Thursday, September 29, 2011

Taking Attendance

An interesting pattern began emerging during the Federal Election this past spring. At forums, debates, and all-candidates meetings across the country, Conservative Party candidates were simply not showing up.

There was always some excuse, of course - although the over-use of the "prior commitment" was making some wonder if there was perhaps a new species of virus called "Prior Commitment" that had everyone sick in bed. And to be sure, some candidates may well have had a legitimate reason for not being able to attend.

It was the high percentage of Conservative candidates who were finding somewhere they would rather be that began to raise eyebrows, to the point where campaign spokesman Ryan Sparrow had to step in and quash rumours that Head Office was ordering them not to attend. He even issued a statement:

We provide support for candidates to participate in candidates debates, but we don't instruct them not to attend debates. Most candidates would prefer to meet with voters one on one though instead of debating their opponents in crowds of committed supporters of the different parties.

Fast forward five months, and the same pattern is beginning to emerge among Ontario Progressive Conservative candidates.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Diary of a Film Festival Virgin, Part 1

I have a confession to make. I was born and raised in Toronto, lived half my life there, I am a huge movie fan... and yet, up until this year I had never attended a single Toronto International Film Festival screening.

Every year there was some excuse: I had no time, I had no money, I was out of town, I forgot. Mostly I was intimidated by the whole process. So this year I just dove in head first and bought a stack of single tickets to anything that caught my eye. After all, what better way to celebrate losing your job at a video store than to spend your new-found free time and rapidly depleting final paycheck at a film festival?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Mayors of Jane Jacobs' Toronto

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs, a book which influenced generations of urban planners and municipal leaders and forever changed the way we think of cities. So what better way to celebrate than in the company of four former mayors of Toronto, the city Jacobs called home for nearly half her life.

David Crombie, John Sewell, Art Eggleton, and Barbara Hall were all on hand for "Jane Jacobs' Toronto", a panel discussion moderated by TVO's Steve Paikin and presented by the Centre for City Ecology. Tickets were free, and were snapped up so quickly that organizers moved the event to a larger venue at OISE - and even then they were left with a waiting list of over 150.

Given the overwhelming interest in recent goings on at Toronto City Hall, it's not hard to guess why.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"When did we become for immigrants?"

HT to Oakville Mayor Rob Burton (or as we like to call him, @OakvilleMayor) for pointing out the quote of the day from Burlington PC candidate Jane McKenna:

“We have 550,000 Ontarians who are unemployed and yet the government wants to pay $10,000 to hire immigrants for jobs. When did we become for immigrants? You should have one law that fits everyone.”

Wow. I got nuthin'.

Dalton McGuinty at Burlington Rally (with video)

About 300 local Liberals was on hand to greet a special surprise guest at the offices of Burlington candidate Karmel Sakran on Thursday. The group included just about every candidate in the western GTA, as well as the now ubiquitous "Fire Fighters for McGuinty" in their yellow shirts and their big yellow bus.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Orange and the Green

When provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath announced this summer that her party wanted to reduce the HST on gasoline, I must say I raised an eyebrow. After all, the NDP is supposed to be (among many other things) an environmentally friendly party, and conventional environmental wisdom states that high gas taxes are an effective way to reduce consumption.

Now, it's one thing to argue against that premise, and certainly many have done just that. But to completely ignore the environmental implications of cutting an energy consumption tax and just drop it straight into the 'saving taxpayers money' file seems a little... well, un-NDPlike.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Halton Liberals Off to the Races

Indira Naidoo-Harris and the Halton Liberals kicked off their campaign today with a good old fashioned open house and barbeque at their new campaign office on Main Street in Milton. They timed it nicely to coincide with both the end of the Farmers' Market and the beginning of the Steam Era Parade, so there were plenty of people on hand.

I must say, the office is much nicer than the last one I spent a campaign in. Housed in the former Joleens storefront on the south side of Main Street, it's got a ton of space and even has cubicles. Cubicles! Why, when I was working the phone banks for the '08 election we were all crammed cheek by jowl into a tiny windowless office with nothing but a headset and a breath mint between us.

But I digress.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Uproar over Uploading

The recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference presented a golden opportunity for Provincial candidates to make their pitch to just about every municipal government leader in the province. This hugely influential alliance of mayors, councillors and regional chairs was anxious to hear exactly what the party leaders had to offer Ontario's cities and towns, and they certainly got an earful.

Unfortunately, some candidates weren't telling them what they wanted to hear.