Sunday, 16 October 2011

More gangster politics/backroom dealing from Ford Nation

NOW Magazine // Daily // News // Mammoliti slams door on councillors
Giorgio Mammoliti, acting on behalf of the mayor, barred councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Janet Davis from the recent Child Task Force meeting. The meeting was supposed to be an open meeting. Wong-Tam just wanted to observe, and with good reason - she sits on the Community Development Committee, which delivers childcare.

Ford, during the campaign, said he would put an end to what he called "sweetheart backroom deals". But, since being elected, he has turned around 180 degrees on this issue. Ford's been keeping the majority of council in the dark on many things, and now this.

Ford appointed Mammoliti to the child care task force back in July.
Its goal is to investigate alternative funding models for the child care
spaces the city subsidizes, and many observers believe Mammoliti will
recommend privatization. Wong-Tam and Davis would strongly oppose that

“Whether or not they agree with my politics or I agree with
their politics is not the point,” Wong-Tam said. “The point is we have
to respect our democratic civil institutions and the tools that give us
good government.”

Toronto mayor Ford still confused after provincial election. Better chance now for Transit City comeback

NOW Magazine // Daily // News // Transit City’s minority report

The results of the provincial election have encouraged progressives
still holding out hope for the resurrection of Transit City. 

Adam Vaughan is among the devotees waiting for the transit plan’s
second coming, and lately he’s seeing good omens. One of them is that
the mayor’s replacement for Transit City has stalled, for the time being
at least. The province agreed to fund part of it (the underground LRT
along Eglinton), but so far Ford has been unable to secure enough
private funds for an extension of the Sheppard Avenue subway. 

encouraging sign for Vaughan is the results of last week’s provincial
election, which saw the pro-Transit City NDP gain more power in a
minority government, and confirmed that “Ford Nation” no longer has the
ear of the province. The political playing field is looking rather
different than when Dalton McGuinty acquiesced to a newly-elected and
still popular Ford on Transit City.  

“You’ve got a group of
councillors who support Transit City, and you’ve got a significant group
of provincial legislators from the GTA who want light rapid transit,”
says Vaughan. “Meanwhile you’ve got a mayor who’s still dreaming in
Technicolor when it comes to Sheppard avenue. The mayor’s just one voice
in a sea of people with a lot more power than him.” 

On the
transit file, Ford is looking increasingly desperate. The morning after
the provincial election, the first thing he did was venture out of his
cocoon of protective right-wing media for an interview on the liberal
CBC in which he publicly aired his demand for more provincial funding
for Toronto transit. 

A spokesperson for transportation minister Kathleen Wynne says the
province has no plans to give the city more transit money at this time,
but if that changes, NDP transit critic Cheri DiNovo says any provincial
funding should come with strings attached. 

“If the province is
going to be paying huge amounts for more transit, the province should
have a say in what it’s used for,” DiNovo says. “And Transit City is the
best way of spending it. I’m sure Ford would rather see something built
than nothing built. If we’re paying the piper we get to call the tune.”


There remains one development that could alter the political
equation. When Ford decided to cancel Transit City, he made Toronto
liable for the costs associated with work already underway. 

bill from the province is expected to be upwards of $49 million, but
mercifully for Ford, who is in the middle of a crusade to stop waste at
city hall, it has yet to arrive. Once it does, Transit City may start
looking a lot more attractive, says Vaughan. 

“There is no
$49-million bill to repay if Transit City gets back on track,” he said.
“For a city and a province looking to save money, the easiest way to
save money is to stop canceling things and to start building things.”

Friday, 7 October 2011

Aid blackmail in Palestine

Aid blackmail in Palestine - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
Once again, Palestinians are being punished for daring to exercise a choice.

It happened before in 2006, when they took part in what was deemed to be the wrong kind of democracy and picked the wrong (Hamas) government. That mistaken execution of free will caused the international community to close its funding tap - cutting Palestinian aid and salaries.

Now, there are penalties for taking another 'wrong' turn, despite repeated threats and warnings: US congress is blocking US $200 million intended for the Palestinian Authority (PA), which persisted with its UN statehood bid in the face of US disapproval.

Few things typify international complicity in stalling Palestinian aspirations like this on/off money switch. The current cut in cash will affect health and social projects - but not, it is said, the PA's security commitments (coordinated with Israel). In other words, the pinch is designed to cause Palestinian suffering - but is calibrated so as not to upset Israeli concerns, or totally derail the stagnating status quo. ...

Top 10 under-reported facts about a decade of war in Afghanistan

Top 10 under-reported facts about a decade of war in Afghanistan |
Excerpt regarding "Women's Rights"
The "women's rights" rationale has been exposed as a cynical sham. I'm not sure who really takes this fraud seriously anymore, but it's important to remember that this was presented early on through wall-to-wall media coverage as a key reason for occupying Afghanistan. Afghan women's rights boosted the careers of many western NGO spokespeople, but from the beginning the post-Taliban government installed by NATO was full of anti-women fundamentalists. Rapists continue to enjoy widespread impunity in Afghanistan; female suicide by self-immolation is higher than ever. Many outspoken women's activists have been murdered, either by the Taliban or by fundamentalists linked with the Afghan government. Others, like Malalai Joya, have been banished from elected positions.

Analysis of ON 2011 Election Results vs My Prediction

My prediction vs the election results.

Party - Prediction - Election
Lib - 50 - 53
PC - 31 - 37
NDP - 26 - 17

I was pretty close with my Liberal prediction, but off in my PC and NDP predictions significantly.

NDP prediction
I put too much credence in the trend of the NDP continuing to rise. It seems that the debate may have given the NDP a rise in some specific ridings, but not across Ontario in general. As a result, there were a number of ridings where the NDP came in a close 2nd that I thought they would win. Probably the biggest recipient of any last minute boost to the NDP came in Bramalea-Gore-Malton, where Jagmeet Singh won for the NDP. I don't think this area has ever elected an NDP member to parliament.

PC prediction
There were a few upsets that weren't predicted in the polls where the PC upset a Liberal incumbent (where it was deemed a safe seat for the Liberals). And, there some close PC-Liberal races where the Liberals had the slight edge in the polls, but the PCs gained even more support on election day.

I figured we would get a Liberal minority government and we did. A step in the right direction - a baby step.

Am I happy with the result. Of course I would have preferred an NDP government, but at least now, there will be some instances where the NDP may be able to bring some pressure on the Liberal government to implement some measures they would like to see.

Unfortunately, we will still see our money squandered on more useless corporate tax cuts (since the PCs and Liberals both want these). This will make it more difficult to reach a balance budget while providing services and support to Ontarians.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Ontario Election Predictions Oct 2011

My predictions
(based on riding projections from, recent polls, polling trends, individual riding polls)
Liberals 50 seats (minority government)
PC 31 seats
NDP 26 seats

threehundredeight's predictions
LIberals 57 seats (majority government)
PC 30 seats
NDP 20 seats

Tight races the NDP are in:
Northern Ontario
Saulte Ste Marie - Liberal/NDP
Sudbury - NDP/Liberal

Eastern Ontario
Kingston & the Islands - Liberal/NDP

SW Ontario
Essex - Liberal/NDP
Sarnia-Lambton - PC/NDP
Windsor West - NDP/Liberal
Windsor-Tecumseth - Liberal/NDP

Scarborough-Guildwood - Liberal/NDP/PC
Toronto Centre - Liberal/NDP
York West - Liberal/NDP

Reasons to vote NDP in Ontario on Oct. 6, 2011

Here is what the NDP will do for the people of Ontario:

Economy, Taxation, Jobs
Rolling back corporate tax cuts.
History has shown that lowering corporate taxes does nothing to create jobs. In fact, often, what happens is the corporation uses the new money they have gained from the tax cut to line their pockets with money, give their CEOs huge raises, close local plants and set up shop in other countries where the cost of labour is lower. Over the past years of corporate tax cuts under the PC and Liberal governments, business investment in Ontario has actually dropped. Corporate tax cuts don't work! The Liberals and PCs plan to cut the corporate tax rates even further (from 11.5% down to 10%), costing the province another $2 billion per year. We can't afford this and it won't help anyone except the corporations. The NDP plan to roll back the rate to 14%, which is still lower than in most other North American regions. The revenue for the province from this will go a long way to pay for  services for the people of Ontario, help offset costs that the Mike Harris PC government downloaded to cities (thus helping municipal budgets), and to reduce the Ontario budget deficit.

Economic Stimulus/Job Creation
"New Democrats would deliver the most stimulus and job creation at the lowest fiscal cost by focusing on measures with the biggest bang per buck: direct public investment and targeted tax credits. By contrast, Liberals and Conservatives have prioritized slashing tax rates on corporate profits, the least effective way to stimulate the economy." (see
for details)

The NDP will give tax credits to businesses that actually invest in their business in Ontario and to businesses that actually create jobs.

The NDP will lower small business taxes.

The NDP will buy Ontario products when comparable (within 10%) to the lowest bid for products for Ontario (this will help create jobs and put more money in the Ontario economy), and, they will work towards improving industry here (like processing our own lumber instead of shipping raw lumber to the USA - selling processed lumber will result in more money and more jobs in Ontario.)

The NDP budget has been fully costed and independently verified. Their budget costs LESS than the plans of the other big parties, has a larger contingency fund (in case of difficult economic times), and doesn't waste $2 billion/year on corporate tax cuts. All the parties plan to balance their budget within the same time span, but the NDP plan is the most realistic and is actually the most fiscally conservative of all the budget plans.

Stop spending $1 million/day on consultants

Cap government CEO salaries.

Transportation, Municipalities
The NDP will return the provincial funding of public transit to municipalities -  50% of the operating cost of public transit to municipalities (which is much more than anything fare hikes would net) if the municipalities promise not to hike fares. This will a) go a long way to help municipal budgets, b) improve public transit, and c) help people better afford public transit.

Change the way healthcare services are prioritized in order to improve services to people and to reduce costs. Also, cap healthcare CEO's salaries (which are already close to $1 million!)

Reduce emergency room wait times.

Give seniors the support they need to live in their homes.

End ambulance fees.

Ontario has the highest tuition fees in Canada. Since the Liberals have been the governing party in 2003, tuitions have gone up 30%. The Liberals plan on allowing SOME students a 30% rebate, but allow tuition to continue to increase. The Liberals promised to lower tuition fees in 2003 and 2007 down to the Canadian average, but didn't. The NDP plan to freeze tuitions at current rates as well as eliminate the provincial portion of the interest on student loans. (Differences here will be made up out of provincial funds, not on the backs of students or the institutions.)

Ban course fees in high schools

Reduce school reliance on parent fees and fundraising (by improving school funding)

Power, Environment
Freeze Transit fare for 4 years to encourage more public transit use (and less car use).

Return to funding 50% of the operation cost of public transit for municipalities so they can better afford to maintain and improve these services.

Offer up to $5,000 in home energy retrofit rebates

Phase out coal-fired electricity

Invest in cycling infrastructure

Make sure that polluters bear the costs of clean-up, not municipalities.

Invest in green energy.

Promote energy conservation.

Making life more affordable, Housing
The NDP will remove the HST from home heating and hydro, remove the HST from fuel, freeze transit fares and tuitions. They will also work on stopping price gouging at the gas stations.

Increase the minimum wage to $11/hour.

Bring in a new housing benefit to help low-income Ontarians better afford their rent

Build 50,000 new affordable housing units over 10 years

Create a new dental care program for low-income Ontarians

Rural Ontario
When the government purchases produce, they will look to buy Ontario produce first.

Increase shelf space for independently-produced Ontario wines at the LCBO

Encourage on-farm processing by relaxing municipal taxation and zoning

Establish a Rural School Stabilization Strategy

Forgive tuition fee debt for medical students who work in rural areas

Respect for Northern Ontario
Make it the law that resources that can be processed in Ontario won’t be shipped away

Take the HST off of electricity and home heating and start to take it off gasoline

More doctors for under-serviced communities and new family health care centres

Ensuring First Nations benefit from resource development and are empowered to play a full role in improving their communities

You can find more details at

Isn't it time you voted for a party that is looking out for you, the people of Ontario, instead of the wealthy corporations? On Oct. 6th, you can - vote NDP for a better Ontario.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

NDP Finance Critic Peggy Nash's motion passes unanimously

NDP finance critic hails symbolic economic victory over Tories - The Globe and Mail
It's rare, and non-binding, but it's a positive step. The motion calls for "the government to act immediately to create jobs and keep Canada out of a recession."


Ms. Nash, a Toronto MP and architect of the motion, said she was surprised at the result of the vote.

“It’s a positive step,” she told The Globe Tuesday. “Our motion really
laid out the points we have been raising since the last election in
terms of infrastructure investment, tax incentives for new hires, tax
reduction for small business.”

It also called on the government to move away from what Ms. Nash
describes as its “illogical and unnecessary across the board corporate
tax cuts.”

To be clear, a motion is not a law and is in no way binding on the
government. But Ms. Nash is encouraged nonetheless, arguing that
accepting a motion in good faith indicates “intention.”

She is now hopeful the Conservatives will follow up with action. Indeed,
since the return of the House from its summer break two weeks ago, the
NDP has been hammering the government over economic issues, demanding it
detail how it intends to create jobs and abandon its plan to give
corporations tax cuts.

The vast majority of questions New Democrats have asked in Question
Period have related to the economy. And the NDP’s first opposition day
motion, which was tabled last Thursday and went to a vote Monday night,
was a laundry list of demands about how to fix the economy.

“Who says you can’t get things done in a majority government,” Ms. Nash
said, adding quickly: “Well we are waiting for action, actually.”

She may be waiting for awhile, however. So far, she has heard only
speculation about what the government might do – some small
infrastructure stimulus, some help to small business.

It is very doubtful, however, the government will go as far as
abandoning the corporate tax cuts. “I don’t know when the dust settles
what they are actually introducing, if anything,” she said.

Harper and Flaherty did not vote.

A message of support from Olivia Chow for Andrea Horwath

A message of support from Olivia Chow for Andrea Horwath - YouTube
NDP momentum is spreading. Don't let them tell you it can't be done. Put people first, vote NDP!

A message of support from Olivia Chow for Andrea Horwath