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Jordan Glass

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Moving past Ford: What’s even left to support?

Moving past Rob Ford

We are officially at a point where there is simply no valid reason left to support Rob Ford as a candidate for Mayor of Toronto. Barring any surprises there will not be any further high profile candidate entering the race for Toronto’s Mayor. With the entrance of Olivia Chow, the former New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament (MP), Toronto’s socialists have their standard bearer. Moreover, with Karen Stintz, the former Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), David Soknacki, David Miller’s former Budget Chief, and John Tory, the former Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party leader, in the race there are simply too many options available to rationalize any support of Rob Ford going forward. I will go far enough as to suggest that doing so is deserving of ridicule.

Rob Ford has proven himself wholly inadequate at fulfilling the job of Mayor. This is not merely because he has engaged in recreational experimentation of crack cocaine while in one of his now infamous ‘drunken stupors’. This is not even because he refused to seek assistance for what is clearly a problem with alcohol and narcotic drug use. Rather, Rob Ford has proven him to be and uninformed, belligerent, childish, thuggish liar.

The fact of the matter is Toronto deserves better. Toronto deserves a Mayor who can work with across the aisle with their fellow Council members to achieve their promised goals. Rob Ford and Doug, his brother and campaign manager, assert that personal life is separate from public life. Look past the crack smoking to see the penny pinching. But here is the thing; the younger Ford does not have the record of success that he proclaims. Spending at City Hall has risen during the Fords’ tenure. Property taxes have gone up; including the largest increase in the City’s history. Despite this, services are being cut year after year, including at the TTC; which Rob Ford used to refer to as ‘essential’.

If this is a fiscal record one can support, Stintz has endorsed the ‘Ford fiscal plan’. Tory, Chow, and Soknacki: not so much. All four opposition candidates will offer varying platforms, all valid in their own rights. Torontonians are encouraged to carefully consider these plans, because at this point in time (even if I have my own personal preference) anyone would be better than Rob Ford.

I can already hear the Ford supporters firing back that I am just afraid of a Ford victory. To them I say, “You are damn right I am.” Nothing scares me more, as a citizen of Toronto, than ‘Ford more years’.

The Fords go to Hollywood

In a surprising turn of events Rob Ford, Toronto’s ‘sort-of Mayor,’ has been invited to attend the 86th Academy Awards and appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live! In a not so surprising turn of events the Mayor has accepted the invitation.

Torontonians should be reminded this is a man who announced just a few days ago on his YouTube show, Ford Nation, that he does not consider himself to be a celebrity. He assured viewers that he is just an average work-a-day schmoe. All that stuff about being the Mayor of North America’s fourth largest city and having mega-stars Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon discuss his antics on The Tonight Show; pfft!

Joining Rob Ford will be Doug Ford, the soon-to-be former councillor for Ward 2, three political staffers, and Randy Ford who’s the third and usually far more subtle of the Ford brothers. This is where Torontonians would be advised to begin asking Ford questions. First, who is paying for this little trip?

Rob Ford has long claimed to be a fighter for the taxpayer: the little guy. However, his record of tax increases in conjunction with service cuts tells a very different story. So too, has his tendency to utilize city funds for personal projects since being elected mayor.

Further, Torontonians would be advised to ask if this is really the kind of individual they wish to represent them. The election of Ford in 2010 can be forgiven. However, since then Ford has openly admitted to purchasing crack cocaine while being mayor, associated with known members of gangs and those involved in organized crime, and used publicly defamatory and vulgar phrasing unbefitting of the office he holds. What’s more is he has shown absolutely no remorse nor attempted to reform of his actions. Is this really the international face you want of Toronto?

With a new mayor, Toronto his the potential to be world class. With Rob Ford at the helm, we’re left as an international punch line.

It is time for us to take the situation seriously. A number of qualified candidates have come forward, and I think more candidates will make themselves now as the mayoral race progresses. It’s imperative Torontonians realize the absolute necessity for change at City Hall.

So, is Rob Ford just your average Joe?

That depends. Does your average Joe attend the Oscars, appear on late-night talk shows, and own an unspecified number of properties that happen to include an international corporation?

Follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanAGlass.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

What did Doug Ford just say?

Following the unfortunate comments by John Tory regarding women receiving equal pay for equal work, Doug Ford came out of the woodwork to attack his brother’s potential adversary.

Doug Ford, the Ward 2 city councillor and campaign manager for Doug Ford, criticized the former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives as “chauvinistic” and referred to Tory as “one of the elites of the 1%.”

For those who may have forgotten, Councillor Ford is the millionaire former chief executive officer of the multinational company his father founded. To call him a member of the infamous ‘1%’ would be an understatement. However, what is most intriguing about Councillor Ford’s comments is that he is a self-professed capital-C Conservative. This is a constituency that has long rejected the language of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Could this exemplify a change of direction in the Rob Ford campaign?

Probably not.

The Fords, while loudly identifying as huge-C Conservatives, have never really moulded policy on a traditional left-right spectrum. They continue to call for lower taxes and smaller government despite introducing the largest tax increase in Toronto’s history and expanding the city’s budget. They continue to express support for low-income Torontonians despite continuing to make cuts to services those same Torontonians depend on.

Such is the contradiction of populism. Perhaps this is why, during the days of their radio show, the Fords endorsed the Progressive Conservative candidate in Vaughan and the New Democratic candidate in Kitchener during concurrent provincial byelections.

However, such language can only take the Fords so far. Under the scrutiny of a full-blown election, Torontonians will see the Fords for what they are: liars.

Despite their statements to the contrary, the Fords are the elite of Toronto politics. They are the inner circle of power.

Whether it is through John Tory, David Soknocki, or someone else, the Fords will eventually be exposed as those willing to say and do anything to cling to power.

Follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanAGlass.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

In defense of viewing the Sochi Olympics

Belle Brockhoff, Australia, Snowboarding

Cheryl Maas, Netherlands, Snowboarding

Barbara Jezeršek, Slovenia, Cross-Country Skier

Sanne Van Kerkhof, Netherlands, Speed Skating

Ireen Wüst, Netherlands, Speed Skating

Anastasia Bucsis, Canada, Speed Skating

These six openly gay athletes are the reason I will be watching the Sochi Olympics.

Before I continue, there are a few things that must be said in the name of full disclosure. I am an open member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. I sit on the management committee for Kulanu Toronto, which represents Jewish members of the LGBT community in Toronto. Nothing I say here is to speak on behalf of any organization of which I am currently or have ever been a member.

In 2013, the Russian Federation adopted a law against “homosexual propaganda.” This prohibits “promotion of the homosexual lifestyle” to Russian children including such symbols as the rainbow flag, and published works containing homosexual content, which — as it turns out — may include Canadian bobsledder Justin Kripps’ personal website containing a photo of himself and three teammates posing in their underwear next to their sled. All four men identify as straight.

Make no mistake: the international community’s exposure to Russia’s way of life is a mere fraction of the day-to-day surveillance that Russian citizens have unfortunately become so accustomed to. Russian President Vladimir Putin as an “elected” (a word which should not be taken too literally) dictator. He rules his country with an iron fist and would not hesitate to eliminate any threat to his power.

That said, Sochi offers the world an opportunity to voice their grievances and cheer for our openly gay athletes. When Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis takes her place on the Olympic oval, her very presence will be an act of protest. She will stand on her skates for equality and for Canadian values. I, for one, will not let her protest go unheard.

I understand why there are those who feel a need to boycott the Olympics. But to them, I say, such actions will not fix Russia. Moreover, the actions of the Russian Federation are not the responsibility of the athletes present.

Please do not let these athletes’ sacrifices be for naught. Watch them compete. Root them on. And in the case of six incredibly brave women — hear their protest.

Follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanAGlass.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Is mixed income housing a good idea?

New condominium developments have been popping up all over the downtown core with those who possess a high income in mind. But there is another condo market developing quietly in Toronto. Recent downsizing in the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) has led to the creation of numerous mixed-income housing projects. The goal of the Rob Ford administration is to remove the stigma of living in government housing. No longer will ‘these people’ be shoved into Toronto’s ‘ghetto-ized’ communities.

However, I am forced to ask: does this really work?

Will this do anything to actually ameliorate the poverty in Toronto?

It is a troubling feature of many large North American cities that the last quarter century of capital development has contributed to a sense of social isolation. We develop separate spaces for people of varying household incomes, places dedicated to senior citizens, singles’ communities, and much, much more.

Most concerning about this trend is the isolation of those living in poverty. We have constructed entire communities wholly populated by people who live there for no other reason than they cannot afford to live elsewhere. These are ghettos defined by poverty, and sometimes race, and marked by sub-par public services and facilities, as well as limited opportunity for jobs, recreation, and education.

As such, it makes sense for the decision makers in the Mayor’s office to attempt to recapture much of the social diversity that is so important to what Torontonians mean when they say “urban”. A key aspect to this is a policy the Mayor has long supported, where residents of low-income families and neighbourhoods are given the opportunity to receive rent subsidies so that they may be used in middle-income neighbourhoods.

The alternative approach has been the plan that the Mayor has actually chosen to implement; that of redeveloping public housing projects to turn them into mixed-income neighbourhoods. Most notably, we see this occurring in Regent Park, best known as Canada’s first public housing neighbourhood.

Proponents of mixed-income housing have offered numerous reasons why mixed-income neighbourhoods are better for low income individuals and families. Their reasons include: a middle-class presence can build social capital, provide salutary role-models, deter criminals, and make it more likely that a good level of public services and facilities will be provided by local government.

However, opponents are critical of the notion that these programs deprive already distressed neighbourhoods of their most capable residents, on the grounds that it is they who are most likely to be motivated or able to take advantage of opportunities to move elsewhere. Opponents believe this contributes to gentrification and displacement of the poor.

Both arguments are valid. However, they also both ignore the fact that these programs actually do very little to pull people out of poverty. There may be the potential to remove the stigma put on individuals by living in poverty stricken communities. However, issues related to poverty cannot truly be solved by adjusting the tenancy of a handful of TCHC buildings. There is an urgent need for government to address the issues of hopelessness and drowning that comes with poverty. Part of this is embracing the fine work being done by municipal corporations like the TCHC.

The invisible cancer of depression

I was prompted to write this by the news that Christopher Peloso had passed away. Christopher was the husband of George Smitherman, the former Deputy Premier of Ontario and candidate for Mayor of Toronto. I knew him as a loving father, a dedicated husband, and a good man. My heart and my prayers go out to George and Christopher’s three children (two of which he and George shared).

I do not want this piece to be about how Christopher passed away. He was more than that. He was how he lived. He was his dedication to community and family. And that is how we will remember him. George Smitherman, my friend and mentor, released the following statement early Monday morning:

“Toronto Police just confirmed that my darling Christopher Peloso has been found dead.

We will celebrate his life and we will find comfort somehow in knowing that he has found peace from the depression that has wreaked havoc on his mind.

A son and brother, a husband and father of 3 he will always be remembered for his dedication to others.

We have been greatly aided by the compassion of the Toronto Police service and we will find strength going forward from the legions of people in our extended family who loved him so.”

Christopher will be missed.

But I hope his passing will not go unnoticed by the greater community. Christopher suffered from depression. Although it was never a matter we discussed, this was a diagnosis we shared.

Depression, in all its various forms, can leave one in an utter state of darkness. For many there is a feeling that there is no way out. I do not know the exact circumstances surrounding Christopher’s passing, but I do know when my wife informed me of what had occurred I felt compelled to apologize to her if I had ever made her feel like there was a possibility that this could ever happen to me.

I was deeply saddened to hear that Christopher lost his battle with depression. But I hope this knowledge gives people the awareness to not let this happen again. If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression there are outlets you can turn to. Please try talking to a friend or loved one or take a look at the information provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association at www.cmha.ca.

Thee time I was embarrassed of being a Torontonian

I really wanted to give Rob Ford a chance. I worked hard to make sure he never became Mayor back in 2010. I truly believed his tenure as Mayor would be something Torontonians would live to regret. But this is not an ‘I told you so’ moment. Rob Ford deserved this chance. After all, he received the votes. And in pure quantity, he did receive more votes than any other candidate in the history of Toronto’s mayoral elections: 383,501. (We would be remiss if we did not mention Mel Lastman’s 80% of the popular vote in 2000 or David Crombie’s record 84% of the popular vote in 1976.)  However, after nearly four years as head of the country’s largest municipal government he has done little demonstrate that he has what it takes to leave this city better than he found it. Unfortunately, to the detriment of the City, few others on Council have done little to prove that they can be a viable alternative.

To date, Karen Stintz, Rob Ford’s hand-picked Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), is the only current member of Council who has announced her run. An absolutely deplorable record as Chair leaves her as an unattractive option to many. Her role as enabler of Rob Ford’s abuse of power is not helping any either.

However, nothing more exemplifies the sorry state of affairs in Toronto than the very public dueling between Rob Ford and Norm Kelly, his personally appointed Deputy. In the midst of a snow storm the likes of which Toronto had never seen Toronto’s ‘no-Mayors’ spent much of their time fighting each other for air time and credit for a job well done.

I grew up in Markham and lived in Sudbury before settling in Toronto. I cannot remember living under a municipal government that I truly took pride in. But following the week that was, I can honestly say there is no government of which I have ever been more embarrassed.

As I write this Toronto Hydro is reporting approximately 72,200 customers without power. Does that sound like the world class city we all claim Toronto to be?

Norm Kelly and Rob Ford have been forced to announce that their power struggle has not impeded relief efforts, but I cannot help but feel in an alternate universe in which John Tory beat David Miller in 2003 and the rise of Rob Ford had never been possible Torontonians would not be living in the proverbial darkness that we are guaranteed to be stuck in until 27 October 2014.

 

Toronto’s no-mayor system: Was it democratic to strip Ford of his powers?

Toronto City Council has officially decided to rescind Mayor Rob Ford’s power associated with his office. In effect, Toronto is left without a Mayor. Rob Ford still holds the title, but the vast majority of powers associated with that title have been assigned to Norm Kelly, Councillor for Ward 40 (Scarborough-Agincourt) and the City’s Deputy Mayor. Torontonians are well aware of the details that led to this decision by Council. Well, by now the entire world is well aware of the details. The Mayor has admitted to smoking crack-cocaine and purchasing illegal narcotics while in office. He has further been implicated in dealings with gang members and sex workers.

Toronto must now move forward in a brave new world in which the Deputy Mayor; who was elected with 12,458 votes and subsequently appointed by Mayor Ford as his Deputy, holds the vast majority of the power associated with the Office of Mayor.

Was this anti-democratic?

That is certainly not the case. The Mayor and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, have attempted to paint this as a coup d’état. The Mayor even went as far as to compare the circumstances of City Council’s special meeting as “when Saddam attacked Kuwait,” which is slightly less hyperbole than his brother’s assertion that “this is kind of like what they did to Jesus.” Nonetheless, this was a democratic action taken by the duly elected members of Council who one must believe do not make any decisions regarding their votes lightly.

However, the City does find itself in an interesting predicament. This was an incredibly unfortunate precedent to set. While the situation of Mayor Ford required the institution of someone who can be trusted, there exists a risk that a future Council may attempt to abuse the new no-Mayor system.

Deputy Mayor Kelly received exactly 1.62% of the votes cast city wide during the previous municipal election is now for all intense purposes leading the Corporation of Toronto. But this was an unfortunate necessity. If only Mayor Ford had stuck to his lies about saving the taxpayers millions and billions and trillions Council would not have had to resort to such measures. Alas, he did not. He let his personal life unravel for the world to see. He did so by making questionable choices while becoming a victim to his own Messiah complex.

Make no mistake: this was a necessary step. It was because the Mayor forced Council’s hand. The responsibility for this incredibly unfortunate precedent lies squarely on the shoulders of one man. His name is Rob Ford.

 

Follow Jordan on Twitter at @Jordan@Glass.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

EDITORIAL: Ford’s antics are hurting the city and he must step down

Like many I spent the better part of my Sunday afternoon listening to Rob Ford, the Mayor of North America’s fourth largest city, on various radio stations, deliver a ‘sort-of-kind-of- maybe-but-not-quite-non-apology’ of an apology.

Mayor Ford took to the airwaves Sunday to say that he is sorry for “mistakes” made and called on Bill Blair, Toronto’s Chief of Police, to release the now infamous ‘Rob Ford crack video’. The Mayor chose to not elaborate on what he deemed set mistakes. As such, he guarantees the scandal surrounding him continues to grow. However, the Mayor did note that he takes full responsibility for his misdeeds; which would be new, to say the least. After a long history of lying to the City of Toronto, the Mayor has chosen to take an incredibly vague degree of responsibility for his actions and his associations.

Despite this, the Mayor was willing to admit that the ongoing scandal has been an embarrassment to the city. This is a shocking revelation from a man that all too often attempts to pass the proverbial buck. It is a relevant point that the Mayor understands this; assuming he is not lying to Torontonians again. Hopefully he realizes that this is the crux of the issue. Rob Ford is embarrassing the City of Toronto. His presence as Toronto’s Chief Executive Officer threatens investment both on a foreign and domestic level. It distracts members of Council from greater issues that are important to the various communities that make up the City.

In the last week alone Councillors could have addressed the stabbing of sixteen year old boy in the Ford’s own Rexdale community or the shooting of a man during a street level robbery in the Victoria Park Avenue and Eglinton Avenue area or the fact that known drug dealers and gang members appear to be spending time on Toronto District School Board property with high ranking government officials. But they did not. They were too preoccupied by the Mayor’s actions. They were holding meetings and interventions and deciding what their next political move should be.

As we now know, the Mayor has admitted to smoking crack cocaine. In the Mayor’s own words; “Maybe a year ago … during one of my drunken stupors.”

It is time for the Mayor to step aside for the good of the City. Deputy Mayor Kelley is more than capable of taking over in the mean time. Until that happens, Torontonians live in a city paralyzed by a Mayor who cannot see past his own ambition. Torontonians live in a city paralyzed by a Mayor that would be characterized as a “slimy politician” to use Councillor Doug Ford’s words. But perhaps more damningly, Torontonians live in a city paralyzed by a Mayor who just stopped caring about being Mayor far too long ago.

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanAGlass.

EFTO making up problems with Simpsons style “Love Day”

Aside from the fact that the term “Love Day” appears to be lifted from an episode of the Simpsons, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is proposing an end to Father’s and Mother’s Days [Ed. note: EFTO’s president has refuted this claim]. Suggesting “Love Day” and “GAMES (for Grandmothers, Aunts, Mom, Even Sisters) Day”, ETFO is doing nothing more here than stirring up trouble where there was none before.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day simply do not deny any manner of inclusion. I have known a number of Queer couples who made the choice to become parents in my lifetime. At no point in time did they ever feel the Hallmark manufactured ‘holidays’ excluded the unique nature of their family.

The vast majority of families are made up of at least one mother or father. For those that do not fit into this mould this does do anything to assist them. Rather, it alerts their peers to the concept that their family is different; less normal.

Joe Warmington, of the Toronto Sun, recently added his two cents saying that those who have opposed such politically correct changes have been lumped in with notorious homophobes such as Dr. Charles McVety, President of the Christian College of Canada. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Families made up of two mothers or two fathers or one mother or one father or an aunt and uncle or grandparents, and so on, are just like any other family made up of a mother and a father. Special treatment does not create the equality that ETFO is seeking. It merely singles out those that are different.

Is this really what we endeavour to our children?

To date, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and/or any trustee have elected to comment on the issue. For my own part, however, I take a unique perspective. I am an openly bisexual male who has married a woman and begun a family with her. While our daughter will have a mother and father, she will also have an understanding of the fact that some families are made different. That does not make them any less normal. It is important that we teach our children that all families are created equal.

ETFO is simply inserting itself where it is not necessary. Perhaps its members would prefer that it concentrate on collective bargaining, rather than wasting time digging up problems where they did not previously exist.