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.

Fact-findings on fibs, fabrications, and falsities.

Today, the first of what I fear will be many fact-findings on fibs, fabrications, and falsities.

First, Ahmed Hussen. Hussen made an outrageous and false accusation on July 1 that came to light this week. He accused the Conservatives of “dancing with racists” at a speech on Canada Day, which is also Somalian Independence Day. The Post Millennial picked up the story today.

Hussen told a crowd:

in an election year, one of the main responsibilities is what? To vote. And vote for the right leaders, the real leaders that bring people together, not divide you, not dance with white supremacists, but actually bring people together and confront hatred, confront Islamophobia, and prove once again that Canada is the best country in the world by making sure that everyone is represented.

Hussen has a history of baiting conservatives. He said that Lisa MacLeod’s criticism of his department  was “irresponsible, it’s divisive, it’s fear-mongering and it’s not Canadian and it is very dangerous.” He’s also said that the Conservatives want to “militarize” the border. He’s long blamed the Conservatives for the problems in his department.

But implying last month that Conservatives would “dance with white supremacists” is an ugly slander. It is, in fact, irresponsible, divisive, and fear-mongering.

Yafet Tewelde said this week:

Not quite so. The lead author of this section of the IPCC report says this:

 Please stop saying something globally bad is going to happen in 2030. Bad stuff is already happening and every half a degree of warming matters, but the IPCC does not draw a “planetary boundary” at 1.5°C beyond which lie climate dragons.

[If] we don’t halve emissions by 2030, will we have lost the battle and just have to hunker down and survive? Of course not.

No scientist I’ve read says that the next decades aren’t critical. None, though, says that there is a threshold in 2030. It’s more complicated than 240 characters allow.

Finally, Jasveen Rattan said that

Happily, I don’t have to wade through tax policy to figure the truth of this out. The Economist covered it last week. They said there’ve been tax cuts for the working and middle classes (and deficits for our children):

 To stimulate growth [Trudeau] let a near-balanced budget move into deficit…. Most important, he has put money into the pockets of people on middle and low incomes. A means-tested child-benefit programme gives families on the lowest incomes C$5,600-6,600 a year per child.

More moolah came from cutting the tax rate on the bottom income bracket and raising it for the richest 1%. The government expanded a tax credit for workers on low incomes. Its critics claim that middle-class families are worse off because it took away some tax credits. In fact, says Mr Morneau, the finance minister, a family of four at the median-income level is C$2,000 better off

Technically, there have been small tax hikes: on the rich, and on carbon. But neither of these tax increases hurt the median Canadian.  Rattan’s statement then isn’t entirely false, but it’s pretty close.

Canada Day fireworks over by 10 p.m.

For some reason, the Canada Day fireworks started about 15 minutes before their scheduled time of 10 p.m. last night. The show was all over before 10 p.m., taking some people by surprise and disappointing those who had planned to arrive just before the scheduled time.

Ahmed Hussen’s spokesperson told me that the MP was at the Amesbury fireworks there and couldn’t shed any light on the reasons for Weston’s early start. There was nobody available at Councillor Nunziata’s office when I called but will update any response received.

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.

Padovani: TD to keep ATM in Weston for now.

The TD Canada Trust branch at 1979 Weston Road. Note the Rockport rental apartment building in the background that will be home to hundreds of new residents when it opens in the coming months.

Toronto Council candidate Chiara Padovani has managed to wrestle a concession from TD Canada Trust, set to close its 1979 Weston Road branch on September 21. The building’s ATM will remain open for ‘the time being’ after the branch closes. The bank’s WiFi hotspot (who knew?) will not continue past the closing date.

Ms Padovani also wrote to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada; the 120-employee independent agency that according to its own site,

“ensures federally regulated financial entities comply with consumer protection measures, promotes financial education and raises consumers’ awareness of their rights and responsibilities.”

These are the people who sit on their hands while predatory payday loan companies fill the void left by departing bank branches. Apparently they’ve educated the public about those things so it’s ok. In their reply to Ms Padovani’s letter, FCAC alleges that TD provided adequate consultation with the community before announcing the closure. As a result, FCAC won’t compel TD to hold a community meeting.

If a letter announcing the closure counts as adequate consultation, then yes, the community was consulted adequately.

Undaunted, Ms Padovani also tackled TD who have relented somewhat by agreeing to keep the ATM open past the closing date. In the meantime, she is working with TD Canada Trust to set up a permanent ATM in the vicinity.

So far I have received confirmation that the ATM will remain at the current location while they search for a permanent home in the vicinity. While TD is hosting sessions on digital banking and financial literacy in the community, they have not committed to installing a WiFi hub to facilitate the use of such services for people who don’t have access to the Internet.

I’m committed to continue to advocate for accommodations for the members of the community who will be negatively impacted by the bank’s imminent closure.

Access to fair banking and financial services is especially important in Weston, given the increase in predatory lending that has sever consequences on socioeconomic health of our neighbourhood. As a social worker in the community, I’ve seen far too many hardworking people get trapped in debt through pay day lenders.– Chiara Padovani

Read more from the candidate here.

Read Adam’s excellent take on the issues here.

Banking in Canada is regulated federally. Incidentally; crickets from MP Ahmed Hussen’s office on the branch’s closing.

Some reflections

We’re officially in the summer doldrums – at least I am. Adam’s still incredibly productive.

In spite of having a new premier with his early announcements and the delicious prospect of October’s civic election, my side of Weston Web’s virtual office is eerily quiet with ceiling fans gently moving stale air over the desks, typewriters and silent telephones.

WestonWeb’s imaginary virtual office in busier times. From Early Office Museum.

Before the civic election campaigns begin in earnest, this might be a good time to take a breath and reflect on some of the almost 3000 articles that have appeared on Weston Web since Adam began publishing in 2010. Incidentally, every article written on Weston Web is still available and can be searched by topic or date.

WestonWeb uses WordPress which keeps statistics on the number of times each article is viewed. Interestingly, some articles have a life of their own and are constantly being read – even years after publication. Many of these most popular articles were written by student writers who are paid a small stipend for their efforts.

Grab a beverage and get comfortable; here’s a list with links to the 20 most popular Weston Web articles of all time – in reverse order. You’ll have to supply your own roll of the drums.

20. St John’s Anglican Church up for sale. February 2016. The mid-19th Century church at 2123 Weston Road was for sale at that time.

19. Weston Wins. February 2016. This is about former Premier Wynne’s (those were the days, remember?) decision to lower fares on the UP Express that resulted in dramatically increased ridership.

18. Drake general store pop up hits Mount Dennis. December 2016. Whenever you have an article with the words ‘Drake’ and ‘Weston’ in it, there’s bound to be lots of interest. Sadly for Drake fans, this was a Drake Hotel pop up.

17. Atlantic Salmon should hit Weston this weekend. September 2013. This one is popular when salmon are running in the fall.

16. 5 buildings to be ashamed of in Weston. May 2010. As a mark of Weston’s transformation over the past eight years, all of these buildings have disappeared entirely except for the Plank House which continues to sit empty and unloved.

15. TV show filming in Weston. March 2011. An interesting article on Weston’s film operations at the time. Scroll down to view an informative comment from Weston Historical Society’s Martin Proctor.

A prop NYPD car outside Weston Lions Arena in November 2012

14. Longtime York South-Weston resident and advocate to become NDP candidate. November 2017. This article about (now MPP) Faisal Hassan is from guest writer Riley Peterson.

13.  WCI home to the youngest recipient of Volunteer Toronto’s Legacy Award. June 2016. This was written by one of our student writers, Natalie while she was a student at Weston Collegiate Institute.

12. Weston youth flies to Sweden to represent Canada in Youth World Cup. July 2014. An earlier article from Natalie about a talented WCI soccer player.

11. Zeal Burgers; real burgers. October 2016. Yet another of our student writers, Lieselotte Noort writes about the best burger joint in town.

10. P&Ms – lots of history and a bright future. June 2012. Guest writer Melissa wrote this about the restaurant that has been serving Westonians for decades.

The old P&M location.

 

9. New vegetarian restaurant. March 2016. This is about Budda Chay, the vegetarian restaurant at 1784 Jane.

8. Wakame Sushi is the best sushi joint in Weston. March 2012. Another of Adam’s excellent restaurant reviews; Wakame Sushi is still going strong at 2625 Weston Road.

7. Book review: Safe as Houses. August 2012. Adam’s review of an excellent novel by Eric Walters, written for young adults based around the historical background of Hurricane Hazel.

6. Mark DeMontis is PC candidate. November 2017. This gentleman generated considerable interest during his campaign to become a PC MPP. Adam’s astute observations proved to be correct.

5. Lutong Pinoy: A new Filipino restaurant on Weston. June 2016. Guest writer Charlie Siddayao wrote this about Weston’s first Filipino restaurant, still in business at 1754 Weston Road.

4. P&M: Ready for the Move. January 2015. The story of P&M Restaurant in the weeks before moving to its spanking new location in May 2015.

3. Irving Tissue expanding. July 2012. Irving Tissue is the last of the big employers on Weston Road and guest writer Laurie Mace covered the proposed expansion of the plant.

2. Scarlett Heights Academy to close. October 2017. There has been intense interest around the closing of this school which is not strictly in Weston but obviously of interest to residents locally.

1. Ahmed Hussen wins YSW Liberal nomination. December 2014. The dramatic federal Liberal Party nomination of Ahmed Hussen astonished pundits who expected former councillor Bill Saundercook to win. This story has been accessed more than 2000 times.

Just a couple of observations: the restaurants reviewed in our top 20 are still in operation. If you want them to stick around, keep patronizing them. It’s easy to forget that Weston has undergone some quite remarkable changes in the past eight years with more still in the pipeline. With large numbers of people about to make Weston their new home, the next few years will be interesting.

Hussen’s tough week

Ahmed Hussen, our MP, has had a very tough week. First, he was (to my mind, unfairly) criticized for speaking at The Suya Spot, “known as a criminal hangout”. The restaurant, according to the Globe and Mail, “has been frequented by members of the Neo Black Movement – also known as the Black Axe organized-crime group.”

More seriously, Hussen also said that the comments of Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s new Minister of Children, Community, and Social Services, were “not Canadian”. MacLeod had been asking the feds to pay more for illegal/irregular migrants into Canada.

Hussen said “Ontario sadly has chosen the language of fear and division…. They’ve intentionally chosen to use false language with respect to so-called queue jumping…. [It] is irresponsible, it is divisive, it is fear mongering, and it is not Canadian. And it is very dangerous. And that is the politics of fear and division that they have chosen to take. They are regurgitating the politics of fear and division that the Harper Conservatives peddled in Canada.”

MacLeod said she took “great offense” to being called un-Canadian,  said she wouldn’t be “bullied”, and she asked again for the feds to pay for the extra costs the province has borne. Michelle Rempel, Hussen’s federal critic, slammed Hussen—and made the whole situation worse by using even less parliamentary language:

Hussen’s needless combativeness is, unfortunately, in character. He regularly blames opposition politicians for the state of his department (he did so 15 times in just one long day), dodges their questions, and publicly rejects their ideas–even the ones he adopts.

Neither MacLeod nor her comments are unpatriotic. Quite the opposite. Nothing could be more Canadian than her suggestion to “sit down and have a nice cup of tea, calm down a little bit and maybe phone me and apologize”.

Hussen should follow her advice.