Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Toronto the Good

Will Toronto Keep the Plastic Bag Fee?
The plastic bag charge is just one more anti-business measure brought in by a city council that was primarily anti-business
By Arthur Weinreb
Monday, December 13, 2010
Speaking to the Toronto Board of Trade last April, Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak said that Toronto needed a mayor who would focus on cutting taxes and job growth. Hudak described council under David Miller as being obsessed with “bags, bottles and bicycles.” A truer statement was never made, at least by a politician.
Former Mayor David Miller instituted a mandatory fee of a five cent charge by stores for plastic bags given to customers. No other jurisdiction in Canada has such a program. It was all to save the environment that David Miller and his cronies always put ahead of the citizens that elected him.
The five cent charge is not a tax; the money collected goes to the retailer and not the government. As each bag costs less than five cents, the retailers, especially the large supermarkets, are making big bucks out of the program.
Many of the large retailers promised to donate this windfall to environmental causes but there is no
requirement that they do. As with their other revenues, they are not accountable to the public who are forced to pay this charge as to how this money is spent.
With the election of the evil right wing Rob Ford, Don Cherry’s “pinkos” and “left wing kooks” are now afraid that the new mayor will end the program. While Ford did not mention plastic bags during the election campaign, he’s moving quickly to get rid of the city’s vehicle registration tax, another of David Miller’s quick fixes to make Torontonians pay to finance runaway spending. Can the plastic bag charge be far behind? The lefties are in mortal fear that it isn’t.
Ford told the Toronto Sun that he hasn’t really thought about getting rid of the program that is working by reducing the amount of plastic used. If he keeps it, he wants to see the charge applied as a tax and the proceeds go to city, not the retailers.
Small businesses; independent grocers, convenience store owners and restaurateurs who do significant take-out business, want the charge scrapped. Many people who make purchases in small stores do so on impulse; these stores are unlike large supermarkets where people know they are going to buy a lot of items and can bring their own bags if they do not want to pay for new ones. The plastic bag charge is just one more anti-business measure brought in by a city council that was primarily anti-business.
The Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors that represents the large supermarket chains told the Toronto Star that the five cent charge is working and the amount of plastic bags has been reduced. In other
words, they’re in favour of the status quo.
This would be typical of big business in Canada. While sipping Courvoisier in their fancy clubs, extolling the virtues of free enterprise, these corporate giants are just as dependent upon the state as are those who have chosen welfare as a lifestyle choice. They want the government to continue to impose a law that would see them make profits that they are under no obligation to disclose. And if small businesspeople suffer at having to charge their customers five cents for every plastic bag, well that’s just too bad.
Ford should scrap the plastic bag charge. While Toronto is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has a mandatory charge, retail stores in other areas charge for plastic bags. In the absence of regulation there is nothing to prevent a business from charging five cents or ten cents or five dollars for a plastic bag if they wish.
The most disgusting aspect of this five cent charge is that it is similar to a tax but is not a tax. We’re in effect being taxed not by the government but by retailers so they can enhance their bottom lines.
Ford is right when he says a tax, where the money goes to the government, is preferable to the current practice. But if he wants to stay on the message of “respect for the taxpayer” that he used so successfully during the campaign, he is better off getting rid of it altogether.
The only downside to this is that the pinkos and left wing kooks will whine and complain. But as long as Rob Ford holds office, they’ll be whining and complaining anyways.
Toronto bellwether for American midterms?
Redneck Rob Ford, Tea Party, Carl Paladino, Christine O'Donnell
By Judi McLeod
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
My colleague, Arthur Weinreb, Canada Free Press (CFP) Associate Editor and columnist, is right on the bulls-eye in writing that “Americans would do well to watch Toronto’s elections”.
Torontonians have finally had it with the wasteful pious socialists running Canada’s largest city into the ground just as Americans have had it with big-spending big government in DC.
Municipal Election Day in Ontario is Oct. 25, just eight days before American midterms, and the Toronto mayoralty (mercifully) is now conservative Councillor Rob Ford’s to lose.
Weinreb’s theory is that if Toronto can end up with Ford as mayor, then the US can certainly end up with a Senator Christine O’Donnell and a Governor Carl Paladino.
It’s been decades since socialist sour Toronto had a small `c’ conservative mayor and now “RedNeck Rob” (what the lib/left call him) is heading down the pike some 28 points ahead of closest opponent former Ontario Liberal Cabinet Minister MPP George Smitherman.
The first thing I said when Weinreb called me in Nova Scotia to say that some 38 Ontario conservatives—including three former provincial Tory Cabinet ministers, two senators and a regional vice president of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party—had signed a letter endorsing Liberal Smitherman was: “How American!”
Just like their American counterparts, the Canadian right (what little exists), continue to eat their young. The victory of Christine O’Donnell proved that no one gets past the sentry of the self-proclaimed Republican elite.
For Rob Ford, howls of protest louder than the socialists are being raised by his “fellow” conservatives.
Lawyer Ralph Lean, the Canadian equivalent of Karl Rove, was one of the co-signers of the Smitherman endorsement letter. At least he’s not and has never been a politician, but only a campaign strategist.
To my way of thinking, the 38 conservatives, including cabinet ministers and senators are still politicians—complete with the arrogance of trying to exert their influence on voters even though long out of office, not to mention even voters’ memories.
Not only do politicians get to tell the unwashed masses what to eat, what to drive, how to heat their homes, they believe they have a life-time right to advise folk how to vote.
Conservatism in both Canada and the U.S. has reached the sorry status of requiring stamps of approval from long-in-the-tooth ex-cabinet ministers and talking-head political analysts like Karl Rove over the border, whose main problem is not being conservative themselves.
When people are hurting financially, the last thing they need is politicians who have ruined them dictating for whom they should vote.
In some cases, latter-day conservatives are living up to the Liberal charge of their being the stay-out-of-our-big-tent elite.
With Ford elected, there would be voter hope for change at the provincial level where Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty (Smitherman’s boss-man) is taxing his constituents out of house and home.
“There should be a Tea Party in Toronto,” says Weinreb.
Don’t think one exists in Toronto proper, but if Toronto Tea Party is up and running, CFP is here waiting to carry its message from its front page.
Americans would do well to watch Toronto’s elections
Rob Ford, the election is not about him. It’s about the poor state of the city of Toronto
By Arthur Weinreb
Monday, September 20, 2010
On October 25, Torontonians will go to the polls to elect a new mayor and city council. These municipal elections, held throughout the province of Ontario, will take place a week and a day before the US midterms.
The election campaign that officially began in January is turning out to be a strange one for Canada’s largest city whose downtown core is a hotbed of Canadian elite socialism. There are certainly parallels between what is happening in what was once called “Toronto the Good” and what is taking place in the US with the success of the Tea Party candidates.
Rob Ford has been a member of Toronto’s City Council since 1993 and is known as the tightwad of the chamber. He constantly rails against the city’s excessive spending that is at the heart of the problems that Toronto is facing. Every year, each of the city’s 44 councillors is allowed $53,000 for office expenses. Although Ford has spent a few bucks here and there during his years in elected office, he usually spends none of the city’s money, preferring to use his own. While a lot of councillors’ expenses are legitimate, many incur the wrath of the voters. One long serving councillor who is not seeking reelection spent $12,000 to throw himself a going away party. Another councillor once charged the hard working taxpayers of the city to pay to rent a bunny costume to wear in the Easter parade. And now, in 2010, the people are angry over the waste of their money. When Ford formally entered the race in March, even some of his supporters chuckled. Ford - the mayor of the Peoples Republic of Toronto – never!
Since 2003, David Miller has been mayor of Toronto. The best thing about Miller is that he has never pretended to be anything other than what he is. He and his socialist allies on council are beholden to the unions. Miller’s top priorities are making Toronto the greenest place in the world and damn the cost, getting more people to ride bicycles on Toronto’s congested streets and protecting the underworked and overpaid unionized city workers. Money is given to pretty well every pet cause of the left. Recently, the city approved a city owned residence for starving artists. As to ordinary people who are struggling with increased unemployment and the effects of the current recession, well, they can all go to hell.
David Miller decided not to seek reelection. His downfall and the current anger of Torontonians began in the summer of 2009 when the city’s outdoor workers went on strike. Miller allowed the garbage to pile up in the sweltering heat for 37 days before caving in to his union buddies. No one was surprised that he caved. What angered residents was the fact that he let the strike go on for so long just so he could pretend to show how tough he was.
When the chuckling over a Ford candidacy stopped and he became a serious candidate, the other four main candidates in the race focused their ammunition guns (can’t use that kind of language in Toronto) on him.
At a mayoral debate held the week after a boatload of 492 Tamil migrants reached Canada, the candidates were asked if Toronto should take in more immigrants. Ford replied that the city can’t look after the 2.5 million people who are already here. The horror! Canada in general and Toronto in particular prides itself in its diversity and Ford’s opponents were quick to cast him as intolerant and a racist. The polls didn’t change.
About a week after this incident happened, Ford was confronted by a reporter concerning a 10-year-old conviction in Florida for DUI. Ford denied that it ever happened. Then he admitted that he refused a breathalyzer test. When copies of documents, including his mug shot, were obtained from the Florida, he finally told the truth. He was charged with DUI and possession of marijuana for having a joint in his pocket. The drug charge was dropped and he pleaded no contest to the drinking and driving offence. He was fined and had to do community service. Despite the initial lie and the confirmation of the Florida conviction, his poll numbers didn’t change.
Ford is also accused by opponents of missing a lot of meetings in order to run his own business. Yep, he operates a business. Of course to his supporters, this is a plus. We instinctively known when he’s at his business he’s probably spending his company’s money and ours. Nobody cared.
A just released poll that was taken between September 14 and 16, shows that Rob Ford has the support of 45.8% of decided voters; more than double the 21.3% that the second place candidate, former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister George Smitherman has.
When Bill O’Reilly asked Newt Gingrich if Delaware senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell if she has a chance Gingrich answered that it depends upon what the election is about. If it’s about O’Donnell, she’ll lose. If it’s about the economy and the direction the United States is going in she has a chance.
In shades of Karl Rove and other members of the Republican elites who look down on Tea Party candidates, 38 members of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party issued a letter saying why they are supporting Liberal Smitherman.
To those who support Rob Ford, the election is not about him. It’s about the poor state of the city of Toronto. It’s about ever increasing spending, increasing property and other taxes to pay for it and the control that the unions have over the city. People are fed up; and they aren’t going to take it anymore.
Two different types of elections in two different countries. If Toronto can end up with a Mayor Ford then the US can certainly end up with a Senator O’Donnell and a Governor Paladino.
Pub owner to sue Rob Ford
By Jonathan Jenkins, Toronto Sun
September 16, 2010
Rob Ford’s legal bills may rival his campaign contributions.
The Etobicoke councillor leading the mayoral race is now threatened with a libel suit at the same time he’s pursuing one of his own against the Toronto Star.
“Mr. Ford, you have accused my business and my family of corruption,” George Foulidis, whose family run company operates the Boardwalk Pub at Woodbine Beach, said Thursday.
“Those are very serious allegations, which are unfounded and irresponsible,” he said. “They are reckless, they are false, they are lies and with a political agenda. We did nothing wrong at City Hall.”
Foulidis and his company Tuggs Inc. were partway through a long-term contract in 2007 when the two parties began renegotiations, despite city staff recommending the contract be put out to tender.
The result was a deal approved by city council in May giving Foulidis control of the Boardwalk food concession for 21 years and the city $4.75 million — $1 million less than the previous contract.
The deal has been controversial since but Ford ratcheted up the intensity in August when he told the Toronto Sun the deal was “corrupt” and “stinks to high heaven”.
“If Tuggs isn’t, then I don’t know what is,” Ford told the Toronto Sun’s editorial board at the time.
“I can’t accuse anyone or I can’t pinpoint it, but why do we have to go in camera on the Tuggs deal?” he asked. “These in-camera meetings, there’s more corruption and skullduggery going on in there than I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Foulidis said those remarks — even though they were primarily directed at council — damaged his reputation, hurt his business and caused pain to his family.
“It’s very hurtful, what Mr. Ford did. It’s politics for Mr. Ford. This is about my family and my business,” he said, adding Ford can’t and won’t produce any evidence to back up his claims.
“There is no corruption and there is no evidence,” Foulidis said. “We challenge you, we urge you to bring it forth for the taxpayers of the City of Toronto to see what it is you’re talking about.”
Ford wasn’t responding personally but his spokesman Adrienne Batra said no apology will be given.
“Rob Ford is not going to apologize for shining a spotlight on the dark corners of City Hall, where this deal was made behind closed doors, where the taxpayers of Toronto could not hold council accountable on it,” she said.
Ford would love to be able to reveal all he knows about the Tuggs deal but can’t because it’s confidential city information, Batra said. Nor could he take his concerns to the police without the purple city pages such information is printed on.
“I would suspect that the city police or the RCMP would need documentation,” she said. “I don’t think Rob would want to show up there with nothing in hand.”
Foulidis said if he doesn’t get an apology, he’ll file a statement or claim against Ford. The councillor is already suing the Toronto Star over stories it published about him earlier in the Oct. 25 mayoral campaign.
Toronto politics nastier than U.S.
By Jerry Agar, Special to the Sun
Last Updated: August 30, 2010
Politically, Toronto seems a city of angry Americans.
Oh I know, we Canadians like to fancy ourselves a nicer, politer, more reasonable — and tolerant — society than our neighbours to the south. But politics in Toronto is noisier and nastier than what I experienced when I debated the issues on Chicago radio. And that is a city with a reputation.
Mayoral candidate Rob Ford was recently asked what he would do about the homeless. He said he would engage them on the street, get them into rehab or whatever they might need. You know, solve their problems.
The other candidates were asked whether they agreed. They did not.
Ford may not be your choice as point man on homelessness, but most people would have said the same thing themselves had they answered before he did. When I said as much on the radio I was shouted down with the reply that, “Ford has no plan.”
The plan is irrelevant simply if it comes from Ford, apparently. That’s nice. So tolerant and Canadian.
Joe Warmington, in Saturday’s front page article about council’s approval of housing for unsuccessful artists, referred to himself as “the alleged redneck,” and Coun. Paula Fletcher as “the former commie.”
Go on line when you have a moment and read the angry diatribes against Warmington who is supposedly, according to postings there, too ignorant to know what a communist is, since he works for “this BS newspaper.”
Who needs facts?
In the early ’80s Fletcher served as leader of the Communist Party of Canada. Call me crazy — or a redneck — but I think that makes someone a former commie.
Facts? Who needs facts when Warmington is an idiot?!
Councillors are on record saying if Ford is elected they’ll form a caucus and elect their own leader. Forget the stupid citizens.
Isn’t that great? They have pre-announced a shadow government. That’s nice. So tolerant and Canadian.
Council gave one man total control over commerce on the Eastern Beach for 20 years, for less money than previously agreed to, and they did it in secret with no competitive bidding.
How did that deal get done? None of your business.
My gosh! That kind of deal and condescending attitude would make a Democratic Chicago ward boss blush.
You may say the anger and vitriol are just coming from politicians, commentators and a small faction of the public.
True. But that, too, is typically American.
There is, however, a rising anger toward City Hall among the voting public. I think we commentators reflect it and a change may well be coming.
Or not.
Another American trait we too often mimic is to see the political destruction of bloated social welfare budgets, sweetheart union deals and fraud, waste and abuse, and then we re-elect the same city government. Look at Detroit.
Charlie Farquharson used to say the only thing that keeps Canada together is the fact everybody hates Toronto.
I don’t know how united we are in Toronto, but we certainly are in a state.
As for me, I am one Canadian who happens to like the United States, so as a talk host I am having a pretty good time.
As a citizen, not so much.
Toronto mayoral hopeful Ford in drug scandal
CBC News
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Another scandal has erupted involving one of the candidates hoping to become the next mayor of Toronto.
In a recorded conversation, Coun. Rob Ford is heard agreeing to try to obtain OxyContin for an HIV-positive man.
Ford doesn't dispute the authenticity of the recording, but claims he is the victim of a dirty tricks campaign by some unknown person.
"Somebody obviously set me up. I don't know [who]. I'm not going to make any allegations," he said. "During that conversation a few things that were said could be taken out of context."
The recording was obtained by the Toronto Sun newspaper.
Ford is heard being asked by Deiter Doneit-Henderson if he can help him get the powerful prescription painkiller.
"Why don't you go on the street and score it?" Ford asks.
But the caller insists on Ford's help to get the drug.
"I'll try buddy, I'll try," says Ford.
At a news conference on Thursday, Ford said he was filing a complaint with police against Doneit-Henderson, who is described in the Sun article as a "30-year-old gay married man" who was having trouble obtaining OxyContin from his doctor.
Doneit-Henderson claimed to need the drug along with 150 mg of Fentanyl "to deal with the pain of a fractured rib and fibromyalgia."
A good deed 'gone horribly wrong,' says Ford
At his news conference, Ford said that during the 52-minute phone conversation he was afraid for the safety of his family. Ford has a wife and two small children.
The 10-year city hall veteran said he tried numerous times to get the man off the line, but without success. Finally he agreed to get the drugs.
"I said what I needed to say to get this person off the phone without provoking him. His tenor became threatening. I feared for my family. He clearly said on the tape that he could see my house," said Ford.
Ford said he feels he's been set up and that the entire incident is somehow related to his bid for the mayor's job.
"There are people out there who will do everything in their power to make sure that I'm not mayor of this great city."
"Obviously there are some people who don't want me to be mayor … They know the party's going to be over. They know the wasteful spending is going to come to an end when I become mayor — and they're doing everything in their power to do this."
But Doneit-Henderson said Thursday he wasn't threatening Ford. He said he was in pain. "I was upset, I was upset," he told CBC News.
Ford said he went to police, but not until after had discovered a member of the legislative assembly, MPP Donna Cansfield, had also been harassed by the same man and had filed a complaint with police.
"I went to 22 Division and lodged a complaint," he said.
Ford didn't explain why it took him at least 10 days between the time of the phone conversation and the decision to go to police.
A recent poll put Ford in a virtual tie for the lead in the mayor's race among decided voters.
"Unfortunately, this is a good deed that has gone horribly wrong," said Ford.
The city councillor is no stranger to controversy. For years he has steadfastly refused to claim for any office expenses, bringing him into conflict with other councillors. He has also had many confrontations with other politicians, was ejected from a Toronto Maple Leafs game because of his behaviour and was once involved in a domestic conflict at his home.
Earlier this year local councillor and TTC chair Adam Giambrone was forced to abandon his mayoral aspirations after being caught lying about an affair he was having.
CBC News investigation: The report that led to the charges and the Crown's problems
Toronto police
By Dave Seglins
April 28, 2008
Beating up drug dealers and stealing their money. Shaking down bar owners for protection money. Extortion, obstructing justice, assault, theft, perjury, corrupt practices. The allegations that were levelled against a small but influential group of Toronto police officers were stunning in their breadth.
Now, of course, with the result of an equally stunning judicial decision, those accusations of corruption may never be resolved.
In January 2008, Ontario Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer tossed Canada's biggest-ever case of police corruption out of court, ruling it took Crown prosecutors too long to bring six veteran drug squad officers to trial. The Crown has launched an appeal.
What went wrong? What else did an internal special task force into Toronto's drug squads find? What corruption has never been fully investigated — or explained to the public?
CBC News has been following this story closely for almost a decade now and has recently unearthed some documents and other information that shed new light on the scope of the investigations, the nature of the charges that were originally contemplated and some difficulties the Crown felt it had with the Toronto police when it came to preparing the case for trial.
This new information includes the confidential final report of the special, internal task force that had been probing the initial allegations against a number of Toronto officers as well as letters from the lead prosecutor, Milan Rupic, complaining of lack of help.
They are being brought forward at a time when the Crown is appealing the Nordheimer decision and when the attorney general of Ontario, Chris Bentley, is reviewing the case to decide whether there should be a full public inquiry.
None of the allegations in the task force report, it should be noted, have ever been proven or even introduced as evidence in a court. And, given the current legal circumstances, may never be.
All six officers who were originally charged in 2004 with criminal offences have pleaded not guilty and have said that the allegations against them come from drug dealers making up stories to try to win lighter sentences. Some of the officers have sued the Crown and the police force for malicious prosecution.
The Special Task Force
The origins of this case go back to the late-1990s, a period when Toronto police were fending off widespread accusations of internal corruption on several fronts.
Julian Fantino, who was Toronto's police chief until 2005, repeatedly said during this period that any such incidents were isolated and urged the public to keep faith in the 7,200-member force.
But in 2001, after an outcry from defence lawyers that their clients were being unfairly treated and robbed, Fantino quietly established an internal task force to investigate specific allegations stemming from a five-year period in the late 1990s. According to some, the task force was set up to try to avoid a full public inquiry and assure authorities that only a small group of officers might be involved.
News story: Toronto police tried to dodge bullet of public inquiry
The main target was one team of undercover drug officers in particular, a team led by now-retired Det. Sgt. John Schertzer and which happened to have one of the best arrest records at the time.
The special task force was led by RCMP Chief Superintendent John Neily, now an assistant commissioner.
The task force grew to include 26 senior Toronto police investigators, five Mounties, including Neily, and a handful of civilian support staff. Its work went on for three years and has cost more than $8 million.
In the spring 2004, shortly after the six Toronto drug squad officers were charged with an assortment of criminal offences, Neily handed in his final report to then chief Fantino. In it, he pulled no punches and wrote that the task force had found evidence of a "crime spree" by "rogue officers."
He then went on to say "that the real victim, while initially portrayed to be drug dealers who may have lost cash, was indeed the justice system and the police service because by means of the courts, affidavits, search warrants and so on were being utilized as tools for the potential gain of the suspects," who were all police officers.
Neily recommend criminal charges against 12 Toronto police officers, not just the six who were charged: John Schertzer, Ned Maodus, Joe Miched, Raymond Pollard, Steven Correia and Richard Benoit.
The task force report also points to two additional teams of drug officers that were investigated but never charged.
At one point, Neily details a covert sting operation that was used to try to ensnare one of the drug team officers in an attempt to get him to cooperate with the task force. It failed but, according to Neily, the officer didn't hesitate to enter into what he thought was a money laundering scam. The officer involved was never charged with any offence along these lines and denies the allegation completely.
The task force also set out allegations from a police informant about another officer who was accused of selling seized guns back to criminals. Neily said the informant's information could not be corroborated and the officer involved denies the allegation and was never charged with that offence.
Throughout his report, Neily also says that much of the information pieced together by investigators is circumstantial and that many of those who say they were robbed would not be reliable witnesses even if they were willing to come forward at all.
To further its investigation, the task force hired a forensic accounting firm to analyze the bank accounts and spending habits of some of the officers under suspicion, including the Schertzers. John Schertzer's wife Joyce is also a Toronto police officer and has never been charged with any offence.
The accounting firm concluded that at least two of the officers who were eventually charged were spending above their observable means.
Undue delay
In his ruling to stay the drug squad case in January 2008, Justice Nordheimer was highly critical of what he called the "glacial" speed with which Crown prosecutors were bringing the case to trial and that the long delay violated the accused officers' charter rights.
As a result, he stayed the 30 corruption counts against the six men.
But CBC has learned the source of delays was far more complicated than first meets the eye.
In fact, even before the judge's surprise decision to throw out the case, the lead prosecutor had grown frustrated and, behind the scenes, was accusing the Toronto police force of failing to provide the necessary follow-up support to bring such a complex case to trial.
Milan Rupic wrote a series of letters to the Toronto police task force decrying the lack of officer help to follow up investigations and prepare evidence. According to two police sources who have read the letters, Rupic went so far as to threaten to abandon the prosecution unless the police increased their support.
In one letter obtained by CBC, dated March 2006, Rupic says the prosecution case is in "dire" circumstances for the purpose of proceeding to trial because at least four key members of the original investigating team were retiring and fill-in officers had not been secured.
At that point, he noted, the disclosure brief of the Crown's case, was well in excess of 200,000 pages.