Posts Tagged ‘politics’
While skating in High Park does sound delightful, I do hope for the sake of–among others–The Globe and Mail‘s Marcus Gee that Grenadier Pond turns out to be consistently solid enough for skating. Sometimes regulations are a burden; sometimes, they’re life-saving.
About a year back, breaking with custom, Toronto city council actually did something sensible: it ended a ban on skating on Grenadier Pond.
Skaters have been going out on the long pond in the southwest corner of High Park for a century and more. Archival photos show women in long skirts and overcoats lacing up their skates.
It is a wonderful Toronto experience. When I took to the ice on Monday morning, a middle-aged man with his shoes in a backpack was sailing around on long speed skates, his hands linked behind his back as he took big swaying strides. A couple of guys were playing shinny, using their bags as goalposts. A woman in a parka with the hood pulled up against the stiff breeze was skating alongside her dog.
One of the delights of pond skating is simply observing the ice, so different from the monochrome man-made stuff. Grenadier’s went from a cloudy white at the shallower end to an almost translucent black in deeper parts, marked here and there with circular white patches that looked like miniature galaxies in deep space. It is no wonder that Grenadier regulars wait with sharpened blades for a cold snap that will turn the pond into the city’s biggest outdoor rink.
In recent years, city officials concerned about safety and (more the point) liability issues tried to shut the party down. “No skating” signs went up. Those who ventured onto the pond sometimes found city bylaw officers hollering at them from the shore to cease and desist. They were, after all, violating Section 608-21 B of the Toronto Municipal Code, stating that, “No person shall access or skate on a natural ice surface in a park where it is posted to prohibit it.”
Spacing Toronto’s John Lorinc argues that a leaked federal government report predicting very high levels of debt in decades to come can, from the perspective of cities, best be read as a warning that hoped-for federal funding in infrastructure is not coming.
The little explosion of sweaty news last week about an apparently buried federal report predicting “decades” of gigantic deficits added just a bit more fuel to the fire crackling around Justin Trudeau’s feet. The key take away was that net debt levels, driven by anemic GDP growth and an aging population, will crest at $1.55 trillion by the 2050s.
The short-hand media analysis focused more on that great big scary number than the complex political dynamic this analysis will set in motion.
I’m not talking about the short-term melodrama. The report obviously feeds into the emerging narrative of the Trudeau government as profligate and beholden to wealthy lobbying interests while increasingly isolated in a world that’s become fixated on the brain-stem appeal of nativist politics. It also gives Kevin O’Leary and the rest of the Conservative leadership pugilists a new talking point, allowing them to change the channel away from Kellie Leitch’s tone-deaf immigrant bashing.
Rather, when I scanned at this report, which is built on the sturdy and seemingly apolitical timber of long-term demographic and productivity analysis, two points struck me:
One, while the media reports presented the document as something the government released as quietly as a church mouse skittering around on Christmas eve, the language in the document bears the unmistakable signs of a political edit: “As this demographic transition unfolds,” the unnamed Department of Finance author states at one point, “the Government will continue to take smart decisions and make sound investments to build Canada’s economy of the future and create an economy that works for the middle class [emphasis added].”
These, clearly, are not the words of some nerdy government economist.
So? I’d argue this document was absolutely intended to be discovered, thus subtly sending the signal that Ottawa is keeping a watchful eye trained on long-term economic and spending trends.