood Theatre (A nondescript movie theatre in the Six Points area that was demolished in 1998.)
  10. Dr. W.K Fenton (Former Etobicoke medical Officer of Health 1938-1954.)

I must say, I’m not a fan of naming anything after people, living or dead. One era’s model citizens are the next era’s pariahs.

Sadly, we’ll never know if Streety McStreetface was a contender but I’m betting more than a few submitted the name.

Regardless, once the public has voted, city staff will determine the winners (just in case we haven’t voted the right way).

Vote for your completely representative choice here.

Amber Alerts: a wake-up call

From CityNews

Most of us have smart phones and unless we turn them off or put them in airplane mode overnight, we’re going to be awakened by an Amber Alert occurring anywhere in the province. To me this is overkill. Other jurisdictions have managed to allow opting out of the alerts or containing them to regions. Not so in Canada. Each province can only issue a province-wide alert.

My heart bleeds when some unfortunate child goes missing in Thunder Bay, Ottawa or Windsor but there’s very little I can do from my bed here in Greater Weston™; especially when police wait until 3 am to wake me and ask me to do their job. Yes, there may be compelling examples of how an AA has saved a life but they are extremely rare. In most cases, alerts are triggered by a parental dispute with little danger to the child.

People annoyed at being awakened by an Amber Alert are made to feel like pariahs. Don’t get me wrong; if you call 911 because you’re mad at being awakened by an AA, it’s official; you’re an idiot. Most of us don’t call 911 to complain but there’s a considerable body of opinion that only heartless douches resent being awakened.

Call me old-fashioned but I like a good night’s sleep. A solid 7 or 8 hours is important for us so-called adults in order to function effectively the next day. Indeed, population-wide sleep disturbances are dangerous. How do we know this? Each spring after the clocks go forward, the loss of an hour’s sleep boosts heart attack and road accident rates significantly (7% and 17% respectively).

In effect, Amber Alerts may kill more people than they save.

The fix: either restrict alerts to daytime hours or (to accommodate shift workers) allow people to opt out while asleep.

Oh and one more thing; cut the sanctimony.

More thoughts on distracted pedestrians

Screengrab from toronto.ctvnews.ca

I’ve often said that the most dangerous thing anyone can do in Weston is walk across the street. It’s true; 40 pedestrians in Toronto were killed last year in the second full year of Zero Vision Vision Zero. Many more suffered life altering injuries. This is the initiative designed to bring Toronto’s annual traffic-related carnage to zero fatalities by 2021.

So far, Vision Zero has been an abject failure – pedestrian fatalities rose from 37 to 40 between 2017 and 2018.

Vision Zero faces an uphill battle in our city with its woefully inadequate public transit and streets designed to favour cars. Many suburban car owners opt to drive downtown rather than suffer a longer and less comfortable time on Toronto’s poorly planned and overcrowded transit system. These drivers want clearer streets, higher speed limits and no pesky buses, cyclists or pedestrians getting in the way.

Many motor-minded folks put the blame for traffic collisions squarely on inattentive pedestrians and cyclists. They also blame them for not wearing appropriately coloured clothing. This is the school of thought that says pedestrians and cyclists should wear glow-in-the-dark fluorescent clothing while cyclists should be licensed and insured, wear bright orange and pay road tax. As Adam says, they blame the victims.

When pedestrians and cyclists are inattentive, they largely put themselves at risk. Inattentive motorists pose a risk to all road users. 1600 kilos of metal travelling at 60 km/h is far more dangerous than 100 kilos of flesh and bone walking at 6 km/h or even 26 km/h on a bike. Mathematically, the onus for care and attention should be at hundreds of times greater on the motorist than the pedestrian but somehow drivers feel the obligation is an equal one. (Mathematical purists – I understand the speed thing makes the multiple even higher but I’m on a roll here. Please feel free to calculate a better answer.)

From Toronto.com

What about pedestrians crossing the road away from a designated crossing? This is perfectly legal 30 metres or more from a crossing or intersection. Motorists should expect to see pedestrians crossing the road between intersections and drive accordingly.

What about the people being killed? The vast majority are in Scarborough where speed limits are generally higher. They are also predominantly older – not nimble enough to make it across in time. As the old saying goes; speed kills. A reduction in the speed of traffic is a big answer to traffic injuries and fatalities.

From Pressreader.com. Click to enlarge.

Finally:

  • This is clearly an equity issue (not just for seniors) and one that should have top priority.
  • Toronto Council has failed for years to build the bike lanes that it has approved. The current pace has averaged a dismal 20 km annually. There’s a fresh set of such promises for 2019 and beyond (they claim this time they mean it).
  • North America’s safest city is Montréal. We should study what they do there. For example, Montréal’s bike network exceeds 350 km compared to Toronto’s pitiful and disjointed <150 km.
  • The disturbing uptick in fatalities may be caused by drivers attending to their phones. There needs to be a solution to this problem. Perhaps technology is the answer.
  • Councillor Nunziata was responsible for establishing a committee which came up with an awesome action plan to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists (in old Ward 11). Many of the recommendations are excellent and hopefully they will be updated to include old Ward 12 and implemented asap. Ms. Nunziata is taking predictable flak for supporting bike lanes on Scarlett Road south of Eglinton. She should be applauded for this initiative.

Weston GO and UP Express numbers may drop

The UP Express at Weston Station. (file)

Back in 2011, Weston Web reported that the old Weston Station on John Street used to see about 450 trips daily (weekdays only). That would translate into about 225 people using the station.

Metrolinx published Weston’s passenger numbers for UP Ex and GO last April and they were up sharply thanks to a $1.50 subsidy for people making one journey using both the GO and TTC (courtesy of the Kathleen Wynne government). This was possible only for passengers using the much loved Presto Card.

The latest figures from April show that between April 2018 and January 2019, GO passenger numbers increased by 21% while UP Ex numbers were up 15.8%. Weston station sees about 1100 GO trips daily while UP Ex has about 940. That’s about 1000 people daily going through Weston Station which is a huge increase from the 225 in 2011.

With the recent announcement that the Ford government will drop the subsidy, there is concern that people will get back in their cars and drive.

Metrolinx claims it is willing to throw in 75¢ of the rebate if the city of Toronto will throw in the other half of the rebate but as usual, Toronto, in its 227th year of austerity, is pleading poverty.

Over to you Councillors Nunziata and Holyday.

 

Whose party is it anyway?

July 1 preparations in Lions Park this morning.

Did you ever get an invitation to a party where you are footing the bill?

You have now. Toronto city councillor Frances Nunziata and MP Ahmed Hussen have sent invitations to ‘their’ party – that you are paying for.

Nunziata’s reads,

I am thrilled to co-host my first Amesbury Canada Day in Amesbury Park from 12-10PM. Mayor Tory will be stopping by for the fun. Flea market opens at 9 AM. Fireworks show at 9:45PM!

I am also hosting my annual Canada Day party in Weston Lions Park from 5-10:30 PM. Fireworks at 10 PM!

Bring your family for all the food, fun, and celebration!
I look forward to seeing you at one (or both!) of these exciting events!

Hussen’s goes like this,

I am hosting my annual Canada Day party at Weston Lions Park (Weston Road and Lawrence Ave W) from 5pm-10:30 PM. I warmly invite you to bring the whole family for an evening of food, fun, and celebration! There will be food trucks, inflatable rides, and entertainment for all. Be sure stick around for the fireworks show at 10 PM! I can’t wait to see everyone there!

At least MPP Faisal Hassan isn’t claiming credit for your Canada Day celebrations.

Let’s hope we’re not at the banana republic stage where politicians have to dispense largesse in order to stay in office.

Oh wait; Doug Ford. Peel me a $20!