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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

A Wynne for Toronto?

Photo by Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press

Photo by Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press

Congratulations to Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberal Party on securing a majority government in last week’s provincial election. It was a night of firsts, as Ms. Wynne is not only the first woman ever elected Premier of Ontario, but also the first openly gay Premier in the entire Commonwealth and English-speaking world. Furthermore, a record 38 women MPPs were elected (up from 30 in 2011).

It’s also worth noting that Kathleen Wynne is Toronto-based (MPP for Don Valley West). Could this help Toronto’s position in the province? That remains to be seen, and the provincial elections have been a good time to reflect on this great city’s role in the province, as well as re-focus priorities for the municipal elections on October 27.

The Robb Not Ford campaign is back on the trail, and it’s a busy week ahead: including a Mayoral Candidates’ Forum on Wednesday, live-streamed interview on Thursday, and a couple music events Friday and Saturday.

Visit the Events page for all the details.

Time to do better, Toronto!

Posted in Arts and Culture, Candidates, Democracy, Feminism, Leadership, LGBT Rights, My Campaign | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Investment in Citizens”: 1 Love T.O. feature

Robb Johannes for Mayor of Toronto 2014

Photo by Lindsay Lauckner (

The 2010 Civic Election in Toronto was a potent example of what happens where there is a disconnect between candidates and communities. I felt that simply voting in 2014 was not enough. The Robb Not Ford campaign had its nucleus in the principle of civic engagement, and giving citizens of Toronto, especially young voters and citizens otherwise alienated from the political process, a candidate who is a regular citizen and not a career politician Robb Johannes

Thanks to 1 LOVE T.O. for the feature and Q&A with Robb this week, discussing the emergence of the Robb Not Ford campaign, as well as the need for investment not only in infrastructure but in citizens.

To read the full text, click HERE.

Posted in Arts and Culture, Budget, Candidates, Citizens, Civic Participation, Communities, John Tory, Leadership, LRT, My Campaign, Nightlife, Olivia Chow, Participation, Social Services, Subways, Transit, TTC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All You Need is Dog

Hannah, my boxer girl.

Hannah, my boxer girl.

This is Hannah (as previously made famous in the local blog Toronto is Awesome). In August she will be five years old, which, in human years, makes her older than me. She was brought to me from Eldorado, Ontario when she was just eight weeks old (and about the size of my chest; I could hold her in one hand). Since that time

As Woofstock comes to Toronto’s Woodbine Park this Saturday and Sunday, it’s a good time to reflect on just how significant our furry pets are to our lives, our families, and our well-being. Many a dog owner can attest to the fact that their dogs do indeed come to be their most faithful companions through thick and thin. Surely Hannah has been nothing shy of that for me!

Toronto is quite possibly Canada’s most dog-friendly major city; neighbours, strangers, and businesses are always welcoming of Hannah (and I hope it’s not just because her dad is cute!). During Hannah’s formative years I was able to take her to work with me at Music Canada, though I was limited in the hours in which she was allowed on TTC (pets, excluding service animals, are not permitted on TTC from 6:30-10:00am and 3:30-7:00pm Monday to Friday. More details HERE). Many dog owners have found the current bylaws to be restrictive, particularly in cases of needing to take their dogs for medical appointments and emergencies, or, as was the case with me, taking my young dog to work with me for consistency in training and not being able to afford pet-sitting or dog-walking on a daily basis. I have been fortunate often to have TTC employees use their best discretion in allowing me to take Hannah on subways, streetcars, and buses at all hours of the day. While I’m grateful for that, I would be interested in exploring removing the time limitations entirely so as not to place the onus on the discretion of individual drivers.

A well-trained and adjusted dog can ride transit without any issues and will sit quietly and patiently, often in their owner’s lap, often falling asleep immediately, without making noise or disrupting other passengers or TTC employees.

There are currently 33 off-leash dog parks in Toronto (MAP), both fenced and open. Off-leash areas are important for a dog’s health, socialization, and training. Responsible owners and their pets certainly use these facilities respectfully, and I would be interested in exploring as many possible options in expanding or designating new off-leash areas.

Posted in Dog Parks, My Campaign, Transit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Canadian Music Week Is Here

Paint at Canadian Music Week

A rare crossing of the streams, as we discuss BETTER arts and culture in Toronto. Campaigns such as 4479 have been pushing to make Toronto a music tourism destination similar to Austin, Texas — and rightfully so, as Toronto is Canada’s hotbed of musical talent, quality of venues, and centrality of tour stops.

My band, Paint, will be proudly be taking part in Canadian Music Week for the fifth year running. Our showcase is tomorrow (Thursday, May 8), 10:00pm at Rancho Relaxo (300 College Street), which is in itself a community hub for artists in this great city.

There are also 4am last calls across the city for the duration of CMW, discussed previously on this website, as well as with endorsement from Last Call TO, under our BETTER nightlife platform.

Details on the Events page, and RSVP on Facebook.

Posted in Alcohol, Arts and Culture, My Campaign, Nightlife, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment