Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Sheppard subway sandwich that Mel ordered!


One of the lasting legacies for Mel Lastman is the Sheppard Subway. I actually wanted the subway to be built, however not in its present form. If it actually had been completed or better yet extended westwards, along with the completion to Scarborough Town Centre and beyond, things would have been better. Alas, a Mike Harris conservative government, without any foresight and vision killed what could have been a great cross-town subway line. My feelings are that the Sheppard Subway could have been an excellent LRT line. This was an option, back when they were deciding on cutting costs to the Sheppard Subway. I believe that Howard Moscoe was one of the councilors proposing this, but was summarily shot down. It could have been a great option. Underground stations, maybe at Leslie, Don Mills and Yonge; along with a centre right-of-way LRT would have been perfect. A cheaper option would have been to use the Finch Hydro corridor, since a majority of people were traveling from points in Scarborough. However, the real problem is interference from politicians. Until we remove them from play we will end of with projects like this. Don’t get me started on the Greg Sorbara subway to Vaughan. York University would have been good enough for now. That money could fund more then ½ of all the LRT projects on the books. Let people who know what to do, do it. Let’s get politicians out of the way of progress. We do not need another Sheppard Subway. Albeit, what is done is done, it MUST be finished. Otherwise, what was the point? Same is the dumb idea to fill up the Eglinton Line dig, when a large portion of it was already dug. But then again, that wasn’t the subway Mel built? We ordered two 12 inch subs, with everything on it. However, Mike Harris only gave us enough for the Tuesday special.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

Vote Yes for MMP and electoral reform in Ontario


Why are voting systems important?

The voting system is the foundation for representative democracy, because it translates votes into seats. Citizens use the voting system to delegate power to political parties and politicians.

What’s so bad about the present Ontario electoral system?

“In a democratic government,” wrote Swiss philosopher Ernest Naville in 1865, “the right of decision belongs to the majority, but the right of representation belongs to all.”

FPTP undercuts both of these core principles – equal representation for voters and true majority rule. That and other shortcomings are addressed in more detail below.

  • Denies representation for all voters
  • FPTP provides political representation only for those voters who support the most popular party in their riding. Most voters in Ontario elections (two million plus) cast votes that elect no one. In many cases, the winning candidate does not even receive a majority of votes cast in the riding.

  • Distorts the will of the voters
  • Because many voters, often the majority, do not win representation, overall election results are distorted. A party winning only 40% of the votes may gain 1 60% or more of the seats and 100% of the power. A party winning 30% of the votes could find itself with only 10% of the seats. Smaller parties that may attract 5% or 10% of the vote will almost never be represented.

  • Produces phony majority governments
  • Because of these distortions, Ontario is generally ruled by phony majority governments – i.e., by parties that captured a majority of seats without winning a majority of votes cast. In fact, the last time an Ontario election produced a legitimate majority government was 1937. Consider these more recent examples:

    – The current Liberal government won 70% of the seats with only 46% of the popular vote.
    – In 1995, the Tory government won 63% of the seats with only 45% of the vote.
    – In 1990, the Ontario NDP received less than 38% of the popular vote but won 57% of the seats.

  • Fails to produce accountable governments
  • Governments that win with less than majority support nonetheless claim a “mandate from the people”. Once any party controls a majority of seats, nothing can stop a premier from enacting unpopular laws that are not supported by a majority of voters.

  • Gives us stagnation or wild swings but not responsive government
  • Ontario often has periods where one party is entrenched in power for an extended period. Then, even with a relatively small shift in voter attitudes, the composition of the legislature can swing wildly from one side of the ideological spectrum to the other. This can produce what is sometimes called “policy lurch”. Neither trend is responsive to the evolving political will of citizens.

  • Results in low percentages of women and visible minority MPPs
  • Every voting system produces incentives for parties to bring forward certain types of candidates. In a FPTP system based on electing only one candidate per riding, parties have little incentive to field a diverse range of candidates. Other voting systems in which parties must bring forward lists of candidates for larger regions have the opposite incentive. A more diverse array of candidates is often the winning strategy.

  • Promotes apathy, cynicism and negativity among voters
  • When voters believe their votes do not make a difference, they have little motivation to cast their votes. In Ontario, nearly 40% of eligible voters do not bother casting ballots. Countries using proportional voting systems generally have higher voter turnouts.

How will the MMP system help with the election of more women and minorities?

The proposed MMP system will improve women’s representation because parties will be forced – for practical reasons – to adopt new strategies for nominating their candidates. Most parties will quickly learn they will win the most votes if they have nearly equal portions of women and men appearing on their lists, and an appropriate portion of visible minorities. Any party that presents a list that is largely male and without minority candidates will very likely lose votes.

In many European countries, parties “zipper” their lists, alternating male and female names on their lists so equal numbers are elected. Parties are very competitive in seeking votes and will apply whatever strategy wins the most seats under the voting system being used. The evidence is clear. Proportional voting systems help produce what most Canadians want: more diversity in our legislatures.

What voting systems are newer democracies choosing?

According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (http://www.idea.int/esd/world.cfm), not one of the 26 countries that were part of the old Soviet bloc picked first-past-the-post.

Two countries adopted MMP, 13 chose other forms of proportional representation and seven picked semi-proportional votng systems, while four countries moved to two-round systems.

What is the Vote for MMP campaign?

Vote for MMP is a multi-partisan campaign initiated by Fair Vote Canada to support adoption of the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system in the Ontario referendum on October 10. Fair Vote Canada is a national citizens’ campaign for electoral reform.

Through the Vote for MMP campaign, Ontarians from all backgrounds, regions and political views are uniting to support a new voting system that will give all of us more choice, fairer results and stronger representation.

For more information on MMP, go to http://www.voteformmp.ca 

Unfair questions to John Tory from a reporter


I heard a reporter ask John Tory, in reference to the faith-based school funding, about the fact that Islamic schools separate girls from boys. Now can you imagine and unfair that question is? Catholics, for years in Ontario have had girls and boys schools. However, in Ontario, because of our ignorance, it is not good for Islamic schools? Ask yourself the question. What Ontario do you want to live in? One that says Catholics are better than Jews, Hindu’s, Muslims or any other group. I do not care what side of the faith-based funding fence you are on. But we must stop and listen to ourselves. If you do not understand something, just because it is not “like you”, then take the time and try to learn. Let us learn from history and not ask silly questions. If you do not like separate schools for boys and girls, then say so, also addressing the fact that others have had this privilege for years. Of course the media was just trying to stir up some controversy, however with images in the Toronto Star this week showing girls from an Islamic school playing in a yard makes me wonder what the agenda is. Or are they just showing what Ontarians are really like? Are we just a little bit more ignorant and intolerant then we think we are?  

Internet Explorer 8.0: The silence is deafening


How far along is Microsoft with the next version of Internet Explorer (IE) — which might be IE 7.5 or IE 8.0, depending on what Microsoft decided to do since last time we heard anything truly tangible from the IE team (which was about a year ago)? Windows users and…

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10 Tips To Help New Users Install and Use Linux or BSD.


So you’ve heard about Linux or BSD, you’re interested, you’ve read around a little…awesome! Now you’re ready to take the plunge into open source distributions/operating systems. Here are ten tips that will make your life easier if you decide to switch…..

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What would happen if Microsoft actually bought out Novell?


I started to think today that the implications to the Linux / UNIX world would be substantial, with Microsoft working so close with Novell. With the recent ruling that SCO no longer owns the rights to UNIX makes me wonder. Since Novell is now the owner of UNIX, what game is Microsoft really playing? Will they possibly buyout, merge or work even closer with Novell, creating a Microsoft Linux hybrid? What would happen if Microsoft ended up owning UNIX? Now that would be funny, and not at the same time. But then again, I am probably thinking pie in the sky. With Vista out of the blocks at a snail’s pace, will they opt to focus on Linux, lessening the impact on their OS business. This is probably more complicated now, since the release of GPLv3; however it will be extremely interesting to see what they decide to do over the next few years. My guess is that they simply do not want to put all their eggs in one basket, since they are being attacked from all sides. If Microsoft even purchased Novell, they probably would not be interested in SUSE anyway. More than likely they are now interested in the prospects of owning the rights to UNIX. It is probably more complicated then this, but who knows. I will leave that to lawyers and insiders to figure out. The fact is Microsoft is interested in making money and the investment in Novell is not sometime to take lightly. Microsoft must do something soon, and diversify; finding new streams of revenue. They will need new vision, thinking outside of the box. In the end, they may have actually play their cards right. Otherwise, they will simply be another point in history.

 

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

 

Gateway launches the iMac killer?


Gateway has unveiled its latest all-in-one desktop PC, dubbed simply the One. Sitting somewhere between an Apple iMac and Sony’s Vaio LT series in terms of looks, the slimline 19in machine also sports a unique power-brick-cum-port-replicator.

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Is Microsoft Vista on Life Support?


Well it’s been about 6-7 months since the official release of Microsoft Vista. So what is the verdict? If the numbers are correct, it looks like Microsoft Windows Millennium is not quite dead. Vista was supposed to be all new and better. It was supposed to feel like the day Windows 95 was released. Do you remember that day? It should have been a new beginning; however it is starting to look like a tragic end

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Why Microsoft must abandon Vista to save itself


While Vista was originally touted by Microsoft as the operating system savior we’ve all been waiting for, it has turned out to be one of the biggest blunders in technology. With a host of issues that are inexcusable and features that are taken from the Mac OS X and Linux playbook, Microsoft has once again lost sight of what we really want.

As we’re more than aware, Vista Ultimate comes at a premium. For an additional $160 over the Premium SKU price, Ultimate gives you a complete backup and restore option, BitLocker Drive encryption, the ever so popular Windows Fax & Scan, and the “Ultimate Extras.” But what started with a promise of “Extras” by summer, quickly turned into an apology from Microsoft and the eventual release of DreamScene and Windows Hold ‘Em (among others) today. And while each of the “Extras” runs just fine, Microsoft’s “Extras” blunder is just another reason why the company must abandon Vista before it’s too late.

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Will we finally see an Apple ultra-portable PC in 2008?


Hmm, did James have some insider information on an Apple handheld computer or was he just being a good psychic? There have been rumors and dreams of an Apple ultra portable computer for years. I still have my Newton MessagePad 2100 and think my iPhone fills many of the roles…

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The Apple Newton? Reports say it’s coming b-a-a-a-a-ck


The old Apple Newton handheld lived and died before BlackBerry was even born. But if reports first posted on Apple Insider are accurate (and the site usually is), we are going to see an Apple Newton sometime in the first part of 2008. Don’t get too excited about the art…

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Miller messed up, says Hazel McCallion


Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion says the criticism Toronto’s mayor is facing over community centre cutbacks is the result of not doing his homework before proposing new taxes to solve the budget crisis.

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