Thursday, August 28, 2008

Trust The People

Today is the anniversary of the death of the first mayor of Toronto.
William Lyon Mackenzie died August 28, 1861. He was 66.

Remembered as an insurgent and a bit of a nutbar he was captured in Dennis Lee’s poem 1838:

“Mackenzie was a crazy man.
He wore his wig askew.
He donned three bulky overcoats
in case the bullets flew.”

But Mackenzie fought against the Family Compact and for people’s rights to have a say in government. I’ve written before about the way Mackenzie, a journalist, worked to put information into the hands of the people. (See my blog posting on Tuesday January 2/07 or better John Sewell has written Mackenzie, A Political Biography of William Lyon Mackenzie (James Lorimer and Company, 2002)

Mackenzie believed in trusting people to make the right decisions if they were given adequate information.

Ultimately Mackenzie felt the need to take up arms – not very effectively – as we know. Lee again:

"Mackenzie talked of fighting
While the fight went down the drain.
But who will speak for Canada?
Mackenzie, come again!”

An interesting thought. If Mackenzie were to come again what would you think of the state of local democracy in Toronto?

I imagine he’d be reconvening the boys at Montgomery’s Tavern over Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone comments recorded earlier this year in the Toronto Star.

On the issue of solid waste Pantalone said:

“You need to understand issues like that. They’re very complex. It would be better that we discuss these issues in private.”

Please Mackenzie, come again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


There are RATS in Burlington. I know that for a fact.

And they have them in Ajax too. Ajax, located east of Toronto, is a town of about 90,000 and bills itself as a vibrant and caring community.

These Ajax and Burlington RATS differ from the despised rodent (rattus norvegicus.) Have you noticed those people who get hot and bothered about public transit vehicles; those who Rail Against Public Transit? They’re RATS. Get it?

RATS in Ajax are pained over Durham Transit Route 222 according to the Toronto Star’s Urban Affairs Reporter Carola Vyhnak.

Without boring you with all the details I am struck by the similarity to RATS in our community who rail against transit services in their neighbourhoods and most particularly on their streets.

Sandra Cassidy is quoted extensively in Vyhnak’s piece and I’ll share Ms Cassidy’s insights with you. Like all RATS she knows that:

*Buses are “mostly empty.”

*Buses roaring down her street are a “safety hazard.”

*Since “everyone in the area has at least two cars” we don’t really need public buses, do we?

If you have the misfortune of living on a bus route and even in you live in “the only custom built home in a very special subdivision” you’ll need to close your windows “because of the smell and the noise.” And don’t plan on picking up home improvement ideas from the Home and Garden Network. You “can ‘t even hear the TV” on these means streets. Oh, the horror.

RATS don’t like to sound like they’re bragging but typically “have more influence than the average person.” So let’s not fret but rather rest assured that the necessary reforms will be enacted and the bus pulled off the Ms. Cassidy’s street before inflicting further pain and suffering.


In the unlikely event that Route 222 isn’t cancelled I’m thinking we ought to create gated communities for these RATS. These gated communities could lock from the outside and the RATS could live happily ever after without having to see a smelly old bus. And I’m sure they’ll be happy to live their lives free of other government services too.