My Message to Premier Doug Ford

I sent this message to Premier Doug Ford this evening, Saturday August 18, 2018 at https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx
Premier Ford said in a letter to Toronto Mayor Tory today, Saturday, August 18:
“The fact that the special meeting you have called will focus on saving the jobs of politicians, instead of addressing options to deliver more resources to the fight against guns and gangs is telling.”
I plan to be at the City Council meeting on Monday August 20 to support my hardworking City Councillors as they debate how they will defend Toronto Citizens’ democracy in the face of your unilateral, arbitrary and abusive (to us as citizens and to citizen candidates who have made plans and fund raised in order to serve the people in their wards) actions in passing Bill 5 – reducing City wards from a citizen agreed on plan of 47 wards to 25.
Also I don’t agree that this special Council meeting should be used to discuss giving more money to the police. I believe the solution is for your government to plan to invest more into economically marginal communities in Toronto, with more affordable housing, education and training and job creation so that the youth of those communities do not have to rely on the very dangerous drug trade which does involve belonging to gangs and using guns.
I know that my City Councillor works 18 hour days on my and all my ward neighbours’ behalf.
Would you please explain to me why you, with Bill 5, plan to reduce my democratic access to the closest government to me – my municipal government that I can go and speak to in phone calls, email, visits and deputations to committees? I cannot do that in any of the upper levels of government.
Would you also explain to me why you are reducing only Toronto residents’ democratic access, with as many as 110,000 voters per City Councillor in Toronto while Ottawa, Hamilton, London and other municipalities have perhaps 30,000 voters per City Councillor?
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My Reply to Premier of Ontario Doug Ford

Hello:

My comments on your comments:
1. Your so-called smaller government is just reducing the size of the group of people that you choose to serve. You have reduced promised increases to OW and ODSP and betrayed people who have been chosen to participate in a Basic Income pilot, cut off in the middle of a project that could have provided good data on how to best deal with an Ontario, Canada and world wide problem of income inequality – which causes so many problems of crime, health outcomes (reduction of mental health budget) and many more. Your small govt. concept means ‘people being left out’. This is not what you promised.
2. So following your logic of ‘too many politicians’, why don’t you reduce politicians to ‘One’?
A Star article pointed out how your brother Rob returned phone calls and visited people to solve their problems. He was a remarkable public servant! This is impossible with your plan. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2018/08/01/what-would-rob-ford-have-made-of-this.html
3. Infrastructure crumbling and housing backlogs have occurred because of the previous Ontario Conservative and Liberal Federal govts. getting out of building affordable housing over many years. In fact Mike Harris downloaded these reponsibilities onto the municiplaities without providing the required funding. And Your cancellation of the funds needed to fix our broken school buildings makes no sense in view of what you said in your reply to me.
4. Your comments on Transit are hypocritical in the extreme. You and your Brother Rob when he was mayor and you were a city councillor, cancelled Transit City which if kept would have now been providing world class transit to the suburbs where it is most needed. You are responsible for the extra tax costs Ontarians and Torontonians must bear for at least a generation.
5. You are deliberately misleading people with your comment on Los Angeles. They and other cities such as London UK, have small upper level councills but also have boroughs or suburbs with mayors and councillors. Global News says this about L.A.: “But, there are districts in L.A. that have their own municipalities, for example Santa Monica has its own city council with 12 seats, and Beverly Hills has another with five seats.” https://globalnews.ca/news/4358422/toronto-city-council-other-cities/
6. Your scheme to reduce city councillors and mess with a municipal election already underway will certainly not save $25 million. Here is what a Star article said about that:  the cost to the clerk “of having to set up a second election will eat up all the savings.” https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/08/02/what-a-reduced-council-could-mean-for-toronto.html 
 
7. Perhaps your greatest crime against the people of Ontario was the cancelling of the cap and trade plan, already underway. These encompass not only large corporations but small businesses and individual families planning to do energy upgrades and as well as renewable energy projects cancelled. Peoples’ investments are wiped out and Quebec and California has shut Ontario out to protect their investors. This amounts to $billions and the coming lawsuits will dwarf any savings you can achieve by cutting off ‘the very people’ that you said you wanted to be elected to help. How can you not have a plan to reduce greenhouse gases whose presence in our atmosphere is causing heat waves around the world and extreme weather crises, droughts and forest fires including right here in Ontario. I want to see a plan to at least mitigate what I know is going to happen to my children and grandchildren, yours too!
 
8. Lastly, you and your party apparently think that democracy only happens once every four years when ballots are cast and that in between elections citizens must endure a dictatorship of a majority government. I and my fellow citizens do not see democracy in that narrow manner. We see democracy as an every day consultation between we as citizens and our elected representatives. 
Please consider my request for you to consult the citizens of Ontario before taking dictatorial actions such as the major changes in Bill 5, particularly in the middle of the municipal election. You may not get away with this anyway. Canada’s constitution while giving powers over municipalities to the Provinces, has also provided some relief in recent years in the form of the City of Toronto Act and other measures. I refer you to the article by former MP Craig Scott. You may find it enlightening and cause you to pause before implementing Bill 5. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/08/02/why-fundamental-constitutional-principles-should-prevent-ontario-from-interfering-with-torontos-election.html 
 
I look forward to other communications with you,
Sincerely,
Ward 35, Toronto

On Aug 3, 2018, at 11:37 AM, Doug Ford <premier@premier.gov.on.ca> wrote:

Thanks for your email about reducing the size and cost of municipal governments. I appreciate hearing your views. 
  
I promised we would get Ontario back on track and ran on a commitment to restore accountability and trust. As part of that commitment, I promised to reduce the size and cost of government.

People tell me that we have too many politicians, making it harder to get things done and get things built. This is particularly true at the municipal level. That’s why we will introduce legislation that, if passed will, dramatically improve the decision-making process at Toronto City Hall. 
  
For too long the people of Toronto have watched city council fail to act on the critical issues facing the city. And, as a result, infrastructure crumbles, housing backlogs grow and transit isn’t built. We will streamline Toronto city council by aligning it with federal and provincial boundaries. To put things into perspective, the City of Los Angeles, with almost four million people, has 15 city councillors. 
  
This meaningful change will dramatically improve the decision-making process at Toronto City Hall. It will make it easier to get things done. Our estimates show that having fewer politicians at City Hall will save Toronto taxpayers $25 million. 
  
And, most important of all, one thing every politician at every level, in every region, needs to remember is that we all share the same boss, we all work for the people. 
  
Thanks again for contacting me. 


Doug Ford 
Premier of Ontario 


Please note that this email account is not monitored. For further inquiries, kindly direct your online message through https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx.

This email contains information intended only for the use of the individual named above. If you have received this email in error, we would appreciate it if you could advise us through the Premier’s website at <https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx> and destroy all copies of this message. Thank you.

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Death by Drowning or Poisoning:  The Terror of Muskrat Falls

 

Imagine that the federal government has invested over $9 billion in a project that will either poison you or drown you.

Imagine that you have not been properly consulted about, nor given free, prior and informed consent to, this project.

Imagine that the organization funding the project, Natural Resources Canada (aka Stolen Resources Canada) is ignoring the very clearly stated science showing how dangerous this project is.

Imagine that Indigenous ways of life that have existed since time immemorial are now threatened by this project because methylmercury poisoning threatens the food web on which they have always relied.

Imagine going to bed every night with a life jacket nearby in the event of catastrophic dam break: it is built on quick clay (sand that moves).

Imagine being told that a relationship with you is the single biggest priority of the federal government, and yet agreements you have signed with them are broken time and again. The most recent agreement to be broken was a promise to “mitigate” the effects of methylmercury poisoning by ensuring proper land clearance of a large reservoir area.

This is not a product of your imagination. This nightmare is real. 

At Muskrat Falls, scores of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people face serious jail time (and elders have already been jailed for weeks on end) for acts of land and water protection. Many suffer daily anxiety from living with the threat of instant death or death by poison. Two journalists covering the land protectors have been charged as well.

The terror of Muskrat Falls is magnified countless time across this land by megaprojects that treat Indigenous people and their lands as national sacrifice zones, collateral damage in the name of energy company profits. We are here to urge the federal government (and Colonialism Minister Carolyn Bennett) to reconsider this project, and to pull the $9.3 billion in loan guarantees propping up this dangerous and deadly project, and to Shut Muskrat Down.

Ontario-Muskrat Solidarity Committee, tasc@web.ca, (613) 267-3998

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Response to “Hamas’ disastrous schemes make this the right moment to show solidarity with Israel”, by Rosie DiManno, The Star, May 27, 2018

Re: 
Dear Editor:
I appreciate that throughout Rosie DiManno’s article she very often ‘pulled her punches’ on the State of Israel, Gazans and Hamas, giving some reasons for the actions of everyone. But she failed to provide the context that lies behind the actions of the Palesinian citizens of Gaza. She neglected to mention that Gazans are descendants of people displaced from their original villages and farms by the Israeli settler colonists, just like our First Nations people in North America. Some Palestinian villages have even been erased from the Earth and replaced in some cases by parks, one of these named in honour of Stephen Harper. Those who have been there describe Gaza as an open prison of collective punishment which the Israeli military, armed with the latest weapons attacks every few years, (2009, 2014), killing men, women and children who have no place to hide. Can Gazans (with their backs to the wall), perhaps led by the elected Hamas Party, not be forgiven for taking actions which seem suicidal to us? Rosie’s readers have no experience of living like this so Rosie is able to relativize the life experiences of Israeli and Palestinian civilians as if they were much the same which they are not. And there is no International accord with respect to Jerusalem being Israel’s capital. Even Canada respects the international consensus that negotiations must take place between all the national and religious parties who claim Jerusalem as a holy site. It is not the capital of one nation or religion and the U.S. violated International law in unilaterally moving its embassy to Jerusalem. There must be a solution that recognizes the human rights of everyone who has lived on this land for hundreds of years. Personally I believe in ‘one person, one vote.’
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Accountability and Transparency in Transit Planning – City of Toronto Agenda Item 2018.EX34.32

Re: City of Toronto Agenda Item 2018.EX34.32 – Accountability and Transparency in Transit Planning – Judicial Inquiry into Information Provided to Councillors regarding the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Scarborough Light Rail Line at the July 2016 Council Meeting
Dear Members of the Toronto City Council Executive Committee:

I support the Judicial Inquiry into Information Provided to Councillors regarding the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Scarborough Light Rail Line at the July 2016 Council Meeting. I support the views of the mover Councillor Josh Matlow and seconder Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
I believe that true information about what happened at that Council meeting that has so adversely affected decisions surrounding the kind of transit service to all regions of Scarborough needs to be made public and preferably prior to the next Municipal election in the Fall of 2018.
For some inexplicable reason mayor Tory and a majority of City Councillors as well as the Liberal Provincial government supported what came to be a one stop Scarborough subway extension ending at the Scarborough Town Centre with major capital costs and operational costs being dumped onto City taxpayers (a property tax surcharge over 30 years) over the original seven stop Scarborough Light Rail Line, which was slated to be paid for by the Province, including operational costs.
This decision to go with the one stop subway that leaves Scarborough residents beyond that point, travelling on buses for at least another generation, defies logic. This decision was obviously driven by a set of political reasons; 1. the Provincial Liberals supported it to get Liberal MP Mitzie Hunter elected in the last Provincial election and 2. to please then Mayor Rob Ford who could only say ‘subways, subways subways, without understanding that the LRT would have its own right of way and would be as fast as a subway and would serve so many more people, including students of Centennial College campuses. The LRT is far more cost-effective and adequate to serve the projected ridership calculated by City staff into the future.
One now suspects that the fix is in. Somehow the desires of large real estate holders and developers of properties at Scarborough Town Centre, known as Oxford Properties are taking precedence over the needs of Scarborough residents as far east as Malvern Town Centre. The Mayor even promotes the idea that the one stop SSE will aid development around the Scarborough Town Centre. That is not what the original SLRL (LRT) was designed for. The SLRL was designed to give the best flexible transit (7 stations at grade) for all residents of Scarborough at a cost consistent with the projected ridership, which cost is not large enough to warrant $billions for a one stop subway. Councillor Matlow says in his Summary: “In 2013 Council moved away from a 7-Stop Light Rail Transit line in Scarborough that would have the same top speed as a subway, travel in its own corridor, and be fully-funded by the Province. In its place, Council was presented with a Scarborough Subway Extension in July 2016 that is proposed to have 1-stop with an estimated cost of $3.35 billion dollars and is projected to serve only 7,300 residents during the morning rush hour – less than some bus routes.”
 
The $3.5 to $5 billion cost of the one stop SSE also drains needed revenues away from other necessary transit projects such as the Eglinton East LRT (presently unfunded) with proposed 17 more stops (and surface stations are far less expensive than subway stations which are essentially two stations, one on the surface, one underground with all the excavation, and stairs, escalators, and elevators required with ongoing operational costs) and even the much more needed Downtown Relief line (still not funded and many years from completion) to deal with dangerous crowding on subways and platforms. 
 
Residents of Scarborough have gradually awakened to the fact that they will lose the five stations, never to be replaced, that currently exist on the Scarborough Rapid Transit line (SRT) when it is closed down as subway tunneling begins. They are not happy about it. Polling of Scarborough residents by groups such as Scarborough Transit action and others, indicate that most Scarborough residents travel within Scarborough, not between Toronto and Scarborough. The one stop SSE therefore does not serve the majority of Scarborough citizens. It begs the question – for whom is this one stop SSE being built? Certainly not for the people of Scarborough.
The original seven stop SLRL (LRT) is not dead. The legal contracts to start it are still in existence. The SSE is nowhere near the beginning of construction.
Please pass City of Toronto Agenda Item 2018.EX34.32 and send it back to City Council where it is hoped that wisdom will finally prevail.
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More Congestion Is Coming, Removal of Bike Lanes on Woodbine not the Answer

Beach Metro News, Toronto, Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The call by some to remove the new bike lanes on Woodbine Avenue will not get rid of traffic congestion in the long run. With an annual population growth of 1.6 % per year, (Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (2014-2019)  https://tinyurl.com/yagzmmwn in five years Metro Toronto adds another Hamilton, Ontario to its population. According to Metrolinx’s recently released Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan https://stevemunro.ca/2017/09/16/the-next-big-move-i-overview/ projections indicate that auto use will continue to be the choice of most commuters – still in the mid 70% range by 2041 – with those choosing transit remaining at around 15%. What does this mean for Woodbine Avenue? It means that even with the removal of the bike lanes and restoration of four lanes in some places, Woodbine will still be overwhelmed by car traffic in a very few years. What needs to be done? The only solution is to diminish the numbers of cars, particularly within the city. How can this be done? When one realizes that most cars on all of our roads and highways are single occupancy vehicles, meaning that only the driver is in the car, a solution makes itself plain. Governments, eg. Ontario – have already realized this when they opened the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle – two or more occupants) lanes on some 400 highways and the QEW. My personal observations indicate that there are still very few cars taking advantage of HOV lanes. When will enough citizens and courageous politicians suggest that the solution to car congestion is to make it illegal for anyone in the city to make a trip in a car by themselves. A trip by one person would of necessity be made by transit, taxi, cycling or walking. If every car now using Woodbine, during rush hours, had two occupants instead of one, congestion would be cut in half. The math is simple. The answer is car pooling and car sharing. As a society interested in curbing environmental damage and climate change caused by so much car traffic and road building, what is stopping us?

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Re: Why is Car2Go allowed to park overnight on my street? Beach Metro News, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

 

Dear Editor:

My response to this question is that Car2Go should be allowed to park on our streets overnight because they are providing a valuable service – reducing parking and road gridlock.

I believe that Toronto City Council should allow Car2Go to purchase parking permits for our streets.

My reasoning is as follows: Upon us moving to Toronto and living in the East End for the past thirteen years, my son’s family and my wife and I have shared one car between us, mostly for out of town trips. When we both needed a car, one of us rented from a car rental company that is within walking distance of both of us. We finally ended that arrangement in June, 2017 when the shared car became too expensive to repair. I immediately signed up with Car2Go – just using my iPad. We still obtain full day rental cars from the company we have always used. I read many years ago that every auto purchased, requires eight parking spaces – one at home, one at work, one at the mall, etc. Therefore, my son and I together have released up to 16 parking spaces. Car2Go’s literature says that each Car2Go vehicle represents 11 cars (people can use Car2Go as their second car). I’m not shilling for Car2Go but they represent one step away from Uber taxi service – Car2Go is a cheaper self-driving taxi. You can use your smartphone (or the older magnetic card) to open one and drive away. A map on your smartphone or iPad shows where they are parked in your neighbourhood.

A further step away in a few years will be ‘self-driving’ taxi service. It is hoped that these developments will discourage the purchase and use of many private autos on our streets and be a source of reduced road and parking gridlock, along with new TTC transit, separated bicycle lanes and safer sidewalks for walking.

Therefore, for these reasons I am in favour of Car2Go being allowed to park on our streets.

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