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Posts Tagged ‘rob ford

[URBAN NOTE] On bigotry and Ford in Toronto and with Olivia Chow

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NOW Toronto‘s Enzo DiMatteo writes about racism in Toronto, both that directed towards Olivia Chow and that evidenced by continuing support for the Ford brothers.

She has the best grasp of the inner workings of City Hall among the top contenders for mayor. She has the most political experience and the resumé to prove it. In the spring she was the overwhelmingly popular option to save the city from Rob Ford.

But for most Torontonians, Olivia Chow just doesn’t fit the bill, according to public opinion polls. Too stiff. Too scripted. Maybe too Chinese. I know you didn’t want me to go there, Toronto. But the racist attacks have been a little too overt to ignore, haven’t they?

The question of race has certainly dominated the campaign discourse of late.

Chow is reluctant to comment on what effect the fact that she is a visible minority is having on her electoral chances. As she told NOW’s editorial board Monday, October 6, she’ll leave that to the pundits. She always says that when she doesn’t want to answer a question directly.

But much like the anti-gay undercurrent that helped kill George Smitherman’s chances against Ford in 2010, disdain for Chow’s foreigner status may carry more weight than we’d like to admit.

It’s an uncomfortable reality to contemplate for a city whose motto is “diversity our strength.” Maybe we’re not so world-class. Just how did a guy like Rob Ford with a track record of racist and homophobic remarks get elected in the first place anyway?

In 2010, voters knew about his Air Canada Centre tirade. They knew about his AIDS comments. His bigotry was no secret. They knew exactly what they were getting.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 10, 2014 at 10:04 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The Ford Family Subway Plan”

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Toronto transit expert Steve Munro is critical, at Torontoist, of the latest iteration of the Ford brothers’ plan for more subways as recently presented by Doug Ford. He makes the argument that it’s unworkable, being too expensive for the city as it is likely ever to exist and that cheaper and better alternatives exist.

Ford proposes subways on Eglinton East, Sheppard East, and Finch West. Building these would require Toronto to accept that transit and road networks should be completely separated—transit can’t even be next to traffic lanes, but only under them—regardless of the financial impact this would have on the City’s capital and operating budgets. That is an oddly profligate attitude for a family noted for its parsimony with public spending. Capital expenses may come out of thin air (more about that later), but operating a subway where ridership does not generate substantial revenue—and these subways would not—can only lead to higher costs for the municipal government, or operating cutbacks elsewhere. Toronto already faces an operating deficit with the Vaughan subway extension, and a much larger network of subways will only worsen the problem.

A common question for any transit proposal is, “Where will the riders come from?” Part of Ford’s funding scheme includes taxes from new development spurred by his subways. However, that development depends on new construction in the immediate vicinity of stations, not along whole routes; if the Scarborough subway is any indication, there will be long gaps where would-be riders would have to hop on infrequent surface buses. What Ford’s plan does not tell voters is the kind of city we’d need to build to support his plan—just how much we would need to increase development in order to produce that new tax income. And “higher density” is a phrase many voters dislike almost as much as “higher taxes.”

[. . .]

Overwhelmingly, Doug Ford’s transit platform is about subways and the benefits of moving people underground. In a clear case of subway envy, he compares maps of Toronto with New York, London, and Tokyo, but conveniently forgets that decades ago these were huge cities with a market for rapid transit, while Toronto was still operating horse-drawn streetcars serving a fraction of their population. Those networks arose from the scale and histories of older, denser, larger cities—something that would be very difficult and expensive to duplicate today. Toronto certainly should have a more extensive transit system, but a subway line under every main street is an unattainable, unreasonable goal whose pursuit only distracts us from what we can and should achieve.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 9, 2014 at 12:24 am

[URBAN NOTE] On anti-Semitic language and Rob and Doug Ford in Toronto

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Hayden Kenez’ National Post article “Doug Ford booed at debate as he tries to distance himself from anti-Semitic slur allegedly uttered by mayor” begins with the latest scandal facing the Ford brothers.

Doug Ford caused an uproar at a mayoral debate at a north-end Jewish school Sunday evening while trying to distance himself from an anti-Semitic slur allegedly uttered by his brother on an audio recording.

Mr. Ford was responding to allegations from fringe mayoral candidate Ari Goldkind, who said that Rob Ford had called Jews the “’K’ word” in a recorded outburst.

Seizing on the topic of anti-Semitism and hate speech, Mr. Goldkind said that Rob Ford’s record of making racial slurs boded poorly for his brother’s campaign.

“That is where [discrimination] starts,” Mr. Goldkind said, pointing to where Rob was seated in the audience.

“I’m not going to address that comment,” Mr. Ford said, before invoking a stereotype that upset the crowd. “But you know something? My doctor — my Jewish doctor, my Jewish lawyer…,” he said, trailing off as the comment sent the crowd into pandemonium.

The audience shrieked, yelled and booed at Mr. Ford, who seemed flustered. “I’ll leave it at that,” he said, once the audience had quieted down.

“Mayor Ford, who has shown a tremendous amount of chutzpah for coming into this room tonight, may get a free pass from everybody else on this stage … but the fact that he insulted my religion, whether it was under the influence or not; we cannot have a mayor like that,” Mr. Goldkind said. “Because that is where it starts.”

Written by Randy McDonald

October 6, 2014 at 10:44 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Ailing Rob Ford says residents want him to run for Ward 2 council seat”

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The article by the Toronto Star‘s Daniel Dale about Rob Ford’s interest in running for Ward 2, currently represented by his brother, is as critical of this ill-judged decision as one would expect.

His voice quiet and raspy, Mayor Rob Ford (open Rob Ford’s policard) said Thursday that he has been told he has a “50-50” chance of surviving his rare cancer.

Ford said he is not sure if he will feel well enough to participate in any all-candidates’ debates in Ward 2 (Etobicoke North), where he is now a candidate for his old council seat. But he shrugged off criticism from residents who question his decision to run for office while undergoing chemotherapy.

“Some people are saying that, but a lot more people are saying ‘I want your name on the ballot.’ And we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.There’s other candidates. If they don’t think I’m up to it, then vote for someone else,” he said outside his city hall office. “I think there’s about 12 or 15 people in my ward, I don’t know exactly how many. This came together relatively quick. I was doing great, I was doing fantastic.”

Ford has 13 opponents. One of them, business professional Andray Domise, initially declined to comment for fear of sounding “harsh and insensitive,” then changed his mind minutes later and called Ford’s decision “highly irresponsible.”

“My problem is: he’s put his name on the ballot, and asked to be treated as a serious candidate, so the least that I can do is respect that wish. Which also means holding him accountable,” Domise said.

“So if your name is on the ballot but you’re not showing up for debates, you haven’t released a platform, you haven’t talked about what it is you’re going to do for Ward 2, you’re not canvassing, you’re not knocking on doors, you’re not putting down lawn signs, essentially you’re taking the neighbourhood for granted. You expect to be allowed back into city hall, as a seriously ill person, with no ideas for what we’re going to do for this ward going forward.”

Written by Randy McDonald

October 3, 2014 at 8:53 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On today’s TTC maintenance issues at the Dundas West subway station

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My afternoon commute was made rather more exciting and deadline-packed than I preferred by the discovery of debris on the tracks at Dundas West station. Torontoist’s Sarah Sweet had an early report.

Subway service between Keele and St. George stations was halted at 8 a.m. this morning due to track issues at Dundas West Station. “The tracks are being blocked,” tweeted TTC Customer Service, “and for safety reasons we have to wait until area cleared.” A later message indicates the subway shutdown is now affecting service between Keele and Ossington stations.

Originally, the TTC announced service would resume by noon, but it is no longer offering a predicted time: “Please disregard the expected completion time for the delay at Dundas West Station. There is currently no expected clearing time.”

The situation is creating both subway and surface route delays: the shuttle buses pressed into service to run between the stations affected have had to be pulled off regular routes.

blogTO’s Chris Bateman had more. (Plenty of pictures from Twitter, too.)

The TTC was forced to shut down a large portion of the Bloor-Danforth line at the height of this morning’s rush hour after debris was found on the tracks near Dundas West station.

The closure forced packed trains to empty at Keele and St. George, leaving hundreds of people to crowd into station corridors and stairways. There were reports on Twitter of people fainting amid the crush.

A small portion of the line beyond St. George re-opened in an effort to reduce crowding. Right now, the subway is out between Keele and Ossington.

At a press conference this afternoon, TTC Deputy Chief Operating Officer Mike Palmer said a Metrolinx contractor punctured the concrete roof of the tunnel with a metal I-beam earlier in the week, but a subsequent inspection determined the structure was safe.

Palmer said changing ground water conditions allowed sand and silt to come through the roof. Repair crews are patching the leak in anticipation of removing the beam, which is protruding about three inches into the tunnel, at a later date.

Happily, the Toronto Star reports that things are back to normal. I’d comment that it’s fitting that an event like this happened at the end of the term of Rob Ford, a mayor who talked about boosting the TTC and building subways but actually ended up doing very little that was not destructive to urban mass transit.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 30, 2014 at 8:58 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Doug Ford and John Tory trade barbs at raucous Toronto mayoral debate”

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CBC reports on last night’s mayoral debate. I will say that, following the debate on Twitter last night, the whole thing seemed more than a bit ridiculous.

Toronto’s political crazy train kept on rolling during Doug Ford’s first mayoral debate Tuesday night as candidates traded barbs in front of a rowdy, and at times abusive, audience.

The debate, billed as the public’s first real look at Doug Ford the mayoral candidate, revolved heavily around candidates’ controversial and vastly different plans for new public transit infrastructure. Both Ford and Olivia Chow presented billboard diagrams to illustrate their respective visions.

The two-hour faceoff was punctuated by several heated exchanges between Ford and front-runner candidate John Tory, who Ford criticized as an “elitist” career politician without any real experience at Toronto City Hall.

“I’ll tell you something, John, you’re a slick-talking politician,” Ford said after Tory answered a question on his plan for reducing poverty throughout the city. “You’re from a whole different world.”

The comment garnered a loud cheer from the largely pro-Ford audience at York Memorial Collegiate Institute, located on the border of Wards 11 and 12 near Eglinton Avenue and Black Creek Drive, an area of the city considered a political stronghold of the Ford family. Before the debate began, many audience members chanted “We want Doug!”

Ford continually pivoted to Tory’s inexperience in Toronto municipal politics throughout the night.

“No mayor has ever been elected without first sitting on council,” Ford claimed (in fact, a handful have). “I know you’re used to having everything handed to you on a silver platter.… It’s always been handed to John Tory.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 24, 2014 at 7:39 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “‘Toronto needs Doug Ford’ …”

The National Post‘s Natalie Alcoba reports on Rob Ford’s recorded statement of support for Doug Ford’s mayoral bid.

Hours before he begins his chemotherapy, Mayor Rob Ford released a recorded statement in which he vowed to beat cancer and urged his brother Doug Ford to jump into the mayoral race, “wholeheartedly, right now.”

It’s the first time the city has heard from the mayor since he was hospitalized with a tumour last week which has since been diagnosed as a rare form of cancer called liposarcoma. Mayor Ford withdrew from the mayoral race last week and Doug Ford put his name forward, but the councillor has been at the hospital with his brother, not on the campaign trail.

[. . .]

“Last week I asked my brother to carry the torch and continue the work we started together,” the mayor said, sounding drained and with a raspy voice.

“Toronto needs Doug Ford as Mayor. There’s so much at stake in this election. The city’s future and the issues facing Toronto can’t wait. So, I’m encouraging my brother to jump into this race, wholeheartedly, right now.” He went on to tout his brother as a caring man with a “vision” and said he deserves credit, too, for the last four years.

“I could not have accomplished what we did without him,” said Mayor Ford.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm

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