How May I Help You To Help Me?

September 19, 2013

So as the Scarborough subway saga continued to weirdly and depressingly unfold yesterday in and around Queen’s Park wheresthemayor– essentially, This subway-No. This subway. – the man right at ground zero of the debate, he who declared Transit City dead and cast all future transit projects in Toronto underground, Mayor Rob Ford was conspicuous in his absence.

At least, absent from the raging transit debate. Instead, the mayor was out on the hustings making mayoral house calls, totally not campaigning during a whistle stop tour of a Toronto Community Housing apartment in Rexdale. A little electoral trick-or-treating, handing out fridge magnets, business cards and free advice in return for friendly photo ops and voter folks’ complaints, concerns and issues and in no way a shoring up of a data base.

I’ll get right on that, the mayor assured everyone he talked to, whether or not it was fixing a leaky fridge, a crack in a garbage chute or recovering someone’s hearing aid that had fallen down the drain. soaringToo bad the mayor didn’t bring his adjustable wrench with him. He could’ve retrieved it himself.

This, of course, is what earns him the accolades of having that common touch, of looking out for the little guy. Customer service, am I right? You have a problem, call the mayor. He’ll be right there on your doorstep to sort things out.

That would be all warm and fuzzy if we were living in Mayberry and our biggest concern was Goober having more than a coupla pops and driving his truck through the front window of Floyd’s barber ahop. But it isn’t and we don’t. fullerbrushmanToronto’s a big-assed cosmopolitan city with complex issues that can’t be sorted out by a one man door-to-door crusade.

Really? The mayor should be ‘hands on’ and get out there to personally deal with a stray cat problem in the Beaches? It hardly seems like an efficient use of his time and the resources of the mayor’s office. And Mayor Ford is all about efficiencies, isn’t he?

His Fuller Brush Man’s schtick was revealed for all its emptiness yesterday when he discovered a perfectly serviceable gym at the Weston Towers that was closed for use. Making his patented vow to get to the bottom of why and get the gym opened up, the mayor was then informed by the TCHC CEO Gene Jones that the gym wasn’t in use because there wasn’t any money in place to pay for programs.

Ooops.

Mayor Ford has spent parts of the last week, popping into various committee meetings to help vote down improved gladhandservice level recommendations going directly to city council for debate on next year’s budget. Too many councillors would be spending like drunken sailors without his eagle-eyed oversight on things like, say, programs that would keep the gymnasium at Weston Towers open. The left hand, it would seem, isn’t entirely sure what the right hand is doing even though it’s constantly raised to register a ‘no’ vote.

That’s if I don’t want to be too cynical about it. The truth is probably closer to the assumption Mayor Ford goes out to make his rounds of glad-handing and customer servicing to put on a public face of caring about things like housing and social programs even while his votes at council are doing the exact opposite. Look at the mayor promise to single-handedly fix the damage and problems he himself has voted to create. Just like the firefighting arsonist who burns shit down in order to try and save it from going up in flames.

He is Shiva the Destroyer. He is Vishnu the Preserver. sweptundertherugHe will vote against any sort of Hug-A-Thug but will move heaven and earth to make sure your gym is open so he can do a photo-op lay-up. No questions, please. That’d be rude.

What Mayor Ford does in his respect for the taxpayers promenade with the media in tow is not customer service. It’s self-serving, giving the appearance of helping others when, in fact, the only thing getting help is Rob Ford’s image as a looker out for the little guy. It may not be official campaigning but it’s most certainly p.r. campaigning. And as revealed yesterday, it’s nothing but false advertising.

not buying itly submitted by Cityslikr


Our Own Worst Enemy

September 18, 2013

hanghead

*sigh*

No wait. I said I wouldn’t get despondent. No travelling down that gloom route. There’s an upside. There has to be an upside.

[hangs his head]

Nope. Just not feeling it right now. Today’s transit information flow could only be more disheartening if representatives of all three levels of government announced they were getting out of the public transit business altogether and, Oprah-like, everybodygetsacarwere giving us all a car to make up for it.

Actually, I’m not sure that wouldn’t be better news than what we heard today.

The Battle of Subway Press Conferences, pitting Premier Kathleen Wynne on one side, Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak on the other. Wow! Two mid-week transit announcements, fighting it out for media supremacy. Must be big news a-coming! Come on, come on. Spill, already!

*sigh*

[hangs head]

The only thing we’re any the wiser about now than we were earlier today is the roster filling out the panel we absolutely don’t fucking need but were told about last week headed by Anne Golden. Now, no disrespect to Ms. Golden or the other members I know of – Paul Bedford, Cherise Burda of the Pembina Institute, Gordon Chong even – I believe you’ll be operating with the best of intentions. But we’ve already heard what you’re going to wind up saying to us. Transit expansion costs money. pissingmatchThat money doesn’t grow on the trees lovingly nurtured by the private sector. The only way to get this done is through taxes, tolls and other sources of revenue that must come straight out of the wallets of us taxpayers.

We know. We know. We’re just hoping somebody has a better idea.

That somebody won’t be PC leader Tim Hudak, if you were wondering.

His press conference was even less necessary than the premier’s. Essentially he strode to the mic to tell us the Liberal’s Scarborough subway was stupid face. The one championed by the TTC chair Karen Stintz and city council back in July was better and that a Queen’s Park ruled by him would fund it through… You all know where this is going right?… finding efficiencies.

How do these people keep a straight face? It’s almost like their sole intention with any of this is to make the public even more cynical and jaded. They know we know they are trying their damndest not to build transit if it means siding with new taxes and tolls. iknowiknowiknowWe know they know we know. But somehow, we keep up this fucking pretense of earnest hope that those we elect as our representatives will actually show some leadership and make the hard choices that need to be taken.

That’s hardly possible, though, when we insist on electing people like Councillor Michelle Berardinetti to city council. It takes some doing to top the bullshit inanity of the provincial transit press conferences but Councillor Berardinetti did her level best to do so.

At issue? High Occupancy Vehicle lanes along Eglinton Avenue East in her ward. Seems they are driving non-HOVers around the bend.

I’ll let the councillor speak for herself. She does wild-eyed, babbling indignation so much better than I do.

“HOV lane’s are designed to drive motorists off the road and all it does is serve to drive motorists insane. It’s not working. You’ve got two lanes that are backed up half a mile and you’ve got one that is completely underused. I think that we should remove them.”

But wait. It gets better.

angrydriver

 “We have one of the worst transit systems in the world.”

“What’s the alternative for drivers right now? To jump on the transit system? The TTC? Are you kidding me? They’re not going to do it because it is a deplorable system.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Michelle Berardinetti. Your councillor for Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest.

Now it would be easy to just lay on the horn and blare away at the quality of our politicians but they are simply doing our bidding. If those we elect are cheap, short-sighted and always on the look out for easy solutions to complex problems, it’s just a sad reflection of ourselves. If our transit is substandard, the system deplorable, there’s nobody to blame for that aside from us. outofmywayYou get what you’re willing to pay for, and recently, well, we haven’t been willing to pay for much.

Aside from one shining moment in our city’s history, from the end of World War II until the 1970s – transit’s greatest generation – it seems Torontonians have always been something of penurious lot, both with our wallets and attitudes toward public transit. It comes natural to us. A 1912 plebiscite to raise funds for a Yonge Street subway was rejected by voters. The late-50s saw court battles over extension of the Bloor-Danforth and University lines.

We want transit that will make Toronto ‘world-class’ (or, a little less grandiosely, make our lives more pleasant) but we don’t want to pay for it, spending inordinate amounts of time bending over backwards trying to figure out ways how not to spend money. No number of expert panels or public consultations will alter that fact. Until we come to grips with our continued cheapness in mind and money, all we’re going to do is what we’ve being doing for the better part of a generation now. Talk about it.

shame

*sigh*

[hangs his head]

sadly submitted by Cityslikr


The Golden Rule

September 17, 2013

When it was announced last week that Anne Golden had been approached by the Ontario government to head up a panel to look at revenue generation to go toward building transit in the GTHA, hidebehindI joked that we should all be very excited as Queen’s Park has a history of listening to recommendations made by a panel chaired by Ms. Golden. Listening perhaps, then ignoring.

OK, joke may be too strong a word for it. That would suggest the statement was funny. More sagging, really. Under the weight of bitter, disillusioned sarcasm.

But it did get me thinking about the old Golden Report on the governance, competitiveness blah, blah, blah of the GTA, commissioned back in the twilight of the Bob Rae government. Delivered up to the Mike Harris crew in the early days of that government, it was greeted largely with a shrug. It wasn’t something they’d asked for.

That’s not exactly true either. The Harris Tories did use the report as a little bit of cover in the next couple years as they descended into an amalgamation frenzy including the one here in Toronto. Reading through Andrew Sancton’s account of what happened, shrugAmalgamations, Service Realignment, and Property Taxes: Did the Harris Government Have a Plan for Ontario’s Municipalities?, the immediate impression is of the ad hoc nature of it all.

To begin with, the idea of amalgamation wasn’t really on the party’s radar when it sat on the opposition benches at Queen’s Park. It certainly wasn’t a key part of the Common Sense Revolution. Here’s Mike Harris speaking in 1994, less than a year before he took over the reins of power.

There is no cost to a municipality to maintain its name and identity. Why destroy our roots and pride? I disagree with restructuring because it believes that bigger is better. Services always cost more in larger communities. The issue is to find out how to distribute services fairly and equally without duplicating services.

Bigger isn’t better? “Services always cost more in larger communities”? This was the exact opposite of what we were being told by the provincial government when they were ramming the megacity down our throats. aboutfaceHow times changed.

Sixteen years on, water under the bridge aside from pointing out that the 1994 Mike Harris was right about amalgamations while Premier Mike Harris was wrong. The change of heart might be easier to accept if there’d been a straight forward reason why he did what he did but there really didn’t seem to be.

Sure, there was the desire to bury the dissenting voice of the old city of Toronto’s council under the more friendly voices of the suburban municipalities but that seems to be just a small part of it. The Tories also wanted to remove the taxation power of school boards and put them on a tight fiscal leash. Plus, the whole matter of updating the property tax system was also in play.

Perhaps as important as any of these, the provincial government needed to keep a campaign promise of reducing government. Any ol’ government would do, regardless of the consequences. Six municipalities into one, plus Metro council? A double fucking trifecta.

Keeping up appearances, in other words. This anti-government government eliminating levels of government. It would make for good re-election campaign literature.

There are echoes of this jumbled miasma of reasoning currently going on with our whole heave-ho debate on transit. Everybody knows that the region’s public transit system is substandard. decisionsdecisions1Everybody knows that we’re going to have to pay substantially for the necessarily substantial expansion.

That seems to be where the agreement ends. Who pays? Who knows. What gets built where? Another head shaker. There are metrics to quantify the debate just like there were during the era of amalgamation. Unfortunately, few are very politically palatable.

Adding Anne Golden to the mix only serves to fuel the feeling that the provincial government is doing little more than throwing up more obstacles. Decisions aren’t the desirable outcome here. The appearance of process is, due diligence.

What’s weird about the way the Liberals are going about things here is, unlike how the Harris government did an about face on amalgamation, the Liberals are subverting a plan they themselves put into place. The Big Move. A breakdown of transit needs and priorities throughout the region and a smorgasbord of possible revenue tools to access in order to implement the plan.

Already the Eglinton crosstown construction is underway. selfsabotageThe Master Agreement with Toronto has been signed for 3 other LRT lines, one being the Scarborough LRT extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line that the government seems determined to undermine at this point, ably assisted by a majority of city council. The motivation behind such a move is hard to discern.

You could just write it off to pure political pandering, to keep those Scarborough seats red in any upcoming provincial election. Pretty straightforward. But if it’s just that, why not go all in and build an actual subway? You know, at least all the way up to Sheppard? That way, you can put pressure on the proposed Sheppard LRT too. A subway to the west. A subway to the east. Complete the line from Yonge to Kipling with a Sheppard subway loop.

This two stop proposal just seems like a half-measure. How could this government be that invested and find themselves at this point of time so indecisive? To give the Harris government its due, they did a 180 on amalgamation and in the face of fierce political opposition pushed it through, damn the torpedoes. headlesschickenThese Liberals appear to have little inclination to be as bold even when they have the good cause on their side.

Instead of having to pull some clarity (misguided and malevolent as it was in the case of amalgamation) out of a stew of conflicting policy initiatives, the McGuinty-Wynne government seem bound and determined to reduce transit planning in the region to a chaotic mix of parochialism and unfinished business. If you are able to find a coherent narrative as to why, you have much better eyes for this kind of thing than I do. I just see a glaring lacking of leadership and a desperate desire for expediency coalescing into an all familiar puddle of incompetence that has plagued this city and region in transit building for a generation now.

disheartenedly submitted by Cityslikr


Populism’s In The Eye Of The Beholder

September 16, 2013

I’ve been trying to figure out if the notion of ‘populism’ has always been one best treated with, populismif not a dose of suspicion, at least with a grain of salt.

In theory, it sounds both noble and desirable. The most basic definition seems like something every democracy should strive toward. An egalitarian political philosophy or movement that promotes the interests of the common people.

Certainly this fundamental tenet of populism has served as the backbone, at least initially, of various important socio-economic movements throughout history. The Reformation. The French Revolution. Anti-colonialist uprisings in Latin America.

Too often it seems populist movements descend into some sort of rigid, anti-democratic, cult of personality that winds up acting against its basic principle ‘promoting the interests of the common people’. I immediately think of the reign of terror in France paving the way for the ascent of Napolean. Mao in China. populism1Hell, even the Nazi’s initially promoted themselves as a populist movement, opposed to the elites who destroyed the greatness of Germany.

This dangerous undercurrent of populism can be seen in the definition of it by Daniele Albertazzi and Duncan McDonnell in their book 21st Century Populism.

an ideology which pits a virtuous and homogeneous people against a set of elites and dangerous ‘others’ who are together depicted as depriving (or attempting to deprive) the sovereign people of their rights, values, prosperity, identity and voice.

Stated as such, you can see populism’s goal posts moved. From the storming of the Bastille in reaction to the cruelty of the self-proclaimed divine right of kings and Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to the church door in protest of the excesses of the Catholic church to something less tangible and reeking of reactionary xenophobia. bullhornWhere liberals, intellectuals or pick your dark-skinned foreigner of choice here replace an actual unaccountable, powerful sort of oligarchy as the target of resentment and rage.

The Tea Party, currently wreaking havoc in the United States, immediately springs to mind.

Followed closely by our own mayor, Rob Ford.

Toronto’s very own Tea Party populist, always looking out for the little guy against the elitist cabal of downtown dwelling, bicycle riding, unionized, anti-casino and island airport, pro-LRT media maggots types who hate Tim Horton’s. It’s almost as if he read Albertazzi and McDonnell’s book in order to become the perfect populist although we know that’s not possible because populists don’t read books.

The hope, at least for those of us painted as the ‘other’ by the mayor’s populist brush, is that the sheer hypocrisy of the man’s claim to be looking out for the little guy is eventually exposed as nothing more than a mendacious construct. That his voting pattern to cut and gut services, to reduce the size of local government, to flat line the operating budget will eventually smoke him out as the actual anti-populist he is. populism2Sooner rather than later, enough people will see that he’s merely mouthing populist sentiment while actively trying to undermine it.

But here’s where populism gets tricky. When a particular strain of it gets associated with one individual, it becomes less issue oriented and more personality driven. So the debate in Toronto isn’t about Mayor Ford’s record in office. It’s about attacks on the mayor himself and, by extension, those who still support him.

Take the Scarborough subway debate for example.

This isn’t being fought on the merits of any of the plans. If you support Mayor Ford, regardless of where you live in the city, you support the subway. Those who don’t support it, don’t support it solely because they oppose the mayor and for no other reason. The good, enduring people of Scarborough are being deprived of their rights to a 1st-class mode of public transit that downtowners enjoy in spades.

Mayor Ford and a Scarborough subway meld into one entity in this debate. Le metro du Scarborough, c’est lui.

Once people throw their support behind someone claiming to be a populist representing their cause, populism3it’s difficult to dislodge them from that camp. It’s one thing to turn on a politician you once voted for because they didn’t live up to the promises they made. They lied. They abused your trust in them. You have every right to turn your back on them.

But when you’ve identified with a candidate as being just like you, representing your interests and just generally looking out for you, that’s a tougher relationship to walk away from. It calls into question your judgement of character. It’s not a question of being deceived or lied to. You were wrong.

Who likes to admit that?

So wily politicians wrap themselves in the plaid flannel shirt of populism in the hopes of gaining, not voters’ trust, but loyalty. Some throw big BBQs and invite every aspiring member of Ford Nation over to share some beer, burgers and personal data. Ford Fest. Some make videos of themselves out shaking hands on the street, arm wrestling celebrities, posing for pictures. Some call the video The Summer of Ford.

This sort of populism isn’t about the politics. It’s certainly not about the people in the traditional sense of the word. It’s about the person. populism4It’s about that person and your connection to them and membership into the community of others who see themselves and their struggles in that one person.

It’s where politics get very, very personal and rarely operates on a rational level. It’s no longer an arena of battling ideas. It’s a feud between clans.

And those kinds of contests rarely get settled with a firm handshake and a compromise. To think we can change the local dynamic by quiet reason and soft persuasion, may just be under-estimating the pull personal populism exerts. As the mayor’s brother once pointed out, you can’t teach loyalty. You can’t break its bond easily either.

down my nosily submitted by Cityslikr


Giving Ourselves A Wedgie

September 14, 2013

I was watching the National’s At Issue panel Thursday night – I believe it behooves me to occasionally seek out what white people are saying about current events, talkingheadsespecially the ones who only have regular recourse to a national newspaper once or twice a week – when the topic of the charter of Quebec values came up.

As a godless heathen, it’s a subject I’ve largely avoided paying much attention to. People and their religious symbolism is something of a mystery to me. But live and let live, I say. As long as no one is forcing me into a garment I have no interest in wearing, have at it. I will keep my views to myself except to note that if a crucifix is regarded as a cultural object maybe so too is a hijab.

But anyhoo…

My interest in the chat was peaked when the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert suggested the whole thing was little more than a wedge issue for the Parti Québécois. A way to galvanize the sovereigntist vote, largely outside of Montreal, in order to form a majority government. wedgeissuDivide and conquer, and all that.

Again, I don’t know enough about that particular issue to weigh in further than I already have but wedge politics, am I right? The surest sign a politician or party has run out of positive ideas. As was stated on the show last night, wedge politics is the evil twin of good policy. It benefits a few at the expense of the majority.

We’re watching it right now a province away here in Toronto with the never-ending saga of the Scarborough subway. This has been a wedge issue used by Mayor Ford to keep suburban and downtown voters at each others’ throats. When the words ‘deserves’ and ‘2nd class’ are bandied about in favour of something, you know you’re dealing with a wedge issue. There’s no rational or logical reason behind it. It doesn’t stand up to the light of day yet you can’t put a stake through its heart to kill it for good.

Like any effective wedge issue, the Scarborough subway is not good policy. robfordstreetcarsIt’s good politics in the sense of a useful tool to maintain a faithful base of support but terrible long term public policy.

It ultimately wouldn’t matter if the mayor was left to his own devices to try and use suburban subways for re-election. If everybody recognized it for what he was doing and just went ahead with the business of carrying out good policy. Unfortunately, too many politicians have reared up in fright, trembling at the prospect of being painted as anti-subway, anti-Scarborough, anti-suburb.

And it’s not just councillors looking out for their own best interests. The provincial government too has scrambled desperately to get on side, even to the point of turning their back on a transit plan years in the making. So determined are they to be seen as Scarborough subway proponents champions that even the premier is sabre-rattling her intention to ignore whatever city council decides and disregard the signed Master Agreement that’s still in place stating that a LRT line is to be built from the Kennedy subway station up to Sheppard Avenue. Replacing that with a shorter, 2 stop subway makes absolutely no sense, fiscally or transit wise.

“We will keep our commitment to the people of Scarborough to build the subway in Scarborough…,” the premier proclaimed on Thursday.wedgeshot

Whether or not it makes any sense. We said we would (at least as far back as the August 1st by-election campaign). The people of Scarborough said we should. That’s good enough for us.

Is it a surprise to anyone that voters have grown cynical and apathetic? Our politicians can’t even be bothered pretending that it’s not self-interest driving them rather than leadership or good governance. Who needs bold ideas when you can just exploit differences and divvy up just enough of the electoral spoils to maintain power?

I’d be much more indignant if the tactic didn’t work so well. Politicians wouldn’t do it if it didn’t, right? The question is, why do we so easily allow ourselves to be put into warring camps and exploited for political gain? In Quebec, I guess there’s a certain degree of tribalism at work. wedgiePure lainism and all that. But even that’s showing some serious cracks in it.

How did we become so tribal over an ill-advised subway extension?

It really doesn’t seem like something to circle the wagons over especially when there’s a much better alternative in place. Yet here we are, ready to plunge forward because enough of the potential electorate has been persuaded they’re being short-changed and are deserving of better, whatever that means. I guess if we’re simply looking out for number one, if we can’t see past our own little shires, there’s no reason to expect better instincts from our politicians.

splitly submitted by Cityslikr


Are We Finished With The Nonsense Yet?

September 12, 2013

There’s this from Steve Munro over at Torontoist. And Ben Spurr here at NOW. stackofpapersBoth based on Metrolinx’s Feasibility Study Subway in Scarborough RT Corridor, comparing and contrasting Toronto city council’s Scarborough subway proposal with one announced by the Ontario government’s Ministry of Transportation last week.

Essentially, the province’s 2 stop subway addition to the eastern terminus of the Bloor-Danforth line will not clock in at the price the transportation minister is claiming, and the ridership numbers very, very suspect without the line running past the Scarborough Town Centre up to Sheppard Avenue. Moreover, the conversion of the planned LRT extension running along the current SRT route into a subway will necessitate station design changes that threaten the timing of the Eglinton LRT crosstown, one of the transit projects in this city actually being built.

So, shorter, serving fewer people with fewer stations, more expensive and quite possibly throwing a spanner into the works into another project already underway.

Whatever. It’s full steam ahead according to Transportation Minister Glen Murray.

“People are fed up with the debate,” Murray declared. whiteelephant“We’re building now. We’re past debate.”

It’s a terrible plan, in some ways worse than the terrible subway plan council and the TTC chair, Karen Stintz, championed in the summer. If you didn’t know any better, it’s almost as if the provincial government is attempting to run a subway along where an LRT more logically fits only for the opportunity to claim having built a subway in Scarborough. That’s hardly leadership. It’s politically pandering of the worst kind.

The odd thing is, because of the province’s expediency on this file, jettisoning sound policy decision making for crass political gain, our city council has been given yet another chance to emerge from this wreckage as the less dysfunctional governing body. A low bar to clear, for sure, given the transit debates we’ve seen over the last few years decades generations decades. Nonetheless, council can reassert control over the Scarborough transit debate and appear almost like the adults in the room.

The subway it asked for and the funding for it is not what the province now has on offer. therightstuffMany of the councillors’ support for that subway was contingent on those two things. Having not received it, they can now walk away, saying they tried delivering this Scarborough subway unicorn but were rebuffed by the senior levels of government. Embrace the Master Agreement that’s still in place that will return to the more sensible LRT plan that never should’ve been set aside in the first place.

More importantly, perhaps this discussion can now move beyond the platitudinous banner-speak that has polluted it since 2010. Let’s now start talking transit planning based on logistics and practicalities not grievances. What’s been revealed about both proposed Scarborough subway plans is there’s not enough money available to build one that would actually utilize the technology to the fullest. Even if there were money, a subway running either of the possible routes doesn’t make particular sense. reasonablediscussionMuch of it would be running at grade or elevated just like an LRT or it would be underground through established residential neighbourhoods where the necessary development to feed the ridership numbers might not be possible.

And any sort of Scarborough subway would be at least a decade away. We could start building the LRT tomorrow.

Despite Minister Murray’s chest-thumping claims, this debate isn’t over. But maybe, just maybe, if a majority of council so chooses, it can take a turn for the sensible and rational. There may be no precedent for such a thing but all the alternatives have led us down blind alleys, on foot, still waiting for transit.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr


Everybody’s In Limbo

September 10, 2013

Well, if there’s any better example of the thorny problems engaging with someone who’s a Mayor Ford supporter than Connie Harrison’s appearance at the Ontario Press Council yesterday I haven’t seen one.thornysituation

This is Connie Harrison writing in the Globe and Mail just over 3 years ago, nearly 2 months before the municipal election in which she voted for Rob Ford.

Now, judging from what I saw in her complaint against the Globe and Mail for the story that newspaper ran about Councillor Doug Ford’s alleged drug dealing days back in the 1980s, I’m guessing her backing of the mayor is soft at this point of time. In fact, it almost seemed as if she was begging the newspaper and those sitting on the council panel to put us out of our mayoral misery. She was willing to accept that maybe the Fords weren’t good for the city but needed more solid proof than anonymous sources or an alleged crack video.

If only the press in general and the Globe and Mail specifically would do their jobs properly.

answersBurn their sources! Go to the police with any incriminating evidence! Get some third party to go over their work!

Good on Ms. Harrison to take her grievance about how the Globe and Mail went about its business beyond just merely bitching about it or writing an angry letter to an editor. She got engaged, delivered a complaint and spoke out at the meeting. That’s 100% more than what almost 100% of us would do or have done. She should be applauded for her effort.

But… but… here’s the thorny part.

She’s wrong on almost every point of her complaint.

The use of anonymous sources is not the mark of tabloid journalism. Google ‘Watergate’. Sometimes there are very good reasons legitimate news sources want and or need to remain anonymous. Google ‘Edward Snowden’ or ‘Chelsea Manning’.tryagain

Even in matters of lesser import than national security, illicit drugs for example, reliable sources may want to keep their profile out of it even 30 years later. Yeah, sure. I smoked a little with Mr. X that we bought from Mr. Y. Is that right, Mr. Z. Let me jot that down in your personnel folder, shall I?

As was pointed out at the OPC meeting, the Ford brothers have a 2 hour weekly radio show that they’ve used to cast attack their political opponents. Who’s to say they wouldn’t do the same to anyone who came out on record with their recollections of youthful indiscretions in Etobicoke during the 1980s? Retribution doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of physical intimidation.

And this notion of ‘burning your sources’, by which I guess Ms. Harrison means outing them, in order to prove the veracity of the story? Where do you even begin to address that? journalismYou start revealing your sources, you not only endanger them or threaten their livelihood but, from an entirely self-interested angle, your sources dry up. Nobody talks to you. Once that happens, any ability to deliver in-depth news or information becomes impossible. You wind up essentially writing press releases.

Ms. Harrison also wondered why if the Globe had evidence of any law-breaking on the part of Doug Ford, why it didn’t simply go to the police with that information. Seems only logical, if that were actually the job of the press or if we didn’t mind a free press in a democracy trading information back and forth with those with the power of arrest and detainment. Never mind the fact that if all this information was so readily available with some digging on the part of the Globe, why exactly the police didn’t know about it or – fingers collar here – didn’t act on that sort of information back in the day.

Such a skewed view of how journalism works and the role it plays in a functioning democratic society could be laughed off and mocked if it were coming from an obvious wide-eyed Ford-fanatic who’d swallowed whole the notion of a liberal media bias outside of the Toronto Sun and 1010 Talk Radio. hazzardcountyConnie Harrison didn’t come across as that. She seemed to want answers, to know if the man she proudly voted to be mayor back in 2010 and his powerful councillor-brother were fit to be governing this city. If the Globe and Mail could show her that they weren’t, Ms. Harrison struck me as someone who’d withdraw her support.

Right now I still feel as though we’re in some backwoods county in the U.S.,” she said. “We’re still in limbo here.

What Ms. Harrison appeared to be asking was for some clarity so she could make a decision. Are the allegations the press leveled at the mayor and his councillor-brother true? Yes or no?

Unfortunately, Ms. Harrison was demanding answers from the wrong side in all this. barkingupthewrongtreeThe press was simply doing its job, delivering information that in no way so far has been proven incorrect or libellous. The ones who haven’t addressed the matter in any manner suggesting they’ve been unfairly targeted and slandered are the Ford brothers. They are the ones the likes of Ms. Harrison should be directing her frustration at. They’re the ones who’ve left all of us in a state of limbo.

bent-over-backwardly submitted by Cityslikr