Sullivan blasts Feds

York South-Weston MP, Mike Sullivan pulled no punches when he announced his private member’s bill in Cruickshank Park today. Normally, building projects that affect the Humber must undergo an environmental assessment. During last year’s federal budget, the government removed this requirement from hundreds of Canadian rivers including all of the Humber and its tributaries, north of Bloor. As previously mentioned in Weston Web, private members’ bills rarely become law because in this case, the majority Conservatives will vote against it. The tactic is commonly used to raise awareness of a concern and this appears to be the goal of Sullivan and his party, the NDP. Sullivan would like protection restored to the Humber which is one of Canada’s heritage rivers. To make his point he even waded into the river in rubber boots. Sullivan believes the reason protection has been removed from the Humber is so that companies will have an easier time when building projects on sensitive land such as the Humber watershed. Enbridge, for example will have an easier time increasing the flow rate in one of their pipelines which travels through the Humber watershed.

Mike Sullivan by the Humber.
Mike Sullivan standing in the Humber.

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority board member Mike Mattos talked about pollution entering the river from a variety of sources and the need for more protection not less.  If the pipeline ruptures, as some have in the past, said Mattos, it could take hours before the flow is stopped.

Mary Louise Ashbourne with a map of the Humber Watershed.
Mary Louise Ashbourne with a map of the Humber Watershed.

Mary Louise Ashbourne, President of the Weston Historical Society emphasized the important part that the Humber has played in Canadian history and was of the opinion that while all rivers in Ontario are important, designated Heritage rivers such as the Humber deserve special protection.

Sullivan was handing out petitions supporting his argument that he will take to Parliament. Download a copy here. A YouTube video of the news conference is available here. The openparliament.ca transcript of the bill’s introduction by Sullivan is here.

Sullivan moves to block phone loophole.

According to a Canadian Press article in the Toronto Star, Mike Sullivan has proposed legislation that will make it illegal to tamper with the serial number of a mobile phone. The legislation targets criminals who receive large numbers of stolen phones and alter them (your average petty thief wouldn’t have a clue).

If your phone has been stolen, your provider can de-activate it because they know the serial number. Whether they would or not has been a whole other story. The serial number is written inside the phone’s memory at the factory and it can be changed by thieves with the right software and then presented to a provider as a legitimate phone. Apparently reports are surfacing of duplicate phone numbers courtesy of thieves changing serial numbers and re-selling the equipment. HubPages has a rundown of this and some the other issues involved.

This is a private member’s bill and as such must be supported by MPs from other parties in order to achieve a majority and become law. Quite often the majority party will vote against private member’s bills unless there is widespread public support. Whatever the outcome, it’s nice to see a York South-Weston politician moving forward with legislation that will make our streets safer. Well done Mr. Sullivan!

Sow and Ye Shall Reap

The latest in a string of shootings is no surprise to most people in Weston. It is however a source of mild puzzlement to police and politicians. They simply don’t understand why Weston is seemingly plagued by such events. Let’s look at the facts of the situation we find ourselves in.

An exquisite combination of political bungling, poor planning and corruption permitted the building of large numbers of low income housing several decades ago. This low income housing became a magnet for immigrants seeking a new life in Canada. The village of Weston as part of the City of York was given a major challenge; how to assimilate large numbers of new Canadians and help them to become productive citizens. Unfortunately, Weston has been largely left on its own to achieve this while dealing with problems that have arisen.

The Federal Government is in charge of immigration and knows exactly the stresses placed on Weston by immigration. We need more resources, not fewer and Alan Tonks should be shouting this from the rooftops every day, instead of being satisfied with the occasional photo op and voting with his Tory friends. Lord knows, Alan Tonks is well paid for his work and will receive a pension better than most would dream of as a salary. Is he worth the money? Not in my books. One of his latest efforts is a poorly-written private member’s bill supporting electrification of urban commuter rail operations. Dear old Alan couldn’t even be bothered to check for grammatical errors in the bill! Private members’ bills rarely become law.

The surest way to help first-generation children of immigrants is through education. Schools need extra resources and the very best teachers. Perhaps Alan Tonks’ son Chris could help here. He is our public school trustee.

Laura Albanese is a Liberal MPP in the McGuinty government. As an immigrant herself she should know that Weston needs more resources. She has been an MPP since October of 2007 and seems to have achieved little in that time. Her activity in the provincial legislature comprises mainly of softball questions to Liberal ministers. She has submitted a private member’s bill in favour of electrifying the GO Train system with priority for the Georgetown corridor.

Frances Nunziata has in the past been a fighter for Weston and was instrumental in exposing corruption in the City of York. She has spearheaded some important initiatives such as moving Metrolinx towards serving the people of Weston rather than not stopping in the community. Now, she seems to be lost in the details rather than the bigger picture. Where are we in the planning of a community centre for the area? Is Weston getting value for money from its police services?

Police seem to regard Weston as a dangerous place. When a major crime has been committed we see lots of police. Between crimes we see nothing. When was the last time any of us saw a police officer on foot patrol? According to a recent John Sewell article on police in Toronto, the average police officer averages one dispatched call every 20 hours of duty. Driving around waiting for problems to happen might not be the best approach any more.

The TAVIS initiative supposedly assigns extra police officers to areas ‘experiencing an increase in violent activity’. I wonder if Weston sees any of these officers.

This latest attempted murder seems to have happened at a party or an after-hours club. These are notoriously hard to keep track of as they spring up spontaneously. That said, Weston Road is a fairly obvious place for patrols – would a large number of cars parked in an area at 4 a.m. be worth investigating? Admittedly, that would require courage and initiative but isn’t that what we pay our officers for?

Last for censure is the criminal element in Weston which seems to feel the need to carry weapons and use them when their delicate egos are threatened by an accidental brush or an ill-timed comment. Real men don’t carry guns, they find work and lose the fantasy that they are part of a gang. Real men try to better themselves in the face of adversity—they don’t choose to be a plague on society.