Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

Who says Dougie’s done?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

Looking at the upcoming Toronto municipal election in October, you can end up with more questions than answers. The problem is premier Ford. This guy is not finished with his home town. And they are not finished with him. And they are wasting the taxpayers’ money fighting him. We seem to have the ghost of Rob Ford running in this municipal election.

And what is the point of Jennifer Keesmaat and John Tory arguing over Smart Track and the one-stop subway to Scarborough while everyone is waiting for the premier to decide? We are reminded of a promise Doug Ford made during the provincial election that the Toronto subway system and the GTA transit lines would be taken over and integrated by the province. As ominous as that prospect might be, at least the province has pockets deep enough to pay for those needs.

John Tory’s Smart Track has been kicked around for the past four years and nobody seems to acquired much more fondness for the idea. Overall, Tory has been a pretty good mayor. He probably deserves a second term. Whether his ideas for rapid transit are any better than Keesmaat’s, I do not know.

But I do know that Keesmaat became the poster girl on the file over the past few years and she assumes that people should trust her. I have a problem with that. Civil servants who think jumping into elected office is the road to fame and riches, are deluding themselves. The two jobs take radically different skill sets.

Keesmaat might look good but I expect she is a one-trick pony. John Tory has far more experience in the political scene and he can probably run rings around her.

But it is still early in the campaign and it is unlikely that Doug Ford will save the good news about taking over Keesmaat’s specialty until after the election in October.

Keesmaat is the darling of the downtown NDP and all their fellow cyclists and as such will get no kind consideration from Dougie.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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The malice that made the megacity.

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Toronto as a megacity turns 20 this year. Canada’s largest city has once again opened the nominations for its city council to be elected in October. It will be another lost opportunity. It will produce another council of dilettantes and wannabes to argue over meaningless issues. Former conservative premier Mike Harris can continue to enjoy his revenge on the city.

As part of a program to sharply reduce the number of municipalities—and to dump more provincial costs on them—the Harris government amalgamated Toronto’s five boroughs and the inner city in 1998. The most vocal outcry against the move was from the former city. It was Mike Harris’ specious claim that it would save millions in duplication of services.

Since most of the costly municipal services had already been amalgamated under the former Metropolitan structure, Harris’ promises of savings turned into increases in costs. His revenge for their fighting him on the amalgamation was to fail to offer the city any new tax revenues to help handle the increased costs.

The latter-day Queen’s Park liberals have taken back some of the people services, offered Toronto a few new tax avenues and promised additional grants. Yet there has been no move to giving the city a workable government structure. The system that the city has, does not work.

And to make matters worse, a schism has been worn into city hall council chamber that has separated the downtown councillors from the suburbs. The mayor can use an archaic appointment system to try to improve things but the frustrations are always with them.

This division was clearly evident in the tumultuous term of Rob Ford and his brother at city hall. There is no foolishness less understandable than the one-stop subway to Scarborough. It was forced through by the Ford’s, more to prove their point than to solve an infrastructure problem. Toronto, like many cities, is caught up in failing infrastructure in a rapidly growing city.

But to show you how much they care, the inner-city councillors devote their time to bicycle lanes and throttling down the accessibility of the city to automobiles. Toronto voters need a mayor and councillors who can come to them with a clear platform of city reform that they can promise and deliver. Until then Mike Harris’ revenge continues.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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Fear of Ford.

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Is he, or isn’t he? Is Doug Ford running for the mayoralty in Toronto next year or for the Progressive Conservatives in the provincial election? And who cares anyway? Oddly enough that is a matter that is mainly of concern to provincial politicians. Incumbent Mayor John Tory, who wants another term, could care less. The fact is that nobody expects Doug Ford to discover a magic elixir for winning in politics.

Doug Ford will let us all know where he is headed at Ford Nation’s annual backyard barbeque later this week. The reality is that Doug Ford reminds us of the old story about the erstwhile fisherman who goes to the fishing hole where his brother could always catch fish. He spends a day fishing with no luck. He is giving up when a fish jumps above the water and calls out: Where’s your brother?

Well Rob Ford is dead and Doug Ford in no fisherman. And Ford Nation is just a bunch of freeloaders.

The reality of the story, as any knowledgeable political apparatchik can tell you, is that Doug Ford is appreciated for his money and his name but he is a political liability. If there is fresh dog poop anywhere within range of the political Doug Ford, you can be sure he will step in it.

Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown is running a fragile campaign into next June’s provincial election and he hardly needs a loose cannon like Ford on his team. The younger Ford brother is a guy who thinks of Donald Trump as his hero. Brown wants the kind of candidates who can slide in under the radar. His campaign will be built on vilifying the Liberals and creating a massive vote against them. It is the only way a putz like him can get elected.

Patrick Brown is the type of candidate whom nobody has ever voted for as an individual. He is a wasted vote. He offers nothing other than a vague support for his party and not being the other guy. He is a user. And he is dishonest. He took the leadership of Ontario’s Conservatives by skulduggery—signing up temporary members of the party and paying for most of their memberships. His hero is former Ontario Premier Mike Harris.

But as much as Doug Ford would worry Patrick Brown, John Tory could care less about him. Lord knows, John Tory is not the perfect mayor. It is that Doug Ford is the kind of candidate who makes John Tory look good.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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For whom the Tolls Toll.

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

The premier’s office at Queen’s Park in Toronto has many roles. One of those is as a woodshed wherein one disciplines recalcitrant municipal minions who fail to realize that the provincial party in power makes all the rules.

There was an awkward bit on a news clip last week of the Premier of Ontario and the Mayor of Toronto both trying to get out the premier’s office door at the same time. It would have been funnier if the mayor had not been so angry. He had not only been woodshedded in the traditional manner but he felt he had been treated as a little boy in short pants. And he did not like it.

The waiting news media observed the mayor and premier doing the ritual handshake before following the mayor down the hall to get the lowdown on the spanking. To put it simply, the mayor felt he had been betrayed.

Mayor John Tory was still in the provincial legislature when he gave the news guys and gals an earful on what he considered the duplicity of the premier. He had obviously wasted a lot of political capital in promoting the idea and getting the support needed on city council. He had been told originally that the premier was on side.

The entire fiasco was about the city wanting to impose road tolls on the two provincial highways that still go to downtown Toronto. The Don Valley Parkway (Highway 404) and the Gardiner Expressway (Queen Elizabeth Way) are maintained by the city. While it might not have been as dumb an idea as the province wanting to charge tolls for less congested highway lanes running around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), it still got heavy static from the surrounding municipalities.

The governing Ontario Liberals are quite concerned about the electoral districts around the GTA being wooed with some success by the desperate Conservatives. With an election looming in the next year, these concerns are being taken seriously. This is not the time to annoy those voters any more than they might already be.

Frankly, Mayor Tory should be pilloried for the entire idea. If the foolish idea caught on with Toronto, the province would be forced to allow tolls on provincial highways running through cities and towns across the province. Thinking of the Queensway (Highway 417) in Ottawa, there would be a strong possibility of causing another Upper Canada Rebellion.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Goodbye Bill Blair: You failed us.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Toronto has not lost a police chief. It has gained freedom. It has left an era of bad policing behind. It has new opportunities for better policing. It has new opportunities for discouraging crime, fewer gangs, fewer guns, easing of trouble spots and better relations between the police and the people they serve and protect.

Bill Blair has left police headquarters. He no longer held sway with the police services board. His services were no longer needed. He remained unindicted for the fiasco of the G-8. He remained intransigent on carding. That fancy uniform is committed to the closet of yesterday’s failures.

There is no basking in the glories and hopes of early years. His day is done. He can hardly follow in the path of his predecessor Julian Fantino. No more bombast and posturing is needed thank you. Fantino is no politician and Blair is less.

There was some talk of an electoral district in Toronto being held for the civilian Mr. Blair. It is hard to imagine why. There is not a seat in the city that would be likely to elect him for any party. The New Democrats would laugh at the idea of him running for that party. He lacks any connection with the workers of our society. The Conservatives are of course shy in this case after that party’s experience with Julian Fantino. What party would want to make that mistake twice?

And that just leaves the Liberals. It is not that Leader Justin Trudeau has not made some bad decisions in the past but he keeps telling us that the riding associations are free to decide. That is why many Liberals expect to defeat Eve Adams with a better candidate in Elinton-Lawrence. There are easy guesses on where Justin Trudeau’s organizational geniuses might want to stick Blair but why cause unnecessary upset.

Trudeau would create a serious revolt among the party if he insisted on having Blair. It would hardly be worth the trouble. Real Liberals pride themselves on their support for individual rights and Blair is no poster boy for any kind of human rights. It would be a serious rift in the party in an area that Trudeau has to count on for solid support.

As for Mr. Blair: if he is not going to be charged for his abuse of human rights during the G-8 summit, then he would be smart to fade away. Maybe there is a need for a night-watchman somewhere. Night work would keep him out of the public eye.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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“No facts, please. I’ve made up my mind.”

Monday, October 15th, 2012

People must be bewildered by the ongoing arguments in Toronto about casinos. Between the news media, the local politicians and various citizens groups that are cropping up, less and less light is being shed on the issue. Having studied and written on the gambling scene for many years, we will also have to add our few cents.

First of all, there is a misconception that people in Toronto get a vote on this. Is there any reason why they should? The province has said that communities will not get a casino if they do not want one. That leaves the decision to city council. Do you think that a casino on the north side of Steeles Avenue, and therefore in Markham or Vaughn, will not allow Toronto residents to enter their premises? A vote on where a casino can locate in Toronto would be a waste of time and money.

And what right does anybody have to say whether there can or cannot be casinos. Do the bluestockings of Toronto run the city? For your information, casinos are legal in Ontario. That issue was settled years ago when politicians found out about the profits to be made on legalized gambling.

One indication that a person has no idea what they are talking about on this issue is when they tell you that casinos attract crime. That is a ridiculous statement. Some of the most dangerous places around Toronto today are the industrial malls and banquet halls where people are running illegal casino type games. These are magnets for card sharks, thieves and other criminals. If the police do not know where they are located, how can they protect the players from the criminals?

There is also the claim that casinos destroy the neighbouring area. This seems to be based on conditions in Atlantic City when it became a gambling centre. The casinos in that city were dropped into the midst of one of the most tawdry towns in North America. If anything, the casinos have returned some self respect to Atlantic City.

The last resort of the meddler in this question is to claim that casinos create problem gamblers. Well, they do, in a way. They create problem gamblers in the same way bars create drunks. There are millions of people in the Greater Toronto Area. There are some that should not drink and some that should not gamble. What has to be realized is that bars do not want to serve drunks and casinos do not want to cater to problem gamblers. Problem gamblers are bad for casino business. Casinos thrive on repeat business by people who gamble sensibly and have fun in their establishment.

Gamblers just need to realize that it is a mathematical certainty that two out of every three times they go to a casino, they will lose money. If this were not the case, the casinos would not be in business.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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