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middleagedinthenewmillenium

This shall be my rant. These are the rants of a confused citizen just trying to survive from day to day. I am one of "they" & I'm tired of hearing what I want when no one asked me! I comment on poverty, politics and life in the new millennium. I believe in the people, all the people, and I love Toronto with all my heart.
middleagedinthenewmillenium has written 46 posts for middleagedinthenewmillenium

Whatever Rob, Whatever!

I haven’t written anything for months. In all honesty I have just got totally fed up with Toronto Politics. You’d think I’d have all sorts to say about the whole Fordian drama thing but it simply does not interest me. What interests me is the ease with which Torontonians can bitch ad infinitum. We live in a fabulous city. Not a perfect city. A fabulous city. It’s become trendy to criticize and bitch non stop about how dreadful we are. We elected a total idiot with zero morals, an addictive and irresponsible personality, and absolutely no idea of what the job entails. We bought into his nonstop messaging despite the total inaccuracy of virtually anything he says. WE did that.

Ford I am disgusted with the people of Toronto. If you don’t like the way things are done then step up and do something about it. For instance. I have attended the meetings about the redevelopment of the Mouth of the Don. You know. The place that has so far caused 3 floods of the DVP this year. Those floods directly affect  at least a million citizens in one way or another. ONE MILLION. Yet at those meetings I have seen maybe 300 people.

We are to blame for all that happens in City Hall that we don’t like. City Councillors are simply people. Our neighbours who decide to get involved. They aren’t necessarily experts in the fields we expect them to run. The learning curve is high. Some of them dig in and learn and do and listen and become fighters for us. They work damned hard and tolerate the shit and abuse we dish to them with aplomb. Some of them just put in the time and let their staff do the work without interference. Some of them use their positions to further their own interests alone. They are a diverse bunch. You have to really look and ask yourself who cares and who doesn’t.

I go to City Hall and I watch it on TV when they’re sitting. The same faces are there all the time. Some because they are journalists. The press. There’s a surprisingly small number of citizens for a city this size. Yet we all have an opinion and we all mutter on like we know what we’re talking about even though we get all our information from the headlines in the various media we scan or half listen to. It’s all bullshit!

We have exactly what we deserve in City Hall. If we want to deserve better then we ALL need to get involved in this glorious city we live in. I know I sound naive. I hear all the “I have a life to live” chatter. Well fine. Then live your life and shut up. Pray the good Councillors can over ride the bad ones. Don’t get out and vote on Oct.27. Why bother? They’re all the same, right? Don’t look beyond the headlines. Don’t find the truth. Just continue on your merry way. Live your life. But know this. You surrender the right to an opinion or any bitching whatsoever when you don’t bother to vote. If you can’t even be bothered to go spoil a ballot then you don’t get a say in anything that happens next. Good OR bad.

 

I watched Mr. Ford’s little speech on Monday. Anyone who buys into that total pap deserves what they get. I saw nothing sincere. I heard no contriteness. I saw a man who desperately wants us all to believe his little vacation in the Muskoka’s has made him a new man. He’s not new. His 60 day vacation caused him to lose a little water weight. He looks like he got some rest. That’s about it. He’ll be drinking again any day now if he hasn’t already started. Nobody gets cured of multiple addictions in 60 days of what appeared to be very casual rehab. Besides which, that is simply not the point. He was and is a bad mayor. This city was never ever even close to bankruptcy though he has said it more than once. He has not saved us anywhere near a billion dollars anywhere but in his own strange fantasy world. He has embarrassed this city the world over. He does arrive late and leave early every bloody day. Hell, he was late for his little speech on Monday. He does not have a grasp on the real parts of a single significant issue affecting your life. While you applaud his insistence that he will lower our already insanely low taxes. Our city is crumbling around us from a lack of funds to upkeep infrastructure. By he way he has not lowered taxes. They’ve quietly risen every year he’s been in office. He does not even know the difference between a street car and an LRT. Do you? 

In spite of the Ford ‘s belief system. A city is not a business. It is a service agency. It’s job is to look after us and our city. When we choose to live here we agree to chip in and help get the work done. That’s called taxes. It costs money to run a city. We are fools if we believe that taxes in Toronto are too high. We are fools if we buy into the bullshit “gravy” message. I’m quite certain there are efficiencies yet to be found in City Hall. I’m also quite certain that Rob Ford has not one clue where to find them. His real brilliance has been that skill that all bullies possess. He has continually pit Councillor against Councillor. Divide and conquer is his mantra. It was only when they began to see him for what he truly is that they began to fight back. Still he has done enough damage that it will be a misery for Ms Chow who looks awfully like our next mayor.

I have loved this city since I first put my foot down in it when I was 15 years old. I have explored every nook and cranny. It is still the same fabulous place it always was. We still have Little Italy and India at Gerrard and Coxwell. High Park is still gorgeous and so are Edwards Gardens. The Giraffes still gaze patiently at me out at the zoo. Bluffers Park is still almost as great a place to visit as Centre Island. The spice store at Kensington Market still smells glorious. Dim Sum at Broadview and Gerrard is still yummy.The Distillery District and Corktown Commons, and Sugar Beach and, and, and, ……… I can go on for an hour.

Toronto isn’t just where I live. Toronto is where I LIVE. I love it here. It’s where I want to live til I am no more. I am not rich and I struggle every day in this expensive city. I don’t care. This is the best city I know and I’m staying. I’m going to keep doing whatever tiny things I can do to make people see the city I believe is worth keeping. I can only hope one or two who might read this will be inspired to love Toronto with the same passion I feel.

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My Toronto Now!

I haven’t written for months. I have started several posts and given up in disgust. I am going to start now. I am going to make my way past my utter disgust with Toronto politics or die trying. There’s an election and our city is infested with a frightening fungus called Ford.

So it’s a week later and I am back trying. In this past week Olivia Chow has released her fabled book and boy is it a lulu. Talk about a self serving vanity piece. Does she really think we’re all so stupid as to believe Jack actually said and wrote some of that stuff? John Tory is threatening to run again. This Is simply childish. Then when the week seemed to be just cold and boring Rob Ford treated us to another great piece of cinematic drunken wonder.

OK, seriously. Here I go again. This is ridiculous now. I have so much in my head that wants to be said. I have avoided Twitter for a while and I went back on the other day. So after over a month I felt as if no time had passed at all. Same old shit. Same old voices. Ford, Ford, Ford, Ford…….

Ford

I just figured something out. It isn’t about Ford. You all need to stop this crap NOW. So I am taking a vow. I will write. I will talk about this election. I will not talk about Ford. He is not the issue. He is done. I will talk about Toronto. As they say on CTV, MY TORONTO!!

60's TO Skyline

When I was a kid I was kind of disconnected. I didn’t really fit anywhere. Except Toronto. We moved here from BC when I was just shy of 16 and I fit here from the word go. It was as if I had just been treading water waiting to find my place and here it was. I got on buses and the subway and street cars and explored this city from one end to the other. I haunted the downtown core. I knew every nook and cranny of the squeaky wooden floors in Eaton’s College Street. I tromped High Park up and down and across. I travelled the College Street car from one end to the other. Queen Street too. I stared at the hippies in Yorkville. I dragged my little sisters with me up and down Yonge Street. We loved all the little boutiques in the old row houses along Bloor Street between Yonge and University. We had milkshakes and Boston Cream Pie at Fran’s College Street.

Row houses

That Toronto is gone. That’s OK. I can live with that. Because there’s a new Toronto out there that is just as good. Actually, better. We’ve been so busy bitching about this, that, and the other that we have all lost site of what we have. We only talk about what we don’t have. I think the path to what we don’t have is right through the middle of what we have.

What if we all stopped focusing on the Ford Brothers show? What if we ALL started showing up at our Councillors public appearances. The community Council meetings. The school appearances. The election meetings. What if we demanded they tell us what they are going to do for us? Not promise us. Do for us!

The mayor of Toronto has ONE vote in council. The mayor can be irrelevant as we all now know. If we demand that our Councillors start paying attention to the Toronto we want and not the ridiculous promises we all know can’t be kept. Imagine what kind of Toronto we’d have?

Council

Let’s look at some of the issues. Lower taxes? I’m sorry kids but that is simply not realistic. Rob brags about our low taxes but in the next breath he promises you subways. He says he’ll get the money from the Feds. Well where the hell do you think they get their money? Do you want to pay higher property taxes where you can demand to have a say in how the money gets spent? Or do you want to pay higher income tax and watch it disappear into coffers where promises are never kept?

You want your sidewalks plowed, your garbage picked up regularly, your power on ALL the time, no floods, pot holes fixed, mowed lawns in parks, sensible property development, Transit – transit – transit, homeless people cared for, a police force that works, firemen, …………..

It all costs money.

Anyone who says they can give you lower taxes without cuts to service is straight up lying. Plain old in your face lying. It is time for us to face this. It is time for us to grow up. We are a major world financial centre. We are, in the eyes of the world, a giant embarrassment right now. The butt of a thousand jokes a night over the antics of a ridiculous man. IGNORE him. Stop talking about him. Start talking about the Toronto we want and deserve. He cannot give it to you. He wouldn’t know how if it bit him in the ass.

We each and every one of us need to look to our individual Councillors and DEMAND that they listen to WHAT WE WANT. No more voting according to their personal agenda. Their personal agendas are irrelevant. We are their relevance. Period. We elect them to vote for our needs. They need to know what the majority needs and then they need to get it for us. If they have to make some painful choices for our own good then they have to do it. Not vote to save their job, vote to save us!

Example. Like it or not, the Scarborough SRT is falling apart. Ask anyone who rides it. It will not last for 15 years while we wait for a subway we can’t afford to be built. Every Councillor knows that. They knew it when they very stupidly voted with the mayor. They all know it will never be built. They all know an LRT is the answer, both physically and monetarily.

Councillors listen to the loudest voices. If the loudest voices are newspapers and people with money who don’t have any other interest but their own. Then that’s who they feed. We need to raise our voices. NOT on Twitter. NOT on Facebook. NOT on Instagram. IN THEIR FACES. It’s time to be heard. It’s time to talk to your neighbours. It’s time to march.meets

We have become a city of bitchers. From the comfort of our living rooms we crab non stop about the state of our city. But we do nothing. Less than half of us even bother to vote. Well if you aren’t prepared to at the very least, vote. Then SHUT UP. If you want a better city then start reading, listening, knowing. And SPEAK UP.

STOP…………………Please

Toronto viewed south from Bloor

So the other night I was watching the by-election coverage. Over and over I heard so-called pundits referring to “what Torontonians want”. What is a Torontonian anyway? Can you define that elusive citizen whom every pundit seems to know so well? When I was a kid wandering the streets of TO I could have answered that fairly easily. I lived in North York and that was a place. You got on the bus and you paid a second fare when the bus got to The Inn on the Park. Then you were in Toronto and on your way to Eglington Station. That was the north end of the subway and to us the gateway to heaven. Torontonians were people who, no matter the ethnic source, welcomed you.TTC staff would usher a 12-year-old who’d run out of money onto the train or bus anyway, cause that was the right thing to do.The jolly ladies behind the counter at Perlmutter’s Bakery in Kensington Market would give my little sister’s a free Ruggy while I bought the best Challah ever to take home. You could take the College street car out to get Sicilian Ice Cream from women behind the counter who did not speak English but that didn’t seem to matter. My Jamaican friend Cecile invited me out to her home in Lansdowne and fed me my first fried Plantain. The Queen car took you east to the old pre renovation Beaches neighbourhood where you could run on the sand and watch the lawn bowlers. We loved to poke around in Eaton’s College Street

Eaton's College Street store in Toronto, Ontario

where the old wooden floors creaked as we tramped about until the purse lipped sales lady’s sent us packing. On Sundays if you ventured downtown it was a ghost town. That was pre Eaton Centre and they really did roll up the sidewalks. The tallest building on the horizon was the first Toronto Dominion Centre tower.

The people of that Toronto had an identity. They lived in Toronto the good. The old city of Toronto was staid and conservative and warm and safe and friendly as hell. When you met someone’s eye on the subway or streetcar they would immediately smile at you. If you were lost you could stop anyone and they would help. It never occurred to us to feel fear on the streets of Toronto. From the age of 15 I wandered the city, often with my two little sisters and various other neighbourhood kids in tow. We once lost my youngest sister and her best friend in Yonge Street and never felt the slightest panic. We knew someone would grab them and we would find them eventually. And we did.

Yesterday I was crammed into a train on my way home from Eaton centre. I was fascinated by how studiously people avoided my gaze so they wouldn’t have to give up a seat to the lady with the cane. A young black boy in the ever-present hoodie and headphones wordlessly stood and waved me over while men in suits avoided my gaze. I thanked him and then I asked him where he was from. “Scarborough, miss.” So much for stereo types. No white middle class suburban kid would ever call me or any other older woman miss. I said “so were you born in Toronto?” He said “no, miss, Scarborough.”

There it is!

Whatever your opinion of amalgamation was. Get over it.  IT”S DONE!

Toronto is a the largest city in Canada. It encompasses all the neighbourhoods you read about from Malvern to Port Union to Long Branch and everything in between.

English: Basic map for locating of neighbourho...

You may LIVE in the suburb of Scarborough but you are FROM Toronto. What stood out to me as a teenager was the pride a Torontonian had in their city. If you lived in the burbs you would always say “I live just outside Toronto” or “on the edge of Toronto”. I don’t think I ever said I was from North York. At best I might say Don Mills. Toronto was a place to have pride in.

It still is.

Our mayor is of questionable morals and seems to care nothing for us. Whatever else you say about him. He is a prime example of our problem. He is NOT a Torontonian. He is from Etobicoke. He does not get it. There is so very much he does not know, or care to know, about this grand city he represents. He represents whomever is of use to him and not much else. BUT. And this is a big but. He is not alone.

I don’t discuss my sister the Councillor. We have agreed that her opinionated and mouthy sister should keep a distance. I must violate this rule just this once. Something she said to a group of her constituents not long ago bares repeating. Over and over. Until it sinks in. She was asked why she was talking about a neighbourhood that was not in her Ward. She said that although they had elected her and yes she was responsible to them. Once they elected her to Toronto City Council she also became responsible to ALL the citizens of Toronto.

There are more than a few city councillors who could learn from this statement. This fractious bunch of people, each pursuing different agendas, have left us divided and confused and angry and apathetic. All at once. We have been lied to, deliberately mislead, twisted in knots, and danced upon. In the face of non stop haranguing from candidates, TV commentators, newspapers, radio stations, door knockers, and signs. We have retreated. Who can blame us? It has become so bloody confusing we have stuck our heads in the sand and begun to pray for the end. We grasp at whatever the simplest message is and hang on for dear life, no matter that we know it’s probably one more lie. Or we just ignore it all and try to live our lives as best we can while these idiots play their sad little games with these lives.

What happened to political candidates who tell us what they will do for us? All most of them seem to do anymore is tell us what their competition is doing wrong. That’s the real secret to Rob Ford‘s success. It matters not one little bit that he never follows through. He tells us what he will do. Most of the time he won’t be able to deliver on his promises. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that when he is running for office, his message is clear, concise, and simple. Laugh at “subways, subways, subways” or better yet “the gravy train”. Go ahead and laugh. He got elected.

Toronto City Council has been frozen in time for years. We’ve had government after government who are so afraid to upset anyone that they make no decision based on the good it might do for the city. Never say no seems to be their motto.

When I was a little girl I had 2 sisters. One was an artist, dreamy and creative and stubborn as hell. When she was little she would not eat anything but dessert and peanut butter. Eventually we would lose her to the heart disease she lived with. My mother was afraid to say no to her. Eventually one of our aunts said if all she wants is dessert, then all she should get is dessert. Three meals a day. So she got dessert 3 meals a day. She was not allowed anything else. By the fifth day she was on her knees begging for what we were eating.

Toronto is like my little sister. Council has forgotten a basic tenet of governance. You can’t make an omelette if you are afraid to crack some eggs. Dessert all the time leads to tooth decay, anemia, and bloating. We need a group of Councillors with the balls to say no. To work together for our own good regardless of the pain it might cause initially. I’d like to take some of our hard-earned money and send the whole bunch of them out on an Outward Bound excursion. They have not one clue how to work together FOR US. How to put their own personal agendas aside and do what is best FOR THE CITY. Without regard to immediate gratification. While they are playing their ridiculous games. All around them our city is being drowned in decay, anemia. and bloat.

We have spent 30 some years arguing about what to do about transit. We have made decisions only to see successive governments undo them in an eternal pissing contest of which we, the citizens, are the victims.

I don’t claim to have the answers. I blog as I think. I don’t claim to be a pundit or wise on any level. I am a citizen of Toronto. I love this city. I don’t want us to become Detroit. In the face of a city council that does not seem able to drop its many personal biases I simply want to know how we wake people up. If Rob Ford had  won his seat by a true majority of eligible voters I would say, okay, that’s what Toronto wants. That’s not what happened. The truth is he got 23% of the eligible voters. The truth is we have been lied and lied and lied to. The truth is this will go on and on and on until we say STOP!

STOP!

Election advice

Please.

Transit Again?

This "Cake in White Satin" with its ...

In 3 years I am going to bake a huge cake and decorate it with a perfectly executed fondant and rice crispy square LRT Car. Then I am going to push it into the City Council chamber on a cart decorated to look like a subway car. Covered in candles. Why? Because it will be the 30th anniversary of the great 1986 Transit debate that was supposed to transform Toronto. We’ve been arguing ever since and I do not doubt for one single second that we will still be arguing in 3 years. As a matter of fact I am hopeful that I will live to see the 50th anniversary and I do not doubt for one second more that we will still be arguing. I see no indication of change any time soon.

Am I the only person in Toronto completely gobsmacked by Nunziata’s actions regarding this debate? She allowed the item to be opened without taking it to council for a vote. Even though she was advised by the city clerk that it contravened protocol. For my money this isn’t even a legal debate. I cannot believe that councillors are not up in arms. I’m afraid I can only surmise that this is political position jockeying at its absolute worst. Toronto is now being held hostage to a bunch of people more concerned with their own political careers than the good of this city.

Is this why we elected these people? I am appalled. They are now all hiding behind the convenient smoke screen produced by our joke of a mayor and his even bigger joke of a brother. In my mind if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, drinks like a duck, it IS a duck. I’m afraid I am beginning to resign myself to another Ford victory. It will be our faults. We elected these self-serving fools who are all mired in personal agendas. To be sure I’m being a little unfair. There are at least a dozen good councillors. Thirty percent is not enough.

We don’t need to reconfigure wards, we don’t need to change our style of government, we don’t need to do anything more than find and elect a group of people who give a damn about this WHOLE city and its citizens. We have to stop staggering under the perceived weight of amalgamation and figure out how to make it work for us. It’s not going to go away. It is here to stay. This could be a good thing if we had politicians who could see past their own little communities. I once heard a councillor (a very good one) say to her constituents at a community meeting. “You elected me to represent your interests but when you elected me you made me responsible to the whole City of Toronto.” WOW! Now there’s a concept. her constits got it that night and there was a very reasonable debate following that comment. Where do we find a few more of those?

The city council chamber in Toronto, Ontario.

In the face of this insane transit debate I am coming to believe that the election of 2014 will be, possibly, the most important city election Toronto has ever seen. The very quality of our lives is at stake as it never has been before. We need the transit bull shit settled once and for all. We need to address how we deal with the poor and disenfranchised. We need to control the way we are expanding both up and out. We need to decide and act on the Portlands. There are so many really important things to deal with it becomes overwhelming.

I wonder how many people in Toronto even know what the job of City Councillor really entails. To hear our dear mayor tell it, all they have to do is sit in council for a couple of days squabbling like embarrassing children and then answer the phone a lot and talk to constituents. I happen to know from personal experience that the good councillors are putting in, bare minimum, 60 hours a week. That’s a minimum and they put in some time every single day of the week. The day there is nothing they feel they must do is a rare Sunday.

The mayor came into council and debated his first budget having NOT EVEN READ IT. He debated the Chong report having NOT EVEN READ IT. In fact he does not read any of these reports and it is often screamingly obvious in his debating skills. Now to be fair I cannot criticize him all by himself. I have heard it said that at least half of the councillors will not have read the reports they are debating. When you consider the amount of money these reports cost the city this becomes completely outrageous. The Chong report cost the city literally millions of dollars. I read it from cover to cover. I attended the debate. I can tell you with certainty who read it and who didn’t. Looking for gravy your honour? I think I just found some!

There are some simple facts to consider. The biggest one is Transit. Nobody denies we need to address our current crumbling system and expand and bolster it. Our problem is and continues to be, no one will sign off on a plan and commit to it once and for all. No more allowing successive governments to come in and undo what has been done. Does anyone remember that Transit City was already underway when Ford cancelled it. Costing the city 140 MILLION dollars in cancelled contracts and unfinished work. If he hadn’t done that we would have had 3 years of work on a new system already done. I don’t give a damn what we build anymore. JUST BUILD SOMETHING FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

English: "Transit City" billboard pr...

As I have said many times before. This is the 4th largest city in North America. A major financial market with a world-class reputation. Our federal government is quite happy to take our money and give us absolutely nothing in return. Our provincial government has its head in the sand in an effort to not see what is literally right in front of its nose. More and more we become a city of haves and have nots. I travel the TTC and chat people up. I hear about 90 minute rides to work EACH WAY. I hear people praise this mayor who lies to them at every turn. Who does not care one wit for their welfare. They read the headlines or listen to his radio show cause that’s all they have time for. He knows that and he’s the absolute King of the message.

This messaging stuff is beyond powerful and though the mayor is the reigning champion we have plenty of councillors on the same train. The secret to a better city government is educating the population to what is really going on. I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote. But I insist that you know what the

English: Ballot Box showing preferential voting

candidates stand for behind the message. Do your research, attend the debates, ask questions, and when I ask you why you want to vote for whomever, have a real answer. That’s all. These people’s decisions have a far greater effect on our daily lives than any other level of government. Transit, hydro, roads, bike paths, parks, garbage pickup, rent control, building permits, and so on and so on and so on. Why in the name of God are we so careless with who we put in charge of deciding how these things happen?

This is the Real World Kids!

Sunday Morning

It is a beautiful Sunday morning in July. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. I’m drinking a cup of tea and I’m using duct tape to mend the garbage bags I used to move my clothes to this minuscule little apartment I moved into a couple of months ago. Mend garbage bags? WTF! I am not the reuse queen of the world. What I am is poor and these GD bags are expensive.

How did I come to this place? I was born of a middle class family. We were never poor, at least if we ever were, my sisters and I weren’t aware of it. We weren’t rich either but we never wanted for much. We generally got what we wanted for birthdays and Christmases. We were always dressed well, even if our Mom was not one to allow for label worship. I bless her for that. As we grew, so did the family income. Our Father was very good at what he did.

I grew up to be a chef. Never was a brilliant Susur Lee sort of chef. I was a good administrator and a damn good cook but never one to make tall food and be spread across TV and Magazines.  I found my niche in Product Development. I was very good at that. Am very good at that. However, pride goeth before a fall, or so they say. In the years when I was making a very good salary I was also succumbing to a series of debilitating illnesses. I gradually lost my ability to be sharp and snappy to neurological pain and chronic arthritis. A year ago after losing my third contract in a row to what can only be called poor execution due to drug induced brain fuzz and physical disability. I gave in to the suggestions, oft made, that I surrender to my infirmity and go on the fabled ODSP.

Now if you, like the former me, know nothing factual about our social welfare system, you might think this was a good thing. Aren’t I lucky these systems exist to catch me? I could be a U.S. citizen living in a cardboard box. You might be one of those who would go so far as to suggest I was now living off the public teat. Lounging around on the HUGE cheque I get every month for doing absolutely nothing! Well that giant cheque has yet to appear. Allow me to disabuse you of these notions.

While you are sitting reading this over brunch, I am drinking my tea without the cream I prefer in it because I don’t have enough money to go buy some. I am taping holes in plastic garbage bags with duct tape because I cannot afford to waste anything at all. My next giant cheque doesn’t come for 2 weeks and I am down to pasta, a few cans of soup, 2 cans of salmon, and lots of spices.

SHOPPING FOR GROCERIES IN A WASHINGTON, DISTRI...

Oh and some frozen chicken a kind chef friend gave me. I’ll survive the lack of food in the cupboard. It won’t hurt me to lose a few pounds but how the hell am I gonna pay the Bell and Hydro bills?

When you apply for ODSP they tell you it will take 6 to 8 months to process the claim.They mean it! They very kindly put you on Ontario Works right away. That means that you are now the proud receiver of the lordly sum of 606.00 a month. Divided as Basic needs 230.00, Shelter 376.00.Period, full stop. And you are told you will pretty much go to jail for life if you so much a think about getting funds from anywhere else and not reporting them. Of course should you earn any other funds and report them you will be penalized by having the 606.00 reduced accordingly. Good Luck surviving. If any aspect of your life, whatsoever, should change and you do not report it, you will be summarily kicked off the program without so much as a by your leave.

Meanwhile our country is being raped and pillaged by a government that cares not one wit about our survival from one day to the other. Our duly elected officials in any one of the 3 levels of government only hear our voices when they need us to get elected. They will quite happily promise us the moon for that particular purpose. Once they are elected, we become, WHO? In the Provincial legislature no one makes less than 100 grand. Ministers make 165, the premier makes 200. Upon retirement, defeat, resignation or death a member will receive severance. If the member has served just 8 years he/she will receive 18 months of salary which for a minister would be somewhere in the 250 K area. On the face of this it might not seem like a lot of money. If you are only getting 606.00 a month, period. It might as well be a billion dollars.

Canadian Finance Minister Ralph Goodale.

What I find utterly reprehensible is what federal members get. The federal government has become nothing short of a singular joke. They do not govern us any more. They sit on high and dream up ways to strip us of our birthright. Spend our money on follies that have not one benefit to us. Lie and lie and lie and lie to us. In return, after a mere 6 years of service they can retire with pensions of 100K, at a minimum, per year for life. Ditto Senators. If Ralph Goodale retires in 2015 and lives to 90 we will pay him in excess of 5 MILLION dollars of OUR money. For what?? WTF!! Our federal government is sucking us dry with pension plans and benefits far exceeding what is remotely realistic for the average Canadian. 

Meanwhile back in my life. I continue to tape my garbage bags and wonder if I can con my Dad into buying me dinner tonight. After 7 months a panel of people I was never ever allowed to see or speak to decided to, one assumes after reading the documents they paid my doctor 150.00 to fill out, refuse me ODSP. I am then informed by my case worker, who I hasten to say, is a lovely hard-working woman in a really crappy job. They turn down 70% on the FIRST go round. I suspect if you aren’t missing a limb you are never getting past that step. Then you ask your doc for a reaffirming letter and you ask for an internal review that goes to a second group of people you don’t get to see or speak to. After all this time they have 10 working days to give you an answer. Should they turn you down again, you petition to go in front of some tribunal. There you are finally in front of real live people. A THIRD group of people.

Government spending

Speaking of government waste………

I am, I’m told, lucky. They awarded me ODSP benefits last week after the internal review. I know you want to know. I am now going to receive 1068.00 a month. OH MY GOD! What will I buy first? How did this happen? I get this lordly sum til I am 65 which is 3 and 1/2 years. Then I get kicked to Old Age which is less kids, not more. After a life full of promise I am destined to an old age of disability and poverty. My rent, in a not necessarily high end by anyone’s description, 1 bedroom apartment, is 840.00/month plus hydro. This is considered a low rent in Toronto. For those of you keeping score. Once I pay rent and hydro I have about 200.00 left, for groceries, phone, TV, Transit (did I mention I had to get rid of my car?), tooth paste, garbage bags, etc.

I have everything I need really. I have furniture and blankets and a wee dog I love ridiculously much. I have a Dad I adore and though she left us a month ago, I had a Mom who was totally amazing. My sisters were both completely awe inspiring. One was an artist and though she left us to soon she left us with so much. The other is a bright star in the sky. She is my youngest sister and I am amazed by her every single day. My life is rich in everything but money. Is it so wrong to want the disenfranchised to feel just as good as the rest? My life is winding down in a don’t get excited I’m not going anywhere just yet, sort of way. But what if you were the lovely family who lives next door to me. There is a Mom a Dad and FOUR kids living in a space that is exactly one tiny bedroom larger than my tiny space.

Here’s what stands out about my new neighbourhood. The cops and/or the fire department are gonna be here at least once every Friday or Saturday night. Dad’s are often the primary caregivers of their kids cause it’s Mom who has the decent job. The parking lot has very few actual cars in it cause no one can afford one. The kids all play out side. You remember outside? No nanny escorts. When they want back in they holler at the building til someone’s Mom lets them in. People say hello and smile when they see you. Every time. If someone needs something, someone else has, and helps. I’m happy to announce the Canadian human spirit is alive and well in the projects. Oh there’s some bad shit going down too. It’s not all spice and roses but so what. The bad dudes aren’t hiding inside their expensive condos down here in the real world. Makes it way easier to watch out for them.

Child play

This is still Toronto the good but Toronto the good is kinda fucked up and I really would like to figure out how we fix it. Some time soon would be good!

The Fat Man Cometh!!

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.

Fellini: I'm a Born Liar

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?

The Poverty Line in Toronto

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.

3024

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.”

Can we?

I have not written for quite some time. Partly because there was too much to do and partly because I have just become totally fed up. For a bit I have been in a WTF state. The world around me is just such a bloody mess. How do I make a difference all by myself? I live in a city that has let a man with no moral compass be mayor. He flaunts the law and continually gets away with it. He’s the Jim Bakker of politics. I believe the law will stop him cold very very soon. Unfortunately I am afraid I will not be surprised if the fractious city we live in re-elects him anyway. Wasn’t it the mayor of Washington, D.C. who was caught red-handed with cocaine, did time, came back and got re-elected?

WE created government. No one seems to remember that. It was our decision to choose members of our number to be our democratically elected government. WE decided its form. WE built it’s structures, approved it’s rules, agreed to abide by them. WE built this. US. WE the people. What has been built can be rebuilt. Or torn down and started over. This CAN be done. These clowns who rule us have forgotten why they are where they are. WE have forgotten how they got there. Look at the Arab Spring. Those people rose as one, fearless in the face of plenty of guns. Libya, Egypt, Syria. These people who it is so easy for us to condescend to have stood as one and said ENOUGH! Have died for the change. Would you?

Why is it so hard to get the people of this country to see this? Why are we so willing to sit back and take this crap we are being dished? We have an embarrassing fool at the head of the most powerful city in the country. A city that is starving for the funds it needs to truly be the city it should be and once was. We have a virtual dictator at our country’s head. He is answerable to no one and quite likely will get re-elected by a people who seem oblivious to all the dubious decisions he is making that are destroying our natural resources. Natural resources that are our birthright.

Chief Theresa Spence is committing an incredibly brave act of defiance. Do people get tIdle No More, Vancouverhat not only is the PMO ignoring her. Many of the chiefs in Canada do not support her stance. My heart bleeds for this brave woman. She makes me feel very small indeed. If her fellow chiefs are not willing to make compromises with the government, her action will not succeed. Her battle is far bigger than we realise. I am fasting with her for the weekend and doesn’t that seem like a very tiny thing to do?

This is a country that has done so much for its immigrants. We are known for that. People want to come to Canada from all points. Yet we cannot seem to solve the problems of our own indigenous people. We have reserves with no potable water in a country that is currently one of the most financially stable in the world. Huh? The Chiefs have one stance and the Government has another. No one wants to budge. Hello you bunch of bureaucratic fools! People are dying while you play this childish game. If the chiefs are to receive the financial support so desperately needed BY THEIR PEOPLE. They MUST accept the fact that they will have to answer to our Auditor General. Full Stop.

Our native Canadians have not been treated well, as is true in most countries with indigenous peoples. OK. I know the history. I grew up in the interior of BC. I saw, I went to school with it. It sucked, sucks. Large. BUT this is 2013. We can’t change what has been done. The past is the past, shameful though it may be. We CAN make the future better. We must accept our responsibilities to all our citizens. I understand the power of their anger and I acknowledge the shame. Anger achieves nothing. Anger and the stubborn wills of a few powerful men are what makes war. Isn’t it time we learned from our mistakes or are we really doomed to keep making the same mistakes over and over and over? The poverty and hardships of our native population are truly shameful but hey. People are starving right here in River City too folks. Do you know where the largest population density of indigenous peoples is in Canada? The city of Toronto kids.

CAN we not acknowledge that our systems aren’t working particularly well? can we not take a long hard look and start changing things? CAN Harper’s government stop and realize they are not going to get away with raping this countries natural resources? We’re on to you Steve. CAN the Chiefs not recognize that the jig is up. Time to be responsible leader 100% of the time please. Your people are starving in tents. CAN we not find a way for transparency to be a part of the agreement without making accusations and reriminations for the past? We both have plenty to answer for in the past. Both!

Please, please, please hear my emotional response to Chief Spence’s actions. I believe it is not just the CPC she is making this stand for. I believe she is handing a wake up call to her fellow chiefs as well. As we say to all small children “Can’t we all get along?” Peoples lives are at stake. It doesn’t matter who WAS right or wrong. It matters that people need help. OUR people. OUR people. We are all Canadians damn it. All of us. I am not claiming to know the answer but I know the answer is there, right in front of us. We just need to all work together to find it. It IS that simple. CAN we?

Henry Ford said “Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both right.” I think we can. Do you?

Mayor? What Mayor?

I was just reading the latest blog of the esteemed  cityslikr . I really love reading his take on city hall because it’s so plain-spoken, intelligent, and honest. I began thinking about the gifts Mr Ford has bestowed upon us. While it is true that I have a sister in city politics, she has been there quite some time. It did nothing to stir me into being the slightest bit really interested in city politics. That was something that went on somewhere in that building downtown and kept her out til all hours doing something that seemed to have a lot to do with garbage and meetings. I felt quite apathetically confident that all was in hand. Much like most of the city, judging by the last elections voting statistics. Occasionally if I was home I’d watch just enough of city hall to have a pretty low opinion of a lot of it’s members.

The city council chamber in Toronto, Ontario.

The city council chamber in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, Rob Ford has given us a really good kick in the ribs. Like so many I refused to believe it was even possible for him to win the election. Now, I did vote. I always vote. Have never missed voting since I was oldest enough to do so. It is astonishing to me how many people I know who did not. Couldn’t be bothered, felt certain city politics weren’t all that important anyway. Then the proverbial shit hit the fan and we all began to find out otherwise. Oh crap! Transit, hydro, garbage, the Portlands, casinos, conflicts of interest, flagrant dereliction of duty, city council without a leader. It just goes on and on. We all look at each other and wonder, how the hell did this happen?

Like so many, I assume that all politicians lie. Maybe not all the time and maybe not always dangerously, but it seems to be part of the job. I know some don’t. I know my sister doesn’t. She’s one of the all too rare few who will tell you the truth even when it’s not what you want to hear. We need a lot more of that. Way to many politicians won’t do that because they are way to interested in keeping their jobs and not nearly interested enough in what we elected them to do. That’s a problem with our system.

Our mayor lies. Apparently he doesn’t actually know how not to. In every single instance where he has been confronted in the past two years, his first instinct has been to lie.Tthoughtlessly and carelessly.  He doesn’t seem to understand what all good liars know. You need to remember details if you’re going to tell a whopper. He just lies and lies and lies and gets caught and caught and caught.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

He seems never to have grown emotionally past that 12-year-old boy phase where if you just stand pat maybe you can finally get away with it. Like all 12-year-old liars, he never learns the error of his way. He’s just so sure that if he holds on and keeps desperately weaving and re-weaving the tale, at some point we’ll believe him.  And like all bullies everywhere, when all is finally lost the pat reaction is; “It’s not fair, you guys are just picking on me”.

I don’t always agree with my father’s viewpoints. He’s from a different generation and a different viewpoint. He taught us that everyone has the right to be heard and that makes for some pretty interesting dinner conversations. He believes one thing that I’m starting to believe he’s very right about. No one should be allowed to make politics a career in and of itself. Without apparent purpose.  You should not be allowed to forget what your job is. We need a way to fire you, if you aren’t doing your job. They have recall in B.C. We’re the biggest city in the country and the focal point of the country’s economy and we are currently saddled with a buffoon as our mayor with no way to rid ourselves of him. OMG!

We are seeing this in the federal government right now. We have a sitting Senator who has full on Alzheimer’s disease. Who is at the institutionalized stage and we’re still paying her salary. What the hell? We have a mayor who has not idea one about what his job actually is. He wanted to win the position. He told us a whole lot of nonsense that was nothing more than fancy spin messaging. Gravy train, waste in City Hall. I’m not saying there wasn’t or aren’t efficiencies to be found. There always are. I’m saying he didn’t, doesn’t, have clue one what they are. He just saw a thing and wanted it. So he went after it. Then he won it. Isn’t that enough? What? You want me to work now? I’m busy volunteering your time, can’t you see that?

Back to his gifts. Thank you Rob Ford. You made the members of a terribly fractured council come together. They had not figured out how they were going to deal with amalgamation. They were still voting in blocks, Scarborough, East York and so on. They did not have a full grasp on the importance of Toronto being Toronto, the GTA. You gave us that. You made the apathetic of the city begin to wake up and realize that city politics are far more important to our daily lives than any of the nevertheless crazy moves being made in Ottawa or Queens Park. You made us start asking, in lots and lots of cases we are demanding, that our councillors start representing us! We the people. You continue to behave like a spoiled child and slowly, oh so slowly, most of your supporters have begun to see you for what you are.

Oh, I’m not a fool. There will always be a small core of foolish and deluded folks who choose to believe you know what you are doing. You will still be dangerous if you are actually allowed to run in 2014. If egos get in the way again and no one rises out of the fray to give you the run for your money that you so richly deserve. You actually could come down the middle again and that would be as big a tragedy as Toronto has ever beheld.

Like it or not we are the GTA. We need to be one city from Scarborough to Etobicoke. We have both federal and provincial governments who refuse to acknowledge just how important an efficiently functioning Toronto is to the health of the entire country. Not to put too fine a point on it but the new government of Quebec gets that point. They have appointed a Minister of Montreal. We need a mayor with the strength, the balls if you will, to both rally our council to the common cause we all believe in, and to go at these foolish self-serving politicians and force them to acknowledge what will make a stronger Canada.

Toronto needs a real mayor so badly right now. One who will lead us onto the world stage where we belong. Rob Ford is simply not that man.

How Much More of This Must We Take

I am so angry right now. It’s the frustration of dealing with blatant stupidity. It’s knowing that you can’t ever hope to make these two loonies comprehend sense because they just can’t. It’s knowing that the largest city in Toronto is being made the laughing-stock of Canada, probably all of North America. This Football nonsense has just sent me over the edge. I cannot believe how stupid he is, so stupid he doesn’t even stop doing it after he’s caught red-handed. On top of which he’s now very publicly guilty of perjury. It’s the arrogance that really gets to me. Doug Ford screams “this is about Rob Ford and Football…if it was the tree huggers or whatever you wouldn’t care”.

Well Doug here’s the thing. Yes we would care. Doug, this is not about Rob Ford and football. I have nothing but admiration for a man who works so hard with young boys and football. But Doug old fella. The word volunteer does not mean “I can do whatever I want, I’m volunteering”. If I told my boss I was leaving at 2 because I’m volunteering at my nieces school, every day for the rest of the week. I don’t even want to think about what he would say to me.

Doug, you and your brother live in some alternate life stream. In your land you are always right and every one else is always picking on you. There are no rules in Ford land. You just do as you please when and however the mood hits you.  In Ford land it’s OK to mock and bully and never quite tell the truth. Actually I lie, there are rules in Ford land. For everyone else. If “they” break the rules, they risk the full frontal assault of your wrath. You, however, may do as you please and if you get called on it, well, we are just being mean and intrusive. Nice world you live in.

I live in a different place where there are rules, and laws, and above all oaths of office. We elected Rob to be our mayor. Just like a father is a role model for his child, Rob,  you are a role model for a city. You are held to a higher standard, as every other mayor has been. Ford land doesn’t work here boss. Yes you do have to come to work at 9 and stay til 5. Yes you do have to obey the rules. No you don’t get to have half your staff working on city time for your charity. That is not “volunteering” their own time. That is volunteering my time. I pay them. Me and all my friends. Your constituents.

If your staff are really on their own time, show us the time cards. Show us the paychecks with time deducted. Or explain how they are making up the time. You promised us transparency. I’m still waiting Rob. Oh and by the way, while you’re at it. I’d like to see a copy of your cheque with time deducted as well. Leaving office at 2 over and over for football practise constitutes dereliction of duty at the very least.

Rob, why did you run for mayor? Don’t tell me about gravy. You wouldn’t know what gravy was if it slapped you in the face. Don’t tell me you wanted to fight for the regular people. You have not the first idea what regular people want. You thought you were going to be king didn’t yo?. You are the little boy who was never popular. You grew up to be the man who was never Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, greeting a nun at ...popular. You claim to be proud of that lack of connection over 10 years of council.  I don’t believe that for a second. Little boy lost sat and watched everybody love David Miller and you thought “I want me some of that”. Rob, a man who refuses to listen to advice, refuses to make any effort to know his colleagues, who is confrontational at every turn, and incapable of compromise of any kind is a man doomed to fail as mayor of any city.

Toronto gives the mayor only one vote like every other council member. You can’t win if you can’t get along. You got away with a few doozies at the start before council woke up and shook its head. From then on you were lost. First you tried the bully’s approach. That just pushed them all farther back. Then you tried ignoring us all in the hopes we’d go away while you were cleaning graffiti. Now you seem to have decided the hell with it. They won’t let me be King so I’m not playing anymore.

Well, here’s the thing. I didn’t vote for you and refused to believe you could win. But Goddamnit you did. Whether you like it or not you are the Mayor of this city. You have and still are, behaving like the spoiled brat rich kid you are. Enough Mr. Mayor. If the judge doesn’t throw you out of office then do the honourable thing and quit fucking around. Resign sir. You don’t want to be mayor anymore. You know it and we know it. If you run in 2014 and were to actually win again it would be a fiasco of unbelievable proportions. I think you know this but you’re still busy playing school yard games. You won’t run to be mayor, you’ll run to get revenge. That is not the action of a responsible citizen.

You have children. Is this the legacy you want for them? Be the bigger man. Tell us you have realized you owe it to this city to do the work you are best suited to. Be the incredible supporter of kids you are. Lord knows it’s what this city needs. Once and for all, give us something to truly admire about you. Go coach. Go save more lives. Do it now. We can’t take much more.

Thoughts on the The Krista Ford Thing

I haven’t written in a while. Been dealing with a lot of “things” as we do. New job, getting healthy, stuff. But I have been watching and listening, as I do. So this “thing” has me really hot and bothered and needing to speak out loud.

Let me start by saying this. I am in no way, not any way, no way ever, defending Miss Ford’s words. Having said this. When someone goes into politics and becomes prominent in the public eye. There is a thing that doesn’t really ever get mentioned. Unfortunately you learn it by experience and it isn’t always pleasant, as Miss Ford is finding out. Whether you like it or not, and I doubt many like it, you end up by default, somewhat muzzled. You have to begin being incredibly careful about how you express your opinions in public venues like Facebook and Twitter. There are all sorts of folks out there in the media, in the blogosphere, on Twitter. If they know your relationship to that politician they can just hardly wait to use your words to go after your loved one. I have learned the hard way that once you put it out there, it’s out there to stay. You can delete it and you can apologize and it’s still gonna be there and you’re still gonna pay. Think very very hard before you press send.

Now to the real issue. Krista Ford is a young and very naive women. She grew up in a privileged and protected world. She has zero concept of what it is like to live in downtown Toronto, alone, without a car, needing to work often long hours and weird times just to barely make the rent. I used to walk home from Bloor and Bay to Dav and Dupont at 4 o’clock in the morning years ago when I worked in a restaurant that was open til 3. Try that on for size Krista. Last 4 or 5 days of the pay period I didn’t even have the money for a bus ticket. That’s called real life. That’s how 99% of the population live. That’s the city you live in.

I belong to a generation where men forced themselves on women in a rather subtle and constant fashion. We did not know that no means no. Wives were raised to believe that whatever their husbands wanted they got. You always acquiesced to the man. Girls gave in to their boyfriends. Date rape was not a term that had even been invented and we sure as hell didn’t say anything if it happened. The police would not be any help at all if there was no violence involved. If you hadn’t been hurt you must have wanted it. The shame and responsibility was all yours. If you got pregnant, Mr. Akin’s opinion notwithstanding, you were generally hidden away in some awful home and the baby taken from you at birth. It was just understood that you couldn’t keep it. What would the neighbours say.

We cluck our tongues righteously these days when we hear about the way raped women are treated in third world countries. Yet I am only 60 years old and I remember all to well when that was standard treatment right here in River City. I had a friend who got “knocked up” when we were 16. She was not allowed to admit it out loud until she was big as a house and the elephant in the room was impossible to deny. Her parents “made” her marry the boy. Another friend got pregnant at 18 and denied it to the bitter end. None of us said a word as her overalls got bigger and bigger. One day she disappeared for about 4 or 5 weeks and when she reappeared there was no baby and life went on.

So don’t tell me we haven’t changed, and changed a lot. Now we have guys like @sol_chrom or @bryck123. These are enlightened and smart young men with profound respect for women. That is a step forward.

As long as there have been men and women, there has been rape. A sad but true statement. I really hate to say it and I know it will make some folks really crazy but as long as we exist there always will be. Having said that, we must work very very hard to make it one of those rare anomalies that can always be called mental illness. It happens as much as it does now because too many men think they somehow have a right to take what they want. They somehow believe that they are reading signals that say the opposite of what is really being said. They do not know how to listen.

In countries like Lebanon and Egypt there are women who practise the art of Belly Dancing. They wear those spare costumes we’ve all seen and they are often seen walking to work in cities like Cairo. They practise an art form that receives respect. It is not assumed that they are “looking for it” because of the way they are dressed. This doesn’t mean there isn’t the occasional pig about but in those societies, men do speak up when other men behave badly towards women. It isn’t acceptable to speak badly about women in mixed company. Before you all start commenting about somewhere like Pakistan, I am talking about Arabic countries. Where men can kiss each other without any fool giggling. Where men are allowed to cry when it’s called for. Where strong emotion is never hidden but expressed with vigour.

We could learn a whole lot about how to raise our sons, from these countries. We live with this North American arrogance that is our worst enemy. We aren’t better than everyone else. Our ways are not the best ways. There are no best ways. We have so little respect for the rest of the world, it sometimes makes me scream. I don’t have a son but if I did there would be non-stop criticism of how I would raise him. I wouldn’t care. I would raise a strong self-aware man. One who would not be afraid to cry. Who would hug and kiss without inhibition. Who would know how to grieve outwardly, be happy out loud when it was warranted, and be angry without explosion when that was what was called for. He would be a man who would have respect for all human beings. It would never occur to him to judge a woman by her clothing and ignore her words. It would never occur to him to come up behind a random woman and take what he wanted. He wouldn’t want that without love and respect.

So what I am saying is that the responsibility for changing this mindset belongs to us all. Krista was so wrong. But attacking her was wrong too. We all created the mindset that allows her to think that way. It is way to easy to say “well Doug Ford is her Dad”. Anyone who knows me knows I am no fan of the Fords but fair is fair. This is a societal problem and it is us as a society that will fix it, working together. Men should call their peers on stupid conversations. But guess what? So should women. Don’t walk away when a joke is told in poor taste. Say politely but loudly that you are offended and you would like it to never happen again. Then walk away. Don’t go on and on. The point gets made very quickly and it’s called shame. If you preach it’s called boring and after a while not only does no one hear you, they begin avoiding you, but the jokes go on.

When I was a 20-year-old, the asshole who’s working in the Bloor and Christie area would probably have gone unabated for literally years. We would never ever have known the total number because too many victims would have said nothing. He will be caught, and likely very soon. I pray that it is before he hurts anyone else. Rape is a thing that I don’t believe you can ever completely recover from. It becomes a fundamental part of you and it colours your reactions to the world for the rest of your life. He is a bastard.

Things have changed enormously since I was 20. Just no where nearly enough. If we give in to anger and begin blaming and confronting and chastising we will never change. We must stay calm and work together. Not men and women but enlightened people, teaching the unenlightened people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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