Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Torontarazzi

2009 May 19

Spotted (Monday 9 p.m.): Adam Giambrone, on the patio at Cafe Diplomatico, enjoying the Victoria Day holiday.

I ♥ Toronto pseudo-celebrities.

Tomorrow’s Gas Price, Today!

2009 January 25

Surely some of you have heard of the guy they call The Gas Man.  Dan McTeague is the Member of Parliament for Pickering-Scarborough East, and has figured out how to predict what the price will be at gas pumps across Canada a day ahead of time. 

Apparently, what he does is not that hard – it’s a simple calculation based on his subscription ($300/month) to the Oil Price Information Service.  He then posts tomorrow’s gas prices for 7 Canadian cities, including the GTA, consistantly to within a tenth of a cent!  There was an interesting article about him and how it affects him politically in today’s Toronto Star. 

Although the only thing I drive ride is a bike, you might be interested in visiting Mr. McTeague’s website to see what you’ll be paying to fill ‘er up tomorrow morning.

Whatever Happened to Paper Bags?

2008 November 26

Toronto’s mayor, David Miller, put forth a proposal today stating that, starting sometime in the future, all retail stores in the city would have to charge 5-cents for every plastic bag used to pack up one’s purchases.  This comes after negotiations between the mayor and the heads of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, retooling a former proposal that would see a 10-cent discount for every plastic bag not used.  For the bylaw to pass, it still needs to be voted on my city council.

What I don’t get is why people can’t just take reusable bags with them when they go shopping.  Okay, I realize that sometimes you pass by a store and realize that you need to grab something.  Your shopping trip was unplanned.  You didn’t forcast bringing a bag with you.  However, I know from my own experience, and those of every family member and roommate I’ve ever lived with, that for the majority of the time (especially regarding grocery shopping) people know when they’re headed out to buy stuff.  When I leave my house for the supermarket, I automatically get my reusable bags from their place in my kitchen and take them with me.  Just like I remember to take my keys so I’m not locked out of my house.  People who always drive to the store could just keep them in their car.  It really takes nearly no extra effort.  Those who don’t do it are just lazy.

Why charge only 5 cents?  A lot of lazies are not going to care about spending an extra 30 cents at the check-out.  I bet if the cost was 50-cents a bag, or if stores only made available the 99-cent reusable bags, most people would start remembering to bring their own bags along with them from time-to-time.

On a related note, the Toronto Star did an article last year called Battle of the Supermarket Bags, to help you to decide which kind of reusable shopping bags to get.

Was Harper Speaking About Torontonians?

2008 November 20

Our current Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently claimed that ordinary Canadians don’t care about the arts or their funding.

Interestingly enough, the renovated Art Gallery of Ontario re-opened for business this past weekend, and I rode my bike by there yesterday around 5:30 pm only to witness an incredibly long line-up to get into the gallery.  I’m talking like around-the-block-long.

On a related note, I read this article this morning in the NY Times.  It basically talks about how, even though many of the museums in Los Angeles are facing budget crunches right now, there is still talk of bringing yet another public art museum to the City of Bevery Hills (financed by philanthropist Eli Broad.)

These two stories caused me to revisit thoughts I’ve had for a while about the state of the cultural institutions of Toronto.  We basically have two major museums: the Royal Ontario Museum and the AGO.  Yeah, we have a few other minor ones like the Gardiner Museum (ceramic art), the Bata Shoe Museum (footwear), and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.  I guess the Ontario Science Centre is kind of a museum, too.  However, given the fact that Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America (after Mexico City, NYC, LA, and Chicago) it’s a pretty sad state of affairs.  New York City is home to top-notch museums in art, architecture, photography, natural history, television, radio and technology.  Chicago has more than 40 museums open to the public, including three popular museums on the lakefront linked by a large park area known as the Museum Campus.  Even Montréal, which is half the size of Toronto, has like 4 or 5 major institutions.  What’s up with our cultural infrastructure?

One proposal that has been in the works for more than 5 years is the the Toronto Museum Project.  This would see a “signature piece on the waterfront [showcasing] Toronto’s cultural story and intercultural understanding.”  Current plans identify the Canada Malting Silos site at the foot of Bathurst Street as the proposed site for this new Toronto Museum.  Only time will tell whether this project will actually go forward, but I’m not placing any bets.  Two other contemporary museum projects went unrealized – Metronome: Canada’s Music City was shelved years ago and a more ambitious Toronto city museum, called Humanitas, was rejected half a decade ago.  There’s actually a current exhibit at the ROM entitled Unbuilt Toronto: The City That Could Have Been, that showcases unbuilt projects and unrealized building proposals over the last 150 years.

As for our city’s current cultural landscape, go out and support the arts – even if Stephen Harper thinks you don’t care about them.  I’m going to the AGO this weekend (although I’ll be prepared to line up.)

Not Fair! (verdict is still out on the Balance)

2008 November 5

I do not have cable or satellite television; however, I do have a pretty substantial antenna.  You would THINK that living in the middle of North America’s 4th (or maybe 5th) largest city, I would be able to watch one of the most important events of recent years (the American Presidential election) on more than one channel.  On the contrary: out of the 14 channels that are watchable with my antenna, only one (1) is reporting on the election.  And that channel???

FOX NEWS!

Just to clarify, this is a joke video.

UPDATE: At 10 pm, election coverage on Fox ended, giving way to a rerun of Seinfeld.  Perfect.

Come On, Ride the Green Train

2008 May 11

I went to my hometown this weekend and who was on the platform beside me as I was waiting for the train to come in? Well if it wasn’t Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada’s federal Green Party! I bet Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton don’t take VIA Rail. Her partner or husband was there to see her off, which reminded me of the fact that Stephen Harper doesn’t hug his children, but rather shakes their hands.

I kind of regret not introducing myself to Ms. May. I’ve read her book “How to Save the World in Your Spare Time” and I’ve seen her speak at Queen’s University. I’ve actually seen a bunch of politicians speak live, and she was the only one who actually answered the questions she was asked in the Q & A periods. She’s very real and very interesting.

She was traveling with a fluorescent green suitcase.

Hey Apathy!

2008 April 28

Mike Parsons is a local artist who works mostly in black ink with bamboo pens.  His work has been showcased at OCAD, and can often be seen around Kensington Market (specifically at the Kensington Mall.) 

I bought a copy of this print today for $15.  It conjures up an image of what Toronto’s downtown core may have looked like tomorrow had the Ontario government not ordered striking TTC workers back to their posts.

S.T.R.I.K.E.

2008 April 26

Yesss.
Let the chaos ensue.

Maybe this will lead to some increased attention to bicycle safety and awareness in the city.

“It’s not fair!”

2008 April 17

Starting Monday morning at 4am, Toronto may be faced with a transit strike.  As somebody who has taken the worst transit system in the world TTC a lot over the course of the last 6 months, this is something of a conundrum of principles in my mind. 

TTC

On one hand, I think the Toronto Transit Commission really needs a freshening up.  I’ve heard that the system receives less than 1/3 the amount of money per capita than do other major cities that have excellent-functioning transportation operations, such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen.  I believe that given that about one sixth of Canada’s entire population lives in the GTA and probably closer to 1/3 comes to the city on a regular basis, all levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal) should pony-up some more cash and give this city a world-class transit system.  However, I’ve also heard somewhere that something like 25% of the City of Toronto’s budget goes towards the TTC.  How is this possible given that the service is so crappy, yet the fare is still so expensive?

On the other hand, after watching the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113‘s press conference this morning on CityTV, I can’t help but NOT feel sympathetic towards the workers.  It appeared that Bob Kinnear, the union’s President and spokesperson, used the phrase “not fair” about 10 000 times.  “We want to give him [Mayor David Miller] some time to step into this situation and do what is fair,” said Kinnear in his press appeal.

NEWSFLASH: life’s not fair.

Mr. Kinnear repeatedly compared TTC workers with both other city workers and transit workers in other areas of the Greater Toronto Area.  “Driving a street car on Queen Street in Toronto takes a lot more skill than driving a bus on Queen Street in Brampton.”  Ummm, I’m not sure if I agree with this or even understand what he means.  No offense to the streetcar drivers, but they don’t even have to steer.  The vehicles are on tracks; all they have to do other than hit the gas and the brake is open the doors and push the button so that the automated voice says “please move back.”  Forgetting about comparisons, and just thinking about this situation from a general perspective, what it comes down to is that, while this is an important service for the city, these jobs involve little skill and no education.  Is it fair for me to ask why these workers feel they deserve even greater benefits than they’re already getting – so much so that they are willing to derail (pardon the pun) an entire city, for who knows how long?

If you know me, or even if you’ve just read any of my blog posts here on TZero, you know that I am a huge proponent of public transportation.  However, I also complain a lot about the TTC because, for lack of a better term, it sucks.  The service is infrequent and sporatic, many of the drivers are unenthusiastic if not unfriendly, and a city with Toronto’s stature should have a sophisticated metro system, not these crappy streetcars.

To quote Bob Kinnear, I say “it’s not fair” that we’re stuck with the TTC.

Electoral Reform, What?

2007 October 10

Today is the general election for Ontario as well as a referendum regarding the electoral system Ontario uses to elect members to the provincial legislature.  The current system we have is generally referred to as First-Past-the-Post (FPTP), in which the candidate with the most votes wins and will be the representative for the electoral district in the provincial legislature.  After the election, the political party that wins the most electoral districts is normally asked to form a government.  The alternatively proposed system is called Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), in which Ontarians would have two votes in future elections: one for a ‘Local Member’ and one for a political party. The provincial legislature would have 129 seats: Local Members’ would fill 90 seats while ‘List Members’ would fill 39 seats. The political party with the largest number of seats in the legislature, including ‘Local Members’ and ‘List Members’, would be asked to form a government.

I encourage everyone to vote, but to make an informed decision.  A super-majority (60%) of the vote is needed for the referendum to pass, and I fear that most people voting will defaultedly vote for the system we now have, only because they don’t understand the other option (or even the current one!)  It’s hard to believe that Elections Ontario spent millions on an advertising campaign to teach the population about the different systems.  My own mother told me she hadn’t even heard of this referendum until like a week ago, and had no idea about the reason for it.

Anyway, get out and vote in the election and the referendum, whatever your opinion may be!