It’s not the moderator that’s f–ked up.

Singer Damian Abraham of F--ked Up performs during day 1 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival held at the Empire Polo Club iin April 2009 in Indio, California. Michael Buckner / Getty Images

Singer Damian Abraham of F–ked Up performs during day 1 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival held at the Empire Polo Club iin April 2009 in Indio, California. Michael Buckner / Getty Images

A criminal lawyer, a high school student, and two career politicians walk into a mayoral debate on arts and culture…

There is no punchline. The setup is the joke.

Meanwhile, a candidate who is actually a member of the arts community in Toronto, has a comprehensive arts-friendly platform, has fought and won fights in court protecting the arts in Toronto, and has fared rather well in debates when invited to the table, is strangely absent.

That will be the scene on September 29 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox when Damian Abraham of Toronto band F–ked Up moderates the ArtsVote debate. At least we can put our faith in the host to hold the candidates accountable.

The Robb Not Ford: Robb Johannes for Mayor of Toronto 2014 campaign has taken the general premise of positive campaigning and placing civic engagement over any form of politicking, but it has to be said, Toronto: scenarios like this are the problem. Unrepresentative representation by so-called “leaders” who endeavour to have power than to empower has led to the disconnect between candidates and communities that got us Rob Ford — and along the way have disenfranchised affected communities and stakeholders form having a voice in affairs that directly influence their well-being as citizens of Canada’s greatest city.

At this debate, it won’t be the moderator that’s f–ked up.

However, none of this should surprise nor discourage the arts community in Toronto. Rather, let it be another example of a community needing to step up and speak out in its own voice against a system that has left it voiceless.

We can do BETTER, Toronto!

Posted in Arts and Culture, Candidates, Citizens, Civic Participation, Communities, Debate, Democracy, Film Industry, John Tory, Leadership, My Campaign, Olivia Chow, Participation, Public Forums, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Tory and the Not-so-Smart Track

Photo by David Cooper / The Toronto Star

Photo by David Cooper / The Toronto Star

In an election predicated on improving transit, reducing congestion, and making Toronto more sustainable and accessible — it’s discouraging to see apparent mayoral frontrunner John Tory withdraw participation on two key debates: 1) the TTC Riders debate; and 2) the waterfront debate.

Transit has been the number one issue for countless voters in October 27‘s election, to which Mr. Tory’s dubious Smart Track proposal has raised eyebrows; and the significance of Porter Airlines’ proposed expansion of Billy Bishop Airport to include CS100 jets has been documented on this website (Part 1 / Part 2) as potentially hazardous to the geological and economic future of Toronto’s waterfront.

Along with other antiquated ideas like creationism in public schools, women needing to play golf to advance in the business world, and subways being the only solution to Toronto’s transit woes (at the neglect of rapid bus transit, bicycles, and pedestrian corridors), it’s disappointing to see a high-profile candidate take the not-so-Smart Track approach to the most important debates in the civic election with another ineffective strategy: pulling out.

We can do BETTER, Toronto!

Posted in Accessibility, Buses, Candidates, Debate, John Tory, LRT, No Jets TO, Subways, Toronto Island, Transit, TTC, Waterfront, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toronto is not (yet) a Ford-Free Zone

Rob and Doug Ford

Photo by Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press

Yesterday, in a shocking, but not particularly surprising turn of events, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford withdrew his re-election campaign due to health concerns, and his brother, puppeteer, and Ward 2 (Etobicoke North) councillor Doug Ford entered the mayoral race with just minutes left in registration and withdrawal deadline.

“I’ve asked Doug to finish what we stated together, so that all we’ve accomplished isn’t washed away,” Rob Ford said in a statement issued shortly after his brother’s nomination papers were officially filed. “I have asked Doug to run to become the next Mayor of Toronto because we need him. We cannot go backwards” (The Globe and Mail).

Not only is the last-minute Ford swap a treatment of the great city of Toronto as a football match for public exploitation, it’s also an example of the Fords’ disregard for citizens of Toronto (not the least of which was previously documented in their standalone rejections of otherwise largely unanimously-agreed city council budget motions).

I am reminded of the Bush family: just because Rob Ford has withdrawn from re-election does not mean our work is done, Toronto: let’s avoid the Doug Ford trap on October 27.

And although Rob Ford is seemingly not healthy enough to run for mayor, he is oddly healthy enough to run for city council in Ward 2. And I would like to make an official endorsement of Andray Domise as the candidate who will beat him.

Lastly, while we are talking about the Bush family: I trust that apparent mayoral frontrunner John Tory has revised his stance on creationism being taught in public schools:

“It’s still called the theory of evolution,” Tory said. “They teach evolution in the Ontario curriculum, but they also could teach the fact to the children that there are other theories that people have out there that are part of some Christian beliefs” (CTV News).

It all comes down this this: we can do BETTER, Toronto!

Posted in Candidates, Citizens, Civic Participation, Doug Ford, John Tory, Leadership, My Campaign, Rob Ford, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Then There Were… 67.

(L-to-R Mayoral Candidates Rob Ford, David Soknacki, and Robb Johannes at first mayor's debate. Photo courtesy of The Underground)

(L-to-R Mayoral Candidates Rob Ford, David Soknacki, and Robb Johannes at first mayor’s debate. Photo courtesy of The Underground)

Yesterday, mayoral candidate David Soknacki withdrew his bid for office in October 27‘s election. I had the pleasure of debating Mr. Soknacki and have long held that his evidence-based platform and practical action plans were truly the most sensible, achievable, and grounded of all the so-called “major” candidates in this race (previous commentaries HERE). It is an unfortunate development in the civic election process that a candidate so fit to handle the city responsibly has withdrawn — and this very thorough piece by the Torontoist says more than I could say about Mr. Soknacki’s final decision.

Seeing a lot of talk in the media, in light of Mr. Soknacki’s, as well as Karen Stintz‘s, recent withdrawals, about “And then there were three…” illustrates the influence of careerist political figures in glazing over the fact that there are still 67 candidates for mayor of Toronto. Granted, many are satire campaigns (including the also-recently-withdrawn Sarah Thomson), but saying “We now have three choices for mayor” is like saying “Only bands that sell 10 million records are worth listening to.” The Robb Not Ford campaign, and this election in general, are about what they have always been about: civic participation, community engagement, and responsible citizenship.

With Mayor Rob Ford’s chances for re-election severely reduced with apparently 28% support, your vote on October 27 is not a matter of strategic voting so much as reading up on candidates for mayor and city council and voting for whom you believe in the most, or who most accurately reflects your interests and vision for Toronto.

A recent article by the Globe & Mail stated that, of the remaining so-called “big three” candidates:

Mr. Ford’s support was highest among men, those aged 18-34, residents of Etobicoke and Scarborough, people with a household income between $60,000 and $80,000 and those with a high school education or less.

By contrast, support for Mr. Tory was highest among senior citizens, North York residents, voters with household incomes over $250,000 and those who have gone to graduate school. His support is almost evenly split between men and women.

Ms. Chow’s support is concentrated among women, those aged 35 to 44, those who live in the old city of Toronto or East York, voters with household incomes under $20,000 and those with at least some college or university education.

…the question to ask ourselves, then, Toronto, is: does any of this sound like me?

I look forward to the next seven weeks, it’s an exciting time in this great city’s history.

We can do better, Toronto!

Posted in Candidates, Civic Participation, David Soknacki, Debate, Democracy, John Tory, Karen Stintz, Leadership, My Campaign, Olivia Chow, Rob Ford, We Can Do Better Toronto, Winning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Candidate to Watch: Robb Johannes” (via The Grid Toronto)

Photo by Richard Lautens / The Toronto Star

Photo by Richard Lautens / The Toronto Star

Thanks to Stephen Spencer Davis of The Grid, who previously discussed Robb’s winning performance at the first mayoral debate in Scarborough, for the following piece:

Candidate to watch: Robb Johannes, mayoral hopeful

Where you might have seen him: In The Grid, where we talked about his strong performance at February’s mayoral debate; singing in the band Paint; coordinating a conflict-resolution program inside prisons; serving as the executive director of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users; plugging a platform that discusses sex work, homelessness, and underemployment

Political affiliation: Independent

Top priority: Surprise! It’s transit. Johannes backs a downtown relief line, and would support reverting to the lightrail plan in Scarborough. But both lines are several years off, and Johannes believes expanded bus service is a more immediate—if temporary—solution to Toronto’s transit woes. This expansion, Johannes said, should include more frequent late-night buses. “We don’t live in a nine-to-five world anymore,” he said.

On taxation: Johannes concedes that he’s not an expert on taxation. But he’d support reintroducing a vehicle registration tax and directing the additional revenue to transit and housing. Speaking of housing, Johannes also wants new developments to include between 20 and 25 per cent social housing.

…and cycling: Johannes thinks that a summertime pilot project would be the best way to show residents that bike lanes on Bloor Street won’t lead to traffic chaos. He wants to reinstall the lanes on Jarvis, too.

…and not being invited to debates: By the end of the election, Johannes will have probably participated in fewer debates than our drunk-driving, crack-smoking mayor. Johannesacknowledged that he and other long-shot candidates have to prove they’re worthy of a spot at debates, and thinks he’s succeeded so far. “I know I need to earn my stripes,” Johannessaid. “It’s just a matter of making the best of what space…you are being given.”

Read the original article at The Grid.

Posted in Accessibility, Arts and Culture, Budget, Buses, Candidates, Debate, Leadership, LRT, My Campaign, Rob Ford, Social Services, Subways, Taxes, Transit, TTC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Live Stream Interview TODAY!


Visit TODAY at 12:30pm local time in Toronto for a live-streamed interview with Robb on Hugh Reilly’s Liquid Lunch.

Posted in Candidates, Democracy, My Campaign, Public Forums, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayoral Candidates’ Forum TONIGHT!

Community Living Toronto is hosting a mayoral candidates’ meeting TONIGHT from 6-8pm discussing issues around disabilities, moderated by Steve Paikin. Robb will be on the panel.

Metro Hall Rotunda, Main Floor, 55 John Street.

RSVP and details here.

Posted in Accessibility, Candidates, Civic Participation, Cycling, David Soknacki, Debate, Democracy, John Tory, Karen Stintz, Leadership, My Campaign, Olivia Chow, Participation, Public Forums, Social Services, Subways, Transit, TTC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment