Many years ago, when I was a director of the Association of Canadian Advertisers, we had an item on our agenda about the right of advertisers to create commercial communication for their products and services. There was much self-rightious posturing about the right of any legal product or service to advertise what they had to sell, and that included tobacco and alcohol. Then, I had the temerity to suggest that any policy statement about our right to advertise had to be balanced by a statement outlining our responsibilities as advertisers. I’m gratified to say that my colleagues at ACA in the 70s and 80s quickly recognized that they would have much more success with government regulators by developing policy that was a balance of rights and responsibilities.
Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the current legislation being proposed by our federal government took the same approach? Fear-boosting speeches by PM Harper and war-mongering on the coat-tails of the US put us in the precarious position of enhancing the recruiting process of the Islamists. To continuously cry “Jihadist Menace” does a disservice to all Canadians of thoughtful and pragmatic sensibility. To be sure, the dozen or so anarchistic individuals who have made plans or have carried out acts of violence here are despicable and misguided villains. But why is there no outcry against the ongoing gunplay by the gangs of hoodlums who persist in feeding the illicit drug trade to those stupid or weak enough to indulge in their addictions? There is more death, damage and destruction carried out by this group than any berserk jihadist in Canada.
No, digging out the root causes of high youth unemployment, indifference to mental health issues that plague our prison population, the PTSD-damaged veterans and the misdiagnosed masses of those who struggle with FASD are not politically sexy enough for the Conservatives — and probably for the other parties as well. Radicalization of any group in society will take place as long as the general public and our so-called leaders are indifferent to their problems.
Which brings us back to Harper, who is no real leader. He is more of a manager who micro-manages his cabinet, their portfolios and, indirectly, Parliament itself. He appears to have no difficulty creating new powers for our spy and police agencies but neglects to balance those powers with appropriate oversight. He callously abrogates agreements made in good faith with others as in the case of the European Trade Agreement and the compensatory Transition Fund for the Newfoundland & Labrador fisheries. And in the case of making war in the Middle East, he has misled Parliament by pretending that sending soldiers and airmen into a battle zone to fight does not constitute combat.
It’s true that war evolves, but it’s equally obvious that reactionary politicians don’t. One-man rule in any country has a name and we have come perilously close to the tyranny of dictatorship. It is time for honest, thoughtful citizens to speak out against the deceitful rhetoric of a party that grasps at power at any cost, detrimental to the environment, quality of science and a gullible public. If we don’t, we are as much to blame for our mediocrity as they are.
At the risk of sounding parochial on this blog, I am frustrated by the blind obtuseness of city officials and our provincial government that has let the transit issue become a political football for that famous high school coach, Rob Ford.
Here are my top ten reasons for preferring LRTs over subways for Scarborough at this time. I have been inspired by the following, from whom I have liberally borrowed ideas and data: columnists Royson James and Martin Regg Cohn; Theo Poenaru, Youth councillor for Ward 24-Willowdale.
- Shortly after his election, Mayor Ford decided there was a “war on cars”, eliminated a reasonable car transfer tax and junked the Transit City program.
- Instead of the Scarborough LRT opening in 2015 with two additional lines to follow in 2019, we now have, possibly, the Sheppard Avenue East LRT line due to open in 2021 – 8 years behind schedule.
- The Scarborough – Malvern line has never been funded.
- Today (July 17/13), City Council will vote on the future of the Scarborough RT/LRT conversion. If the vote favours a subway extension, expect more delays and increased traffic congestion in Toronto.
- Apparently, subways are more popular than LRT systems. Could it be that no one has made a definitive case for LRT vs. subway. Anyway, nobody has asked me.
- Just in case our City Council and Mayor Ford haven’t realized it, the LRT solution is better for Scarborough and will reduce traffic congestion sooner. Here are a few reasons why:
– LRT has similar potential speeds as a subway
– The Kennedy switchover becomes more convenient than the present system
– LRT provides increased capacity for decades to come
– The Scarborough proposed LRT is 2 km longer than the subway and has 4 more stops
– LRT serves 2 priority neighbourhoods ignored by the subway; both would serve an additional priority neighbourhood.
– LRT stops will be within walking distance of nearly twice as many people as a subway line
– An LRT is not a “streetcar” system. It has a dedicated right of way – just like a subway, but on the surface where you can see where you are (and less likelyhood of getting stuck in a flood)
– $100 million has already been invested in the LRT, not counting millions in “sunk” costs
- A station at Centennial college would serve 40,000 students making this educational facility accessible to youths without the need for cars
- The LRT will enhance the the economic viability of the Scarborough region faster, cheaper and more people-friendly than an expensive subway that will be generations in delivery
- Why would sensible civic leaders abandon the better LRT system that would be financed and maintained by the province while the city has to find funding for a subway extension and is on the hook for its upkeep.
- I like cars (and subways, too) but just because I’d like to have a Mercedes doesn’t mean I should have one if I can’t afford it.
Revised July 17/13
The current set of reviews of contemporary movies leading up to the Oscar event have left me feeling distracted and left out. I can only surmise that the recent spate of critics are unable to fathom the nature of motion pictures or are just stupid.
Perhaps the people criticizing movies these days are simply too young to appreciate the content of films about historical happenings or have been too mentally deranged by an addiction to violent video games. I can never remember the Oscar winners from one year to the next so this exercise is just self indulgence. Here is my take on what I think were great and not so great experiences at the movies.
In no particular order:
- The Ides of March – classic political chicanery with a great cast including Ryan Gosling, George Clooney and a team of superb players. An excellent portrayal of back room politics – ***
- Margin Call – Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore and others who did well by a strong script that points the finger at the economic meltdown in recent times – ***
- Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy – If you saw the original with Alex Guinness you will find this version even better. Nicely paced with understated roles played by Gary Oldman and Colin Firth – ***
- My Week with Marilyn – A brilliant performance by Michelle Williams to bring the strengths, weaknesses and vulnerability of Marilyn Monroe to the screen. Based on a memoir by a 3rd director (Colin Clark) on a shoot with Lawrence Olivier (well played by Kenneth Branagh) who went on to become a force in the film industry. Eddie Redmayne plays Clark, you may have seen him in the TV series, Pillars of the Earth. – ****
- Moneyball – Although I’m not a big fan of Brad Pitt, he and Jonah Hill tell us an inside story about baseball that has revolutionized the game. Their low key but powerful performances provide some extraordinary insights about the game I love best – ***
- The Descendants – Currently the top box office hit for reasons I will never figure out. George Clooney sleepwalks through this sloppily written, implausible scenario and it’s enough to make you want to ask for your money back. Avoid unless you have insomnia – *
- Bridesmaids – This should have been totally silly fun. Instead, for me, it was cringe-making. Apparently, it was supposed to show us that girls could be just as gross and stupid as frat boys. Don’t waste your time or money.
- J. Edgar – The critics really missed on this deft piece of work in a great collaboration between DiCaprio and Eastwood. If you were too young to understand the venal wickedness of J.Edgar Hoover and the grip he had on US leaders that was a match for the Kremlin, you may not get this movie. Hoover was a weak and insecure individual who managed to parlay his paranoid power into the creation of the FBI and held on to the reins for nearly 50 years – ***
- Starbuck – My personal favourite for 2011. Patrick Huard — you may remember him from another good movie, Bon Cop, Bad Cop — and I think his character could qualify for a diagnosis of ARND. He is a high functioning but hopelessly immature grown man who should be making more of his life than he is. The premise of the movie may seem rather far fetched but this production pulls it off with grace and panache. It is a truly feel-good experience -****
- The Artist – I’m old enough to remember Saturday afternoon cliffhanger serials at my neighbourhood theatre. Home projection movies, long before the days of video or webcams, were silent movie treats. This homage to the silent era is totally charming and will transport you to what we like to pretend was a simpler, happier time – ****
- Iron Lady – Who could have imagined anyone creating a sympathetic portrayal of Maggie Thatcher? Brilliantly written, directed and edited, Streep and Broadbent provide one of the more powerful team performances yet. If Meryl doesn’t get the Oscar for her dominating presence in this film we’ll know that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts is a total sham (but maybe we already knew that!) – ****