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.


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.


Don’t complain to me

Yesterday the Canadian Federation of Labour organized a protest in downtown Toronto.  The purpose was to demand that the government raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour.  It is presently $10.25 and is scheduled to rise to $11 an hour this April.

Sid Ryan, the head of the CFL, in an interview, pointed out that $11 an hour equates to a wage that is 3% below the poverty level.   Boo hoo.

Sid, try this on for size: My Canada Pension, when converted to an hourly rate based on an 8 hour work day, is $6.25 an hour. So, how far below the poverty level does that put me?  Yet I have the same expenses as those people out protesting.  I would love to have a pension equivalent to $10.25 an hour.  Have you given any thought to people who aren’t members of your Federation?  Perhaps you could speak up for them. Oh wait – they’re retired, so you don’t care about them, do you?

To those out protesting, my pension is 60% of what you’re currently earning.  So don’t complain to me.  If I had your income, I’d consider myself very well off.


He’s done it again

Rob Ford, mayor of all subway-loving Torontonians, has starred in another impromptu video.  This time the video was shot at a fast food restaurant and shows Robbie, apparently drunk, but definitely under the influence of alcohol, swearing in Jamaican patois.

He admitted he’d had “a bit” to drink (this after declaring in a press conference that he doesn’t drink) and used as his excuse that he was on his own time, out with friends.  I don’t buy it.  He also dodged the question of who drove him to the restaurant.

Rob Ford is the mayor of Canada’s largest city and should realize that after the fiasco last year was for him – “I do not smoke crack cocaine.”  “Yes, I smoked crack cocaine.” –   that any time he is out in public, he is going to be scrutinized.  The man has a high (no pun intended) profile in Toronto, so whenever he steps out his front door, he is on public display and should behave accordingly.  Perhaps it hasn’t sunk into his alcohol and drug addled brain yet, but politicians give up much of their personal time once elected to office.  The instant they leave home, they are in the public eye and should govern themselves accordingly, especially the chief magistrate of a city.

Once again there are calls for his resignation, and I have to agree.  Neither Mayor Rob, nor his chief apologist and brother, Councillor Doug, deserve to be in politics.  How many times over the past year has Rob denied something, only to later admit it?  How many times over the past year has Doug rushed to his brother’s defence only to be shown to be a fool when Rob later says “well, yeah, I did do that, but I was in a drunken stupor”?

If nothing else, both the brothers Ford are guilty of lying to the electorate.  Now we all realize a certain amount of fudging the truth is found in politics, but these two have raised it to an artform.

Robbie has filed his papers to run for mayor in the next election which is this coming October.  If the people of Toronto have any sense at all, they will see to it that he wasted his filing fees.


The more things change …

This hasn’t been a good month for Canadian cultural icons.  About two weeks ago, it was announced that Honest Ed’s, a Toronto landmark for at least 50 years is for sale.

Honest Ed’s is perhaps the granddaddy of discount stores.  It was founded by Ed Mirvish, who later in life branched into restaurants and theatres in downtown Toronto.  Among his best-known purchases was the Old Vic Theatre in London.  Honest Ed’s was possibly best known for his turkey giveaways every year at Christmas.  I remember being taken to the store many more years ago than I care to count.  Yes, it was crowded, both with people and merchandise, but the prices were good.  And that is what kept people coming back – the savings.

Earlier this week it was announced another icon was on the block.  The Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa is also for sale.  This hotel, which at one time was owned by Canadian Pacific, was host to many international heads of state when visiting Canada.

And finally, yesterday the news programmes and channels carried the story of yet another icon gone, this time to a storm.  Years ago, when the federal government of the day decided Canada should have an official national anthem, “O Canada” was not the only choice.  The unofficial anthem had been a piece called “The Maple Leaf Forever” and it too made the short list.  “The Maple Leaf Forever” was written by a Toronto school principal named Alexander Muir, supposedly inspired by a maple leaf that had fallen from the tree and clung to his coat.  The tree was on Laing Avenue, just east of downtown Toronto.  I remember one day taking my sons along Laing, just to show them the tree and explain its significance in Canadian history.  I’m glad I did.  Last night, that silver maple was blown down during a series of thunderstorms that hit the city.  (That was also the day we drove the length of De Grassi Street just to show the boys there was no school at all on the street despite what the television show said.)

So, there we are – two commercial icons that may end up under foreign ownership; and one icon that may be destined for the woodchipper.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and icons) too.


Oh Robbie, not again

As I’ve written before, I’m glad I don’t live in Toronto and have Rob Ford as mayor.  The mayor where I live is so low-key I’m not even sure of his name.

There are reports on both the CBC News site and the Toronto Star news site this morning that Mayor Robbie was asked to leave a gala event called The Garrison Ball on February 23 because he was intoxicated.  The Star article also mentioned that on Saint Patrick’s day hizzoner was asked to leave an establishment because he was also intoxicated.  And the Star article also mentions there are photos on Twitter of Robbie leaving liquor stores with mickeys of vodka.

Apparently it has been an open secret around city hall that Robbie has trouble with drinking and a couple of attempts to get him help, or into rehab, were rebuffed by Robbie.  Even some of his strongest allies are commenting on his problems with alcohol, pointing to such events as his DUI conviction in Florida in 1999 and an occasion at a hockey game where he drunkenly berated a couple in the stands. He at first denied both the DUI and the hockey game incident, but “remembered” when the press turned up his Florida mug shot; and he later apologized to the couple he had harassed.    In the Garrison Ball incident, his brother, Councillor Doug, claims his brother wasn’t intoxicated.  Strangely neither Robbie nor Doug are available for comment, which would seem to belie the “not drunk” claim.

The Garrison Ball ejection came two weeks before what the Toronto media are referring to as “Assgate”, where Robbie was accused by a woman of groping her while they posed for a photo.  She also claimed he appeared to be under the influence of something.

This man has been a disaster as mayor.  His record is filled with leaving council meetings early to coach highschool football; avoiding 99% of events involving the LGBT community, although Pride Week brings in millions in tourist dollars; using his cellphone while driving (against the law in Ontario) and on at least one occasion, reading while driving at 45 miles per hour on an expressway (his excuse was “I’m a busy man”) and at least two court cases, one of which could have cost him his job.  And just this past Sunday, he called a radio show to make what have been called “prehistoric” comments on a case that at the time was before the courts.  The case is now in the hands of the jury.  And perhaps one of the lowest blows of all, on a trade mission to Chicago, the American press called him “obnoxious”.  Americans unfortunately suffer from the “ugly American” stereotype when they venture beyond their borders, so how bad was Robbie that Americans consider him obnoxious?

Robbie is talking of running for a second term as mayor in, I think, 2015 and could actually win. And that would be disastrous for the city.

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


Bring him to justice – recap

Last August I began a series of posts under the general title “Bring him to justice” following the release of a Public Safety Alert by the Toronto Police Service.  The subject of this PSA was one George Flowers, aka “Mr Flowas”, wanted for aggravated sexual assault.  This man was diagnosed HIV positive in 1996 but neglected to tell his sexual partners, some of whom are now themselves HIV positive.  My interest in this case arises from the fact I know people he dated.

As new verifiable information became available, or as I felt it necessary to respond to comments on postings, I would add another posting to the series. According to the last verifiable report, actually an updated PSA, he was facing twelve charges.  I haven’t added anything over the past couple of months for the simple reason I won’t print rumours.  Oh, I’ve heard stories that he’s been spotted here or there; that he’s being hidden somewhere, or that he’s turned himself in.  But without any confirmation, I won’t print these canards and nobody can confirm the information.  So it doesn’t get printed.  One further reason for that decision, especially the rumour he’s turned himself in, is that it would give false hope to his victims, and their lives are hard enough without me adding to their difficulties.

If you have any information on the present whereabouts of George Flowers, or you wish to add yourself to the list of victims, I urge you to contact Detective Nancy Johnston at the Toronto Police Service, 55 Division, telephone number 416-808-5505.  You can also contact CrimeStoppers anonymously with your information.  According to information from Det Johnston, you don’t have to have been diagnosed positive to file a complaint, just that fact you were with him is enough.

Considering the lack of interest from the mainstream media on this, I feel confident that if something does happen on the search for George Flowers, you’ll read it here first.


On friendship

Eight years ago this month, March 2005, I was earning a living driving a taxi.  March 2005 was a very good month for me.

Just about this time of the month, I met a young lady in the taxi.  I had finished a call and decided to grab a coffee before returning to my preferred cab stand.  I pulled onto the sidestreet that led to the drive-through entrance at my usual Tim Hortons (this is Ontario – of course it was a Timmy’s) when a girl flagged me down.  Coffee is good, but making money is better, so I picked her up.  She told me where she wanted to go and as I turned around, she asked me if I was Cat.  I admitted it and she told me a mutual friend had told her what a fabulous driver I was (her words, not mine).  I gave her my number and she began calling me whenever she needed a taxi. Even though I stopped driving in May of 2005 we remained friends until 2011.  I had a greater income than she, and there were a couple of times she asked to borrow money from me, which I gave her.  One day in July 2011, she asked again, but this time I just didn’t have it.   Never heard from her again.

About a week after I met this first lady, I met another young lady.  The story behind that meeting is this: her cousin, who was a regular customer, asked me to drive her into Toronto to pick up her cousin and bring them both out to my customer’s place for the weekend.  Have you ever met someone and instantly it’s as if you’re old friends who haven’t seen each other in a while?  That’s what it was like with this young lady.  Within five minutes, we  had bonded.  In the eight years since we met, our friendship has deepened to the point we consider each other a confidante. We’ve told each other our deepest, darkest secrets and know they will go no farther. We know each other’s moods and usually know how to lighten them if needed. She truly is my dearest friend.  Perhaps the most amazing part of our friendship is we’ve never argued.  We can discuss anything – politics, religion, you name it – and never argue.  I’m not saying we don’t disagree, but if we do find ourselves heading for words, one of us will end the phone call.  And within ten minutes, we’re on the phone again, potential argument behind us. Sometime this coming week, we’re going to get together and celebrate eight years of friction-free friendship.

Enjoy your day. I hope you are blessed with a similar friendship.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love (and true friendship) too.


He’s at it again apparently

I don’t think Toronto has seen such turbulence in the mayor’s office in its history as the reign of Rob Ford is proving to be.  Mel Lastman had a habit of putting his foot in his mouth on many occasions, but for the most part he managed to keep his misdeeds out of the press.  Of course it was Mel who  called in the army to help deal with that major snow storm  a few years ago.  But I think our Robbie has him beat.

In the past week, I’ve noticed three different reports in the media about his antics, none of which reflect well on the chief magistrate of Toronto.  First, Robbie is apparently still sending out letters to lobbyists and others soliciting funds for his football programmes.  The difference this time is he isn’t using City Hall stationery.  But still, even though these requests are now under the foundation’s letterhead, if you’re someone who has dealings with city hall, or hopes to have dealings with city hall, are you going to risk that by turning down a request that comes over the signature of the mayor?

Sticking with the football, Don Bosco High School has said that Robbie may not be welcome back as coach after an interview he gave.  He apparently made some very derogatory comments about Don Bosco, painting the school as one in which if it weren’t for the football, many of the students would be in jail.  This has been disputed not only by the principal and school board, but by many of the students as well.  It seems that although Robbie never read the conflict of interest guidelines, he did read the page in Mel’s manual about putting your foot in your mouth.

And today, in an article carried by two different news sites, comes an accusation from one of the other mayoral candidates during the election that at one point Robbie not only put his hand on her butt, he also made improper suggestions to her.  His office has obviously issued a statement denying this, but… .  The only real question I have on this is why did she wait until two years into his term before bringing this forward.  I could see her not using it during the campaign, but c’mon now – two years?

Okay, I’ve taken another swipe at Robbie and I feel much better.

Enjoy your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too (just be careful where you put your hands).


Mar 8, 2013 update:  According to a news report, this incident with Robbie’s roaming hands happened last night.   C.

93% isn’t enough

No doubt by now you’ve heard of “the Ikea monkey”, unless of course, you were in a cave somewhere hoping to avoid the apocalypse.

For those who were in caves, first, the world is still here.  Now, about a week ago, a macaque monkey wearing a shearling coat was found roaming free in the parking lot of an Ikea store in north Toronto.  When she was located, the owner was given a ticket for $240 because a Toronto bylaw prohibits owning exotic pets within city limits and Darwin, the monkey, was confiscated and sent to a primate sanctuary northeast of the city.

Yesterday, the owner was in court trying to regain custody of what she refers to as “her son”.  She claims this monkey is part of her family and she has video footage of her and it brushing their teeth together.  Part of the argument put forth, at least in the press if not in court, is that the macaque has 93% human DNA, therefore should be treated as human (or some such thing – I can’t quite follow their logic there).

To my mind, this argument does more for the case of the sanctuary than it does for the owner’s because by stating that 93% figure she, and her husband are acknowledging that this thing isn’t human.

The judge in the case ruled that the monkey must stay at the sanctuary, and offered visitation rights to the owner, subject to certain conditions.  Those conditions, as reported by the media, included no touching and that the police be present during any visits.  That last was at the request of the sanctuary who worried that the owner might try something foolish should she visit.  The offer was rejected by the owner.  This case will be back in court early in the new year for final disposition.  She has said that when she gets this creature back, she will move to Kawartha Lakes, a community about an hour east of Toronto that doesn’t have an exotic pet ban.  At least they don’t yet, but according to news reports, one is on the agenda for the January council meeting.

Whether based on fact, or just a legal tactic I can’t say, but the sanctuary alleged the monkey showed signs of having been abused while in the owner’s home.   There have also been reports that creatures in the care of the sanctuary are also being, or have been, abused as well.

This whole incident has me shaking my head.  First, the owner is apparently a lawyer, but there is no way I’d want her defending me, basing that on her actions and statements during this whole thing.  Second, it is December in southern Ontario.  That means it is cold outside.  So why on earth would this lady (a) take the monkey with her to Ikea and, (b) leave it in an unheated vehicle while she shopped?  She claims this monkey is “her son”.  Would she leave her real kids in the car with no heat while she shopped?  If you’ve been to an Ikea store, you are aware there is no way on this planet you can just pop in for a couple of quick items.  Because of the store layout, even a quick browse is good for at least 30 minutes.  The monkey proved to be smarter than her.  It got out of its cage, then the vehicle, then went searching for someplace warm.

Personal opinion: this is a monkey, an exotic pet that cannot be legally kept in the city of Toronto. Ninety-three percent DNA does not make it human.  She is wasting the court’s time fighting this.  As a lawyer, she should have been aware before she bought the monkey that Toronto did have this ban. I feel no sympathy for her.

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


Just found this news item on the CBC News website from Dec 19.  Sorry lady, but 93% human DNA does not qualify as a “little person”