Jury list in York South–Weston is the worst in the city

The Colten Boushie case has brought jury composition squarely into public debate. Now, The Star has shown that Weston and Mount Dennis have profoundly “broken” jury lists that place far more white people than visible minorities on juries.

York South–Weston has the worst disparity in the city between population and jury representation. 95% of our residents are missing for the jury pool.

The jury rolls are drawn from property ownership lists, and “renters, boarders, students, seniors, spouses who are not named on property titles, transient and low-income people, Indigenous people and those unable to afford property” are often excluded.

A Fordian slip

Mark DeMontis, the York–South Weston candidate for the Progressive Conservatives, has switched his allegiance back to Patrick Brown.

Initially a supporter, DeMontis endorsed Doug Ford when Brown resigned. After reflecting on his values, and now that Patrick Brown has reëntered the race, DeMontis has reëndorsed him—and, somewhat awkwardly, scrubbed his Twitter feed clean.

DeMontis is gambling that he won’t be left at the doorstep without a corsage, however: according to The Globe, “Party officials are examining the possibility of rejecting [Patrick Brown’s] application to run for the leadership”.

Keswick Coffee to open February 28

Weston’s newest coffee shop will open February 28–and that was fast! Keswick Coffee, on the corner of Little and Weston, will be offering $1 coffee all day.

Competition for the caffeine market is hopping up, with three coffee shops on one block. Matti’s has hung its shingle, and Perfect Blend is across the street. This is going to be great!

Thanks to M for the tip!

Hub News: Weston Common partners announced

UrbanArts and Shakespeare in Action were announced this week as being program partners for the Weston Common  community cultural hub coming on John Street.  UrbanArts develops the creative assets of artists and residents and has worked locally for years from its two locations on the other side of John Street and in Mount Dennis.

Shakespeare in Action is a non-profit professional theatre company dedicated to spreading knowledge of the characters, language, and the stories of Shakespeare’s works through a variety of one-off school workshops or longer term internships.

Both groups will bring a positive and youth oriented vibe to the Hub while promising benefits for the whole community.

The two organizations hope to be installed in their new location this fall.

Artists interested in the Live / Work studios may add their name to a waitlist here.


Income inequality linked to crime.

From Bizarro.com

Here in Weston / Mount Dennis, a significant percentage of our population earns less than the average Toronto resident. In addition, we have more single parent households (30%, compared to the Toronto average of 21%).

How can these statistics be improved? Gentrification is often thought to be the answer. Unfortunately it can force low income people out through higher rents and property prices. This is happening across Toronto and simply shifts the problem to other areas. It does nothing to help people – in fact by forcing them to move, their lives are further disrupted. A better and more humane way is to support individuals so that they can pull themselves out of poverty. It also benefits society as a whole.

A review of studies in 2013 concluded that:

a decrease in income inequality is associated with sizeable reduction in crime. It is evident that a focus on reducing income inequality can be advantageous to reducing property crime, robbery, homicide and murder…

One of the problems with studies and facts is that sometimes they don’t fit the popular narrative. Some politicians find it much easier to blame the victims of poverty as being the cause of their own misfortune. They also look down on efforts to help the poor. Rob Ford’s famous ‘Hug a thug’ comment was made to justify his council vote against participating in a federal gang intervention project.

Should we expect politicians to look for ways to lower poverty? For example, raise the minimum wage so that people can earn a living wage. As of last month, the minimum wage became $14.00 and will become $15.00 next January. Without wishing to impugn the Premier’s motives, we may have to thank an election year and her attempt to outflank the NDP for that move. In general though, it makes sense to lower inequality as it has the potential to improve everyone’s quality of life.

How else can politicians reduce inequality? They should be spending more on:

  • education
  • public housing,
  • transit
  • bike lanes
  • social services
  • libraries
  • parks
  • addiction support
  • homelessness.

Why should we support this? Another recent study has shown that increasing social spending has a more positive impact on longevity and general health than increasing health care spending.

With the provincial and civic elections coming up in June and October, politicians will be courting our vote through some blunt platforms. There will be some who will promise to reduce spending, find efficiencies and cut taxes. They will talk about taxpayers rather than citizens. They will promise to keep property taxes at or below the level of inflation and reduce income taxes – in effect forcing a funding shortage since costs are always rising. Beware of these people – they have caused our current crises through:

  • A constant focus on austerity
  • Inadequate spending on public housing and repairs
  • Opposing anti-poverty initiatives
  • Prioritizing cars over pedestrians, bicycles and public transit
  • Diversion of money to dogma / re-election driven transportation issues (e.g. Scarborough subway, Gardiner extension).
  • Refusing to adequately subsidize public transportation (Toronto’s subsidy is .78 per ride compared to $1.03 in New York or $2.21 in Mississauga).

In other words, their platform is designed to increase income inequality and therefore higher crime and lower quality of life.

Thinking citizens don’t mind paying taxes because they see the bigger picture. The siren call of lower taxes is a tempting one and popular with unscrupulous politicians. Unfortunately the effects aren’t pretty.

Incidentally, everyone in Canada is a taxpayer. Perhaps politicians should talk about citizens instead.

Abdoul Abdi has to wait

Abdoul Abdi, who faces deportation because the province of Nova Scotia didn’t apply for his citizenship while he was a ward, will have to wait a little longer to see if he will have to be forced to leave Canada. Abdi is the son Asha Ali, a York South–Weston woman.

A Halifax judge reserved his decision this week on an emergency stay of deportation. He will rule before March 7, when the Immigration and Refugee Board will consider Abdi’s case.

Abdi was convicted of aggravated assault and assaulting a police officer, and served four and half years in prison. His mother was unable to apply for his citizenship because she lost custody of him; the province of Nova Scotia, which was his legal guardian, did not get him his citizenship.

Abdi had planned to move to York South–Weston to live with his mother when he was released from prison. He is now living in a halfway house in Toronto. His case has received national attention.