Tag

sarah thomson

Browsing

Ontario will still have a revenue problem

I became a Liberal advocate in 2011 because they were the only party honest enough to admit that both Ontario and Toronto have huge revenue problems. Services like healthcare and education suck up all the tax dollars collected by the province and, as our population grows, there is an even greater need for more funding options. Few politicians have the guts to stand up for increasing taxes or implementing tolls because they risk their chances of re-election. But Toronto Mayor John Tory did. He stood up for tolls despite the risk of losing support in the suburbs because he, like many of us, understands that dedicated funding for transit has to come from somewhere.

I met Kathleen Wynne and others in the Liberal party who said they were willing to admit that Ontario didn’t collect enough revenue to pay for the services residents want — services like transit and housing that cities desperately need. I became a Liberal because of these facts. I believed the Premier would stand up and do the right thing, and not cave to low-polling numbers or pressure from cabinet members desperate to get re-elected. She once believed that tolls were a necessary tool to get the dedicated transit funding Toronto needs.

Tolls on Toronto highways are just as important as tolls on provincially-owned highways. Not allowing Toronto to access this funding tool will simply push the cost of transit expansion and other services on to future generations. From health care, to education, to efficient transit, we don’t have enough funding to pay for everything. But today, Premier Wynne has decided to ignore that problem and gamble that economic growth and low gas prices will last forever.

Relying on our current gas taxes for the billions of dollars needed over the next decade for transit expansion in Toronto is the same “do nothing” approach that has caused the growth of gridlock in the city. Gridlock is costing residents over $13 billion per year in time and lost revenues. A slight slip in economic growth, or increase in gas prices will lower the amount of revenue Ontario collects, meaning we’ll be financing all this transit expansion through debt.

So, why would Premier Wynne go against everything she stood for? Rumours of internal “poli-tricking” swirl with cabinet ministers outside Toronto apparently demanding she stop her support of Mayor Tory’s plan. The Premier should remember how flip flopping on the gas plant in Mississauga almost cost Liberals the 2011 election and this huge change in her position on Toronto tolls may very well lose her the liberal base of support in 2018. This kind of internal poli-tricking is why voters lose faith in politicians, and will choose an honest buffoon over a smart, intelligent, candidate.

Today I am ashamed.

New Mainstreet Research poll shows Toronto crazy for tolls

There has been a lot of criticism following Toronto Mayor John Tory’s new proposal to toll the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway. But, what do Torontonians really think? A recent poll published by the Transit Alliance, a non-political organization that works with people in the transit and infrastructure industry, shows that over 50 per cent of Toronto residents actually support the use of tolls.

The poll, which was conducted by Mainstreet Research on Nov. 25, surveyed residents from all 44 wards in Toronto to find out if they supported tolling major roadways to pay for infrastructure and transit. What they found was an overwhelming endorsement of the mayor’s proposal. Sixty-five per cent of Toronto respondents said that tolls were the preferred source of revenue compared to increasing property taxes or introducing a sales tax.

This statistic was further broken down into regions: 72 per cent in the downtown core, 64 per cent in North York, 62 per cent in Scarborough, and 57 per cent in Etobicoke.

When asked specifically about tolls, respondents across the board said they would be supportive of implementing them on the DVP and Gardiner.

The question was: “Proponents of road tolls for the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway say road tolls would force non-city of Toronto residents to pay their fare share; critics say road tolls are an unnecessary tax hike. Do you approve or disapprove of introducing tolls on the DVP and Gardiner Expressway to pay for transit and infrastructure?

Support for tolls was the highest among downtown residents, with 70 per cent of respondents approving — including 52 per cent strongly approving — of the revenue sources. Residents of Etobicoke and Scarborough were less supportive of tolling, at 61 per cent and 68 per cent support respectively — still relatively high within the margins.

Only a third of Toronto residents approved the use of property tax increases, and even less supported the use of a sales tax (22 per cent).

While there are a number of critics that believe tolling to be an unfair tax on those living within the 905 region, this poll shows that even those living in Etobicoke understand the need to create revenue for better transit and infrastructure. The city needs to grow, and if the choices are between an increase in taxes or a toll on drivers, Toronto has made it clear that tolls are preferable.

If there is this much support throughout all the wards within the city, hopefully the mayor’s proposal will soar through council and Toronto can finally start to accumulate the funds it needs to continue developing transit and infrastructure throughout the GTHA.

Mainstreet Research surveyed a random sample of 2,280 Toronto residents, calling a mixture of landlines and cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.05 per cent.

Should I be jealous my husband watches porn?

Whether it’s behind your back, leaving a trail of computer history behind, or right next to you, he’s watching porn. Some women hate it; others don’t care. If your man’s porn fixations are getting under your skin, it’s time to face your feelings head on. Perhaps you’re burdened with questions buzzing in your brain, or worse, a closet full of insecurities bred from feeling upstaged by his favourite pornstar. Despite all this, you hide your jealousy because you don’t want to play porn police and rain on his boobie parade. Fortunately, you don’t have to feel this way.

Read through this question-answer guide to gain some clarity on your husband’s porn dependence.

Is it cheating?

The question of whether porn counts as cheating can be a confusing debate. The answer really depends on your personal definition of cheating. For some, cheating could be as simple as a small crush on a friend or co-worker, while for others, it’s being sexual or emotionally intimate with someone else. So, let’s say cheating can be understood as the latter, then no, watching porn is not cheating—unless he’s fallen in love with the porn star. Eek!

In simple terms, porn allows people to fantasize about spectacles that are not normally attainable in real life. Is this necessarily bad? Well, think about it this way: what’s the root cause of your jealousy? Is it the fact that his eyes and juices are shooting elsewhere or that it’s being directed at another woman? According to sex therapist Alina Palin, “most men do not necessarily watch porn for the women. Rather, the excitement comes from the super sexualized actions that the women are performing.”

Shane Panser, 31, agrees with this view. “When I watch porn, I don’t really care for what the girls look like. I just browse around for videos until I find one giving a crazy good BJ.”

Matt McMillen, a medical writer for Web MD, confirms this sentiment in his article, “Why Men Like Porn”, explaining that for most men, the reliance on porn is not grounded in a preference for another woman, but rather the rawness of the sex she’s performing. He says, “It’s not about what he’s not getting at home. It’s the novelty. It’s a turn-on.”

So, is porn cheating? All signs point to no.

What if it’s too hard core?

It’s common to worry about the type of porn your man watches and its level of intensity. Some types of porn can be pretty hard core, involving all the bells and whistles, from face-slapping degradation to frantic “juice” guzzling, topped with mascara running down the poor girl’s eyes. You get the picture. And all the while, the pornstar is loving it—so not realistic! Consider her size quadruple Z bust, big blonde hair and sky-high stilettos, a look that no regular grocery-running woman would ever wear. Clearly, it’s all just make-believe.

Many women think that their man’s favourite porn is a representation of his sexual desires for his relationship. It’s not. These videos are not real life—it’s pretend, separate from his intimacy with you. There’s also a good reason why he might keep these two realms apart. In the porn world, it can be thrilling to watch a woman get battered up by three schlongs, as distasteful as that may sound to some. However, with you, he can disconnect and compartmentalize his porn cravings, and appreciate your unique sexual dynamic on its own.

It’s not necessarily about being better or worse—it’s just something different, like enjoying a different spice. As explained in the men’s sex guide, featured by Intimate Village, men use porn to supplement and vary their sexual urges. So, while most women hope that their men’s porn appetites remain safely along the lines of low-rez lesbians and homemade videos by couples, realistically, many men enjoy much fiercer exploits.

Am I less desirable?

The true allure of porn for a man is rarely a negative reflection on his partner, says sex therapist Lonnie Barbach, PhD, in practice in San Francisco. “Some women feel threatened because they don’t think they’re as sexy as a porn star,” she says.

Yet, as previously mentioned, the seduction of porn is set in the sexual performance, not the actress’ looks. She could be gorgeous or plain—either way, he’s usually not imagining himself with her on a personal level, but rather enjoying the possibility of experiencing that pleasure.

According to sex and relationship specialist Luke Gilkerson, it’s really just part of a guy’s nature to just look at naked women in general. In turn, women should not personalize this behaviour, which is instinctive, as long as it’s kept respectively controlled within the confines of porn and not with another woman.

If you still feel that your man’s fantasies are alienating you from his sex life, you can always join in on the action. Together, you can role play or experiment, supplementing the experience with twosome toys, as R.Esco suggests in her article, “The Health Benefits of Sex.” Whichever way you fire it up, the main goal is to streamline his porn fetishes to align with your sexuality in a healthy and agreeable manner.

 

Like any habit that needs curbing, your jealousy can be easily diffused with the right attitude toward porn. Accept your husband’s porn as something natural and inevitable, but most importantly, never see it as your competition.

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.

TRAVEL: Planning a winter vacation? Think Costa Rica

By Sarah Thomson

After a long day of travel, leaving Toronto at 6 a.m. with American Airlines and a plane switch in Miami, we arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica by 2 p.m., picked up our rental vehicle and made our way to the coast. Taking the new highway from San Jose to Quepos took us approximately 3 hours and we arrived at Arenas Del Mar just as the sun was setting.

We were greeted by two friendly attendants who loaded our bags onto a large golf cart and shuttled us up a paved path, through the jungle, to our room; tree frogs and night bugs filling the canopy above us with their calls. Stopping at the reception area, with pool and bar, we picked up our key and were informed of the Calypso dinner being served on the beach.

Our room was a spectacular corner suite facing the ocean and beach. The polished wood accenting the windows and stone tiling was elegant. Heavy doors slid easily open to a huge wrap around balcony that could be accessed from both the master bedroom and living room (where the kids slept on a pull out couch that was made up and ready for them). The balcony off the master bedroom had lounge chairs and a huge Jacuzzi tub that overlooked the cliffs and sea below, around the corner the balcony off the living room had a couch and big comfy chairs. Trees surrounded us— the jungle sounds of bugs, birds and howler monkeys, combined with the luscious earthy smell of vegetation, made everything seem surreal.

Most of the living area is outside with large covered terraces providing shade and great views. We could see the lanterns on the beach burning, and hear the surf pounding against the rocks far below.

After pulling our swim suits from the luggage we changed and caught a chauffeured golf cart down the path to the pool (the golf carts ferry people up and down the path to the beach and reception area). We had a quick swim then changed for dinner and made our way to the candle lit beach. An area under the palm trees was filled with white linen covered tables and chairs.  A Calypso trio played soft music—without an amplifier. The music, with the rhythm of the waves in the background and the warm breeze combined to make it a beautiful evening. Dinner was fantastic and my 7-year-old was invited to play the maracas with the band and without any hesitation he was up there loving the attention (what he’s lacks in shyness he makes up for in smiles).

We woke up the next morning to the sound of the parakeets and toucans in the trees that surround our terrace.  The sun was just rising, and with it the jungle came to life.  Our boys’ excitement and desire to explore was infectious and we went for an early morning walk before going for our free breakfast. The resort has two beaches. One is secluded and protected by large rock outcroppings at either end and the other larger beach is part of Manuel Antonio National Park and stretches for miles.

It wasn’t long before the boys were soaked and playing in the waves. (*Note to parents: put them in bathing suits the moment they wake up because the ocean is warm and irresistible). As the sun began to rise and heat up the beach, we made our way back to the resort, changed and went for breakfast of fruit pancakes and delicious coffee.

Arenas Del Mar Nature Resort is an elegant introduction to the beauty of Costa Rica. It is by far one of my favourite hotels in the world, with a combination of elegance and design that works perfectly with the natural beauty of the jungle that surrounds it.

It is: quiet, calm, elegant, peaceful, natural, warm and amazing.

It is not: loud, party place, crowded, busy, cold and average.

I hope to come be back to this beautiful resort very soon.

 

Take a look at the beautiful beaches below.

 

 

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @ThomsonTO.

LISTEN: Sarah Thomson slams Ford for culture of homophobia and bullying

On today’s #TOpoli radio show panelists Sarah Thomson, Travis Myers, Andrea Houston, and Josh Rachlis discussed recent breaks in the brutal murder case of Christopher Skinner, a gay Toronto man who was run down in the Entertainment District.

In a bizarre twist it turns out that one of those apprehended, Nicholas Swaby, was a captain with the Don Bosco Eagles football team that Rob Ford coached. Swaby had spoken publicly in the past about what a great role model Ford was to him.

Listen to the panel discuss: was Ford’s culture of homophobia and bullying a contributing factor in the murder of Christopher Skinner?

This infographic sums up everything wrong with the Scarborough subway debate

Subways for Scarborough! LRTs for the city! Accessible transit now!

Why does it seem like, despite all the time that has passed since the death of Transit City we are having the same debates now that we did when David Miller was in office? Why does it seem that, with every passing day and every subway bandwagon jumped on by every politician at every level of government, the simple facts of the matter are being swept under the rug in favour of vote pandering?

Toronto Tweeter Ev Delen (@EvDelen) shows us the cold hard facts in this infographic.

Get ready for the most simple representation of everything wrong with the Scarborough subway debate — and everything wrong with the politicians pushing for subways.

 

References:

 

 

It all seems pretty simple now, doesn’t it?

 

 

You can follow Ev Delen on Twitter at @EvDelen.

You can follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.