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Green Party hopes to woo voters with honesty and revenue tools

The Ontario Green Party is working on a comprehensive revenue tool package that will help fund infrastructure and transit projects throughout the province. The package will include a plethora of options for drivers and transit users, including the use of tolls and congestion charges in addition to uploading the cost of maintaining and operating the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Express back to the province.

“One of the biggest challenges facing the GTHA is gridlock,” says party leader Mike Schreiner. “It affects our economy to the tune of $6 billion in lost productivity.”

According to Schreiner, the Green Party is willing to do something other political parties are not — explain honestly and openly what it will take to improve transit and quality of life in cities across Ontario.

“This is a situation where political self-interest is trumping the people’s interest,” he says. “There is a myth that somehow all this infrastructure is going to be built. Imagine if our great grandparents hadn’t paid for dams in Niagara Falls that generates electricity … or hadn’t agreed to pay for the cost of the 400 series highways that enabled us to ship goods to province and the US. It’s time for our generation to step up to plate and fund transit infrastructure desperately needed.”

As part of this plan, the Green Party is supporting dynamic tolling, where drivers are charged a larger cost for using certain roadways like the Gardiner and DVP during on-peak hours and less (or not at all) during off-peak hours. The hope is that this will encourage those who can use transit, to do so, and those who must drive, to carpool.

“A toll taxes people regardless of time of day when real problem is rush hour,” says Tim Grant, Green Party shadow cabinet minister for transportation. “The dynamic road pricing – although it sounds harsh at first glance – is really fair and equitable. It acknowledges that there is a higher cost to discourage drivers in rush hours.”

The money collected from these tolls would be dedicated to transit, ensuring that those who choose to use alternative modes of transportation are able to use a modern and well-maintained system. It’s a win-win scenario — the challenge is to convince people the long-term benefits are worth the cost.

“If you reduce traffic congestion, people have a higher quality of life,” Grant says. “Air pollution is reduced, fuel economy is reduced, which leads to higher air quality and more time on [drivers] hands.”

Grant says the problem with the current funding provided by both the provincial and federal governments to municipalities for infrastructures is that it only pays for the initial planning and construction of a transit project, but not to operate or maintain it. This results in poorer service and low ridership.

Another aspect of the Green Party’s revenue plan is to upload the costs of operating and maintaining the DVP and Gardiner Expressway back to the province, something that was promised over 10 years ago. This would free up a couple billion dollars worth of funding the City of Toronto could use to build better transit infrastructure and maintain other roads within the city.

The key, both Schreiner and Grant say, is to actually listen to experts and communicate that information honestly to the public, without political agenda.

“Part of the problem is that political parties prepare their platform and policies based on a calculation of what voters think – and it’s a sad state because the alternative is for a political leader to go out and be honest and say, you won’t like this, but you will love it afterwards,” Grant said. “It needs political leadership willing to get out in front of all this and say we are doing this because people will get to work faster, kids will have better transit, and this will be a benefit. Vote for me or not – but I will try to make life better.”

The Green Party will discuss their platform and comprehensive revenue package in May in preparation for the 2018 election.

An open letter to the Conservative Party of Canada

My political beliefs may not entirely align with the Conservative Party, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. The entire premise of our democratic institution is based on having multiple parties and types of people representing different ideas and values within Parliament. This is a concept I am proud of.

What I am less proud of is the state of Canada’s political leadership race.  More specifically, I am disgusted by who you may support as a candidate for Prime Minister.

Yes, I’m talking about Kevin O’Leary.

Can I ask you this: When did the job of Prime Minister (or President for that matter) become something sought after by television personalities? When did we, as a society, decide this was okay?

I understand the appeal. A lot of people are sick of career politicians. Broken promises and hypocrisy appear to be taking over Parliament, and the Canadian people are tired of it. They want someone different, someone who isn’t just a pretty face for the camera. They want someone who will speak to them honestly and candidly, and actually fix some of their problems for a change.

But, the idea is to choose the RIGHT politician. Maybe you shouldn’t hire a guy who spends half his time in the United States telling entrepreneurs they don’t have what it takes to succeed in the financial market. Maybe don’t choose someone who purposely jumped in the leadership race after the French debates because he can’t speak Canada’s second official language? And maybe don’t vote for someone who offered the province of Alberta $1 million for the Premier to resign? These are just a few fun tidbits about the man now who wants to lead the Conservative Party of Canada.

The leader of a country should be a dedicated public servant, someone who has spent his or her life working for the people. Their resume should be highly impressive, with years of involvement in politics, whether in an official capacity or volunteer-based. They should have an intense relationship with their community and a real understanding of the issues facing Canadians at large.

I may not have been the biggest Stephen Harper fan, but no one could deny he was incredibly capable and qualified to be Prime Minister of Canada.

What I’m trying to say is this: the job of Prime Minister should be sacred. It should be a job that is unreachable for most – except for the incredibly dedicated and deeply committed. It shouldn’t matter how popular you are or how much money you have. All that should matter is what you stand for.

I can’t help but think of a quote from the television show The West Wing, when the communications director sits down to speak with the President about re-election. “Then make this election about smart, and not. Make it about engaged, and not. Qualified, and not. Make it about a heavyweight.”

Card-carrying Conservatives — you have the power to elect a heavyweight! Canadians are watching as the President of the United States leads the Republican Party down a giant hole of hatred and bigotry. Donald Trump’s words have impact on a global scale — and so do the words of Prime Minister of Canada.

You can avoid this same embarrassment. You can choose to hold your party, and the office of the opposition leader and Prime Minister of Canada, to a higher standard.

Have a little respect for yourselves and please vote for someone who has not only a tabloid-personality, but someone with real qualifications and a dedication to this country.  I promise you: you’ll regret it if you do it any differently.

Why the term “fake news” is so dangerous

What is “fake news”? That’s a question a lot of people are asking these days. It’s also a question a certain President-Elect SHOULD be asking before he takes office; although, I’m sure he won’t.

As a journalist, this phrase makes me cringe. News, by its very definition, cannot be considered “fake”. It can be sensationalist, maybe sometimes biased, but not fake. “Fake News”, therefore, isn’t news at all. It’s just garbage on the Internet or the tabloids that way too many people are gullible enough to think is true.

The Internet is big. Anyone can create a free website and start to write, upload photos, and create video. They can even make their site look like that of a news organization. It’s not that difficult. This fact is an amazing thing, but it does create a few problems. Who do you trust? What information is real and what is, as we call it now, “fake news.”

This is where journalists and news organizations come in.

It is their job (and mine) to sift through all of the false claims, tall tales, and outlandish stories that exist on the Internet. A journalist will confirm facts with numerous, legitimate and reliable sources. Their work is then edited by a number of people, including fact-checkers. If, in some cases, those sources and fact-checkers are not available, a news organization may use the word “unverified” or “alleged” until such time where the facts can be confirmed. This ensures transparency. This does NOT mean the information is falsified by the media with a nefarious purpose.

Cue President-Elect, Donald Trump.

At a press conference on Jan 11, Trump refused to answer a question by CNN veteran reporter Jim Acosta.  This happened after CNN reported that intelligence officials briefed Trump on an unverified dossier alleging Russian officials had compromising information about Trump.

“Your organization is terrible,” he yelled when Acosta tried to ask him a question. “You are fake news.”

And that was it. The term was redefined.

Since then, Trump has used the term “fake news” to describe every story he’s had an issue with. Most recently, on Jan. 18, he tweeted a news story from NBC.

 

Essentially, the term “fake news,” once used to describe a false story on the Internet that suddenly started trending to the point of believability, is now used to label a media organization is wrong and untrustworthy.

What Trump hopes to do is perpetuate this myth that the media is out to get everyone — that they would do anything or say anything for a headline and a few clicks. This is outrageously insulting, not to mention a dangerous sentiment for the future President of the United States to make. The job of the media is to keep people of authority accountable; to inform the public about what is happening in the world; and to shed light on important issues that require attention.

Just because you don’t agree with a story, or you don’t like what it says, doesn’t make a story, or a news organization, “fake.” It also doesn’t mean it’s wrong — unless you can show the data and prove it.

To throw this phrase around haphazardly, without forethought or understanding, creates real problems for the media and destroys its essential purpose.  I’m guessing this is exactly what Trump wants — but the public should be wary.

It’s good to be critical. It’s smart to question whether something described as fact is, in actuality, true. However, it’s just as important to question the way politicians attack the press and the real message they are trying to send stop from spreading. The President-Elect’s use and abuse of “fake news” is another of his bullying tactic to deflect and suppress non-Trump generated news. The public should not allow this abuse to continue.

Freedom of the press is an essential part of a democracy. As Barack Obama, soon to be former President of the United States, said to the media in his last press conference Wednesday, “You’re not supposed to be sycophants, you’re supposed to be skeptics. You’re supposed to ask me tough questions.”

“Democracy doesn’t work if we don’t have a well-informed citizenry, and you are the conduit through which they receive the information about what’s taking place in the halls of power. So America needs you and our democracy needs you.”

The use of the term “fake news” to delegitimize the media is an affront to that very concept — and it’s up to every single citizen of North America to ensure politicians don’t take advantage of this term for their own gain.

What do you define as “fake news”? Let us know in the comments below.

Dear Santa: We want MORE this year!

Dear Santa,

Here at Women’s Post, we’ve been mostly nice — hey, you can’t expect a girl not to be naughty for a whole 12 months, can you?

First of all, I hope Mrs. Claus is treating you well. I heard there was a sugar cookie shortage. What a scary thought! As always, I’m sure she calmed you down and rectified the situation.

Man, it’s been a hell of a year. So much has happened, and most of it was pretty depressing.  After a year like this, I think women around the world deserve a little something extra, don’t you? Here is our wish list Santa, and I hope you don’t mind we are being so forward:

1. Can you make our politicians listen to the female sex for once. This wish is particularly for the United States, but also applies right here in Canada. We want clean energy and an even cleaner earth. We want equal pay and equal rights. We want to be free from discrimination and free from harassment. These may seem like small things, trifles really, but I can assure you it will make all the difference. If “because it’s 2016” was the first step towards equality, let’s make “because it’s 2017” the final year for sexism.

2. Speaking of politicians, we need more women in power. Nothing is going to change until we get real women into politics and in boardrooms. This is a nearly impossible tasks, as the “old boys club” is hard to break through. We have profiled a number of women who have made it; who have worked hard to get their foot in the door, but it isn’t easy. In order to bring about change, ensure policy is made that encompasses all diverse sexes, races, and ethnicities, it’s important to have a diverse staff. That’s something most governments haven’t realized yet. Maybe you can sprinkle a bit of magic dust on Parliament Hill to help with the transformation?

3. The outfits trending this winter are dismal. It seems beiges, browns, and burgundies are in right now — if there is anything you can do to bring a bit more colour into next year’s wardrobe, that would be great!

4. And finally, can you do something about the poverty, hunger, and general depression that has taken over this place we call Earth? People are needlessly dying all over the world, being killed in fits of rage and political disruption. Refugees have no where to go and families are being separated. At Women’s Post, we dream of a world where families can be together for the holidays (no matter the religion), without fearing for their lives.

I know this wish list is a bit of a challenge — especially for the day before Christmas — but I know you will try your best. Love, respect, and family are the foundations of the holiday season, and too often that is forgotten. Ultimately Mr. C., we hope you have a safe trip Christmas Eve. Even though we’ve been a little naughty, I hope you can overlook it. I’m sure Mrs. Claus will make a case for us!

Best,

Women’s Post

 

P.S. If you want to throw in some shoes, dresses, headphones, and/or a new laptop for the office, feel free. We promise to have some really great cookies and vegan treats waiting for you — and maybe even a bottle of Pinot!

City council votes to support tolls

“You rarely have to ask permission to do the right thing.”

This quote comes from an open letter released Tuesday morning, with the signature of five different Canadian mayors attached to it. The letter calls for more municipal power to create city revenue, so that municipal leaders can match infrastructure funding provided by the provincial and federal governments.

In essence, Canada’s biggest cities, including Toronto, were asking for the power to do their part to expand and grow.

This sentiment was much needed prior to the city council meeting Tuesday, where councillors discussed how they would be paying for city services for the foreseeable future.

After much debate, city council approved staff recommendations by staff to generate revenue by using various taxes and tolls. The implementation of tolls is a brave new step for the city – proof that politicians understand the need to create revenue and alleviate congestion on city roads.

Toronto Mayor John Tory proposed the use of tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Express over a month ago, and since then it has received a mostly positive response. The money would be directly funnelled into maintaining and funding transit-related projects, which works to both alleviate congestion on roadways and expand Toronto’s transit network.

City council ultimately voted in support of the mayor’s proposal. Nine councillors opposed the motion.

These tolls, which could be implemented as early as 2020, would affectively alleviate congestion, unlock gridlock, and help pay for the much-needed transit network being built throughout Toronto. A win-win scenario.

Council also agreed to look into a 0.5 per cent levy on property taxes, a four per cent tax on hotels, up to a 10 per cent tax on short-term rentals like Airbnb, and harmonizing and/or increasing land transfer taxes. The city will also be asking the province for a share of the harmonized sales tax.

The debate on tolls will continue in the new year, when city staff will present options for implementation, including cost.

City Manager Peter Wallace made it clear in his presentation on the city budget that council had to approve of some of the proposed revenue tools — if they didn’t, they should be prepared to provide solutions to the $33 billion in unfunded projects the city is undergoing.

“I think it comes down to what level of public service does city council want to endorse,” Wallace said bluntly. He also made it clear that by voting to take tolls to the next level, council can rest assured that city staff will proved thoughtfully.

Other councillors were not so thoughtful. Many ignored the fact that people pay for the use of public transportation and that user fees are popularly used in large cities. However, at the end of the day, even the wary councillors understood the need to make a firm decision or risk being left with a large revenue gap to fill.

And to that brave majority, Toronto thanks you.

Election night from an American Canadian millennial

I moved to Toronto from the United States when I was only seven. Thus, being born in New York has become a fun fact rather than a life experience. New acquaintances are always intrigued, waiting to hear more about what my childhood was like in the streets of the city that never sleeps. However, the memories are scarce and the stories are blurry. For over a decade now, I’ve identified as a Canadian — American merely by passport. Home is where the Raptors are. Home is where the poutine is. Home is where Drake- sometimes- lives. The only time my identity changes is during the Summer Olympics. Because let’s face it, y’all are more into hockey, eh?

Over the past year, being American has never been more important. The entire world will be watching tonight as citizens decide the next President of the United States. The new leader of the free world. And given the fact that these same people are the ones that nominated Donald J. Trump as a presidential candidate to begin with — that’s a little frightening.

I did my civic duty and voted. I registered as an absentee voter, I received my ballot through email and I documented the whole process on Snapchat. The experience was rather anti-climatic, as everyone around me celebrated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first year anniversary in office – a man they can actually be proud of helping bring into power.

Given my choices, I was not satisfied by my vote. I would have liked to see someone who has the ability to change the political system. I would have liked to see someone who is going to have big answers to big problems instead of fighting over little issues. Or the wrong issues. I want big change.

So, I didn’t vote for Hilary Clinton. I just voted against Donald Trump. Clinton’s a liar and Trump’s a racist. Unfortunately, I voted for the lesser of the two evils. I voted based on the countless AJ+ videos and Buzzfeed articles I’ve seen on Facebook. I voted based on memes and tweets.

Because I am a millennial. I am a visible minority. And I am a woman. So I think it will make a lot of sense when I tell you that I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. As a millennial, I was raised to value tolerance. As a Canadian, I grew up around diversity. As a woman, I strive for optimism and authenticity.

Sure, it’s empowering to see a woman running for office as a feminist. However, Hilary Clinton lacks the authenticity and transparency that is required for a presidential candidate. I don’t understand her views and she doesn’t understand mine. For one thing, I do not wish to be seen as a ‘front line’ on domestic terrorism solely based on my faith. I’m a little busy. You know, on Netflix and stuff. It’s a millennial thing. You won’t understand.

However, I will admit that my generation is far from perfect. As millennials, we’re going to need to stop taking everything so lightly. As a millennial, I’m terrified that young voters will vote for Trump because ‘it’s funny’. I, myself, voted for the senator with the ‘cooler name’ due to my lack of knowledge about their policies — or existence. And although that wouldn’t be the case if American politics wasn’t arguably the biggest joke of the decade to begin with, it’s still unsettling to think that we’re the generation that’s looking for change without seeking it. And that itself has to change.

So, if you’re American — go vote! Because silence is also a form of politics.

What are your thoughts on the election? Let us know in the comments below! 

Edits I would make to Mayor John Tory’s Op Ed

Toronto Mayor John Tory wrote an op-ed Tuesday defending his transit plan. His writing was balanced and to the point — but I feel like there were some things that he really needed to say. 

Edits – Delete what’s between [ ]’s and add  in CAPS

“Throughout my time in office, I have tried to be completely honest with the people of Toronto so I will make this admission: The extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway is an issue [THAT OVER AMBITIOUS COUNCILLORS WANT TO USE AS A WEDGE ISSUE FOR THEIR 2018 MAYORAL RUN [with which I’ve struggled].

We are a city that likes to draw lines and take sides, especially when it comes to transit, and it’s easy to characterize people as either “for the subway” or “against.”

But this does a disservice to me and to everyone who cares about our city and its long-term success. WE CAN BUILD WITH IMMEDIACY TO SATISFY VOTERS TODAY, THE LRT WILL DO THIS — OR WE CAN DO THE HARD JOB OF ADDING TO OUR SUBWAY SYSTEM AND HAVING A MUCH MORE SIGNIFICANT  LONG-TERM IMPACT ON TRANSIT FOR OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN.

There is no doubt the original decision to cancel a planned LRT in Scarborough and extend the subway instead was made without enough information or process, but I cannot let the mistakes of the past cloud my judgment on what Toronto needs for the future.

We are decades behind when it comes to [transit] EXPANDING OUR SUBWAY SYSTEM and as mayor I’m driven by one principle: to move this city forward, productively, responsibly and collaboratively.

There are those (IDIOT COUNCILLORS POSTURING FOR MEDIA ATTENTION) who argue we should cancel the planned subway extension into Scarborough because of its projected cost,  even as our city clearly requires a major SUBWAY network expansion to improve service and connectivity throughout the city.

I have considered the Scarborough extension with an open mind and have found compelling reasons to proceed.

Opponents of the Bloor-Danforth subway extension seem to take for granted that cancelling the subway would result in the immediate construction of an LRT. OPPONENTS OF SUBWAY EXPANSION COMPLETELY RELY ON THE JUDGEMENT OF TRANSIT PLANNERS, IGNORING THAT OUR PLANNERS ARE DUTY BOUND TO BASE THEIR VISION ON EXTREMELY LIMITED FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS. LONG-TERM VISION HAS TO STEP BEYOND 20 YEARS TO LOOK AT THE NEXT 50 TO 100 YEARS FOR OUR CITY. TRUE LEADERS COUNT THE PLANNERS AS ONLY ONE PART OF THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS.

There is no discussion of what the real aftermath of another about-face would be, whether the LRT remains feasible, or would have the support of Metrolinx and our government partners. THE IDIOTS OPPOSING SCARBOROUGH SUBWAY DON’T REALIZE THAT TORONTO MAY LOSE THE FUNDING PROMISED BY OTHER LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT IF WE FUCK AROUND WITH THIS ISSUE.

There would be sunk costs from three years of planning and engineering work, on top of the $85 million incurred by the city after cancelling the LRT.

The proposed LRT corridor is now also shared by SmartTrack, which proposes to provide local commuter service on the Regional Express Rail network, with Scarborough SmartTrack stops at Lawrence and Finch East. WHY SPEND TORONTO FUNDS BUILDING AN LRT WHEN SMART TRACK, PRIMARILY FUNDED BY THE PROVINCE, WILL PROVIDE SERVICE IN THE SAME CORRIDOR?

Multiple lines in this corridor would require further study and would likely delay both projects, while cancelling local service on the SRT for years.  ME THINKS THAT SELF SERVING COUNCILLORS LIKE JOSH MATLOW (WHO REFUSED TO HELP AN ASSAULTED WOMAN — BY VOUCHING TO THE DRUNKEN STATE OF A CERTAIN GROPER) ARE USING THE SCARBOROUGH SUBWAY ISSUE AS A WAY TO GAIN MEDIA ATTENTION — PERHAPS THE COUNCILLOR COULD  LEARN TO STAND UP FOR WHAT IS  RIGHT INSTEAD OF POSTURING?

Trust and credibility

[The council-approved extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway has committed funding from our provincial and federal partners, both of whom continue to support the extension. With a change of plans, there is no guarantee their contributions would remain committed to Scarborough transit, and you couldn’t blame them for taking their investment elsewhere.] CITY COUNCIL HAS A FEW COUNCILLORS WHO ARE NOW REBUFFING THE COUNCIL-APPROVED BLOOR-DANFORTH SUBWAY EXTENSION. THEY PRETEND TO WANT TO  “SAVE THE LRT”, IGNORING THE FACT THAT THEY RISK JEOPARDIZING THE TRANSIT FUNDING COMMITMENTS WE HAVE FROM OTHER LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT, THESE SELFISH FOOLS PUT THEIR AMBITION BEFORE TORONTO’S NEED FOR AN EXPANDED SUBWAY SYSTEM.

Toronto is at a critical juncture, preparing to receive up to $840-million from the federal government over the next three years to make unprecedented investments in the reliability and performance of our transit system and advance the planning of our major transit projects.

With so much at stake, we cannot afford to deliver a self-inflicted blow to our credibility, resources and timelines. OR ALLOW COUNCILLORS WHO LACK VISION TO LIMIT TORONTO WITH EMPTY PROMISES OF IMMEDIATE TRANSIT.

It’s what people need

Earlier this year, Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat came forward with her department’s analysis of what good transit looks like in Scarborough.

They found most people taking transit downtown from Scarborough are students who want to connect directly into the core, which makes multiple stops along the way unnecessary — on an LRT or a subway. The analysis favoured an express subway extension above the original light rail. THERE ARE ONLY A HANDFUL OF PLANNERS WHO CAN THINK BIG – JENNIFER KEESMAAT IS ONE OF THEM, AND IGNORING HER IN FAVOUR OF THE LIMITED PROJECTIONS OF LRT-SUPPORTING PLANNERS IS EITHER A JUNIOR LEVEL MISTAKE THAT SHOWS AN INABILITY TO LEAD, OR A CALCULATED ATTEMPT TO SECURE LEFT-LEANING VOTES.

Transit ridership in Scarborough is also much lower than the rest of the city and greater high-speed connectivity from the Scarborough Town Centre will help get people out of cars and promote social equity and employment opportunities.

Development and investment in the region has stalled, a problem we cannot give up on considering our rapid growth and affordable housing challenges.

As an architect recently noted on Twitter in relation to the project, “Amalgamation was a deal for equality of conditions. Connect all City Centres.”

Of course, we will work with the TTC to bring down the $3 billion price tag for the extension. And yes, we need to talk seriously about how we will pay for transit projects, a process that is already underway. AND ONE WHICH I HAVE DEDICATED THE PAST DECADE TO WORKING ON!

But many of the subway’s loudest critics do not live or work in Scarborough, where more than half the population is born outside of Canada. When they say this is too much to spend on a subway, the inference seems to be that it’s too much to spend on this part of the city. COUNCILLORS TREAT THEIR WARDS AS FIEFDOMS AND THIS HAS LED TO INACTION ON BIG PROJECTS LIKE SUBWAY EXPANSION, PROJECTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR THE ENTIRE CITY. THOSE OPPOSING THE SUBWAY IN SCARBOROUGH ARE DOING SO BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DIRECT FUNDING INTO THEIR WARD, TO GET RE-ELECTED BECAUSE THEY CAN’T GET A JOB ANYWHERE ELSE. THEIR THINKING IS SMALL-MINDED AND LIMITED – BUT WHAT CAN WE  EXPECT FROM COUNCILLORS WHO LACK REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE? WITH WORK HISTORY SO SCANT IT AMOUNTS TO WORKING AT A COUPLE OF NOT-FOR-PROFITS AND AS A SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE?  THE ONLY FOUNDATION THEY HAVE FOR THEIR JUDGMENTS IS LIMITED TO WHAT THE EXPERTS OF THE DAY TELL HIM TO THINK.

The optimized Scarborough transit plan is part of a proposed 15-year network expansion, one that finally presents projects, including the Relief Line, SmartTrack and Waterfront LRT as an interconnected network, rather than a zero sum game of competing priorities.

For those reasons and more, changing tracks on Scarborough is not the answer. It will delay transit for those who need it, introduce new problems, new costs and a weakened position for our city.

I will continue my work to find the best path forward for the people of Toronto. I WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD CONSENSUS; I WILL HAVE THE PATIENCE TO LISTEN TO THE BLATHERING OF FOOLS; AND CONTINUE TO BE OPEN TO IDEAS FROM DISRUPTERS WHO CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO. Those who fight to move backwards must ask themselves where that journey ends.

John Tory is the mayor of Toronto.

Ontario cabinet now consists of 40% women

Monday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a cabinet shuffle that is meant to integrate some fresh perspective into the Liberal government. Seven new cabinet members were added, including five women.

After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a federal cabinet consisting of equal parts women and men, provincial Liberal governments are under pressure to do the same. Ontario is now closer to that goal, with women making up 40 per cent of the cabinet and 50 per cent of the Priorities, Delivery and Growth Committee, which is responsible for steering Ontario’s economic plan.

Some of the highlights of the cabinet shuffle include: Deborah Matthews, who will be remaining Deputy Premier and who was also appointed the new responsibility of Minister for Digital Governance. Laura Albanese is now Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Indira Naidoo-Harris is Associate Minister of Finance.

Luckily, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, was given an opportunity to implement the climate change plan he spent the last year putting together. Other ministers who will be staying in the same position include Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance and Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation.

Strangely enough, Ted McMeekin’s position as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has been taken over by Bill Mauro, former Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. Last week, McMeekin made a statement saying that he would be stepping down from his position to make room for more women in the cabinet. Imagine my surprise when his job was instead given to a man.

There are a lot of qualified women on the roster. Here is a list of the new Ontario cabinet:

  • Kathleen Wynne: Premier and President of the Council Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
  • Deborah Matthews: Deputy Premier, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Cabinet Minister Responsible for Digital Government.
  • Michael Gravelle: Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
  • Brad Duguid: Minister of Economic Development and Growth.
  • Jeff Leal: Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
  • David Orazietti: Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
  • Liz Sandals: President of the Treasury Board.
  • David Zimmer: Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
  • Michael Chan: Minister of International Trade.
  • Reza Moridi: Minister of Research, Innovation and Science.
  • Yasir Naqvi: Attorney General, Government House Leader.
  • Charles Sousa: Minister of Finance.
  • Eric Hoskins: Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
  • Glen Murray: Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
  • Bob Chiarelli: Minister of Infrastructure.
  • Michael Coteau: Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism.
  • Tracy MacCharles: Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Minister Responsible for Accessibility.
  • Kevin Flynn: Minister of Labour.
  • William Mauro: Minister of Municipal Affairs.
  • Helena Jaczek: Minister of Community and Social Services.
  • Dipika Damerla: Minister Responsible for Seniors Affairs.
  • Steven Del Duca: Minister of Transportation.
  • Mitzie Hunter: Minister of Education.
  • Laura Albanese: Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
  • Christopher Ballard: Minister of Housing Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy
  • Marie-France Lalonde: Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.
  • Kathryn McGarry: Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.
  • Eleanor McMahon: Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
  • Indira Naidoo-Harris: Associate Minister of Finance (Ontario Retirement Pension Plan).
  • Glenn Thibeault: Minister of Energy.

What do you think of this new cabinet? Let us know in the comments below!

Minister steps down to help Ontario make gender parity pledge

A cabinet shuffle is on its way, and a certain Ontario MPP is standing aside to make room for a more gender-diverse leadership.

Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced Monday that he will be stepping down from his position to make room for more women in the cabinet.

“I have three daughters, all confident and accomplished young women. With my wonderful wife, they are the joy of my life. Thinking of them, I’ve often dreamed of a day when the question of gender parity wouldn’t even arise, because it would just be taken for granted,” McMeekin wrote on his Facebook.

“But sometimes the best way for a man to advance the equality of women may be to step back and make room at the table. For me, this is such a time.”

While this may seem like a noble gesture, it’s likely that Minister McMeekin already knew there were a number of incredibly talented and well-credentialed women ready to take his place in the upcoming cabinet shuffle. It has long been rumoured that a cabinet shuffle will be announced after the legislature breaks for the summer (which is said to occur on Thursday), and it’s entirely plausible that MPPs were already given their notice. I doubt the Premier would have allowed him to say it if she didn’t know for certain the new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was going to be a woman.

Despite his good intentions, McMeekin has put himself in a strange position. It’s true that more positions of power should be opened up to women, but it’s a bit condescending for a man to say he stepped down to allow it. By phrasing it this way, it becomes less of an accomplishment for women, and more of a logistical issue to be rectified.

The provincial government has been under pressure to even out their cabinet after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted on a federal cabinet consisting of equal parts women and men. “Because it’s 2016,” he said in a mic-dropping speech after the announcement. This will be a greater challenge for the Ontario cabinet, which currently consists of eight women (including the Premier) and 19 men.

McMeekin’s announcement came the day before the Ontario government announced a target to help reduce the gender gap that exists within government agencies. By 2019, Ontario wants women to make up at least 40 per cent of all appointments to every provincial board and agency. A lofty, but not impossible, goal.

“Ontario is also encouraging businesses to, by the end of 2017, set a target of appointing 30 per cent women to their boards of directors. Once businesses set the target, they should aim to achieve it within three to five years,” a press release stated.

Wynne made the announcement in the presence of representatives from Catalyst Canada and UN Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality, at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management Tuesday morning.

Sunny ways may be clouded after Trudeau elbows female MP

Sunny ways and sunny days may be over for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after he accidentally elbowed a female MP in the House of Commons Wednesday.

That’s right. He elbowed an MP in the chest and now can’t show his face in the House because politicians and the media made it into such a frenzy that the chances of real work happening on the floor is next to zero.

Here’s what happened:

The House of Commons was about to vote on limiting debate relating to the controversial assisted suicide bill when a group of MPs decided to get up and stand on the floor, blocking Conservative Whip Gord Brown from getting to his seat to start the vote. An impatient Trudeau got up from his seat, crossed the floor, grabbed Brown’s arm, and guided him through the crowd. In doing so, he elbowed NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the chest.

According to media reports, Brosseau proceeded to leave the House during the vote because she felt violated and uncomfortable.

It’s pretty obvious that the elbowing of MP Brosseau was an accident, and the opposition parties are definitely milking this opportunity to shame the Liberal government. A yelling match between Mulcair and Trudeau occurred after the incident, in which Trudeau shocked the rest of the House when he dropped an F-bomb — apparently they forgot he wasn’t a schoolboy in disguise.

The opposition and NDP even went so far as to question Trudeau’s feminism. My favourite part of the whole interaction was when when NDP leader Thomas Mulcair screams, “what kind of person elbows a woman? It’s pathetic!”

I’m sorry Mulcair, but that’s a pretty ridiculous question. I can answer it for you: almost every single man (and woman) trying to take public transportation to work. It happened to me this morning. A man was trying to get to the door and he bumped into me with force, physically knocking me over into the lap of another man. He turned around and said, “I’m so sorry” and walked away. I decided not to feel personally offended.

Now, this man wasn’t Prime Minister, but the idea is the same.

The bigger issue, in my opinion, is that Trudeau walked across the floor to guide the whip to his seat in the first place. According to media reports, Brown was not receptive of the Prime Minister’s attempt to get the vote rolling. He told Trudeau to let go of him after he grabbed his arm. I can’t say anything about the amount of force used to “guide” him to his seat, but if he said “let go of me”, then it was wrong of Trudeau to maintain his hold. Actually, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

It’s also notable that throughout this whole process the speaker did nothing about the crowd of MPs standing on the House floor and blocking the whip’s path. This may have been the reason why Trudeau felt like he had to personally do something.

Since the incident Trudeau has publicly apologized at least three times, saying that he was not paying attention to his surroundings and that he did not mean to offend or impact anyone.

“I noticed that the whip opposite was being impeded in his progress,” he said. “I took it upon myself to go and assist him forward, which I can now see was unadvisable as a course of actions that resulted in physical contact in this House that we can all accept was unacceptable.”

This incident will take over the news — and the politics — in the House of Commons for the next few days. Trudeau may even get reprimanded for actions. Yes, these actions were obviously unacceptable, but let’s not let it cloud our judgement and our ability to work on the real issues at hand. And let’s not turn it into something it’s not — a jab against liberal feminism.

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