Archive for July, 2009

Finally! Council Approves Deal To End Strike

A bit of grandstanding by some but Toronto city councillors voted this evening to approve the deals worked out with two CUPE unions. The strike is over!

The special day long meeting resulted in a 21-17 vote in favour of settling. Seems like a decent compromise despite media hype, doomsday projections and hyperbole.

Read the background info. This was one of the lowest settlements among public sector employees in the province. The city is allowing some OT for union workers to clean up the mess BUT is not restricted to hiring contractors if it saves the city money. (Note that some contractors have billed, some who have needed their services The sick day plan benefit has been grandfathered much the same way as in other municipalities like Mississauga.

The bargaining committee for the city, and Mayor Miller, did a relatively good job. If many were paying attention the strain on the city’s finances, started with downloading by the Harris Conservatives. More services dumped down have meant more we have tax increases. All told, while some benefits are still intact for unionized employees, demographics will favour the city as pay outs and the costs of these will fade away. The unions get modest increases and don’t completely hijack to city’s pocketbook.

The workers are back, the services are restored. We’ll have two weeks of unlimited Green Bin and garbage pick up. The ferry services will return to full service Saturday too. Let’s enjoy the rest of the summer and the the Caribana Parade!

Almost There – City Strike Tentative Deal With Strikers

Tentative agreements have been reached with striking inside and outside workers and the city Monday. While it has been a roller coaster ride at least both sides were not “forced” into a decision by an outside arbitrator that would have caused more whining. It took a long time but it will be nice to know this is all settled and everyone is back to work. (The details will not be disclosed until they are ratified by council so one can only speculate about the end result of hot issues like sick days).

Perhaps Torontonians can learn from this, much as we did during the big blackout. Will we produce less garbage and stop taking our parks for granted???!!!

Nortel Assets Find New Home

Much to the annoyance of RIM, Sweden’s Ericsson has emerged the winner in the bid for Nortel Networks Corp.’s wireless division. Research in Motion claimed that they had been blocked from the bidding process. Not surprising.

The quest of the current government to divest or sell off Canadian assets stretches further than nuclear isotopes. Jim Balsillie, RIM’s co-chief executive officer stated,

“RIM is extremely disappointed that Nortel’s world leading technology, the development of which has been funded in part by Canadian taxpayers, seems destined to leave Canada and that Canada’s own Export Development Corporation is preparing to help by lending $300 million to another bidder. RIM remains extremely interested in acquiring Nortel assets through a Canadian ownership solution that would serve the dual purpose of keeping key wireless technologies in Canada and extending RIM’s leadership in the research, development and distribution of leading edge wireless solutions, but RIM has found itself blocked at every turn.”

Selling off Canadian innovation in our national interests to keep seems counter-intuitive, but not to the current helm at Industry Canada. Hate to think how they will handle a tourism portfolio when Jim Flaherty has mentioned he may sell off Via Rail.

Yes, the addition of The Marquee Tourism Events Program (MTEP) to Indusrty Minister’s (Tony Clement) plate comes after sexy isotopes and hopes to privatize nuclear medicine in Canada. The tourism portfolio inheritance comes with the turfing of junior cabinet minister Diane Ablonczy (likely over $400,000 of funding to the Toronto Pride Parade). Marry this off with further sell offs of Canadian patents and technology and the new “Conservatives” are taunting the opposition and adding fuel to the election fire.

Well a fight seems to be brewing at least here at Queen’s Park. Dwight Duncan, Ontario’s finance minister, feels that technology funded with Canadian taxpayer money shouldn’t easily be sold off to a foreign company.

VIA Back On Track!

The Teamsters and Via Rail came to an agreement early this morning after meeting with a federally appointed mediator. Locomotive engineers agreed to settle their differences through binding arbitration, ending a two-day walkout. The engineers have been without a contract for 2½ years and have been pressing for improved training, work schedules and benefits.

Trains will roll out of Union Station later this afternoon! (around 6pm)

City Strike Ultimatum?

An ultimatum of sorts has been cast. Mark Ferguson, president of CUPE Local 416, has said, “we must have a settlement by midnight on Sunday or we are finished”. No resolution by then and he will walk away from the negotiation table and head to the picket line.

The municipal workers began to strike June 22. Only 6,000 of the city’s 30,000 workers continue to provide essential services. The work stoppage continues to affect city-run daycares, parks, pools, and yes, garbage collection.

Hoping that some progress can be made soon. We should try to head the lessons learned from Windsor’s recently resolved 100 day strike.

3D Classics At Fox Theatre

3d_fox-theatre

The Fox Theatre is a Toronto gem. Operating for almost a century it remains the longest running cinema in the country. Starting this weekend they pay homage to special genre in the history of motion pictures, 3D movies.

Fox Theatre’s 3D FILM FEST features 9 classic 3D films and runs until July 23rd. Unlike Hollywood’s latest offerings these movies will be projected using film prints and not digital technology. Interestingly this allows for a more convincing 3D effect. During the festival there will also be a gallery of polarized prints and trippy aesthetics to get you in the mood for the anaglyph (red-blue) and polarized movies. Looking forward to catching the offerings from Hitchcock to Warhol to Friday the 13th!

3D FILM FEST – Fox Theatre
2236 Queen Street East

HOUSE OF WAX 3-D (1953, PG)
FRIDAY THE 13TH 3-D (1982, R)
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE 3-D (1953, PG)
JAWS 3-D (1983, 14A)
DIAL M FOR MURDER 3-D (1954, PG)
REVENGE OF THE SHOGUN WOMEN 3-D (1982, R)
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON 3-D (1954, PG)
STARCHASER: THE LEGEND OF ORIN 3-D (1985, PG)
FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN 3-D (1974, R)

Recorded Film Listings: 416-691-7330

Stuck In The 80’s?

Forget about the garbage and take a trip back to the 80’s. Harbourfront Centre is kicking off their Wednesday night movie series tonight. This summer their movies will be all 80’s. John Hughes’ classic Pretty in Pink starts the ball rolling tonight at 9pm.

Retro Reels – Pretty in Pink
Wednesday, July 8th @ 9pm
Harbourfront Centre – Sirus Stage
FREE

The Garbage Blame Game

The stalemate has yet to lift and we are nearly 2 weeks into the garbage strike. Many Canada Day celebrations were cancelled. We were lucky after 1 million people enjoyed the Pride Parade that it had its own private clean up crew to help clean up. We are still on the hook for the garbage we create during the strike that’s for sure.

I find it amazing that there has been little talk of conservation or limiting of our garbage. People want to continue business as usual and expect different results despite the lack of garbage service. In this “economic environment” it shouldn’t be difficult to cut out on take out or drive thru restaurants. Waste less and you’ll have more money in your pocket and less garbage to throw out.

Toronto’s efforts to reduce garbage going to landfill by 70% are valiant. Many municipalities have bragged of diversion rates of 60% over the last 5 years so this is not an unattainable goal. Mayor Miller has been reluctant to implement incineration and has focused more on reduction and recycling in an effort to limit garbage going to Michigan.

In this aim to reduce landfill Toronto has implemented a Green Bin program less strict than several Municipalities hoping for higher compliance rates. Toronto allows green waste to be placed in plastic bags, “disposable” diapers, and pet waste like kitty litter. This makes it harder to sort and turn our green waste into compost though. Shortcuts revealed by a Toronto Star shows that our service providers are skimping on their implementation of Toronto’s plan with much of the green waste still ending up in landfill or incinerated. As noted in today’s follow up article, city councillors are right to call for an audit of the services Toronto is paying for. If the city is paying a company to safely and efficiently deal with our garbage and green waste it should be accountable for it. The Ministry regulates these service providers and should wield a heavier hand.

At the end of the day it’s our tax dollars and our garbage. Reducing the amount of taxes need to clean up the mess and reducing the pile of waste starts at home not in Ottawa, Queen’s Park, or Mayor Miller’s office.

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