The latest video from Crosstown shows before and after views of the vehicle maintenance yard located on the old Kodak lands in Mount Dennis. The video begins with a shot of the site back in March 2017 and then moves forward to this October. The work is substantially complete; most of the tracks are down and a striking feature of the project is the green roofing of the complex. The green roof will save money on heating and cooling while reducing the buildings’ carbon footprints.
One can speculate whether or not such ‘frills’ could happen if the project had been approved under the current Ford regime.
Nobody ever said that Toronto politics was dull. Yesterday after getting judicially spanked for re-arranging Toronto Council’s seats, Premier Doug Ford went nuclear. He used the ‘Notwithstanding Clause’ contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; originally designed to hold confederation together during constitutional impasses. Under the clause, provinces can declare a law too important for it to be judged as unconstitutional.
The NC was designed to be used in exceptional circumstances; not in anger, petulance or bloody mindedness. What Ford has done is something like finding that there are no seats in a subway car and pulling the emergency cord; someone forgot the pepperoni on his pizza so he phoned 911 (insert your own meme here).
Ford actually dissed the judge yesterday on the basis that judges are unelected and this one, Edward Belobaba was tainted, having been appointed by Premier McGuinty (actually it was Paul Martin). What’s worrying is that Ford seems likely during his time as premier to take any actions he deems necessary in order to get his way. The possibilities are frightening.
The Legislature will meet tomorrow to begin the process of passing Bill 5 once again. So, barring a mutiny of MPPs, or a blockade of the Legislature, we’re going to be back to 25 seats, gerrymandered (thanks to being out of date) to favour the suburbs rather than downtown. Our new Ward 5, using the York South-Weston boundaries will once again feature a showdown between decades long incumbents Frank Di Giorgio and Frances Nunziata pitted against new main challengers, Lekan Olayowe and Chiara Padovani.
Premier Doug Ford’s surprise re-alignment of city wards from 47 to 25 seats has been kicked into touch by a Superior Court judge this morning after a challenge by a group of concerned citizens. The judge cited the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and called his legislation unconstitutional. He made it clear that Ford’s actions were unjustifiable. No doubt Mr. Ford will be railing at ‘elite’ judges this morning but he now finds himself in a serious quagmire with his latest legal setback. If he doesn’t appeal, there’s just enough time for the election to go ahead with 47 seats instead of Ford’s 25 that would have matched provincial ridings. These 47 seats were the result of much consultation and expense to better reflect increased populations in the downtown core. The 47 seat count is likely to produce several more left-wing councillors as downtowners tend to vote in that direction.
If Ford appeals, either the October 22 poll date will have to be delayed – a decision will take weeks – or we’ll keep the original date and hold a 25-seat election. Either way, an appeal will be a disruptive and constitutionally risky event.
What’s a premier to do? My guess is that he will forego the appeal but ask his lawyers to look for ways to sideline Council’s future decisions. One idea already floated is to expropriate important City assets such as our subway system.
Locally, Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata will not be facing Ward 12’s Frank Di Giorgio and Ms. Nunziata’s main challenger, Chiara Padovani will now be able to focus her finances and resources on our section of York South-Weston. On the other side of the water, in Greater Weston™, it’s back to being in Ward 2, most likely represented by (barring an apocalyctic event) Premier Ford’s nephew Mike.
Under the proposed new municipal setup, councillors will represent federal ridings and as a result, Wards 11 and 12 will become one. In York South-Weston, two incumbents, Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio will be battling for the same job and will likely split the vote since they are both right-leaning, developer friendly and often vote in unison with Mayor Tory. Left-leaning Chiara Padovani has been mounting a solid campaign, canvassing extensively in old Ward 11 and from today will no doubt begin to make an impression on voters in old Ward 12.
If Ward 11 largely votes for Nunziata and Ward 12 for DiGiorgio, depending on the strength of the votes and the turnout, Padovani could scoop the progressive Ward 11 and 12 votes and come through the middle – even with a relatively small percentage of York South-Weston’s overall vote.
No doubt Ms. Padovani will join the chorus of protests at Doug Ford’s move to shrink council but it should work in her favour. Look for strategists on both incumbent teams to set their sights on Ms Padovani once campaigning gets under way in earnest. It won’t be pretty.
So it’s official; Doug Ford, disrupting in the style of Donald Trump, will soon present legislation to axe the number of Toronto wards from what would have been 47 to 25. Ford, looking confident and as if he is hitting his stride, made the announcement at a press conference this morning. Calling Toronto Council, ‘The most dysfunctional arena in the country’, he revealed that city wards will be gone; instead, councillors will represent areas that are identical to federal / provincial ridings. After the next election, Wards 11 and 12 will be known as York South-Weston and represented by just one councillor.
Locally, Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio represent York South-Weston at Council and one of those two will not be returning after October if they both choose to fight for the YSW seat. Many other familiar faces will not be back after October. The bad news is that it might be harder to get in touch with a councillor who will now have twice as many constituents. On the plus side, a smaller number at council meetings will find the process of passing legislation quicker and easier. A smaller number will mean greater name recognition, scrutiny and accountability for individual councillors.
There will be a lot of people very disappointed with the decision. There will be worries about a loss of democracy and representation. There may be a legal challenge. The bottom line is that in Ontario, city councils are ‘creatures of the province’ and the higher level of government holds sway.
I don’t think anyone will miss a larger council’s decisions despite the recent flurry of common sense legislation coming from the rotunda this week (apart from ShotSpotter). Frankly, the record of Toronto Council is lousy. These are the people who have brought us neglect and mismanagement of public housing and transit, a subservience to developers, a proposed one-stop subway, threadbare infrastructure and dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists. On that basis alone, at least half deserve to be turfed. Will fewer councillors produce a less democratic council? With many wards failing to achieve a 50% election turnout, probably no less democratic than it is today.
Nominations for council have been extended until Sept 14 but the election date will still be Oct 22.
The official York South-Weston election results are here. There were 37,296 votes cast or 50.56% of eligible voters who took the trouble to cast a ballot compared to 46.1% in 2014. Faisal Hassan 36.1% Mark DeMontis: 33% Laura Albanese: 28% Grad Murray: 2.5% Bonnie Hu: 0.6%
President Ford™ will be grasping the levers of power in a few short weeks. Every cloud has a silver lining and there will no doubt be initiatives from Mr. Ford’s team that will be good for the province. Even Mike Harris wasn’t all bad.
What lessons can we learn from this election and its result?
Our electoral system needs reform. The popular vote was PC: 40.6%, NDP: 33.7%, LIB: 19.3%. The total progressive vote was 53% and yet because it was split, a government representing 40.5% of the electorate has absolute power for the next four years.
Faisal Hassan fought well to win the seat for the NDP. He ran an effective campaign with a strong team that could be useful during October’s civic election. Let’s hope he can get up to speed quickly and be an effective voice for York South-Weston.
Here in York South-Weston, local PC boy Mark DeMontis surfed the blue wave and almost eked out a victory. WestonWeb articles about him were insanely popular in terms of reader numbers so it was clear he would do well. I wonder if he regrets obeying orders from PCHQ to skip the debate.
Local candidate Grad Murray bumped the riding’s share of Green Party votes by a mere tenth of a percentage point over the 2014 result. Let’s hope the well-spoken and knowledgeable Mr. Murray can stick around and build on his vote share. Ontario’s Green’s now have an actual MPP, meaning that they will have a seat at debates next time. Their share of the popular vote dropped from 4.84% to 4.64% so it’s not an unqualified success.
Kathleen Wynne may be a decent person but she failed to support her candidates by rooting out and exposing the corruption and bad decision-making in her party. She had five years to distance herself from the scandals and boot from cabinet flagrant opportunists like Steven Del Duca and Glen Murray but failed to do so. Her cynical, last minute concession speech was designed to hobble the NDP, indicating that her true passion was power, not progressive policies. Her claim that strikes would be never ending under the NDP was straight from the Tory Party handbook.
Doug Ford’s victory speech began at the same time as Kathleen Wynne’s resignation speech. Ford’s team has vast political experience so this was no accident. It may be an insight into Mr. Ford’s style of governing.
On the subject of speeches, Andrea Horwath’s last night seemed irrationally exuberant. Admittedly, she has done well, becoming the Leader of the Opposition by moving to the left of her 2014 stance. Even so, some of her election promises seemed on the fly and not well thought out. For example, doing away with ‘Time Of Use’ hydro billing would have compromised conservation attempts and battery technology applications. Excessive subsidy of hydro bills goes against energy conservation. Far better to put the money into getting people off heating homes with electricity.
York South-Weston’s fragile economy will be done no favours by Mr Ford freezing the minimum wage at $14. The promised ending of provincial income tax for these workers will do little to soften a potential $1800 annual loss.
The end of Carbon Tax money may mean problems for the Mount Dennis Net Zero initiative.
The Eglinton Crosstown line was scheduled to run above ground along Eglinton past Scarlett on its way (eventually) to the Airport. Defeated Etobicoke Centre MPP, Yvan Baker was a proponent of burying the line. Look for Doug Ford to endorse that (very expensive) concept.
Lastly, while every cloud has a silver lining, the need for Mr. Ford to find billions of dollars out of thin air will target the most vulnerable in York South-Weston and elsewhere in Toronto. New MPP Hassan should make it a priority to anticipate and publicize the ‘efficiencies’ that will have an adverse effect on his most vulnerable constituents.