It Hasn’t Stopped

Twenty-five years ago an emotionally disturbed young man with a grudge against women walked into the  École Polytechnique in Montréal and began to shoot and in many cases kill helpless students who were attending classes that day.  By the end of his rampage 14 women had lost their lives and 10 women and 4 men had been injured.  At the end of his killing spree Marc Lépine took his own life.  M. Lépine claimed to hate “feminists” and blamed them for most of his problems.  The fourteen young women who died at the hands of this madman were:

  • Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
  • Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
  • Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
  • Barbara Daigneault (born 1967) mechanical engineering student.
  • Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student.
  • Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student.
  • Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the school’s finance department.
  • Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student.
  • Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student.
  • Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student.
  • Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student.
  • Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
  • Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student.
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student.

The oldest was 31 years old and the youngest were 21.  There is no right age to die but these ages are far too young.  There is no sensible reason to die prematurely but dying so young at the hands of an anti-feminist psychopath is beyond anything that could possibly make sense.  My two daughters are in this age bracket and I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose one of them, let alone to a deranged heartless killer with an agenda that makes no sense.  25 years ago Lépine caused 14 families immeasurable pain, pain that I am sure continues to this day.

Lépine had a suicide note in his pocket which gives us some insight into his psyche:

“Forgive the mistakes, I had 15 minutes to write this. See also Annex.

Would you note that if I commit suicide today 89-12-06 it is not for economic reasons (for I have waited until I exhausted all my financial means, even refusing jobs) but for political reasons. Because I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker. For seven years life has brought me no joy and being totally blasé, I have decided to put an end to those viragos.

I tried in my youth to enter the Forces as an officer cadet, which would have allowed me possibly to get into the arsenal and precede Lortie in a raid. They refused me because asocial [sic]. I therefore had to wait until this day to execute my plans. In between, I continued my studies in a haphazard way for they never really interested me, knowing in advance my fate. Which did not prevent me from obtaining very good marks despite my theory of not handing in work and the lack of studying before exams.

Even if the Mad Killer epithet will be attributed to me by the media, I consider myself a rational erudite that only the arrival of the Grim Reaper has forced to take extreme acts. For why persevere to exist if it is only to please the government. Being rather backward-looking by nature (except for science), the feminists have always enraged me. They want to keep the advantages of women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave preceded by a preventative leave, etc.) while seizing for themselves those of men.

Thus it is an obvious truth that if the Olympic Games removed the Men-Women distinction, there would be Women only in the graceful events. So the feminists are not fighting to remove that barrier. They are so opportunistic they [do not][73] neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men through the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can. Thus, the other day, I heard they were honoring the Canadian men and women who fought at the frontline during the world wars. How can you explain [that since][74] women were not authorized to go to the frontline??? Will we hear of Caesar’s female legions and female galley slaves who of course took up 50% of the ranks of history, though they never existed.  A real Casus Belli.

Sorry for this too brief letter.

Marc Lépine”

So what did we learn from Lépine’s senseless act of mayhem and murder?  Twenty-five years later and a madman can still buy a gun and wreak havoc, like Michael Zehaf-Bibeau did just this October.  Twenty-five years later and a psychopathic serial killer can murder at least 49 women like Robert Picton did in Port Coquitlam BC.  Twenty-five years later and women are still the targets of harassment, assault and countless other needless sex-oriented crimes.  Twenty-five years later and almost 1200 aboriginal women have been murdered or are missing.  It would appear that we have learned nothing or at least as a society we are not willing to do anything about it.  Marc Lépine will quite likely happen again.

Twenty-five years ago there the word radicalised had not been invented and North Americans joining radical Islamic jihadists was virtually unheard of.  One has to wonder if an evil killer like Lépine might have been attracted to the darkest-side of Islam?  Every time I hear about some Canadian joining the jihadists I wonder what came first, becoming radicalised or being a psychopath with a propensity for murder.  One of Lépine’s heroes was Denis Lortie another madman with a gun who shot up the Québec National Assembly in 1984.  Lépine claims to have actually tried to join the Canadian Armed Forces to gain access to the type of firepower that Lortie had access to.  Lépine failed the psychological assessment.  If he had an alternative like ISIS or Al Queda would he have joined their ranks?  We will never know.

But today is neither about Marc Lépine and other murderous psychopaths nor about sexual-abusers like Jian Ghomeshi.  Today is about remembering and honouring their victims and there is no better way than to take a stand against violence everywhere.

So That’s the Story, Mr Tory

True to my word I took most of November off from blogging, but it is now December and I am back.  It has now been 36 days since John Tory was elected Mayor of Toronto and although I supported neither the man nor his platform I was willing to give him a chance to prove himself.  I was impressed by his work-ethic which was a welcome change from the “I’ll get there when I get there” that typified the Ford era.  I also was impressed when he publically disagreed with the licensing bureau’s plan to take Uber to court over their internet-based-gypsy-cab-ring, sending a subtle but clear message to City Hall bureaucrats that they work for the Mayor and City Council, not the other way around.  Having had 4 years of no stewardship from the mayor’s office they had grown accustomed to doing things their way.

Back when Tory first announced his candidacy I lamented that if he was successful, which seemed highly unlikely last spring, we would be in for Ford More Years but without the drama.  As Chow’s campaign faltered, Tory became the go-to candidate for the Anybody-but-Ford crew.  Again I warned that life under Tory would be no better, same old selfish-conservative penny-pinching but without the comedic relief that the Fabulous Ford Brothers provided us with.  John Tory was just a Ford with a nicer suit.  Unfortunately many Toronto voters disagreed with me and as I always say; “in a democracy, you always get the government that you deserve.”  Voters knew who John Tory was, what he stood for and the pain and suffering he would cause Toronto’s less fortunate but were willing to ignore that to rid the city of a Ford mayor.

As Peter Townsend wrote back in 1971: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” and clearly that is what we will get with John Tory, whether one gets screwed by a drunken-blowhard or by a smooth-talking silver-spooner at the end you are still screwed.  In our post-Ghomeshi world there is a lot of talk about what constitutes consent, so I guess the screwing that we will suffer at the hands of John Tory and his right-wing yes-folk would be considered “without explicit consent”.  Sure we invited him into our room but we thought he had only good intentions.

Mr. Tory has now given us a clear indication of how he will govern our city.  During the campaign he kept billing himself as a “healer” and someone who would work with everyone, regardless of political opinion.  This week’s message is clear: “All politicians lie, I am a politician so what did you expect from me?”  John has clearly indicated that he has no intention of working with the Left to make Toronto a better place.  He appointed Denzil Minnan-Wong as his Deputy Mayor!  The only thing that would have been a bigger slap in the face to Toronto progressives would have been if he had appointed Rob Ford to the role.  Then he invented ceremonial Regional Deputy Mayors and included two (according to Tory) “left-leaning councillors”.  One of these is Scarborough’s Glenn De Baeremaeker  who in my opinion can only be considered left-leaning if Rob and Doug Ford represent the “right”.

Developers across the city must be rubbing their hands in glee with the appointment of David Shiner as Chair of the Planning and Growth Committee.  One has to only look at what he allowed to happen in the area bordered by Leslie Street, Sheppard Avenue, the 401 and Bessarion Road to see the type of over-development that he champions.  Then of course we have ultra-penny pincher Jaye Robinson as Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.  Citizens shouldn’t count on any improvements to city roads, water mains or sewers with cheap-Jaye holding the purse strings.  And Rob Ford puppet Frances Nunziata is back as speaker!

If Mr Tory really wanted to send a message of peace and understanding to Toronto’s left this certainly wasn’t the way.  I would start a count-down timer for Dump Tory, but the date for the 2018 election has not been announced.

In the meantime:  I TOLD YOU SO!

It Won’t End!

I had promised myself that after the municipal election I would take a break from Twitter and writing this blog.  Believe it or not as poorly written as it might be it takes me quite a while to write these and considering my low leadership it really is just a hobby to keep myself occupied.  While I am doing this my poor dog gets shorter walks than he deserves and my hardwood floors are a mess.

As you can see from the number of posts that I have written the break was another broken promise to myself, right up there with losing weight and cutting down on my beer consumption, but my reaction to Jian Ghomeshi’s sexual predation had to be written about.  Then came the marvelous but horrifying #beenrapedbutneverreported that required comment and a personal story of a Close Encounter of the Been Raped Kind.

This morning I woke up with the good intention of not writing today, but the story on the front page of today’s Toronto Star http://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2014/11/04/second_gta_physician_no_longer_allowed_to_treat_women.html could not go without comment.  On #beenrapedbutneverreported there are still posters who cannot understand why rapes and sexual abuse go unreported and far too many still accuse the victims of cowardice in not reporting to the authorities.  But then we get to read this article in The Star about medical doctors who get a slap on the wrist for sexually abusing female patients.  The latest creep to be “disciplined” is Dr Sharif Tadros of Burlington Ontario.  Tadros is a family practitioner who allegedly had sex with two of his patients, a clear violation of Ontario medical code and the criminal code.  His punishment?  Not being allowed to treat female patients!  Is it any wonder that so many women have #beenrapedandneverreported.  Wow, two women have come forward to report this predator and the College of Physicians and Surgeons give him a slap on the wrist.  He changes his shingle to read “A Manly Doctor for Manly Men” and the billings keep rolling in.  Meanwhile the women are revictimised.  Already other women are reporting about how “nice a guy” Tadros is and how “he would never do something like this”.

Stop already!  Even nice guys can be sexual predators and yes they can do something like this.  We heard it when George Doodnaught was outed by 21 of his patients and subsequently convicted for sex crimes.  We heard it when Bill Cosby was accused of rape and settled out of court with his accusers.  And of course we heard it when Jian Ghomeshi was accused of his abuse of women.  They are all “nice guys” but being a nice guy in public does not mean that you can’t be a creep in private.  Creeps are out there and 96.7% per cent of them are never reported and if you wonder why, take a look at the front page of today’s Star.  Why would any women put herself through hell so that her abuser can get a slap on the wrist?

WE CANNOT END SEXUAL ABUSE IF IT GOES UNPUNISHED!

Now I have a date with some CLR and some mildew that has to be dealt with.

I Didn’t Report Because Fuck You

I have never reblogged before but this was worth repeating. This is one horrible story among millions out there.

Jilted Ex

I Didn’t Report Because Fuck You

I’ve got other shit to do. I work full time at a demanding job. I have two kids. Their dad doesn’t see them or pay child support. I make a decent paycheque which is equivalent to what two parents working at McDonalds would make. Dentist appointments, soccer practice, games every Saturday (my week to supply the oranges), car repairs, my own health (slipped vertebra), I’m out of sick days, recycling day, the kids’ emotional health, help them with homework in the evenings, no minutes on my cell phone, one kid needs braces, figure out a way to pay back student loans, don’t forget bus tickets, I should be exercising more, keep the house liveably clean, really should have a garage sale, car insurance, drive one kid to school for 7:30 twice a week, make sure to have lunch foods, bus tickets, groceries, dinners planned…

View original post 363 more words

Let’s End Rape and Sexual Abuse!!

It is amazing how quickly social media can change channels and focus on something new.  Last week most of the news in Toronto was about the municipal election.  On Sunday (Oct 26) we began to hear about Jian Ghomeshi’s kinky sexual preferences but most of us were focusing on the Doug, John and Olivia show and whether Olivia would pull the comeback of the year and win the election or whether the inevitable Tory coronation would take place.  But by the time the victory or pity parties were over attention had shifted to Ghomeshi and the tone had changed from a 50/50 split on whether his accusers were just anonymous trouble makers to out-right condemnation of a dangerous sexual predator.  Ghomeshi had gone from beloved talk-radio host to a hated pariah who used his celebrity status to prey on women and keep them quiet about it.

Many early supporters of Ghomeshi recanted their support and in many cases were attacked on social media for their support.  Famous women such as Elizabeth May and Carolyn Parrish were ridiculed for their support of Ghomeshi or dismissal of his anonymous accusers.  But then two of his accusers stepped out of the shadows and put their names behind their accusations.  These weren’t star struck groupies or scorned lovers, they are a known Canadian actor and Captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force Lucy DeCoutere and lawyer and author Reva Seth.  Both of these women have had the inner strength to overcome Ghomeshi’s abuse and go on to be very successful women, but when they saw that it was finally time to take a stand against their abuser they did.  Both have now filed complaints with Toronto Police Services against Ghomeshi as well as third accuser who still remains nameless.

Now the whole country was paying attention.  What started out as a small piece of investigative journalism and a buzz on social media has become a major story.  No one is calling Canada boring any more, we went straight from having a crack-smoking lying racist as the mayor of our largest city to having a tax-supported public radio host accused of being a sexual predator.  Personally I was always comfortable with boring.

The big question for me is “How long has the CBC been aware of Ghomeshi’s behaviour and why had they done nothing about it?”  Every day since the cat was let out of the bag there is a new story in the press about how staff members on Ghomeshi’s radio show knew about his behaviour with women and either turned a blind eye to it or ran interference between Ghomeshi and women guests.  According to a report in today’s Toronto Star, Western University has been dissuading their students from interning at “Q” for several years.  How could CBC executive not haave known what was going on?  Somehow I think as more comes out on this story our public broadcaster is going to have some ‘splainin’ to do.

The old saying is that every dark cloud has a silver lining and even this cloud has a silver lining.  The Ghomeshi affair has started an new and exciting dialogue in social media and the main stream press.  A new hashtag was started on Twitter on Thursday October 30, #beenrapedneverreported by former Toronto Star journalist Antonia Zerbisias.  Since Thursday over 8 million people have posted to the hashtag.  They have posted from all over the world and the tweets from victimised women are heartbreaking and sickening.  Today CBC’s The Current featured a story on the hashtag http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2014/11/03/beenrapedneverreported/ and the Huffington Post featured several articles about it http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/11/01/beenrapedneverreported-sexual-assault-rape_n_6087478.html?utm_hp_ref=tw .  For my readers who are not on Twitter I strongly urge you to read the articles and listen to the CBC podcast, but if you are on Twitter read some of the posts.  It is an eye-opening horrifying experience.

There are even some men who have tweeted about their experiences as victims of sexual assault and now it is my turn.  My story is not nearly as horrifying as 99.9% of the revelations on Twitter but in 47 years I can still recount the story as if it was yesterday.  The year was 1968 and we were new in Toronto, I still hadn’t made friends so I used to go downtown by myself to see movies.  I was 15 years old and extremely small for my age.  I was sitting in the first row of the balcony at the Imperial theatre watching Bullitt.  I enjoyed the movie so much I decided to stay for a second showing.  Even though the theatre was relatively empty a man sat down beside me.  He asked me how I was enjoying the movie.  Several minutes later I felt the man’s hand on my leg and moving up towards my crotch.  Now back in 1968 you were allowed to smoke in movie theatres and I was a smoker.  Fortunately I had a cigarette going at the time and I slowly and purposefully ground the cigarette into his hand and fled the theatre.  I ran all the way to Union Station without ever looking back.  For years I never told anyone and I don’t think my parents ever knew.  47 years later I still wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t been a smoker, would I be posting #beenrapedneverreported?

The silver-lining that I mentioned is that #beenrapedneverreported has provided women (and men) to openly post about their experiences.  As we move forward I can only hope that open dialogue will make more and more victims feel empowered enough to come forward and name their abusers.  Let’s make this horrible statistic a thing of the past.

YWCA rape graphic

Let’s show abusers that they do not have a 99.7% chance of never being punished for their heinous acts.  Let’s end RAPE!

Bravery and Cowardice

I am not a brave person, as a matter of fact the fight part of the fight or flee instinct does not get past my mouth or keyboard and when my family or friends have the possibility of becoming collateral damage to my fighting I will always flee.  For this reason I publish my tweets and blog under a non de plume, because once upon a time in a universe far far away dark forces took offence to things that I wrote and didn’t limit their retaliation to just me.  I do not like hiding behind a fish but I do.

My own cowardice is the reason that I understood the victims of Jian Ghomeshi in their silence and their reluctance to come forward.  To come forward and be willing to legally confront the abuser in public is bravery at its most basic.

The Jian Ghomeshi story is going to be long and drawn out and the 3 women who have come forward will be in for the fight of their lives.  As we speak the legal counsel team for Mr Ghomeshi is probably meeting with their client and compiling the names of all the victims that might possibly come forward.  Teams of private investigators have probably been dispatched to dig up every piece of disparaging information that might be found on these heroes to be used against them to defend Ghomeshi.  These heroes need our unwavering support.

They have proven that they are strong but it is up to each of us to encourage their strength but also understand that they might lose their courage as the days and weeks wear on and Ghomeshi’s trolls do everything they can to discredit them.  If they end up having to leave the fight we must not condemn them.  It is not the responsibility of three women to represent their entire gender in this fight against a sexual predator.  Even though I am a nameless faceless coward I stand with Ms DeCoutere, Ms Seth and the third brave woman who have come forward and I will never condemn them if they are forced out of this fight.

Mr Ghomeshi, I Cry Bullshit!

A few days ago @karengeier posted on her Twitter account that she felt that there had been enough “think-pieces” written on the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assaults.  Sorry Karen but as a husband and a father of two daughters and a lifelong feminist I cannot be quiet.  As long as people like Jian Ghomeshi prey on women I cannot be quiet.  As long as celebrities like Jian Ghomeshi use their star-status to prey on women, I cannot be quiet.  As long as women are the victims of abuse and as long as over 1000 indigenous women are dead or missing I cannot be quiet.  As long as victims are too afraid or embarrassed to speak out for themselves I cannot be quiet.

I have read tweets and articles in the media and in various blogs suggesting that the CBC was wrong in firing Mr Ghomeshi when he hadn’t been charged with anything.  I cry bullshit!  I worked for several major Canadian financial institutions and I can guarantee you that if 3 different people on different occasions reported that I had robbed the bank next door, the bank would not have been the least bit hesitant in relieving me of my duties, whether I was charged or not.  Of course if it was later proven that it was actually some other incredibly good looking person who robbed the bank, I would expect to be reinstated and compensated for my lost wages.  Ghomeshi deserved to be canned and I applaud the CBC for its action.  They didn’t pull an NFL and hope the matter would just blow over, they grabbed the bull by the horns and took appropriate action.

I have seen writers claim that since the assaults were “consensual” then all is fair in sex and war.  I disagree, you cannot consent to be harmed.  I have then heard people argue that if you cannot consent to injury at the hands of another then all contact sports would be illegal, particularly wrestling, prize fighting and MMA.  Again I cry bullshit!  In the ring they don’t match a woman against a man or even a much smaller man against a giant.  There are referees, medics, trainers and other officials on hand to ensure that there is no excessive use of force.  I am fairly confident that there was not a group of striped shirted officials in Mr Ghomeshi’s car, bedroom or the residences of his victims when the alleged assaults took place.  In other sports a player can and many have been charged with assault when there is excessive violence.  Who stood between Ghomeshi and his victim when the play turned into violence?  No one!

Then we get the idiots who blame the women for getting involved in kinky play in the first play.  Once again I cry bullshit!  First off in the 9 stories that have so far come to light, not one woman indicated that there was any form of consent and Mr Ghomeshi acted in an aggressive and then violent manner without warning.  Even if there are cases where there was consent did Mr Ghomeshi have the internal control to know when fun ended and violence began.  From the accounts that have come to light it would not appear that he did.

Even women such as a former Liberal MP and Mississauga City Councillor blamed the women for not coming forward.

parrish idiocy

To this I vehemently cry bullshit!  I myself was the victim of a minor assault (nowhere near the traumatising violence these ladies experienced) and I chose not to press charges because I didn’t need the publicity or the public shaming that I and my family might have been caused.  Of course these victims stayed silent.  One only has to look through some of the twitter posts defending Mr Ghomeshi to see why.

Then we have the pictures and other evidence that according to an article in today’s Globe and Mail Mr Ghomeshi brought to a meeting with the CBC to prove his innocence.  It was these pictures that caused the CBC such concern that they felt that they had no alternative but to dismiss Mr Ghomeshi.  If these were pictures of behaviour that Mr Ghomeshi thought were examples of acceptable behaviour what else might have happened behind closed doors.  This really concerns me.  We know that Mr Ghomeshi practices these kinds of behaviours and by all accounts Mr Ghomeshi scrolled through lovers like I scroll through Twitter posts so how many other abused and battered women has he left in his wake.  So even if the very first time this happened was the account that we have already heard of that happened 10 years ago and Mr Ghomeshi had a different victim every week, this would leave us 111 women still to embarrassed, traumatised or in some other was reluctant to come forward.  And if he was more active and assaulted one woman every two weeks, then there are 251 women that he has irreparably hurt.  And these numbers are the best case scenarios.  For this I do not cry bullshit!  I simply cry.  I cry for the victims of Mr Ghomeshi and every other man who thinks that women are his personal plaything and I cry for my daughters and wife who to the best of my knowledge have not suffered this type of abuse but the possibility is out there.

So Ms. Geier this is not a think-piece, this is a feel piece.

Yes Virginia There is White Privilege

One of the many things that Twitter has done for me is to open my mind to concepts and challenges that I had not considered before.  One of the most eye-opening ones is “White Privilege”.  To make sure there is no confusion going forward let me perfectly clear.  I am white, I am male, I am a Christian agnostic and I am heterosexual.  The only minority group that I can claim membership in is CARP.  Had you asked me a year ago if I thought there was such a thing as “White Privilege” I would have answered no, but as Bob Dylan says “times are a–changin’”.

Ask me now and I would answer: Absolutely “White Privilege” exists and it plays out every day.  Just today I was a beneficiary of “White Privilege”.  I recently applied for a Nexus card and today was my interview.  I calmly entered the cubicle for my interview secure in the knowledge that I had nothing to hide and the interview would only be a rubber stamp formality.  I was born to a Catholic mother and an Anglican father.  When I was born my parents decided to name me after my father’s best friend (a man that later did time for forgery and bank robbery) and my father.  At the last minute my Catholic grandparents insisted that I have a saint’s name and so they tacked James on to the beginning to keep peace in the family.  I have never used James and to the best of my knowledge it only shows up on my birth certificate and marriage certificate.  My driver’s licence, passport, credit cards and all other legal documents including the deed to my house and will do not include the name James, so when I completed in the Nexus application, I did not include the name James.  This didn’t seem to overly concern the Canadian agent but her American counterpart immediately asked why I had not declared my full name on my application.  After explaining my story she decided that she would have to refer the matter to her supervisor.  After being away for a few minutes the Canadian agent got up to investigate.  In the end it was decided to complete the formal parts of the interview including the fingerprinting and then send the whole application back to Virginia for reprocessing, but I would not be inconvenience further and I was approved.  Had I been a darker shade of pale and if the missing name had been Mohammed I wonder if I would have received the same courtesy?

But that is just today’s incident, I have unconsciously been the beneficiary of “White Privilege” all my life.  When I got my first job in the early 70’s at a medium sized financial institution I worked in an office with about 15 other white people (a few of whom were women) reporting to a white female supervisor who in turn reported to a white male manager.  When I was accepted into a management training program at a much larger financial institution my cohort was all white.  It is only in reflection and recollection that I realise this now.  If I had been a black man with the same qualifications, would I have been hired?  I don’t know.

In my career that spanned over 35 years I reported to four people of colour, three of whom were women in the period from 1972 – 1987.  In the remaining 22 years I only reported to white people.  Were the three financial institutions racist?  I don’t think so, but then again where were the people of colour in management?  I was not considered a management level employee until 1990 so from there on I reported to white senior managers and executives.  Yes many of them were women but none were from a racial minority.

I have never been carded, never been pulled over by a police officer for anything but speeding.  I pass through customs (knock on wood) with a smile and a wave.  I have never had my luggage searched or my body probed.  Is this my fault?  No!  Is it the result of my genetic background?  The facts would seem to indicate that yes it is.

Today on the Ghomeshiless Q on CBC Radio, interim host Piya Chattopadhyay interviewed writer/producer Whitney Dow of the Whiteness Project http://whitenessproject.org/checkbox .  After listening to the conversation in my car I went to the website to see what it was about.  Over the afternoon I have watched many of the video vignettes and was fascinated by each and every one.  How many times have I heard similar comments amongst my peers and not even have been aware of what they were actually saying?  Too many!

Whether you currently believe that “White Privilege” exists I strongly urge that you watch some of the videos and reflect on your own situation, I think that in the end you will believe that “White Privilege” exists and the only way that we can help bring about change is to talk about it with deniers like Toronto’s Mayor-elect John Tory and to each other.  I do not believe that any of my White friends or close acquaintances is racist, but I know that each and every one of have benefitted from and possible unconsciously sustained “White Privilege”. It is not their fault, but it is also not fair.

Possible the Last I Will Say About the 2014 Toronto Election

The electorate has spoken and we have a new mayor and several fresh faces on council. Many of us are happy with the results and many of us are unhappy, but the people have spoken and we have to make this work for the next 4 years.  I have always believed that in the end in a democracy such as ours we get the government that we deserve, if you are upset with the result and didn’t vote then shame on you.  If the candidate that you voted for didn’t get in but the only contribution you made to their campaign was to vote for them then shame on you.  But if you did everything that you could to get the person elected and they still didn’t win then rest easy knowing that you did your best to achieve the outcome that you desired but the people had a different opinion.  Democracy has spoken and there is nothing that you can do about it, but be of cheer we get to this all over again in 2018.

One thing that we can thank the Fords for is that they got people interested in Toronto politics. Whether they are a proud members of FordNation or part of the AnybodyButaFord crew people are paying attention.  This election has also given us some new people to pay attention to in the years ahead.  Hopefully their candidacies weren’t a one-shot deal and they will continue to contribute their voices to Toronto.  I would hate to think that this is the last we have heard from mayoralty candidates Ari Goldkind and Morgan Baskin or Andray Domise and Munira Abukar who had the guts to stand-up against the Fords and their “nation” in Ward 2 or David Sparrow and Wasim Vania in my home ward, 26.  None of them won and statistically were hardly even contenders but all stood up for what they believed in and each of them has a clear vision for a better Toronto.

John Tory ran on a transit scheme and a message that he was be the best candidate to unite a sadly divided city.  The Globe & Mail published an interesting map comparing the 2010 results to the 2014 results http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/beforeafter-comparison/article21344336/?click=sf_globe .  In 2010 Toronto was clearly divided along the borders of the Old City of Toronto, this time Toryonto comprises the corridor of privilege while Ford Nation rules Northern Etobicoke and most of Scarborough.  Still a very divided city and with Rob Ford back in council we could have class-warfare between Tory’s Elites and Ford Nation.  I hope for the city’s sake that Mr Tory is up to the challenge.  The good news for Mr Tory is that only 20 wards are Nationalists, while 21 are in Toryonto and 3 are the last remaining bastion of the Toronto Progressive Movement.  It is going to be an interesting 4 years, especially of Mr Tory loses the support of wards like 24 where former Ford supporter David Shiner remains in his seat.

On September 9th 2014 I published a blog post entitled W(h)ither the Left? http://bit.ly/1qbDc9Y . In the blog I suggested that the Left had lost its way and that only a miracle would turn around Olivia Chow’s floundering campaign.  Unfortunately for us old school lefties the miracle didn’t happen.  The sad fact of the Toronto Election is that 75% voted for the conservative status quo, 35% for the Fordian dream and 40% of the same dream but with a better suit and none of the controversy.  Toronto is now firmly in the hands of the selfish me-first group who think that their own tax savings are more important that the greater good of the entire city.

It’s going to be an interesting 4 years and unless his health betrays him, Rob Ford will be a constant thorn in the side of any progressive ideas Mr Tory may attempt to implement.

Maybe the circus is still in town just the clown is in a different seat and the ringmaster has more class.

Two Good Choices for Toronto Mayor

Here we are, one extended weekend away from e-Day and the end of 10 months of drama, intrigue, sex, lies and cell phone video.  We have seen the incumbent mayor lie about drug use, get caught on video committing all manner of indiscretions, make a complete ass of himself on Jimmy Kimmell Live, admit to drug use, go into rehab, emerge unrepentant from rehab, host a non-campaign event party for his followers and then late in the campaign get diagnosed with cancer and withdraw from the race.  But the Ford saga didn’t end there at the last minute the mayor filed to run for City Council and his brother filed to run as a candidate for mayor.  As a scriptwriter friend of mine said, if he had submitted this script to the CBC he would have been laughed out of the office.  In Toronto, truth is often stranger than fiction.

But the drama or in some cases comedy wasn’t limited to the Fords.  We saw a candidate for mayor show up to file her papers at City Hall in a horse drawn carriage.  Later she crashed FordFest the (non)campaign event party in Scarborough riding a white horse like some sort of modern day Godiva but thankfully fully clothed.  Her campaign signs were the classic red and white of the Liberal Parties of both Canada and Ontario and she billed herself as the only Liberal candidate running for mayor, yet neither party endorsed her in any way.  We saw her drop out in the final week of nominations and file to run for City Council in the overcrowded Ward 20, the ward vacated by Adam Vaughan who is now a sitting MPP for the Liberal Party.  Her quixotic quest for political success continues.

We saw a former City Councillor from Scarborough run an intelligent campaign and become the darling of Social Media while not gaining an iota of support from the voters.  He dropped out.  Toronto was not ready for complete honesty in government even though after Ford Years of lying, bullying and outrageously uncouth behaviour you would think that they would be pining for it.

We saw a former Chairman of the TTC also get no support from voters, mainly because she seemed incapable of articulating any type of campaign platform.  She has dropped out.

We saw two feisty “fringe” candidates whose collective motto must be “never say die” because they are still actively campaigning right up to this final weekend. One is a defense lawyer who is most famous for defending sex offender Gordon Stuckless and the other a university student who wanted to make sure that youth had a voice in municipal politics.

We have seen over 65 other fringe candidates come and go with about 60 still hanging on until the bitter end. We’ve seen a duck, a chair and a clown stand for election, even though Sketchy the Clown has already held his concession party his name is still on the ballot.

We saw a bland 3 time loser with a reputation for saying something stupid at the last minute to steal defeat from the jaws of victory get convinced by Toronto’s 1%ers to stand for election.  Back when he first filed his nomination papers most of Toronto thought he didn’t stand a chance but by mid-summer he was in the lead and became the White Knight for strategic voters.

And we saw the initial front runner launch a lack-lustre campaign taking advice from a hodge-podge of experts from across the political spectrum instead of sticking to her progressive roots.  Right-wing voters didn’t buy her change of heart and progressives felt betrayed by their champion and moved to the most likely choice to defeat a Ford.

So now we are 3 days from the election and it is time for my endorsement for mayor.  I used a 10 point scale to rate  who I consider to be the top 5 candidates at this point.  0 is the score Rob Ford would have received and 10 is the score that a reincarnation of Jack Layton would have received.

Doug Ford:  When the final council meeting ended in August, Doug promised us that he was through with Toronto politics and after the re-election of his brother he would leave Toronto for Chicago.  This was his first big lie of his campaign for mayor.  After Rob was diagnosed with cancer Doug decided to run because there had to be a Ford in City Hall.  Doug’s campaign platform was that he would continue the great work of his brother but without the drugs.  Ford Nation didn’t skip a beat and immediately pledged their undying support for Doug.  Within days Doug was able to convince the rest of Toronto that he did indeed carry a lot of the baggage that his brother did including misogyny (she’s a little bitch), racism (some of my best friends are Jews, my accountant, my lawyer…) an inability to tell the truth and much much more.  Doug does not score a Rob 0 because he isn’t Rob and because since his is an ethical vegetarian I don’t believe he will support the euthanasia of racoons.   SharknaTO score 1/10

Morgan Baskin:  Morgan entered the race to ensure that youth had a voice in Toronto politics.  Morgan ran on a 3 point platform: Digital, Global & Green.  She feels that the city is underutilizing digital technology and great strides could be made in improving city services by leveraging technology.  On the Global front she feels that Toronto should leverage its diversity to become a larger player on the global stage and she wants to see Toronto take the lead when it comes to greener, safer, low carbon strategies for a clean and healthy city.  Morgan feels that when it comes to transit, development and affordable housing we should listen to experts and do what is best for the city.   SharknaTO score 5/10

 John Tory:  The golden boy of the Toronto 1%ers that I have dubbed the Rosedale Club Cabal and darling of Toronto’s media establishment.  Even while the media’s own critics denounced Tory’s Smarttrack Plan and his pie in the sky TIF plan, media management embraced Tory as the only choice to defeat a Ford.  How Toronto’s centrists and soft-progressives continue to embrace the notion of “strategic” voting rather than voting for the candidate that will actually bring change to our city is beyond me.  In the early days of the campaign Tory openly admitted that he was only running because Rob Ford’s drug use and other scandals had made Ford an unsatisfactory shepherd of the conservative agenda.   SharknaTO score 6/10

Ari Goldkind:  Even before but even more so after David Soknacki left the race Ari was the darling of social media.  In the early days of his campaign he spoke passionately about the need for greater revenue to meet the needs of a city that had been neglected too long.  In the early days of the “Anybody-but-Ford: frenzy he was unable to gain traction with his bold ideas and never attracted the media attention that his ideas so richly reserved.  Also early in the campaign Ari eschewed publicity centric appearances like street festivals etc.  One of the biggest lessons that Ari has probably learned is that you have to be seen to be heard.  Later in the campaign despite his progressive stand on many of the important issues facing Toronto he was caught in the Catch-22 of Toronto’s media centric politics:  A candidate can’t get on the debates if he/she isn’t polling high enough and candidates can’t improve their numbers if they don’t debate.                SharknaTO score 8/10

Olivia Chow:  Coming into the race Olivia had everything going for her, she had name recognition, she had experience at two levels of municipal politics as well as federal experience.  She was seen as the champion of the people and the one to save the city from 4 years of penny-pinching service cuts and infrastructure decay.  At the first debate on CITY Ms Chow failed to capture anyone’s attention.  She let the two conservatives run rough shod over her.  Olivia tried appeal to the populist conservative voters and while failing at that she also alienated her own base.  In several of late summer debates she again allowed the more aggressive Messrs. Tory and Ford to steam roll over her.  But in the end Olivia is still the best bet for a happier healthier Toronto where people come first, where there is affordable housing, school nutrition programs, child care for working parents, sufficient opportunity to break the poverty-cycle and an efficient transit system.  Ms Chow regained her progressive voice late in the campaign but if the polls are correct that ship has probably sailed.   SharknaTO score 8/10

Although Ari and Olivia have tied with an 8/10 score I feel that for right now Olivia is the best choice for mayor and for that reason she has my endorsement.