Decisions, decisions, decisions

I am really starting to be concerned about the future of the Province of Ontario for the next four years. On June 7, the citizens of Ontario will elect a new Premier (our version of a state governor).

The leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is Doug Ford, brother of the late mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. When Doug was a city councillor during his brother’s term as mayor, he proved himself to be a bully toward other councillors and had some very different views. Among his pronouncements was an idea to close libraries to save money. Apparently Doug had never read a book and could see no reason why anybody should. Another instance that springs to mind was his opposition to a proposal to put a home for autistic children and young adults in his neighbourhood. His objections to this proposal were that it would lower property values in the area and that these people would be allowed outside.

Doug Ford has said he admires Donald Trump and some of his ideas and comments during this election campaign so far seem to show he’s taken a page from the Trump campaign playbook. (In comments on Facebook, I’ve referred to him as “Trump North”.) Like Trump, Doug likes to portray himself as “a man of the people”, but he counts his wealth in the millions. He claims he can save the province billions by finding “efficiencies”. No plan, no exact amounts disclosed, just “efficiencies. Sound familiar to my American readers? Figures pulled out of thin air, proposals to reduce business taxes, all the while not revealing how exactly he’s going to save this money that won’t involve raising taxes and cutting people. During a leadership debate yesterday, in response to a question on hiring immigrants to work in northern Ontario, Doug said “We should take care of our own first.” I think I heard all this stuff sometime during the 2016 presidential campaign in the US. According to the polls, Doug Ford and the PC party are leading by about a 14 point margin, so obviously there are people who like what he has to say. Oh yes – one more thing. It is tradition that the party leaders also provide a press bus. Doug isn’t doing so which is one way of controlling what the media reports on his campaign.

There is one thing that gives me hope he won’t be able to run unfettered over Ontario. In Canada, both federally and provincially, the leader of the party must win a seat in the legislature. Doug is running in a riding (electoral district for my American readers) that includes the city ward the Ford family considers a fiefdom and is the headquarters of “Ford Nation”, so it seems unlikely he will lose. But, in the Canadian political system, both federally and provincially, there are three major parties, In Ontario those parties are the Progressive Conservatives, led by Doug Ford; the Liberal Party of Ontario, led by Kathleen Wynne, the current Premier, and the New Democratic Party led by Andrea Horwath. This is what gives me hope. With three major parties and only a fourteen point lead, it appears to me that if Doug does become the next Premier of Ontario, he will have a minority government. Having the most seats will make him Premier, but not having a clear majority of those seats means he’ll have to offer some concessions to the other two parties to get legislation passed.

Personally, I have no idea at the moment how I’m going to vote. As I wrote, Doug Ford scares me. While Andrea Horwath and the NDP are saying some interesting things, the last time the NDP formed the provincial government during the ‘90’s, they almost destroyed the province. Auntie Kathleen and Liberals are also saying nice things, but they also have had some problems during their reign. Further complicating my decision is that the MPP for my riding, a Liberal, was of great help to me when I had some problems with my documents a couple of years ago. So, do I vote for the local representative who helped me as a form of reward for his help, knowing the spotty record of his party, the NDP who did so much damage in the past, or take a chance Doug won’t turn out to be a Trump clone?

I have about three weeks to decide, so I’ll be paying close attention to both the provincial and local campaigns.

I don’t care if you vote PC, NDP, Liberal, Green or some other party. But, on June 7, you must vote.

Cat.

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Je suis Charlie

The horrific terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today was an attack on free speech everywhere. Why so? Can you honestly believe the vicious nature of this attack won’t make journalists everywhere consider what they write, or in the case of editorial cartoonists draw, before submitting it for publication?

Those of us who write blogs here on WordPress or other sites are usually anonymous unless we choose to reveal our identities. Some of us use that anonymity to take shots at various institutions that others may consider sacrostant. We rely on our avatars and screen names to keep us safe from retribution and use filters to prevent adverse or threatening comments from appearing following our offerings.

The journalists and artists at Charlie Hebdo didn’t have that privilege. When you publish a newspaper, of any type, your name appears on your copy. I understand from news reports that Charlie Hebdo made a habit of aggravating the Muslim community to the extent the office was firebombed in 2011. Today’s massacre seems to have been the culmination of that aggravation, especially considering the murderers were heard yelling (in French) “we have avenged the Prophet Mohammed” and, in Arabic, “Allahu akbar”.

Like it or not, or accept it or not, we bloggers are journalists reporting on the vagaries of life around us. Sometimes we talk about major events – in my case I had great fun ripping into the former mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford and I have received much praise for my on-going series “Bring him to justice” – and sometimes it’s just the little things that irk us personally. But in any case, we are reporting on news for the benefit of others.

There have been many vigils around the world tonight in honour of the staff of Charlie Hebdo. Many people are holding up pens and signs reading “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). Take a few moments after you read this to honour the memory of these people, our fellow journalists, who paid the ultimate price for freedom of speech.

Cat.

The name’s the same

Yesterday Rob Ford, Mayor of all subway-loving Torontonians, withdrew from the seemingly never-ending election campaign for personal reasons.   Earlier in the week, he was admitted to hospital where a tumour was found in his abdomen.  The results of a biopsy are expected next week.

Now, pay attention here, for there may be a quiz later.  Rob Ford, the current Mayor has withdrawn from the race for Mayor.  Current city councillor Doug Ford, Robbie’s big brother, decided to be Rob’s campaign manager rather than run for reelection in Ward 2. A nephew of Robbie, Michael Ford, was running in Ward 2. Here is where it gets complicated (or weird – your choice): Doug yesterday evening, announced his intention to run for Mayor in his brother’s place (more on this later).  Rob decided that rather than leave municipal politics all together, he will run for city councillor in Ward 2.  This was the ward he represented for 10 years before being elected Mayor.  Nephew Michael has withdrawn from the race for city council in Ward 2 and will instead run for school trustee.

Now, Doug has several problems.  First, the election is about six weeks away, so he’s getting a late start (the campaign officially began in January, hence my “never-ending” comment.  He cannot use Rob’s campaign war chest, but must raise his own money.  Neither can he use Rob’s campaign office, but must find his own.  It seems the only bright spot for Doug is that he can use Rob’s “Ford for Mayor” campaign signs.

Interviews conducted by local media seem split.  Some people – usually members of what is called “Ford Nation”,  those who have blindly followed Robbie – believe Doug will do just as good as Robbie.  Those who think believe he would be worse than this brother.

Based on what I’ve seen of City Councillor Doug Ford over the past four years, I personally think he would be just as much a disaster as Chief Magistrate of Toronto as was Rob.  Doug seems to be more of a loose cannon than was Rob.  For example, a man filed a complaint against Doug over some comments he made regarding a group home for autistic children.  Doug claimed the home had “ruined”the neighbourhood where the house was located and called all the residents “criminals”.  All of this without proof of course, as seems to be standard operating procedure for the Brothers Ford.  The man who filed the complaint is the father of an autistic child and felt Doug’s comments unfairly maligned the residents.  Doug’s response was to tell the man to go to hell.  Doug appears to shoot from the lip, often insulting reporters and the public without justification or even reason,

I sincerely hope Toronto voters come to their senses and see that four more years of having a Ford as mayor will be a disaster of the first magnitude.  But, he won’t be releasing a platform until Monday at the earliest so we’ll have to wait to see if he’ll be his own man or Rob Ford the second.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist, we need love too.

Cat.

One final thought: The biopsy on Rob’s tumour is about a week away, yet to hear Doug, he seems to think it will be cancerous.  At least that’s the impression Doug’s comments about chemotherapy would give.

I told very few people, but last December, I had to have a tumour removed from my stomach.  Nobody went around talking about chemotherapy or anything like that.  My friends and family adopted an attitude of “we’ll wait and see what the biopsy says, then deal with it.”  Wouldn’t that be a more sensible attitude for Doug as well?   Oh, silly me – I used “sensible” and the name of a Ford in the same sentence.

C.

I don’t believe him

Toronto mayor Rob Ford returned to office after two months in rehab, as I had predicted, the day after World Pride ended. In a press conference, at which he took no questions, we were once again treated to his “I’m so, so very sorry” speech. He’s used that speech so many times in the past he should make a recording of it and use that at press conferences. And I don’t believe it anyway.

On July second, he did an interview with CBC reporter Dwight Drummond regarding his substance abuse – the alcohol and the drugs. He admitted he’s had a long term problem with both. Some questions he declined to answer, citing instructions from his lawyer. When asked about his misogynist, homophobic and racist comments, he put the blame on his addictions. Robbie, does the phrase in vino veritas mean anything to you? That translates roughly as “in wine lies truth”.

There are two schools of thought on this. One holds that under the influence of intoxicating substances, a person may say things they normally wouldn’t express and don’t mean.

The other school holds that the intoxicant lessens or removes one’s inhibitions and thoughts they would normally keep hidden are expressed openly. In my opinion, this seems to be the case for Robbie. Why else would he have avoided the Pride celebrations every single year since he was elected. This is an event that brings millions of tourist dollars into the city, yet he is, or appears to be, so homophobic he won’t associate with it.

The argument has been put forth that people under the influence of an intoxicant shouldn’t be held responsible for what they say. Sorry, I can’t buy that. Unless those thoughts were already present in your mind, why would you suddenly formulate and spout such filth and garbage when you’re drunk or high?

But, Robbie is back at work and campaigning for the next election in October – for now. The most generous people I’ve spoken with give it a month before another drunken video turns up. Most say two weeks. And, being Robbie, he will ignore all questions about it and finally issue another “I’m so, so sorry” speech. And he will continue to ignore calls for his resignation. So it will be up to the people of Toronto to hand him his walking papers in late October.

Cat.

The timing is suspicious

As I wrote on May 1 in “It’s about time”, Toronto mayor Rob Ford has been in rehab. Today he announced he will return to work on June 30.

I find the timing of this somewhat suspicious. Keep in mind that our Robbie has never attended any event involving the LGBT community, except on one occasion he raised the rainbow flag for IDAHOT, during his term as chief magistrate. World Pride is being held in Toronto this year and coincidentally, it ends June 29. While he claims not to be homophobic, some of his recorded comments and his failure to attend any event related to Pride seem to indicate otherwise. His usual excuse for not being at Pride is that it is a family tradition that they go to the cottage the weekend of the pride parade. At least this year, he can use his time in rehab as the reason.

Toronto holds an annual Caribbean festival in early July. Robbie has never missed this festival and since he is returning on the last day of June, he will once again be able to attend (and probably make a fool of himself as usual).

Every mayor since Mel Lastman, who admitted he wasn’t sure about the parade but later said he’d had “a blast”, has taken part in the parade, riding on a float and spraying the crowds with a supersoaker. Actually, since the parade is usually on one of the hottest days of the summer, that could be considered s public service. But not Robbie. For him, jumping up along a parade route holds more appeal than riding the parade route on a float surrounded by “queers”.

Ah well, civic elections are coming up in October and if Toronto is really smart, they will kick the buffoon to the curb.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat

About time

Last night, Rob Ford, the mayor of all subway-loving Torontonians, finally admitted he has a problem with alcohol and some of his decisions while under the influence. He announced he would be taking a 30 day leave of absence to seek treatment. If you’ve read my previous postings, you know I am not a fan of Robbie and while I’m glad to see him finally ‘fess up to his substance abuse, I’m suspicious of the timing.

One of the Toronto papers, The Globe and Mail, claims to have seen another video of Robbie apparently smoking crack and showed three screen grabs from that video. This video was apparently taken very early last Saturday morning in the basement of his sister’s home. Another paper, the Toronto Sun, claims to have an audio recording made Monday night in one of Robbie’s local bars. In this recording, someone we are told is Rob Ford is heard making misogynist comments about a female candidate for mayor as well as comments about his wife.

In the past, when tapes come out, such as last year when the first crack tape was revealed, Robbie just ignored the whole thing – for six months. Only when the Toronto Police Service announced they had a copy of that tape did Robbie admit to having smoked crack. He has used this “ignore it and it will go away” tactic several times over the past year, but this time he is in the middle of his re-election campaign, so that won’t work. My personal opinion is that this “leave of absence” is in actuality nothing more than him running away from his problems. In an interview on one of the Toronto television stations, a reporter who was involved in breaking the first crack tape story stated that even though the mayor is taking 30 days off, the reporter fully expected to be having the same discussion in 60 days.

I certainly hope the mayor is serious about getting professional help, but I’m curious what that help will be for – he only mentioned the alcohol problems and completely ignored the crack.
Rob Ford’s absence at city hall will have no effect on running the City of Toronto for he was stripped of most of his powers months ago and the deputy mayor, Norm Kelly, has been running things. So, if Robbie needs more than 30 days, I suggest he take it.

Cat.

His brother’s keeper

The Ford Follies continue and once again little brother City Councillor Doug is rushing to the defence of big brother Mayor Robbie.  And once again, Doug is looking like an idiot in doing so.

First, this past weekend, Rob, mayor of all subway-loving Torontonians,  was in Vancouver on personal business.  While there, our Robbie got himself a $109 ticket for jaywalking.  According to articles I have read, Robbie walked into traffic on Lougheed Highway.  This roadway, as the name would imply, isn’t some sleepy sidestreet.  I’ve been to Van and Lougheed Highway is probably the last location in the Greater Vancouver Area I’d choose for jaywalking.  In an interview with CBC News, one lady said some people just ran out in front of her and has she been going any faster, she would have hit them.  Another article stated that the authorities are concerned over the number of vehicle/pedestrian incidents and have asked the police to crack down on jaywalking in the area Robbie was nabbed.  This all makes sense.

According to Doug, who is letting his paranoia show again, his brother was targeted.   Um, Doug?  Everybody who crosses the street illegally in that area is being targeted, not just  your brother.  Unless of course you think that Bill Blair (Toronto Chief of Police and someone with whom the brothers Ford have a less than cordial relationship) called his counterpart in Vancouver and asked for a “favour”.  In fact, I’m rather surprised Doug didn’t suggest exactly that.

Second, in a debate of all the mayoral candidates last night, when asked, Robbie said he wouldn’t be attending World Pride in Toronto this coming summer.  Again, he’ll be at the family cottage, but you can bet money on Robbie being in the city the weekend following Pride for the Caribana festival (or whatever they call it now).

Once again, we have Doug rushing to defend his brother, stating that his brother is not homophobic.  Uh-huh.  Since being elected mayor, Robbie has consistently avoided any event that even remotely seems part of the LGBT community, the sole exception being the raising of the flag on IDAHO last year.  And I wouldn’t doubt that was only through a misunderstanding on his part – “Idaho , that’s one of the states isn’t it?  Yeah sure.”  During his first year as mayor, Robbie was even offered the use of a helicopter to fly him from the cottage to the Pride parade and turned it down.  The man may not admit to being homophobic, but as the adage puts it “actions speak louder than words”.

As for Doug, you would think he learned his lesson last fall when he was vigorously defending his brother (“my brother does not use drugs”) while across town Robbie is admitting to having smoked crack cocaine.  Doug looked as if he’d been hit by a truck when he heard that one.  Doug, your brother is an adult, well – he’s reached the age of majority – so let him handle his own messes before he drags you down as well.

Cat.