Sunday, 3 November 2013

Stintz throws her hat in the ring

Karen Stintz, the Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and frequent thorn in the side of Mayor Rob Ford, has publicly declared that her name will be on the ballot in next year’s mayoral election. She joins the City’s current Mayor and fellow fiscal conservative David Soknacki, former Budget Chief, as declared candidates.

Long considered a potential fiscal conservative candidate for Mayor, Stintz has positioned herself over the Ford years as one who can put her name forward as a credible anti-Ford conservative voice. Her role as Chair of the TTC has given her the ability to differentiate herself on key issues such as subways and taxation.
In an interview Stintz chose to exclusively give to the Toronto Sun, she declared, “We’re different people [she and Ford] with different views around what it means to work for the city and work for the people. If Ford get’s re-elected we will stand still for four years.”

Differentiating herself from Ford will not be easy out of the gate. She has already recruited Don Guy to lead her campaign team. Some may remember Guy as the political savant behind former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s three consecutive election victories.

“The David Miller years are still fresh in people’s minds and I think many people fear going back to a [David Miller mentality], which I believe would take us back. So it a question for the city, ‘Are we going to go back, stand still or move forward?’”

This is the message Stintz made a point to send many currently in Rob Ford’s corner. This is the message she will attempt to reiterate during the course of her run. She is not Rob Ford. She is does not come the now internationally renowned Ford family baggage. However, she is more than prepared to defend the mutual Ford-Stintz record of both achievement and failure on the transit file.

The only question remaining is whether or not there are enough Torontonians looking for another candidate willing to stand on the Rob Ford record.

If nothing else, I do believe Torontonians are looking for an alternative. I am not fully certain who that may be. However, I suspect neither Stintz nor Soknacki is that individual.

Olivia Chow, the New Democratic Party Member of Parliament for Trinity-Spadina, and of course, John Tory, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, are also rumoured to be mulling runs for the top seat.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Accepting Autism

In my twenty-seven years I feel like I have overcome quite a bit. I was diagnosed with a learning disability when I was twelve. I was diagnosed as meeting the clinical definition of depression when I was fifteen. Over the years this has been expanded to include an anxiety disorder and a ‘chemical imbalance’. At seventeen I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my right knee – more commonly occurring in individuals three or four times my age. However, none of those experiences prepared me for a meeting I was to have regarding my daughter on an otherwise uneventful Thursday morning.

I sat in this small room with two doctors as they went through their various assessments of her behaviour and why they felt her worthy of the official diagnosis of “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – high functioning”; also known as, Asperger Syndrome. As a parent, there was nothing that could have prepared me for sitting in this room while doctors told me that my perfect little girl may not be perfect. My heart sank, and frankly, I just had an overwhelming sense of fear. That is a word that has taken many aback, but let me explain.

When I heard those words about my child for the first time all I could see was those people that would treat her differently because they couldn’t see past that word: “AUTISM”. Would she ever be able to fall in love? Would she get married? Would she have children?

These are all things I want for her. It breaks my heart to think these life landmarks may be more difficult for her to come by.

After nearly two month to consider her future and talk to others; most importantly my wife, with children or family somewhere on the spectrum I have come to some realizations. The first and most important being that she is still the same girl she always has been. She is a lovable, playful, outgoing child who just wants to dance and sing. She is also going to be helped by this official diagnosis. The Toronto District School Board will now be legally obligated to meet her additional needs, where they were initially sitting on their hands during her first year. And, of course, that is just the beginning.

Meeting my daughter’s needs will be a much more involved process than meeting my own was. My learning disability required a little bit extra time on tests and gave me the opportunity of a credited study hall. Both my wife (who is luckily acting as my rock during this trying time) and I will be advocating for our daughter in some capacity for our entire lives. But frankly; there is no other person in this world I would rather advocate for.

For other parents in a similar situation reading this, please share your stories with me at

Monday, 20 May 2013

Federal Government Reaffirms its Commitment to the Mining Sector

The Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, last highlighted the extension of the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for an additional year under Economic Action Plan 2013 while visiting a former mine site in Sudbury, Ontario on the Podolsky Property.

“Mining workers and communities across Canada can count on our Government’s support of this vital engine of economic growth,” said Minister Oliver. “That is why, in our latest federal budget, we extended the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit to continue to provide junior mining companies access to the venture capital they need to finance their exploration activities.”

With more than 200 active mines in Canada producing more than 60 different metals and minerals, the sector is a key economic driver in dozens of rural, remote and Aboriginal communities across the country.
“Mining continues to be a cornerstone of the Canadian economy, providing employment and benefits to communities across the country,” added Minister Oliver. “Mining is directly responsible for 330,000 Canadian jobs. These are first-rate jobs in a growing global industry.”

Prior to the announcement, Minister Oliver toured the mine site with some of Canada’s top geosciences students. These students were selected from post-secondary institutions across the country to take part in the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop.

Students participating in this workshop had a rare opportunity to take a first-hand look at the many facets of the mineral exploration industry by touring the McCreedy West Mine, one of Canada’s largest nickel mines, as well as the former mine site on the Podolsky Property.

Mining has been the bedrock of the Greater Sudbury region’s economy for more than a century. For over 130 years, literally billions of dollars’ worth of nickel, copper, gold, platinum and other metals have been mined, milled, smelted and refined in this area. 

In 2011 alone, operations in the Greater Sudbury area produced 106,000 tons of nickel, 164,000 tons of copper, more than 3,000 tons of cobalt and over 73,000 ounces of precious metals. 

May 13 through May 19 was National Mining Week in Canada, an annual celebration of Canada’s international leadership and expertise in mining.

This is welcome news from a government that has become more known for spending scandals than it has been for actual governing. Perhaps this has more to do with a Prime Minister on his way out of a leadership role and one of his top performers positioning himself for a future run at the big chair?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Ontario plans to extend Highway 427

Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, visited the Conair/Cuisinart Consumer Products in Vaughan earlier this week, where she announced the Government of Ontario's commitment to extend Highway 427 to Major Mackenzie Drive, connecting communities and supporting thousands of jobs throughout my former home town of York Region.

The new 6.6 kilometre extension is included in the 2013 Budget. It is being described as part of the government's commitment to make smart infrastructure investments across the province. This extension may very well help create jobs and strengthen the economy throughout the region by helping goods and people to move more efficiently.

Investing in modern infrastructure is part of the government's strategy for job creation and help Ontario create a competitive business environment, while helping people in their everyday lives.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

What’s next?

No one will deny Ontario has a great deal of potential. But it is being held back by weeks of paralysis caused by Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, and her party’s ever-growing list of demands.

The Ontario Legislative Assembly has spent the past two weeks talking about everything except what matters. Ontarians, Torontonians, and residents of York Centre need focus on creating jobs and ending overspending. What is occurring, however – at all levels of government, is a soap opera. Meanwhile, opposition parties are lobbying for another expensive election.

I cannot be the only one fed up with governments addicted to spending with very little to show for it. Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Friday, 17 May 2013

International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

On International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, Canadians across the country should join in renewing a commitment to end all discrimination, while remembering the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community’s long and difficult struggle for equality and acceptance; one that continues to this day.
Here in Canada, the LGBT community has made notable progress in legal rights, dating back to the decriminalisation of homosexuality under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1968, to equality rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to the assent of the Civil Marriage Act in 2005. In our schools, gay-straight alliances and similar support groups challenging homophobia are becoming more common, and I am proud to say I presided over one once upon a time. Further, harassment and discrimination are increasingly rejected. From immigration and employment protections to adoption rights, Canada has a record of confronting homophobia.
Nevertheless, the stigma many individuals confront in their daily lives remains very real, both here at home and around the world. In many countries, LGBT individuals are not only deprived of basic dignity but frequently face imprisonment, brutality and even death.
Today is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the significant challenges that remain, but also to stand united in celebrating and advocating for diversity. All Canadians must continue to unequivocally defend LGBT rights as human rights.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

World Press Freedom Day OR Liberte de la presse

The recently passed (May 3rd) World Press Freedom Day is a time to honour the vital role played by an independent press and freedom of expression in fostering democracy, both here in Canada and around the world. It is also a day to remember all those who have lost their lives in pursuit of the truth.
Unfortunately, censorship, intimidation and politically-motivated arrests continue in many corners of the globe. Journalists must be able to report freely and without fear of repercussions, for when the press is intimidated, we all suffer.
World Press Freedom Day is equally an occasion to examine the state of press freedom in our own country, especially as the industry struggles and learns to adapt to the information age. The current federal government has shown unprecedented disdain for the press and freedom of expression, with real consequences for Canadian democracy.
For this reason, I would like to ask all Canadians to demand that freedom of expression and freedom of the press be respected here at home and around the world.