Toronto Tax™

Listened to a bit of the interview of NDP mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat this morning on John Moore’s indispensable radio program.  She said she favours a Toronto sales tax.

I was pretty surprised by that, until a loyal reader reminded me that – for the candidate with a plan to have no plan – that’s always been part of the plan, here:

“I don’t really care” how to pay for stuff.

Not sure many folks would agree with that.  Or could.

Ten reasons I will be working for John Tory


So, John Tory.  That’s him a year ago at our place, for the Festival of Joy.  It’s a year later, and I’ve decided I am going to support him, and vote for him, and (if he wants me) volunteer for him.

There’s ten reasons for that.

  1. He’s an adult.  After 2010-2014, Toronto needed someone who was a grown-up and who would calm things down.  Tory is that; he’s done that.  He’s a good guy.  Hell, he and his wife even went to an SFH show at the Bovine and stayed. Respect.
  2. He doesn’t want T-Rexit.  Most reasonable folks agree that his main opponent – who promised many folks, in writing, that she’d never run – is not up to the job.  Secession?  Her solution is to separate?  Will she put up a wall along Steeles, will she demand York Region pay for it?  Craziness.
  3. He’s way better than any of the other alternatives.  There’s a couple white supremacists, and a bunch of people with zero experience.  In these challenging times, we need someone with experience and smarts.  And who isn’t, you know, a white supremacist.
  4. He’s a centrist.  That’s where most residents of Toronto are, and that’s where Tory is, too.  He doesn’t ever go too far Left or too far Right.  That’s why he’s still got approval numbers that are up in the stratosphere (70 per cent plus).  He knows that the safest place to drive is within the lines.  And, bonus: he isn’t a separatist.
  5. He’s smart.  I helped out on his 2003 mayoral campaign, and I got to know him pretty well.  He is, as noted, a decidedly thoughtful person.  He doesn’t rush to judgment, and he isn’t an ideologue.  Also: he went to see SFH.
  6. He’s unrelentingly decent.  When my Dad died, my family heard from lots of folks – Stephen Harper called my Mom, Justin Trudeau (then a friend, now not so much) sent along some beautiful flowers and some great advice, Jean Chretien came to the funeral and they all made us feel a lot better. But John Tory? He sent my Mom a long handwritten letter that we have read many times since.  He’s like that: he’s just decent, you know?  In these dark Trump times, that matters.
  7. He’s done what he said he’d do.  He said he’d build SmartTrack: it’s being built.  He promised to scrupulously follow a code of conduct: he’s done that, and then some.  He said he’d keep taxes down, and he’s done that.  He said he’d aggressively go after the feds and the province for housing help: he’s done that, too.  He said he’d get more cops on the streets, and he’s done that. He’s kept his word, I think.
  8. He believes in redemption.  Some political folks – like Yours Truly, too often – never forget and rarely forgive.  Not Tory.  When I made a stupid, thoughtless, unfunny, idiotic tweet during 2014’s race, John accepted my apology – and we resumed our friendship.  He’s been like that with others, too: when they make mistakes, and make amends, John gives them a second chance.  It’s a good thing.  Was for me.
  9. He’s prepared to fight for the city.  I can attest to the fact that John Tory has been unafraid to give Hell to Justin Trudeau – and, before him, Stephen Harper.  He’s done likewise with the Wynne and Ford governments – for example, in the latter case, just this week hammering Ontario’s new government for changing the municipal election rules during an election.  Even though he and Harper belonged to the same party – and even though he and Trudeau share the same vote in Toronto – Tory has always been ready, willing and able to fight for what this city needs.  His partisanship is Toronto.  I suspect, but don’t know, he has the city logo tattooed somewhere on his body.
  10. He’s a likeable dude.  In politics, even in the Trump era, that still matters.  The ones who tend to do well are the ones – like Chretien, like Trudeau, like Tory  – who treat others (even adversaries) with respect.  That’s the John Tory I’ve known for a decade-and-a-half.  Also, he came to see SFH.  Points, man.

And it’s why I’m supporting the guy again.  And it’s why you should too.


Help wanted

Daisy is growing!

We are looking for two people – one, a top-notch researcher/writer person with a knowledge of the provincial government. And, two, someone who is an equally-top-notch administrator who wants to work with a dynamic group of folks.

You should also like dogs. A lot.

Send your CVs and cover letters to Lisa at daisygroup dot ca!

Change vs. More of the same

That was the frame in the epic 1992 Clinton vs. Bush matchup.

I talked to James Carville about it for my book The War Room.  Snippet here:

In 1992, the strategy Carville designed for Bill Clinton was the same from the start of the primaries to voting day in the general election for president. Clinton was the candidate of change — the new ideas Democrat who would fix the economy. It was always the same strategy, the same plan, from beginning to end.

“Our staff, however, was frequently distracted,” Carville admits. So he put up a famous sign on the war room wall in Little Rock. Here’s what it said:

Change Versus More of the Same

It’s the Economy, Stupid

And Don’t Forget Health Care

Change, as James Carville recalls, was the message. Positioning Bill Clinton as the agent of change was the strategy. The message was heard; the strategy was a winner.


Abacus is out this morning with this.

So almost 60 per cent of Canadians want a change – which means, per the cliché, if an election were held today, Justin Trudeau would be toast.  Abacus decided to probe deeper about how truly committed these folks are to “change.”  here’s what they found:

When asked if the government could do anything to change their mind, 14% (or 8% of the population overall) said “yes, for sure” while another 33% (19% of the population overall) said “there could be”.  In other words, the number of “hard change” voters is about 30% in total.

Among voters who say they are inclined to vote for a change but could be persuaded to vote to re-elect, 30% voted Liberal in 2015, only 15% would today.  35% voted CPC – 41% would today.  26% voted NDP – 29% would today.

We asked people to tell us which of several potential factors had been contributing to their desire to change the government next year.  Overall, fiscal and tax issues rank high in importance as do immigration and refugees issues and the PM’s trip to India.

They dug even deeper, too.  They put together a ranking of why New Democrat-leaners and Conservative-leaners favour change.  Here’s what they found.

What’s it all mean, Virginia?  It means Trudeau is being squeezed on both flanks, with defined issues.  It means that Trudeau’s detractors have identified clear reasons to defeat him.  It isn’t just some amorphous desire for change to whatever.

And that India imbroglio?  It pissed people off on both sides of the ideological spectrum.  It is now, officially, the biggest Prime Ministerial trip-mess since Joe Clark’s ill-fated trip to the Middle East, forty years ago.

Change.  When the desire for it takes hold, it’s pretty hard to stop.

Column: the bloody play without end

After the shock wears off – after it’s replaced by anger and fear and then sorrow – we continuously end up in the same intellectual cul-de-sac: what can we do?

What should we do?

Everyone plays their assigned role, like we are trapped in some grim kabuki play that always, always ends the same way. The gun nuts take to social media, bombarding everyone with all-caps variants on “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” The bigots bleat that “lieberals” and “libtards” are to blame, because they let in Muslims and people whose skin isn’t white – you know, white as a Klansman’s sheet.

And, naturally, Ezra Levant and the winged monkeys at Rebel Media fundraise with it all.

The chiefs of police recite statistics, noting (correctly) that crime is down, insisting (incorrectly) that the police could do more if they simply had bigger budgets. The conservative politicians tweet “thoughts and prayers,” which has become 21st Century code for “I plan to do nothing.” And the liberal politicians wring their hands and pass laws that will also achieve nothing – because there are already nearly eight million firearms in the country. Now.

And, by the by: more than a million of those guns – like the one the killer used the Sunday before last – are already restricted or prohibited. His was stolen in a break-in in Saskatoon a few years back, before it commenced slouching towards Toronto’s Danforth Avenue.

And we in the media? We always play our assigned roles, too. Those on the conservative side of the spectrum shrug, and regurgitate the talking points of the NRA and its foul ilk. They call handgun bans “virtue signalling” symbolism – forgetting, or not knowing, that all of politics is about symbols, and the ceaseless pursuit of virtue.

And those of us in the media who mainly congregate on the left side of the continuum?

Well, let’s talk about how we have handled the slaughter on the Danforth by first admitting something, shall we? We didn’t know Reese Fallon.

Sure, this writer may have met her, once, when Beaches-East York MP Nate Erskine-Smith – who did know her – held an anti-racism event in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood. Erskine-Smith had a number of Young Liberal club members there, helping out. Reese was a member of that club. This writer remembers feeling sorry for these young people, because a group of neo-Nazis and white supremacists had shown up and were disrupting the meeting. It was pretty ugly.

So, most of us didn’t know her, and we will (sadly, tragically) never know her. We do know, however, that she was on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue for a birthday celebration with friends. We know that one of her Young Liberal friends was there, too – and young woman who was wounded and taken to hospital.

That’s what we know. That’s all that most of us will ever know – as we go on with our daily lives, and as Reese Fallon’s lovely face fades into what Ralph Waldo Emerson called “the Eternal Fact.” As she slips into some press clippings and our collective memory, joining the legions of others who were slain by a madman – because they are almost always men, aren’t they? – carrying a gun in their hands, like some black snake spitting death.

Here, too, something else we know, or should know: it was appalling, and wrong, for CBC Radio in Toronto to devote a lot of time, two scant mornings after Reese Fallon was slain, to the killer. In one part, they had what sounded like a professional actor breathlessly read the letter his family sent out – the letter that had been written by a professional spin doctor, and not the family.

In another part, they had a youth worker who knew the killer come on, and he genially related how the killer had “a million-dollar smile” and how he was “humble and reserved.” It went on and on and on like that, for a long time, on CBC Radio.

This writer doesn’t know if any those things are true, either. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Most of us, however, don’t usually associate having “a million-dollar smile” with people who slaughter children on a city street.

In the end, as the blood-soaked kabuki play goes on and on, what we do know is this: it isn’t just politicians and the chiefs of police who have a role to play. They aren’t the only ones with a responsibility to prevent other Reese Fallons from being executed on the next available hot Summer night, simply because they were in the clichéd wrong place at the wrong time. Those of us in the dwindling ranks of the media have a role to play, too.

And that role does not include treating the killer with more deference than the killer’s victims.

Before they – two innocent children, for the love of God – are even in the ground.