Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

Toronto Mayor- Candidates


The number one concern in Canadian politics should be for  unsustainable debt levels, especially Ontario–twice California with 1/3 the people/economy.  The number two concern should be the impact of Free (Unfair) Trade on ordinary families, with real deterioration over the past few decades.

Ford nailed one important cause – the public sector gravy train,  the gap created when excessive public sector pay, benefits and pensions increased while many private workers’ comp DECREASED. The new imbalance is unfair and drains money away from programs into the bureaucracy.  Why do people not understand this simple fact? Personnel costs are the #1 budget item for all governments, but somehow city budgets don’t inform (try yourself) and media never reminds.   Gee, I wonder why?  Public wages are at least a third too high, which means that given gold plated benefits, pensions and that important JOB STABILITY, public wages could and should be cut by TWO thirds.  Would civil servants quit in droves?  I don’t think so.  Life is tough on the outside.  Grow a spine folks. Get fair.

Ford, however,  may be unelectable, so I’m going to review other candidates to see if there are any better choices for such as myself who understands the danger of the gravy train problem.   Right away that eliminates the other front runners – Chow, Stinz and Tory, none of whom have any intention of tackling the rapidly growing  sunshine list, let alone the powerful unions.

For those who think that specific problems should define the debate – subways, housing, social programs, infrastructure, etc. – remember that when the #1 expense of Toronto or any govt is personnel costs, the affordability of all programs is directly affected.  Eliminating the public sector gravy train restores balance between tax PAYERS and tax TAKERS and makes everything more affordable.  Rob Ford’s subway would be no less affordable than was the original subway (at least where density is adequate).

Eliminating the private sector gravy train – excessive compensation for the top 1% is a problem the left rightly points to.  This also is caused by globalism and drains Canada’s wealth into foreign tax havens.  This bigger, longer term problem must be addressed but in the meantime, we should not allow the public sector to grow fat by squeezing their neighbours.

City website candidate list.

I’m going to review only those candidates that have a web presence.  In this day and age, there is no excuse for candidates to not have a  web presence and it is the web that can give us freedom from the tyranny of corporate media brainwashing.  Discover your candidates directly.  See what they have to say and decide for yourself.  Ignore MSMedia – their agenda is to ensure their city advertising revenues and corpsy perks are not disturbed.

I gave my first click to ​Michael Nicula, whose website is How cool is that? Must be some talent here.

His skills jumped nicely off the screeen : Architect, Accountant, MBA.  Appeals to my conservative nature.  Indeed he says

Rob Ford has won the 2010 elections promising to ‘stop the gravy train’ and cut costs. The gravy train is still rolling and the cost cuts he made were indiscriminate, hurting more than helping. I will do better:”

Sounds good but when you look at how he proposes to do better, it reads just like a Tory or Stinz playbook. He says he’s been involved with Federal politics, so obviously his mind has been contaminated by politics as usual.  Sound good, do bafflegab, get to the trough.  In fact, he essentially wants to rearrange the trough by dusting off a popular idea – grab more of the taxes we send to Ottawa and Queens Park via a ‘$2,500’City Income Rebate’.  Well, the struggling taxpayer only has one pocket.  Then the usual bunkum about efficiency, corruption, no tax increase and elimination of the LTT (land transfer tax.)  He claims he will do better than Ford’s  10% across the board cut (‘fourth grader’ he calls it), but the gravy train IS across the board.  Sounds like a weasel in training.  Dismiss.

Then I was astounded to see that our cat, Sketchy, is running for mayor!

As I hovered, Sketchy clicked the mouse!  … and caught…  A clown!  AKA Dave McKay.  If you’r a political junkie like me, you may have heard that a clown got himself elected to the national Congress in Brazil. His slogan – “Because It Can’t Get Any Worse”!   Several years later, he was voted best congressman.  Humble and unschooled but honest, diligent and aligned with the people.  A fascinating story.  Looking at the page of our Toronto counterpart, well, there’s not much there.  When Ford went into rehab, Dave said:

As a performer I portray a drug and alcohol abusing clown who makes sexually inappropriate comments.  My goal is neither to glorify those attributes nor to make fun of those who are suffering from addiction.  When faced with the reality behind my portrayal I think it is important to address these things properly.

He went on to opine that Ford should quit.  His only other post looked like it was lifted from the Toronto city website, outlining city services, etc. Not much to go on so I’ll take a pass.  Stay tuned though, you never know.

Third runner up on my web name uncontest is Robb Johannes

His page at this writing, featured what looked to be an article/review from The Grid about his performance at the Scarborough debates.  Seems to be a socially oriented fellow with experience in prison conflict resolution, drug programs and is interested in discussing ” sex work, homelessness, and underemployment“.  He wants the downtown relief line and for all  “new developments to include between 20 and 25 per cent social housing.” Dog lover, bike supporter.  Olivia Chow wannabe?  No clue about money  (Wynne supporter!) Dismiss.

Also making my catchy url list is His name is Matthew Crack.

His page immediately pushed several of my buttons.  Open source democracy, garbage to energy, district heating (Sweedish style), ranked voting.  ​His blurb is worth quoting:
“Introducing stripped down governance for the information age. Our mission is to decentralize the decision making process and foster an online community where Torontonians can affect the change they want to see.
The Crack the Quo Campaign is not pretending to have all the answers, but we know the answers are out there. By engaging a digital participatory democracy, we are allowing all Torontonians to be part-time leaders. “

Should I be tough or easy? Both.  In today’s world, the above quote is silly, even dangerous.  The idea that the general public can or will absorb the mountain of reports our councilor are supposed to absorb before making a decision is unrealistic.  Those interested in an issue will crowd the ballot and vote in their sacred cow anyway.  No reports required.  Not to mention online e-security issues.  I oppose all efforts to digitize our political system, tempting though it is.  Tyranny awaits those foolish enough to try.  In another few decades though, the world may be ready for another Crack at it!

Morgan Baskin Morgan has created some buzz by being 18 yrs old.  She hits some buttons

Deferring problems and borrowing money is taking the easy way out; dumping problems on the next generation. Real leaders don’t download problems on to the next generation (or term) they get expert advice, make decisions and move forward.

Toronto has the worst youth unemployment rate of any Ontario region. We have the biggest stake in the outcome of decisions that municipal government makes today and our voices are not being heard.

 Digital, Global and Green are her key planks.  Reads well but not many specifics.

Ok, so she’s a smarty pants high school wiz, why not dismiss? Young mayors have been elected before, with surprisingly good results residing in my dimly lit RAM, so I won’t dismiss this one just yet.  18 is a little young to be marshalling 45 wily old councilors to one’s vision.  We’ll see. A kid and a clown still on the list!

Jeff Billard

Bio (from TorStar): “Billard, 40, a policy analyst for the teachers’ pension plan, is making his first run for public office”.  Billard put more thought into his platform, which is a good sign but he pushed my stop button with the following:

  • commitment from independent parties for a plan that maximizes federal and provincial monies to service the most number of Torontonians; and
  • execution of that plan outside of further political pressure.

So like Nicula, he wants a blank cheque.

These people drive me nuts. The taxpayer only has one pocket but every time our money changes hands, a huge portion is skimmed off the top –  expensive bureaucrats justifying their existence.  Accountability is destroyed when taxpayers are suckered into projects just because a transfer paid for it.  The Feds should simply lower their taxes so municipalities can increase theirs.    Would cut down on photo ops and power trips.

Why should some sap in Moosonee, where they barely have sidewalks, pay for a subway in Toronto?  I find this galling.  Shameful. Begging. Let Torontonians build their city and take pride.  Trudeau started all this.

His other ideas aren’t so bad and should be considered, but Jeff as Mayor? No thanks.

Jon Bliguin

Seems to be a religious based candidate with a focus on mental health and environmental issues.  Not a strong contender.

Selina Chan

Fresh young designer with a pot-pourri of ideas to make Toronto more interesting and energetic, especially nightlife!  Toll Gardiner, Police shoulder cams, legalize & tax pot and prostitution, street gyms.  Thin platform.

George Dedopoulos

Creative director, blogger. Political newbie as indicated by his first exploration of the concept of left-right.  I discovered he’s done his own review of his competition so I may refer to this as I go along.  I’m sure running for mayor will be good for deepening his civic awareness but I’m not tempted at this point.  Maybe later.

Mike Gallay

Seems like an arty, bike oriented, creative, tax and spend kind of guy.  Thin platform.   Not my type.

Ari Goldkind @AriGoldkind

Hmm.  Long detailed plan which starts off with tax increases in LTT and special charges, VAT tax, progressive property taxes.  Not a good start, Ari.  But on several issues, he acknowledges some very tough problems, namely police compensation and general staff compensation.  He waffles, saying things like

Reviewing the police and fire budgets to ensure that wage increases and budgets are fair and reasonable when compared with wages in the private sector…

Ensuring that all public sector wages and salaries are reflective of the private sector and realities in our city, yet doing everything possible to ensure that our city and workers are not “Walmartized”.  ” and further on

Well, ya we realize that public sector wages have increased while private sector wages have in many cases, decreased.  It’s called a squeeze, thanks to Free (Unfair) Trade.  So what makes the public sector immune from a squeeze.  PS. Rae days (Wynne Days?) are not a squeeze, just a pretend squeeze.  Lesson: The private sector are tax PAYERS, the public sector are tax TAKERS.  Think about it – no, really, THINK.  From what I’ve heard, you could cut public wages in half and few would actually walk out.  Then there’s the coming pension tsunami.

Ensuring that public sector wages & benefits and plans are not out of line with what the average private sector worker makes, while still maintaining and respecting the value of unions and their place and importance in our society and our economy.

At least this guy is aware there is an elephant in the room and he’s talking very guardedly.  Ford just said cut the gravy.  Simple. A wage differential is exactly what gravy is.

Goldkind may decide to be more definitive but his other plans, such as rejecting subways in favour of LRT are consistent with not doing much to extract savings from the wage disparity.  Pay up for Ari?  Nope.

Charles Huang A comedic candidate best appreciated by visiting his page.

Klim Khomenko Another young candidate promising all the good things.  Motivated by low voter turnout  and a sense of failing democracy.  I agree.  Aggressive green policies with which I don’t agree.  Such people must learn the law of perverse consequences.  Making our present draconian tree bylaw even more draconian will, imo, result in mutiny and the loss of trees. Or green programs that penalize the poor to reward (subsidize)  the rich as explained in previous blog.  Discourage this one.

 Dewitt Lee – link broken

Matt Mernagh

Communicator,  journalist, community organizer, and an advocate (med marijuana). Novel idea: proposes a junk food tax to pay for relief line.  Underground Gardiner (really? Wont it flood?)  Quote

Toronto Police Service have successfully brought crime to its lowest rates, but their budgetary demands are not sustainable.

Whoa.  He doesn’t say what he’s gonna do but Rob Ford just might have serious competition for my vote.  Police salaries are obscene, keeping in mind that cabbies are  TWICE as likely to be killed than coppers.  Ford gave them big raises, which I think exacerbates the problem by convincing cops they are better than the rest of us.

Erwin Sniedzins

Inventor (accelerated learning systems), manufacturer, etc wants to initiate a $20Bn plan to revitalize Toronto.  It seems this fellow has done a lot, including climbing Mt Everest.   I haven’t got the wherewithal to make sure everything checks out.  He certainly wants to set Toronto on fire with a big money plan that I also have no way of digging into.  Sales tax, lottery, bonds to fund transport. MOOC, internships  for productivity. Casino.

I get the idea that he’s a power of positive thinking kind of guy with good motivational speaking skills.  Could be a breath of fresh air in Council.   Could he herd Toronto’s councilor cats into his vision, big money and all.  If Ontario ever adopts a strong mayor system like Chicago (Daly) or Montreal (Drapeau) then this just might be the right guy.

This one looks like a serious candidate that should be given full public scrutiny, however since he is a convinced spender and does not address the Gravy Train problem, I wont give him the support he probably deserves.

David Soknacki @soknacki2014

Anti subway, pro LRT candidate wants to offer an ‘Early Bird’ free TTC pass to reduce congestion.  Also takes aim at excessive secrecy and red tape at city hall.  He calls for a slight LTT reduction, which in my view indicates a careful political rather than populist anti-tax stance.  That he got any attention at all raises the possibility of being a dark horse candidate.   Such support suggests media sees him as a business-as-usual contender and therefore safe.  Not what I’m hoping for but will keep an eye as things unfold.

Tibor Steinberger

A difficult website to figure out but the last (media) tab seems to list some of the things he is concerned about.  One statement caught my eye.

When I am elected Mayor of Toronto I will make all city workers essential service, which eliminates strikes and gives more incentive for all parties to come to a negotiated settlement.

I will also change the pay structure of all city workers to a base salary and incentives as in bonuses for more work performed.”

Not sure about the second point but the first is exactly what the city needs.  Kudos.

Other tidbits: Move Island Airport to Leslie Street Spit. Reopen abandoned ‘interline’ subway system with low level platforms at Bay, St George and Union.  Who knew?   See his writeup under ‘April 11’.

Maybe Tibor will straighten out his website so an old curmudgeon like me can figure it out.

Sarah Thomson   @ThomsonTO

If she hadn’t ridden a white stallion to Fordfest, I would never have noticed her on Twitter.  Profile shows her in nice hug with Justin Trudeau so I guess we know where her politics lie.   Silly Sarah didn’t register her website at city hall!  Your curmudgeon is so diligent, eh!

Her big thing seems to be building every subway ever imagined (or underground LRT), 6 lines, for a mere $25Bn and making the 905 commuters pay for a third at $2.50 per trip, raising $370M/yr.  Ontario to pay the rest – $15Bn.  Gad these pols like to throw our money around.  Nobody stops to wonder if projects ever come in under budget!!!

Other than that she only mentions a bike plan.  OK its a serious $65M plan with bike boxes, bridges, lines and lots of goodies.  She says the money is already allocated.

A possible contender for some but not for me.  No effort to cut the gravy train, without which nothing will really change.


I do think/ hope there are a few dark horses in this race.

  • Dave McKay, clown (IF he can learn from Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva)
  • Morgan Baskin, student – ya never know
  • Ari Goldkind, Waffler but maybe
  • Matt Mernagh, sees the compensation elephant
  • Erwin Sniedzins , Master Motivator
  • Tibor Steinberger, for ending public union privilege

My review hasn’t caused me to drop Ford but it has made me think that maybe there are other folks that could pick up where Ford left off.  I’d miss my weekly chuckle though! Just remember, Ford haters, there is really no such thing as bad publicity. Only war can shut down a city – but if we don’t do something about unfair public sector compensation …..

This link contains candidate reviews by contender George Dedopoulos.  Interesting commentary though none appealed to me.  The candidates not covered above are:

Don Andrews, Mark Cidade, Ryan Emond, Al Gore, Charles Huang, Diana-De Maxted, Michael Tramov, Richard Underhill.

Stay tuned.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to update this page  as the campaign goes along.  If you are a candidate and feel left out or have updated something, please let me know.


Your unelected curmudgeon.

























 – select review

HotDocs Festival 2014 Toronto –

a Smash Hit on our way to the Great Smashup.

Dozens of cutting edge documentaries from cutting edge directors, many of which looked into the many hearts of darkness in our world, but few of which had answers. I’ll just give a brief comment on each as to why I felt this way.  I won’t try to duplicate more expert /comprehensive reviews – my concern is that the public is being fed a consistently singular message in many guises and that this message is dangerous to our future wellbeing.

I enjoyed 10 of this year’s crop despite developing an overarching feeling that they stuck pretty much to prevailing orthodoxy, at least among Toronto’s theater crowd.

The Trap: What Happened to our Dream of Freedom, 2002,  Adam Curtis

The most impressive, thorough and hard hitting of my selection by far . Three one hour segments – its a marathon. Mind bending too. This trilogy will find great resonance with the tin foil hat crowd and to my mind adroitly plumbs the messages we have been getting from our elites in the last century. Curtis follows thinkers as they bifurcate the concept of liberty into two camps: Positive and Negative Liberty.  The positive type is what  most revolution promise:  specific solutions such as Communism, Fascism, etc which all degrade into tyranny.  Negative Liberty is the ideal of being free to just do what you want (within reasonable limits).  Negative because of there is no specific prescription for society. Each person pursues  selfish fulfillment. He provides much support for these competing visions of liberty but having outlined the dangers of Positive Liberty and the limitations of Negative liberty, he blithely suggests we need Positive Liberty with some vague modifications. As if. So it looks like he is all for continuing a cognitive dissonance dialogue until such time as his masters, the globalists and the Georgia Guidestones deign to give us an answer. Probably just after WW3.

The Beijing Ants, Ryuji Otsuka.
This shaky doc was the polar opposite of The Trap, with little message to recommend it. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it even as many folks walked out. Well, that’s because I’ve a secret yen for China and was interested in finding out the pitfalls of renting an apartment in case I get there some day!  Quite different than here so it’s a good how-to, imo. Orthodoxy was preserved by the many shots of dense pollution over Beijing. Ok, so pick Kunming or some smaller city in the outlying provinces unless you have business in the capital.

Evaporating Borders, Iva Radivojavec.
Compelling and complaining but failed to explore the reason WHY mass migrations are so tolerated/ encouraged. Natch. They don’t want us to know. But we know, don’t we?!

The Writer With no Hands, William Westaway.
Chilling but confusing conjecture on the disappearance of Hollywood screenwriter Gary DeVore. Much evidence seemed to point to CIA/ military involvement, at least circumstantially, but nothing conclusive.  Should we worry or not? Being an inveterate worrier, I’d say we should, if only to shine a light, especially given the evidence of military assistance to ‘suitable’ projects.  Why do we tolerate this interference?

Ukraine is not a Brothel, Kitty Green.
Ooh lala, now that’s an unexpected offering from a dyed in the wool feminist! Who’da thunk. Lots of bare boobs, perhaps to the point of gratuitousness. Other than that though, the message is about what you’d expect from a feminist – women good (albeit duped) dupe-man bad, religion bad. Arch villain Victor given short shrift despite his prodigious contribution to the possibly legitimate Femen movement.  BTW they should stick to women’s issues, not politics, imo . No exploration of whether feminism is sustainable, so the irony is fitting.  See more below under last movies.

Ai WeiWei, The Fake Case, Andreas Johnson
Please pardon my fascination with China, again thoroughly enjoyable. One comes away with a clear sense of the struggle between an artistic but eccentric individual (designed the Bird’s Nest Stadium) and a state struggling to advance their society while coping with many different nationalities and languages, never mind stubborn individuals. Look at the problems Canada has coping with one distinct Quebec. We in Canada should not feel smug, especially when John Doe of the G20 debacle was incarcerated 250 days longer (without trial) than Ai Weiwei. So if we are to fix the many problems in Canada, which is worse, a dangerously misguided police force or an insurmountable media-fed zombi-ism combined with an efficient police that demanded over 1 million files from our internet ISPs in the last year?

Four Letters Apart – Children in the Age of ADHD.
Touching and vital study of an experimental (but expensive) program that attempted with much success to treat the whole child instead of just the symptoms of acting out. Not a dry eye left the theater. However, those who like myself decry the use of Ritalin will be disappointed, since the pre-existing medical regime for each child was maintained on or off as before.

The Songs of Rice, Uruphong Raksasad
A cinematicly confusing collage of images from several south Asian nations. Too disconnected, poorly shot to figure out, especially for western city slickers. Tended to reinforce existing Waspy notions of what these countries are like, so let me challenge Canadians to watch the wild and wonderous / thunderous gunpowder propelled ‘helicopter’ fireworks and reflect on how our sanctimonious city school fathers wouldn’t even allow old fashioned (inexpensive) playgrounds to stay in our schools. Wow, what a rite of passage for those young folk. Puts us to shame if you ask me.

The Malagasy Way, Nantenaina Lova.
This film examines the intersection of culture and exploitation with recycling as a possible answer to the environmental and employment conundrum. These last two directors looked from their point of view but can a sophisticated audience do anything but look down our long noses at the antiquated practices we saw?   (even if honestly ingenious).  Recycling is such a politically correct solution but our high-mechanized high-overhead probably unsustainable solutions make no room for the low tech possibilities depicted- except by shipping boatloads to Asia and then complain when children desolder circuits and clean plastic bags. Thus we continue to bury too much in landfills.

In retrospect, the greater challenge for modern Canadians is to reflect on the Malagasy traditions as represented by proverbs, several of which were given.  ie A family that stands together is a rock, a family in discord washes away like sand.  Canadians by contrast have almost totally destroyed such wisdom, if we even had any in the first place.  Our only equivalent would be our religions and institutions and our laws to some degree.  Proverbs are easily remembered and passed through generations by Malagasy orators.  Are we deliberately taking down our wisdom through movements like Femen  with their anti-religious/tradition message?   Much as I admire them, LOL.

Everyday Rebellion, T. Arash et al.

Last doc i caught and perhaps the most powerful.  Or maybe it was the cumulative effect.  Explores efficacy and methods of non-violent protest in various nations, attempting to prove it more effective than the violent kind, especially under brutal dictatorships (Syria, Iran).  I had wondered if it would be an honest film or just made to pacify restive populations.  Why would a fellow like Bush Jr. want democracy anyway?  Is it because they manufacture consent so easily?  The excellent quality (cinematics & organization) suggests asking where they got the juice from – the ‘system’? I’ll have to leave this to the better informed.  Cognitive dissonance.

Regardless, I felt overwhelmed by the discipline & evolved methodology combined with courage of those involved (Occupy, Femen). A few Femens appeared after the show (recruiting?) – wow, these women are not sluts.  These  are special people, so courageous, so beautiful, so honourable, so vital.  The person I talked to heard/considered my criticisms/ suggestions, a rare event as most people cannot actually listen to another perspective from an ordinary person.

I’ve decided my role is to write but researchers who study this stuff (and who claim effectiveness mentioned above), say the primary engine is ‘street work’ combined with parallel political efforts.

I was amazed to learn that…. arrg, seniors moment!! Will edit later.


I wish I had been able to see all the docs , though I also wish that subtitles could be arranged for better visibility and less eye shifting for the curmudgeon. The presence of 700 volunteers was also impressive, if a little unsettling – these young people need paying jobs to support their studies for heavens sake – but that’s a potential HotDocs topic for another day.