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The Sheppard Bus on a Beautiful Sunday Afternoon

Oiseau du jardin (Rouge gorge).

Oiseau du jardin (Rouge gorge). (Photo credit: sybarite48)

Yesterday was one of those incredible Toronto Days we usually only get about 5 of in any given year. Sun blazing, cool but very gentle breeze. The promise of spring everywhere. It’s the kind of day that makes people meet your eyes and smile. We all know it really isn’t spring. We all know it always snows in April at least once. But what the hell, to-day is glorious and we’re going to savour it as only Torontonians can.

Into this lovely day 2 dedicated activist friends and I got on the Sheppard East 85B bus at Don Mills Station. We rode it all the way to Port Union and back. Our purpose was to offer information and conversation to riders. We have been doing this on various routes for a few weekends now and have been continually surprised at how open and interested the real riders are. A great many of these conversations begin with “I would prefer subways but”. These people understand that there is only so much money. They say so. They also point out to us that they do not simply ride Sheppard in a vacuum, somehow ceasing to exist at Don Mills Station.

Statistics quoted in the vaunted, LRT supporting, Special Panel report say that the vast majority of transit trips in Scarborough are short and take place within localized areas. Well here’s what I will tell you. On a Sunday afternoon with light traffic it took 1 hour and 17 minutes to get to Port union via the Metro Zoo. How long do you suppose that ride takes at 7:30 A.M. on a Monday? I find myself thinking no wonder the 401 is the mess it is. Yet we talked to one very nice gentleman who takes the ride every day. It is quite lovely out in the far eastern stretches of Scarborough. He said he could walk to the lake and he loved it there so it seemed a small price to pay. But he figured from his own research he would save at good 20 minutes each way once the LRT reached him.

The mayor misses so much by not knowing these citizens. These are hard-working people who don’t have the choice of car over transit. They are the tired people who sit or stand looking down and bouncing along, and it is a bouncing ride, wishing to be home just a bit quicker. You see them slowly walking away from the bus a little bit weighted down by the day that is finally over. They don’t go to the Town Halls the Mayor loves to enter in Caesar like fashion, to the cheers of the car driving public. They are just to damn tired and they still have dinner to make and kids to attend to and life to live. They just hope and pray that city council will do something for them on a wish and a prayer.

I took this photo WilyD 20:20, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

The Rouge, 8 July 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These people read papers. These people who voted for Rob Ford because he seemed so much like them are getting mightily fed up. Saying his name on that bus got a roll of the eyes every single time. They have begun to see him as, in the words of that afore-mentioned gentleman, “that deluded rich boy”. Over and over on this ride and on other rides we heard, “Why doesn’t he come ride with us?” I suspect the answer is he doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. He is a man who seems to decide what this weeks fight will be and then digs in to win. Period, full stop. Once the challenge has been accepted there is no wavering from the goal with pesky things like contrary information.

As we rode along by the Rouge Park to the Zoo and then back to Port Union I had the pleasure of watching my friends amazement. One had forgotten and the other had not seen just how lovely that end of our fair city is. Right now it takes about 2 hours from Union Station to the Zoo. So we have pretty much cut off the Zoo from half our population for anything but a once or twice a year excursion. I find that incredibly sad. We can argue forever about what other cities have. But we aren’t other cities. We are Toronto and we have to plan around what we have to work with. It’s as simple as that. The riders of the Sheppard East bus get that.

Happy Monday Toronto!


Sheppard Thoughts on a Saturday Morning

So here I am on a Saturday morning. Absurdly early for me and with my brain burning. I found myself lying in bed thinking through all that occurred this week and finding a lot of new thoughts crowding in much to fast for a twitter feed. Two comments on what I will say: 1/ they are the utterly unscientific comments of a long time student of Toronto human nature and 2/ they have nothing to do with the politics of a certain city councillor. These are my thoughts. Period.

So…..as mentioned in earlier rants, I attended a Transit meeting on Monday and I witnessed City Council’s fine performance this week. I heard the vast amounts of twisted and untwisted numbers and assessments and cheap shots and brilliant little speeches (see Perks, Wong-Tam, Carroll to name a few). With all due respect to these fine folk there was a HUGE missing piece. Where were we? Really. The people of Toronto and specifically the people for whom this decision means so very much to the core of our lives. Not as the Mayor continually said “The people” of Toronto who want “subways, subways, subways”. You will never convince me that those “people” he talks of aren’t the drivers who are desperate to keep the streets free for large cars and SUV‘s. Who like him, have not a clue what it even costs to ride the transit.

I know there are a few mislead riders in that crowd. I’m not a fool. But on Wednesday after some harsh words we asked a young man,who was so indoctrinated by SAFE he wore a T-shirt to say so, to have coffee with us and talk. Two hours later he was saying “wow I sure have a lot to think about” and “do you think I was lied to?”. Well, in a word, yes. But why? Shouldn’t a city councillor in Toronto love the city the way I do?  With both eyes open, both, not one convenient one. We have a Josh Matlow who takes a 4 hr walk through his community on a Saturday and tweets all the way. We have a John Parker who gets out of his car and travels the street cars to see what’s what. Then we have a Mayor who drives a van and has to ask the price of transit after living in this city his entire life.What’s that all about kids?

So here’s what I very unscientifically have to say. I live out here. Walking distance to Sheppard, on the western border of Scarborough. I drive. But I didn’t until I was 38. Didn’t need to I used to say. Good transit is cheaper. I travel by both modes now. Like a good burb person I, more often than not will drive to York Mills station and park. I’m not the only one, it’s getting hard to find a spot even in overflow after about 8 A.M.

Right now as we speak, Sheppard is a vast concrete jungle punctuated by strip malls. To be sure you have Bayview Village Mall at Bayview and Shepp, Fairview at Don Mills, and Scarborough Town Center. The first two were there long before the subway. Oh and by the way, the intersection at Bayview has been almost exactly the same as it is now for as long as I can remember, including those two vaunted gas stations. Except maybe for the Loveboat. That’s what we out here call that ridiculous condo perched at the edge of BVM’s parking lot, taking up valuable space. It’s fairly rare to even see anyone come out of the Subway station there much less cross that scary intersection to get to that very expensive mall.

The people I live among are Polish and Russian and Philippino and Muslim and Chinese and Vietnamese and Sri Lankan and Caribbean and I apologize for those I have forgotten. Travelling on transit is a gas. If like me, you like to chat with strangers. I hate generalizations as a rule but. I have travelled a lot of places and this I know. There is a marketing and meeting tradition in places other than North America and especially in Asian communities. Please try to convince me that putting people above ground won’t take them out on the street. Please try.

Perhaps it’s the long-lost hippy in me looking through rose-coloured shades but I don’t think so. It won’t happen over night, but I’ll bet anyone that 25 years from now I will be able to describe Sheppard now to my Great great nieces and nephews. They will write me off as crazy old Auntie Wendy raving again. They will know a Sheppard with every kind of commercial enterprise. There will be street side markets and cafes and stores of every ilk. It will be a pleasure to walk. You will get on and off the LRT quite comfortably and be happy to stroll a bit before heading home because there will always be that place you saw and mean to visit one day. Just like riding the Queen car now only faster folks. I said it, faster!

People will start to know and talk to their neighbours. Unlikely friends will be made. People who don’t even know it’s there will find Brimley and Shepp and all the fab Asian stores there. New communities will form. Pride in being a part of something bigger will happen. You will all want to come and see that part of Toronto. Not Scarborough, but that part of Toronto. Am I nuts? Well, that’s for someone else to say, but I’ll tell you this. I remember the slowly dying part of St. Clair that was before the so-called St Clair disaster. Stop talking about it and go there. Be surprised.

The mayor spoke of the terrible traffic mess on St. Clair caused by a combo of the ROW and the train bridge. He forgot to mention something. The train bridge crosses over Keele 3 blocks south of St. Clair and the mess is for the most part on Keele, and it is a mess. The intersection of Keele and St. Clair is wide open. Why was it necessary for him to mislead us so deliberately? There is much to fix about this glorious city and it will not be fixed by personal agendas, lies and half-truths. It’s OUR responsibility to open our minds, take a really careful look at these people and choose the ones who really care about us. The rest need not apply.

Happy Saturday Toronto.

A Week of Politics at it’s Worst/Childish?

I went to a town hall meeting at Scarborough Civic center this evening. A meeting ostensibly hosted by a group called Subways Are For Everyone, SAFE. It was very quickly obvious that it was being stage-managed by powers other than a loosely formed community group. The attendees alone were astonishing. On entering we saw a panel labelled with Jo Kennely, Dr. Gordon Chong, Karen Stintz who they knew wasn’t coming, Cllr Norm Kelly, and former planner John Barnes. We were introduced to Bas Balkisoon, Brad Duguid, Chin Lee, Mike Del Grande, Gary Crawford, Sue Wong. As the evening progressed we were joined by Cllr Doug Ford, Peter Milchyn and finally as if being gifted with Caesar in came Hizzoner at the half way point

A stunning array of luminaries for a little community meeting. Obviously they alerted the press to the Mayors presence, the place was lousy with press. All this to push the mayors subway agenda as though it was a matter of life and death. Wow, It reeked of desperation. We were asked to sign a petition, I didn’t. We were given a bunch of very professional handouts including one with sickening pictures of an LRT accident in Edmonton. Which by the way wasn’t the fault of the LRT. I’m sure the families of the two teenagers who died would be mortified to know that this was being used in such a manner.

I wrote the top 2 paragraphs on Monday night. It is now Friday morning. I feel as though I’ve ridden a roller coaster without a seat belt. On Monday night no financial plan was ever referred to by the stellar panel. A great many half-truths and out-and-out lies were presented to a crowd of mostly older white, upper middle class folks. Not the Scarborough I live in but nevertheless. These people were eating it up with a very big spoon. We are going to hell if the LRT gets built. All made very very personal by the mayors “This is Do or Die” rhetoric. He was as always adamant that his way was the only way. Unfortunately, I heard no words of substance to back this stance.

Now it’s Friday and the rest is history as it were. He lost after allowing his supporters to float an eleventh hour financial plan that he did not support. And it is very much a “He Lost” scenario. Because that is how he places himself in every battle. Our mayor is all about winning and not much else. He has always been proud of his outsider status at City Hall and he continues with this pride even now. I sat and watched the show for 2 days. In that 2 days he was either absent from the room, sitting entirely alone and unapproached at his desk, or standing at the back holding court with his handlers. I can’t even say he rarely showed an interest. He never showed an interest.

Much is and will be written about this. I’ll say what hardly anyone will say. How did this happen? What are we doing with this petulant, overgrown Frat Boy as Mayor? Oh My God! Yesterday there was a 10th grade class observing. I felt profound embarrassment that they were seeing this but I suppose it could have been worse. They could have been there on Wednesday for the pathetic attempt at a filibuster followed by a 3 week delay. Then at one point yesterday the meeting was recessed for 10 minutes to allow for some cool down time. I’ve seen High School Councils that function with more sophistication. The mayor knew he was going to lose so he just disengaged, staring at the ceiling, making faces at his brother, talking to the crew cut boys of his staff. anything but actually acknowledge, council.

This is a city at a major crossroads in its history. We are indeed worthy of World Class status. Some how we need to stop thinking like a bunch of small towns and start thinking like a big city. Cherish your neighbourhood whether it’s College and Bathurst or Malvern. But love your city. All of it. The network of LRT’s and , yes Virginia, subways that will be built over the next 20 years will bring us all closer together. Let’s love that instead of incessantly ranting about what’s better or worse. We can’t afford the Maserati but there’s not a damn thing wrong with the Infiniti we’re gonna build.

Happy weekend Toronto

Did That Really Happen

Wednesday, mostly out of curiosity at first, I went to see our Mayor in a little community “action” thingy. I keep having to shake my head to remind myself it really happened. Spin in action is what I saw. An absolute travesty of the democratic process under the banner of legitimate protest. Come on Robbie! Is that really all ya got?

A rag-tag band of , God forgive me, goofy folk from who knows where, with badly lettered signs on drug store bristol board. Honk if you’re for subways. If you take away the chuckleheads who honked at the mayor, I heard 2 honks in 30 minutes. People at the bus stops, and there were plenty at 5 P.M, were visibly recoiling and turning away from this rabid band led by the mayor. Nobody wanted to talk to him. I mean nobody. After a small bit (20 min. or so) he turned and paraded west on the north side of Sheppard to a parkette just beside the Chuckee Cheese. Kind of appropriate in the after thought.

So in a Ward that belongs to Councillor Shelley Carrol, who was not informed, Councillor Kelly made a sad little speech and then the mayor, with his merry band of supporters set up behind him to look like a much larger crowd, spoke. Two or three questions in somebody had the gall to ask about the COI issue and that pretty much ended the “press conference”. After remarking that he was “all about the children” he was gone.

I attempted to talk to these people. They were kind of like fire walkers. I sweetly asked an older woman (wild home permed dead white hair, white sandals and socks) tromping along after the pissed off looking mayor on his way to the news trucks. “So what’s this all about”. She turned to me and began literally shouting We need subways NOW. SUBWAYS SUBWAYS. I literally backed away lest she hit me with her sign. I stupidly asked, “Do you know much about the other side?” “There is no other side. SUBWAYS NOW”. At which point a small well dressed Asian woman who looked like the only person with wits and means grabbed her and said, and I quote for sure here “Don’t talk to anyone! Move along”.

Is anyone else frightened by this? Yesterday astonished me beyond all description. I fought the good fight in the 70’s. Am I deluded? Did we learn nothing at all? The media all standing there hanging on his every word. Me knowing each would spin it their own way and none of them would really tell the truth pro or con. Anyone want to protest the Vietnam War with me? That was way easier than this bull shit.

As someone just tweeted. How hard is this. If we elected our mayor for honesty and transparency why is it, these are both completely foreign concepts for him? How sad is it that we find it necessary to relegate the very man we need to be our leader to lame duck status. Am I the only one horrified by the idea of him in the same room with, let’s say, Mayor Bloomberg of NYC. That’s another world-class city. What would they talk about? Football? certainly not transit.

And so it goes. Keep on truckin Toronto.

Boardwalk Empire Anyone?

It’s been quite a week in TO. I have been trying to work and watch the twitter feed. I’m exhausted. Clayton Ruby’s action had them all in a tizzy Tuesday. I suspect it was only a matter of time until some well placed citizen would pounce. It’s really quite interesting. Some judge is going to have to make a decision that will be precedent setting though the case is actually quite clear. I don’t see any doubt of his wrong doing. But what’s a judge to do? Do you unseat the mayor of Canada’s largest city. I have to admit I’d love to see it happen but I don’t think it would be good for the city.

Council has rendered him largely impotent at this point anyway. I don’t think there’s much doubt he will lose the transit vote next week and then he’s pretty much done. He becomes the lame duck mayor in the corner. He’s had chance after chance to reach compromises. He surrounds himself with yes men and seems only to listen to his arrogant and ignorant brother. By ignorant I hasten to say, ignorant of politics. Since when does a junior councillor get to announce the policy of a city without any consultation with the mayor? But then why does the mayor seem so reluctant to shut this silly man up. Rob Ford is every  bit the embarrassment we thought he would be.

Here’s the but. He is a genius at messaging. My sister taught me that. To paraphrase her. Progressive politicians seem almost afraid to do the same. They seem to think they need to give long-winded explanations of everything. Meanwhile our eyes are glazing over until Rob comes up with Stop the Gravy Train or Council is Irrelevant. Nice. He managed to convince you we were broke when we weren’t, told us there was a gravy train that didn’t exist and while you were congratulating yourself on electing him he blew over a billion of your dollars. On nonsense. He has turned the Sheppard subway issue into the biggest red herring in Toronto’s history.

Facts are facts. We cannot afford to build that subway of his, much less operate it. For more straight up info on that go to http://www.thegridto.com/city/politics/tunnel-of-dreams/ No sane person still wants a subway after reading this even though he clearly states the case for both sides. But people. We need more transit all over the city. Not just down Sheppard.  We cannot blow the roll on one line that will take 10 or more years to build and leaves us with no money to spend on transit for the next 20 years. Three years from now we could have several lines, if not running, damn close to running. I’d love to have a subway down every main drag. But come on.

I lived in Calgary when they built the LRT. I hasten to point out that was 30 some years ago. There was such a carrying on. Here the real opposition is coming from the SUV drivers who think (it is not true) that they will lose driving lanes for their gas guzzling road hogs. There it was Pick-Up Truck drivers with the same concerns. The dang thing was going to run right down the middle of the main drag. This after they had already had the temerity to close down part of said drag and make it into a gorgeous, but vehicle free, mall. A really gorgeous mall, I might add. We could learn from that too.

At any rate that LRT got built and several more since. It worked. It cut the traffic in the city center way down. It was just to damn easy to get on and off. Being from Toronto I loved no stairs and no figuring out which tunnel to exit from. I love to tell about the time I rode the LRT in a blizzard. There was 16 inches (not centimetres) on the ground. That train ran. Slower but it ran. You can’t say that about our subway. LRT’s are heavier than subway trains.

Next Wednesday we’ll put this one to bed. The mayor may stir the shit for a bit but it’s done. Accept your fate Mr. Ford. Now we have him cornered. I would only hasten to point out a cornered animal is a dangerous thing. He and his brother worry me. They give us no reason to trust them. Doug does not seem to have any sort of filter at all to his words and it is easy to believe he just might pummel someone given enough goading. Rob is a quiet manipulator. What does go on behind closed doors between him and his henchmen? What does he hold in store for us next? He is all about winning. He must win at all cost and the cost is us.

Happy Ides of march Toronto. Appropriate don’t you think?




Real Life in the Subway

Sunday afternoon I rode the Sheppard Subway back and forth from Don Mills to Yonge for about 2 and a half hours. It was myself and Councillor Shelley Carroll and El Costello. We took it upon ourselves to approach people and engage them in conversation on the current transit “situation”. I know it might sound a bit silly but it was fun. With the possible exception of the one charming man who refused to shake the Councillors hand and gave a tart “I don’t agree with your politics”, we found warmth and an amazing willingness to share.

I’ll tell you this. The mayor’s not entirely wrong in his opinion. Almost to a man people told us they wanted subways. But…and it’s a big but. More than subways they want the transit system to work again and they want it to work soon, very soon. And! Surprise Rob, they don’t actually care whether it’s above ground or below. Given their druthers, but they understand the cost in time and money.  Our tax payers are far smarter than you think.

We were very carefully not pushing an agenda. I think it could have been called an information gathering. But what struck me the most was how confused everyone is. Their opinions are fully coloured by the media.  For instance, Sun readers are rabid subway supporters. But when you remove the hyperbole and start giving them both sides of the story unvarnished, they come almost immediately to the transit city plans. Faster, cheaper, way more for your buck. Makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Now if only the mayor would step back and see that this whole thing has absolutely nothing to do with him winning something. Robbie likes to win. This has to do with the City of Toronto. It is far less a defeat of him and his chuckle head brother, than it is far more a win for the city. Thank the lord the council seems to have remembered why we elected them.

Our city council should never be run as a contest. Lately its felt like a bad episode of Survivor. With the big dufus bully guy pushing his way on all. And now someone is trying to eliminate the bully. I doubt it is possible and he’s been rendered impotent now anyway. He succeeded in bullying the so-called “centrists” for a while. Then they started to find their council feet and remember who elected them. Their fellow councillors reminded them that they could, in fact, should, be voting their own minds. And apparently, now they do.

There is hope here kids. Let’s cheer them on. Send your councillor a thankyou or an attaboy every now and again. They need to know somebody besides the mayor’s vaunted Tim Horton’s crowd is watching. Let’s have the city we deserve.

Happy spring day Toronto. Walk your dogs extra long.





The RePoliticization of Me

"A female demonstrator offers a flower to...

Image via Wikipedia

I continue to believe that the way to win the kind of political optimism that Toronto so very badly needs is to engage the population at the grass-roots level. The very down and dirty grass-roots level. When I was 17, 18, 19 there was a terrible unjust war being fought over a jungle. To my generation it made no sense at all. We rose up and forced people older than ourselves to listen. It was obviously a little more complicated than that, but we did wrestle the government of the, arguably, strongest country in the world to the ground. At the gut level we made them see that voters have power.

That was 40 years ago. How do so many people forget so fast? The secret to good government in our so-called democracy is the vote. It is appalling that less than 50% of our eligible voters vote. I’ll say it again and again and again. Nothing has a more powerful effect on your day-to-day existence than civic politics. I don’t much care for the posturing of our current King in Ottawa. But let’s face it. He’s so far removed from us that he has zero concept of how much damage he did by coming here this week, being photographed with, and agreeing with the Mayor. But only Robbie and his merry band actually believe it meant anything. Stevie would no more pay for our subways than fly! To me the mayor looked like nothing more than a star fucker. Sorry but that’s what I saw.

Somehow we have received the message that our individual votes have no power. That they are not relevant. That is nonsense. You have the right to vote. You have the right to write in a name if you don’t like the ones you see. You have the right to deliberately spoil your ballot which has a power of its own. What if we had an election and no one won? In a democracy that is an option. There have been times in the last 40 years when that felt like the most viable option. It sure would have made people stand up and think in our last civic election when the options were so poor we all just stayed away. When I say we, I don’t mean me. I have never missed an election at any level of government since I became old enough to vote. Can you say that?

I have mentioned these amazing blog/twitter people. I think of them as the kids but that may be a bit patronizing. Still, Some of them could be my grandchildren. If they were I would be so proud. I’m proud anyway. There is a tradition of civil unrest in this country. We may have had some quiet years but I smell a waking population. My sister seems to think I may be a bit deluded. Bit I don’t think so. These “kids” are beginning to feel the power in their words. Every day someone new finds them. Once found they are not easily forgotten. There is so much power in their words.

These “kids” are our future. We need to listen to them and stop letting the mainstream media lie and cheat and steal from our minds. People like Sue Anne Levy are an embarrassment. As few as 20 years ago she would never have been allowed to write such vitriol in a main stream publication. There is power in the truth and that is to be found in the smaller publications and on the blogs. It isn’t all bent one way and I don’t claim to be right in my personal opinion of the Robbie Show. But I demand my right to be heard and demand my right to hear the truth on both sides. Tell me the truth and then step back and let me think! This “Villagers storming the castle” mentality is destroying a city I have loved almost from the moment I set foot in it.

Rob Ford thought that as Mayor he would be king. That pretty much summarizes both him and his followers. They don’t do their homework. Anyone who watched the budget debates should have got that. They were debating a report they HADN”T EVEN READ ! Had he taken the time to read the job description he would have understood that he had one vote and the option to negotiate for support. But he is the proud outsider and that just isn’t his way.

So come on Toronto. All I’m asking is go forth and read! Don’t take my word for anything. Read. Read both sides. Don’t show up screaming at a public meeting and make your entire community look like a bunch of ill educated moron’s. Just because you really haven’t got the facts of both sides of the argument. If you’re going to make up your mind, make it up with a sense of what the real issues are. There is no St.Clair Disaster folks. Go there. They’d be happy to see you in their vibrant and interesting and NOT traffic clogged community. Find the truth. Don’t assume it.

Happy weekend Toronto.

Democracy in Action?

Night view of the Toronto City Hall

Image via Wikipedia

I’m pondering the actual title I gave my blog. Given some of what’s taken place here in Toronto in the last week or maybe even the last year. It’s not easy to be my age in  these weird times. I’m one of those misbegotten pseudo hippies of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Kind of displaced in history. Some of us grew up to be Yuppies. Some of us didn’t grow up at all. And some of us are still kind of stuck somewhere betwixt and between.

We still rail at what’s wrong in the world and there are youngsters around us who look up and see something really cool. Not that I was ever cool. But I have friends who were. If you scratch the surface of us “individuals” you will find someone who’s often just a little scared and a little lonely and still angry as hell at a world that never quite get’s it right. We just never stopped wanting to fight for the things that others decided to let slide. And let’s face it, there’s never been a shortage of causes for us to shriek at. Somehow we didn’t quite ever fit into the right box. We’re not stupid. Often we’re quite smart. But being smart can be a drawback. Especially if you can’t keep your mouth shut.

We see how things are and we feel we must point out how they should be, could be. People don’t always want to know how it should be. It’s actually very sad to figure some of this out at this age. We stopped the war in Viet nam. Nothing could stop us. Nothing but looming adulthood and impending unemployment. They forgot to tell us that the degree they made us go get wasn’t really going to be of much use.

Call me a hopeless romantic. Forget all the philosophizing at one level or another. Who cares whether we have subways or LRT’s or bloody rickshaws. Twenty-Nine people, each of whom has their own agenda came together for a shining afternoon and made it right. They did what they should have. What they could have done all along. They did what they were elected to do. They ran Toronto. O.K. I’m a fool but my heart soared. We just beat Viet nam again.

I’m not a total fool though. It was hard-won by a lot of behind the scenes wheeling and dealing and cajoling. If we want this kind of leadership to continue we have to keep reminding them we are here and we are watching, and we have power too. And we don’t like how Mr. Ford has manipulated our fears and ignorance to lay waste to our city for no good reason at all. None of this was necessary. We fell asleep at the switch and a not very bright man and his brother snuck in and knocked us to our knees.

We’re standing now. On shaky legs, but we’re standing. So let’s start the walk. I want the Toronto I grew up in back, and I can’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t have it. It’s still there. It’s fashionable to bitch right now but come on. Where else would you like to be? Where else can you eat Jerk Chicken for lunch and Tibetan curry for dinner?

Happy week Toronto. I live in hope.






Democracy in Action

The last week, culminating in yesterday’s activities, has been quite the party. Yesterday was like watching the final game of an NBA Championship. The mayor’s got the ball, Stintz has the ball, no maybe the mayor, no Stintz. By half time it was obvious to all but the lamest that the Stintz motion ruled the day. I was exhausted when it was over. But it’s not really over.

Yesterday was an example of what democracy actually is. One man, one vote. The most votes win. That was very heartening. It’s also the most cohesive vote in the short history of the Mega City. It would certainly seem that we may just have finally set our ailing transit system on its stubbly little legs. Now let’s see if it can let go and walk, no run, to Scarborough. And dare I hope, on the other side, to the airport! It will take time and money and in spite of the fact that many residents are going to expect to see their transit change in 6 months, this is a 25 year deal at best. To as Councillor Carroll says, fix our circulatory system. But fix it we must.

Yesterday was far more historic in how we hobbled a mayor. I don’t think there has ever been a mayor such as this in Canadian history. I know it’s happened in the U.S. but this is a first here. A guy with little or no real ability. Zero worldliness. A guy who has publicly stated, for the record. The city should not be donating money to The Aids Committee of Toronto because “only queers and hookers” get it. ‘Who can’t say library. Is it really possible for such a man to be Mayor of Toronto? Apparently it is.

I have said this many times in the last 15 months. We deserved this. We sat back and bitched and moaned and didn’t get involved and forgot how much of our tax dollar is spent at this level of government. The election was a party joke for the most part. But did you vote? In my own circle of friends I can count on 3 fingers how many voted. Don’t laugh at me when I ask you, what if Joe Pantelone was mayor? Just really think about it in light of the last year. It sure as hell couldn’t be any worse. That man was quietly running the city at the left hand of the mayor for years. That quiet little man is wise and loves Toronto, all of Toronto. His only fault? Couldn’t run a campaign.

We still have 32 months to get to a next election. A cornered bully is like a fox among the hens. The bond in council is fragile and will be heavily affected by ego’s. Be careful people. Those who fall for their own PR will always fail in the end. We see that now. Don’t forget this lesson. If you divide yourself up again and start to squabble, he could come straight down the middle and screw us again. If you are truly interested in a united Toronto you will not let us have another farcical election. Send him to the corner and let it be a fair fight. I can see it being between Right and Left. But let’s not let North, South, East, and West throw the public into a tizzy. Try to get along. Try to remember why you are there.

Be happy on this bright new day Toronto.

I Wanted to be Barbie But………..

When I was about 10 Barbie appeared. She became the thing all of us HAD to have. That black and white striped strapless (oh my God) bathing suit and the perfect pony tail! Having her was bliss. Wanting to be her was bliss. We spent hour upon hour erecting a Barbie City in our basement. We made houses and streets and parks and weird cars. There was no Barbie RV or sports car then. We built it all out of shoe boxes. It was fabulous. With our imaginations we could have anything we wanted then. Be anything we wanted. Of course we had to tend with the constant mocking of my younger, and incredibly cynical sister’s comments. My friends and I knew nothing of the real world at that point in time. We were still in Leave it to Beaver land. She, on the other hand, had been contending with what was eventually a terminal health issue. She had dealt with the realities of the big grown up world since the age of 2 or 3. She knew we were nuts.

I tell you this story because I think that is the world we are currently living in. Subways don’t get built from shoeboxes. My mother would not buy us a Barbie Sports Car when they came out because we were not rich and she could not afford it. Something we didn’t understand and it made us mad and tempermental. That’s what Toronto is now. A mad and tempermental 11 year old throwing a childish temper tantrum. I grew up to appreciate how tough it must have been to raise 3 kids,one with severe health problems. Women didn’t work then so there was one income, one car, and no medicare until I was 11.

Life is tough. It was tough then and it’s tough now. The only way to truly survive is to accept what you can’t change and fight for what you can change. The councillors who Sue Anne Levy so fondly refers to as the Left Wing Kooks are speaking the language of moderation and reality. They aren’t saying we cannot have good transit. They’re saying we have to buy what makes the most sense with the dollars we have. Having subways sounds just so wonderful. So was that Sports Car. The simple fact is we cannot have that Sports Car. I had 2 other sisters who were entitled to some toys too. So I didn’t get a real Ken, I got a clone. Tough noogies. They need transit all over this city. Not just on Shepherd. And they need it now folks. It takes years, think in decades,to build a subway with dollars we don’t have.

Perhaps I am being incredibly naive but why oh why can our Mayor not face his faults. Every politician makes silly promises that are not well thought out while in the throes of a campaign. The Liberals never got rid of the GST and we can’t afford subways. Don’t you think you’d feel better about Hizzoner if he came out with “oops I was mistaken” “didn’t have all the facts” “lets figure this out now”  But I fear there will be no such rational thoughts. And watch out Etobicoke. You may be building a casino! In this time and space we are watching a bunch of presumably grown adults running in ever decreasing circles trying to keep a petulant child happy. If there’s one thing I know. The only cure for a tantrum is put him in an empty room and close the door. Tell him you love him and he can come out when he’s ready to be rational and play nice. As a matter of fact, we might consider doing the same with Sue Anne Levy.

Have a nice day Toronto. I still love you!




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