Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A brief note on civility...

This little girl vowed yesterday morning not to blog until the media firestorm surrounding the passing of Jack Layton quieted down. I just didnt think I'd have anything to say that 9827389473 other people wouldnt get to first.

Christie Blatchford, you have caused me to break my vow of silence.. It's too soon for sharp words, even for those who agree with Blatchford's sentiment. The public and media reaction may have gotten a bit out of hand, but heck, I know someone who cried for hours when Geri left the Spice Girls. People get attached and feel strongly about public figures, and that's okay. I may shake my head in dismay when they come out with commemorative plates, and stamps, and erect 47 statues in his honour, maybe even a boxed set of public appearances..

But right now is a time for mourning. I'm sure those who feel the need to mourn will appreciate it if those who dont would wait a few days to be vocal about it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Whoa, actually?


Just noticed an article in the Star on Thursday about NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel suggesting that Canada not look at the redistribution of electoral ridings because it could be 'divisive'. Someone tell me she's kidding.

Readjustment of the ridings is done every 10 years shortly after the census is completed to account for changes in the distribution of the population. It is done in an effort to ensure all areas of the country are properly represented and that our democracy is as fair as possible. There's a formula used to determine how many people there should be per elected representative, and how many seats each province should get in the House of Commons, etc. It's all very routine.

The notion of cancelling the readjustment that should follow this years 2011 Census is preposterous. A great deal can change in 10 years. Take toronto riding Trinity-Spadina for example. Nearly 20,000 people moved to TS between the 2008 election and this year. There are currently 96,000 eligible voters in the riding. To contrast, my hometown riding of Thunder Bay - Superior North has an electorate of 60,000 people. My parents' votes count for more than mine does. Think that's bad? The gap between the most populous riding and the least is over ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND VOTERS..But they both get the same representation: One seat in the House.

For some odd reason the leader of the NDP thinks this is hunky-dorey. It is unclear to me if she thinks so because the redistribution could disadvantage her party's prospects in future elections. At best, she's biased. At worst, she's dense. Either way, for the NDP to outright oppose something so routine and so crucial to the integrity of Canadian democracy shows how irreverent and out of touch they are. They are too busy pandering to their newfound support in Quebec, waffling over where they stand on the issues, and making a show of being opposed to every minute and inconsequential thing the government does.... Not divisive at all.

Pot, meet kettle.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rob's response.

Last week, I wrote a letter to Mayor Ford (see here) in reaction to a couple news reports that City of Toronto refused provincial funding for nurses. Below is the reply I got.. Thoughts?

Thank you for your email regarding the matter of hiring of two public health nurses.

Toronto is in the midst of a core service review. Now is not the time to add new permanent staff. Other departments have been asked to defer non-essential hiring until after the service reviews. Toronto Public Health is expected to do the same. Toronto Public Health has 1,922 staff. Like every other city department or agency, its managers must prioritize.

Even when the City receives "base" funding from other levels of government to hire staff, this funding is rarely indexed to inflation or wage and benefit increases. As a result, the City is exposed to increasing costs over time. The funding also does not normally cover the incremental administrative costs of managing new employees (HR services, supervisors, IT support, facilities costs, etc.)

There is no such thing as "permanent" funding from any level of government in an election year. We offered to hire the nurses on a temporary contract, renewable if the money is provided for additional years. The offer was refused.

The City continues to face a $774 Million hole in its operating budget for 2012 and has amassed over $3 billion in debt that costs taxpayers $445 million each year to in interest charges alone.

As promised during the mayoral election, I am dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts. Please feel free to contact my office again at any time.

Yours truly,

Mayor Rob Ford
City of Toronto

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No new nurses?

In response to an article I ran into on a friend's Facebook page, I wrote a letter to Mayor Ford this morning. The article was about a decision by Ford not to accept funding for additional public health nurses. The nurses would have helped promote STD screening, and chronic illness prevention in the cities underprivileged communities, and best of all would not have cost the city a cent. Even after a little googling I could not find any justifiable defence for Ford's decision, so I'm asking him myself.. I'll let you know what I hear back ;)

Dear Mayor Ford,

I heard somewhere that you make sure to answer letters written to you, and though you now have a constituency of millions instead of thousands, I hope that is still the case. As one of those constituents, I would like a straight answer on something. Let me preface by saying that this is not an attack, so please don't take it as such.

I read in the papers this week that you turned down funding from the provinces for public health nurses. As I understand, the money was unconditional and indefinite -all that you and Council had to do was accept it and put it in your budget. As I understand, it would not have affected other areas of the City's budget, nor will turning down provincial funding (of JOBS for your constituents, no less) mean that we are taxed less. It could have helped thousands of people. As I understand, it was completely win-win.

The papers are saying that this may be ideologically motivated, or worse, racially. Others suggest that you simply do not grasp all the facts of the situation. I however am trying to give you benefit of the doubt. I would like to think that while we may not see eye-to-eye on all issues, you are at the very least a rational person, and surely have good reason for the decisions you render.

With that in mind, can you please explain to me, in detail, why you felt that turning down this funding was a good idea? I would hate to think that my city is led by a moron or a bigot.

I very much look forward to your response.

Best,

Meagan Trush

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Quebeckiness..

Full disclosure. In its conception, this post was about the NDP and why Jack Layton's positions on just about everything to do with Quebec make me cringe and make me wonder if he's a moron who doesnt understand jurisdiction, law, or the Canadian political system and thinks he can sunnily pander to whomever might vote for him without a moments' consideration of the ramifications... After I cooled down a bit, I decided to focus more on the issues.

In the 2011 election Quebec politics became a bit contentious. [Yes. I realize, as should anyone that passed Grade 10, that they have pretty much always been a bit contentious] By halfway through the campaign it was clear that the dynamic was shifting, and that the traditional force-to-be-reckoned-with Bloc Quebecois may be losing their footing in the province. On may 3rd, the Bloc was left with only 4 seats, losing over 90% of their previously held ground in the House of Commons. NDP leader Jack Layton, the triumphant victor in the province, is now left with a dilemma of how to maintain the face of a credible federalist party while still representing the majority of their constituents that live in Quebec and making good on campaign promises made there. My beloved Liberal Party fell flat on their faces, so there won't be much on them today. For his part Prime Minister Harper campaigned on the notion of a Conservative majority as the only defence against the lingering separatist movement. This proved to be ill-received.

Since the late 1970's, Quebec has had a law that defines French as the only official language, though it has gone through an evolution over the years attempting to cater to moderates, french nationalists, business, as well as both federal law and the Constitution. For the most part, I had thought a balance of sorts had been struck and that things were going relatively well. The most I'd heard about language issues in Quebec the last little while was ruffled feathers over PQ MPs sending their kids to anglo schools, - nothing of great consequence. Recently though, among the measures mentioned by the NDP as priority for the upcoming parliament is to re-introduce a bill that died on the table to extend the primacy of French language to federal public servants in the province. As I understand things, this is currently outside the scope of the French language legislation. The Montreal Gazette muses "the NDP has already made a mistake by overselling the bill to nationalists as a federal Bill 101, when in fact it is merely a much-watereddown version..". I mean frankly Scarlett, if it works for the people that it actually affects then all the power to them. I just cant help but wonder what, if any, the legal implications will be. I imagine it would also impact in some way the communication between government departments in Quebec and their counterparts in the rest of the country.. But I've always found Babelfish to be quite effective. [/sarcasm]

Further on the subject of the great and melodious French language comes the argument that Supreme Court appointees should henceforth be required to understand French without the assistance of an interpreter. I'm going to first play devils' advocate on this. The vast majority of this country lists English, not French, as their first language. According to 2006 numbers from StatsCan only about 30% of Canadians actually speak French, and that number gets lower moving west of the Ottawa River. Should we as Canadians actually be ranking bilingualism ahead of other surely more relevant qualifications in the consideration of candidates for a position in the highest court of the land?! I think not. I do think however that should one find themselves a candidate for such a position, it would almost behoove them to at least make an effort to learn the language so as to better serve the good people of Canada and uphold a long tradition of not just bilingualism, but biculturalism as well.

I heard mention during the campaign of the NDP suggesting re-opening the Constitution in the hopes of enticing Quebec into signing. Now I won't spend too much time on this, but anyone who remembers (or studied) patriation, Charlottetown, and Meech know that opening the Constitution is a positively damned exercise in messy and divisive politics. This should scare the HELL our of people. Layton's remarks were well intentioned I'm sure, but not to be made so flippantly -nay, recklessly- especially in the same sentence as what some seem to think was a separatist catch phrase. God-willing, we will not be treated to a rerun of what happened after the deGaulle remarks in '67 because Canada does not exactly have a strong federalist party right now. Harper is no star candidate to lead the charge on national unity. The NDP both have their hands tied by a Conservative majority, and at any rate are rather unequipped to deal with an issue of this scale. They can scarcely pick a lane on quebecois issues without saying something inflammatory or getting spooked by their own shadow. The Liberals meanwhile, are finding themselves. We can not afford a surge towards separatism or Constitutional negotiations of that scale without a plan, and I dont think anyone has one that'll hold water.

See what I did there, I saved the juiciest political flavour of the week story for last. Lately there has been a great deal of hay made about the position of the NDP on what standard should be applied, that is what definition of 'majority' he feels would in a hypothetical referendum legitimize Quebec's secession from Canada. WHY this came up God only knows but the way I see things, it either adds fuel to the fire of media attention given to the idea of separatism, or is completely inconsequential. Either way I cant help but think there must be more important things to report on, no? After being pressured to clarify his position and dancing around the issue for a few days, Layton came out this week saying that 50% of the vote, +1 should be the definition used. This is contrary to the federal statute definition of same. The critics of this statement are numerous and vociferous. At the end of the day though, does it really matter? If, in the most profoundly backwards of times, Quebec were to hold a referendum on separation without consulting the Clarity Act to make sure things were kosher, majority by any standard achieved, independence from Canada declared, and they were recognized as a sovereign state by the international community, will any of this quibbling over definition make a difference?

This is not a rhetorical question.

Friday, May 27, 2011

"Thumper, what did your father say?"



Okay, so its been a while since last you heard from me. I was first sucked into the campaign vortex and did not have enough hours in my days to sleep, get groceries, call my mother every Sunday, or other things marginally more important than blogging. Post-E-Day, I thought it best to remain silent, as I really didnt have anything nice to say about ANYTHING -and nobody likes a sore loser. But dont you fret gentle readers, I havent abandoned you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Canadian Women's Favorite Pick-Up Line vid...

My father sent me this and I think its fantastic. If anyone needs one more reason NOT to support the Conservatives, let his appalling lack of support for women and women's issues be it.