CIBC announces partnership with UP Express

The UP Express has faced budget problems from the start. The Auditor General chopped down planners for not being able to do basic sums, and the embarrassed Liberal government hid the ‘business case’ by filibustering in committee.

Metrolinx now looks to be filling in (some of) the gaps through private sponsorship. CIBC has agreed to sponsor the UP Express.  The Executive Vice-President of Branding told the Globe and Mail that he

is looking for a chance to use sponsorships that make the brand interact with people. At the airport, that has meant foreign-exchange services and free luggage carts provided by the bank. On the UP Express, the bank will advertise its airport services in the trains and open a CIBC lounge at Union Station in downtown Toronto, with seating, refreshments, and ATMs that will dispense U.S. dollars, euros, British pounds, Mexican pesos, and other currency based on traveller demand.

Metrolinx said that more sponsorships will be announced.

Events this weekend

Mike Sullivan (I swear this is not a blog about Mike Sullivan) will be hosting two events this weekend:

First, this Sunday is the 50th Anniversary of Canada’s Maple Leaf flag. To mark this significant occasion, I’m hosting a ceremonial flag-raising followed by a reception at the Mount Dennis Legion, 1050 Weston Road. The event starts at 1:00 PM.

Second, get out the mittens, scarves and skates for my 1st Annual Family Day Skating Party on Monday. The fun takes place at the beautiful outdoor skating rink in Pearen Park. The park is on the north side of Eglinton, just west of Weston Road. Skating starts at 10:30 AM and there will be hot chocolate from our friends at SuperCoffee to help keep us warm. Note, if you don’t have your own skates, don’t worry! You’ll be able to borrow skates for free on a first-come, first-served basis courtesy of our great Mount Dennis Community Association neighbours.

Did you know that if your organization is having a community event, we are glad to publicize it? Drop me a line: adam (circle-a)

Sullivan calls for rail safety. The Conservatives lie.

Mike Sullivan spoke in the House last week to draw attention the dangerous state of railway operations in Canada even after the Lac Mégantic disaster.

Sullivan said, poignantly, that railways were once the drivers of growth. “That economic driver has long since left my community”, he said “but the railroad tracks remain, and they are perilously close.”

Railways, he says, only began shipping crude oil in 2009, and it  has increased “500 fold” since then. In the space of five years there have been three explosive crashes in North America and 47 people killed. The dangerous DOT-111 railcars involved in that disaster remain in service and unimproved, despite almost 25 years of warnings about their safety. So while much has changed in the business, little has changed in regulation.

That makes me worry.

Do the DOT-111 cars, which are prone to rupture and derailment, carry crude? Dangerous chemicals? Poisons? Nobody’s talking. The Conservatives have protected the rail companies, who release information to the city only every three months. Even then, the city is forbidden to share that information with residents. We simply don’t know–can’t know—how dangerous the railway is.

But since Lac Mégantic disaster, there have been two other explosions and one near-miss. The cars, which have a “high incidence of tank integrity failure” (according to the TSB), remain unimproved because doing so would cost $3000 per car. (CN’s stock price, mind, has quadrupled since the disaster, and their dividend has doubled. Had they waited just three months to double their dividend, they could have paid cash to fix all their railcars.)

The cars are dangerous. The companies won’t fix them. The government is not just asleep at the switch–it’s passed out on CN’s rye.

So yes, we should worry a lot.

But it gets worse.

Sullivan raised a number of reasonable questions about sensible, changeable things. Why won’t Transport Canada answer the questions of parliamentarians? Who screwed that up? Why can’t ordinary people know about the chemicals being pulled through their neighbourhood? These are the sort of questions a populist Conservative government would get behind, from a philosophy that Conservatives love: civil servants must be brought to heel and the little guy knows best.

So Jeff Watson’s answer was particularly disappointing. Of course, he ignored the questions. Politicians do that, and it’s despicable but the custom. But then Watson lied. He said

the cause of the accident in Lac-Mégantic was that an employee did not follow the established rules… with respect to the application of hand brakes.

This vile. This is depraved. This is an insult to the tormented engineer and to the dead. The crash was caused by 18 different things ranging from money-grubbing to government failure. Those causes are only a Wiki away.

Had Watson wikied the answer, he would have seen that much of the blame is on Transport Canada. the same Transport Canada that Watson is now shading from any examiner’s light.

You have to ask why he’s trying to protect the guilty.

Mulcair lends an ear.

Mike Sullivan, Asha Ahmed, Tom Mulcair.
M.P. Mike Sullivan, Wiff owner Asha Ahmed, Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair.

MP Mike Sullivan and Federal Opposition Leader, Tom Mulcair hosted a small business round table on Wednesday, February 11th, inside Wiff Restaurant, a Somali fusion eatery on Weston Road.

According to Mulcair, small and medium sized businesses are responsible for 80% of new jobs in Canada, hence his election year push into Weston to gauge the mood of Weston’s entrepreneurial community. He acknowledged that these are very tight times for small businesses in the GTA.

Mulcair is promising to lower the small and medium business tax rate from 11% to 9%, along with an accelerated capital cost allowance. He claimed that the Conservatives have reduced the tax burden for large businesses to the tune of $15 billion. ‘The rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer’, he declared.

A wide variety of enterprises were represented included brewing, urban farming, book selling, money transfer, dry cleaners, chartered accountancy and store-front businesses. The common thread of comments seemed to be how hard it is to operate a business here in York South-Weston, especially when such difficulties are compounded by rampant obstructionism from all three levels of government. There seems to be a perception of super efficiency when it comes to enforcement of rules and assessment of taxes combined with a reluctance to provide any service in return. Another business owner bristled against what seems to be a fixed Federal Government procuring process. Mention was made of store owners unable to afford fuel so they operate in cold buildings.

Mulcair promised to look into the big banks’ refusal to work with companies that send remittance monies overseas. Only one bank deals with remittance companies but apparently charges outrageous rates.

Many business owners expressed the concern that until they make a profit, they won’t be paying any business income tax. I heard afterwards that one city inspector is presently making things difficult for at least two Weston businesses while others endure irritants such as excessive development charges and bloody-minded nit-picking. The entrepreneurs seemed to agree that more is needed to help businesses thrive along with less red tape and a reduction in municipal and provincial taxation.

Federal business tax reductions won’t help struggling businesses. Nine percent of zero is still zero.

Oh yes, citizens of Weston we can help: if you want a vibrant walkable shopping district, support local businesses. Buy Local.