Babel-on-the-Bay: Arm-wrestling with police services.

Just like Toronto Mayor John Tory, this writer once thought he could make a difference on the local Police Services Board. The boards are made up of elected municipal politicians and citizen appointees. This resolve was strengthened the first time we saw the local Police Services Board chair stand up at City Council to present the police budget. It seemed to make a lie of everything we thought we knew about these boards.

A person appointed by their council or by the province to their police services board does not work for the police. These are the people who are (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: These people can’t even spell ‘Rabbit.’

There is a group in Toronto promoting ranked balloting in municipal elections. They call themselves RaBIT. This means Ranked Ballot Initiative in Toronto. They seem to be also linked to the Fair Vote people—the ones who tell you your vote will not count unless your candidate wins. If it was not for the support of the Toronto Star and their friends at Forum Research, you could just ignore the foolishness.

In the last couple weeks, Forum Research made 950 (completed?) automated telephone calls in Toronto that indicated 65 per cent of whoever answered approved of ranked balloting. And so (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Tory-Wynne Two-Step.

They might not be Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (if you are old enough to remember the era) but Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne have more than voters in common. Tory is a left-leaning Conservative and Wynne is a right-leaning Liberal. And they dance to the same tunes.

Pundits seem surprised at how quickly the Premier is buying into Tory’s SmartTrack proposal. They should not be. Wynne’s Liberals have already bought into the proposition of electrifying the GO trains in the Greater Toronto Area. Tory’s SmartTrack solution can only work with an electrified system as electrified (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Tory takes over in Toronto.

The problem is that we sometimes get what we ask for. On February 10 this year Babel-on-the-Bay was pleased to note that John Tory would be running for mayor of Toronto. The tell-tale signal was that he was sporting a new toupée. That was a most worthwhile investment. It carried him through the campaign in fine style.

But all is not roses.

What we always added to any comments about John Tory was that he is a card-carrying Tory. There was nobody else in the running who could defeat Rob Ford. Olivia Chow’s supporters did her in. And she is (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Why does a culprit pick the judge?

It must be one of those anomalies you come across in the Canadian judicial system. It is justifiable curiosity to wonder why someone as guilty as Chief William Blair of the Toronto Police Service gets to pick the judge to try his co-conspirator Police Superintendant David (Mark) Fenton? The first judge must have been sick from all the B.S. he was subjected to. This second choice judge seems to make a mockery of the process.

But why are Canadians being so damn quiescent? Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is far guiltier of exceeding his authority than Supr. Fenton. Making (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: My Goodbye to Local Politics (for now)

I had meant to read a statement at last night’s final meeting of Collingwood Council, but I misplaced my printout between the time I left home and the meeting’s start. I remembered most of it, but may have missed a few words. Here’s an edited version of what I said with some notes from what […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Before You Become a Politician

No, this isn’t about me. This is about federal politics. I never had an inclination for higher levels of politics, those other arenas, other battles, nor the lofty separation of politician from the electorate such roles entail. But some of it is relevant to those who want to enter municipal politics; indeed to all levels of […]

Babel-on-the-Bay: What about Blair’s role at the G20?

Are Canadians supposed to believe that Toronto police Chief Bill Blair is just an unindicted co-conspirator in the illegal actions of the Toronto police during the G20 in Toronto in 2010? It is somewhat late for him to claim that he did not know that he was breaching the rights of Canadian citizens during the police actions of that dreadful weekend. Simply getting rid of Blair is not the answer.

Toronto Police Superintendant David (Mark) Fenton is currently the only senior officer charged and is now before a tribunal under the Police Services Act. He is charged with five acts (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: An Open Letter to Janet Fraser
Dear Janet Fraser,
First of all, let me start by congratulating you on your school board election victory this past Saturday. I voted for you enthusiastically, as I did your running mate Mischa Oak and the rest of the Green Party team on the city council and park board slates. It is truly gratifying to see a Green set to hold the balance of power on one of Vancouver’s three elected municipal bodies.
Which brings me to my main reason for writing today. School board is scheduled to select a chairperson on December 8. I don’t know what direction you (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: Some Thoughts on the Vancouver Election … Plus Endorsements! a week and a half to go before voting day in municipalities across British Columbia, the campaign here in Vancouver seems to have devolved into a veritable hatefest against two-term mayor and eccentric juice magnate Gregor Robertson.

There is nothing surprising about that. Incumbents (a.k.a. the sinister hands currently at the controls of Big Government) typically draw vitriol like no others during election season. Yet for all the negative attention received by the mayor and his Vision Vancouver party at all-candidates meetings and in the opinion pages, for all the foaming at the mouth over towers and (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Wynne wins in Toronto shoot-out.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne pulled it off. She got her candidate into the mayor’s chair in Toronto. Despite disturbing early tabulations, John Tory emerged as the peoples’ choice for mayor. And if you did not know that John Tory was Wynne’s choice, what do you think her aide Tom Allison was doing in Tory’s campaign headquarters? And was there really any other choice but John Tory?

Torontonians need to remember always that the city is a creature of the province. It is not separate. It does not do its own thing. The past four years of Rob Ford was an (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Ottawa attack, Municipal Election Day, LPCO weekend

That title pretty well sums up my post today. In order of title:

I’ve waited for a few days before deciding to comment on the Ottawa attack where a shooter killed an unarmed Canadian solider and then stormed Parliament, wounding a security officer before he himself was killed by the Seargant-At-Arms, Kevin Vickers (whose 2 minute standing ovation in Parliament still gets my throat in a lump – someone needs to sponsor the “Kevin Vickers gets free drinks in bars for the rest of his life” act). Obviously, this was a heinous act, and I think Parliament needs to strengthen (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Modern Take on Gorgias

Plato’s dialogue Gorgias is mostly about the difference between content and form. Or rather it’s about how Socrates saw the difference between philosophy – content and truth – and rhetoric – form and words. Both of which are practiced and studied today in much different forms from what they were in ancient Greece. But the […]

Babel-on-the-Bay: Discrimination in municipal voting.

You know you are a second-class citizen in Ontario if you are a tenant and have moved since last time you voted in a municipal election. The municipal people across Ontario explain it simply: if you are a tenant, you are responsible to register to vote. If you are a real property owner, you are on the tax rolls and you are automatically on the voters’ list.

This situation is hardly an improvement over the time when the federal and provincial electoral officers hired enumerators before each election to create the voters’ lists. Even the city was enumerated by the (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Crito: Doing What’s Right

In his dialogue, Crito, Plato has Socrates gently admonish his friend, Crito, for his concern over what the uneducated public might think, or might spread by rumour and gossip, and encourages him instead to focus his attention on those ‘reasonable people’ who know the facts and in doing what is right: “Why, my dear Crito, should we pay […]

Babel-on-the-Bay: Checking back on the Morning Line for Toronto.

This is a repeat of Babel-on-the-Bay’s entry of September 4 this year. It has been an overly long and arduous municipal campaign for Toronto voters and candidates. As we always used to say to our campaign workers: Vote early…and often!

This mayoralty contest has been an uphill battle for broadcaster John Tory. His instinct was right last year when it was obvious that he saw no redemption for him in going after the mayor’s job. The people who convinced him to run were also right.

Toronto needs John Tory more than John Tory needs the city. He is a businessman (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Logical Fallacies

Last night at council I referred to seeing what I believed was a post hoc fallacy in a report, or more properly a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Yeah, I probably annoyed some folks in the audience because I used Latin words and that confused them. But hey, they already think I’m a jerk because […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Collingwood in the Top Ten

There’s a story in today’s Financial Post that is headlined, “Collingwood’s debut in top 10 on ranking of business friendly cities is no accident.” No accident at all, as anyone on council, in staff or who follows local politics knows. We’ve worked hard to get to this. We deserve it. We told you during the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The mote and the beam

“Hide witch hide, the good folks come to burn thee; Their keen enjoyment hid behind a Gothic mask of duty.” Jefferson Starship: Mau Mau (Blows Against the Empire, 1970) I was thinking about those lines recently. They seemed appropriate given the events in town since last spring. I was also thinking about what Gord Hume […]

Babel-on-the-Bay: Entering the end game in municipal politics.

Political apparatchiks can get into endless arguments about how best to handle the end game in a municipal campaign. The key question is in setting priorities. You will never seem to have enough workers to do the ground job. So what takes precedence? It is a question John Tory, Olivia Chow and the Ford brothers must be asking themselves as their campaigns go into the end game.

What are the chances, for example, for a good roorback? A roorback is an American political invention in that it is something scurrilous about your opponent that you disseminate when is too late (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Montaigne on Friendship, Liars and Politics

“I am seeking the companionship and society of such men as we call honourable and talented,” wrote Michel de Montaigne in his essay, On the Three Kinds of Social Intercourse (Book III, 3). “It is, when you reflect on it, the rarest of all our forms…” Montaigne was musing in his essay and others on […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Best of Times

I was overcome this weekend with an urge to re-read Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities. I suspect it’s because of its brilliant, powerful opening. That opening epitomizes for me Collingwood’s municipal election and the dichotomy between the two camps: positive versus negative. It was the best of times, it was the worst […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Lessons From the Campaign Trail

I always learn something new, something valuable from every municipal election campaign. I learn from talking to people, I learn from community meetings. I learn from comments and emails I receive. I learn from other candidates, too – there are often good ideas proposed that can be developed by council later. Each election campaign has been a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Carrier’s Attack Ad

Former mayor Chris Carrier has a big, nasty attack ad in the Connection this weekend. He promises “facts” and attacks the current mayor’s “spin.” But any reader who has followed the debate over the real figures for the town debt knows it’s quite the opposite. You weren’t fooled, were you, dear reader? I didn’t think […]