Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Voting is HOT!

Yes, voting is hot. Don’t let the opinion polls fool you. Any prospect of another minority government means that every vote could be a tipping point for anyone in the running. The recent turbulence in the financial markets and proposals made by each party should be incentive enough to help shape our government. In my opinion, voting is not just about picking the winner. Whether it’s a spoiled ballot or vote for a particular candidate voting is a reaffirmation of the rights so many have fought for. Get out and vote add your voice lest others speak for you. Of course whomever wins it never hurts to keep them honest by contacting your MP.

Remember you need ID this year to vote (or have you a neighbour with ID make a sworn statement that you are eligible). The Toronto Star has some excellent info today. Get informed and get out and make a difference.

An Election Promise to Build On?

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion and Mayor Miller both support Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion’s $70 Billion Infrastructure Plan (over 10 years). It’s refreshing to see politicians finally realize that taxes paid to the government are best used to invest in its citizens. Merely cutting taxes or increasing tax refunds does little to repair roads, build hospitals or improve our infrastructure.

I’m sure Mayor Miller’s and McCallion’s sentiments ring true from St. John’s to Victoria. This national strategy sounds like a viable promise and one worthy of implementing no matter who finally forms our government in Ottawa. Too much time has been wasted and too little has been re-invested back into Canada (and Toronto’s Infrastructure). Transit, Energy, Water Treatment and the neglected list goes on. A Liberal “Green Shift” promise for now but this should be a non partisan mandate for whomever takes office.

The Cheque Is Still In The Mail

It was good to see the Federal and Ontario Government were all smiles about finally giving Ontario some Infrastructure funding.  Approximately 3.1 million under the Building Canada Fund from the Feds, and almost 3 million from the gas tax.   Ontario will match the Building Canada Fund amount (3.1M) for a total of 9.3 million towards Ontario Infrastructure.

A great start.  Remember that some of these funds were already fought for by Mayor Miller and Premier Dalton McGuinty and promised by the PM Harper.  I tend to agree with Christopher Hume’s Toronto Star article that Infrastructure spending is still paltry and almost too late.  It was no surprise to see us lose Olympic bids when our current transit routes and highways are so strained.

We cry for the benefits of our Infrastructure but have much work to do to earn them.  The sad thing is partisan squabbling between the Feds and the Province have already delayed any real progress on this issue.  Instead of focusing on investing in Canada the Conservatives have been focusing most of their attention on abstract issues like Democratic Reform.  Not exactly what will strengthen the Canadian economy and make us competitive in global markets.

Some feel that Canadians are ready for an election but all candidates, including the reigning Conservatives, need to work harder and TOGETHER at all levels. A contrast to current partisan power games.  Infrastructure, whether it’s a TTC Subway station, improved internet/cell phone network,  bike lanes or highways provide real benefits to taxpayers.  Plans for the Waterfront, TTC’s LRT and subway expansion are steps in the right direction.  Hopefully politicians put more money where the mouths are moving.  The cheques are still in the mail.

Mr Garbage: Bins Are More Esthetically Pleasing Than Sunny Porches, Flowers, and Lawns

CFTO evening news (oops early senior’s moment CTV Toronto News) did a story on the unsightly blue box tonight. Tom Hayes reported that since the blue bin program started 20 years ago, they’ve been increasing the amount of stuff that goes into the bin and so the bin had to grow. Um no. Here’s a thought: the frequency of pickup had to increase NOT decrease. The illogic of trying to get people to recycle more while decreasing frequency of pickup boggles my mind. But let’s continue.

As the person-on-the-street mentioned, she doesn’t even have to walk out her front door, she just has to look out her window, and there they are: big butt-ugly bins hogging the sidewalks and the visual line of sight. These bins are so big, they do not fit! As Hayes points out, they are changing the esthetics of the entire city. So much for aspiring to be once again Toronto the beautiful or the clean.

“I thought we cared what the city looks likes,” said the person on the street. Apparently not.

The fact that Councillors and city staff members actually thought that these bins would fit and not pose a safety hazard (more later) shows how utterly out of touch they are with the realities of city living when you can’t afford hired help and to rent storage areas. Or in Glenn De Baeremaeker’s case, be in love with garbage. After all, only someone who loves the sight and smells of garbage would actually come out with this stupid line:

“When we go to the garbage bin system, we’ll have a nice row lined up like soldiers of garbage bins, all basically the same shape size colour and function. It’ll be very efficient. And I think it’ll look actually better esthetically on most streets.”

And if you don’t like it, tough. “Get used to it,” he, Mr. Garbage, adds.

If you don’t believe me, that I quoted him exactly, check out the list of videos in the blue band on the mid-right side of the screen: Blue boxes an eyesore for some residents.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m fighting this Councillor’s arrogance. I looked out my window recently and saw the first line of soldiers hitting the sidewalks in my neighbourhood and wondered where I’d walk. You see, the bins take up half the sidewalk at least — and these are just the FIRST rollout, there is another set coming — which means I’m relegated to the edge of the sidewalk, not the safest place to be. In the winter between snow banks and bins, there would be nowhere to walk except the road…where the cars are.

But wait, it gets better. After the garbage men came through, flinging bins hither and thither, there was nowhere to walk. I could walk two steps, pick up bins, walk three steps, move bins, walk two steps, pick up bins, or I could walk on the road, keeping ears out for cars and get home in a timely manner. What about the poor mobility challenged? Finally the snow is gone, they can go out again, hurray. Oh but wait, it’s garbage day. Now the sidewalks are for bins, not humans, certainly not humans with canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters or buggies.

Get used to it, says Mr. Garbage. Get used to only being able to use our sidewalks 6 days out of 7; get used to having to use the roads as sidewalks in the winter time every garbage day; get used to a garbage esthetic because that is what Toronto is becoming unless you e-mail your Councillor and the Target70 team and tell them this is unacceptable. You won’t be alone. I understand the Target70 team can’t keep up with the irate calls from Torontonians to get rid of the butt-ugly bins and return to a saner method of pickup. Perhaps we should start flooding Mr. Garbage’s e-mail box too. After all, he should be at least half as harassed as we are with this new insane pickup method.

TTC Back to Work For Now?

At 3pm this afternoon the TTC could be back in service. It’s expected that the legislature will unanimously pass back to work legislation (Liberals, NDP and Conservatives. On Sunday no less!). Hoping the Monday commute will be OK too and that we see a swift end to the strike! The meeting is due a 1:30pm. We can only hope!

Tory Adscam Saga Continues

Well the Liberals got in bed with shady advertisers to try and keep Quebec in Canada.  Looks like the Conservative Party may have topped them by using the help of Retail Media Inc (and others) to overspend to help win their election campaign.  It’s not surprising that the list of  candidates suspected of receiving ad funding due to creative accounting were in Quebec and in the GTA.  Many tight races for sought after seats, duh.

The allegations are that the federal Conservatives deliberately skirted election financing laws.  Basically they claimed tax rebates at the expense of taxpayers for ad expenses that local candidates were not entitled to.  Stealing your money to steal your votes.  Hmm, what do you think would happen to you if you filed for deductions you weren’t entitled to?

Aparently some Toronto candidates, felt the interpretation of the ad spending and flow of funds was unethical.  If the RCMP are involved there is likely some fire behind the smoke and mirrors.  So far Mr. Harper said that “we always follow the law as we understand it“.  Elections Canada, the RCMP and some Toronto voters will want to better understand what that means in the coming days.  In the end it reinforces the assumption that Markerting and Advertising people are slimier than the greasiest politician.

Cabbagetown Residents May Get Their Garbage Bags Back

Global News tonight interviewed a Cabbagetown resident so peeved by the Big Ugly Blue Bin that she sent it back to the city. She tried to find a place for it, but there was nowhere to be found — surprise, surprise — except to dominate her pretty garden. Toronto Councillor Pam McConnell speculated that for these special residents who live in historical areas they might allow a return to using bags. Why? So the Big Ugly Blue Bins won’t uglify their historical neighbourhoods, won’t be a blight against their lovely gardens, wrought iron fences, and restored frontages. Excuse me, but why is it OK to uglify MY neighbourhood, just because it’s not an historical district? Why instead of flowers and low stone walls and the occasional wrought iron fence, do I need to see ugly-butt bins, bins, bins, bins, bins?! Yes, I can still see flowers, but the bins, even the smallest, are so enormous — and which will soon be joined by their twin ugly-butt garbage bins — that they dominate the sight lines.

Turns out too that healthy, hearty folk are also finding it difficult to cart that sucker around; for them it’s when full. And so they’re just leaving them in place. I guess it’s easier to walk out to the bin sitting at the edge of the property to dump in the trash than to haul it up and down stairs. Who knew? Only someone with common sense, something definitely in short supply at City Hall, so short that Mayor Miller has twinned us with Beijing, the idea being that we will learn how to build subways and run cities from them (and they from us, but that’s a bit of joke in the current era). He sure has a great sense of timing.

The Monstrous Blue Coming to You

Bob Hepburn in The Toronto Star wrote an excellent column on the ginormous, so-called “medium-sized” uglification campaign called the new Toronto blue bin. Excellent column. It reflected exactly my feelings on the matter. I have zero idea where I’m going to put my new, improved blue bin. It doesn’t fit anywhere except as a front-lawn statue to Toronto politicians’ projected garbage guilt.

Apparently, he’s received dozens and dozens of responses to his column and will be writing more. Others have written earlier about these impending (now here in much of the city) bins, but probably because folks couldn’t see them, they vented, then shrugged. But now that they’re here, folks are real upset. They can see what a boondoggle these bins are, how they do not address the garbage problem, and how they contribute to the deteriorating beauty of our city. There is a consensus here, and we can grab the momentum to bring sanity back to Toronto’s garbage policy, but only if we protest loudly and longly. No shrugging and willingly being run over by City Hall!

For many, the problem is where to put it, but for the most vulnerable in society, it’s how to use it. Those with upper body weakness won’t be able to open or close it; those with upper or lower body issues won’t be able to maneuvre it. Those with any kind of weakness or fatigue will find it particularly hard to get it up and down steps, and many, many homes in Toronto have steps, even homes in which people who require canes or wheelchairs live. And this is just bin #1. Ginormous bin #2 for garbage has yet to arrive. And what’s the betting ginormous bin #3 to replace the current green bin will soon follow? One Councillor is working on a way to use this huge medium-sized bin for both recyclables and garbage so that homeowners won’t have to store two, just one; however, if the bin don’t fit and is not usable by the most vulnerable in our society, even one is one too many.

The whole thing is bogus anyway. All garbage, whether straight trash, recyclables, or compostables, is a waste byproduct of our consumption. The more we consume, the more energy we use during manufacturing and sales, and the more garbage is produced, even if it is recyclable. Even worse, manufacturers are using much more packaging than they used to. Some have called for requiring retailers to remove the packaging at the cashier’s desk since so much of it is impossible to get into. I know I’ve ended up throwing out new products as I simply could not open them up. I have no idea how people with (bad) arthritis manage to break open some of these packages, especially those who live alone or with an infirm partner and can’t easily get help from a strong individual. Furthermore, not all plastic is recyclable, yet I bet most people have a hard time figuring out which is which — which can go in the blue box and which can go in the garbage. The whole sorting thing, which requires those calendars, challenges persons with developmental or mental difficulties especially, trying to understand them, never mind able-minded people who simply have a job and family to run.

And in the end, why do we as individuals need to be virtuous about sorting garbage from recycling? It’s not like we choose our products based on whether they’re recyclable or not. I bet only the fanatics and eco-nuts do that. The rest of us don’t. So why is it virtuous for us as individuals to recycle? To assuage our guilt for not making the “right” choice at the time of purchase?

Worse, all this work results only in homeowners’ garbage being sorted, no-one else’s. I’ve written extensively about garbage before, but perhaps the reality of these blue monstrosities will get Torontonians up in arms and moving into action.

If the city really wanted to tackle the garbage crisis, really wanted to be green, really wanted to clean up this city it would do three things:

  1. Build a facility that sorts garbage into recyclable, reusable, compostable, and trash. Then go back to picking up all garbage twice a week. The entire city would thus have their garbage sorted. This would also particularly help large families who per person may not produce much garbage but in aggregate do; it would help the infirm and disabled who can’t carry much weight and thus with more frequent pick-ups would have a manageable amount of garbage to put out. It would also get rid of that ridiculous calendar with those incomprehensible dos and don’ts. What a waste of paper that is!
  2. Build a clean, modern incinerator, like the ones in Sweden, to create electricity from trash. This would replace the nonrenewable fossil fuel power plant the idiotic Ontario government foisted upon us and allow Toronto to (a) use a renewable resource (trash) to (b) create electricity so that (c) in an event of a natural disaster, Toronto would have a local source of electricity generation that does not reduce our fossil fuels. This would also bring harmony back to our relationships with our neighbours by eradicating the need for landfill and trucks belching smoke down the highway.
  3. Band together with other municipalities to force manufacturers to reduce their packaging.
  4. Require retailers to remove said packaging at the store — businesses are far more likely to act than apathetic Torontonians in forcing manufacturers to get real about their ridiculous packaging.
  5. Recognize that garbage is garbage. One kind is not any more virtuous than another. It’s all waste from consumption. Thus allow people to use bags. In conjunction with item #1, that would mean our sidewalks would be free of clutter so that pedestrians aren’t forced to use the road even after the garbage is picked up, and bags can be tagged. Bag tags have proven effective in other cities in reducing waste and injuries among the sanitation workers. I’m not a big fan but somehow we need to reduce our overall waste production and foisting a humoungous bin on people ain’t going to do it.

Right now we need to protest this blue bin. Make your Councillor so uncomfortable, like the Riverdale residents Hepburn writes about in his column did when they protested, that they will reverse this stupid bin idea and go back to the drawing board. If you don’t know who your Councillor is, click here. And in the meantime refuse to use the new bin. Torontonians used to know how to do protests. Maybe we’ll learn all over again.

Littering the Waterfront with Corporate Names

Is Burger King’s Quay a future street name?” asks the Toronto Star this morning.

Waterfront Toronto is so starved of cash — why? are the Feds not ponying up? is the Province hemming and hawing instead of providing financial incentive to get it going? the city is broke, that we know! — that it’s considering giving corporations naming rights to our Waterfront.

Great. Now instead of a relaxing and pleasing-to-the-eye landscape, a place of beauty and rest, especially for Torontonians unable to leave the city for vacation spots, we’ll have a length of lakefront dotted with inane names like Rogers Centre. It’s bad enough the government reneged on their promise to keep the name SkyDome, but now we’re told that we may have every single square mm of our visual landscape littered with these stupid names, which names will be guaranteed to change everytime the Waterfront needs more money and a different company steps up to the plate.

To wit, I am now completely lost as to where I’m supposed to go with some venues as the name changes every time I turn around, it seems.  I even get stopped on the street and asked for directions to such-and-such a place, except that that place no longer exists, well, it physically exists, just that the name no longer applies. This is the big problem when you follow the American model instead of the European model and when the big governments swimming in cash do not fund the small governments and public property properly.

Arrow Anniversary This Week – Has Much Changed?

arrow_dview1.jpgThe Toronto Star had an interesting article regarding one of Canada’s engineering achievements, the AVRO ARROW.  A product of the Cold War it was designed to be Canada’s answer to protecting America from Northern threats as a supersonic all weather interceptor/bomber.   Ahead of its time (the Arrow could fly at twice the speed of sound – faster than our current fleet of CF-18s) the plane was even a potential export to our Allies (though the US or the UK weren’t interested in purchasing foriegn produced aircraft).  In any case it was a world class plane.

It was all for nothing in the end.  John Diefenbaker, the Conservative PM from the west, decided that despite AVRO being the the third largest corporation in Canada, employing some 41,000 people, that the Arrow project should be cancelled.  Many conspiracy theories exist as to why Canada’s National Defence and soveriegnty were trumped in this case.  (RL Whitcomb has an opinion as do many others)  Was it PM Diefenbaker’s way of improving American relations after to committing to NORAD?  Was the project costing Canadian taxpayers too much for what was delivered?  We may never know.

It will be interesting to see if MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd, MDA,  is sold off in the coming days or weeks.  So far opponents have delayed the sale. Considering that the US and now Russia are limiting foreign ownership of key industries why can’t we do the same?  Have concerns about sovereignty and protecting the North really changed?  If the Conservatives allow the maker of the Canadarm and the recently launched Radarsat-2 satellite to be sold off they may be following the footsteps of Diefenbaker’s Conservatives.  After all renting (or have a contract to use) our locally developed technology is not the same as owning it.

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