Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Letter Home

Hi All,

Here is a story I wrote four years ago just after the 2010 municipal election. It was titled: "Will Burlington's New Council be Transit Friendly?" At the time I was pessimistic about how the 2010-14 Council would do on the Public Transit file.

Midway through this Council term, when I moved away from Burlington, they were cutting routes, moving money out of the capital budget that would pay for new buses, ignoring consultants reports, canning a Steering Committee etc. etc.... Did things get better?

You can read some of my "rantanalysis" from On the Bus ( ,
 a blog I wrote from 2010-12 that focussed on suburban transit - particularly Burlington. Now would seem an appropriate time to ask how the outgoing council did. What do you think? And how will the new council do? There is still a chance to influence that.


                                  Will Burlington's New Council be Transit Friendly?

                                                              (October 29, 2010)

The last one wasn't.

As the election results rolled in on Monday there was speculation at a local watering hole as to whether the new "team" will be better.

One could check out the survey on Community Development Halton's website (

Put together by Poverty Free Halton candidates were asked about their support for transit and canvassed on other issues.

Unfortunately only two of seven victorious Councillors answered.

Rick Craven, who is generally supportive of public transit, responded positively.

Veteran Coucillor John Taylor, who isn't a supporter, continues to demonstrate his lack of understanding of how transit works.

Taylor is disappointed with what he says are poor results " despite millions of dollars invested."

Taylor's analysis runs counter to that of the IBI Group who studied Burlington Transit two years ago.

These transit experts said that:

*Burlington provides a low service level and as a result has low ridership.
*Taxpayers pay less for transit in Burlington than most other cities.
*Burlington Transit needs to significantly increase it service levels.

I'm hoping new Councillors will look at this report (TT 47-08 - Transit Operational Efficiency Review).

Some returning Councillors might benefit from a re-read.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Barriers to Finding Housing - One Senior's Story

(Here is a story I've adapted from one I wrote that originally appeared at
Today we are talking about the barriers faced by one Hamilton senior.  Mary Sinclair spent 18 months trying to find housing that was appropriate for her.

We know Mary.  Over the years, Hamilton Community Legal Clinic staff have worked with her on various advocacy groups and committees.   Last year we were pleased to write about Mary’s much deserved recognition when she received the Diamond Jubilee medal.

Mary’s story of that 18 month housing search made necessary by health challenges  has been documented in a video put together by Anju Joshi and John Kumpunen with help from Denise O’Connor.  It is Mary’s unique story.  However, it is an important one since, as Mary says in the video, “I’m not the only senior in the City.” 

Countless others have faced and are facing the same “brickwall.”

What did Mary find most frustrating during her housing search?..."to be told that such and such is in place but when you try to take advantage of it, it is not there.  It is only ‘on paper' or it is part of ‘future plans." 

We hope you’ll watch the video.  Here is a bit of a spoiler alert. There is a happy ending to this video.

You can find it at

Friday, September 12, 2014

Crazy Town

Robyn Doolittle’s excellent and entertaining book Crazy Town (Penguin Canada) came out earlier this year.

I read it in the spring and wondered at the time about the author’s prediction that her subject, Rob Ford, could win the October election.

In her closing chapter, she suggested it was possible.
As I write today, Ford is in a hospital bed hospitalized.  Not a good spot to run a campaign from, or so it would seem.

However, as the former Star reporter now with the Globe and Mail wrote:
 “…if it were possible to run from prison, I think he would.” 

So, using Doolittle’s logic, the hospital shouldn’t be a problem.

In fact, since Doolittle’s book was released, Ford has had troubles that might have landed other mere mortals in prison.  But, as Doolittle noted his approval ratings are always up after bad publicity.  And, with the help of his goofy Campaign Manager Brother Doug and other members of Ford Nation, it is pretty certain we can expect more bad publicity.

Doolittle’s supports her argument by citing -Bricker and Ibbitson’s book the Big Shift. (The Big Shift: The Seismic Change In Canadian Politics , Business, And Culture And What It Means For Our Future by Darrell I Bricker, John Ibbitson Harper Collins Publishers, 2013)
Here they argue that a lengthy period of conservative rule is coming because of New Canadians moving into metro areas.  These people are more religious and socially conservative and averse to debt. The authors call them “strivers.” 

They want to own a home in a safe neighbourhood as opposed to “creatives." Creatives (who the privileged Fords would likely call "elites") are more concerned with “community supports, the environment and international engagement.”

That’s why Ford and politicians of his ilk will be more and more successful according to the Big Shift.

I took a look at the Big Shift and don’t agree with the authors.  Time will tell, I suppose.

Back to Crazy Town though.
Having followed the sordid Ford saga over the last few years I wondered what I’d find that was new in the book.

Quite a few things actually.  For example:

On telling the truth

Clearly, Rob Ford is challenged in this area.  He comes by it naturally, however, as his father Doug basically airbrushed” his partner out of history as it relates to developing the Deco label business

On ambition

Ford lost in his first attempt at electoral politics.  Was he discouraged?  Was he finished?

After this 1997 loss, a caller to Ford’s mother Diane to offer condolences received this response.

“Oh, no, no, Robbie’s a career politician.’”

On chutzpah

In the 2000 municipal election, the Fords approached 15-year incumbent Gloria Lindsay Luby suggesting that she run in another ward.  They’d even help her.  Lindsay Luby declined.

On my own reading off the public

Doolittle argues that Ford has a “natural gift for reading the public mood.”  Up until now, I haven’t bought this argument.  But at a George Smitherman focus group midway through the 2010 campaign, mayoral candidate Smitherman’s handlers knew their man was done when they got this comment from an attendee:
“If I have to choose between someone who wastes our money and someone who beats their wife, I’ll choose the person who beats their wife.”

On how the media is better able to track down these stories.

The author talks about a 2009 Supreme Court of Canada decision which created “a new defence for libel” that helped and guided the Star in their investigative reporting.

The decision meant that Journalists were permitted to tackle contentious issues where hard evidence was not available if reporters could prove that they:
  • ·         acted professionally
  • ·         did their best to verify info
  • ·         attempted to get both sides of the story.

For Doolittle this all lead to the night of  May 16th 2013 “the day before my life changed forever…..”  Pictures from the famous crack video went public that day.

Toronto politics hasn’t been the same since.  Many hope that after October 27th it will return to pre-Crazy Town days.