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The Ranting Canadian: I’m surprised I have never seen anyone post this song…

I’m surprised I have never seen anyone post this song (click on the video link above) in relation to the fucked-up Ford brothers, Doug and Rob. Maybe I have just missed it. The original lyrics don’t all apply to the Fords, so here is an amended version.

Asshole (Rob Ford version)

. . . → Read More: The Ranting Canadian: I’m surprised I have never seen anyone post this song…

The Ranting Canadian: No wonder Rob Ford is so screwed up. His mother is Dame Edna…

No wonder Rob Ford is so screwed up. His mother is Dame Edna and his father was Nosh from the movie Eat the Rich (see photos above).

But seriously folks, you good people of the great city of Toronto, there’s something disturbing about Ford’s mother . . . → Read More: The Ranting Canadian: No wonder Rob Ford is so screwed up. His mother is Dame Edna…

The Ranting Canadian: Some beautiful animation about a terrible person. Are the…

Some beautiful animation about a terrible person. Are the creators psychic or merely wishful? We’ll find out in 2014.

The Ranting Canadian: It’s not really about the crack, or at least it’s…

It’s not really about the crack, or at least it’s not all about the crack. The crack-centred Rob Ford jokes, skits, songs and Internet memes certainly have been entertaining, but Ford’s recent crack use is but one of the many reasons he is hopelessly unqualified to be mayor of the largest city in . . . → Read More: The Ranting Canadian: It’s not really about the crack, or at least it’s…

Edwin Current: Happy New Year 2012 and Impeach Mayor Quimby (Rob Ford) Update

2012 is here!  Some think it is going to be the end of the world but I think it will be the beginning of a new world.  I predict many exciting things will happen and I am looking forward to it.I just wanted to post an update in my efforts to … . . . → Read More: Edwin Current: Happy New Year 2012 and Impeach Mayor Quimby (Rob Ford) Update

Edwin Current: Happy New Year 2012 and Impeach Mayor Quimby (Rob Ford) Update

2012 is here!  Some think it is going to be the end of the world but I think it will be the beginning of a new world.  I predict many exciting things will happen and I am looking forward to it.

I just wanted to post an update in my efforts to impeach Mayor Ford. . . . → Read More: Edwin Current: Happy New Year 2012 and Impeach Mayor Quimby (Rob Ford) Update

Edwin Current: Quimby on TTC and ‘Exploiting Students for Gravy?’ Really? @TOMayorFord

Surprise! Surpirse!Mayor Ford is having trouble getting private investment for his own Transit Plan which offers less service to the city at nearly double the cost. But his plan has an extended Sheppard subway line!!(note sarcasm)  So what is… . . . → Read More: Edwin Current: Quimby on TTC and ‘Exploiting Students for Gravy?’ Really? @TOMayorFord

Edwin Current: Quimby on TTC and ‘Exploiting Students for Gravy?’ Really? @TOMayorFord

Surprise! Surpirse! Mayor Ford is having trouble getting private investment for his own Transit Plan which offers less service to the city at nearly double the cost. But his plan has an extended Sheppard subway line!!(note sarcasm)  So what is he doing about it?

Is he taking a look at who voted for him and . . . → Read More: Edwin Current: Quimby on TTC and ‘Exploiting Students for Gravy?’ Really? @TOMayorFord

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Rally for Respect against the Silencing of Toronto

“Regular Programming in Dufferin Grove Park will be cancelled during the day time hours on Saturday, September 10, 2011 due to an anticipated, large, unpermitted event.” (sic)

– Sign posted on a tree in Dufferin Grove Park by Toronto Parks and Recreation, as ordered by Mayor Rob Ford.

According to Mayor Ford, democracy is a large, unpermitted event.

On September 10th at Dufferin Grove Park, 500 people gathered to discuss core public service cuts under the banner of Stop Ford’s Cuts! Spread out on picnic blankets, Torontonians organized into twenty focus groups to strategize how to protect essential services, keep public sector jobs, and work together to draft the People’s Declaration for presentation to City Hall on Monday, September 26th, the ground zero of the cuts. The sum of these 2012 budgets cuts amounts to $100 million, which matches the 2011 revenue cuts by Mayor Ford, which include the $60 vehicle registration tax, and the refusal to increase property taxes by 3%. This infographic by ‘Ford for Toronto’ blogger, Matt Elliot, shows it a glance — Ford finds it necessary to privatize core services, eliminate the Hardship Fund, environmental monitoring, such as the Toronto Environment Office and Atmospheric Fund, and reduce transit service levels so that people can drive cars and own homes. Sound familiar? In August, Harper eliminated 776 jobs from Environment Canada.

At the Dufferin Grove rally, situated in the west end hotbed of urban hippiedom, Cleo Halfpenny was selling hand silkscreened voodoo dolls of Mayor Ford with Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti in his pocket for $25 a pop, $20 without Giorgio during the meeting. Colourful Mayor Ford graffiti is springing up on walls throughout the city, faster than the white brush of the Fords’ can erase. As one of his decrees, Ford said taxpayers should call 9-1-1 to alert them of graffiti, and in the Dufferin Grove sign, he asks park-goers to call 3-1-1 to stop outdoor meetings, but he cannot stem the fabulous graphics,incisive political blog entries and pithy information visualization charts protesting his efficiency-finding measures.

Toronto is awash with graffiti – – Ford as a corpulent octopus, with his tentacles in many jars, his white potato head saying ‘Spud’, the stenciled word ‘Nightmayor’, and online campaigns such as Margaret Atwood for Mayor and 500,000 citizens against Ford. The silencing of creative constituents has brought about agitprop resistance provoked by anger, and softened by mirth, pointing out how ludicrous this all is, while laughing at Ford’s anti-graffiti legislation as a ‘catch me if you can’ tactic. A photojournalist friend, R. Jeanette Martin, is documenting the Rob Ford graffiti art for posterity; she cannot keep up with the sightings. Whether it is ‘Brazil’, ‘Twelve Monkeys’ or ‘Jabberwocky’- it seems like Toronto City Council is directed and scripted by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam. Mayor Ford tried to close the park washrooms during the Stop the Ford’s Cuts! rally through an edict to Toronto Parks and Recreation; local councillors had to formally request they remain open.

On September 19th, I witnessed the first morning of the second round of marathon deputations from an overflow room at City Hall. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti asked for a motion to cut deputations down from five minutes to two; it was granted, and speaking time for the opposition was divided by more than half. Within the first several hours, when a blind PWA spoke eloquently to keep funding for HIV services, he paused to turn to face a councillor and consider his question. Mayor Ford cut him off brusquely, timing him out. Councillor Adam Vaughan quickly invoked City Hall’s policy for accommodation for disability. For the next twenty hours, in an absent, monotonous tone, Ford continued to recite the names of the deputants, ending their time to the allotted second, as his form of efficient, cattle call democracy. Mayor Ford no longer accepts interview requests with Toronto Star, or Spacing, the urban planning magazine, or any other publication held to be partisan to ex-Mayor Miller’s regime, from his City Hall throne. (The video of Dave Meslin pointing out the lack of respect for deputants can be seen here- 87 left because of how late the deputations went.)

Shortly after the PWA deputized, a nurse, outfitted in a beautiful Caribana headdress of her own design, spoke of her dependency upon rehabilitation services after a severe concussion, and mentioned a podiatrist who attended her homeless shelter, and offered services to her for free. You could almost hear the pens scratching by Ford’s note takers to ensure that this service was suspended; Ford has refused the hiring of two nurses who specialized in HIV caretaking from the province, but allowed three nurses who focused on the spread of bedbugs. Councillor Mammoliti threatened a young mother with a 35% tax increase if she demands childcare; 35% is the recurring refrain of tax hikes threatened by the Brothers Ford to budget dissenters, and is completely without factual basis. (See more here.)

Repeatedly, deputants said there is a revenue problem, not a spending problem, and were soundly ignored by the executive council, who pointed out the number of times they had deputized previously to discredit them. Many of these deputants were incensed by this tactic; they were representatives for large constituent groups, such as graduate student unions, and when Councillor Mammoliti pointed out they were being paid handsomely for their services, noted their $15,000 graduate student stipends. And in the most hypocritical repudiation of Ford’s campaign tactics conceivable, Nick Kouvalis, the principal architect of the Gravy Train campaign meme, has jumped the mayoral ship to work as a public relations consultant with firemen, on the site Notgravy.ca, to save them from 300 layoffs.

There is a reason why the neo-conservative tag team, or in an oft quoted tweet calling Ford, Hudak and Harper the future “trifecta of Republican-style, right-wing ignorance and bigotry”, is working so quickly to privatize core public services at the municipal level- they realize that sustainable urban planners, architects, grassroots organizations and citizens who build progressive movements are strong, organized and thoughtful in cities, and want to quash them. This was openly admitted by PM Harper when he attended a barbeque with Mayor Ford in his backyard this spring. Conservative PR flaks have made repeated attempts to take down this video from Facebook, but it pops back up again. This tactic is congruent with the Canadian European Trade Agreement, more comprehensive than NAFTA, which is presently in its ninth round of backroom negotiations, and will open up municipal services to European interests. PM Harper intends to ensure the rungs of the municipal-provincial-federal ladder are filled with his yes-sayers. If elected as the MP in Ontario, Tim Hudak wants to get rid of the Human Rights Commission to further silence leftist dissent; for more on his future initiatives, see the web site The Best Ontario Election Web Site, brought to you by Truthfool Communications, who put up the site Shit Harper Did last election.

Just last week, the inclusion of electronic surveillance in the Conservatives’ tough on crime omnibus bill was stymied through a Stop Spying petition with 70,000 signatures, organized by Openmedia.ca. These wiretapping bills are really about the censorship and control of social media by PM Harper and his media advisors – – they are well aware that Facebook and Twitter are the locii for grassroots organizing. Although their new media firms still monitor social media postings, these bills were drafted to ensure that their warrantless stalking of grassroots opposition would be admissible in court. These bills were excised from the omnibus bill this round, but will no doubt be revised, to crop up in different versions to be reconsidered in future legislation.

And finally the Ford Brothers have lost an important battle. A concerned citizen has registered a formal complaint against Doug Ford for meeting with an unregistered lobbyist, an Australian developer, to sell off the Lower Port Lands, putting in jeopardy the development plans of Waterfront Toronto. These award winning sustainable plans, developed over six years, and with thousands of hours of good faith consultancy of citizens’ groups, were supported by a letter signed by 147 architects, urban planners and professors in an emergency press conference to denounce the revised east end theme park version, replete with a ferris wheel, mono-rail and mega-mall. In addition, CodeBlueTO presented 7,300 signatures on their citizens’ petition to preserve the three key principles of the Waterfront Toronto plans – flood proofing the Port Lands and South Riverdale, renaturalizing the mouth of the Don River, and building urban neighbourhoods – citing them as essential. Media reports say this battle loss has created a rift between the Ford Brothers, and pundits have asked for the return of the unauthorized $500,000 for this unneeded, second consultancy, directly from Rob and Doug’s bank account.

The silencing of the dissenting left by the neo-conservative public relations policy apparatus continues on, whether in the careful handling of Mayor Ford to monitor his press access, his controlled role-calling during the marathon deputation sessions, the shortening of deputation time at City Hall, or the censoring of the barbeque video on youtube by PM Harper, and the hidden inclusion of all-inclusive electronic surveillance in their omnibus crime bills.

When citizens are being censored, they act with graphic ingenuity. As witnessed during the people’s wake for Jack Layton in Nathan Philips’ Square, internationally, chalk has become the unique identifier and ephemeral signature of hope and optimism for Toronto, easily washed away by rain, only to fill the square again. This Monday, during the People’s Rally at City Hall, chalk filled the square again with heartfelt requests to protect our core services, and question the unfounded logic of the Fords’ service cuts. Regular programming of democracy will resume one day, and together, we will make it happen. Torontonians have proven themselves capable of compassion through accepting property tax hikes, and additional taxes, as they realize services and jobs for many will ensure the health of all. They have said so through many hours of City Hall deputations, waiting patiently for their shortened turn to speak.

Update: Mayor Ford and Councillor Mammoliti showed up in new business suits, and debated for a day and a half; one-third of 1 per cent of the city’s $9-billion-plus budget, $28-million in “service adjustments” was found, and the votes can be seen here at http://torontoist.com/2011/09/budget-votes-at-city-hall/ By a vote of 22-23, The Hardship Fund, which offsets medical costs for the needy, was cut. Councillor Vaughan reminds those watching the cuts will be on the table again after the election in November. Mayor Ford is claiming a ‘huge victory’ for finding efficiencies.

Watch this excellent video for more on today’s 5:30 pm Rally for Respect: TORONTO’S PRICE TAG / Ayesha Adhami … ALL OUT MONDAY SEPT. 26 – 5:30pm at City Hall‬ at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNuuR12HxBc

References:
Matt Elliott, City Hall budget infographic at http://fordfortoronto.mattelliott.ca/
New Port Lands Agreement Apparently A Win For Ford, http://www.torontosatire.com/2011/09/22/new-port-lands-agreement-apparently-a-win-for-ford/
John Michael McGrath, EXPLAINER: Where does this “35% tax increase” come from?
http://toronto.openfile.ca/blog/curator-blog/explainer/2011/explainer-where-does-35-tax-increase-come
Andy Radia, Harper Conservatives try to quash Rob Ford barbeque video: Liberal blogger http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/harper-conservatives-try-quash-rob-ford-barbeque-video-172632797.html
Firefighter’s site, Not Gravy.ca http://www.notgravy.ca
Truthfool Communications, The Best Ontario Election Web Site http://www.thebestontarioelectionwebsite.ca/
Truthfool Communications, Shit Harper Did http://www.shitharperdid.com
Openmedia.ca at http://www.openmedia.ca
Stop Spying at http://stopspying.ca
CodeBlueTO at http://codeblueto.com/ . . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: Rally for Respect against the Silencing of Toronto

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Rally for Respect against the Silencing of Toronto

“Regular Programming in Dufferin Grove Park will be cancelled during the day time hours on Saturday, September 10, 2011 due to an anticipated, large, unpermitted event.” (sic)

– Sign posted on a tree in Dufferin Grove Park by Toronto Parks and Recreation, as ordered by Mayor Rob Ford.

According to Mayor Ford, democracy . . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: Rally for Respect against the Silencing of Toronto

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Playing with Team Ford

“It is clear that there is a program to eliminate the public from our great city.”

– Kim Fry, the 11th deputant during the Core Service Review at Toronto’s City Hall on Thursday July 28

For a penny-pinching populist, Mayor Rob Ford’s policies are very expensive. Since his October 25th election, he has spent over $533 million in a strange sibling rivalry against his arch nemesis, ex-Mayor David Miller. During Miller’s time in office, Rob Ford was the least respected councillor, and was relegated to the benches during Miller’s confabs with his handpicked, executive council. In retaliation, cribbing from his tactics as high school football coach, Ford has crafted his defensive lineup – an executive council of six strong ‘yes’ men to systematically take apart Toronto’s public infrastructure – which Miller intended to be his legacy – through cutting core services. Ford is like a younger kid brother knocking down the carefully placed building blocks of his brother’s toy castle because he does not know how to build a city of his own design or imagination.

Select items from a spreadsheet itemizing Mayor Ford’s expenses to the City of Toronto? Canceling Transit City, initial penalties of $179 million, removing bike lanes, $469,000, bailing out an under-used arena, $43.4 million, subsidizing an underused ski lift in the ward of his ally, Councillor James Pasternak, $2 million, and the loss of revenue from the Land Transfer Tax and Vehicle Registration Tax, $204 million and $50 million respectively. Another $100,000 was spent to hire a TTC consultant, and $3 million to hire KPMG, an external consulting firm- both of these expenses are part of city councillor’s jobs, and so are redundant.

While ex-Mayor Miller left a $375 million surplus, Mayor Ford is dangerously close to spending money equivalent to the $774 million budget deficit he wanted to balance by 2012. Left unchecked, these expenditures will almost double the projected 2011 deficit within his first year of office, showing the true cost of privatization. With over three years left in his term, he huddles with his brother, Doug, as his closest advisor, quietly strategizing during City Council meetings, cautioned by his rightwing consultants to remain tightlipped with the media.

Ford’s first agenda item was to hire consultancy firm, KPMG, to perform a core service review. When KPMG’s results were made public, the results backfired for Team Ford. 96% of services are mandated by the federal government, there was no gravy, and the report unintentionally highlighted that the previous surplus left by ex-Mayor Miller was an act of financial wizardry. Apparently, the left can be bean counters, too.

On July 28th, there were over 300 deputations at City Hall on the agenda, with irate citizens decrying these cuts, and police at the council chamber’s door; the new executive council will make the final decision regarding these core service cuts in September. Bowing under thousands of emails of public pressure to attend the deputations- Mayor Ford did not sit in for the first round – he decreed that they take place over a marathon 20 hours. The deputations have become a kangaroo court, a sham procedure, to get them out of the way of his city fire sale, as ‘efficiencies’ are found, cutting core services from the elderly, children, those with HIV, caretakers, bicyclists, and at risk youth, including a program that funds 685 student nutrition programs, 42 AIDS prevention projects and 38 community drug prevention programs. Although police refused access to City Hall’s green roof for his picnic, activist Dave Meslin is part of hundreds attending a City Hall slumber party tonight; internationally, other cities are taking over squares to protest similar austerity measures.

By pitting the KPMG report against community deputations, Team Ford has deliberately polarized the downtown core against suburbanites. Call it ‘wedge politics’, ‘culture wars’ or ‘divide and conquer’, it is a tactic used to distract GTA citizens as hard won public assets are sold off to invisible bidders. Think of the Canadian version of Koch Brothers as high school football coaches, rather than democratic mayors, with transit at the center of the debate.

Ex-Mayor Miller’s legacy was to be Transit City, a light rail network designed to add street level connectivity and make workplaces accessible for outer neighbourhoods; Team Ford proposes to bring another football team and football stadium to downtown Toronto, and extend a Sheppard subway line to nowhere. ‘Austerity will not be pretty’, read a sign at the KPMG protest, but for Team Ford, stadiums, subways and athletes are certainly more important than transit, bicycle lanes, and ‘bike people’, as we are called by Councillor Doug Holyday. For the right, bike lanes are easily sacrificed on the altar of the Almighty Car, and traffic lanes and parking lots are held to be places of worship.

On July 12th, over three hundred bicyclists converged on City Hall, to ask that the newly installed Jarvis bicycle paths remain in place. Used by 890 riders daily, the bike paths connected the east end of the city with the west. Wearing bicycle helmets, and raising silently waving ‘jazz hands’ to show support for councilors arguing for their right to share lanes of traffic, a heated discussion in City Council raged over two days. Central to the debate were these questions- are bicyclists considered worthy of protection? Is Jarvis Street a cultural corridor or highway? And can a lane on Sherbourne Street, 400 m away, be considered sufficient, or do bicyclists have the right to be integrated as part of a citywide network with multiple options of bike routes?

Councillor Shelley Carroll argued that bicyclists will use Jarvis Street anyway, and modes of transport cannot be forbidden under the Highway Transport Act. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said, “I think cyclists should start suing the city when struck by cars given this council’s recorded indifference to our safety.” Every seven hours a bicyclist is hit in the City of Toronto.

Finally, in procedural chaos, City Council voted that the Jarvis lanes were slated to be removed in two years upon the completion of the segregated Sherbourne lanes. A calculated, last minute motion by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti re-added the reverse fifth lane, to render the prior Environmental Assessment and consultations null and void. Feisty Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam objected to the last minute amendment by Mammoliti about the lanes in her Ward; rightwing partisan Speaker Nunziata allowed the motion, and eight left leaning councillors walked out upon learning that they will be unable to vote upon the bike plan item by item in the future. The final blow – City staff told Wong-Tam, who is lesbian, that returning the reversible centre lane to Jarvis would cost $570,000, more than 4 times the city grant to Pride, an event which also takes place in her Ward, and is next on the chopping block. (For a detailed discussion of the vote, link here.)

Upon hearing this verdict, ever-ingenious Dave Meslin, the founder of the Toronto Bicyclist’s Union, posted a Facebook call out for riders to take back Jarvis. Two days later, 1100 respectful bicyclists, ringing their bells, circled Jarvis Street to Church Street and rode to City Hall chanting “We just want to share.” As I rode my bike down Queen Street West, an onlooker called out “Pay some taxes”, a byproduct of the new nastiness now made publicly permissible by Torontonians modeling the behaviour of our Mayor, and his allies, toward bicyclists.

In his nine months in office, Mayor Ford has shown preferential treatment for his constituents. He prefers car-drivers over bicyclists, the suburban elite over the downtown intelligentsia, the very wealthy over the marginalized, and corporations over unions. He cannot walk several minutes from his office to a podium to read a brief speech for the flag raising ceremony of Pride; he attends Caribana instead to show that while he may be homophobic, he is not racist. He makes his preferences known by picking and choosing which events to attend, and which deputations to listen to, and when frustrated by community consultation, changes access to democratic process by changing the date of motions, or by running an all-night deputation session, so that the public cannot attend, or hand signaling a councillor to add a last minute motion to stymie progressive motions.

Inappropriately, Mayor Ford has used his office to discriminate against those who are most defenseless, and in need of defense- whether bicyclists or marginalized groups. Ford as a football coach, if not as a democratic mayor, should rise to the challenge of inclusive policymaking, if he wishes to remain in his position. So should his brother, Doug. Going forward, we need to be Team Toronto, not Team Ford.

With special thanks to the blog ‘Driving the Porcelain Bus’ for the expense breakdown of Mayor Ford.

References:
‘Driving the Porcelain Bus’ at http://drivingtheporcelainbus.blogspot.com
Robyn Doolittle, Toronto Star, Urban Affairs Reporter, ‘Critics see KPMG report as ‘smoke and mirrors’ at http://www.thestar.com/news/torontocouncil/article/1028588–critics-see-kpmg-report-as-smoke-and-mirrors
Matt Elliott, ‘Ford for Toronto’, ‘The Jarvis vote: What the hell happened?’ at
http://fordfortoronto.mattelliott.ca/2011/07/13/the-jarvis-vote-what-the-hell-happened/ . . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: Playing with Team Ford

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Playing with Team Ford

“It is clear that there is a program to eliminate the public from our great city.” – Kim Fry, the 11th deputant during the Core Service Review at Toronto’s City Hall on Thursday July 28

For a penny-pinching populist, Mayor Rob Ford’s policies are very expensive. Since his October 25th election, he has spent over . . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: Playing with Team Ford

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Stuck in Traffic in Transportation City

“Send in the clownsDon’t bother they are here.”– Stephen Sondheim from the 1973 musical ‘A Little Night Music’

As a transit rider and taxpayer, I write of our right to moral outrage. The events since the October 25th municipal election have left me reeling- from the Ringling Brothers pomp and circumstance of Don . . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: Stuck in Traffic in Transportation City

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Stuck in Traffic in Transportation City

“Send in the clowns
Don’t bother they are here.”
– Stephen Sondheim from the 1973 musical ‘A Little Night Music’

As a transit rider and taxpayer, I write of our right to moral outrage. The events since the October 25th municipal election have left me reeling- from the Ringling Brothers pomp and circumstance of Don Cherry’s inauguration of Rob Ford as mayor of our once progressive city, to the new regime’s attempted transit fee hike and service cuts, and to the higher personal income tax garnered to subsidize corporate tax cuts, our political arena has become a three-ring circus.

PM Harper, Premier McGuinty, Mayor Ford — each have become ringleaders in their own right. Each promotes obstructionist duplicity, deflecting questions about who really holds the reins on our right to dissent without censure, discounting, or ridicule, while cutting tax revenues needed to support essential public services, such as transit, which enable us to get to work efficiently. Once service becomes intermittent, such as the recently proposed scaling back of the nighttime schedule of 48 bus routes, riders will no longer use these unpredictable routes. Who rides the later buses? Shift workers, recent immigrants, service sector employees, teenagers – those who cannot afford cars, and are the most vulnerable to being stranded within a system. With this plan, and the construction of 18 km of subway with 11 stops, rather than Transit City, Mayor Ford has announced his ‘Transportation City’, thus his ‘War on the Transit Rider’. Cars are machines; we cannot have a war on them.

Mayor Ford’s reign was kicked off on December 7th, when Don Cherry, the host of ‘Coach’s Corner’ on the CBC, placed the chain of office around Mayor Ford’s neck at City Hall, and said “Actually I’m wearing pink for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything.”

With that speech, the municipal gloves were off, and my bicycle helmet was on. The tone was set for the new City Hall, which was to be run by an executive council queried, hand-selected, and confirmed by his staff that their allegiance to Mayor Ford was absolute. Adam Vaughan, the councilor that everyone wanted to run for mayor, turned his back on the proceedings.

Within days of his election, Mayor Ford was granted the ear of Premier McGuinty, and convinced him to abandon seven years of Transit City planning. In those same few days, Spacing, the new urban magazine, designed bicycle-riding leftwing pinko buttons to fight this inaugural costume drama with humour, and a signifier of moral outrage. 10,000 buttons were sold in the first two days by Spacing, with 10 per cent of the proceeds going to the Toronto Cyclists’ Union.

For 25 years at the CBC, a pinko-kook institution, Mississauga resident Don Cherry has earned up to $700,000 a year for 5 minutes per game of Yogi Berra commentary on hockey, and now his ‘bite the hand that feeds him’ malapropisms have been immortalized on a button, and banded together downtown Toronto pinko-kooks. I wear my button everywhere with amused and exasperated pride, and often point to it as a mutual badge of honour to fellow pinkos– on the streets, in the subway, and in cafes — to build solidarity.

Those who conjecture about why Transit City is being dismantled also believe the mayoral modus operandi of Mayor Ford is calculated. Ford wants to return the favour of his election to property developers who bankrolled his campaign, and by doing so, undermine the egalitarian, urban planning begun by ex-Mayor Miller, which would integrate communities into the subway corridor by continuing to build 75 km of priority lines of Light Rail Transit. This project has already been whittled down 47 km by budget cuts by Premier McGuinty; ex-Mayor Miller’s original plan included 122 km of LRT.

In addition, they believe Mayor Ford wants to sell off valuable air rights for high rise development above subway stops to his developer friends. This plan is in direct contrast to ex-Mayor Miller, who wanted his legacy to be Transit City. This LRT system includes multiple transit stops to encourage business and street level development within neighbourhoods, supports mom and pop businesses along its route, and enables those who are disabled and elderly access to surface level transit. The vision of Mayor Ford is elitist– massive high rises will mark the spot of subway stations, which will take 7 years to build, serve 122,000 people, and are difficult to access, whereas the plan of Transit City is to enable transit-oriented development to serve 400,000 people, revitalize entire communities, and can be built within three years to relieve the gridlock, and a portion of healthcare expenses, which cost Ontario $6 billion a year.

And the three-ring circus continues. Premier McGuinty allowed Mayor Ford’s fireside chat for significant reasons– Ontario views the HST as a corporate tax grab, he is culpable for enacting 233/10, the 5-meter fence rule, which permitted the suspension of civil liberties during the G20, and he has made a series of exceptionally poor decisions in the last year, including outsourcing $6 billion of wind turbines to Samsung. Who is advising him?

Yet even as Premier McGuinty exclaims from the center of his ring “Ontarians understand the need for corporate tax cuts”, provincial corporate tax rates are cut from 14 to 12 per cent so that $2.4 billion in public revenues will be lost for Transit City. No, I don’t understand why I am paying much more for fewer services, any more than I understand why the new City Council recently attempted to raise transit fees by 10 cents to $3.10 for each token when I buy a set of ten to offset the $60 lost from the vehicle registration fee, and federally, why my taxes have increased between $144 (income $44,000) to $447 per annum (income $100,000) so that $14 billion in tax revenues are lost to the public purse, and why Canadian corporations will pay the lowest taxes in the industrialized world at 12.2 per cent, when American corporations pay 28.3 per cent.

As a Liberal premier, Premier McGuinty has added to my tax burden given to me by the federal Conservatives, thereby supporting PM Harper’s corporate agenda. I thought they were opposing parties. As a result, I am getting far fewer services for far higher transit fees, increased taxation from all sides, and a possible public sector wage freeze — a triple whammy. And watch — this federal tax loss in tax revenue will be used to justify even more downloading of transit infrastructure costs to the provinces by forcing them to finance overruns. PM Harper and Premier McGuinty could have allocated some of these revenues to fund sustainable transportation infrastructure and upgrades, including electrifying the Air Rail Link, and the Georgetown corridor by Metrolinx, and easily included a 15% contingency fund.

$14 billion federally, and $2.4 billion provincially is $16.4 billion in lost tax revenues. $16.4 billion can buy world class, sustainable, electric transit infrastructure, education, research and innovation, and the capacity for forward thinking design and self-governance; $16.4 billion in tax cuts widens the gap between the car-drivers and transit riders, and closes the door on municipal services, including legal clinics, home care, and public housing for those who need them most, yet were the target demographic for Mayor Ford’s Gravy Train campaign. It also complicates travel time in the GTA for citizens do not want to waste half their workday in gridlock, as drivers idle in single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) behind their buses. These diesel buses, as proposed by Mayor Ford, should be Light Rail Vehicles, which are twice as fast, with no emissions, and serve the entire GTA. ‘Transportation City’ is not as efficient or clean as ‘Transit City’, and depends on fossil fuels in a post carbon economy.

Cities, including the GTA, need to become the epicenter of all greening initiatives, as up to 70% of the world will live in urban centers by 2050. It is clear that Mayor Ford will not be able to represent the City of Toronto on the world stage with his backward policies prioritizing cars, subways, and buses. GTA transit infrastructure is 25 years behind international standards already, and his version of fossil-fuel based transit, and expanding highway system, will be considered archaic before it is built. Cuts from federal and provincial corporate tax revenues could have been used to build this transit infrastructure so that TTC riders can get to work, quickly and efficiently without congestion, to their lungs or their workday.

Just as Mayor Ford’s inauguration did on youtube, his self-serving version of Transit City, ‘Transportation City’, will make us a laughing stock internationally. And as other countries build sustainable transit for resilient cities, we will be stuck in traffic, waiting for a change in transit policy and governance. As the economic engine of Canada, this funding is owed to the TTC transit rider more than the tax cuts are owed to the executive class, but it is not seen this way by this corporate glad-handing, three-ring circus.

We need to get to work on Transit City- and right away – so we can go to work.

References:
DON CHERRY and ROB FORD “…for all the PINKOs out there, that ride bicycles…”, posted on youtube.com, December 7, 2010 at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHzCoUZG2Js
Left-wing pinko buttons store at http://spacing.ca/store/buttons/left-wing-pinko-button/
Pembina Report, “Making Tracks Torontonians”, January 5, 2011, at http://www.pembina.org/pub/2151
John Cartwright, The Toronto Star, July 11, 2010
‘Opinion: Cancel corporate tax cuts to deal with deficit’at
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/834317–cancel-corporate-tax-cuts-to-deal-with-deficit
Sean Marshall, TTC holds off on fare increase, service cuts, January 12, 2011 at http://spacingtoronto.ca/2011/01/12/ttc-proposes-fare-increase-service-cuts/ . . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: Stuck in Traffic in Transportation City