YSW NDP holds fundraiser

Yafet Tewelde is the York South-Weston New Democratic Party candidate running to unseat Liberal MP and Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen in October’s federal election. In a short upbeat speech yesterday, the candidate outlined the major platform planks and stressed that the riding is hungry for change after Liberals’ broken promises and ambiguous messaging on green energy. The event was held in a beautiful back yard overlooking the Humber in glorious weather.

Campaign Manager Riley Peterson asking for volunteers and donations before introducing the candidate.
Yafet Tewelde addresses supporters in a beautiful backyard setting on Saturday.

There’s a lot of time between now and voting day on October 29 but the local party seems ready, organized and enthusiastic.

York Memo students moving to Scarlett Heights

After the devastating fire(s) at York Memorial C.I., students have been accommodated in empty space at nearby George Harvey C.I. Despite the convenience of the temporary accommodation being so close, Memo students apparently weren’t happy sharing and so beginning in September, they will be moving to the former Scarlett Heights Academy at 15 Trehorne Drive in Etobicoke. This will be an added commute for the thousand or so staff and students but the school was empty and apart from repairs for some water damage, should be ready in September.

The routes from York Memo to Scarlett Heights. From Google Maps. Click to enlarge.

Walking that distance takes over an hour and cycling is too dangerous given our lack of cycle lanes. What this will do to Weston’s traffic and transit remains to be seen but fast food outlets in the Royal York Plaza will no doubt be pleased.

Heads roll after Doug Ford’s audio opinion polls.

Apparently Doug Ford doesn’t like being booed. His reception at several public events has shown that he’s strongly disliked – even by once loyal supporters. His approval rating is now lower than Kathleen Wynne’s – at her absolute lowest point – quite an achievement in such a short time.

Instead of reflecting on this, the Premier is blaming the people to whom he gave impossible tasks.

Today’s cabinet shuffle demotes some of his most ardent (and obedient) followers who made the mistake of taking Mr. Ford at his word. Having issued no platform before last year’s election, the Premier issued directives only in superlatives and what’s a rookie cabinet minister to do except adopt the tone that has no doubt pervaded caucus and cabinet meetings i.e. cut taxes, eliminate waste, decimate bleeding heart projects and keep people happy with more accessible booze.

A steamroller approach was encouraged based seemingly on, ’What would Don Cherry do?’. Less than a year later, Ford Nation is in tatters and the Premier gets an audio opinion poll anytime he appears in public. His federal counterpart, Andrew Scheer wants no help from toxic Doug in the upcoming election and Ford has agreed to lie low, obligingly shuttering Queens Park until the end of October – after the federal election. That must hurt.

Over the past few months, Ford’s cabinet has dutifully picked fights with autistic children and their parents, public servants, safe injection sites, minimum wage earners, municipalities, the Beer Store and many others. In the meantime, Ford ended the Carbon Tax and halted tax increases thinking that this would endear him to the people. What this did was lower revenues and make things harder for Fedeli whose budget spending went higher than Kathleen Wynne’s the previous year.

The Premier promised that not one job would be lost as a result of his ‘efficiencies’. Now he says he meant, ‘Not one front line job’ (whatever those are). He apparently didn’t mean cabinet jobs.

Big names demoted today were Lisa Thompson (Education), Lisa Macleod (Community and Social Services) and Vic Fedeli (Finance), Even Caroline Mulroney wasn’t spared, being moved from the prestigious silks of the Attorney General position to the greasy overalls of Transportation. No doubt Mulroney Senior along with other Conservatives is furious.

Nobody claimed that everything was good in the Kathleen Wynne government. Lord knows we needed a change. Few would have predicted that Ford would fall on his face this early.

There are three years left in the P.C. government’s mandate; they won’t be dull and if perceptions don’t improve, the Ontario Conservative movement will be set back for decades. The question is, can the P.C. Party dump Ford and install a new leader before 2022?

That’s probably their only hope.

Hussen blames anyone, everyone, but never himself

Three-and-a-half years into his four-year term, our MP, Ahmed Hussen, continues to avoid responsibility for his department’s abject failures.

Hussen was under fire (again) for bungling the chaotic rollout of the family reunification program. Some applicants sued the government because they were locked out of the computerized registration system that closed after only 9 minutes. The plaintiffs were quietly offered residency in exchange for dropping the suits.

Michelle Rempel asked Hussen whether this is any way to run an immigration system (it is not). He said that they’re doing a bang-up job (they are not), and that they have cleaned up a mess left by the Conservatives (they have not).

Transcript

In follow-up questions, Rempel gave Hussen the facts. He further embarrassed himself by avoiding the questions and—again—saying the Conservatives, who have not been in power for three years, were worse.

Transcript

Hussen has a tough job, and he has also done it terribly. That is beside the point. In the House, Hussen continues to reveal a deep character flaw: he is immature.

Grown men make mistakes and accept responsibility. They do not blame the other ‘team’ for their losses; they blame themselves—especially when the stakes are so high. They improve, grow, and strive to do better by the people who trust them, as well as the people who don’t.

Ahmed Hussen needs to learn this to deserve the position of Minister.

Our MP is not rising to his station. He’s flailing and falling far beneath it.

WVRA hosts AGM in Weston Hub

On Tuesday May 14, the Weston Village Residents’ Association held its annual general meeting inside the new Weston Hub. The Hub interior still needs some final touches but is essentially complete. Landscaping is a work in progress but it’s coming along nicely and will be ready for next year. The official opening is on May 25th and 26th.

WVRA Chair Dave Bennett opened by talking about some of the ‘heat’ encountered when the Hub was proposed. This was later echoed by Councillor Nunziata.

For some warm reading go here, here, here and here.

You’re welcome Dave and Frances.

This area will house the Farmers Market next year. (click to enlarge).
Landscaping work has been done at the Hub entrance. Note the bridge connecting the multi-storey parking lot to the rental building.

The new space easily accommodated the 50+ people in attendance. LoriAnn Givran from Artscape, talked about the new facilities, Marlene Mackintosh from UrbanArts and Michael Kelly from Shakespeare in Action introduced themselves and the programs that they offer.

The highlight of the evening was to be a presentation from former Toronto Chief Planner Paul Bedford but because of illness, Mr. Bedford was absent but ably represented by colleague and Urban Lands Institute Executive Director Richard Joy. The presentation dealt with the ULI Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) Report tabled last August.

From the TAP report (Click to enlarge).

Richard dealt with the five big ideas from the report, namely,

  • Promote and plan Weston as a riverfront community
  • Market Weston as an affordable commercial and residential location for airport workers
  • Bring a brewery to Weston
  • Build partnerships with Universities and Colleges
  • Establish a co-op grocery store.

Later, Councillor Frances Nunziata spoke and talked about local issues including the upcoming paving of Weston Road and widening of sidewalks in the stretch between Lawrence and Little Avenue.

Sidewalks along this stretch of Weston Road are being widened.
Sidewalks along this stretch of Weston Road are not being widened. Go figure.

During the break, some mouth-watering goodies were available (well done Suri) and attendees enjoyed a tour of the new facilities.

A conference room.
One of the two large event rooms.
The lobby of the Weston Hub; WVRA Chair Dave Bennett (3rd from R) talks to residents.
The lobby – entranceway.
Michael Kelly of Shakespeare In Action speaks to the audience in the main presentation space.

Some aspiring politicians were in attendance including Yafet Tewelde and Chiara Padovani.

Chiara Padovani and brand new WVRA member Ryan Demchuk chat during the break.

It was a busy evening with lots of information – to hear a recording of the full meeting click the two links below:

Audio Part 1

Audio Part 2

Subways, Subways, Subways!

Here in Greater Weston™, a whole other set of politicians cater to our needs. Our MPP on this side of the river (Etobicoke Centre) is Kinga Surma . In her latest flyer, she announces, ‘The government is tunnelling the Eglinton Crosstown’.

She continues,

“Since I have been the MPP for Etobicoke Centre, I made a commitment to all of you that I would fight to tunnel the Eglinton Crosstown to the airport. Since last June, I met with the Premier, the Minister of Transportation and Metrolinx to emphasize the importance of providing Etobicoke residents with fast, reliable public transit; one that did not add to the congestion on Eglinton. We worked together for months to plan and budget a regional transportation system; something the residents of Etobicoke, Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area have been waiting for.

We are tunnelling the Eglinton Crosstown and we are building subways!

I will always fight for the people of Etobicoke Centre.

I want to thank you for your support throughout this process.”

Although Premier Ford has made it clear that tunnelling the westward extension of the Eglinton Crosstown is his preferred option, I can’t recall a government announcement that such a decision has been made.

If this is a done deal, there’s going to be a whole lot of money and time needed – plus some razzle dazzle from the Premier himself. Oh and perhaps the slight formality of an updated environmental assessment, further community consultation and finding the ‘efficiencies’ that will finance this endeavour.

Lastly, if Doug Ford doesn’t win the next Ontario general election in 2022, will appeasing Tory voters along the Eglinton corridor be on the next government’s priority list? It’s doubtful, so let’s not get too excited.

Sadly, transit decisions in this city and province are still made through election campaign napkin planning.

Gun buy-back program is deeply flawed.

Image result for gun amnesty
From myespanolanow.com

Toronto police and politicians would like to get guns off the streets. Quite correctly, the thinking is that reducing the number of guns in the city will reduce crime.

In response to this, Toronto Police are currently operating a gun buy-back program that will continue until May 17. The idea is to pay cash ($200 – $350) for guns so that they can’t be used in criminal acts. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea. Could such a program reduce the number of guns in criminal hands? Sadly, not the way Toronto’s doing it.

Residents wishing to participate are asked to call police to come to their residence and pick up a surplus weapon(s). Criminals having second thoughts about a life of crime are not likely to do this. Since the program is targeting legally held guns, the only people likely to participate are collectors and owners who want to make a bit of extra cash.

Sadly, the vast number of guns in the wrong hands will remain where they are, untouched by the program.

If the City and Toronto Police are serious about getting guns out of criminal hands, they need to hold a gun amnesty. Other police forces have done this; there’s no need to re-invent the wheel.

As it stands, the current buy-back plan is laughable.