Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Rob Ford to cut off rapid transit to his supporters

Mayor Ford’s first stop: Hit brakes on Transit City | Posted Toronto | National Post
The Transit City plan, already budgeted for and currently being built, would have brought rapid transit to many suburban areas of Toronto. Ford's plan is to cancel this (incurring millions of dollars in penalties to contracts already signed), thus cutting off his supporters from rapid transit, and replace this with another tiny piece of the Scarborough subway line. Hopefully, the council will not vote for this madness.

Toronto Star: Provincial showdown brewing over Transit City

In an earlier meeting with TTC staff, Ford’s transition team asked what it would take to stop work on the light rail lines being funded by Metrolinx on Eglinton, the Scarborough RT route and Finch.

Because Metrolinx and the federal government are funding the Sheppard line, outgoing transit commissioners have maintained that Ford doesn’t have the authority to cancel the work.

The TTC has to take its direction from the commissioners on the transit commission, said one city councillor. The first meeting of the new commission doesn’t happen until Dec. 15.

Voters enticed by Ford’s promise of a subway should remember other cancelled transit projects, said one city councillor, including the Eglinton subway where tunneling was begun only to have the hole filled in by Premier Mike Harris’s government.

In Ottawa, a cancelled light rail project cost taxpayers about $100 million and in the end they got nothing for their money, the councillor said.


Metrolinx also has a special interest in protecting the centerpiece of Transit City, the Eglinton Crosstown line, which would run underground for half of the 20 kilometres scheduled to be built in the first phase of work.

“The Eglinton Crosstown is the most significant regional project. It runs across the entire city. It connects into the regional transportation system at GO stations. It connects to Pearson ultimately. So it’s a really important project. Certainly Metrolinx would like to make sure the most important regional project is preserved as we go forward, because… we want to achieve reasonable transportation outcomes,” said McCuaig.

The city councillor tapped to head up the next transit commission says she hasn’t been consulted or invited to Wednesday’s meeting between Ford and Webster.

“I believe we have an opportunity to look at how we revise the Metrolinx plan,” said Karen Stintz, who supported Miller’s efforts to secure Transit City funding but acknowledged Ford’s opposition to light rail.

Departing TTC chair Adam Giambrone said it’s unlikely the province would be willing to throw away the money already invested in Transit City.

But he downplayed suggestions that Queen’s Park might take over Toronto transit in light of the changing direction of the mayor’s office. It’s unlikely the province would want the responsibility of covering the TTC’s operating subsidy, he said.

The city provided about $500 million in operating funds this year, including Wheel-Trans. The TTC is also projecting a $2.6 billion capital shortfall for the next 10 years.

Meantime, Transit City defenders are planning to seek public support in wards of councillors who are backing Ford’s agenda. They plan their first door-to-door canvass in Karen Stintz’s ward Saturday.

Calls to Ford’s press secretary and transition team were not returned Tuesday.

Globe & Mail: Ford council vote on Transit City to decide fate of provincially-funded LRTs
... the province has already spent $130-million and signed $1.3-billion in contracts.

Globe & Mail: Ford to come out swinging on his first day in office
If Ford cancels Transit City, the city will end up having to pay billions of dollars on already signed contracts that the province and the federal government have already paid a lot for, and get absolutely nothing in return. And, then the city won't be able to pay for the bit of subway line Ford wants instead. The city won't be able to pay for anything.
I thought Ford wanted to stop wasting money. Cancelling Transit City would not only be the biggest waste of money in the history of Toronto, but it would result in no new transit at all for the city.

Excerpt from above link:

Sources say they made clear that extending the Sheppard subway from its existing terminus at Don Mills to Scarborough Town Centre – Mr. Ford’s preference – would cost $4-billion more than the Sheppard East LRT.

The subway addition would be eight kilometres and seven stations; the LRT would be 12 kilometres and 26 stations, according to documents the TTC presented at the meeting.

Some $34.1-million had been spent on the Sheppard LRT as of Sept. 30. Another $228-million had been committed through Nov. 1, the documents say.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Israel deliberately starves residents of Gaza

Let Freedom Rain: So, Israel really did nearly starve the residents of Gaza
The documents are even more disturbing, say human rights activists, when
one considers the fact that close to half of the people of Gaza are
children under the age of eighteen. This means that Israel has
deliberately forced the undernourishment of hundreds of thousands of
children in direct violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva

Gisha's director, in relation to the release of documents, said, "Israel
banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of
electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral
character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements
of this policy are still in place."

Friday, 26 November 2010

Unidentifiable police can't be charged for G20 police crimes

Cops accused by G20 protesters cleared of excessive force allegations
The police who committed the crime of excessive force have been cleared of any wrongdoing because they weren't wearing their nametags, other police witnesses refused to testify, and civilian videos were shot from too far away to make out individual officers.

I've seen a lot of videos and some of the shots of police bludgeoning and kicking people were pretty close up. I wonder if civilian witnesses were asked to pick police out of a line up or to testify - probably not.

I say let's fire all the cops who decided to evade the law, abuse our trust, and assault peaceful protesters. Fire all the ones who were not wearing their nametags/numbers. That is the responsible thing to do here. And while they're at it, fire the thugs who gave the orders to beat and illegally arrest peaceful protesters and bystanders.

Toronto Sun: Our Cops and the Cone of Silence
All the SIU did this week was confirm the law does not apply the same way to those in uniform and the code of silence is not reserved just for the thugs.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Ontario government's HST-Hydro jiggery pokery

Hydro rebate won't offset coming increases - Moneyville.ca
HST increased hydro bills. The Ontario government plans on paying 10% of the Hydro bill in a rebate called the Clean Energy Benefit (but it will actually be more of an HST offset benefit).
And, then Hydro prices are projected to increase 38 to 47 percent between now and 2015 for the average household.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Light Rail Transit - best for Toronto

Light rail transit touted as best for Toronto - thestar.com
As must have been realized when the Transit City plan came into effect, the light rail transit planned to link up much of the suburban areas of Toronto, has been deemed the best environmental option in a new report by the Toronto Environmental Alliance.
The T.E.A. also determined that the LRT option is also the most economical - providing the most transportation for the most people for the least pollution and the lowest cost of building when compared with subways and buses.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Why people voted for Rob Ford's transit vision

YouTube - Why people voted for Rob Ford's transit vision
Watch this. It is so dead on it is scary.

During the election campaign, Joe Pantalone fully suported Transit City. This transit strategy is already planned and budgeted for. It would connect much of the suburban areas of Toronto (Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough) with the rest of the city and downtown via rapid transit.

Rob Ford, on the other hand, campaigned to not only cancel Transit City (and the cancellation would incur very expensive penalties), but to remove streetcars too. Streetcars are much more energy efficient than buses and can transport more passengers more quickly from A to B than buses. If the streetcars are removed, they would have to be replaced by far more buses - resulting in much higher costs, slower transportation for passengers, and much greater pollution. And, regarding all those Transit City rapid transit routes connecting much of the suburban areas of Toronto. These would be replaced by nothing. No rapid transit routes built to connect to the suburbs, where most of the Rob Ford voters live. He plans on spending all the transit money (leftover from replacing streetcars with buses) on another little piece of subway line.

So, the suburban dwelling Rob Ford voters, voted against having new rapid transit routes connecting them to downtown and the rest of the city. They seem to not want these routes and these connections. But yet, they do want them and they do need them. They voted for someone who blatantly said he would, in terms of transit, not only do nothing for them, but would cancel current plans of bringing them better transit service.

I ask you, does this make sense?
Watch the video.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Harper government plans on making ANY criticism of Israel's government's policies illegal

Dawg's Blawg: Push comes to shove
Criticism of Israel will shortly become illegal in Canada.

That's the message of the "Ottawa Protocol"
agreed to behind closed doors this week by a group of international
parliamentarians calling themselves the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to
Combat Anti-Semitism. The Canadian wing, of course, is the Canadian
Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism.

Here is what is about to descend upon us:

Ottawa Protocol] aims to implement a series of measures to put an end
to hateful propaganda in places like universities. In particular, the group aims to stop the growth in the criticism of Israel and its policies that, it says, is increasingly a vehicle for anti-Semitism.
[emphasis added]

what some of us have been arguing all along--and we've been denounced
as paranoid for doing so. But you don't get a group of parliamentarians
deliberating for months and holding hearings if legislation isn't in the

So now
Israel will achieve a status in Canadian law that no other nation
possesses. It will be shielded even from the silly commentary that is so
much a part of popular culture. You'll continue to be able to say "Bomb
Iran," but possibly go to jail if you say "Bomb Israel." The Toronto Sun can
still use the phrase "lock and load" in reference to a boatload of
Tamils, but a similar injudicious remark directed against Israeli
settlers on the West Bank would become a criminal matter.

Make no
mistake, this thing is a slam-dunk. When (not if) the Conservatives
introduce legislation to outlaw criticism of Israel, likely when a
federal election is in the offing, the Liberals will tamely go along,
not wanting to fight accusations of anti-Semitism in the thick of an
electoral contest.

No doubt the legislation will pretend to draw a
non-existent distinction between "legitimate" and "illegitimate"
criticism--non-existent, because the concepts are purely subjective. To
some, in fact, there simply is no "legitimate" criticism of Israel. The
legislation will, in word and in practice, be "very inclusive."

legislation would quite possibly not withstand Charter scrutiny. But
that's small comfort at this point. It's on its way, and I, for one--who
have fought genuine anti-Semitism for decades, on the Internet and on
the ground--can feel a cold wind blowing. So should we all.

Read the whole post at the link above

See also:
CBC - Updated For The Record: The full text of the Ottawa Protocol

Quebec democratic rights group spearheads court case arguing for Proportional Representation

Court has granted Elizabeth May the right to make case for Proportional Representation | Green Party of Canada

Multiple public commissions have examined and debated changes to the
voting system and each time recommended a proportional voting system. 
No referendum has yet been held on this question in Quebec though draft
legislation was tabled that would have seen elements of proportional
representation introduced.  Referenda in other provinces were widely
criticized for confusing the public with misinformation campaigns, lack
of effective and clear information, too high thresholds to pass and low
participation rates. 

In February of this year, an Environics Research poll conducted for
the Council of Canadians found that 62% of Canadians support "moving
towards a system of proportional representation (PR) in Canadian
elections, with support even higher among young Canadians.

Harper on Israel: Is the Prime Minister mentally sound?

Harper on Israel: Is the Prime Minister mentally sound? | rabble.ca

Watching and listening to Stephen Harper's bizarre and unnerving
speech about anti-Semitism and Israel raises the question as to whether
or not the man is mentally fit to be prime minister.

In effect, Harper has taken the position of being Israel's defender
no matter what -- in other words, this commitment comes before his duty
as prime minister, before his duty to represent Canada's interests
abroad, before his role of elected representative. Harper is a defender
of Israel no matter the consequences for Canada. He stated:

"[As] long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the United
Nations, the Francophonie, or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand
whatever the cost. I say this, not just because it is the right thing
to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the
anti-Israeli mob tell us all too well if we listen to it, that those who
threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us."

His dedication to that country supersedes his commitment to his own.
That would be disturbing enough if Harper were merely a private citizen.
But as prime minister it is beyond the pale and it isn't much of a
stretch to suggest it borders on the betrayal of Canada and certainly
Canadian interests. For what does it mean that Harper will defend Israel
no matter the consequences for Canada?

Harper referred in his speech to "the anti-Israeli mob." I have to
presume here that he is referring to all the Arab and Muslim countries
which regularly criticize Israel at the UN. But, of course, not only
them. UN resolutions criticizing Israel are regularly supported by
virtually every country with the exception of Israel, the U.S. and --
sometimes -- El Salvador. Is the whole of the UN membership part of the


Let's help child soldiers in Africa, but we will torture and incarcerate our own child soldiers

From Congo to Guantanamo: Omar Khadr, the invisible child soldier | rabble.ca


Of course this is great! But what about other child soldiers like
Omar Khadr, can't he be rehabilitated and sent to school as well? Or is
the child soldier status only reserved for those war-ravaged countries
where Americans have interests in keeping things safe and stable?

Unfortunately, according to the U.S. and Canadian governments, the
answer to my question seems to be an outrageous "No." Indeed, the
following sad fact has now been recorded by history: Omar Khadr is the
first convicted child soldier since World War II. His conviction came at
an end of a shameful military trial where not a single basic principle
of transparency and justice was followed and where the torture and abuse
Khadr endured was simply brushed away.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Toronto Star invents story to attack Layton and Chow

Accidental Deliberations: The bigger picture
... And indeed it's worth noting that the decision to focus on Layton and
Chow looks to be designed to invent a story where none exists: with
average expenses in the range of $469,000 per MP, the choice to point to
the lone married couple in the House of Commons in order to be able to
talk about a "million-dollar" total looks to be entirely unjustifiable
except as either a cheap headline or a pretence to attack the NDP.

And from the comment by Malcolm+ on this post at the above link - Malcolm gets to the reason behind the attack:
Ignatieff mired in poor public perceptions, the Liberals are panicked
by the prospect they may actually fall behind the NDP in public support
if nothing changes. Thus, every organ of the Liberal Party - including
the Toronto Star - must be directed to attacks on the NDP and Jack
Layton, no matter how slanderous or bogus those attacks may be.

And, to back up the point about the Liberals failing and becoming less appealing to the public, check out this article in the Globe and Mail by Brian Topp:
The underlying bones don't favour Michael Ignatieff
Brian adds as a footnote, below his article reviewing what the latest polls mean:
A footnote: As if to prove all of this, the Nov. 7 Sunday Star in Toronto repeats the conduct that helped elect Rob Ford mayor of Toronto. This time the transparently political cheap shot targets are Mr. Layton and his wife, MP Olivia Chow. The Star devotes a page to adding up Layton and Chow’s boring and typical MPs’ constituency staff, office, travel and other expenses, and tries to frame them as some sort of scandal. This has nauseated even some of the Liberals the Star works so hard to serve. Blogger “Bigcityliberal,” for example, comments: “Toronto Star’s Layton and Chow story truly Seinfeldian... in that it’s about nothing. Probably the silliest part of it is how hard author Richard Brennan tries to crank this into a scandal. Oh my! The NDP party leader spends more than your typical MP on travel! And... a $2000 per month Ottawa condo-apartment? The horrors!” Indeed.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Toronto G20: Cost numbers starting to come out

CBC News - Politics - G8/G20 costs top $857M - this link is to some highlights

CBC News - Friday Documenta Dump - G8/G20 Sumitacular Retrospective Edition! - this link it to the full document
As tabled in the House of Commons earlier today.

Note: Electronic version provided by the ever helpful NDP -- it's a
straight scan from the binders, so don't blame them -- or me -- for the
reader-unfriendly format.

Talk about a Gravy Train (here is a real one Rob)!

Toronto G20 hearings - Bill Blair grilled by Don Davies

YouTube - Don Davies and Bill Blair at G/20 hearings
Watch the video.

The truth will out.

See also:
G20 charges dropped over lack of warrant

G20 testimony shows need for full inquiry
“After six hours of hearings, many troubling details have emerged,” said
Davies. “Yesterday, we learned that 90 police officers decided to
break a rule set by the Chief of Police by removing their name badges.
We discovered that police lacked the proper warrant to arrest the
students who were rounded up early Sunday morning at the University of
Toronto. There were guns drawn on sleeping students, in circumstances
that almost certainly violated use of force rules.”

"Our process can only scratch at the surface of the questions and
inconsistencies that remain about summit security,” said Davies. “No
one has answered for the appalling conditions in the detention facility,
and for the systemic violations of many individuals’ right to counsel.
The government still has not adequately explained the decision-making
behind the planning of the summits or who was calling the shots for
on-the-ground security decisions.

“Only a full public inquiry can get the answers needed to explain the
widespread civil rights violations and the largest mass arrests in
Canadian history,” concluded Davies.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Where's the Gravy Train Now, Rob?

Toronto posts $275 million surplus - thestar.com
Mihevc credited the windfall to Miller’s restraint program.

“One thing it shows is that the fiscal management of the Miller administration has been good,” he said.

“Despite the many comments during the election about how city hall
is being mismanaged, we did have a hiring freeze in place and we
directed department heads to manage in a tight way. This shows that city
hall is operating efficiently and effectively.”
- unlike what Rob Ford keeps saying - liar.

Toronto G20 - Preventative Detention?

Preventative detention? - Peace, order and good government, eh?
it would appear that the chief of police of a major metropolitan city
just admitted that his officers illegally detained hundreds of people.
With his approval. And he has admitted it in front of a room full of
members of parliament, no less.

Can I look forward to this making headlines across the country?

Can we have that independent public inquiry now?

As outlined in the comments at the above link, citizens and peace officers can detain people, with appropriate force, if there are reasonable grounds that in so detaining people that it will stop or reduce violence (my words). Well, what happened was that a lot of peace officers detained people, using extreme and unnecessary force, without any reasonable grounds of stopping further violence. Obviously peaceful people were brutalized and detained in the hundreds for no good reason.

And, as one commenter pointed out: I think a very strong case can be made that in the majority of
situations that weekend, the police used force far in excess of
"reasonably proportioned to the danger apprehended". There was one
occasion that might apply, but in that situation the police did nothing.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Toronto G20: Toronto officers to be disciplined over summit conduct

Nearly 100 Toronto officers to be disciplined over summit conduct - The Globe and Mail
Nearly 100 Toronto police officers will be disciplined for removing
their name tags at the G20 summit, says the city’s police chief who also
admitted charges were thrown out against roughly 100 people because the
force failed to obtain appropriate arrest warrants.

Woah! Hold on there - for removing their name tags!???!!! What about for assaulting people, and illegally detaining people, generally abusing their powers and trust?!!! WTF!? After looking at over 22,000 hours of video they never saw any police brutality?! Come on! I watched maybe a couple of hours of video during and just after the G20 protests and saw police brutality in at least 60% of the videos.

And, there were not 100 charges thrown out, there were 100s of charges thrown out.

The stink of police corruption is overpowering!

Ford's win opens the gates of pro-development hell

Ford's win opens the gates of pro-development hell | rabble.ca
This is Rob Ford's true Gravy Train, directing profits to his campaign supporters, developers. The rights for self-determination in central Toronto were sold off for $60, and false election promises, to suburban voters in a campaign, which deliberately misrepresented City Hall's state of finances. As Atom Egoyan said, "This city is the envy of the world and we're acting like it's falling apart." I feel a lot less safe riding my bike in this new Toronto.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Ford Watch: Nov 2, 2010

Oct. 26, 2010 - Rob Ford schedules his first interview as mayor-elect. Things don't go so well as he has scheduled the interview (with CBC radio) at the same time as he is coaching a football game. He kept up a couple of talking points, ignored the interviewer and spent most of the time talking to people at the game. Eventually he cut the interview short without answering any questions.

Nov. 2, 2010 - as revealed in the Toronto Sun - for one who claims to be watching pennies at City Hall, Ford went over budget on his campaign by $650,000.

Is this a sign of things to come under Ford's watch as mayor of Toronto - poor time and fiscal management?