Please vote “Yes” to aboriginal treaty rights for Six Nations (poll is today only!)

The question: Does the Six Nations Confederacy have the right to charge fees to builders in Brantford?

The answer: Yes. Canada must honour treaty (incl. land use) rights of all first nations people!

Vote here.   (Hurry! The poll question will change after today.)

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Greenpeace does end-run around coal-fired plant security


Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise stops coal shipment

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise has stopped shipment of coal from reaching the Nanticoke Generating Station on Lake Erie today, preventing the coal freighter Algomarine from delivering its dirty cargo.

Hooray, Greenpeace. Can’t visit Nanticoke because of security? Confront the coal-haulers on their way there!!!

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Toronto councillors’ unlimited small-mindedness


????? !!!!! ????? !!!!! ?????

The McGuinty government’s revamped City of Toronto Act is the gift that just keeps on giving.  Could the Daltonites have ever imagined how, by granting the city more taxation powers, they were extending city councillors more than enough rope with which to hang themselves?

Yesterday’s dust-up among Toronto councillors, following the announcement of budget cuts by City Manager Shirley Hoy, made for great television but did nothing to assure thinking Torontonians that we are not headed for a scenario, such as in New York City in the 1970’s, when that city’s bankruptcy was embarrisingly clear for the world to see.

I don’t think the Star overstates things in its headline today City cuts quality of life.

Local politics – yes in Montreal, too 🙂 – is often quite ugly and unsophisticated. Poltical thespians on council – and there’s surely no need to name names – are usually very parochial, thinking of the relatively few, talk radio-listening voters and developers in their wards who put them into office. They focus on lunch being served at City Council meetings and free parking for councillors, latching onto populist outrage and milking it for all it’s worth.  As if cutting these would put another subway train on the rails.

It all amounts to a dumbing down of local government when what is really needed is councillors – not just the mayor who, unfortunately, is showing signs of fatigue right now – to speak (and think) about the whole city, its future and its livability.

Update: The Star’s Christopher Hume places the blame, at least in part, on the few voters who turn out for municipal elections. It’s well worth a read!

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Family tree in spring

A second cousin found my blog and contacted me after my brother’s death, which she duly noted in her genealogy site.

Turns out Jamie is politically active, too, defending the rights of her dog Mac (and, by extension, the rights of dog owners, too.)

We have a common political adversary in the form of the Dalton McGuinty Liberals in Ontario.


Toronto gridlock needs quintuple bypass surgery, gets angioplasty


What’s not to be excited about in Toronto with today’s announcement, at long, long last, of the extension of the subway to York University – and beyond into the neighbouring municipality of Vaughan? The federal government has come on board, as an equal funding partner of the project, with the provincial and municipal governments.

Kids in grade six today might be able to commute by subway to their first classes at York University in 2013 or 2014. Of course this announcement, a revision of plans past, should have been followed through years ago when, instead, former Mayor Mel Lastman opened his pet project in 2002 – the 6.4 km Sheppard line, to practically nowhere, between Yonge Street and Don Mills Road. (See the purple line at the top of the complete subway system map.)

The new subway extension (from Downsview in the upper-left corner of the same system map) will be 8.7 km long with six stations, including Downsview Park, Keele at Finch and the all-important York University stop, and will actually travel (with three station stops) into Vaughan, stopping near Steeles and Jane, Highway 407 and Jane, and ending at the Vaughan Corporate Centre at Highway 7 and Jane.

Toronto’s highway and street gridlock has, for years now, been bad enough to have completely blurred the distinctions between morning and evening rush hours. It’s costing the economy billions in lost productivity which, perhaps, is what got the attention of the federal Conservatives. Even with millions of riders on the Toronto Transit Commission’s subways, streetcars and buses (it’s North America’s third-largest transit system) the individual, almighty car, with no passengers, still rules the roads.

Today’s announcement – the subway extension, dedicated surface transit routes in the suburbs, etc. – is welcome news indeed. However, as big city mayors will make clear (even if they do not use my analogy), the heart problems affecting Toronto, and other urban area, commutes require major bypass surgery not mere stents, helpful though they will be, in a couple of arteries. Governments, those calling themselves ‘new’ and otherwise, need to develop better overall heart health policies. This includes long-term, stable funding of mass transit systems.

Municipalities, too, have a major role to play. Slowing low-density, suburban sprawl – as if there was unlimited land to develop, consequence-free – is just one solution that needs more attention.

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Doh! Santa McGuinty gives out lumps of coal early

The fix, election date and otherwise, is in for Dalton McGuinty.

After first blaming advisers (“Be careful about the advice you get from experts”), the Ontario Premier has fallen on his own plastic knife and taken responsibility for the latest of his broken 2003 election promises to do away with the province’s five pollution-belching, coal-fired electricity plants by, hmmm, let’s say election time – the end of 2007. Ain’t gonna happen. McGuinty blew it.

Let’s not look for any Liberal promises in writing during the next campaign. Apart from Dalton McGuinty breeding cynicism, however, Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton rightly points out that these generating plants are major health hazards.

Hampton has consistently called for a green plan of energy conservation and investment in energy efficiency.

Too bad the shortsighted government can’t see jobs and economic activity in innovative energy policy. Instead, it is determined to keep pollution-making activity going with duct tape and electricity import agreements – gridlock, urban sprawl, smog days and all – just to limp to the October 4, 2007 election.

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Ottawa swimming in cash, affordable housing money stuck in politics

The Globe & Mail and Toronto Star each have different, equally important, lead stories – in their early editions at least.

It seems that, just in time for a spring (or sooner) election, Ottawa has accumulated an even higher budget surplus than anticipated (where have we heard that song before?). This from a government that swore it wouldn’t “low-ball” such budget projections like their Liberal predecessors.

Yet, and this is the Star’s big story, $400 million of federal money can’t be spent on affordable housing in Ontario because the McGuinty Liberals (seeing their fixed election date coming in a year) are holding out for more as part of their “fiscal imbalance” feud with the feds. I would bet my share of that money they’re playing a pre-election shell game, thinking that it is just a little too early to settle (although I’m guessing they will take whatever they can get when the time suits them).

And, given Ontario’s pattern of liking one party for Queen’s Park and another for Parliament Hill, this gives the Harpocrites time to attempt to shore up their sagging Quebec support and McGuinty’s crew will have some housing money to release just in time for maximum impact on October 4, 2007. It’s as if they were political allies.

After all, the Bloc is going to make or break – in the near-term – the minority government in Quebec ridings, on the fiscal imbalance question, and the Liberals will be happy to campaign with a new leader, even in January again. That all must be grating at Harper more than what he would see as a gift to Toronto’s ungrateful NDippers and Liberals.

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