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.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Owner of shelter for abused men and children commits suicide after financial ruin, ridicule

I have long been what can be called a quiet supporter of "men's rights". I say quiet support because it is not something I have gone out of my way to advertise. I am going to change that today. I am taking this step because a great Canadian passed away recently.

Earl Silverman, a man who spent twenty years of his life crusading for better access to victim and emergency services for men and boy who are victims of abuse, was a victim of abuse himself at the hands of a former spouse. He dedicated his time, energy, and money towards creating a shelter specifically for male victims fleeing abusive situations.

And three days, Earl took his own life.

For the last three years of his life Earl ran the Men's Alternative Safe House out of his own home, taking in about twenty men and children over that period. Earl spend the entirety of his own savings to keep his shelter running while trying to convince government to allocate funds for his and other projects directed at male victims.

After years of being able to keep the shelter running through his own funds and private donations he was driven to financial ruin and forced to sell his home - by extension closing his life's work.

Three days ago, after selling his house, he walked into his garage and hung himself.

Suicide rates have demonstrated to be a predominantly male problem in Canada. In Canada, one in every five hundred men will end their own life. In Yukon, Quebec, and the Northwest Territories that number rises to one in every four hundred men. And in Nunavut, to one in every one hundred men.

Earl made every effort he could to change this. And in end, he spent so much time working to help others like him, but he could not help himself.

I didn't know Earl personally, but I shared his philosophy of equality for all. Because of his work I will no long be a 'quiet supporter of men's rights.'

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Engaging Ontarians on the Budget

This past week, the Ontario Liberal Government announced that they will be presenting the Budget on Thursday, May 2nd. 

Yesterday, the Ontario Liberal Party launched, a website where you can find out more about what the Budget means for you and your family. 

The Liberal Budget will lay out a shared vision for the way forward, one towards a prosperous and fair Ontario, now and in the future. 

Make sure you're among the first to hear about Ontario's path to balance. Sign up for updates here.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

On Earth Day

This previous Monday marked the forty-third annual Earth Day. While the day is intended to celebrate to celebrate Canada’s natural beauty, the day also provides an opportunity to educate, empower and motivate Canadian to achieve solutions that will improve the state of our environment.

Unfortunately, Canadians are currently dealing with a Conservative government that has gutted environmental protections and abdicated any national leadership role in combating climate change.

The current federal government must finally recognize and act on the challenge ahead. Climate change pays no regard to national borders and remains the most pressing environment issue facing the planet. The government must stop its delay tactics and immediately introduce a plan to cut back on Canada’s contribution to global climate change.

On this Earth Day, we must recommit to protecting our natural environment, particularly for the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren. To further ignore Canada’s pressing environmental needs would be a huge disservice to future generations.

It is time for the Government of Canada to take immediate, concrete action on the serious environmental challenges confronting Canada.

They will not make such changes on their own, however. Where there are Canadians that care about the environment; they must demand change. The strongest way to do this is to send the federal government a message by denying them your vote in 2015. Luckily for those in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), two of the government’s leads on the issue of climate change represent constituencies in our region. Given recent statements by both Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Thornhill, and Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources and the MP for Eglinton-Lawrence, it is doubtful they will heed your call.

As recently as this month Oliver stated, “I think that people aren’t as worried as they were before about warming of two degrees...”

For Canadians to convince the federal government that they actually do care, they will need to be loud. Good thing those of us in the GTA don’t have to travel too far to find the Prime Minister’s most senior representatives.

A few thoughts on the new Trudeau ad

I understand why there was a need to respond. I had considered that the Liberal Party sends a stronger a message by not responding; by rising above the attacks of the Conservative Party. But that is exactly how the Party responded to attacks made against the characters of Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.

The contrast between the Conservative and Liberal ads is quite blatant. Trudeau is attempting to frame himself as the softer of the two leaders. He is the one that understands Canadians. He isn't the career politician that Harper is. He is a teacher. And by setting the advertisement in a classroom he is embracing that title.

But will this ad be effective?

Frankly; I'm not certain. Most polling demonstrates that Canadians have already formed an opinion of Trudeau. That is to say, there are very few people left to convince that Trudeau either can, or can't, do the job of Prime Minister. As such, I doubt the Conservative attacks were all that effective either.

For now, anyway, 2015 is still a long way away. If these series of advertisements have taught me one thing, it is this: the Conservative Party of Canada is terrified of Justin Trudeau.

Monday, 22 April 2013

RE: Ontario's green energy future

The following is a copy of an email I received from Conservative MPP for Nipissing Vic Fedeli discussing his party's position on green energy. My biggest issue with this: The unwillingness of Ontario's Conservative Party to accept market influences in the costs of energy. While there is a certain nobility in wanting to subsidize energy costs across the board, this will only encourage Ontarians to ignore managing their consumption, thus putting on greater strain on our environmental sustainability.

Fedeli, Vic <>17 April 2013 12:40To: "Fedeli, Vic" <>
Thank you for taking the time to write to me about your support for renewable energy in Ontario.

As the Progressive Conservative Critic for Energy, I can tell you that our Party also supports renewable energy.  However, we would not go about transitioning to renewables in the way the current government has chosen.

I would like to share with you some information about wind power, in particular.

Wind power is unreliable.  Wind blows mostly at night when we don’t need power, creating a surplus Ontario then has to get rid of, often by paying Quebec and the United States to take it.  This cost us more than $500 million last year.  That’s on top of the $1.8 billion we lost between 2005 and 2011 due to surplus power exports (Auditor General of Ontario, 2011 annual report).  Also, wind developers are guaranteed 20 year contracts with subsidies at twice the cost of power to produce, whether the power is needed or not.  That cost difference is lumped into what’s called the Global Adjustment charge, which Ontario businesses bear the brunt of.  The Auditor says the Global Adjustment will skyrocket to $8.1 billion by next year, up from $700 million prior to the Green Energy Act.  Your hydro bill is forecast to increase 46% by 2015, with 56% of that due to new renewable generation (2010 Fall Economic Statement, Government of Ontario).  In fact, your hydro rates have now officially doubled since 2003.

Isn’t wind energy "green"?

There’s actually not much that is green about wind power.   Prior to the Green Energy Act, Ontario got 25% of its power from renewable energy – hydroelectricity; the cleanest, greenest, most reliable and most affordable power we have.  Today, renewables are still 25% with hydro at 22%, and wind at 3%.  The difference is we’ve added at least a billion dollars in annual costs to the system.  What’s worse is wind gets priority on the grid, which causes us to spill water unused at Niagara Falls when it does blow during the day – we lose $300 million a year doing that.  In extreme cases, we also have to shut down nuclear units and vent steam – we spent $80 million doing that last year.

What are the other problems with wind?

Health Canada is currently studying adverse health effects reported by many Ontarians who live in close proximity to industrial wind turbines.   As well, the Green Energy Act provides almost no ability to object to where these turbines are sited.  In recent months, we’ve seen bald eagles nests torn down to make way for turbines, and windmills sited near a Collingwood-area airport has prompted pilots to voice aviation safety concerns.

What will our caucus do differently?

We would:

-          Cancel the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) subsidies paid to wind developers
-          Implement an immediate moratorium on wind power development in Ontario
-          Give municipalities veto authority over wind projects in their communities

We support renewable energy, but it must meet the following criteria:

-          it must be at a price we can afford
-          there must be demand for the power
-          there must be a willing host community for the project
-          it must be easily connected to the transmission grid

Thank you again for taking the time to write.  I hope we can work together to build a clean, affordable energy future for Ontario.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

I'm saying "no" to Bixi

It looks like the folks at Bixi have got themselves into a bit of trouble.

The release of a confidential business plan to city staff and councillors reveals Bixi made Toronto a great deal of promises.

If Toronto agreed to guarantee a $4.8 billion loan, than Bixi (an arms length agency funded by the taxpayers of the City of Montreal) would set up 80 stations with 1000 bicycles. Revenue would be raised from sponsors, subscribers, and one-time riders. This was to be enough to cover operating cost within a decade while turning a profit; to be shared at a 50/50 split.

Now Mayor Miller's giving in to Toronto's bike lobby stands to cost taxpayers millions.

As Chair of the Public Works Committee Denzil Minnan-Wong puts it, "I think we got hosed."

A mere two years following the launch of the program, Bixi Toronto in heading towards bankruptcy. The trend is reminiscent of Bixi projects the world over. In Melbourne, New York, Chicago, D.C., Minneapolis, etc. bicycle rental programs are turning to governments in seek of subsidies to stay afloat.

In the case of Bixi, we are looking at a company that has never turned a profit - even with a 2011 bailout from the City of Montreal to the tune of $108 million.

Now Bixi is approximately $100,000 short of breaking even on its $1.5 million operating expenses. Staff feel this gap can be closed. But this would entail the City of Toronto taking on full responsibility for a deficit inducing asset; much like the Toronto Transit Commission.

This would be inadvisable. Bixi may be seen as a environmental initiative, but the costs associated to a government constantly struggling to come in under budget are just too great. I encourage people to cycle as often as possible - just not at the estimated $3 million annual cost to the taxpayers to keep Bixi afloat in our city.

Friday, 19 April 2013

My #LPCldr round-up

Just one week prior to the announcement Liberal Party of Canada members and supports gathered from across the country in Toronto to hear candidates for leadership make their final pitch to their would-be constituency.

With little time remaining in what some may call the most important Liberal leadership race since 1991, when Jean Chretien was elected; Liberals are faced with a very important decision.

However, the gloves have not come off in this final week; as so many expected. The Liberal Party of Canada has engaged in a history of eating their own. That has not been the case in recent days. Six candidates have spoken to Canadians about their vision for the country going forward.

Deborah Coyne, who led off the Toronto showcase, has centred her message on the notion of a strong central government. She has targeted Prime Minister Harper for abandoning the other orders of government. However, in recent days, she did appear to concede her long shot status; promising to run in a Toronto riding and calling on other candidates to embrace her ideas.

Karen McCrimmon, who will be remembered for her Toronto Convention Centre entrance to a live bagpiper, the former servicewoman has long spoken of her credentials. She offered herself up as the ‘resume candidate’ with a specialization in foreign affairs. But she too, has long accepted her status as a long-shot candidate.

Martin Cauchon’s candidacy seems to have left him someone forgotten. Cauchon came into this race with a experience and a mind for progressive policy that should have made him a front runner. But his late entry combined with a campaign was based more on attacking the actual front runner than unveiling his own direction for the party left him low on many ballots.

Joyce Murray, the candidate of choice by many in the media with the most likely chance to take victory from Justin Trudeau, has framed herself as the ‘anti-Justin.’ She was to be the candidate of ideas. She was to be the candidate who had a plan to defeat Stephen Harper. But her primary platform point of an electoral non-aggression pact with the New Democratic and Green Parties of Canada has drawn significant criticism from those supporting other candidates. This alone has made it difficult to see how she ever could have amassed enough second choice votes to move into a front running position.

Justin Trudeau: son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot has been considered the front runner even before this race began. Coming out to the Toronto Convention Centre audience with an impressive show of lights and smoke, Trudeau has made it easy for all eyes to be on him. His speeches have been rousing and bustling. They have been heavy on hope. They have been light on substance. It is what Liberal Party members and supporters have come to expect. Moreover, it is exactly what many in the Liberal Party are seeking; an inspiring young leader who can out-politician Prime Minister Harper and Thomas Mulcair. Was this enough to crown him leader?

We now know the answer is, “Yes.”

Martha Hall Findlay; whom I marked with the first choice on my ballot demonstrated throughout this race what we have seen from her since she first ran for leader in 2006; a keen mind for policy and taking government in a direction that will make life simpler for Canadian. She has touted her ability to take on those ‘sacred cows’ of Canadian capital-L Liberalism. She wants to end the Party’s commitment to agricultural supply management, create a national child care program, and create a dedicated funding stream toward Canadian municipalities. These are promises that the other candidates have not made. More important, it is the most in depth analysis of current Liberal policy done by any of the six leadership candidates. If this race was only about policy, she would be a shoe-in. However, it seems many have taken to the idea of seeking that who will act as the silver bullet to Stephen Harper’s government in 2015. This is not the goal I have for the party, necessarily. I still have a goal for a direction in Canada that is greater than simply removing the current governing party.

With this in mind, my ballot ended up as follows:

1.       Martha Hall Findlay
2.       Justin Trudeau
3.       Joyce Murray
4.       Martin Cauchon
5.       Deborah Coyne
6.       Karen McCrimmon

I started out this race in George Takach’s corner. I chose not to follow him to Justin Trudeau’s campaign because I simply do not believe that M. Trudeau is ready to lead a national party, let alone a government. There is a degree to which I still believe this. But I also know a number of the people Trudeau has surrounded himself with. They are intelligent individuals with a mind for public policy. If they work hard, and I have no doubt they will, both Prime Minister Harper and M. Mulcair will be in for quite the fight come 2015.