I haven’t written for a long time. My life has been in free fall as things around me change. Lost one of my sweet pups to bloody Cancer, likely caused by exposure to pesticides, so don’t tell me there’s anything wrong with Dandelions! It took him so damn fast I hardly had time to react. Leaving Harry Potter and I to wonder where our little love went. Harry is still searching for his brother 8 months later. I was forced into involuntary retirement by my damn arthritis and back issues. That is to say I was forced into involuntary poverty by going on ODSP. That’s a trip. Then I lost my Mother. That sucks large. You just don’t quite believe your parents can die. Then they do. Now what?
So is it any wonder I haven’t really felt much like taking part in the world? Then a friend talked me into going to FordFest on Friday and suddenly I’m awake.
I have never claimed to be anything more than a citizen with opinions. There are plenty of folk smarter than me doing the intellectual opinionating. Mine is the visceral reaction of a citizen impassioned by the actions of a completely unbelievable situation. At times on Friday I felt like I was in a Fellini film. Giant grinning fat man bouncing jolly as he shakes hands. Other big blond man shouting unintelligible nonsense into any microphone he could find. Very young boys and girls wandering around seemingly aimlessly, in Ford nation T-shirts. The line for not particularly tasty food was easily 3 blocks long at times. The line to shake the fat man’s hand was about half the length of the food line. Regular park using folk wandered through this bizarre spectacle walking their dogs and staring in amazement, or trying to ride their bikes through the crowd.
Anyone who thinks there is no Ford nation needed to see that spectacle. It has traumatized me. I knew they were out there but I kept telling myself it was a shrinking thing. That event made my blood run cold. Especially because the majority seemed to be from immigrant and low income population. These are people who work way to hard to spend time really reading and watching. They read headlines. They only see the message the Fat Man wants them to see. They do not get that he cares not one wit about them. It is them that have had the biggest impact from his bumbling attempts to govern. How do we make them see that if it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, sticks it’s head under its wing to hide from the truth like a duck……IT’S A GOD DAMN DUCK!!
As long as council remains enmeshed in it’s clique mentality. As long as so many are chasing their own personal agendas. We are doomed. There will be 4 more years of this bull shit. This city has been paralyzed since before amalgamation. I cannot live through 4 more years of this. I am quite literally considering moving. But what wold that prove? Governments are screwed up everywhere. Our systems were created when the population was about one sixteenth of what it is now. We are crushed under the weight of an enormous bureaucracy that makes no sense at all, in so many places. If the Fat Man really wants to find some gravy why doesn’t he have a long hard look at the ODSP system. Or OW. Why are our development fees the lowest in the country in a city with the biggest building boom in North America? Why, in the name of the God of your choice, do we need another expensive study to decide if downtown is congested. Down town IS congested. Look out the window Councillor!!
I just went through the most insane process ever. Made an application to ODSP at my doctor’s insistence. I’m a chef. We don’t generally find ourselves with health benefits or pension plans. My bad health wiped out any small savings I might have had over the last 10 years as I struggled not to give in. OK I surrendered. I filled out the forms, got my doctor to do the same, interestingly they pay the doc 150 bucks to fill those forms out. Now I get informed it takes 6 to 8 months for this to process. Huh? Six months and this tribunal I’m not allowed to see or speak to turns me down. WTF??? Case worker informs me 70 % get turned down on the FIRST go round. HUH!! Now I have to file a review. A second group I am not allowed to see or speak to will review. My doc writes a strongly worded message to add to the file. I got my approval on this round so 7 months in I am finally getting a whopping 1158.00 a month to live on in Toronto. Well hell, OW was only 606.00 a month so I feel like I won the lottery. How sad is that?
Oh and I forgot to tell you. Had the review refused me I would then go to a tribunal with a THIRD set of people, where I could finally argue my case. How much does that process cost us every year? Why wouldn’t you submit the paperwork, Let them review it and then have you come in front of them? One step. One group of, I’m quite certain, well paid people. How can you make such life saving decisions based on nothing more than paper work? How did we end up with all these hugely unwieldy systems in place? If there’s gravy it’s not in council. It’s in the systems successive councils have created over years and years. It’s still happening because we are electing people who do not understand that they are each and everyone of them responsible for ALL the city. Not just their little pocket. The decisions they are making affect us all. The ripple effects they cause seem to be unseen by so many of them.
I don’t claim to have answers but I say it over and over. We MUST find the way to get citizens engaged. I don’t ask you to support whomever I support. I ask you to support, period. Read beyond the message. Find the meat in the item. Be informed before you vote. The Fat Man is like the Wizard of Oz. Look behind the curtain for heaven’s sake. But look behind every curtain. In fact, council has wrestled the Fat Man into irrelevance. Unfortunately we are so fascinated by his hijincks we aren’t noticing that the Nunziata woman wilfully violated council rules last week in allowing the transit issue back on the floor, or Karen Stintz pulling a fast one re: the SRT, or I can go on and on and on. Do yourself a favour. Take a day off when council is in session. If you can’t go down there, at least watch it on TV. It’s pretty damn scary some times. You may well find yourself watching your councillor making an ass of his or herself. You may find that someone you didn’t like, thanks to the Fat Man or perhaps some newspaper columnist, turns out to sound like a rational voice in the wilderness.
Toronto, my beloved city, is strangling in this insanity. It’s rather easy for councillors to stay concerned for only their own wards. Did you know, for instance, that my research indicates that Ms. Stintz has never ridden the SRT? WTF! I worked in an industry where federal safety standards come in to play. The decibel level when the SRT grinds around that insanely tight curve is so much higher than what would be allowed in a factory.
By law we should be issuing ear plugs with the tickets. A factory would be shut down for that offence. How long before the class action suit ?
I could go on and on. I’ll stop now but my juices are flowing so stay tuned. I shall shout it to the sky. PLEASE, talk to your neighbours. You tell two friends then they tell two friends then……. We can do this. We can have our own quiet Arab Spring. Remember Jack Layton’s final words to us
“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”