Justin Trudeau’s no-good, very bad excuse for arms deals

We live in strange times when Conrad Black does a better job of defending Liberal foreign policy than Justin Trudeau.

Black bluntly defended Canada’s sales of arms to Saudi Arabia: Canada isn’t important enough to influence Saudi Arabia’s policies, someone else will sell them weapons if we don’t, and no one really cares about things like the Geneva Convention or the UN Declaration on Human rights. It’s an odious, selfish defence that values trade dollars over human lives, but at least it’s an honest one.

The Prime Minister, on the other hand, has made only the flimsiest of excuses for the deal, maintaining it was already here when he moved in. Continue reading →

Bell needs parking more than cyclists need safety, and the City of Toronto agrees

(This is a roughly edited version of a letter I sent to Councillor Joe Cressy, Mayor Tory, and Film Toronto about Bell Media closing down one of the few bike lanes in the downtown core so they would have a convenient spot to park. Cressy, my very own councillor, acted with speed & efficiency rarely seen in government to get it re-opened before the end of the day.)

Bike lanes, like any other piece of infrastructure, must sometimes be closed. But Richmond is the only westbound bicycle lane between College street and Queens Quay. To many cyclists, the bike lane is the only thing that makes it a bike-friendly route, given the high speeds of many drivers. This is a central route for cyclists such as myself for travelling to work in the downtown area, and it should be closed only when there are no other options – and this was clearly not the case. It’s important to find out how and why this happened, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Career Politician John Tory criticizes Olivia Chow for being a Career Politician

In his latest press release, Mayoral candidate Jonn Tory takes aim at Olivia Chow’s history of spending money as a politician. Matt Elliott took a good look at the accuracy of those claims, but the one thing that stood out in Tory’s release is the dreaded accusation that Olivia Chow is a Career Politician.

“Toronto needs a mayor with experience, fiscal common sense, and restraint – not a career politician who has been living off the public purse for three decades.”

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Karen Stintz runs for mayor, announces she has no idea how to identify a mayor

“We thought we were getting a responsible leader.”

That’s what newly-registered Mayoral candidate Karen Stintz had to say about electing Rob Ford at the Toronto Board of Trade.

It’s safe to say that Rob Ford has surprised a lot of people during his time as mayor. No one expected him to be videotaped smoking crack, hanging out with convicted criminals in parking lots late at night, or waging a public relations war with the chief of police.

But let’s not pretend there weren’t any signs pointing to the possibility Ford might not be entirely mayoral.

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We know why Rob Ford lies. What’s everyone else’s excuse?

For a variety of reasons, we can expect Rob Ford to deny, lie, and obfuscate. Whether it’s guilt, or addiction, or stubbornness,  the pattern is clear: Deny. Eventually apologize. Attempt to move on. Repeat.

But the Mayor, as many have pointed out, is just one man, with one vote at city council. While his flaws, both political and personal, have been well documented, he’s rarely lacked political support. Some city councillors have abandoned his bullying, ignorant leadership, but he’s maintained support from plenty of politicians who have spent so much time looking the other way it’s a wonder they can still move their necks.

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Helleresque City Council

Not a totally irrelevant image! The mage I play in Warcraft is named Kafkaesque

The word kafkaesque gets thrown around a lot, often by people who have never read a single word written by Franz Kafka. (You should read many of his words; they are quite excellent, particularly when assembled into sentences and paragraphs.) I’ve seen it used to describe some of the recent events at Toronto City Hall, but it doesn’t quite fit.

Dictionary.com defines it thusly:

adjective

1. of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or resembling the literary work of Franz Kafka: the Kafkaesque terror of the endless interrogations.

2. marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity: Kafkaesque bureaucracies.

Aside from a few convoluted voting motions, there’s little that is menacingly complex about Toronto City Council. Quite the contrary, most of council’s recent decisions have been transparently stupid, casually hidden behind a veil of distorted logic.

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The Folly of Rocco Rossi

Rocco Rossi seems to be a pretty smart guy. When you see him in debates, interviews, and speeches, he’s articulate, intelligent, and passionate. So it’s hard to understand why he’s running the most ridiculous mayoral campaign in a race that already has Rob Ford being Rob Ford.

When Rossi declared he was running for mayor, no one knew who he was. But he’d worked with successful businesses,  the Liberal party and several charities, which might lead one to believe he’d be a qualified, possibly left-of-centre candidate for mayor.

But one of Rossi’s first announcements was condemning the Jarvis Bike Lanes, which certainly put him on my bad side. Not merely the opposition to the Jarvis lanes in particular, but the idea that bike lanes should be banned from all major streets, because they add to congestion of real traffic – that is to say, automobiles. Despite regularly proclaiming himself a cyclist, Rossi couldn’t grasp the idea that cyclists like arterials for the same reason drivers do: Roads like Jarvis get you where you want to go quickly and efficiently, unlike winding, stopping-and-starting side streets.

Rossi nonetheless called the plan sheer madness, predicting biblically chaotic congestion and gridlock that has yet to appear. But Rossi’s opposition to bike lanes wasn’t just about traffic congestion. No, the Jarvis bicycle lanes are an affront to democracy itself. He never explained exactly why the decision of an elected council a year and a half before an election is “undemocratic”, but redefining the nature of democracy turned out to be a big plank in his platform.

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