A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[URBAN NOTE] On #shirtlessjogger, Toronto, and Rob Ford

blogTO’s Chris Bateman wrote the first overview I came across of the #shirtlessjogger incident on Canada Day.

Things were already going badly for Rob Ford when the shirtless jogger arrived at the East York Canada Day parade. Booed and heckled as he and a small group of sign-carrying supporters brought up the rear of the walk, the scene was turning more embarrassing by the second.

“You disgusting man,” shouted one person. “Shame on you!” “He’s scaring kids!” “Get out of my neighbourhood!”

And then a topless Joe Killoran, a local teacher who has previously expressed his opinion on education in the pages of the Toronto Star, arrived on the scene.

I daresay a large part of the reason Killoran’s frustrated outburst went viral was his lack of a shirt, but his anger was articulate and, best of all, drenched in the frustration of a Rob Ford-weary Toronto. “Answer one of the million questions people have for you” he said. “People have a million questions about your lying and your corruption.”

The television clip went viral, first across Toronto and then worldwide. Among the blogs I read, Joe. My. God. and Towleroad picked this up internationally, noting–quite appropriately–that Killoran was cute. (It was a humid dog so shirtlessness would make sense for jogging.) Doug Ford’s statement that Killoran’s comment was motivated by a ridiculously redefined “racism” fanned the flames.

In subsequent interviews and articles, with The Globe and Mail and the National Post, Killoran explained coherently that he was frustrated with Ford’s many and continuing incompetencies and errors. Indeed, Ford still refuses to talk to police about his various problematic issues, and he and appears to have lied even in his post-rehab interviews.

Am I alone in finding it amusing that the man who has so visibly challenged Ford, the man who has helped reveal the falsity of Ford’s claims to have reformed–the man who has confirmed that the Emperor has no clothes–is known as the shirtless jogger.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 5, 2014 at 3:59 am

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Centauri Dreams notes that the Milky Way Galaxy, though vast, is actually quite dim. People positioned outside of it wouldn’t see much.
  • D-Brief notes the discovery of a planet orbiting one of two stars in a reasonably close binary system at an Earth-like distance. Good news for Alpha Centauri?
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper on the exoplanet systems of subdwarf B stars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining the methane reservoirs on Titan.
  • Far Outliers notes recent commentary suggesting that Russia would prefer Ukraine not develop a capable modern state, since that could weaken Russian influence.
  • Language Hat shares a list of 55 peculiarities of Canadian English.
  • Language Log disproves the argument that Canadians are more apologetic than others.
  • Marginal Revolution notes controversies over fracking in Australia.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the interesting results of a lawsuit lodged against a bar by a former employee claiming sexual and religious harassment.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how modernization in Russia is threatening minority ethnic groups, and looks at Russian Orthodox-tinged militias in Ukraine.

[URBAN NOTE] “Adam Vaughan trap”

NOW Toronto‘s Jonathan Goldsbie writes about the NDP reaction to the outcome of the 2014 by-election in Trinity-Spadina. This election saw Liberal Adam Vaughan take an absolute majority of votes cast, beating NDP candidate Joe Cressy by a sizable distance. Many prominent NDPs are now saying that Vaughan would have been a better fit for the Liberals, and that his allegedly NDP-ish aspirations won’t be satisfied in the Liberal party.

Sour groups, I wonder?

As recently as two and a half months ago, when Cressy strode into the auditorium of the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre to accept his party’s uncontested nomination, it appeared he’d have the easiest route to Parliament of any NDPer in recent memory. Olivia Chow had held the Commons seat from 2006 until she stepped down to run for mayor in mid-March, and Cressy – who’d managed her very successful 2011 campaign – was understood to be the designated successor in the by-election she triggered.

But Chow’s succession plans failed once before: when she resigned from city council ahead of her 2006 federal run, she wanted her Ward 20 seat to go to Helen Kennedy, her NDP-backed former assistant. Yet the orange machine seemed caught off guard by the strength and popularity of then Citytv reporter Vaughan, who in November that year won handily with 52 per cent of the vote to Kennedy’s 35.

Vaughan’s name recognition, public profile and popularity in the area have only grown since, and were obviously the largest factors in his victory. But among those at Ryze, another theme emerges: that Vaughan could just as easily or should have run for the NDP instead.

In a brief address preceding his introduction of Cressy, leader Thomas Mulcair mocks what he perceives as a dissonance between Vaughan’s values and those of his chosen party. “Mr. Vaughan ran a very good campaign,” he says. “One of the interesting things was he had a lot of progressive ideas, but they were NDP ideas, not Liberal ideas!”

Mulcair continues the backhanded praise: “We’ll see how that goes for him when he finds out that Justin Trudeau actually is in favour of Line 9 and Justin Trudeau does want the Keystone pipelines – things that the NDP is standing up against.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 4, 2014 at 7:23 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Al Jazeera shares Sarah Kendzior’s argument that the disappearance of shopping malls will not mean the automatic return of downtowns in many cities, and notes the migration of many young Americans–including Vietnamese-Americans–to a booming Vietnam.
  • Business Week observes that in higher education, China wants more people with vocational degrees and fewer academics, while comments that the use of Minnan dialect by China’s spokesperson to Taiwan isn’t doing much to encourage reunification.
  • The CBC shares the request of American retailer target to its customers to please leave their guns home, and notes a finding in Québec that penalized Wal-Mart for closing down a store there after its workforce became unionized.
  • National Geographic notes evidence from an Archaeopreryx fossil that feathers evolved before flight, and comments on the cultural and other issues that make fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa so difficult.
  • Universe Today notes there are no lunar seas on the far side of the Moon because of the heat of the Earth in the Moon’s early days reached only the near side, and comments on the evidence of asteroid impacts on the surface of Vesta.

[LINK] “Guaranteed $20K income for all Canadians endorsed by academics”

The Canadian Press via the CBC reports on the latest Canadian proposal for a guaranteed minimum income for all citizens.

A group of academics and activists is trying to drum up interest in an ambitious plan to provide every Canadian with a guaranteed minimum level of income — whether or not they have a job.

Rob Rainer, a campaign director for the Basic Income Canada Network, envisions a country where everyone is assured a minimum of $20,000 annually to make ends meet.

“For many of us, we think the goal is no one should be living in poverty,” Rainer said at a conference on the issue over the weekend at McGill University.

“That’s essentially what we’re striving to achieve.”

More than 100 speakers and participants were on hand for the conference, which focused on the merits of a guaranteed minimum income that would either replace or exist alongside existing social programs.

The project appeals to me.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 1, 2014 at 4:00 am

[URBAN NOTE] On the attempted return of Rob Ford to Toronto

Rob Ford is back, fresh from rehab and ready to continue his campaign to be re-elected mayor.

What Torontoist’s Hamutal Dotan said.

Rehabilitation is supposed to be about resetting the trajectory of your life. For politicians, representatives with a sworn duty to protect the interests of those who elected them, rehabilitation must to some extent happen in public. While rehab often causes people to make professional changes (moving work environments or avoiding certain colleagues, for instance), in the particular case of politicians—because of their ongoing relationship with the electorate and the expectation of transparency in a democracy—those professional changes take place out in the open. Or at least they should, if leaders are to regain the public’s trust.

The mayor held an event today, his first day back at the office. It was meant to inform us of his current state and future plans—to serve as his reintroduction to the people of Toronto after rehab. It was meant to demonstrate that he had faced his issues head-on, and was ready to return to work.

There was nothing—in his demeanour, in the content of his remarks, or in the nature of the event itself—to indicate that Rob Ford is a changed man.

The mayor spoke for 18 minutes, and his statement was roughly divided into two halves: an apology and a political call to arms. The first was vague, abstract, and generic. The second, sloganeering we have heard for years. The combination of the two was both odd and odious.

Apologies need, above all, to be specific. For an apology to constitute a genuine gesture toward making amends, you must specify what it is that you have done wrong. You must show some understanding of the toll it has taken on others, and you must indicate in concrete, specific ways the measures you are taking to ensure your behaviour will be different in the future. Ford’s speech contained almost none of these things.

The only specific act the mayor apologized for was making “hurtful and degrading remarks” about Karen Stintz. Entirely absent from his speech were the years of lying; his countless homophobic and racist remarks; the many misogynist remarks he has made independently of the ones about Stintz; the alleged mistreatment of his staff; his relationship to one Toronto’s major gangs; or acts of violence allegedly done in his name, or for the sake of his protection.

Me, all that I’ll add as someone who has had a couple of drunken stupors (graduate school and drinks that taste like candy are key elements, here), I’ve never been hanging around people who’ve a connection that I know of to crack cocaine.

Torontoist’s Desmond Cole has a transcript of the speech, delivered to a personally-selected media crowd.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 1, 2014 at 3:38 am

[URBAN NOTE] On the import of the Trinity-Spadina byelection for Canada

Walking home tonight, I noticed that there were plenty of dueling campaign signs for Adam Vaughan and Joe Cressy tonight on the western periphery of Trinity-Spadina , on Ossington Avenue at Bloor, to be precise.

Plenty of dueling campaign signs for Adam Vaughan and Joe Cressy tonight on the western periphery of Trinity-Spadina tonight.

The by-election called for this seat, triggered by the departure of the NDP’s Olivia Chow to run for the position of mayor of Toronto, has import beyond Toronto. This riding, the pundits say, is apparently a bellwhether for the direction of Canadian politics. In the past, if the Liberals won it, they were on track to form the next government. If, instead, the NDP won it, the Conservatives would prevail. Naturally, both parties invested heavily in this riding.

Torontoist’s interviews with three of the four leading candidates–the Green Party’s Camille Labchuk, the NDP’s Joe Cressy, and the Liberals’ Adam Vaughan–were worth reading. (The Conservatives’ Benjamin Sharma didn’t respond to Torontoist’s request for an interview.)

Three Hundred Eight’s Éric Grenier predicted that a Liberal victory would be more likely than not. And, indeed, the Liberals did win, taking not only Trinity-Spadina with an absolute majority of votes cast but keeping the east-end riding of Scarborough-Agincourt.

What does this mean? The major break from past elections and parliaments is the strength of the NDP relative to the Liberals. Will this election signal a return to traditional patterns of Liberal dominance over the NDP? Or have things changed sufficiently, especially with the capture of Québec by the NDP, to send Canadian politics into entirely new directions?

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO’s Chris Bateman writes about the life of William Cawthra, a 19th century millionaire in Toronto who gave his name to–among other places–Church and Wellesley’s Cawthra Park.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of engines that can move stars and planets, drawn from science fiction.
  • Crooked Timber visits the topic of the First World War.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper suggesting TW Hydrae has a borderline brown dwarf in orbit, and to another paper suggesting that exoplanet 55 Cancri e is in a polar orbit of its star.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Greenland’s icecap is darkening, potentially accelerating the rate of its melt.
  • Eastern Approaches engages with Polish politics.
  • Far Outliers is exploring Soviet history, noting Communist enthusiasm for the Russian civil war and origins of totalitarianism in the war.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh notes that Japanese inflation is at a 32 year high, and that this isn’t good.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the suicide of a Tea Party leader in Mississippi who filmed the mentally ill wife of his Republican opponent.
  • Language Log approves of a shift to actual language use in the US Supreme Court.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money also discusses the First World War, noting that Serbian opinion isn’t very anti-war.
  • Marginal Revolution notes economic stagnation among African Americans.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine are starting to join the same Russian mental category reserved for the Baltic States, for good and for ill.

[LINK] “Expat voting: Court denies Ottawa’s fight for 5-year rule for voters abroad”

This news reported by CBC earlier this week is quite good, I think.

Canadians living abroad, regardless of when they left the country, will be able to cast ballots in next week’s federal byelections in Ontario and Alberta.

An Ontario Court of Appeal judge made the ruling today, denying the federal government’s request for a stay of a lower court ruling that would have extended voting rights to anyone who had lived outside the country for more than five years.

Monday’s decision comes just days before voters were to head to the polls on June 30 for four byelections — two in Alberta, two in Ontario.

It paves the way for about 1.4 million longtime Canadian expats to vote alongside others who moved abroad more recently.

An amendment to the Canada Elections Act passed in 1993 barred citizens abroad from voting in Canadian elections if they were out of the country for longer than five years.

But last month, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny found the five-year rule arbitrary and unconstitutional.

“The [government] essentially argues that allowing non-residents to vote is unfair to resident Canadians because resident Canadians live here and are, on a day-to-day basis, subject to Canada’s laws and live with the consequences of Parliament’s decisions,” Penny wrote in the May 2 decision.

“I do not find this argument persuasive.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Posted in Canada, Politics

Tagged with , , , ,

[BRIEF NOTE] “PBO says Ottawa is shortchanging Ontario”

I noted back in 2008 that Ontario, its economy beset by slow growth and deindustrialization, was set to become a have-not province, a net receiver of funds from the federal government to . (This happened in 2009.) MacLean’s now shares news that apparently Ontario might be short-changed.

This will not serve the Conservatives well come election time, I think.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer says changes to federal equalization payments makes Ontario the big loser among provinces, while Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick gain double-digit increases.

The report finds total equalization payments transfers from Ottawa to the provinces and territories rose about 3.5 per cent this fiscal year.

But the distribution is wildly different from province to province, with Ontario seeing a 37.3 per cent decline, or about $1.2 billion.

Meanwhile, Quebec will see transfers under the program increase 17.5 per cent, Nova Scotia, 11.5 per cent, and New Brunswick by 10.2 per cent.

The report notes that the federal government this year chose to stop a program ensuring no province receives less in a given fiscal year in combined transfers than it received in previous years.

The PBO says Ontario would have been the only province to qualify in 2014-15, hence has missed out on $640 million in revenues.

The Ontario Liberal government has been vocal in complaining that Ottawa is shortchanging the province, but the federal government has said it has been fair in calculating transfers.

During the election campaign that delivered Premier Kathleen Wynne a majority government last week, the provincial Liberals accused Ottawa of slashing Ontario’s latest share of equalization payments by $641 million.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 24, 2014 at 7:34 pm

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