Author

admin

Browsing

Building community

The Women’s Post office is a hub of activity, but unlike most media companies our work revolves around the stories we write and the charity work that our publisher, Sarah Thomson, is focused on at Civic Alliance and the Transit Alliance. Readers will notice that while we carry the usual fashion and passion stories we also write about city building – creating strong healthy communities. We believe that the future is shaped by the passion and commitment we put into building community and that each one of us has a duty to give back to the community. And we hope that you the reader can share in our passion.

This year the Transit Alliance is working on a series of seminars focused on educating our public servants at the municipal level with the goal in to update the entrenched procedures and processes that are no longer competitive or productive. The focus will be to share new ideas, and new ways to structure our large infrastructure projects in order to ensure efficiencies.

To that end our first seminar on Feb. 16, 2016 will involve a lot of terrific infrastructure leaders donating their times to moving our region forward. With the help of terrific leaders like Bert Clark, CEO of Infrastructure Ontario and Bruce McCuaig, CEO of Metrolinx who are both committed to building our communities. Tickets are available here.

The Transit Alliance will once again host the Toronto Region Vision Summit in April our goal is to develop a 50 year vision for the entire region. If you would like to take part early-bird tickets are now on sale here.

The Transit Alliance is also working on a series of education campaigns. Each campaign is focused on a key issue essential to unlocking gridlock and creating stronger and safer communities. The campaigns cover the need to fund infrastructure with user fees like tolls; the importance of the smart relief subway line; and updating our safety standards for road hardware and making our roads safer.  If you would like to help the Transit Alliance, or take part in our initiatives, please become a member here.

This year Civic Alliance will be focused on educating the public on the environment and the importance of lowering our carbon footprint in housing, as well as the use of electric vehicles.

We hope you enjoy the work we are doing and will join us in our effort to build a safer, stronger Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Summer Must Have: Jumpsuits

Sometimes it can take hours trying to find the perfect shirt to go with your pants. But don’t worry, the fashion world is here to save you. The jumpsuit, which became popular a few years ago, has come back for another season. Immerse yourself in style and comfort and embrace the onesie-like feel. Because it’s trendy and we like it!

Now you just need a pair of shoes to match.

Lace sleeveless jumper

Romper with Lace Detail / Combishort avec Dentelle

It’s got lace detail, so it’s girly, but it’s polyester, so it’s comfy. Perfect for lazy days when you still want to look pretty.

Available at Jacob.

 

Jumpsuit

This interesting printed number will look great with a pair of bright strappy sandals or wedges. Grab a wide brimmed hat and step out for some fun in the sun- boho style.

Available at H&M.

Zigzag print long jumpsuit

Zigzag print long jumpsuit | MANGO

This is a great summer work outfit. Classy yet cool. Pair with a blazer for a more polished look.

Available at Mango.

 

Crochet playsuit

Okay, the name sounds like a mix of an old lady and a toddler, but the outfit is kicking fun. It would look great at a summer party.

Available at Topshop.

The Gardiner Expressway Analysis

With the debate heating up around what to do about the Gardiner Expressway the Women’s Post encourages all city councilors to break free of political alliances and study the issue that will shape Toronto well into the future.  The decision to support the Boulevard or Hybrid options ties into so many other questions.
Does the decision to rebuild the East Gardier today lead to rebuilding rest of the crumbling expressway with a cost estimate of close to $2 Billion?  
How much more will it cost taxpayers to maintain an elevated highway  in comparison to maintaining a boulevard?
Why are major cities taking down their elevated highways on their waterfronts?
The truck association claims that their drivers won’t use the Gardiner Expressway – Don Valley Parkway route if a boulevard replaced the elevated highway — how many trucks will stop using it and will it speed up travel times for commuters?
Below are the pros and cons around the Gardiner Expressway issue.
 The Boulevard Option pros:
– push truck traffic away from the Gardiner and DVP – helping to alleviate gridlock on those highways
– save the city close to $500 million in initial cost and millions more in future maintenance
– reclaim the waterfront and add 12 more acres than the Hybrid option offers
– more reclaimed land creates more tax dollars for the city
– Toronto health believes it is the healthier choice for the citizens of Toronto 
– experts like Jan Gehl call for tear down of Gardiner East to enhance the waterfront
– make Toronto competitive with other world class cities that have taken down their elevated waterfront highways
The Boulevard Option cons:
– disrupt truck and freight traffic using the Gardiner Expressway – Don Valley Parkway route
– add 2-3 minutes in commute times for drivers
 The Hybrid Option pros:
– enable truck traffic to continue using both the Gardiner and DVP
– allow a continuous route along the waterfront
– maintain the same travel time for commuters
– trucking industry support
 The Hybrid Option cons:
– cause more pollution in the core
– cost more to build and maintain pushing costs onto our children and grandchildren
– smaller amount of reclaimed land will limit future tax intake for the city
– health risks for residents of  Toronto
– less competitive than other world class cities that are taking down their elevated waterfront highways to open up their waterfront to development
– increases the likelihood of Toronto having to rebuild entire Gardiner Expressway at estimated cost of $2 billion

[socialpoll id=”2275806″]

A letter from Jerusalem

*From the Archives March 2000

By Barry Allen

The Jews are in Israel because it is the ancestral home of their people. To call modern Israel a colonist regime is the simplistic propaganda her enemies resort to when they want to pander to the leftist sentiments of Western intellectuals. Colonists come from somewhere else (their original home), and take over another people’s land. That’s what the English and French did in North America, the Spanish and Portugese in South America, the Dutch and Germans in Africa, and so on. Israel is not like that. Jews have come back to their original home, a land from which they were expelled time and again by invading would-be colonists — Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Arab, Turk.

The establishment of the State of Israel by the UN in 1948 is one of the few really decent things to come out of the dismally disappointing twentieth century. It did not have to make refugees of the Arab population. They were offered a state of their own, on half of the territory, and they turned it down, calculating that they could expel the Jews by force and have all of Mandate Palestine for themselves. They were wrong. They lost the war they started. They tried again in 1967, and again in 1973, and lost each time.

Usually, when aggressor nations start wars and lose them, they accept defeat and negotiate a settlement. In the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict this familiar expectation is inexplicably suspended. Instead, the Arabs now use a cynical combination of terror and faithless negotiation to try to win everything they lost, three times over, from wars they started.

Even more inexplicable is the support this perfidious tactic wins from the world community. In the eyes of much of the world, Israel can do nothing right, and the Palestinians can do nothing wrong (or very bad). They are under occupation, so, of course, they may resort to terror and refuse to compromise in negotiations. The Israelis won wars they didn’t start, and have prospered and become faithful Western allies. So, of course, they must be in the wrong.

Palestinians have reasonable claims against Israel. If they would only press their reasonable claims, they could get a deal. Instead, they stick to the same uncompromising, maximalists demands that cost them their own state in 1939, 1948, and last summer. The present Palestinian leadership is either unable or unwilling to do what it takes to get a real agreement. All they know how to do is repeat the same old demands — demands, in effect, that the Jews abandon the land they defended in three wars, and turn it over to those who lost the wars they started.

Israel deserves the world’s support. Anyone who thinks a rock is not a lethal weapon should stand in an open place and be a slingshot target. Those outraged (from a comfortable distance) at fatalities when Israel Defense Forces encounter rock-throwing gangs (often shielding gunmen) should try, not just aiming for, but striking the legs and not the upper body of a running youth trying to throw a rock at their face. Those shocked that Israel should target known terrorists for preemptive liquidation probably don’t put their children on bulletproof school buses every morning in countries where terrorists deliberately target not just civilians but children on the way to or from school.

The tanks were loud last night. A lot of artillery falling on the Arab Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Jala. The morning newspaper carried a photograph of a distraught Arab woman standing amid the ruins of her blasted home. It is sickeningly sad. But it is simplistic, irresponsible, even morally offensive to blame Israel.

Why were the tanks firing? Because for five months that house and others have been sniper nests, firing on Jewish homes, and enforcing a reign of terror on the neighborhood across the valley. Is artillery a disproportionate response? Unfortunately, a stiffly-worded letter to Arafat would achieve no more than to lighten the mood in his Gaza office. What else, exactly, is Israel supposed to do? What would you want your government to do if the people across the street began to shoot into your living room every night, or snipping at your children as they boarded the bus? If their response to efforts at negotiation was to demand that you pack up and leave so they could have your house?

Tomorrow I leave Israel after a four month stay, traveling first to Egypt, then elsewhere in the Middle East. People here say I’m leaving at the right time. Almost everyone expects the situation to worsen, and soon. I would stay if I could. Since I can’t, I write this letter instead, to urge readers to press past the simplistic and often grossly one-sided media coverage of the intifada. Ask yourself whether Israel isn’t right to defend itself against terror. Ask what you would do if your children’s lives were on the line. And whether the Jews do not have as good a claim as anyone to return to their original home from the longest diaspora of refugees in the history of the world.

Explanations behind the mystery tunnel

As Toronto’s baffled police try to uncover who is behind the mystery tunnel that appeared just south of York University, the Women’s Post has compiled a list of 5 possible explanations for the tunnel.

1. Rob Ford decided to dig the Scarborough subway extension himself , and has once again demonstrated that he has no idea where the actual Scarborough subway is supposed to go.

2. Mayor John Tory was looking for a “pot of gold” to fund his Smart Track plan, and heard that the Pan Am games might have some funds hidden in a chest near the Rexall Tennis Centre.

3. It was created to hold a new weather machine that will bring warmer temperatures to Toronto. The machine was stolen…

4. Next film location for shooting the Shades of Grey sequel.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs plan to use it as a hide-out to avoid possible lynching.

Jerusalem: In search of identity

By Gabriel Levin

“The eyes of all the Jews in the world praying right now are on you”. Our tour guide Yuval is explaining how Jews all across the world face the Western Wall when they pray. Our group of 39 young adults from across Canada are in Jerusalem on the third day of our Birthright Israel trip. The program Birthright Israel sends young Jews between 18 and 26 from all over the world to Israel for free.

Despite being afraid of tour groups, my addiction to travel, as well as a curiosity to see Israel, could not let me pass up a free trip. The people who fund Birthright do so in order to create a link between the Jews in the Diaspora and Jews in Israel. My own Jewish roots are complex. I grew up religious and was immersed completely in Judaism. My friends were all Jewish, my school was Jewish, my life was Jewish. At 15 I decided that the religious life was not for me, I abandoned almost everything Jewish. My trip to Israel was about not only seeing a new country filled with culture and history, but also about perhaps finding my own sense of what it means to be Jewish.

As I write, the trip is just starting to settle nicely into memories. My experience as a whole was mixed. I’m not someone who enjoys traveling in groups. The hours spent waiting… for people to use the bathroom…for people to get on the bus… for people to finish shopping are incredibly frustrating.

Also, because of the super security on the trip, it often felt as if we were looking at Israel from a distance rather than actively discovering it. For me, as pretentious as it may sound, there is nothing I prefer to sitting in a café on a busy boulevard and just watching the new city go by. On the other hand, Israel is absolutely gorgeous and ripe with the history and myth that are fundamental to Western culture. We visit a valley where David fought Goliath; a mountain where the Zealots held off the Roman army; a river where Jesus was baptized (not that Birthright stressed the Christian or Muslim importance of Israel), and so on.

Birthright also brings Israeli soldiers along with the group for a few days, which gives the group a chance to interact with real Israelis. As a Jew, it is incredible to be in a country where almost everyone is Jewish. There is a commonality; a mutual understanding there that is not present anywhere else in the world for me.

One of the discussions the group had in Israel was about our loyalty to Israel versus our loyalty to Canada. This is always a tricky question because it is the basis for so much anti-Semitism, dating back thousands of years. The idea that Jews’ loyalty will never be the state they live in but lies elsewhere is even written in the Bible: Exodus 1:10 says “Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.” It’s a very difficult position to find myself in, because I love Canada. To me, Canada is the greatest country in the world. At the same time, I know history and I know that again and again throughout history, countries in which Jews have felt secure were ultimately not secure. In the end, there is no such thing as security for Jews. Israel, in that sense, acts as a security blanket for all the Jews of the Diaspora. So, I do have loyalty to Israel, but it is different from my loyalty to Canada.

Ultimately, my quest to understand my Jewishness was not answered with any finality. As usual, I was looking for easy answers where there are, of course, none. Being in Israel opened up new questions and new ways of looking at myself as a Jew. I know I will spend the rest of my life trying to answer them. Some people define their Jewishness based on religion, some on race, and yet others on culture. I have attachments to all three identities. Why is it that I feel attachment to other Jews? Is it common history? What makes me feel so attached to Israel? Is it purely self-interest or is it something more? I may have to go back to find out for sure.

First publisher in Women’s Post Jan. 2005 print edition

Innate equality

By George Patrick

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” So wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1776. Of course, at the time he was writing a kind of manifesto to justify the 13 American colonies’ secession from the British Empire, and some of what he wrote – especially in his first draft – was pretty tendentious stuff designed to justify the colonists’ treason and win support for their cause. Clearly, Jefferson himself didn’t really believe that all men were created equal. He proved it by keeping about 200 black people as slaves on his Monticello plantation, and he stated it explicitly in his correspondence with Benjamin Banneker, the black scientist and scholar. In short, the Declaration of Independence must be viewed as a piece of wartime propaganda. It also just happens to contain a soaring expression of humanity’s noblest aspirations (which Jefferson had lifted from John Locke and other great thinkers of the 18th Century Enlightenment).

Whatever their hypocritical and propagandistic origins, Jefferson’s words have rung down the years and found a home in millions of hearts. The overarching concept – the innate equality of all human beings – has become the bedrock of all progressive thought. All of us – man and woman, adult and child, homo and hetero, black and white, Hindu and Christian, Muslim and Jew, selfless saint and serial killer – all have the same inalienable rights simply because we are human.

There are no exceptions – Heinrich Himmler and Karla Homolka, Osama bin Laden and Pol Pot, they too, no matter how loathsome their actions, have the same fundamental human rights as a Mahatma Gandhi or an Albert Schweitzer. At a formal level, we sort of accept that. What country with any pretentions to modernity doesn’t have some kind of charter spelling out the equal rights of all its citizens?

And yet, in reality the idea so often seems to stick in our craw. We all like the idea of being treated by other people as equals, we just can’t always bring ourselves to extend that same equality to others. Oh yes, most of the others perhaps – but there’s always some group we just can’t quite screw up our tolerance for, and we go through the most absurd intellectual gymnastics to justify the unjustifiable. The hypocrisy of Stalinist thought that Orwell satirized in Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others,” is alive and well in our society. We seem to have a remarkable capacity to come up with reasons why this or that particular group of humans (gays, Jews, Hutu, Serbs, etc.) isn’t quite entitled to have full equality extended to it.

More often than not, the reasons given for disregarding the equality of others are just too stupid for words. Frequently it’s some injustice or crime, which happened many generations before and for which no person alive today bears responsibility. It shouldn’t be a great intellectual stretch to see that I am in no way responsible for any wrongs committed by my father, my grandfather or any of my forebears. Just as, for example, no young German today has any moral responsibility for the Holocaust; no American alive today bears the guilt of black slavery; few Canadians alive today can be blamed for interning young David Suzuki during World War II. And yet many of the bloody, virulent hatreds of today have exactly this absurd basis.

Many years ago, I hitched a ride with a wing commander in the Royal Air Force who had taken part in the carpet bombing of Germany in World War II. I asked him, as politely as possible, if he felt any guilt about what he had done. He said he had been in London during the Blitz and had seen a little girl pulled dead from the rubble of a building bombed by the Germans. After that, he said, he had no misgivings. He was a very nice man, and he was giving me a lift, so I said nothing. But I knew that a dead child in London is one lousy excuse for killing little German girls in Hamburg or Dresden.

People who have been wronged (or feel they’ve been wronged) naturally want some kind of justice, and in their rage and pain find it easy to conflate the innocent with the guilty, to turn their anger on the children or the countrymen of those who have wronged them. I suspect that it is this aching need for justice that causes people to subscribe to religions that promise – most improbably – an afterlife where divine retribution will prevail, where the evildoers will finally get what’s coming to them. Unfortunately, the cure is often worse than the disease. Anyone with half an eye can see that the great religions are themselves the loci of many of the greatest injustices and inequities in the world today.

Most obviously, some of the major faiths are outrageously, eye-poppingly, jaw-droppingly anti woman. They’re so rigged that all the jobs worth having in the hierarchy are reserved exclusively for men.

How many women popes, cardinals, bishops and priests are there in the Catholic Church?

How many female mullahs and ayatollahs in Islam? The very nature of these all-male establishments screams “Women are inferior, they are not worthy of equality!”

Over the years I’ve heard many elaborate theological explanations of why this or that variation of God really wants it that way, but to me, it always comes off sounding like a lot of guys rationalizing their stranglehold on power.

We wouldn’t tolerate any of this all-male nonsense in any other area of society, but because these religions have been around almost forever, because many of us have been subjected to them since we were impressionable little children, and because religion’s all about the Big Guy in the Sky, everybody tippytoes around the subject. Enough already. The reactionary stance of male-dominated religions is an affront to everything that our society stands for.

As a non-religious outsider, I can never understand how intelligent women can bear to be treated as second-class citizens within their own religious community.

Unfortunately, their passive acceptance of such oppression in the religious sphere only bolsters male control in the secular world and sends a really lousy message to every little girl in our society. I have enormous respect for women, but I do sometimes wonder if they quite understand the power game that men have been playing for thousands of years and will continue to play until Kingdom Come – if allowed to. Every woman must understand: All this male monopoly stuff in religious hierarchies is not about theology. It’s about power.

Of course, male religious leaders justify their socially harmful behaviour by citing various holy books written hundreds, even thousands of years ago by people who knew less about life than your average grade four kid, today. Little wonder that much of what they have to say is simply wrong, or irrelevant, or weird, or downright impossible.

It’s fine if people find comfort in believing in a divine being and an afterlife. But it’s not acceptable to use such beliefs to oppress other human beings. It was Jesus who condemned all those sanctimonious religious pooh-bahs who were so keen on finding sin in others when they were themselves gravely flawed. Amen to that.

Bundle up and explore Toronto Islands

Hiking is a great way to spend some quality time with the kids while getting exercize. And a great place to take your kids on an overcast winder day in Toronto is the Toronto Islands. Dress warm, and you can look forward to seeing some spectacular things. The ice has formed some magnificent shapes on the rocks along the shore – fencing stops those who might be missing a few brain cells from climbing on them – and it’s well worth the visit.

Don’t forget to bring along some birdseed so the kids can feed the chickadees!

United we stand

By Kent Peacock

There is a place in India called Alang, where old ships are broken.  In this surreal wasteland hosts of labourers swarm over the hulks of obsolete oil tankers and cargo carriers, cutting them with torches into pieces small enough to be hauled away for scrap.  It is, by Canadian standards, an unbelievably dangerous place to work.  Over 400 workers are killed at Alang every year.  Sometimes their bodies are simply dumped into the sea, along with the toxic waste stripped out of the ships.  But no matter how many are killed or injured, there are always more men and women ready to try their luck in the yards.  They keep coming because their families need the money.  They have no health benefits, no vacation pay, no pension, no stock options, laughable safety equipment, little training, no funerals, no compensation or recourse if they are killed or injured — and no union.

There is nothing quite as bad as Alang in Canada, although many people here work in conditions that should be considered unacceptable.  We do enjoy the indecent spectacle of the working poor — people (often single parents) desperately holding down two or even three (non-unionized) jobs to pay the rent and keep dinner on the kitchen table for their children, while the top corporate executives who employ them are sometimes paid millions of dollars per year.  These inequities are often sanctimoniously defended by the excuse that they are mandated by the all-holy “free market,” an argument which ignores the fact that the labour market is not really free since individual workers, whether in Canada or India, rarely have as much bargaining power as their employers.

There are many reasons for the increasing rich-poor gap, such as competition from cheap off-shore labour (non-unionized, of course), and the gutting of the progressive taxation system that began in the days of Reagan and Mulroney.  But it could never have become as bad as it has without the steady weakening of the trade union movement that has also occurred in parallel with these other trends.

Many people these days are fond of saying that unions are no longer needed.  Even the most ardent union-bashers will probably concede that in the past unions fought severe abuses of workers by owners and corporations, and they might even agree that union victories led to better working conditions for everyone.  But we are now told that unions are obsolete because we can depend on our governments to protect workers’ rights.  In fact, labour laws exist in large part because unions fought so long and hard for workers’ rights that governments had no choice but to write them into law.  And those laws will not remain on the books or be enforced without the political will that flows from organized labour.

Unions can be a mixed blessing.  They can hinder efficiency and technological innovation, and a few unions have at times become so powerful and corrupt that they were no improvement over the big businesses they were supposed to protect their members from.  There is no question that unions sometimes limit the freedom of business to hire and innovate, and many small businesses could not survive if they were unionized.  On balance, however, we need strong unions more than ever.  Above all else, a union is a voice that is independent of governments and the powerful interests to which governments often pander.  In this age of the faceless multinational corporation we need independent voices with real clout. As such, unions are inherently a democratizing force.  That is why they are hated by authoritarian governments of both the right and the left.  Unions were ruthlessly crushed in the workers’ paradise of the Soviet Union, and anyone trying to start a union now in China would find themselves on a one-way trip to a gulag in a remote region of central Asia, or worse.

How about all of those fashionable sporting-goods products that everyone feels guilty about buying, since they were made by people who are paid almost nothing or who may have even been enslaved?  A few strong unions could do more for exploited workers in the Third World than any number of celebrity rock concerts.

We still need unions in Canada to counterbalance corporate power and to remind our governments that other things matter besides the bottom line — and unions are desperately needed in those parts of the world where workers are treated as if they were expendable tools.

*photo credit www.ofl.ca

Extreme cold shuts down too many streetcars

By Sarah Thomson

With 28 street cars pulled out of service Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning due to extreme cold a question many should be asking, is what will happen as global warming causes more extreme weather conditions for Toronto? Ice storms and snow storms also play havoc with above ground transit. The T.T.C. has announced they’ll have busses runnng to fill in where they can -502 Dowtown, 503 Kingston Road & 511 Bathurst – check transit app to get updated times.

Major cities around the world invest in underground transit. With the extreme weather predicted for Toronto’s long-term future, it makes the larger investment today all the more reasonable. Toronto must begin to look at transit planning through a bigger lens than merely cost. The last time Toronto’s subway shut down fully was during the July 2013 flood when all major highways and transit in the city was shut down for a few hours at the height of the flood.

The subway system has proven over the years to be the most reliable system through the winter months, but we have to invest in it. It is an aging system in need of significant upgrades and investment, and remarkably small system given the growth of Toronto ove the past two decades.

The downtown relief line running under Queen Street and joining up with Eglinton Street at either end is still the most important subway line that Toronto needs to build. Unfortunately political maneuvering continues to stall it’s progress. With so few politicians willing to stand up for the dedicated transit that is needed to fund such a project.

While Mayor Tory announced his Smart Track as an alternative for the downtown relief line, the truth is that it too will suffer from the increasing extreme weather conditions (primarily winter conditions) that Toronto is expecting over the next few decades. And while his Tax Increment Financing (TIF) may have seemed the perfect solution to transit funding during the election, it was merely a strategy for borrowing and it does not actually raise funding, but merely works as security for a loan. And unfortunately it will leave future generations forced to pay it back.

Personally I believe Mayor Tory knows that Tax Increment Financing is nothing more than a strategic campaign platform, it is not a funding tool but a financing strategy that has worked on small projects across North America.  He still has a lot more work to do when it comes to supporting the basket of revenue tools – increase in development fees, parking levies, sales taxes or tolls – that he has advocated for over the years.

But for some reason, with Tory at the helm, I can imagine a time when Toronto decides to invest in itself, when revenue tools have been put in place to generate funds that we can invest into our transit system. Add in a Federal transit funding strategy to the provincial and municipal funds and then our City will have a real choice – invest in below ground subway or cheaper above ground rail that continually shuts down during extreme weather conditions?  If the funding is there Toronto will build subways because they are a better long-term investment.

It’s time for Mayor Tory to get started on securing the dedicated transit funding tools that he’s advocated for over the past few years.  He’ll need all the help he can get, and each one of us can play a part in convincing our neighbours to support dedicated transit funding.

A courageous man once said “If anyone tells you that Toronto does not need revenue tools for transit, they aren’t being honest.”  It’s time again for that man to show courage.