Toronto Mayoral Debate 04/09/14

Toronto Region Board of Trade and The Globe And Mail newspaper sponsored the latest Toronto mayoral candidate debate yesterday. I watched it live on-line.

A bit of context for Canadians not living  in Toronto and those outside Canada:  many of you know of our city in recent years primarily because of Mayor Rob Ford.  His misadventures are well chronicled elsewhere. For immediate purposes know this.  Ford, whose political career would have ended in disgrace months ago in many jurisdictions, remains mayor of Toronto albeit with curtailed powers. He is also a viable candidate for re-election.

As for yesterday’s debate:

John Tory, an experienced broadcaster-business person-politician, did well. It’s as if he’s suddenly on political steroids. Good to see him being energetic and (amazingly) funny.

Lamentably, Ford did well (again.) He has the corporate, right-wing populist thing down to a T-dot. He’s overtly ant-intellectual, aggressive and refers to himself in the 3rd person like a professional athlete. His approach will continue to work with significant numbers of the disaffected and angry. The good news is that he did not flat out win this debate as he had done previously (very evident to those who watched.)

Olivia Chow who gave up a seat in the Canadian parliament to seek election as mayor seems about to make herself an also ran. She thinks being nice will make her mayor. Odd because her late husband Jack Layton, NDP leader and briefly federal opposition leader before his untimely death in 2011, was, among many other things, a tough, but usually fair and rational, political street fighter of the first water. Like Layton, Chow had a previous  career in Toronto municipal politics, the milieu where the couple met and first worked together.

Entrepreneur and former city councillor David Soknacki is smart and well informed but irrelevant.  Someone should tell him acronyms are meaningless to most people.

So…unless Chow throws her support to Tory in the next few weeks, it could shape up to a tight two person race. Team Ford clearly wants and expects a duel with Tory. Who better to slander with their ‘elitist’ tag?

 A poll from earlier this week showing Tory with a substantial lead is one of a kind. If that’s a trend, good. However, most polls that I have seen show Tory leading Ford by 3-5 points – that’s almost a statistical tie.

Scariest ‘take away’ from yesterday’s debate: addiction, homophobia, serial lying and misogyny are not at issue. Only in fordlandia.

It says here Ford can still win because he can out campaign and out bully Tory from here to the finish line.

Reynolds + Gilder on Israel G&M 31.07.09

In The Toronto Globe And Mail of Friday, July 31 2009, the iconoclastic, neo-liberal Neil Reynolds wrote about a new book on Israel by George Gilder. Gilder is a contrarious analyst of trends in capitalism. His new book The Israel Test, according to Reynold, holds up Israel as a model of what can be achieved by a state dedicated to democracy, education and economic growth.

The notion that Messrs Reynolds and Gilder proffer Israel as a paragon of democracy and development troubles me. As I write, Israel continues to expropriate homes of Arab citizens of East Jerusalem. Such actions violate international laws. Similarly, despite the protestations of the Obama administration, Israel is strengthening the illegal foothold of its half million settlers in the West Bank. Israel is only a democracy in a severely mitigated way. One could argue that its bundle of democratic rights and responsibilities only belongs fully to its Jewish citizens.

I recognize that all ‘democratic’ countries have constraints. Canada, after all, has the embarrassment of an appointed Senate and suffers still the shame of the Victorian era apartheid regime constructed under the extant The Indian Act.

Israel’s exceptions to the fundamental tenets of liberal democracy are more salient. In an ample Israeli democracy. the state might have to acknowledge to the world that it has nuclear weapons. That state might then sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Finally in the ultimate test that Mr. Gilder and Mr. Reynolds would presumably vaunt, a true Israeli democracy would extend voting rights in Israeli elections to the more than 3 million Palestinian Arab citizens of the West Bank and Gaza whose lives have been controlled by Israel since 1967.


Lawrence Martin sings Chretien's praises

In the Thursday July 16, 2009 edition of The Globe And Mail of Toronto, columnist Lawrence Martin expressed his admiration for former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. This following the announcement that Chretien would be named to The Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth. As such, Chretien would join the likes of Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa.
Martin weighs the pros and cons for including Chretien in such prestigious company. As  for demerits, he missed a few:
1. the White Paper on Indian Policy 1969. This outrage would have capped Canada’s assimilation project for First Nations. The Nisga’a decision of 1973 proved how wrong then Indian Affairs Minister Chretien and his Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had been.
2. Chretien’s  constant shilling about business opportunities in an anti-democratic China. In his farewell address to a Liberal Party convention that selected the doomed Stephane Dion to replace him, Chretien chose to attack the ruling Conservatives for criticizing China about its human rights record. In a rare appearance in support of Dion in the 2008 federal election, Chretien weirdly chose to speak about – you guessed it- cozying up to China. Promoting China is actually part of Chretien’s job as a lawyer for Canadian businesses with interests there.

Like George W. Bush, Jean Chretien skillfully cultivated a ‘man of the people’(le p’tit’ gars de Shawinigan) persona. As a politician and in his new corporate life, Chretien has seldom been on the side of the little guy against the big shots as Martin argues.


Valpy on Ignatieff – The Globe And Mail 18.04.09 April 20, 2009

I want to commend Michael Valpy and Toronto’s The Globe And Mail for a fine article about Canadian Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. This major feature appeared in The Globe on Saturday, April 18, 2009. The analysis was thought provoking. The piece featured a terrific interview and the excerpt from the Ignatieff’s new book was most revealing.

I think ‘Iggy’ is largely “wrong, wrong, wrong” in his take on his Uncle George Grant’s famous book on Canadian nationalism Lament For A Nation, but it’s heartening to see an intellectual/politician taken seriously by a Canadian newspaper. In that, The Globe and Valpy committed a form of journalism that it seems newspapers still do best. Despite the joys of theblogosphere and Internet journalism of many kinds, I hope newspapers like The Globe continue to produce work of this calibre and nature. Journalism of this kind has simply disappeared from most North American television.

Perhaps Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be spurred into finishing his long promised tome on hockey. Then the next Canadian election campaign could be a battle between authors!