Category Archives: GTA Politics

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We love Mayor Rob Ford!


Rob Ford at the "Better Ball...

Rob Ford with puppet, at the "Better Ballots" Mayoral Candidates Forum at Hart House, University of Toronto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We love Mayor Rob Ford!

According to a new Forum Research poll, more than half of Toronto residents want to scrap the city’s land transfer tax, license cyclists, contract out cleaners, toss out the plastic bag tax and support a subway-based transit plan.

The Forum poll conducted Wednesday found 61% of Toronto residents approve of ending the city’s land transfer tax and licensing cyclists so that traffic laws can be enforced on them.

Ford campaigned on abolishing the land transfer tax but has yet to make any progress on dropping it from the city’s books.

Among those surveyed, support has grown since a Forum poll last month for a subway-based transit plan with 60% now in favour of the idea rather than 36% who favour a transit system based on LRTs.

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It’s not exactly Toronto the good anymore, eh?


Toronto view from CN tower. Picture from my co...

So what is Toronto becoming?

  • MGM wants to build a massive casino on Toronto’s waterfront, preferably turning Ontario Place into a mini Vegas.
  • Ashley Madison wants to sponsor Toronto Zoos, as long as they get naming rights
  • Dennis Hof looking to expand to Toronto and build a Bunny House
  • Giorgio Mammoliti wants to build a dedicated red-light district in Toronto

What is happening to Toronto? It’s simple, Toronto is broke! Year’s ago we talked about the hollowing out of Toronto, forcing families to move to the suburbs, such as Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa and farther. I am not saying that this is the reason. The majority of jobs are still in Toronto, however what will Toronto look like in 20 years? Yesterday Rob Ford said “he is all business”, and he will entertain any business idea. I am not sure if Torontonians would have supported Ford Nation if they knew what the vision was for Toronto. This is definitely not in the same scope of David Miller. As a mayor he seemed to have a different vision for the city. The question is what happened to the debate over these ideas? I am starting to hear rumblings of dissatisfied voters in Scarborough and other parts of the city. Sure, I am not taking stock from a large base, but these are individuals who were stark supporters of Rob Ford coming in to clean house.

Toronto Residents: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions. 
Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”? 
Toronto Residents: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies over Toronto! The Don river and Lake Ontario boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…Mel Lastman rising back to power! Human cooperation, politicians actually working together… mass hysteria!

So will Toronto become the new promised land?

Related articles

NDP Convention: Thomas Mulcair leads the first round of balloting


Français : Thomas Mulcair le 23 avril 2011 à M...

Français : Thomas Mulcair le 23 avril 2011 à Montréal lors de la campagne électorale fédérale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seems that the first round has shown Thomas Mulcair leading in the NDP leadership race. Thomas Mulcair won 30% of the vote on the first ballot. However, can the Quebec MP get enough support to win the race to succeed Jack Layton?

http://www.thomasmulcair.ca/site/?lang=en

 [yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS9jpCMBHUY&feature=related’%5D

First Ballot Results:

Thomas Mulcair: 19,728 votes

Nathan Cullen: 10,671 votes

Brian Topp: 13,915 votes

Peggy Nash: 8,353 votes

Paul Dewar: 4,683 votes

Martin Singh: 3,821 votes

Niki Ashton: 3,737 votes

Update: It looks like Thomas Mulcair is closer to winning the leadership of the NDP. He remains in the lead on the second ballot, but just short of a victory.

Read more:

http://www.canada.com/news/Thomas+Mulcair+remains+lead+short+victory/6354549/story.html

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/

The Game of Thrones and Transit in Toronto


LRT or Subways? This has been the ongoing debate, unfortunately the lines between truth are certainly grey. Let’s start with the Eglinton Cross-town, which definitely the current hot potato. Rob Ford has continued to use the word “subways”, which implies that we are going to get the same type of transportation that we see on the Bloor-Danforth or Yonge line. This is far from the truth, and I wish that he was clear with Torontonians. They are not “subway” trains, but Light-Rail vehicles (or trams). These are not streetcars, like the current variety, but politics have polarized the issue to make it seem so. I think that the original Transit City plan was a novel idea. Think about it, the Cross-town line would be underground from Jane to Leslie. It would then be above ground and then replace the current Scarborough RT, which is already on a dedicated track. A large part of the line would be on its own unobstructed line. Now maybe we can investigate changes on Eglinton, in Scarbouough, but it wasn’t a bad idea. Then we have Sheppard! You know what I feel and I also would like to see it finished, but we don’t have the money. In my opinion, we could take some of the funds, along with the other revenue sources, and simply go to Victoria Park for now. It’s again, unfortunate that the issue is clouded. I suspect that we may continue arguing over the merits for the next 2-3 years, or until the next election. What we have is a game of thrones and who will sit on it. Rob Ford or Karen Stintz. We have been talking about transit for over 25 years. Tell the truth and let’s get something done!

Let the war for Toronto begin!


Well let the war begin in the city of Toronto. In an apparent move to remove all opposition to Mayor Rob Ford’s subway plans a special Toronto Transit Commission meeting called with only one item on the agenda. A vote to remove Gary Webster’s from the Toronto Transit Commission. The nine-person commission voted 5-4 to remove Gary Webster. I am not sure how this will play out for the mayor and his allies, but I do not foresee it going well. Rather than seek an alternative, and work with council, they have decided to attempt to take control. This is not the best way to promote subways and I believe in the end Rob Ford may lose the battle.

Rob Ford

The Liberal government originally promised $8.15 billion in 2007 to Transit City. Transit City was almost entirely funded by the province, with the federal Conservatives chipping in $300 million. It was a plan, and we did not have to agree with all aspects of it, but for the first time we had all levels of government in agreement. If Transit City had gone ahead there would have been a renaissance. However, Mayor Rob Ford declared that David Miller’s transit vision was dead. He called the highly advanced trams, seen in Europe, Australia and many cities around the word streetcars. Yes, they operated on portions of the street, however this is not the St. Clair right-away. He should have worked with council and now a full-out war has been declared. The question is, will anything ever get done?

 

 

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Election Day in Canada – May 2, 2011


Stephen Harper, Canadian politician

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Well a historic election has just taken place in Canada. The Bloc was decimated in Quebec, and almost wiped off the map. Newfoundland told Conservatives what to do with themselves. The Greater Toronto Area is painted blue and Toronto has gone NDP Orange. Also, it looks like we have our very first Green member of Parliament. So what went wrong for the Liberals? They took their support for granted. Canadians were looking for change and they did not see it in the Liberals, in Ontario. Yes, there was a lot of vote splitting, however lets be honest. Ontario has been red for a long time. This is a breakthrough for the Conservatives in Ontario. The question is, can they live up to that support?

The G.T.A is an important battleground and they better take note. As for the NDP, they better not take their Quebec support for granted. The Bloc imploded, Liberals were yesterdays news and they did not like the Conservatives. So we are left with the NDP. Jack the time to start working is now. As for the Liberals, there is a lot of soul searching.

However I will offer this advice to all parties. (1) Liberals, you need to go back to your roots. Your party is not dead. I’d rather say that it is in hibernation and healing. Canadian’s have not forgotten you, rather the opposite happened. You forgot them. Remember who you are and what you stand for. Otherwise, what is the point of the Liberal Party. It is time for you to reconnect. (2) NDP you have been given the chance to prove your worth, so do not disappoint. From the people I have spoken to many parked their vote with the NDP. Also, in Ontario, people simply love and trust Jack Layton.  It will be important, despite a majority Conservative government, that the NDP choose their battles well and fight for those who voted for them. Less we forget, as often Canadians do! (3) Conservatives fought a simple and straight-forward campaign. You delivered your message and Canadians listened. We are concerned about the economy and trust in that has been given to you. However, do not take that trust for granted. A lot of Canadians still do not trust the Conservative Party and a lot of seats were gained from vote splitting. Be careful how you govern. Canadians are watching. Do not slip to the right with arrogance. As Harper said, keep a steady ship. If you can prove your worth maybe your quality will be remembered. (4) Finally, to Elizabeth May and the Green Party. You have made Canadian history! Despite the media ignoring you, thank you for running and not giving up. The Green Party should be a wake up call to ALL parties. People voted for Elizabeth May and the Greens across Canada. Their ideas and policies should not be ignored! Summed up in Elizabeth May’s own words “amateurs built the ark and professionals built the Titanic”. People are wary in Canada and if the status-quo parties cannot deliver, Canadians may decide someone else can.

Congrats to Prime Minister Harper, who has finally gotten a majority government for the Conservative Party. We will all watch, wait and see what policies are implemented and what happens in the next Parliament. See you in 2015!

By Mannee Jay

Election Day


Well its election day in Canada! I’d offer some predictions, however I imagine that the election will be overshadowed by Osama Bin Laden today. In light of that there will be a dynamic shift today. Question is what will really happen. This is hard to predict. Canadians are angry. The Conservatives were arrogant, in demanding a majority. They should have reached out early to soft-C Conservatives in the Liberal party. However, it is too late. They waited until Jack Layton, whom both the Liberals and Conservatives ignored, sprung to life in the polls. However, all may not be lost for the Conservatives. It all depends on vote splitting in Ontario and other provinces. There is a chance they may sneak through.

It will be an interesting night, however I predict that the NDP will gain a large amount of seats. The Bloc will tank and the Conservatives may end up with a majority. However, there is a slight chance that Canadians are so angry that the NDP could win, but I doubt it. It will definately be an interesting night in Canada.

Ont. health agency scrutinized for contract tendering practices


Ont. health agency scrutinized for contract tendering practices

‘Taxpayers are really getting ripped off’: PC leader

An Ontario health agency has doled out nearly $5 million in contracts without any apparent attempt to open up the deals to outside bidders, documents obtained by CBC News show.

EHealth Ontario has come under scrutiny for its spending practices. (CBC)Contracts valued at about $4.8 million were signed off by eHealth Ontario’s CEO and president, Sarah Kramer, during the first four months of the newly formed agency’s operation, according to documents obtained by the Progressive Conservative party through a freedom of information request.

A letter regarding the request states that no procurement documents for consultant services were located “because none were created.”

EHealth was quietly set up eight months ago by the Liberal government, with the merger of the e-health program at the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA), an agency once mired in questions over its own operations.

The agency is tasked with developing a digital record system by 2015 to allow health-care providers to electronically share patient information to prevent medical errors and reduce costs.

Kramer defended her organization’s procurement policy, saying the quick transition period and the amount of money being invested in eHealth justified single-sourcing the contracts in many cases.

“It is appropriate and it’s under most policies in public and private sector to bring in sole-source vendors when you need to do something very quickly and you need some specialized services,” Kramer said.

A procurement expert said contracts should be open to competition unless they involve legal services, an urgent circumstance or a patented product unique to a single supplier.

Examples of some of the most lucrative contracts handed out during the first months of eHealth’s operation were $915,160 to health-care consulting firm Courtyard Group, and two contracts in a single day to Accenture Inc. that topped $1 million.

All but one of the listed consulting contracts surpassed $100,000, the cutoff at which provincial agencies are required to put a contract out to tender in order to ensure a fair and open playing field for companies.

No evidence has been found that the contracts were tendered on Merx, Ontario’s designated website for such government agreements.

Kramer’s spending

Hiring outside consultants also would allow eHealth Ontario to skirt the so-called “sunshine law” that requires provincial agencies to publicize the names of employees with salaries of $100,000 or more.

Sarah Kramer is the CEO and president of eHealth Ontario. Sarah Kramer is the CEO and president of eHealth Ontario. (CNW Group/eHealth Ontario)The agency already employed 164 people whose annual salary topped $100,000 in 2008, according to its website.

Documents show Kramer earns a base salary of $380,000 and received a $114,000 bonus in March, about five months after her start date.

The next month, Kramer announced in a memo that the company was cutting back on employee bonuses.

“After considerable discussion, we have decided to proceed with merit and bonus payouts, but scale them back to reflect current economic realities and the organization’s performance this past year,” the memo states.

Receipts also show Kramer spent at least $800 on limousine rides, including one priced at $408 from her home to London, Ont., and a couple in Boston.

Kramer came under scrutiny for her expenditures in early April when opposition parties complained about the $51,500 she spent on her new office furniture, a cost defended by Health Minister David Caplan as a startup cost typical to new agencies.

Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter has been probing spending at eHealth and its predecessor, SSHA, since late last year. His findings are scheduled to be published in his annual report this December.

Interim PC Leader Bob Runciman called for the health minister to explain the apparent lack of competitive bidding for the projects and called the expenses upsetting given the economic downturn.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s all sorts of problems with this agency where taxpayers are really being — I think it’s not going overboard to say — getting ripped off by this agency and their practices,” Runciman said.

Alberta consultants flown in

Spending at eHealth and its predecessor swelled to more than $800 million in the past six years, while the date for release of its electronic patient health records has been pushed back three years to 2015.

SSHA was blasted in January 2007 when an operational review done by Deloitte Consulting said it lacked a strategic plan, had a poor reputation among the health-care community it was supposed to serve and was not being held accountable by Queen’s Park.

Set up in 2002, SSHA also struggled to move away from a dependence on consultants. A 2004-2005 annual report documents “intense” efforts to reduce reliance on consultants by doubling permanent staff.

Media reports suggest SSHA spent about an average of 17 per cent of its budget each year on consultants.

Also, two of eHealth’s consultants — Allaudin Merali and Donna Strating — are listed as senior vice-presidents on the agency’s website but live in Alberta, with their regular commute into Ontario funded by taxpayer dollars.

Documents released Wednesday show each charges about $2,700 a day for their services. The two also bill the agency for regular flights, accommodation in Toronto plus a per diem for meals and other costs. Among the receipts are two $3.26 bills for a muffin and can of pop.

The total cost for the two amounts to about $1.5 million a year.

EHealth’s CEO defended the costs of flying two consultants in, saying Alberta has the “best record in eHealth in the country.”

“They’ve come in and really helped us get back on board and start moving forward. So we’re paying market rates for people who are the best and the brightest in the business,” Kramer said.

Close ties

Questions are also being raised about a further $1 million in apparently untendered contracts awarded in the early months of the agency’s transition to Courtyard Group, on top of the single $915,160 deal.

Michael Guerriere, a managing partner of Courtyard Group, was also named as eHealth’s interim senior vice-president of strategy at one point, and billed more than $3,000 a day as a consultant.

Guerriere’s wife, Miyo Yamashita, heads another firm, Anzen Consulting, that benefited from more than $300,000 in eHealth contracts.

Yamashita charged about $300 an hour for communications advice and services that included:

  • Reading New York Times articles on diabetes and electronic health records from her husband.
  • Reviewing Kramer’s holiday voicemail greeting and confirming details for a seasonal party.
  • Debriefing during a chat on the subway.

If you have information on this story, send an email to yournews@cbc.ca.

Read more….


The mistake the Liberal elite will make by forcing out Dion


Dion

Dion

Well the election is over and the knives are already out calling for a new leader. It is strange? I do not remember anyone forcing out McGuinty, Harris, Harper, shall I go on. They were given a chance and look at them now! Dion is a smart and a decent person. He does care for our country. However what this really shows is the “arrogance of the Liberal elite in the party“. I really do not think that people like Bob Rae or Ignatieff (Iggy) ever really supported Dion. Look, I am not a full fan of Dion. However, how he was treated only minutes after loosing was disgraceful and just awful. It is obvious that this is not a united party. What the elite do not realize is that they are further alienating themselves. Canadians don’t like what they are seeing, Conservatives, Liberals and Social Democrats alike. I have spoken to many and despite what they think of Dion, Volpe and others are making themselves look like little evil “children of the corn”. I believe that Volpe ran for leadership and eventually put his support behind Bob Rae, so where are his allegiances?

Volpe

Volpe

I think what is more damning is the fact that somehow Liberals felt that it was their right to lead Canada. Maybe Canadians just wanted to be a bit more conservative this time around. Maybe Canadians just liked Jack Layton a bit better. This does not mean that Dion needs to go. Not sure how many times Jack has given this a kick at the can, but again there is no one looking for blood. No analysis has been done, and already the vultures were waiting in the wings to pounce at the chance to consume Dion. In fact I think it is over for the Liberals anyway. They are out of touch now. Some in the party think that they are royalty and feel it is their inherit right to lead. Sadly, if they remove Dion in this fashion then they are just like any other politician, in the minds of many Canadians. You cannot trust them. Why would ANY Liberal leader trust thugs like this? It is their “god given right to lead and they cannot stand being on the sidelines”. My goodness, this is just ONE election! Ask other leaders how many times they got a kick at the can. I heard a Liberal on CBC totally destroy Dion. He seemed to have some “inherit wisdom given to him and no other from on high”. What it really sounded like was a poor looser, whining about how his “friends” lost a good job because of Dion. Maybe it was good that the Liberals lost then? This is not Kim Cambell and the 2 seats left in the Parliament after the PC’s lost. I lament, ever so slightly for the Liberals. Maybe it was better this way. Volpe and others have now truly destroyed themselves in Quebec. They will never be trusted anywhere else. You all played in Harper masterful game. Think about it? He calls an election and knew that there was decent in the party. The Liberals lost and now will probably lose badly in the next election. The Liberals, at the moment, are in disarray. It does not matter what Dion does now, because  he cannot win. If he stays then the party will splinter. If he leaves they are untrustworthy (with those types of friends, who needs enemies). it is over for the party. Volpe and others like him have ensured the Liberals slow decline and death. Heck, with friends like that, who needs enemies.

NOTE: What they should really think about is the fact that ALL parties had a decline in votes. Not a lot of Canadians really cared this time around.

By Andy MJ
a.k.a The G.T.A Patriot

Flip Flop? – PM changes his tone on running deficits


Harper and our money - we have none

Harper and our money - we have none

We warned you during the election that the numbers did not make sense. As with others in the past who promised no deficits it seems that Harper has retracted on what he said during the election. Flip-flop? We focused so much on the Green Shift that other issues were put to the side. Now we are stuck with this situation. Are Canadians prepared for deep cuts to funding? Show me the money!

With reports from Joe Friesen in Toronto and Ian Bailey in Vancouver

QUEBEC, TORONTO, OTTAWA — Stephen Harper refused yesterday to rule out the possibility of a deficit next year despite his promise during the election campaign that he would not allow one if re-elected.

While the Prime Minister said he intends to maintain a balanced budget this year, he did not say the same for 2009-10.

“I don’t think we’re in a position yet to know all the information in that regard,” Mr. Harper said in Quebec City, where Canada is hosting a summit of French-speaking governments. “It would be premature to speculate on that. I will just say that the Government of Canada will maintain responsible fiscal policies and the Government of Canada will ensure that whatever we do is in the long-run interests of the Canadian economy.”

The government will unveil an updated economic statement this fall. Should revenues be affected by economic turmoil after this year, the Tories would have to choose whether to run a deficit, cut spending or find other revenue sources such as increasing taxes.

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Harper wins again, gaining 16 seats and some in the precious 905 region around Toronto


By ROB GILLIES Associated Press Writer © 2008 The Associated Press

Oct. 15, 2008, 4:05AM

Harper wins big in the election

Harper wins big in the election

OTTAWA — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday he will reach out to all parties during the global financial meltdown after his Conservative Party won in national elections but fell short of a parliamentary majority.

Harper had called Tuesday’s elections early in hopes of getting his party a majority, and in doing so he became the first major world leader to face voters since the financial crisis.

Instead, the Conservatives will once again be forced to rely on opposition support to pass budgets and legislation — as it has had to since a 2006 election victory.

Harper sought to put a good face on the results Wednesday, pointing to an increased number of seats and pledging cooperation.

“We have shown that minority government can work and at this time of global economic instability we owe it to Canadians to demonstrate this once again,” Harper said. “We hold out a hand to all members of all parties asking them to join together to protect the economy and weather this world financial crisis.”

With nearly all the returns in, Canada’s election agency reported on its Web site that the Conservatives had won or was leading in races for 143 of Parliament’s 308 seats, an improvement over the 127 seats the party had in the previous Parliament.

The Conservative Party needed to win 155 seats to govern on its own.

The Liberal Party, long Canada’s top party, suffered a severe drubbing, dropping to 76 seats from 95 in the previous Parliament, according to the election agency. Bloc Quebecois won 50 seats, the New Democrats 37 and independent candidates 2.

Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion, in his concession to Harper, offered his “full cooperation in these difficult economic times.”

The party winning the most seats generally forms the government, with its leader becoming prime minister. The opposition parties could unite and topple Harper if they won enough seats for a majority, but analysts said that was unlikely because the parties have no tradition of forming such coalitions.

The opposition Liberals have typically been the party in power, forming the government for most of Canada’s 141 years. But the left-of-center vote was divided among four parties, giving an edge to the Conservatives.

Dion’s campaign was hindered by his unpopular plan to tax all fossil fuels except gasoline and by perceptions he is a weak leader. A former professor from French-speaking Quebec, Dion also suffered in other regions because he frequently mangles English grammar and his accent makes him hard to understand.

Dion said Canadians have asked him to be their official opposition leader, a signal that he’s not ready to step down at this point.

If Dion was ousted as leader after a loss, he would be just the second Liberal leader to fail to become Canada’s prime minister. The only other was Edward Blake, who led the party to defeat in the 1882 and 1887 elections.

Many Canadians complained Harper was slow to react as the global credit crisis worsened. He hurt himself by saying during a debate that Canadians were not concerned about jobs or mortgages. A few days later, he said stocks were cheap — just before Canada’s main stock exchange had its worst week in almost 70 years.

Harper later said he knows Canadians are worried and stressed that Canada’s economic and fiscal performance contrasts to the more dire situation in the United States.

Voter turnout Tuesday about 59 percent, the lowest in Canadian history. It was unclear how much stringent new proof-of-identity requirements affected the turnout.