Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Darcy Sheppard… The Wrong Kind of Hero???

It has been hard to digest the ruling that saw charges against Michael Bryant dropped after an incident that left Darcy Sheppard dead. I do give credit to the Ontario government for seeking an outside prosecutor for the case (even though the final outcome is disappointing).

I’m not exactly looking for vengence, political and public character assassination or revenge. In my opinion the tragic incident that left a cyclist dead was the result of two individuals. A cyclist over-reacting and a driver over-reacting.

Today’s Globe and Mail article misses the point. Yes, Darcy Sheppard repeatedly responded to drivers when he felt they threatened his safety on the road. He did so in some colourful and not so flowery ways (spitting or yelling back). Such a response could be understandable given that number of life threatening incidents that occur, not to just bike couriers, but everyday citizens. The pedestrian death toll this Spring was a testament not only to oblivious people crossing the road, but to dangerous drivers. It is far too easy to glaze over the indifference of drivers who would rather run others off the road than to delay their journey. I can say I’ve witnessed both sides of close calls but in the end road users make it bad for everyone.

From the surface, Darcy seemed to engage those who “crossed” his path. In my opinion that is not always wrong, criminal or unjustified. He chose to stand up for his personal safety in an often aggressive way but there are many non-violent ways to report or police a situation without taking it on one on one.

Darcy may have faced issues with addiction or mental health but the behaviour of at least two individuals led to this tragic end. The same ill advised escalation can often be witnessed at a bar fight. Two men enter, one leaves but often both are equally to blame. The saddest thing is that the major media and the court failed to recognize that. It seems that the prosecution feared the demonization of Darcy. Perhaps after much time and consultation they moved away from any conviction or charges against Bryant that would be hard fought to apply.

One can only hope that improvements to our streets, TTC and bike lanes come soon and that people travel with more respect for each other. Yet another dark chapter closes, hopefully some lessons were learned. Can’t we all just get to our destination?

Be Thankful For Taxes

I hope my fellow Torontonians filed their taxes by yesterdays deadline. How else could we fund and provide for our heroic public service providers. Services that are so often taken for granted like Toronto Fire Services. As much as everyone likes to grunt and grown during tax season it is a necessary evil. One only has to look at the outstanding work of the Fire Department and how the handled a dangerous roof fire in less than one hour. Your tax dollars at work indeed!

Wheelers, Dealers, Thieves and Crooks…

I’ve heard first hand about some wheelers and dealers in Toronto and their love of rock star nights on the town. Not to say that all patrons of Toronto’s fine venues are thieves and crooks, but not everyone can wine and dine themselves with $10,000+ diners and afford that lifestyle through legal means.

The Toronto Star has an interesting article regarding some drama after a night at Harbour 60. This article may shed some light on the lenient sentence Rahim Jaffer after facing charges of drunk driving and cocaine possession. Although Jaffer may have boasted insider influence in the past but the Conservatives are denying any ties to him at present.

As a whole it is disturbing how tough on crime we appear to be but how soft things are for white collar criminals. Time will tell whether any justice will be served. Unfortunately crime knows not of a recession.

And The Axe Falls At CityTV…

CityTV once a jewel on Queen Street West has been hit with yet another blow. Now a plaything for larger media corporations CityTV is now owned by Rogers Media.

“Today’s changes, although difficult, are necessary to align our operations with the economic and regulatory realities of our industry,” says Leslie Sole, CEO, Rogers Media Television. Today’s press release adds fuel to the fire that the consolidation of media outlets has not only reduced real “choice” but has resulted in fewer jobs. (Some would argue consolidation has meant less quality too!) It seems the bulk of job losses are related to markets outside of Toronto. It is likely that some CityTV Toronto on-air personalities, writers, producers, editors and camera people are affected by this announcement.

Love it or hate it CityTV’s new home is Yonge and Dundas Square. Hoping that this “rationalization” doesn’t further erode what was once one of Toronto’s best stations. My condolences to those that have lost their jobs in these uncertain times.

CN Tower To Be Lit With National Colours Of Haiti

The Red Cross has estimated that the death toll due to the magnitude-7.0 earthquake in Haiti as high as 50,000. As a small gesture of solidarity, remembrance and aid The CN Tower will be lit with the national colours of Haiti.

Canada has said that it will match charitable donations for the relief effort up to C$50 million. The department of Foreign Affairs and International trade has listed ways citizens can help contribute to the relief effort.

Toronto To Host The G20?!

Toronto may be the new venue for the G20. The Globe and Mail is reporting that the Feds are now realizing that Muskoka may not have the resources to house and secure guests arriving for the G20. Oops. It should have been obvious that even a modest make over would fall short of delivering the necessary requirements.

The Conservatives have been trying to frantically upgrade Muskoka’s infrastructure via a $50 million G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund founded in February, another $5 million in security upgrades for the North Bay airport and other funding initiatives under the Economic Action Plan. More fuel to critics fire on the current government’s priorities favouring Conservative jurisdictions. This of course is Tony Clement‘s home riding.

The trough of course looked deep enough for locals, close to $450 million worth of applications were chasing $50 million worth of the gravy. On the upside some short term construction jobs have been created. It is hoped that local tourism would get a boost as thousands of officials and media types migrate up to the area. It’s more likely that when the summit kicks off next summer that rich government officials will be enjoying cottage land while high paid security police block off potential protesters, terrorists and cottage goers. At least the local communities will benefit by having new facilities to host future events along with improved infrastructure.

Sad that by trying to snub Toronto and move both the G8 and G20 events to cottage country they will have to put at one here anyway. All lot of added expense for nothing. No question there will be immense pain with such a move for Torontonians. Traffic and security for these events, a nightmare! Perhaps the Government were trying to minimize the numbers of protesters close to the meetings by moving the summit away from an urban area? Well a private web-chat or conference call would have been preferred to the mountain of wasteful deficit spending for this circus ride.

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)

Are We There Yet?

The TSX is looking a little better these days. Is the optimism too much too soon? I mean we have made quite an improvement here.

I for one wont fret for a marked increase in my financial health but calls for the end of THE END OF THE RECESSION are a bit premature. Hang on to your hats folks, the market is a wild ride.

Bombardier vs. Siemens Canada – Who Won?

The TTC announced today that Bombardier beat out Siemens Canada for a bid to replace Toronto’s aging streetcar fleet. The estimated billion-plus-dollar contract will provide the TTC with new streetcars and replace nearly all of the 30 year old streetcar fleet. There will also be an option to build another 364 cars as light rail service expands.

Siemens Canada had tried to sweeten their deal by pledging to build their streetcars at a local plant. Bombardier, though based in Montreal, already have a factory Thunder Bay (though most if not all of their light rail manufacturing is in Europe).

In the end Toronto really won. By focusing on best practices and the needs of its Toronto riders, the TTC has done the right thing. We may soon have greener, cleaner and more accessible streetcars. A move in the right direction and at a fraction of the cost of a subway.

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