Responding To Our Responders

February 19, 2011

So we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke received, if not a deluge of comments to our post from a couple days ago, A Plea to Conservatives Everywhere, let’s call it a handful. A good percentage of which were from almost exclusively well-behaved self-described conservatives taking exception to much of what we’d written. It would’ve been time-consumingly impossible to respond to each one individually. Instead, we’re lumping them together into a single response post which, undoubtedly, will look as if we’re misrepresenting what everyone wrote and deceptively framing the terms of debate in order to make ourselves seem much smarter than we actually are.

Alas, the burden of ultimate editorial control.

There seemed to be four currents of argument running through the anti-comments that came in. When we asked to be shown “…how further corporate tax cuts will kick start our economy,” we got a lesson in the theory of corporate taxes. Yes, we understand the concept. We just weren’t sure where the proof was that cutting them further at this particular time was going to help. Unless you’re one of those anti-Keynesian absolutists, reducing spending along with taxes in such an anemic state of recovery doesn’t make a whole lot of economic sense.

Besides, we’ve been hacking away at corporate tax rates both federally and provincially for a few years now, haven’t we? When should we expect to see positive results? And if corporate tax cuts are such an effective weapon in stimulating the economy, why not lobby for their complete removal? Eliminate them entirely. If 13% is going to help, why not 0? Point to a jurisdiction with significantly lower corporate tax rates than ours are currently and say, see? They work. And if I can’t find one, like say Mexico, that counters your argument, I’ll lay down my sword.

A number of commenters suggested the burden was on me (or the entire Left) to prove that de-regulation and less oversight was the source of the global financial meltdown. I thought they already had. Google Nobel Prize winning Paul Krugman and see what he’s been saying over the last couple years. Or Jeffrey Sachs if he’s more to your economic taste. Check out Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone for the naked criminality at the very heart of the meltdown. Read Michael Lewis’s The Big Short or Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail. Watch Charles Ferguson’s documentary, Inside Job. The case has been made quite definitively. You dispute it? You refute it.

And on a couple little side notes. One commenter asked if we wanted to return to the days of the Glass-Steagall Act “…which limited credit growth and therefore slowed down economic growth…” Errr, am I wrong in remembering that the full repeal of Glass-Steagall occurred in 1999, at the height of one of the biggest economic expansions in history? So how exactly did it slow down economic growth? The commenter then went on to point out that no Canadian banks failed due to smart regulations — which, while in opposition, the current Conservative government fought against — and kind of proves my point for me, doesn’t it? We missed the brunt of the financial shitstorm because of government regulation and oversight not because a lack of it. Or am I missing something?

“Prove this whole trickle-down theory to me,” I taunted. “How rising tides raise all boats.” That brought forth a litany of indignation, mostly in two forms. One, things were much better now than they were 100 years ago, owing to the miracle of free market capitalism. OK, sure. But my line of attack wasn’t necessarily directed at the idea of free market capitalism, only how it’s been conducted in the last 30 years or so. Cast your minds back, 50, 60 years ago, to the more immediate post-War era. Where governments taxed the richest of the rich more prodigiously and spent massively on things like infrastructure, established universal health care and sent men to the moon. An era when a single bread winner could buy a house, raise a family, put the kids through college and retire comfortably.

A picture, I’m sure, more idyllic than it actually was but one that is a pipe dream nowadays. Much of our prosperity is built on a mountain of debt. Two income households are the norm. Post-secondary education has grown into an onerous financial burden that is increasingly failing to deliver on its promise of leading to better lives.

Secondly, please, please, please stop bringing up China and India when attempting to defend modern day capitalism. Yes, millions of people are climbing their way out of poverty. And yes, China in particular has turned away from its Maoist past and heartily embraced aspects of the free market. But as another commenter pointed out, both countries remain planned economies, control highly centralized. If our governments here attempted to intrude into the economy the way the Chinese and Indian governments do, conservatives would howl in outrage before soiling themselves and passing out. Witness the reaction to the various stimulus packages.

Finally, conservative commenters took exception to our painting them all with the same brush. There were pro-environmental conservatives who believed in anthropogenic climate change. Conservatives who suspected the War on Drugs was a bust. Pro-choice conservatives. Non-Rob Ford voting conservatives.

Fair enough but that type of red Toryism or socially liberal conservatism is hardly in the ascendancy. Your movement has been hijacked by the radicals under your umbrella and they’ve seized Washington, Ottawa and city hall in Toronto. They’re attacking women’s rights. They’re declaring climate change hokum and maybe even beneficial. The federal Conservative government is trying to close down a safe injection site in Vancouver in the face of overwhelming evidence of its positive contribution. At the same time they’re attempting to roll back drug laws to a Draconian state in order to fill the prisons that they are building. These neocons hate government and everything it stands for.

They don’t believe much of anything you’re claiming to believe. In fact, your views sound much closer to my left wing bias. So why are you fighting me and not those who are doing great damage to your conservative brand and giving you all a bad name?

respondingly submitted by Cityslikr


A Sunday P.S.A.

September 19, 2010

Having decided upon HiMY SYeD as our nominee for 6th mayoral candidate on Friday (and remember to go to ArtsVote Toronto 2010 to vote for the 6th candidate that you’d like to see at their debate on Septemeber 29th), a couple other notes of interest came to our attention as we searched through the archives here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke.

Selwyn Firth, subject of Meet A Mayoral Candidate IV — the one where Apollo Creed gets killed by the Soviet robot — delivers two lectures to outline a couple of his platform planks. Misinterpreted Climate Science, and Super Clean Incineration will be held Wednesday September 29th at 7 pm in J.J.R. McLeod Auditorium U of T Medical Sciences Building. Then on October 8th in the OISE auditorium at 8 pm, Mr. Firth will be dealing with the problem of traffic congestion here in Toronto and how to solve it. Included in his proposals will be the need to build the Spadina Expressway. So Rocco Rossi fans should mark the date in the calendars. For more details, go to Selwyn For Mayor.

And we were surprised to learn that Sonny Yeung, our very first mayoral candidate profile and one of our favourite contributors to the Comments section here, packed in his aspirations for the office of mayor and decided to run for a school board spot in Ward 22. Now, we don’t know much about kids, finding them to be largely loud, shifty, always wanting something from you and never really willing to pull their own weight. (Knock on wood we’re finally rid of ours, having packed the last one off to university this year. Fingers crossed none of them think they can return home when they find themselves inevitably “in between jobs”.) But we do know that the kids of Ward 22 could be served worse by having someone aside from Sonny Yeung as school board trustee.

We have met Mr. Yeung at a couple elections functions during the campaign and found him to be very engaged with and informed about the issues at hand. He is diligent and actively participates in the civic arena. Not at all up on the particulars at the TDSB in Scarborough (where Ward 22 is located), we are hardly in a position to endorse Mr. Yeung but he certainly seems worthy of consideration. We wish him the best of luck in the race.

In fact, we extend best wishes to all those candidates like Sonny Yeung and Selwyn Firth for their continued determination and conscientiousness. Campaigning, largely outside the media spotlight, displays a true commitment to our democratic process and a healthy desire to offer up solutions toward making Toronto a better city for all. We applaud you. Keep on keeping on.

applaudingly submitted by Cityslikr


No More More Of The Same

September 5, 2010

Earlier this week as the mayoral candidates prepared for another series of debates, some questions popped up about the inclusion of 6th placer, Rocco Achampong. Why now? Why not months ago? Nobody ever listened to what former candidate Giorgio Mammoliti said about anything else when he was campaigning. So how come they took him up on including Achampong in the debates?

The most salient argument against including newcomers to the proceedings at this relatively late stage of the game is that now is the time to start winnowing down not opening up. We need to focus in on the front running campaigns, one of which will produce Toronto’s next mayor. To throw the doors open will simply muddy the waters, cause voter disarray and make post-Labour Day clarity and decision making near impossible.

My response to that would be, have the candidates earned such a free pass? Months and months into this, with countless debates already under their belts and exclusive media access, and no one’s yet broken through. So what’s just more of the same going to accomplish?

Of course, that’s not entirely true. Rob Ford has more than broken through. He is the one candidate that has run what must be considered a near flawless campaign so far. How else to explain his turning a mindlessly pea-brained platform that can be re-uttered by even the densest voter – Stop The Gravy Train! – into a 1st place standing? Ford should be the joke of this race and yet the only one to even so much as land a punch on him is, well, Ford himself.

Take this past week for example. Ford bumbled, stumbled and fumbled through 3 debates, two of which, to be fair, were not his strong suit, city heritage and the environment. But what’s the news grabbing the headlines over the weekend? George Smitherman telling a Rocco Rossi campaign staffer to either fuck or screw off after they tried handing him some pamphlet apparently critical of his candidacy.

(To give George some props on this issue, I’ve encountered the Rossi Red Army at a number of debates. Their aggressive chair saving and Pavlovian cheering at their candidate’s increasingly loud, shrill empty rhetoric have made me inclined to want to tell a few of them to fuck off on occasion as well. So that’s a point for Smitherman in my books.)

If anything, this suggests that the mayoral debates need some new blood not a closing of ranks. Achampong has not embarrassed himself even if he hasn’t distinguished himself either. Part of the problem as I see it is that he’s singing from the same fiscal conservative, social liberal songbook as Smitherman, Rossi and Thomson. So it’s difficult to differentiate his views from the rest of the pack. Still, he’s proving that there are other credible candidates out there we should be hearing from.

My first choice would be HiMY SYeD. (Don’t worry, potential debate moderators. The name’s much easier to pronounce than it looks. Simpler than ‘Achampong’ which seems to be giving everyone verbal fits.) Following SYeD out on the hustings largely through his almost superhuman Twitter output, he appears to have more knowledge and ideas about civic governance than any of the leading candidates outside of Joe Pantalone. Let’s see how he fares up under the debate spotlights. He’s earned it.

That’s seven. How be we make it an even number? I’d nominate George Babula or Sonny Yeung. Give them a crack at the big time. Hell, let’s see what Keith Cole is up too as the campaign kicks into high gear. He acquitted himself well at the Better Ballots debate back in June. No reason he wouldn’t again if given another shot.

While much noise is being made over this final summer long weekend about how people’s attention will start to hone in on the municipal campaign as it heads toward the October 25th conclusion, I’m not sure how delivering them the same dog-and-pony show will accomplish anything other than having more people feeling as discouraged and disenchanted as those who’ve been following from the beginning. To borrow an inane phrase Rocco Rossi’s been touting over and over again, isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result? What this campaign doesn’t need is more of the same. It needs a shake-up that can only come with bringing in new voices and new ideas.

still hopeful(ly) submitted by Cityslikr


Meet A Mayoral Candidate XXVI

August 20, 2010

With another long work week coming to an end, it’s time to Meet (another) Mayoral Candidate! And this one’s for you, Sonny Yeung, our favourite commenting candidate for mayor.

Today: Douglas Campbell!

Just like his old school socialist politics, Mr. Campbell is not that current when it comes to technology either. And since we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke aren’t particularly savvy (or just plain ass lazy) when it comes to tracking down our subjects, well, we’re just going to have to deliver you his candidacy purely second hand. Citations will be duly noted. It’s like we’re channeling the spirit of Douglas Campbell through the diligence of others.

Now an octogenarian, Douglas Campbell has been running for public office since 1962, first as an independent candidate in that federal election for the Toronto riding of St. Pauls and subsequently in almost every other race that has come up. He ran for the provincial NDP leadership in 1970 and the federal NDP leadership in 1975. During this same period, Campbell was also running for various positions at the municipal level in Mississauga. He first faced off against Mel Lastman for mayor in the North York election of 1988 before turning back to the federal NDP scene in 1989 with a run to succeed outgoing leader Ed Broadbent. 2010 marks the fourth time he has thrown his hat into the ring for the mayoralty of Toronto where, in 2000 in a second showdown with Lastman, Campbell placed 4th with more than 8500 votes.

The other Douglas Campbell.

Douglas Campbell’s professional resumé is as eclectic as his political career. He’s been a seaman, a coffee house proprietor, a student, a teacher and high school principal and a cabbie. But it’s been a work life imbued by politics. He took part in the Great Lakes Seamen strike of 1946, fighting for reduced working hours. As a U. of T. student in the `60s, he protested involvement in the Vietnam War and took to the streets in the anti-nuclear movement. In 1968 as a high school principal, Mr. Campbell brought sex education into Newfoundland classrooms. There’s no mention how long it remained there. Or Douglas Campbell for that matter.

At this point, it’s probably not necessary to point out that Campbell’s your dyed-in-the-wool outsider’s outsider. A socialist when it was almost fashionable, he remains one to this day despite the label having become a short form to signify a relic, a historic artifact, and used by those who’ve dishonestly repackaged their 18th-century political beliefs into something seemingly new and shiny but just as punishing and equal as it was 300 years ago. I mean, Campbell was part of the movement who thought the Lewis led NDP was too centrist! That is hard core left wing.

“I’m a fighter for the working class. I’d like to see the profits of labour (taxes) go to pay for hospitals and schools. Now the taxes go to the people who put the politicians in power,” Campbell has been quoted saying.

He wants free education for everyone right up through university. “The sooner we get to that level, the sooner we might preserve this planet,” Campbell figures. Having grown up in Toronto during the Dirty 30s “where tens of thousands of [were] unemployed,” Campbell thinks things are just as bad here now. “To see people now lying in the streets is evidence things are getting worse.”

How would a Mayor Douglas Campbell fix the problem of homelessness and inequality? “My only concern is that we should have public ownership of everything,” he informed CP24. “Either we get rid of capitalism or the working class will be resolved to nuclear dust.”

Yeah!! What’s not to like about such a fidelity to an ideology that has so fallen out of favour? It’s like the political version of being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. At least, his heart is in the right place.

Except for the odd flare up of racial and religious intolerance. In an interview with blogTO earlier this year, Campbell called Harry Truman “that lunatic-Jewish president” for ordering the end of the Canadian Merchant Marines. A Jewish president?! And because Premier McGuinty is Roman Catholic, somehow this means that George Smitherman is “a puppet of the Pope”.

OK. So let’s call him a man of his time and not necessarily discard the message because of the messenger. Maybe out there somewhere is a young person, raised in an environment where socialism, so totally and not entirely justifiably discredited, was never mentioned. They see this post and wonder, what is this thing this old, slightly bigoted man speaks of, socialism? Maybe they’ll discover that it wasn’t nearly as bad a notion as they had been raised to believed. That can’t be all bad.

While not going out and getting the opportunity to ask Douglas Campbell the question we’ve been asking of all the candidates we’ve profiled, we’ll use his own words to answer for him. If the current mayor would like to see his legacy as that of the Transit Mayor, what would a Mayor Douglas Campbell like to see as his legacy?

A Mayor Douglas would “keep up the revolution”.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr


Meet A Mayoral Candidate XXIV

August 6, 2010

It’s Friday. Time for another opportunity to Meet A Mayoral Candidate!

Up this week: … errrrrr…

We’ve hit a bit of a snag, to tell you the truth. By our latest count, there are 34 candidates registered to run for the office of mayor in 2010. Take away the 5 front runners who hardly need more public exposure from us and that leaves 29. To date, we’ve profiled 18 of those 29 here (plus a couple more who have subsequently withdrawn which we are taking absolutely no blame for), winding up with a total of 11 mayoral candidates yet to be profiled.

As Sonny Yeung — himself running for mayor and the object of our very first profile way back when — pointed out to us in our comments section a week ago, there were only 12 more Fridays before election day (now 11) and wondered if we’d be able to profile all the candidates before then. Certainly, if there’s a rush of any further candidates to register before the September 10th deadline, things might get a little tight. So why are we wasting valuable time and space today not profiling anyone?

Well, there’s the snag, the snafu. The remaining 11 candidates are proving to be a little elusive when it comes to fleshing out their candidacy. Their names appear on the City of Toronto website and other places that keep track of such things but discovering much more about them has not been easy. Thinking about that, it struck us that, well, if you’re running for public office, if you’ve slapped down your cash to get your name on the ballot, should the onus really be on us, the voting public, to have to dig deep to uncover why you’re running, what you stand for, your positions on important issues? We’re willing to read or watch anything you’ve got out there but should we really have to issue an A.P.B. in order to track candidates down?

Now we hear you thinking, hey, your journalists. Journalists do a little digging. They gather information. They walk the beat… They have a beat?

That’s the thing. We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke aren’t journalists. We never claimed to be, not even a little bit. Don’t call us citizen journalists, we won’t respond to such new-fangled vernacular.

What we are, what we endeavour to be is simply better informed citizens. To cease operating in the dark and to become enlightened. It’d be almost a spiritual quest if we thought for a moment that any of us actually possessed a soul.

Our desire to make something of ourselves, however, sometimes runs smack dab into a more firmly entrenched, lifelong trait: laziness. Think of us here as over-the-hillish infielders. Our positioning is mostly right but our range is for shit. If you want us to make the play, you’ve got to hit the ball right at us. The days of spectacular diving plays are a thing of the past.

We want to do our part in helping candidates get their faces and messages out there. But we do think that if you want to be seen and heard, you have to try and meet us halfway. Help us see and hear you. Make it easy to be seen and heard.

Does that make us elitists? Even in this day and age of highfalutin technology, there are some without access to even the most basic of computer technology. That should not disqualify them from running for public office. In an ideal world, sure. But here we are in 2010 and the ceaseless march of time clacks on. If we can’t reach you via the interwebs, then we can’t reach you. We’ll shoulder the blame for that.

So… what now then? Sonny Yeung’s generously given us a couple leads on how to track down a few of his more elusive opponents. (How’s that for magnanimous?) But the laziness within wages battle with our inquisitiveness. A part of us wonders if maybe our time (and hopefully yours) would be better spent featuring people and issues that are screaming out to be heard as opposed to those skulking in anonymity, taunting us, daring us to discover them. If you want to be the mayor of this city, you’re going to have to come out and tell us why. Twenty-three candidates have already done so. We don’t think we should have to beg you to join them.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr