Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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.

As Expected Smitherman Wants To Be Mayor

George Smitherman made it official. The Ontario MPP has said he will present himself as a candidate for mayor. Smitherman is the MPP for Toronto Centre and intends to serve his community in that capacity, at least until March 1st. He stepped down from his role as deputy premier and Ontario’s minister of energy and infrastructure on Sunday.

The potential big name challengers are Glen Murray and John Tory. Glen Murray is the chief executive officer and president of the Canadian Urban Institute and former Mayor of Winnipeg for six years. John Tory is the host of The John Tory Show and of course the former leader of the Ontario PC Party. There will likely be several more confirmations of candidates, so far Giorgio Mammoliti has put himself forward as a candidate.

While last week’s Angus Reid poll showed John Tory at the top of the list of decided voters that’s hardly cause for any celebration for his hopefuls. The poll showed that 47% of all respondents were undecided as to whom the next mayor should be. It’s early yet but I’m sure this race will be heated.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Getting Flipped Off By A Fed

Not sure what is with the Conservative Party these days? Are they daydreaming about golf, summer vacation or “sexy” isotopes. No matter I’m hopeful that the funding the TTC is supposed to get for the new accessible streetcars goes through.

Federal Transport Minister John Baird apologized to Toronto Mayor David Miller for using colourful language criticizing the city’s application for stimulus funding. The June 27th deadline to pursue the TTC’s Bombardier contract is approaching. I’m glad Baird apologized and that everyone can move on. It looks as though something constructive will actually happen between the two levels of government. Good thing we didn’t just F__@ off and wait to see if we would actually see some stimulus money.

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.

Porter Air Looking To Push For More Expansion

The battle for the Island continues as Porter Airlines pushes to grow. Robert Deluce, the founder and CEO of Porter Airlines will likely reveal Porter’s expansion plans Monday as federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and other top officials visit Toronto.

Community AIR and other advocacy groups are upset that efforts are being made to double capacity at the island airport. Porters current fleet of 8 planes is due to be increased by at least 10 aircraft. Groups sight noise and environmental concerns with the airport as short haul flights are of the most polluting form of travel.

With billions of both public and private sector money in waterfront development at stake you can bet that Toronto’s fight for the Toronto Island is far from over.

The Beginning Of The End For Cometic Pesticides?

Public health will trump the need for the perfect front lawn. Starting today Ontario is banning the sale and use of about 250 pesticides and ingredients, including 2,4-D and malathion.

The health risks and environmental impacts of these toxins are well documented (even blogged here). The science behind limiting widespread use of synthetic chemicals is mounting. For once it appears that Ontario is doing its citizens a good service.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.