New PC candidate: Mark DeMontis

The Progressive Conservatives have long been total also-rans in York South–Weston, but that looks about to change. Mark DeMontis has announced his candidacy for the PC nomination.

DeMontis, a Westonian, is well known for rollerblading across Canada to raise money for Courage Canada, a charity that helps blind and low-vision people get into hockey. DeMontis was a promising hockey player himself before losing much of his sight in early adulthood.

Past PC candidates have been total duds, and have barely campaigned. DeMontis, by contrast, has been present in the community and has been increasing his presence on Twitter for several months. He may prove a challenge in this traditionally centre-left community.

Nunziata votes for Ford-dome

Frances Nunziata was one of few city councillors to vote to rename Centennial Stadium “Rob Ford Memorial Stadium”. Ford and Nunziata were long-time colleagues and friends before his death.

Image from The Globe and Mail

The motion to rename the stadium was defeated 24 to 11.

Why a minimum wage of $15 will be good for Weston / Mount Dennis.

Note the more than four years of no increase between 2010 and 2014

The chart above shows the modest proposal to boost the Ontario minimum wage as put forward by the Liberals:

$11.40: today’s minimum wage
$11.60: Oct. 1, 2017
$14: Jan. 1, 2018
$15: Jan. 1, 2019

How much would a $15 hourly wage be as an annual salary? Just under $29,000 for someone working an 8-hour day, 20 days a month for 12 months a year. It’s not exactly high living.

Alleged think-tanks like the Fraser Institute claim that as many as 50,000 people will lose their jobs if the MW is elevated to such lofty heights. The Fraser Institute BTW, is one of the many propaganda arms of big business, generously supported by all of us because it has been allowed to call itself a charity. There are also claims that prices will rise as a result. Even the media seems to be repeating (many false) claims of impending doom without checking the facts.

In 2015 about 1.7 million people in Ontario earned less than $15.00 hourly. Incredibly, that’s just under 30% of the workforce. In Weston / Mount Dennis that percentage is likely considerably higher since we are one of the poorest areas of the city.

What we do know is that unlike the rich, poor people don’t send their money to tax havens. They spend it when they get it and largely on local goods and services. Income and sales tax revenues will actually rise as workers will pay more income tax and many may not need to apply for tax credits – a form of government wage subsidy for employers.

A study done last year, reported in the Huffington Post investigated the effects of raising Wal-Mart wages in the U.S. from $10 an hour to $15. The study concluded that revenue for the giant chain would be reduced by $5 Billion annually. Compared to the total annual revenue of $482 Billion, that works out to a hit of about 1%. In other words, raising wages 33% would increase costs less than 1%. Why then doesn’t Wal Mart raise wages? Share prices and dividends might go down.

From: http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/minwage.htm

Australia has a similar economy to ours and currently mandates a minimum wage of $18.29 – somehow, the universe has managed to stay in one piece. Perhaps Australians believe in fairness more than we do.

Our readers might want to tell local MPP Laura Albanese that they support increasing the minimum wage.

Use the link here:

Ontario to stiffen fines for drivers who kill

Gary Sim, image from The Star

Pedestrians and cyclists may be better protected if the province gets passes new bills this fall. Ontario will increase to $50,000 the fine for distracted and careless drivers who cause death, and the move is being lauded by the daughter of Gary Sim, a Mount Dennis man, whose killer faced a $500 fine.

Steven Del Duca said that the new penalties will “send a very clear message to justice and law enforcement” to charge more firmly. The driver who killed Sim was charged only with making an improper turn.

Heather Sim told Matt Galloway that “this is great news”. She said “I couldn’t imagine that you could kill somebody and [a $500 fine] is the maximum you could get…. This guy is just going to get two demerit points and go on as if nothing happened.”

Heather Sim also called for a vulnerable road user act that would differentiate between drivers who hit cars and those who hit pedestrians and cyclists. “A lot of drivers are on the road, and they see a cyclist and feel annoyance or frustration…. A lot of people look at it as if it’s supposed to be the cyclist who’s supposed to get out of the way”, she said.

Del Duca has also made driving high on marijuana more punishable, creating a zero-tolerance policy for young, new, and commercial drivers.

GTA Transit Planning Revealed.

From bms.co.in

The latest news of how transit gets built in this area comes as no surprise to most people in the GTA.  In the latest outrage, straight from the manual of how to operate a corrupt government, Provincial Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca possibly acting in a craven bid to keep his own seat, seems to have pressured Metrolinx into approving two unnecessary GO stations. One in his riding and another $25 million station which was (literally) forged into existence, in order to satisfy (Rob Ford in sheep’s clothing) Mayor Tory’s ill-conceived SmartTrack needs. With a wink and a nod to voters in next June’s election, Del Duca could point to the $100 million GO station as a reason to re-elect him. One might speculate that the March resignation of Bruce McCuaig was a reaction to this nonsense, knowing that the truth would eventually come out.

This chart illustrates the weekly passenger loads on TTC lines and routes. The downtown relief line would serve four times as many people as a Scarborough Subway. Click to enlarge. From reliefline.ca

The $3.35 billion, one-stop Scarborough Subway is another example of how transit planning is perverted by politicians for their own re-election purposes. Torontonians will be paying for that white elephant for the next 50 years while knowing that a much better LRT was already planned and paid for. Line 1 is overcrowded with 731,000 passengers weekly. Line 3 has only 40,000. In the meantime, politicians like Glenn de Bearemaeker and John Tory stick to the same nonsense that Scarborough deserves a subway. Even our own councillor, Frances Nunziata supports this obscenity presumably because she wants to Tory to keep her on as Council Speaker.

Closer to home, the UP Express was originally designed to be built privately and run non-stop to the airport. It was going to cost taxpayers nothing while barreling at high speed through our neighbourhood. Luckily the community got involved in the form of the people of Weston and the Clean Train Coalition. As a result of community pressure, Weston got its own station and a tunnel was built to put some of the line below grade. In spite of common sense, we’re still stuck with the CP tracks not going in the tunnel with the other lines, broken links between streets like John Street and a sell-off of the old GO parking lot for development without any community input. On the plus side, we now have an inexpensive, quick and frequent train to the airport and downtown but in fairness, no politician planned this; it was forced on them by community pressure.

Sadly, most politicians will do whatever they need to do in order to get elected. Public vigilance and pressure is the only answer. Being well informed and vocal is in every citizen’s best interest.

From Smart Citizen Engagement – Power to Sense: Dr Mazlan Abbas. Keynote Presentation at Asia Pacific Smart City Forum 2016

There is an old saying that war is too important to be left to the generals. Along the same lines, governing is too important to be left to politicians. Demanding and participating in community consultation events has never been more important. Especially since there is about to be a huge surge in redevelopment in Weston. Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat’s resignation on Monday will only serve to stress the importance of informed citizen input.

Killer faces $500 fine

A 62-year-old man was charged with an improper right turn, and faces a $500 fine.

That improper turn killed Gary Sim, 70, of Mount Dennis, who was riding his bike on Jane Street. Sim died in hospital on July 2.

Is there a pro-car bias baked into the legal system? Heather Sim, the victim’s daughter, says so.

“If I was walking down the street swinging a lead pipe and hit someone, I’d be (facing an) assault charge … You just not paying attention and hitting people (with your car) doesn’t mean it’s anything more than a Highway Traffic Act charge,” she said.

Even the police think this is wrong. The Star says we could have a vulnerable road-user law, which would increase penalties for motorists who kill pedestrians or cyclists.

The province has been looking into this possibility for more than a year.

 

A tale of two wards.

Councillor Pam McConnell. (from Twitter.com)

The recent and untimely death of Councillor Pam McConnell brought forth an outpouring of tributes. Many remembered her service to the community and the great things a determined councillor can achieve in a Toronto ward. Ms. McConnell may have represented Rosedale but she consistently voted to defend her poorest constituents, not the richest. She also fought hard to improve the public domain rather than work for private interests.

We can view Ms. McConnell’s recent voting record through a handy grid compiled by Toronto blogger Matt Elliott. The Google Docs spreadsheet itemizes how each Toronto councillor voted on important topics over the past few years. As part of the grid, Mr. Elliott also keeps a scorecard on how each councillor’s overall votes align with those of our right-leaning Mayor John Tory – recently described by some wags as ‘Rob Ford in sheep’s clothing’.

Ms. McConnell it turns out, voted with the Mayor only 41.5% of the time. In contrast, our own Councillor Nunziata voted with the Mayor a remarkable 92.5% of the time; more than anyone else on council. That’s loyalty but at what cost to the people in York South-Weston?

Mr. Elliott’s scorecard can be found at this link.