Doug Ford’s Revenge

Many political pundits have asked the question, “Why is Premier Doug Ford in such a hurry to pass Bill 5 / Bill 31 to reduce the size of Toronto City Council?” Few seem honest enough to provide the simple answer: Revenge and Ambition.

Consider that Ford calculated that he was not going to beat John Tory in the next municipal election. Consider the possibility that the smear campaign against Patrick Brown was an inside job orchestrated by a far right team who calculated Ford had a better chance going into the Provincial leadership cauldron. Consider that Ford did not win the majority of votes in either the Progressive Conservative leadership debacle, nor in the provincial election. Yet, he is now PCPO Leader and Ontario’s Premier.

Further consider that one of his first acts, after denying climate change and axing Ontario’s international carbon pricing agreement along with the green initiatives rebate plan, was to suspend the elections of Municipal Chairs in two Regions. Which two? Why that would be Peel Region, thus thwarting enemy Patrick Brown’s dreams of a comeback, and York Region, where former Liberal MPP rival Steven Del Duca was poised for victory. Not only are these two Regions among the GTA’s most populous and powerful, they are now under Ford’s baleful eye.

The current scramble to cut Toronto City Council from 47 to 25 seats is a blatant move to allow Doug Ford to become Mayor of Toronto. If his cohort of lackeys led by Giorgio Mammolitti (who once compared Ford’s campaign to “religion”), Jim Karygiannis, and Stephen Holyday take the majority of the proposed 25 seats, the City of Toronto will be firmly under the management of Ford’s far right. With Boss Ford in control of Toronto, York Region and Peel Region, there is no telling what his regime could deconstruct.

The solution to this problem, if Bill 5 or 31 become law and Toronto City Council is reduced to 25 seats, is not to vote for a single Ford acolyte. That may be the only way to stop this pompous populist from waging four years of war on social justice and environmental literacy. There are other ways, but we would need a Canadian hero like Louis Riel to lead the return to sanity.

We could look south of our border for a cautionary tale if we need incentive. Both leaders are cut from the same playbook and both play to the lowest common denominator of the human condition. Ontario and Toronto deserve better.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, from North York to Caledon

Skid is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario, CANADA

 

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Caledon Candidates’ Candor

On September 17, 2018 this questionnaire is being emailed personally to every candidate running for Town Council in the 2018 Municipal Election in Caledon, Ontario. All responses, or lack thereof, will be reported in the first week of October.

 

Dear Mayoralty, Regional and Area Municipal Candidates,

This Questionnaire is being sent out to all municipal candidates running for Town Council for the Region of Peel, Town of Caledon. The responses to this Q & A will be published online in early October, after summer holidays wind down, the “return to school” rush is over, and citizens again begin to tune in to local politics. Unanswered email questionnaires will be indicated with a “Did Not Respond” beside the candidate’s name.

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1. Your Council will see new politicians taking office to fill the gaps left by retirement on the one hand and ambition on the other. In order to build a forward thinking, respectful and consensus building Council for the next four years, what would be the qualities you would look for in your 2018 – 2022 colleagues and your Mayor?

2. Since literally anyone who is breathing, of age, and a Canadian citizen living or working in the area can run for Council, what are the credible professional and life skills you would bring to this position?

3. In an era where politicians are accused of and found guilty of violating their Code of Conduct, Integrity Standards, and respectful social mores, yet do not change their behaviours, what are the positive character traits that you would bring to Council?

4. The catch phrases “I speak for the people” and “I seek honesty and transparency” and “I do this for the hard working taxpaying citizens” have become meaningless porridge spin clips from politicians. If elected, what do you truly desire for Caledon?

5. As a newly elected Council member, how do you intend to deal with litigious private interests who lobby, bully, and intimidate local politicians?

Please email your responses to <skid.crease@gmail.com> by September 31/18

Yours in media literacy,

Skid

  • Originally written for Just Sayin’ Caledon

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Note: On Monday September 24, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. there will be an all candidates’ debate  at the Inglewood Community Centre, and another all candidates’ debate at the Alton Public School on Thursday September 27 at 7:00 p.m.

For a more casual encounter with your candidates there is a Lunch and Learn on Tuesday, September 25th beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the Rotary Place Senior’s Centre – lunch is $4.00 – call 905-951-6114 to register for the event.

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Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon.

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Caledon’s Healthy Backyard Hens

originally published for Patti Foley’s Just Sayin’ Caledon

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With the first summer of the Backyard Hens demonstration project successfully completed, it’s time for a cluckingly brilliant update.

To begin, the hysterical concerns from certain politicians and their resident coven of followers about backyard hens wiping out the businesses of the fowl farmers in Caledon, spreading avian flu across the Region of Peel, and infecting Caledon chicken lovers with salmonella turned out to be FALSE. The salmonella bacteria that avian species carry in their guts for digestion was defeated by a new medical miracle called … hand washing!

So far this year in North America, Zero – O – deaths from salmonella infections, although a few dozen people came down sick after eating President’s Choice chicken meat products. Our hens and their organic, free-run eggs are in the clear.

Much like the fears about “hydrogen bombs” at the Canadian Tire Distribution Centre, and the concept of a “freight village” destroying the rustic atmosphere of the quaint rurban town of Bolton, the hysteria turned out to be classic fear mongering spread by ignorance.

It should be noted however, that in 2018 the bacteria that we mammals carry in our intestinal flora, E.coli, killed 5 people in the U.S. and sickened over 200. Canada only reported eight sick people in all and no deaths. Maybe we should wash our hands more after a visit to the throne room, and not drink water downstream from manure piles.

On a healthier and happier note, we now have two demonstration flocks – our four prolific Golden Girls, and our four Canadian Heritage Chanteclers. Those eight hens laid organic Omega 3 enriched free-run eggs every day and weathered both heat waves and torrential downpours. From May through to the end of August those girls produced over 720 eggs – that’s 60 dozen healthy, home grown eggs!

The only accident all summer long at the Farm was when I cut my finger moving a piece of equipment. When a non-supportive local politician saw my bandaged finger and asked what had happened, I replied “Chicken duty.” Her eyes glowed with anticipation, thinking that I had been attacked and pecked close to death by an angry flock, thus proving her theory of the dangers of backyard hens. Apologies to the “over eager for a crisis” politician, but as Wesley says in The Princess Bride, “Get used to disappointment.”

In an attempt to educate this same politician, I invited her to the Farm to meet the Golden Girls. “Are they dirty?” she asked. I sighed, “They’re chickens. They bathe in dust. WTC?!” So much education to complete, so little time. Losing patience. Do NOT re-elect!

For the education of the rest of our citizens, both demonstration coops will be open for visiting at the Albion Hills Community Farm Honey Garlic Festival on Saturday, September 29, 2018 from 12:00 to 5:00. The demonstration coops and runs, which conform precisely to Caledon’s Backyard Hen By-law, will be dedicated that day to the Krick Family, whose daughters and their Christmas chickens were the inspiration for the by-law.

Come out and meet Clovis and Bee, our Honey Garlic Festival Mascots, and the “Chicken Whisperer” who will be introducing you to the Golden Girls and the Chanteclers. It’s eggsactly the kind of thing to do on a fall weekend in Caledon – celebrating our right to grow local food and celebrate our deep and abiding connection to agriculture.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario.

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A Tale of Two Amazons

Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario.

***

Sometimes I feel as if I am living in two separate Towns. I get that impression from the way the news is editorialized in the Caledon Enterprise and the way the news is reported in the Caledon Citizen. For example, let us look at the way that the news about the Town of Caledon getting Amazon to come to our community was reported in our two local newspapers. First, here is the W5 straight news story for those who missed it.

“WHO – Amazon; WHAT – new 1 million square foot fulfillment centre; WHEN -announced July 2018, built by the end of 2019; WHERE – Caledon Ontario; WHY -Town of Caledon officials negotiated a successful non disclosure agreement with Amazon.” Plain and simple.

However, when we look at the way it was headlined in our two newspapers, carefully note the difference. The Citizen reported: “Amazon to build massive centre in Caledon” whereas The Enterprise headlined in capitals NEWS OF AMAZON WAREHOUSE A SHOCK TO 2 COUNCILLORS.

The Citizen article, written by Editor Scott Taylor, spends time on the first page outlining the W5 of the story, correctly identifying the facility as a “fulfillment centre”, and highlights the 800 full time jobs coming to Caledon. He further reports on the praise that the Amazon Director of Operations in Canada, Glenn Sommerville. gave to the incredible workforce here. What is there not to like about “full time jobs with great pay and benefits to support the local economy.” Scott goes on to include a positive quote from Mayor Thompson, and a “great news” quote from Jim Wilson, our new Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade. If you read the Citizen article you are left with the impression that this is very positive news for the Town of Caledon.

Then there is Matthew Strader’s article in the Enterprise. The first thing you notice is that the centre is incorrectly identified as a “warehouse” and instead of a benefit to Caledon (all of Caledon) it is a SHOCK to two councillors. In the first paragraph, Strader writes about “others” expressing “shock and anger” on social media, claiming that they were “left out of the loop” on this announcement. He then raises the specter of the “freight village” sure to raise the hackles of the “we haven’t got over the Canadian Tire Distribution Centre crowd.” He goes on to give space to his two most reported councillors, Barb Shaughnessy and Annette Groves who expressed their surprise online. Shaughnessy claims she “knew nothing … zero” and again raises the specter of the “freight village” and a “warehouse”. “Freight village” is mentioned four times on the front page portion of this article, with nary a mention of anything positive.

Even when you go to page 4 to continue the article, the freight village theme continues with more reference to the councillors’ online anger. Only at the end of the article is it revealed that zoning on Coleraine “permits this type of development” Strader also reports on an asphalt plant application for Coleraine, before finally mentioning that the Town will receive over $3 million in development charges and $500,000 annually in taxes. Finally some good news.

In the Enterprise report, the W5 is WHO – Groves and Shaughnessy; WHAT – shock and anger; WHEN – July 2018; WHERE – Town of Caledon; WHY – the councillors know zero. One newspaper reports on the good news for the Town and spreads a positive message, one newspaper reports on the bad news and attempts to create a crisis.

When I was beginning my career in journalism, I asked a mentor at the Star why they didn’t report more good news stories. His response was, “Skid, it’s not our job to report every safe landing at Pearson International. It doesn’t sell newspapers.” Sensational headlines grab readers with their shock and awe – Murder, Rape, Conflict, Crisis!

Me, I’m happy to settle for 800 full time, good paying jobs with benefits in my community.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, journalist, Caledon

*Note: In speaking with Robyn Wilkinson, the Editor of the Enterprise, she indicated that they had published another article on the Amazon announcement. When I read that article, I found it to be a clean, clear news account of the story.

Which begs the question: Why was it necessary for Matthew Strader to write the second  “shock” story and give more undeserved air time to two of the most divisive and misinformed politicians in Caledon?

  • photo from shutterstock.com
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Hothouse Earth

Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario.

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Imagine being on an idyllic northern trek, recreating past clear lakes and verdant forests. The only downside is that your highly trained guide keeps warning you that wolves may be tracking your party. Everyone is a little nervous but continues merrily on their way.

Suddenly, that unmistakable howl is heard in the distance, and the expedition stops to plan their defense. Some are very worried, but others really don’t believe in wolves. The group carries on, divided over their concern about the possibility of becoming prey.

Then one morning, on the distant shore, you spot the pack and they are closing swiftly. The wolves are in sight and you are not ready …

***

Report from the National Academy of Sciences, August 6, 2018:

There will be Uninhabitable Places on Earth

“The world is at risk of entering “hothouse” conditions where global average temperatures will be 4-5 C higher even if emissions reduction targets under a global climate deal are met, scientists say in a new study.

The report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, comes amid a heatwave that has pushed temperatures above 40 C in Europe this summer, causing drought and wildfires, including blazes in Greece in July that killed 91 people. Around 200 countries agreed in 2015 to limit temperature rise to “well below” 2 C above pre-industrial levels, a threshold believed to be a tipping point for the climate.

However, it is not clear whether the world’s climate can be safely “parked” near 2 C above pre-industrial levels or whether this might trigger other processes which drive further warming even if the world stops emitting greenhouse gases, the research said. Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1 C above the pre-industrial period and rising at 0.17 C each decade.

Scientists from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the University of Copenhagen, Australian National University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said it is likely that if a critical threshold is crossed, several tipping points will lead to abrupt change.

Such processes include permafrost thaw; the loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor; weaker land and ocean carbon sinks; the loss of Arctic summer sea ice and the reduction of Antarctic sea ice and polar ice sheets.

“These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another,” said Johan Rockström​, co-author of the report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. “It may be very difficult or impossible to stop the whole row of dominoes from tumbling over. Places on Earth will become uninhabitable if ‘Hothouse Earth’ becomes the reality,” he said.

Johan Rockström​, co-author of the report Maximizing the chances of avoiding such a hothouse state requires more than just reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the report said. For example, improved forest, agricultural and soil management; biodiversity conservation and technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground are needed. Commenting on the research, some experts said uncontrolled warming is still uncertain but not implausible.

“In the context of the summer of 2018, this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight,” said Phil Williamson, climate researcher at the University of East Anglia.”

Yes, the wolves are definitely in sight, and our leaders in Ontario and the United States are pre-paleolithic troglodytes when it comes to understanding accelerating climate change … and wolves. Promoting a buck a beer and wearing a red baseball cap, they’ll just keep going full speed into the future looking in the rear view mirror.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

* Source: Thomson Reuters, August 6, 2018

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