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[URBAN NOTE] “What has Doug Ford done for his ward? Apparently very little”

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Spacing Toronto’s Graeme Bayliss has a very unflattering description of city councillor and mayoral candidate Doug Ford’s actions on behalf of his riding, Toronto’s Ward 2, Etobicoke North.

The rookie councillor routinely calls out his City Council counterparts when he feels they are shirking their duties. Last week, he excoriated Councillor Jaye Robinson (who was bedridden with a chest infection at the time) for missing a Civic Appointments Committee meeting. Ford decried her supposed shiftlessness and claimed that her absence caused the meeting’s cancellation (which, as it happens, was an outright lie — the meeting proceeded as scheduled, with Ford himself in attendance).

The week before that, on the CFRB radio show he co-hosts with the mayor, Ford chided the 18 Toronto councillors who attended the recent FCM annual conference in Vancouver for not doing their jobs. Later on in the show, he backed away from the prospect of not doing his job by running in a Provincial election, and announced that he will instead focus on not doing his job by continuing to act as the mayor’s self-appointed Polonius. He’s turned his attention to “the job at hand with Rob into the next election.” But giving his brother a hand with his job is not the job Ford was handed.

[. . .]

Nearly 25% of Ward 2 residents live in poverty [PDF], and transit options are limited throughout the ward. A 2008 study conducted by PollutionWatch, which shows a positive correlation between poor air quality and poverty, indicates that air pollution levels in some sections of Ward 2 are amongst the highest in Toronto. The southeast corner of Ward 2 falls within Weston-Mt. Dennis, one of 13 priority areas in Toronto identified by the City as requiring considerable attention due to inadequate community services and high rates of poverty, crime, and unemployment. This, clearly, is a ward that needs an engaged and informed city councillor.

Unfortunately, Ford is neither of those things. His web site, for example, is bereft of substance: links to Twitter, Facebook, email, and RSS that lead nowhere, a ward profile with three bullet-point factoids and nine more dead links, and a homepage that refers to only two ward-specific events — one that took place two weeks ago, and another that happened last summer (although both are advertised as upcoming).

It’s possible that Ford has heard some distant rumour of the problems that plague his ward, but he appears to have done nothing substantial to fix them — no transit initiatives, no environmental initiatives, no housing initiatives.

Instead, he has put forward motions like EY21.48, wherein he motioned that a condo developer be permitted to erect three times as many A-frame advertising signs as the Municipal Code permits; EY19.40, wherein he motioned that certain properties at risk of violating driveway-widening regulations be granted an extension to the one-year extension they’d already been granted to comply with the regulations; MM7.7, with which he sought to provide the Toronto Catholic District School Board with $75,000 to build a change room; and EY11.17, with which he sought to block a pedestrian walkway with a 1.8-metre chain-link fence, as requested by a number of residents.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 15, 2014 at 7:42 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

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  • Al Jazeera notes the rivalry between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, observes claims of persecution by evangelical Christians of followers of traditional African religions in Brazil, notes that separatism is unpopular in Scotland’s border regions, considers the problems of a beetle theme park in the penumbra of Japan’s Fukushima, looks at a Palestinian-American model, and considers rap music in Iran.
  • The Atlantic notes how events have vindicated the American Congress’ Barbara Lee, the only person not to vote in favour of granting unlimited war-making powers to the American presiden after 9/11, looks at the existential problems of Yiddish outside of ultra-Orthodox communities, and examines Stephen King’s thinking on how to teach writing.
  • Bloomberg notes the water problems of Detroit, looks at proposals to give Scotland home rule and Euroskepticism among the English, considers claims that Scotland might need huge reserves to back up its currency, notes ways sanctions threaten oil deals with Russian companies, examines Poland’s natural gas issues and those of the rest of central and southeastern Europe, notes Ukraine’s exclusion of Russian companies from a 3G cellular auction, notes the reluctance of Scottish banks to support an independent Scotland, and observes how domestic protectionism in Argentina is boosting Uruguay’s beef exports to Europe.
  • The Bloomberg View argues that it should be possible to cleanly break up even established nation-states, is critical of what Colombia is doing to Venezuelan refugees, argues that the achievements of social insects like acts are irrelevant to more complex beings like us, and suggests Britain has no place to criticize China over Hong Kong.
  • CBC notes the strength of Inuit oral history following the discovery of one of the Franklin Expedition’s ships, notes that the type of cancer that killed Terry Fox is now highly curable, and notes NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s proposal of a $15 an hour federal minimum wage.
  • The Inter Press Service notes Uzbekistan’s fear of Russia motivating a look for eastern allies and suggests that an anti-discrimination law can worsen the plight of sexual minorities in Georgia.
  • MacLean’s notes that Mexican economic development is good for Canada, looks at Catalonian secessionism, and suggests that a new EI tax credit won’t help Canadian business boost employment.
  • Open Democracy looked at the likely outcome of Crimean elections under Russian rule.
  • The Toronto Star revisited the unsettled state of affairs in the Central African Republic.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • Acts of Minor Treason’s Andrew Barton comes out in favour of seeing Scottish independence not as a sign of failure. Sometimes relationships just end.
  • blogTO lists the top ten thrift shops in Toronto.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study on interactions between exoplanets and their host stars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the growing strength of the Catalonian separatist movement.
  • Marginal Revolution touches upon the enclaves created by the convoluted Indo-Bangladeshi frontier, and the sufferings of their inhabitants.
  • Towleroad notes the arrest of three people in Serbia who attacked a German LGBT activist, leaving him in critical condition.
  • Transit Toronto notes the state of construction on the Eglinton light rail route.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy and Marginal Revolution both note the arguments of economist Bryan Caplan in favour of open borders.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russian support for pro-Russian parties in the Donets Basin, and suggests that 3500 Russian soldiers have died in the Ukrainian fighting.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell suggests that the United Kingdom has been hollowed out by a political centre that doesn’t see much use in the British state and its traditions.

[PHOTO] Front of St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, Dundas and Grace

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Front of St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, Dundas and Grace

I snapped this photograph of St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church (15 Grace Street) from the window of the Dundas streetcar as it passed by. I think it turned out rather well.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 15, 2014 at 10:10 am

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait notes that it has been fifteen years since Space 1999 took place.
  • blogTO notes that Sunrise Records is closing its downtown Toronto stores.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study of nearby star BD-21 1074 suggesting that its close-in planets are forming not as a result of core accretion but rather gravitational collapse.
  • Far Outliers notes the population exchanges of Muslims and Christians occurring after the Crimean War.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh worries about the Spanish government’s reaction, or lack thereof, to events in Catalonia.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the pressures an independent Scotland would face for austerity.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Scottish departure from the United Kingdom makes it unlikely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the Circassian diaspora.
  • Spacing Toronto notes the political feudalism of the Ford family.
  • Torontoist chronicles the appearances and murders of American serial killer H.H. Holmes in 1890s Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes the importance of Ellen Degeneres.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy continues covering the debate on Scottish separatism.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the costs to Kaliningrad of European Union sanctions and suggests Russia has very intrusive war aims in Ukraine.
  • Yorkshire Ratner Alex Harrowell takes a look at sub-national separatist movements in Europe.

[PHOTO] Council Chamber, Toronto City Hall, May 2014

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Council Chamber, Toronto City Hall, May 2014 (1)

Council Chamber, Toronto City Hall, May 2014 (2)

Toronto City Hall’s Council Chambers, where the Toronto City Council meets, is a place I was pleased to photograph on Doors Open.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 14, 2014 at 3:07 pm

[FORUM] How much sympathy do you feel for Rob Ford et al?

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By this point, almost everyone reading this blog will have been apprised of the news that Toronto mayor Rob Ford has been hospitalized for a large abdominal tumour. Given his father’s death from colon cancer, and Ford’s own history of hospitalizations, the news is not good.

How do you feel about this? Do you feel much sympathy for the man? He is a human being suffering what might well be a terminal illness (ignoring steadily-growing pain for three months is a bad idea), a husband and a father and a man loved by many in his community. He is also, as is abundantly documented, a frequently crude and multi-faceted bigot who has brought shame to Toronto with his numerous ill-judged behaviours.

What do you think of it all?

Written by Randy McDonald

September 14, 2014 at 3:59 am

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