Tuesday, October 26, 2010


No doubt they are cheering at the Fraser Institute with the recent election of Rob Ford as Mayor of Toronto. Never mind that "fiscal conservatives" have had a very dismal record at keeping budgetary deficits under control. One has only to look to our "beloved" federal government to see what "ending the gravy train" actually means. let alone the record of conservatives in power elsewhere in North America. Deficits are them. What is actually means is dealing out the gravy to others that are more favoured by a conservative mind-set. This will mean just as much expenditure, though on different items. True to his word ford's first priority on becoming Mayor of Canada's largest city is a "war on graffiti". What this means in reality is diverting the works and engineering department of Toronto from such things as road repair to cleaning walls. Looks good on the surface I guess.

Ford's election has made news across the world- literally. It has even been reported in the Chinese 'People's Daily'. How significant it is is another matter entirely. When the heat dies down it is likely that Ford will not be able to keep even a fraction of his "promises" about "cutting waste". A lot of his voodoo economics rests upon the assumption that there is enough spare city land to sell off to his friends (at no doubt reduced prices) to push the city into a surplus situation. The idea of tax cuts coupled with no reduction in services is, of course, pure fantasy.

It is, of course, civic election season here in Canada. Ford's election is actually less significant than that of the election of Naheed Nenshi as Mayor of Calgary. Not that his reign will be any different from that of a conservative such as Ford in terms of waste and cronyism. Yet, it was significant not just because he is of East Indian heritage (via Tanzania) nor because he is a Muslim. In Calgary !!! What is most significant is that he has been a University professor. The idea of Calgarians elected an "intellectual" of any political stripe says volumes about how much that city has changed in the past few years.

Meanwhile here in Winnipeg we will have our own civic election tomorrow. As usual Molly will not be voting. In terms of the mayoralty candidates it is the crooked right represented by Sam Katz versus the bureaucratic left represented by Judy Wasylycia-Leis. Hardly anything to chose from. It's all who you want picking your pocket and how you want the ill gotten gains spent. I'm almost tempted to vote in the local councillor elections just because the property developer candidate Jeff Browaty, the incumbent, approached me while I was trying to do some yard work and annoyed me. Never mind that he is into real estate which in my mind means he should be automatically barred from running for municipal office. His attitude and his physical appearance reminded me of two things. One is that he looks just like a mass murderer ala Colonel Russell Williams down in Ontario. The other is that he looks and acts like the high school "football hero" that school authorities used to use to bully the students back when I was young. Perhaps such people have more likelihood of ending up as mass murderers. To my family's great credit my brother broke the collarbone of one of these thugs when we were in high school. Threatening, pushy, obnoxious and interfering with my work. Sorry, Jeffy-poo, there are some you can't bully into putting a sign on the lawn. Don't even bother speaking loudly and demandingly at me. I'm not one of your underlings.

Ah well, the politics are over, but the struggle continues. Here's an item from the Ontario Coalition against Poverty (OCAP) about their opinion of Toronto's new Mayor.
OCAP Gets Ready To Confront Rob Ford‏

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty Gets Ready to Confront New Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
Eight years of the progressive Mayor David Miller has meant little for the poorest people in Toronto. The former City Council and David Miller are responsible for 312 shelter beds for the homeless being cut with only 60 ever replaced. Promises of new shelters have been empty rhetoric, with people waiting years for any new spaces to open up. Gentrification has continued at high speed, Toronto Community Housing is looking to sell off properties, while the waiting list for housing is almost 10 years long. Transit fares have gone up and accessibility was one of the first things to be cut from the budget. Welfare rates are shamefully inadequate, while city administrators willfully deny people access to vital benefits such as the Special Diet Allowance. Poverty in Toronto has continued to grow under a so-called progressive Mayor. The City of Toronto is increasingly divided between the rich and the poor.
Now Toronto has elected Rob Ford as its new Mayor. OCAP knows Ford and his priorities all too well. He has consistently supported cuts to Welfare/ODSP including the recent cut to the Special Diet Allowance, spoken out against social programs, community housing, affordable transit, the homeless and immigrants. Ford's rhetoric in this campaign has been to 'end the gravy train at City Hall' and to 'respect the taxpayer'. What Rob Ford really means is all too familiar; cutting social services, housing and transit, while giving tax breaks to the wealthy. We will see cuts to services that poor people need on top of an already existing lack of funding to services thanks to Miller. If anything, the 'gravy train' for the rich will be all that Ford cares about.
"Rob Ford's agenda is the same as Mike Harris’ was in the 1990s –attacking poor people to benefit the wealthy." says OCAP organizer John Clarke. “During the Harris period Ontario saw unprecedented civil dissent and disruption, we are putting Ford on notice that he ought to expect the same." OCAP will be working with communities across Toronto to fight Ford’s agenda and defend the rights of poor people.
Media inquiries:416-925-6939
To get involved:
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

No comments: