Railroaded by Metrolinx: Getting to Work on Transit City

This is the deputation I gave in City Hall on February 2nd regarding bus service cuts. Meeting Room #2 was overflowing — 160 constituents, 30 above fire code — waited their turn for over 5 hours for 5 minutes of time to speak to Toronto Transit Commissioners, and City Councillors. Run by Councillor Stintz, the new TTC Chair, the deputations were tightly constrained to five minutes. To her credit, she was unfailingly polite to the deputants, although she showed visible irritation when Transit City was defended.
The diverse face of Toronto was out in full force. York University students asked for late buses so they could attend basketball practice and night classes, the Roller Derby chicks pleaded for safe access to their arena to practice their moves, and a 90 year-old man spoke eloquently about his need to have access to a pharmacy for his medication, and visit his wife in a chronic care facility. His neighbourhood would have bus service cut in half, and isolate even him further. The TV reporters fled with his heartfelt testimony, but I have yet to find it on CTV news.
With no further ado, here is my deputation.
TTC Deputation: Proposed Transit Cuts on Bus Schedules for the Davenport Riding in relation to Lower Income Residents and Support for Transit City
Dear TTC, Mayor Ford and Toronto City Councillors,
I am a constituent of Ward 18, part of the Davenport Riding. I am also a member of the Clean Train Coalition, and have spent the last two years advocating for all-encompassing, sustainable transit policy in Ontario.
I am here today to speak of the correlation between low-income wage earners, transit, and the right of citizens to public transit – transit which should be egalitarian, surface level, consistent and frequent. This right for accessible transit should be a democratic right, not a privilege, which can be revoked or suspended by City Council, to implicitly prioritize cars over public transit. By cutting bus frequency, and routes, the City Council will force people back into cars, or in the case of the Davenport Riding, to take taxis, which they can ill afford.
Cutting bus service in the Davenport Riding flies against equitable treatment of those who provide services upon which we are dependent- the invisible glue of our society. These constituents are night shift workers- nurses, office cleaners, factory employees, minimum wage earners – all of the most vulnerable members of society to transit cuts. And who are these workers? Single mothers, new immigrants, those just entering the workforce, night school students, and the elderly- all of whom need off rush hour transit to go to work, school and church safely.
It is well-known in transit system planning that once bus service is cut back, or becomes intermittent, passenger numbers drop throughout the route, so cutting back on bus frequency at any point in the schedule will reduce passenger numbers on that route. Eventually, the route will be avoided altogether if service frequency is cut back to the bone. In addition, low income constituents also have the least access to ‘just in time’ information for online information regarding schedule changes due to the high cost of Internet service, and are affected most by erratic schedules because they cannot access transit updates.
The residents of Davenport are particularly dependent on transit, as many cannot afford cars. As new immigrants, and service sector employees, they often have the least control over the hours of their employment, thus are the most vulnerable to service cuts during the evening and weekends. Traffic cannot shift into rush hour schedules; these constituents cannot determine the time and need for bus service. Those who work minimum wage jobs cannot afford to take taxis, and often require transit to ensure that they get home safely at night in at risk neighbourhoods. Minimum wage in Ontario is $10.25 an hour, and the cost of a cab from downtown Toronto to west-end Toronto can cost up to $40, more than half the daily rate of a minimum wage employee. Is this fair?
Davenport Riding has twice the number of racial minorities in Canada at 33%, a higher percentage of single people at 41% (as opposed to 33%), and 43% who are completely dependent upon public transit, a statistic much higher than the national average of 10%. Will cutting back services mean that riders will not be able to afford to go to work because of the cost of transit, if they are forced to take taxis at night?
In addition, many immigrants – Portuguese, Italian and Asian – have communities which centre around church. Cutting back Sunday service will restrict their access to their place of worship and right to congregation- cornerstones of society building- and which benefit the multinational city I am proud to call home.
The same principles of consistency and access to transit service apply to the proposed expansion of light rail transit for Transit City. This expansion of service level transit will revitalize and benefit entire neighbourhoods along its 75 km route, enable over three times this same demographic of rider to access and support businesses in their community, and build businesses within a far greater area than the area directly above subway stations. The air rights directly above the few subway stations proposed by Mayor Ford’s ‘Transportation City’ are not his unilateral right to sell to highrise developers. Transit City’s LRT is being implemented in dozens of cities internationally, and is proven to improve the quality of life within neighbourhoods, and provide interconnections to subway stations. Why wait seven years for a few subway stations, when Transit City can be built in three to serve almost four times as many riders, and provide facelifts and multiple transit stops for entire districts?
In summary, by cutting back bus service to Davenport Riding, one of the poorest in Canada, the Toronto City Council will make this community poorer, and may force riders to choose between being able to go to work, or not, based upon transit costs. Those who can afford cars are fortunate, and expect society to pay the cost of road maintenance, traffic control, and highway expansion, why are any cuts even considered in public transit, and car drivers prioritized over citizens’ rights to go to work on public transit? Taxpayers subsidize cars, and I have not heard of any cuts to any services required to maintain the highway system proposed by the current Mayor or City Council.
We need to support current bus routes, and get to work on building Transit City immediately, so that Torontonians in the GTA can go to work- safely, equitably and quickly.
Photo Credit Warren McPherson: Image of Transit Guru Steve Munro, and others, crowded into Meeting Room #2, waiting to deputize with great patience.
Continue reading

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Stuck in Traffic in Transportation City

“Send in the clowns
Don’t bother they are here.”
– Stephen Sondheim from the 1973 musical ‘A Little Night Music’

As a transit rider and taxpayer, I write of our right to moral outrage. The events since the October 25th municipal election have left me reeling- from the Ringling Brothers pomp and circumstance of Don Cherry’s inauguration of Rob Ford as mayor of our once progressive city, to the new regime’s attempted transit fee hike and service cuts, and to the higher personal income tax garnered to subsidize corporate tax cuts, our political arena has become a three-ring circus.

PM Harper, Premier McGuinty, Mayor Ford — each have become ringleaders in their own right. Each promotes obstructionist duplicity, deflecting questions about who really holds the reins on our right to dissent without censure, discounting, or ridicule, while cutting tax revenues needed to support essential public services, such as transit, which enable us to get to work efficiently. Once service becomes intermittent, such as the recently proposed scaling back of the nighttime schedule of 48 bus routes, riders will no longer use these unpredictable routes. Who rides the later buses? Shift workers, recent immigrants, service sector employees, teenagers – those who cannot afford cars, and are the most vulnerable to being stranded within a system. With this plan, and the construction of 18 km of subway with 11 stops, rather than Transit City, Mayor Ford has announced his ‘Transportation City’, thus his ‘War on the Transit Rider’. Cars are machines; we cannot have a war on them.

Mayor Ford’s reign was kicked off on December 7th, when Don Cherry, the host of ‘Coach’s Corner’ on the CBC, placed the chain of office around Mayor Ford’s neck at City Hall, and said “Actually I’m wearing pink for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything.”

With that speech, the municipal gloves were off, and my bicycle helmet was on. The tone was set for the new City Hall, which was to be run by an executive council queried, hand-selected, and confirmed by his staff that their allegiance to Mayor Ford was absolute. Adam Vaughan, the councilor that everyone wanted to run for mayor, turned his back on the proceedings.

Within days of his election, Mayor Ford was granted the ear of Premier McGuinty, and convinced him to abandon seven years of Transit City planning. In those same few days, Spacing, the new urban magazine, designed bicycle-riding leftwing pinko buttons to fight this inaugural costume drama with humour, and a signifier of moral outrage. 10,000 buttons were sold in the first two days by Spacing, with 10 per cent of the proceeds going to the Toronto Cyclists’ Union.

For 25 years at the CBC, a pinko-kook institution, Mississauga resident Don Cherry has earned up to $700,000 a year for 5 minutes per game of Yogi Berra commentary on hockey, and now his ‘bite the hand that feeds him’ malapropisms have been immortalized on a button, and banded together downtown Toronto pinko-kooks. I wear my button everywhere with amused and exasperated pride, and often point to it as a mutual badge of honour to fellow pinkos– on the streets, in the subway, and in cafes — to build solidarity.

Those who conjecture about why Transit City is being dismantled also believe the mayoral modus operandi of Mayor Ford is calculated. Ford wants to return the favour of his election to property developers who bankrolled his campaign, and by doing so, undermine the egalitarian, urban planning begun by ex-Mayor Miller, which would integrate communities into the subway corridor by continuing to build 75 km of priority lines of Light Rail Transit. This project has already been whittled down 47 km by budget cuts by Premier McGuinty; ex-Mayor Miller’s original plan included 122 km of LRT.

In addition, they believe Mayor Ford wants to sell off valuable air rights for high rise development above subway stops to his developer friends. This plan is in direct contrast to ex-Mayor Miller, who wanted his legacy to be Transit City. This LRT system includes multiple transit stops to encourage business and street level development within neighbourhoods, supports mom and pop businesses along its route, and enables those who are disabled and elderly access to surface level transit. The vision of Mayor Ford is elitist– massive high rises will mark the spot of subway stations, which will take 7 years to build, serve 122,000 people, and are difficult to access, whereas the plan of Transit City is to enable transit-oriented development to serve 400,000 people, revitalize entire communities, and can be built within three years to relieve the gridlock, and a portion of healthcare expenses, which cost Ontario $6 billion a year.

And the three-ring circus continues. Premier McGuinty allowed Mayor Ford’s fireside chat for significant reasons– Ontario views the HST as a corporate tax grab, he is culpable for enacting 233/10, the 5-meter fence rule, which permitted the suspension of civil liberties during the G20, and he has made a series of exceptionally poor decisions in the last year, including outsourcing $6 billion of wind turbines to Samsung. Who is advising him?

Yet even as Premier McGuinty exclaims from the center of his ring “Ontarians understand the need for corporate tax cuts”, provincial corporate tax rates are cut from 14 to 12 per cent so that $2.4 billion in public revenues will be lost for Transit City. No, I don’t understand why I am paying much more for fewer services, any more than I understand why the new City Council recently attempted to raise transit fees by 10 cents to $3.10 for each token when I buy a set of ten to offset the $60 lost from the vehicle registration fee, and federally, why my taxes have increased between $144 (income $44,000) to $447 per annum (income $100,000) so that $14 billion in tax revenues are lost to the public purse, and why Canadian corporations will pay the lowest taxes in the industrialized world at 12.2 per cent, when American corporations pay 28.3 per cent.

As a Liberal premier, Premier McGuinty has added to my tax burden given to me by the federal Conservatives, thereby supporting PM Harper’s corporate agenda. I thought they were opposing parties. As a result, I am getting far fewer services for far higher transit fees, increased taxation from all sides, and a possible public sector wage freeze — a triple whammy. And watch — this federal tax loss in tax revenue will be used to justify even more downloading of transit infrastructure costs to the provinces by forcing them to finance overruns. PM Harper and Premier McGuinty could have allocated some of these revenues to fund sustainable transportation infrastructure and upgrades, including electrifying the Air Rail Link, and the Georgetown corridor by Metrolinx, and easily included a 15% contingency fund.

$14 billion federally, and $2.4 billion provincially is $16.4 billion in lost tax revenues. $16.4 billion can buy world class, sustainable, electric transit infrastructure, education, research and innovation, and the capacity for forward thinking design and self-governance; $16.4 billion in tax cuts widens the gap between the car-drivers and transit riders, and closes the door on municipal services, including legal clinics, home care, and public housing for those who need them most, yet were the target demographic for Mayor Ford’s Gravy Train campaign. It also complicates travel time in the GTA for citizens do not want to waste half their workday in gridlock, as drivers idle in single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) behind their buses. These diesel buses, as proposed by Mayor Ford, should be Light Rail Vehicles, which are twice as fast, with no emissions, and serve the entire GTA. ‘Transportation City’ is not as efficient or clean as ‘Transit City’, and depends on fossil fuels in a post carbon economy.

Cities, including the GTA, need to become the epicenter of all greening initiatives, as up to 70% of the world will live in urban centers by 2050. It is clear that Mayor Ford will not be able to represent the City of Toronto on the world stage with his backward policies prioritizing cars, subways, and buses. GTA transit infrastructure is 25 years behind international standards already, and his version of fossil-fuel based transit, and expanding highway system, will be considered archaic before it is built. Cuts from federal and provincial corporate tax revenues could have been used to build this transit infrastructure so that TTC riders can get to work, quickly and efficiently without congestion, to their lungs or their workday.

Just as Mayor Ford’s inauguration did on youtube, his self-serving version of Transit City, ‘Transportation City’, will make us a laughing stock internationally. And as other countries build sustainable transit for resilient cities, we will be stuck in traffic, waiting for a change in transit policy and governance. As the economic engine of Canada, this funding is owed to the TTC transit rider more than the tax cuts are owed to the executive class, but it is not seen this way by this corporate glad-handing, three-ring circus.

We need to get to work on Transit City- and right away – so we can go to work.

DON CHERRY and ROB FORD “…for all the PINKOs out there, that ride bicycles…”, posted on youtube.com, December 7, 2010 at
Left-wing pinko buttons store at http://spacing.ca/store/buttons/left-wing-pinko-button/
Pembina Report, “Making Tracks Torontonians”, January 5, 2011, at http://www.pembina.org/pub/2151
John Cartwright, The Toronto Star, July 11, 2010
‘Opinion: Cancel corporate tax cuts to deal with deficit’at
Sean Marshall, TTC holds off on fare increase, service cuts, January 12, 2011 at http://spacingtoronto.ca/2011/01/12/ttc-proposes-fare-increase-service-cuts/

Continue reading

Railroaded by Metrolinx: DIY Citizenship – Not in Canada, My Dear

If we do not define citizenship, others will do it for us.”

Participant at the Do It Yourself Citizenship Conference,
University of Toronto, November 13, 2010

Citizenship is defined as “a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it.” Hilarious. I do need protection from my government, but I am not sure that I owe any allegiance to it in its current unconstitutional manifestation. My preferred definition of citizenship is “working towards the betterment of the community one lives in through participation, volunteer work and efforts to improve life for all”, but what do you do when the process of public consultation and rising tide of conservatism work to confuse, weaken and defeat you? Federally, with the defeat of Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, by an unelected senate, and provincially, with the decision of the arm’s length transit agency, Metrolinx to purchase diesel trains, rather than electric, for expansion of the Georgetown South corridor and Air Rail Link, this has been one bad week to be an engaged citizen working for sustainable change.

From November 11th to 14th, I attended the Do It Yourself Citizenship Conference at the University of Toronto. Sponsored by the Center for the Study of the United States, it was an jam packed, erudite conference, organized by Matt Ratto and Megan Boler, which pulled together one hundred and thirty-five international new media scholars to discuss how citizens have created civic engagement through e-government, remix culture, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and participatory media campaigns, such as the Rally to Restore Sanity, as a compendium for civic interventions critiquing our, American and Canadian, increasingly rightwing regimes. Canada gets PM Harper, and Toronto, Mayor-elect Ford, and the US gets Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party- a tragicomedy about to played out on both sides of the border.

As a resident of Ward 18, located in west-end Toronto, I presented my personal air monitoring station in the HackLab at DIY as a device for tactical, civic intervention. This mobile air monitoring station is a prototype of a physical computing device, which will act as my externalized lungs. Designed to refute the falsified data for projected air quality exceedances in Metrolinx’ environmental assessment reports, the lungs will hang over my balcony to analyze and collect air quality samples, and compare this new data with Metrolinx’ official projections, as winds blow easterly from 300-450 diesel trains passing two blocks beside my house until 2020 as part of their Regional Transportation Plan.

As Canada moves from a manufacturing economy to an extraction economy, and the Internet perfects surveillance of personal data through clickprints, ‘dataveillance’, it enables the shrewd and rapacious culling and selling of our data by third party collection companies to government agencies. Similarly, Geographical Information Systems enable detailed mapping for extraction locations for our natural resources. Our online identity, through social media and email, is monitored through the clickstream of our Internet searches, as well as our natural resources. Intellectual property, social identity, air, water and land are being mapped, mined, and readied for monetization and corporate profit. Neither the privacy commissioner, nor the federal court, have policies which are able to keep pace with this invasion of privacy, and assumption of privilege, by the data mining companies, as well as the rapid itemization of assets by extraction companies – mining, water, oil and natural gas- of our commons at civil society’s expense.

During the DIY Citizenship Conference, Sara Wylie, co-founder of ExtrAct, developed at the MIT Centre for Future Civic Media, presented a textured GIS map of icons marking the location of natural gas wells throughout the US, and discussed their satellite connectivity, which streamlines rapid extraction through data flow. This map of gas well locations is so dense, it crashes Google. As part of this project, the Land Man Report Card aggregates user-generated intelligence through civic engagement, in which landowners recount the sales pitch by itinerant landmen, who try to convince them to open their land to natural gas mining using hydraulic fracturing, which forces poisonous chemicals into the shale to fracture it, and release gas from its pockets. These tactical information systems, the LandMan Report Card, social networking, and the gas well map, enable landowners to communicate, document and warn others. A superb, and very important, documentary about this is ‘Gasland’, directed by Josh Fox, which forewarns us about government policy allowing ‘fracking’ on the Canadian east coast for shale reserves.

Since Bruce Mau’s exhibition ‘Massive Change’, I have foreseen that every square centimeter of our commons will be monetized, as if an invisible grid has been placed over the world, assigning value, partitioning assets and superseding our natural rights to a clean, healthy environment, and our private right to research and connect. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms no longer protects any of these commons as our natural right, and federal policies controlling corporate extraction and environmental practices lag far behind the imposition of this intrusive data mining and surveying technology. Our commons- intellectual, cultural and physical- all will be on the auctioneer’s block, and Ron Diebert of the Citizen Lab is fighting to maintain net neutrality to ward off this impending fragmentation of the ‘Net, and monitoring of grassroots democracy.

Corporations are rapidly taking advantage of this slippage between policy and technology, and our ability to fight back is being undercut by PM Harper. On November 16th, the Climate Accountability Act, Bill C-311, was defeated by the senate by a snap vote of 43 to 32, held when opposing members were absent. This unelected senate, padded by PM Harper with his Conservative allies during his second prorogation, is a further indignity to democratic process. David Suzuki has launched a letter writing campaign protesting this unfair senate vote at http://action.davidsuzuki.org/C-311, and is trying to reach 15,000 letters to MPs.

The tactics of PM Harper are clear- if you cannot repeatedly defeat a bill with multiple readings, all of which have passed soundly, ensure the House is empty of its supporters during its final passing.
Bill C-311 was Canada’s only offering for the Cancun climate change summit on November 29th, and it is no longer on the table. Under no circumstances does Canada want to stand in the way of the development of the tarsands, as Canadian oil sands giants, Suncor and Syncrude, are allowed to pay royalties based on a bitumen price that is half of what all other producers pay, while continuing to externalize the cost downstream to Fort Chippewyan communities through high cancer rates. There is no corporate cost for destroying the Boreal forest and the Athabasca River, except for the superficial planting of wild plants on the defunct tailings ponds. This area in Northern Alberta will be left as a bruise on the earth, visible by satellite, for generations to come.

Meanwhile, outside my window in Ward 18, Metrolinx has commissioned eighteen, Tier 4 diesel trains from Japan for the Air Rail Link, piggybacking on the Sumitomo bid in Sonoma, Marin
, to provide a premium- read exclusive- service to Pearson. These trains will not resolve issues of noise, pollution or vibration, as Tier 4 emits four times the nitrous oxides, and twice the greenhouse gases, of equivalent automobiles, nor will they provide service to the communities they disturb. The noise and vibration of these necessitates the building of 10 km of 5.5 metre walls as noise barriers, which were not included under visual impacts in the report. Provincially, the $4 million electrification study is being ignored by Metrolinx in favour of buying these diesel trains before the study is completed, or considered. To her credit, the newly elected, Liberal-backed councilor, Ana Bailao, supports the Clean Train Coalition and the residents of our communities for electric trains, despite the position of Metrolinx and the provincial Liberals. And in these hard economic times, why are we buying diesel trains from Japan, when Quebec-based Bombardier makes topflight electric trains?

Our west-end communities, with Weston leading the way, have advocated for electric trains from the provincial Liberals for over 5 years, transit that the rest of the developed world takes as a matter of course, and yet Metrolinx is forcing through diesel trains, which will actually work against commercial and residential development by necessitating large buffer zones. When I attended the charrette for the design of the Junction Triangle, which is bounded by all three tracks of the GSSE corridor expansion in the centre of Ward 18, Castlepoint, who is redeveloping and remediating the lands of the Tower Automotive site, is forced to use parking structures and commercial office space as physical noise, vibration and sound buffers to the Georgetown corridor. With electric trains, much more of this real estate would usable for habitation and work. Castlepoint has the ear of Metrolinx- it seems to me that a fair trade off would be a tariff for developers going toward building electric trains in the Junction Triangle, an excellent suggestion for Premier McGuinty, thus releasing this land from dead zones, and the cul de sac view of concrete walls.

As Rob Fairley, a member of the Clean Train Coalition and a resident of Parkdale, said to the Board of Directors meeting on November 16th, during which they voted in favour of the Tier 4 trains,
“We want electric trains, not diesel trails. We’re not here to disrupt the meeting, we just want to make sure you know where the community stands.” Politely, with only twelve seats available in the back row of the boardroom, advocates for electric trains stood at the back, cycling every two or three minutes to change our guard, so that we could all take turns to bear witness to the botchery of Metrolinx’ public consultation, and moot electrification study.

Do-it-yourself citizenship? Ward 18 has produced documentaries, ‘Bending the Rails’ by Jeff Winch, site installations for Nuit Blanche, ‘Rail of Light’ by Jeff Winch and Richard Mongiat, anthems, ‘Go Electric’ by Rob and Soli Joy, and marches, the Clean Air for Little Lungs Stroller Parade, and the Human Train, and a white elephant performance piece showing the next $1.3 billion abuse of taxpayers’ funds, after the G20 – but our consultation, peaceful protests, and our electrification study have been shoved aside by the self-imposed need to make the Pan Am Games deadline. What do 300,000 citizens do next, when the process is stacked against do-it-yourself civic intervention, and their health is put at risk, to prioritize dirty, diesel trains for a two week sporting extravaganza, touting itself as “green”, when buses would be just fine for the athletes?

As Adlai E. Stevenson said, “As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding, the beginning and the end.” Not in Canada, despite all our do-it-yourself citizenship supporting our commitment, through advocacy and research, to build an electric transit system in our west-end communities. To the organizers of the DIY Citizenship Conference, thank you for an extraordinary experience. I suggest that the next conference be entitled ‘How to Build a Civil Society’, as it is clear that Canada has forgotten to include us in its democratic vote for sustainable transit.

DIY Citizenship Conference, University of Toronto at http://diycitizenship.com/
Sara Wylie, co-founder, ExtrAct, MIT Centre for Future Civic Media, LandMan Report Card at
Josh Fox, “Gasland” at http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/
Bruce Mau and the Institute without Boundaries at http://www.massivechange.com/about
Citizen Lab at http://citizenlab.org/
David Suzuki Blog, “Senate vote to kill Climate Act disrespects Canadians and democracy” at
Letters to MPs regarding Bill C-311, the Climate Change Act, at http://action.davidsuzuki.org/C-311
Darcy Henton, Canwest News Service: “Oil-sands royalty estimates could be out by $100M: auditor” at http://www.financialpost.com/related/topics/sands+royalty+estimates+could+100M+auditor/2060831/story.html#ixzz15xfqrCQM
Richard Mongiat and Jeff Winch, “Rail of Light” at http://railoflight.wordpress.com/

Natalie Alcoba, National Post: “Electrifying Pearson rail link by 2015 ‘can’t be done’: Metrolinx” at http://www.globaltoronto.com/Electrifying+Pearson+rail+link+2015+done+Metrolinx/3837926/story.html

Continue reading

Railroaded by Metrolinx: In Remembrance of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
– John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963), in a speech at the White House, 1962

I write this on the eve of Remembrance Day, 2010, as PM Harper flies to South Korea for a repeat performance of the G20, as three days of testimonies unfold in Toronto and Montreal to question RCMP conduct, and the government continues to refuse a public inquiry into the G20. This judicial inquiry is morally imperative as it would enable the federal court to subpoena evidence from witnesses under oath to knit together the patchwork of incriminating evidence, establish the chain of command of policing during the G20, and finally assign culpability. Both parties are standing firm- this all-encompassing inquiry must not be allowed happen. It may be the only issue they agree upon at this time, having closed ranks to goose-step around civil liberties. Meanwhile, PM Harper is fiddling while Rome burns, selling more of our assets to multinationals in South Korea. Has it occurred to him that Canada is not his to sell?

I dedicate this article to my grandfather, who fought in the First World War, and was one of the few who survived the air force. He came back so shell-shocked that if his family spoke while he drove, he had to pull over to the side of the road to calm down. Within my extended family, several members have been awarded Orders of Canada for public service. I am, however, a vilified ‘protester’, as I believe that there must be a full inquiry into the G8/G20 Summit so that both levels of government are forced to be responsible for the gross abuse of police power, violation of civil liberties and powers of taxation, and desecration of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If the Charter cannot defend its own constitution and abrogation of civil rights, it is a constitution no longer.

It is exactly one week since I witnessed the voting down of the second reading of Bill 121, a public interest investigation into the G8/G20 Summit tabled by Welland’s NDP MPP, Peter Kormos, by 8 ‘ayes’ to 28 ‘neas’ in Queen’s Park. Upon the resounding ‘nea’ across the floor by the consolidated Liberals and Conservatives, there was a unanimous, audible gasp by those in the peanut gallery. Included in that singular voice was my own, and within an hour, having sped away on my round legs, I was listening to Chris Hedges talk about his new book, “The Death of the Liberal Class” at the Munk School for Global Affairs. His lecture was a play-by-play of what I had seen at Queen’s Park, and spoke directly to me.

Could it be, according to Chris Hedges, that the liberal left – unions, churches and universities, progressive political parties, and the press – has lost moral suasion as a guiding voice for democratic dialogue? Have we abandoned our moral compass in favour of corporate elitism? And have we allowed the gutting of ethics, and the erosion of civil liberties, for financial gain? As I watched the provincial NDP fight back at Queen’s Park, and be mocked for their efforts by the opposing parties, I thought no- it is worse- citizens’ rights are being viewed with contempt as they contest the streamlining of economic interests, the growing division between the rich and poor, and the destruction of the environment. As Chris Hedges notes, without a robust liberal voice to engage in this debate, there is a very real danger that things will degrade into violence as the middle and working classes become increasingly disenfranchised, angry and confused. Internationally, general strikes rage, generated by falsely imposed austerity measures imposed by the banks, and Chris Hedges predicts that the US, then Canada, will be next, on the front line. A cynical friend said that no doubt the Conservatives had a contingency fund for legal challenges as part of their G20 bottom line, a line item right after their $500, 000 worth of delegate party favours -glow sticks, hand sanitizer, and $100 pens.

At Queen’s Park, throughout the presentation of the bill, I was distressed by the disregard the opposition had for the NDP. They held extended conversations during their presentation, loud enough to be heard by me in the upper gallery, to show their displeasure at the possibility of the second reading of Bill 121. For me, as a Canadian citizen, it was a momentous historical occasion, for the Liberals and Conservatives, it was a $1.3 billion farce of the highest order, worthy of a William Hogarth cartoon – when Peter Kormos mentioned the editorial in the Star demanding a formal inquiry, a Liberal MPP turned to the fashion section, searching for it there. I watched her. A MPP from the Muskoka region, Garfield Dunlop, mentioned the success of the G8 in Huntsville, although I heard how golfers were losing balls off the green, and militia were crawling out of the brush, holding the golf ball up, and warning them not to hit off the fairway again.

I have always been wary of publicity stunts on the Ontario Parliament Network, the official channel of the provincial legislature, but I was glad that it was recording and broadcasting this debate for posterity, ignored as it was by the opposition. MPPs, please be aware that you are being observed. I have heard how the intellectual level of discourse, as transcribed in the Hansard, the official record, is the lowest it has ever been historically, but the resounding speeches of NDP MPPs, Peter Kormos, Andrea Horwath, and Cheri DiNovo , showed courage, a monumental standing up for the underdog. As I left the gallery, I made the universal symbol for typing to Cheri DiNovo. I will transcribe my own citizen’s Hansard of events, and I will remember this travesty of justice in the defense of the Charter, and my grandfather, who fought for a kinder, gentler Canada, and my right to protest. During the G20, police erased incriminating photographs on iPhones by resetting the factory settings to default, and stomping on memory cards, to erase incriminating evidence of police brutality. I refuse to let these memories be erased, but I am a pacifist, and want to believe that the Charter can rise to its own defense.

Later, at the lecture, deeply shaken, I asked Chris Hedges about the vilification of protesters, and he spoke of having his microphone cut off, twice, during a lecture, and being escorted off a university campus. The press reported that he had created a riot, and the university sent him his coat by mail. Protesters, intellectuals, academics, environmentalists- these are all epithets, just as a Liberal MP pointed out the eloquence of Peter Kormos was due to his background as a lawyer during the Bill 121 debate. Those who ask for educated discussion are discredited to enable bigotry and prejudice, as PM Harper plays his role as ideologue to evade facts, discourage analysis, and hold court through emotion. Elitists, treehuggers, latte-sippers, lefties, union members – these have all become dirty words – just read the comments section online, and see how democratic discourse has descended into name calling, supported by this new form of government.

There will be no justice until there is a public inquiry, which ties together the disparate inquiries into a coherent series of events enabled by a chain of command, and yes, assigns blame. We deserve to know what happened, and not to be distracted by the pomp and circumstance of yet another G20 Summit, quick on the heels of our own. Regulation 233/10, the five meter fence rule, will lead right back to the Premier McGuinty’s office, then to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Investigation of this fallacious law will prove PM Harper’s desire to cut away the backbone of peaceful resistance by targeting caring, educated and engaged youth to ensure their future political passivity. The young woman, hit by rubber bullets, may never return to Toronto, and sadly, these memories of the state of martial law have changed a generation’s perception of police. As an educator, I will never forget this deliberate humiliation of over eleven hundred protesters, and as a citizen, I will never forget that my grandfather fought for naught, because I can be taxed to the hilt to have my civil liberties suspended for a political spectacle enabling police brutality, and civilian abuse. Canada is not safer since the Summits and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been allowed to be put into question, and with that, the fundamental rights of every citizen. Shame.

Hedges, Chris. The Death of the Liberal Class. New York: Nation, 2010. Print.
Theo Moudakis, Opinion in Toronto Star, Public Inquiry November 1st, link at http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/883743–g20-summit-public-inquiry-still-required
Krystalline Kraus, “Activist Communique: Ontario G20 inquiry public members bill failed to pass second reading and the Summit cost totals”, ‏link at http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/krystalline-kraus/2010/11/activist-communiqu%C3%A9-ontario-g20-inquiry-public-members-bill
The Hansard, November 4th, http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/house-proceedings/house_detail.do?locale=en&Date=2010-11-04&detailPage=%2Fhouse-proceedings%2Ftranscripts%2Ffiles_html%2F04-NOV-2010_L066.htm&Parl=39&Sess=2#P1300_294131

Continue reading

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Green belt, tighten our belt: Contesting the Places to Grow Act

People living in vigorous cultures typically treasure those cultures and resist any threat to them. How and why can a people so totally discard a formerly vital culture that it becomes literally lost?
– Jane Jacobs, “Dark Age Ahead”, 2004

Toronto has been divided and conquered, its downtown core sold for $60, the cost of the vehicle registration tax, for the right of those in the subdivisions to drive downtown with impunity. Good bye road tolls and bicycle lanes.

There is not a single campaign promise that Rob Ford can keep, but loyalty came cheap from those who live outside the subway system, lured by Ford’s promise of extending the Sheppard line, and his campaign to end the “war on cars.” His electoral promises were flimsy and repetitive, but as former Liberal premier Bob Rae noted, Ford’s campaign was supported by the federal Conservative Party, and the hard-sell town hall phone technology developed by the ultra right Tea Party, and used to cull phone numbers from 7,000 would-be voters. Ford had lots of help, and he is paying off his campaign manager, Nick Kouvalis — the real brains of his outfit — with the position of mayoral chief of staff at City Hall (see CBC As it Happens’ phone interview for Ford’s first interview as mayor).

Rob Ford is the municipal piece of the Conservative puzzle, Tom Hudak, the provincial, and a majority with Stephen Harper would secure the Conservative trifecta for unregulated, rightwing government. Although Ford’s “Stop the Gravy Train” platform seemed simplistic at best, it spoke in a crystal clear voice to those who felt that they have been done a disservice by Toronto City Hall — you will save money under Ford, and you have been wronged by the downtown lefties, who have wasted money trying to establish sustainable transit systems, such as Transit City, and planting trees.

Stephen Harper partied gleefully at Ford’s victory party as the Gravy Train will be helmed by his man now — still a Gravy Train, but run by Big Business on the tracks of unbridled commerce, without restraint, or censure. The Conservatives are using the same penny-pinching campaign strategy in the TV ads for provincial candidate Tom Hudak, citing McGuinty’s EcoFee as the culprit. The provincial race could be won for even less than $60, for a tax, although badly conceived, which was revised immediately. How quick people are to form allegiances for tiny, temporary savings.

There was a less known campaign behind Ford’s 47 per cent vote win.

Regional developers footed 60 per cent of the bill for Ford’s campaign to ensure their future victory in contesting the Places to Grow Act in 2014. The Places to Grow Act was enacted in 2005 by the Liberal government to protect 1.8-million acres that form the Green Belt, including the Oakridge Moraine, and its freshwater aquifers feeding into Lake Ontario, from aggressive subdivision development. This act will become in jeopardy as Conservatives consolidate and contest its growth restrictions to pay back their Ford campaign supporters.

Disastrous environmental policy is not the sole domain of the Conservatives, however. The Liberal’s Legislative Framework for Modernization has also undercut the Places to Grow Act. On Oct. 21, the Open for Business Act was passed by the provincial Liberal Party, which ensures exponential environmental degradation as Big Business is permitted to monitor itself, without full disclosure or recourse to the Environmental Bill of Rights on the part of watchful citizen groups, like Lake Ontario’s Waterkeepers, headed by the extraordinary lawyer, Mark Mattson.

One hundred small amendments were hidden away to guarantee “competitive advantage” over our right to protect our commons, as part of this modernization act. Mattson sent the provincial government a 100-page defense of the citizens’ right to contest major projects through the Environmental Bill of Rights; it was completely ignored. Both parties are culpable for the environmental race to the bottom this electoral year.

What will the new Ontario look like, if Ford and his developer supporters — which, not coincidentally, include former commissioner for Ontario police, Julian Fantino, as the new Conservative candidate in Vaughan — have their way?

Developers own thousands of hectares of farm, lakeside and moraine land, protected by the Places to Grow Act, and they are waiting for the full changing of the guard to Conservative so that they can resume building massive tracts of suburban mansions, circumnavigating the act. In the 1980s, my grandfather, who worked in real estate, prophetically called these “the ghettoes of the future.”

As Ontario’s subdivisions are given renewed license to sprawl throughout the 905 region, they will add thousands of hectares of asphalt for highways to absorb heat, and enable toxic petroleum water to run off directly into the Great Lakes.

In the last three years, massive algae blooms have been seen from satellites in middle of our Great Lakes, a by-product of nitrogen fertilizer from the increasing number of lawns edging around the lakes from exurban development. Much of this fertilizer is used by golf courses, so that a tiny white ball can be better seen against bright green backdrop.

There has been 8.5 per cent loss in the Great Lakes of water through extraction for suburban development and golf courses, which use a staggering amount of groundwater. The Open for Business Act opens possibilities for water exploitation, even as lake levels go down and our population grows.

The cost of the increased infrastructure for this 905 exurban development for water mains, electricity, and highways will be passed on to the taxpayer in the downtown core, as well as increased commuter traffic, although none of these residents are benefiting from these services.

Good bye tax cuts by Rob Ford; this exurban expansion all but guarantees a higher cost of taxation to guarantee developers’ profit at civil society’s expense, as Ford cuts municipal services. Our streetcars are the envy of municipalities throughout the world, and we are getting rid of them? Why?

When the green belt will no longer be able to naturally cleanse and generate water, its aquifers destroyed by containment, extraction or diversion, development will create a loop in which we are forced to use electricity or gas to do artificially what nature, such as the Great Lakes, or the Green Belt around the Oakridge Moraine, does without human intervention. We have not developed the science or technology more efficient than nature, despite the ridiculous claims of climate engineering scientists. All of these costs to purify water will be passed on to the taxpayer, an additional gift from the developers to the downtown core. And as the Boreal forest in the 905 becomes fractured by expanding highways, it will become prone to disease, just as the Asian pine needle invaded the forests in British Columbia as logging roads cut through their stands.

In 2004, in her last work, “Dark Age Ahead,” Jane Jacobs predicted the newly enacted “Legislative Framework for Modernizing Environmental Approvals” with frightening accuracy describing the undermining of the “five pillars of our culture that we depend on to stand firm”:

“Bad science is the elevation of economics as the main ‘science’ to consider in making major political decisions;

bad governments are more interested in deep-pocket interest groups than the welfare of the population;

and bad culture prevents people from understanding the deterioration of fundamental physical resources, which the entire community depends on.”

Any contestation to the Environmental Assessment Act is refuted as a conflict to competitive advantage by the government, and protected by the Freedom of Information Act, and “competitive advantage,” so immune to public scrutiny. Jacobs extrapolated from observing the lobbying tactics of Big Business that we would lose our right to protect future generations from asthma, birth defects and learning deficiencies, such as autism, all of which are on the rise, and directly linked to our environment.

It takes seven generations to judge precautionary measures for major infrastructure developments as recommended by indigenous peoples, but it has only taken one generation to lose our farms, our lakes, and our health through bad policy.

On Oct. 27, C-300, a private members bill by Liberal John McKay, which made mining, oil and gas companies accountable for their abuse of human rights and environmental violations, was defeated 134-140 votes in the House of Commons, a vote which the world watched in horror.

This is the quality of federal legislation which the Conservative Party will try to bring down the rungs through their provincial and municipal candidates. By allowing companies to self regulate, we have lost our international reputation, and a place on the United Nations Security Council. Michael Ignatieff did not appear for the vote, to show support for McKay — and he wonders why the politically engaged do not consider him as a viable candidate?

We will be faced with the same aggressive tactics as the mining lobbyists from developers pushing for urban expansion, and the selling off Ontario’s green space, as the 100 amendments in the Open to Business Act whittle away our right to protect our commons — clean water, land and air.

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.

Provincially, if voters are not careful, we will sell off even more of our environmental rights to penalize the Liberals for the HST, Green Act, and EcoFees, although by supporting Conservative candidates, we will not profit a penny from the profits of businesses to support education, healthcare or community services.

This is the saddest legacy from this municipal election, an aftershock which will reveal itself slowly to those who voted for Ford to be known as a betrayal, but predicted by those who did not vote for him.

There are dark ages ahead, and I intend to ignore Ford, and support progressive city councillors to enable the City of Toronto to plan itself, and protect the Places to Grow Act, and support the recent United Nations vote for the international right to clean water and sanitation.

No doubt when the recent verdict on the Places to Grow Act in Pickering is eventually contested, we will see if there are any teeth left in it as it goes head to head with the Opportunities for Business Act.

Jacobs, Jane. Dark Age Ahead. New York: Random House, 2004. Print.
CBC As it Happens’ phone interview for Ford’s first interview as mayor at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHJGR4i7fhw
Kelly Grant, “Nick Kouvalis, the man behind the Ford campaign”
at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/city-votes/nick-kouvalis-the-man-behind-the-ford-campaign/article1738989/page2/
Places to Grow Act at https://www.placestogrow.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1&Itemid=5
Legislative Framework for Modernizing Environmental Approvals
Mark Mattson, Waterkeeper.ca Weekly http://www.waterkeeper.ca/2010/10/27/why-did-ontario-kill-public-participation-rights/#more-19106
‘The End of Suburbia’, a documentary directed by Gregory Greene, describes this in detail at
Open For Business Act Passes at
Bill C-300 – Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas Corporations in Developing Countries
John McKay’s Speech Moving 3rd Reading of C-300 at http://www.johnmckaymp.on.ca/newsshow.asp?int_id=80681
Province rejects proposed Pickering growth:Urban expansion onto valuable agricultural lands out of step with provincial limits on sprawl http://www.thestar.com/iphoneapp/article?assetId=882142

Continue reading

Railroaded by Metrolinx: One Toronto, Now: An Election is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Only when humans are again permitted to build authentic urbanism — those cities, towns, and villages that nurture us by their comforts and delights — will we cease the despoiling of Nature by escaping to sprawl.
Andrés Duany, ‘Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream’

I think of Rob Ford as a powder keg, masquerading as a beer keg. At first glance, he appears populist, pleasing, inexpensive, and easygoing, and then you realize that he is elitist, divisive, and explosive. (To see Rob Ford’s behaviour on City Council, here is the ‘Rob Ford’s Maturity’ youtube video which is going viral.) As former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson warns, the city risks “handing over the office of greatest local influence on the basis of anger and reaction, not that of responsible, thoughtful and mature policy”. Rob Ford has led a negative campaign against City Hall, and when people have been made afraid of the future, they fall back by default on conservative posturing, blinding them to socially innovative solutions. As George Smitherman seethed, “The City of Toronto’s motto is diversity is our strength. If Rob Ford is elected mayor, the first thing that will need to be done is change the motto”.

Transit is by far and away the thorniest, and most important, issue in this mayoral race. Rob Ford’s transit plan includes getting rid of streetcars, building suburban bicycle lanes, and extending the Sheppard subway line. By “stopping the war on cars” for his supporters, Ford has created skepticism toward Transit City’s European-style Light Rail Transit system, without offering any viable alternatives. As Chris Bilton noted in Eye Weekly:

Ford’s focus on road repairs is admirable, but refuses to acknowledge that the reason we need to repair the Gardiner and the DVP is because they are used daily by 905ers whose taxes do not pay for Toronto’s road maintenance. And then there’s Ford’s totally worthless bike plan, which boasts 100km of off-road biking trails — mainly through the northernmost parts of North York and the far reaches of suburban Toronto — most of which would be completely useless to anyone trying to commute into the downtown core. Ford doesn’t seem to understand that cyclist commuters reduce traffic congestion (and transit congestion for that matter) and will ride on Toronto streets whether or not there are bike lanes. Trying to relegate cycling to a weekend pastime is not only delusional, but would make congestion worse.

Ford’s slash and burn spending on transit initiatives will increase traffic congestion, air pollution, and road rage through urban sprawl, and benefit no one, while damaging everyone’s health and Toronto’s future economic prosperity. In addition, he is attempting to turn back the clock on Mayor Miller’s legacy, Transit City, which forms the basis of network for the entire GTA, and democratizes accessibility for those who are underserved to have access to Toronto without relying on cars. Rob Ford’s plan to extend the Sheppard Line has not been approved by the federal and provincial governments; Transit City has been, and is already being constructed, so the subway extension is an election promise impossible to meet.

Downtown, Ford will sell off bicycle lanes to SUVs, in a time of peak oil, when the rest of the world, including China, is building electric transit networks to espouse the principles of New Urbanism: Renewable Energy + Electric Transportation + Walkable Urbanism = Livable Cities. China, by the way, has canceled their contract with General Motors for the Hummer, knowing they would clog its arteries. China knows it does not want another 10 day traffic jam; Ford would be encouraging just that in Toronto.

I live in a triangle of three parks, Sorauren, MacGregor and Dufferin Grove, in Ward 18, part of Davenport Riding – recently singled out as ‘a riding to watch’ in all of the upcoming elections. Friday night suppers in Dufferin Grove are a magnet for first and second generation immigrants, designers, tradespeople, professors, those of many different genders, and priority youth – a neo-urban hippy community. This riding also has the largest growing immigrant population, and some of the greatest poverty, in Canada. We have had our growing pains, but my community believes in a bicycle lanes, farmer’s markets, and a ‘Do it Yourself’ culture, values which are a throwback to the Depression Era when each purchase was carefully considered, and household items were repurposed, reused, and shared through a network of neighbours. Parks are essential to the Davenport Riding. As Toronto becomes ever more crowded, they ensure equitable access to play for those who live in crowded conditions. Downtown parks are what make my urban life tolerable, and have stopped my flight to the suburbs.

One day, while watching the neighbourhood children make human pyramids in Dufferin Grove, a fridge magnet was thrust under my nose. I looked up and found it attached to Rob Ford. “Vote for me,” he said imperiously. I said “Not a chance, Rob. You know nothing about urban planning and environmentalism, the two things that matter most to this community.” “Call my office”, was his reply, and he stumbled off, with his three younger, identical acolytes in tow, like a lion stalking prey. As he approached a grazing herd of neo-urban hippies, they swiftly fled from his pack, loping like antelopes across the plains. I still wake up in the wee hours of the morning, giggling at this sight, until the seriousness of the upcoming mayoral election kicks in. I am afraid for the park system if Rob Ford is elected, and with very good reason, because the Toronto Islands are at stake as well. I love this park, and their beaches, and they are my most treasured part of Toronto.

The Toronto Islands attract 12 million visitors, including international tourists, a year to the waterfront. Ford’s decision to sit down with Porter Airline’s Rob Deluce to discuss how to continue to expand the Toronto City Center Airport will jeopardize the right of those who love to picnic on the Toronto Islands- those who cannot afford to flee the smoggy heat of the city. Aircraft flying directly above the Islands, and Lake Ontario, bring international security risks, noise and air pollution directly into the city center, and by increasing traffic above this park, will detract from this green oasis. This constant air traffic will drop thousands upon thousands of tonnes of jet fuel into the Great Lakes, our drinking water. This water supply is not guaranteed to be our stable resource, as it is losing 1.4 million Olympic swimming pools of water annually. Particulate matter that goes up as smog, comes down as water pollution.

For the first time in Toronto’s history, young children, who attend primary school near this airport, are acquiring asthma. Privileging the expansion of a short haul airport over less affluent citizens to enjoy the parks, schools or west end playgrounds, is a really an elitist position by Ford, as it assumes that people he represents own cottages, or do not live downtown. Toronto already has Pearson International Airport, and the TCCA is really only for those who do not live on the waterfront, or in the west end of the city, and do not care about either, for the sake of a couple of minutes’ convenience in travel time. An unsustainable transit structure would be in play as proposed by Ford – cars battling bikes, and TCCA short haul flights prioritized over electric rail infrastructure on the Georgetown corridor. An electric, rather than diesel, Air Rail Link to Pearson would put downtown Toronto back into play on the world stage, rather than polluting the waterfront and west end, and every other mayoral candidate has signed a pledge to support the Clean Train Coalition, with the exception of Ford.

To build his Canadian version of the Tea Party, Rob Ford wants to get rid of 22 out of 44 councillors, and is actively canvasing rightwing councillors to support his candidacy. It would be to his benefit to fire those progressive councillors who oppose his bombastic style and supported Mayor Miller, and pad council seats with allies, so that he can impose his decisions without opposition. I think one of the ways to stop this juggernaut race by Rob Ford is to carefully elect a Toronto City Council who will voice our right to environmental protection through New Urban principles, so that Rob Ford’s slash and burn transit and social service policies do not gain traction.

A significant number of Torontonians are not decided in their mayoral or councillor votes – I know that I am not – and I think that we have to come together as one Toronto, and start deciding on our mayoral and council candidates together as a united voice that loves this city, and wants it to prosper, rather than to be caught in a stalemate of consensus, and traffic gridlock, over the next four years. We need to elect a Mayor of Toronto, and City Council, who can predict the necessity for change, with enough foresight to ensure that Transit City is in place so that our city is resilient in this age of peak oil. It is not enough to say, as I witnessed Rob Ford say during a CP24 debate, “that we do not want 1 million more people in Toronto…we can barely take care of the people we have already”. Population growth is inevitable, and his simple response is not good enough.

Curiously, the majority of Torontonians polled would vote for Mayor Miller once again if he were to run, so who are we going to choose to support Transit City, a green economy, social innovation and arts and culture? Who loves the City of Toronto, beyond personal gain, and who will defend us from unbridled growth, driven by the suburbs? I would say Joe Pantalone, with his 30 years of experience, but is to give Joe Pants a vote to take away a vote from George Smitherman, who appears to be the only real contender against Rob Ford? It gives me profound sadness to think strategically – I saw how quickly Joe Pantalone fought and won the redesign of an underground version of the Strachan Bridge from Metrolinx, and I think that we have spent so much time talking about Ford that we have ignored the magic powers of the feisty Small Wonder. Of all the mayoral candidates, I truly believe Joe Pantalone cares for Toronto the most.

However, in this time of crisis, I think we are forced to carefully band together to ensure that progressive city councillors are in the majority so that Rob Ford will be unable to hold dominion within City Hall. The Mayor is only one vote, and although he sets the tenor of City Hall, Ford will forced to reach consensus if we elect councillors who will contest his environmentally retrogressive bylaws, although as Councillor Ford, negotiating has been nigh impossible for him to do. We need to unite soon so that we have a fighting chance to have our downtown voice heard. It is up to us, as those who want to breathe, live, walk and ride our bikes safely in this city to determine how we are going to vote as a block, for both councillors and mayor, so Ford does not divide the left down the middle to take the far right.

To this end, I ask all those in agreement check out these sites, and join Facebook campaigns, so that we can work together as a unified, downtown vote, and decide what to do:

OneToronto.ca http://www.onetoronto.ca/ Watch ‘Facts not Fury’- a video counterargument to Ford’s negative campaigning at http://youtu.be/2Kn5YFnPc6E Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/OneTorontoca/160160227330948
People Plan Toronto at http://peopleplantoronto.org/ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peopleplantoronto
Toronto Cannot Afford Ford http://www.torontocannotafford.com/ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=151516278207363

An election is a terrible thing to waste. Otherwise, four years of Rob Ford may drive people like me, a proud, leftwing, latte-swilling, arts and culture loving, downtown greening, smog-reducing, neo-urban hippie from my natural urban habit, and force me to flee to the ever-expanding suburbs to get my taxes worth of clean living. We need to be One Toronto, and to come together now.

‪OneToronto.ca ~ Toronto is our Home, don’t TRASH TALK it!‬
Rob Ford’s Maturity Level at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOi2wIUCTnA
Principles of New Urbanism at http://www.newurbanism.org/newurbanism/principles.html
Chris Bilton, ‘It’s on: the mayoral race gets serious’ at http://www.eyeweekly.com/city/mayoralrace2010/article/101166
Steve Rennie, ‘Yearly water loss could fill one million Olympic pools’, at http://detnews.com/article/20100512/METRO/5120371/Great-Lakes-water-levels-drop-worries-boaters–shippers#ixzz11EG19NfN

Continue reading

Railroaded by Metrolinx: This is not my Canada; This is not my Media

There was a time when the pen was mightier than the sword. That was a time when people believed in truth and regarded truth as an independent power and not as an auxiliary for government, class, race, ideological, personal, or financial interest.
Paul Craig Roberts
Good-Bye: Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It

At the end of September, Rick Salutin, an award-winning, left-leaning columnist, was fired by the Globe and Mail. His second last article, ‘Stephen Harper – the last Straussian?’ received over 590 comments. The first sentence is pure Salutin:

People keep asking why Stephen Harper acts as he does, it looks so buttheaded. He seems to muck up his own prospects: firing decent people, lashing out, raising the partisan rhetoric, proroguing Parliament haughtily, binging on military toys, mauling the census – he’s a bright boy, it’s hard to figure.

I am curious why the Globe and Mail is not publishing the numerous letters questioning why Rick Salutin was fired for writing articles of such gravitas, and supporting his twenty years of incisive political analysis. Indeed, Rick Salutin’s final paragraph in his last article, ‘Rob Ford and the loss of Hope’, was censored by the Globe and Mail, as farewells are ‘not permitted’. Rick gives a clarion call against Rob Ford coming to power, and states ‘It’s the failure or shortfall of hope that leads to fear.’ As the London School of Economics responded by letter to the Queen, when she asked why their experts had not foreseen the economic meltdown of 2008, that ‘it was a failure of imagination’, so it will be for Toronto if we elect Rob Ford, and turn back the progressive policies enacted during the past seven years under Mayor Miller. Our actions will show that we no longer believe that our city that it can be a better place to live, and we will permit it to be ruled by suburban interests, rather than responsible urban planning and engaged environmental and social stewardship. Collectively, we care much more than Rob Ford for our city, and we have much more knowledge of how it can be run.

Is such a censored dismissal Straussian, Globe and Mail? Hundreds of thousands of readers, and Rick, deserve a proper explanation. ‘Redesigning’ is not enough. PM Harper pays $75,000 of our tax money to have a new media company monitor negative online comments, and no doubt, he just pressed the panic button to notify them to quickly repudiate the readers’ indignation and howls of support for Rick. You can read the online comments here. Off with his head, the Conservative Privy Council Office said, and the Thomsons agreed. It doesn’t pay to be controversial.

In their attempt to attract younger Internet savvy readers, who are not accustomed to investigative reporting, and prefer larger pictures, the Globe and Mail has revamped the newspaper to have a more glossy tabloid look and feel, with one of the issues that ‘define Canadians’ extolling the bright future of the armed forces. In the Globe’s recent ‘Canada: Our Time to Lead’ TV ad, touting the redesign, a young woman, riding a bicycle on a country road toward the camera, says that ‘Canada is not defined by universal health care or peacekeeping’. Funny- last time a poll was run in Canada, 80% of respondents said healthcare is the crown jewel, and distinguishing attribute of Canadian society, and why we accept high taxation levels. This subtext of this ad asks us to envision a new Canada, militarized and ‘open for international business’- a corporate Canada we are beginning to know, driven by unsustainable, neoliberal policies for endless exploitation. Who will take care of us when media corporations own us, and our messaging? Curiously, Irshad Manji, ‘Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare’ has been chosen to replace Rick Salutin. The independence of the fourth estate is no longer.

This silencing of the media opposition is just another instance of what I have known for some time- the leftwing media is being censored and sidelined, soon to be extinguished, as part of the campaign against freedom of information in Canada. PM Harper holds a stranglehold on media relations stronger than any other prime minister in Canadian history. The scientific community’s head, and right to speak, is on the block, as well, as the byzantine process of asking for scientific data has been enforced, no doubt, to control press releases about the recent, peer-reviewed report about the poisoning of the Athabasca River due to the runoff of the tarsands’ tailings ponds. It is hard to speak when your head has been cut off.

On July 27th, I launched a formal CRTC complaint regarding the inequitable coverage of the G20, which prioritized images of police cars burning over issues peacefully presented by non profit and non governmental organizations. On August 16th, I received a phone call from a bigwig in one of the major Canadian TV networks. His tone was pugilistic, and twenty-five minutes later, after he mocked my commitment to march, I felt discredited, and verbally beaten up, for defending my rights to have adequate, or any, media coverage of the civil society response to the G20. I was told that footage of the ‘violent riots was fresh, new, important and newsworthy’, whereas the democratic discourse surrounding the dismantling of civil society, and fire sale of Canada to private interests, was a tale told again, and again, and was simply not newsworthy. ‘Anyway,’ I was told, ‘the people in the Labour Parade on Saturday did get 30 seconds of airtime.’ Let’s divide 25-40,000 citizens by thirty seconds each, and see if they can get a word in edgewise.

I hung up the phone feeling that the onus was on the left to provide more and more flamboyant spectacles of protest, and that the left, by its nature diverse in its concerns, is beholden to provide a unified message for easy media consumption. It is the job of activist organizations to be credible public relations firms, and perform theatrically, for a few seconds of media coverage, although the pockets of our opposition run deep, lined with our tax money being readied to be used against us, such as hiring a new media firm to troll online comments, or looping clips of a police car burning ad infinitum. Whoever controls the media, controls the mind (Jim Morrison).

What is newsworthy was the current exponential speed, impact, and secretiveness of the media campaign attempted by the Prime Minister’s Office to extinguish our democratic right to free speech through a Category 1 news channel, SunTV, nicknamed ‘Fox News North’ by Margaret Atwood. Fox has repeatedly undercut President Obama during his time in office, and its unrelenting critique of his administration is often perilously close to slander. SunTV would be a mirror image of Fox News, and a house organ of the Conservative party, as developed by Kory Teneycke, Mr. Harper’s former director of communications. Next, the Conservative Party will try to beam this news channel into schools as part of the curriculum, just after students rise for the new national anthem – ‘O Say can you See’. ‘No, I cannot, I do not have access to different media sources and opinions. I am blinkered by the government.’ The public outcry has been swift, and there are over 87,000 signatures on a petition against this news channel initiative on Avaaz.org.

As a new media professor, I am aware that investigative reporting has become increasingly expensive for news networks, and print media, as media content becomes less profitable because of online access to primary source coverage, and decreased advertising revenue (read Clay Shirky’s ‘Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable’). I was reminded by the TV network representative that the alternative press culls from the mainstream media’s content through search engines, yet his company bears the brunt of employing stringers on Parliament Hill. If I had had greater presence of mind, I would have reminded him that the alternative press reporters were denied access to the Fake Lake media press resort during the G20.

Disenchanted after the phone call, I was left feeling that mainstream media assumes that involved analysis regarding policy is considered too complex for the average citizen. This is condescending in the extreme, as evidenced in the brilliant citizen media reportage in the Real News Network, Democracy Now, and Tyee, which use the web and Youtube as outlets for distribution. I have turned to citizen media to supplement my media diet, and found such gems as Kevin P. Miller’s “A QUESTION OF SOVEREIGNTY”, which defends John Turner’s nationalistic views of Canada. Historically, it recounts Mulroney’s free trade agreement in 1988, and Bills C-51 and C-6, which have formed the basis of the yet-to-be passed Bill C-36.

Bill C-36 needs to be stopped for the following reasons, according to Kevin P. Miller:

In the new Bill C-36, Health Canada has proposed that the powers provided to Parliament should be forfeited so that Canada can “honour its international agreements and commitments.” If Bill C-36 and similar Bills are adopted, foreign entities, multinational corporate interests, Codex, WTO and WHO would be free to write self-serving laws that affect Canadians — and they could do so by bypassing Parliament completely.

Perhaps this is what they mean by ‘Free Trade’ — ‘free’ of oversight by elected officials.

In three weeks, PM Harper will attempt to hammer the last nail into the Comprehensive European Trade Agreement, which will make us the only company in the world which has free trade agreements with both the US and Europe, undercutting our sovereign ability to control international trade agreements, provide municipal services, and employ our own citizens. The government is dismantling regulation federally through C-36, and sub-nationally through CETA.

And despite signs, signs, everywhere signs, all 8,500 Economic Action Plan signs, carefully monitored by PM Harper and his Privy Council Office, with obligatory, Monday updates by eighteen, overstretched departments and agencies, that my quality of life is better under the Conservative regime, I know that there has been more environmental destruction during my lifetime than any other generation, and that PM Harper, and his ongoing advocacy of the tarsands, thus oil consumption, is directly related to why over three hundred diesel, rather than electric, trains daily will be running blocks from my house, and directly through and beside seven west-end parks, affecting my community’s health, until 2020. Rob Ford, of course, cannot be convinced that the upcoming cost of 33 diesel engines and 11 ARL vehicles is three times that of electric, and that the final tally is even higher, once electric vehicles are bought in 2020 to replace diesel.

One of these Economic Action Plan signs is planted in front of the field house in MacGregor Park. I have written about my neighbourhood park, MacGregor Park, extensively in my blog, and enclosed this Youtube clip of children performing there:

I recognize this sign for what it is – part of a false advertising media campaign generated, controlled and tightly monitored by the federal Conservative Party. This flimsy sign is just another testament to the federal, and provincial, disregard of environmental and urban planning policy in citizens’ best interests, constrained by the tightening of restrictions on access to environmental information, and the loosening of these regulations to privilege sole-sourced contracts to their corporate allies. Prisons, fighter jets, and the creation of a Conservative news network are more important than the right of children to play without harm to their health, and Ontario’s right to clean, quiet, sustainable transit. The direct cost to me? At least $1000.

To finish as I began, another quote by Paul Craig:

Wherever one looks, truth has fallen to money.
Wherever money is insufficient to bury the truth, ignorance, propaganda, and short memories finish the job.

The policies being tabled will affect us long after the memories of the Action Plan have faded. Afterwards, we will ask “Where is my Toronto? Where is my Canada? And where is my media?” if we do not speak in defense of the dismissal of Rick Salutin, in support of a progressive mayor, and against the passing of C-36, and the final round of CETA, now. Unlike PM Harper, I believe Canadians are fully capable of determining our own international trade agreements, contracts for municipal services, and need for univeral healthcare, all of which require sovereignty, and a strong Mayor of Toronto working on our behalf.

Call to Action:
To defend Rick, please email: letters@globeandmail.ca, jstackhouse@globeandmail.com, nacampbell@globeandmail.com, sstewart@globeandmail.com

To support the fight against CETA, please demand permanent exemption for municipalities from CETA by supporting the Council of Canadians, and emailing your city councillors to support the Logan Lake Resolution, and also to vote against C-36.
More at http://www.canadians.org/action/2010/CETA-1709.html

Paul Craig Roberts,’Good-Bye: Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It’ at http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/03/26/good-bye-truth-has-fallen-and-has-taken-liberty-with-it/
Rick Salutin,’Stephen Harper – the last Straussian?’ at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/stephen-harper-the-last-straussian/article1710880/
Rick Salutin, ‘Rob Ford and the loss of Hope’, at http://rabble.ca/columnists/2010/09/rob-ford-and-loss-hope
Globe TV Ad, ‘Canada: Our Time to Lead’, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/video/canada-our-time-to-lead/article1736099/?from=1735276
Bruce Wark, ‘Rick Salutin out as Friday Globe columnist’ at
Kathryn O’Hara, ‘Canada must free scientists to talk to journalists’ at
Clay Shirky,’Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable’ at
Jane Taber, ‘Margaret Atwood Takes on Fox News North’
Avaaz.org Petition, ‘Canada: Stop “Fox News North’- Close to 100,000 signatures, and important to sign!
Kevin P. Miller, ‘A Question of Sovereignty’,
http://www.aquestionofsovereignty.com/ and
‘Green Pan Am Games, Green Parks and the Right to Play’ at

Continue reading

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Stiffed with the Bill: A Private Banquet at Civil Society’s Expense

“With a stroke of the pen, a government can destroy the social safety net built carefully by generations.”
– John Hilary, Executive Director of the War on Want
Left: A trade union picnic banquet before the G20 Rally on Saturday, June 26th

An untendered contract for $16 billion for unneeded fighter jets. $1.3 billion spent on security for the G8 and G20 Summits. 116 votes passed quickly by Premier McGuinty – time for consideration approximately 8.2 minutes each – to pass unheard of laws to criminalize dissent, days before the G20 Summit. A federal Conservative Party which filibustered the vote for a full public inquiry into police conduct during the Summits, calling all 25,000 protesters ‘pro-violent’.

The provincial Liberal government’s MacDonald Block offices raided on July 15th by the OPP – specifically, Ministries of Transportation, Economic Development and Trade and Community and Social Services – launching an investigation into “irregular financial transactions” between the provincial government and outside vendors. And the only good news – on July 30th, there was the sudden withdrawal of SNC-Lavalin from the $1 right of way contract for the Air Rail Link. The full responsibility for the ARL has been transferred to Metrolinx, whose Chief Operating Officer Rob Prichard is being replaced by Bruce McCuaig, with the possibility now of the ARL becoming electric. Preemptive?

Canada’s national deficit stands at $54 billion, yet there were $6 billion in corporate tax cuts this year. A 13% HST has been imposed which means that the average wage earner will have even less discretionary income to spend, so that companies can have even greater tax cuts, ostensibly to invest in new jobs. New austerity measures, recommended by a right wing think-tank, the Conference Board of Canada, to cut many thousands of public sector jobs in health care, education and social services in the next three years, while testing an unproven job creation scheme subsidized by the HST.

Have you ever felt that someone else has held a private banquet at your expense, and stiffed you with the bill, and tip? A bill which now has the Harmonized, also known as the Hated, Sales Tax added? Is any of this HST going toward maintaining public services? No. It is an additional tax to enable banks, corporations and the military to fortify themselves at civil society’s expense, and the public sector’s demise. As someone pointed out, a wartime levy.

Canada is becoming militarized, and as we witnessed during the G20, this military state can work against its citizens as well as its aggressors. Provincially, the HST is streaming more funds into the pockets of corporations, with a tax deduction to them as they ransack Canada for its resources, and externalize the cost of destruction of our environment, and no one is fighting to defend the imperative civil right for the full environmental assessment process. On June 8th, Bill C-9, the Budget Implementation Act was passed, which contained several provisions enabling the National Energy Board to conduct their own environmental assessments for oil and gas developments – which is like asking my students to mark themselves. This bill was passed during the BP oil spill, with minimal outcry by the Liberal Party.

And what does it mean when 11,000 jobs from the public sector will be cut by 2013?

A close friend of mine told me that when his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his family thought it prudent that she was placed into a private, rather than public, nursing home, assuming that the care was better. A few months later, they found that she was terribly neglected, and moved her into a public home. Surprisingly, they found that public sector care was much better than private, because the public nursing home was regulated by the government.

These are the public sector jobs – in nursing homes, schools, hospitals, transit, municipal services – which will be slashed to feed the bailout by the government for financial mismanagement incurred by the banks, which, incidentally, are making quite a healthy profit this quarter. The banks rebounded quickly, but our public sector, subjected to this drummed up, specious logic of emergency bill austerity measures, will not. Rather than requesting that the banks repay the debt they owe taxpayers by instituting a novel, and effective, infinitesimally small Robin Hood tax on bank transactions to tackle poverty and climate change, we will pay for these cuts with our society’s health. PM Harper opposed the imposition of the Robin Hood tax before the G20 to ensure his illusory future job as CEO of an American corporation, with Canada as a subsidiary, specializing in natural resources.

Of course, there is no interest in a long census form by the Conservative Party. They have stopped representing Canadians, particularly lower income Canadians, long ago. Their goal is to have corporate taxes cut down to 15% by 2012. What does this mean? As the social safety net is eroded, the federal government is anticipating growing dissent from those they are contesting the need to collect data about – those who are lower income, disabled and on a fixed income- to justify building a larger military-industrial complex to suppress those who are disenfranchised. Part of this Orwellian speech model is to publicly conflate protesters with vandals in the public mind so that they ramp up their expenditure on weapons of war, as opposed to building public transit infrastructure for the rabble. Sustainable, electric rail transit throughout Ontario could have been handily built with this promised contractual money for fighter jets, but was not deemed worthy. No explanation needed.

We can look forward to much more violence in our cities as basic needs are no longer met, as they have robbed Peter to pay Paul, and the Pauls are a tiny fraction of the population, secure behind a costly fence which cost $9.4 million, almost double the quoted $5.5 million by SNC-Lavalin. During the G20, the Toronto police were handed a blank cheque by the federal government, enabling the purchase of a substantial arsenal for a police state, so that the military has been fortified to quell growing dissent. It is not a coincidence that this police arsenal will be kept in Toronto, one of the hot spots of the thinking left, but it is a pity that Mayor Miller, who has felt the brunt of this G20 fiasco on police credibility, did not defend the protesters who were speaking in his best interests for the environment, transit and social justice.

Historically, when a society’s parliamentary process is suspended and disrupted, trade unions undermined, and people of property, such as the right wing press, banks and big business, are privileged, these policies are the precursors to a fascist state. I use this term with full cognizance of its weight and implication. Parliament has been prorogued twice by PM Harper within thirteen months, and the formal request by over 50,000 citizens, including lawyers, Amnesty International, and the Civil Liberties Association, for the full, public inquiry into the tactics and cost of the G20 and G8 Summit has been denied by PM Harper and Premier McGuinty. The Liberals stood up against the census, but did not speak out for a public G20 inquiry, which shows implicit support for the military apparatus being put in place. Spines, please.

In Journey to a Revolution, Michael Korda writes of the Hungarian Revolution:

“the general object of fascism was to stifle dissent, and bolster the existing establishment, while producing much drama in the way of rallies, parades, and propoganda, and the occasional foreign adventure to siphon off the energy of the lower middle class and the working class, who might otherwise have moved towards radical social reform”.

The Olympics? The G8 and the G20? The Pan Am Games? Bread not circuses, anyone? In addition to ceaseless pageantry, PM Harper deliberately prorogued parliament a second time to enact a bill, more powerful than NAFTA to undercut our sovereignty, the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). This far reaching bill will provide sub-national access to municipal services, and undermine the public sector even further, losing thousands of good, Canadian jobs to international outsourcing.

Put it together. Civil society is no longer is prioritized by our government, our country is being sold off to corporations and banks, enabled by a newly armed police state, and expanding prison system, and jobs in our public sector are about to be slashed for international corporations to profit through CETA. This is a Conservative agenda campaign, military in execution, orchestrated by PM Harper, against local economies and the right to self-determination. Provincially, Premier McGuinty is designing his own policies through corporate gladhanding of governmental contracts.

Meanwhile, all over the Internet, discussion postings on news articles are polarized – are we allowed to protest, or not? And I think- for those who are Conservative – your rights are next. Although your values have been upheld by this minority government, I have noticed your online responses can only discredit the protesters by saying that they do not know what they are talking about, and labeling them as unemployed and shiftless. Name calling. Ad hominem attacks. And when you call someone names, all discussion ends. A primary school tactic used by bullies on the playground, undercutting fundamental rights upheld by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the right to assembly, and free speech, which you are using to discredit serious concerns about the democratic process, and silence those who are brave, engaged, and well-versed in international policy.

I have never been so concerned about the future of Canada, and I am hearing this from many of those who lived through the events of the past seven weeks in Toronto. Nowhere is the civil society being served or protected – by our police, by our elected representatives, by our city councilors, our Mayor, or by our media. When I read letters on the editorial page ranting about the public sector salaries, I compare these costs to the multi-billion dollar bailouts given to the banks, the golden parachutes given to bank executives, and the inflationary pageantry, and corporate contracts, for the Vancouver Olympic Games and G8 and G20 Summits. Compare these taxpayers’ expenses to those supporting our civil society, and quality of life. At least the public sector provides essential services, and is forced to be accountable.

I am an ethical citizen, yet my voice no longer matters. The moral and financial costs arising from all this pomp and circumstance, and the insidious HST, have already deeply hurt me. I have no government representation – not in Premier McGuinty, or Prime Minister Harper – and neither do the vast majority of Canadians. I cannot afford, and do not want to pay, for cuts to the public sector under these new, jerry-rigged austerity measures so that a self-selected corporate elite can pad their pockets, banks can prosper again, and a military empire, outfitted with new, massive $10.65 billion prisons, can arise from the ashes, and I am not sure I can. I am too busy counting my pocket change to pay the HST on my electricity, gas, transit and groceries to join the banquet, while predicting that I will be stiffed with the tab as the more important guests flee the table.

I ardently believe, though, if you held a poll of Canadians and asked them if they wanted to live in a country which valued the military, corporations and banks more than our health care system, social services, education, transit system and environment, even the most deeply Conservative Canadian would say ‘no’.

Shout for Global Justice, John Hilary speaks at 30:00, link to
The War on Want, link to http://www.waronwant.org/
Jeffrey Simpson, ‘Just what we need: a $16-billion fighter jet’, link to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/just-what-we-need-a-16-billion-fighter-jet/article1641373/
Robert Benzie, ‘Cabinet rushed secret G20 change, documents show’, link at
Steven Chase,’Tory filibuster seeks to block hearings on G20 policing’, link to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tory-filibuster-seeks-to-block-hearings-on-g20-policing/article1637756/
Keith Leslie,’Questions linger over OPP raids Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne confirms Transport Ministry was a target’, link to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario/questions-linger-over-opp-raids/article1652761/
Tess Kalinowski, ‘Province vows rapid rail link to Pearson by 2015 Pan Ams’, link to http://www.thestar.com/article/842240–province-to-run-rail-link-to-pearson-airport
Michael Korda, ‘Journey to a Revolution: A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956’, HarperCollins; 2006. page 54. Link to http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Revolution-Personal-History-Hungarian/dp/0060772611 More at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/books/Heilbrunn.t.html
The Robin Hood Tax, link to http://robinhoodtax.org.uk/how-it-works/ and http://robinhoodtax.ca/
David J. Climenga, Bill C-9: ‘Earmarks’ have no place in Canadian legislation, link to http://www.rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/djclimenhaga/2010/05/earmarks-have-no-place-canadian-legislation
Heather Scoffield, ‘Canada says no to ‘Robin Hood’ tax at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/business/canada-says-no-to-robin-hood-tax-91683444.html
Stephen Hui, ‘Statistics Canada head resigns over long-form census controversy’, link to http://www.straight.com/article-335208/vancouver/statistics-canada-head-resigns-over-longform-census-controversy
Lauren O’Neill, ‘G20 fence costs $9.4M, nearly double original estimate’, link to http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/833495–g20-fence-costs-9-4m-nearly-double-original-estimate?bn=1
Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, link to http://www.canadians.org/trade/issues/EU/index.html

Continue reading