About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wrapping Up the Year of the Robocall

The Guelph Mercury's choice of male Newsmaker of the Year was the disappointingly pedantic choice of Cardinal Thomas Collins, but really, did any Guelphite get more press in 2012 than Pierre Poutine?
Of course, as Scott Tracey pointed out in his column, there's no way to know if Pierre is a male, or even a Guelphite, but let's just make that assumption, especially given the fact that Elections Canada's suspect pool is all male, and were working in the Guelph area. And let's face it, on the one hand we have someone -alias be damned - who was part of systematic attempt to undermine our democracy, and on the other we have a man who got a promotion. Granted that promotion was to the College of Cardinals, but how many people in a given year get a promotion? Even I got a promotion this year.
I won't go so far as say that the Mercury copped out, but the robocall scandal represented, to me anyway, the most important political story in Canada in 2012. And even though the story has fallen off the front page for the most part, before we launch into the new year, there's still some developments to discuss.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

News Year Resolutions

Forget the Mayan doomsday that wasn't, four more years of Obama and the devil of robocalls. For me, 2012 marked the year I finally gave up on CNN. This is both a literal and figurative remark; aside from Reliable Sources and breaking news, I have no engagement in any CNN programming anymore, and since CNN is the godfather of cable news, as it goes, so does the rest of the networks that followed it.
What I mean by that is TV news is ridiculous. It's a pandering mess that offers neither context nor analysis lest they end up offending someone by making it seem like they have a point-of-view, or bias. Unless, of course, an identifiable bias is part of their "brand," in which case they will bang on that drum all day. Balance is fine, but when its false you're not just creating conflict for its own sake, you're actively making yourself a part of the story by helping to develop it. And that, in the common tongue, is a no-no.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

If You Camped Out to Go Boxing Day Shopping, I Hope You Die*

In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge refuses to give a pair of fundraisers money, "Are there no prisons, are there not workhouses?" he asks. Of course there are, say the fundraisers, but most would understandably rather die than throw themselves into the cold and merciless system that accounted for welfare in Victorian England. "Then if they are to die, it's best they do it and thus decrease the surface population," Scrooge retorts.
I though of that last turn of dialogue when I watched the news tonight and saw people lined up in the wee small hours of what's supposed to be a holiday to buy things they probably don't need at prices so low it should make any reasonable person wonder why anyone paid the full amount the other 364 days a year. That feeling was compounded when I heard one store manager say that there were people lined up at midnight to get into his store early the next morning. And that's why I feel comfortable saying, and without any humour, that if you were one of those people that camped out overnight in front of the Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Future Shop, et al, I hope you die and thus decrease the surface population.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Graduating from Gun Nuts to Just Nuts

The National Rifle Association and their various surrogates did themselves no favours this morning on the Sunday talk shows. So dedicated they were to the idea that the answer to the question of what to do about America's seemingly monthly plague of gun violence is to arm even more people, that even Republcian stalwarts like Lindsey Graham were doing difficult feats of linguist contortion to keep themselves separate but equal from the NRA. And frankly, any stand that has the seriously right-wing Graham taking a step back from you should automatically give you pause if you're someone like NRA President Wayne Lapierre. But then again, a ban on assault weapons should be a no-brainer after the death of 20 kids no older than 7, but here we are.
Remember way back in 1999 when the NRA had a convention in Denver mere weeks after Columbine. People protested, and I think even local Colorado politicians asked the lobby's leadership to at least postpone such a gathering in the municipality immediately adjacent to what was then the home to the worst school shooting in American history. But what came out of those protests, famously, were the words of then NRA President Charlton Heston, who held up a long gun rifle over his head and promised to the gathered supporters, "From my cold, dead hand."

Gang of Four Features End of Year Specials

So it's the end of the world year 2012, and to mark the occasion (and because we appreciate a break at the holidays) The Gang of Four on "Beyond the Ballot Box" on CFRU 93.3 fm are doing a pair of holiday specials over the next two Mondays.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Benefit for Newtown in Guelph, Help Wanted

The tragedy in Newtown has made a lot people wonder if there's anything they can do to help the many victims of one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. Locally, Allan Boynton, President of the Artist Booking Management Group (ABMG) is putting on a benefit concert that will take place January 16th at the Stampede Ranch on Woodlawn in Guelph.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Reflections on a Super Tuesday

"When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of." - Confucius, Chapter VIII of The Analects.
"Everywhere I go I see teachers driving Ferraris, research scientists drinking champagne. I tried to drink a Coke on the bus, and they took away my pass!" - Krusty the Klown in "Bart the Fink"
The first quote is the one I mentioned on yesterday's Gang of Four. The second quote, borrowed from the typically prophetic writers of The Simpsons, more or less sums up some of the things I've been hearing, and some of the things I've been reading about the job action by Ontario's teachers. Yes, I do think the two quotes are connected.
Today is being called "Super Tuesday" because of the large number of teachers taking part in one day strike today. As consequence, thousands of kids across the province will get a day off from school, and thousands of parents will be forced to scramble to make some kind of accommodation. Some of them will surely curse to the high heavens the teachers, that exclusive class that's lucky enough to earn a starting salary of $50,000 per year. Why that's practically Warren Buffet money!

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Year's Levees Announced for All Levels

As we wrap us the year 2012, and always assuming that we survive that Mayan apocalypse thing, we look to the beginning of the year 2013. And with the top of the year, comes the various traditions, like politicians and their New Year's Levees.
Mayor Karen Farbridge will be holding her second annual levee on Saturday January 12, 2013 at City Hall, according to a press release. The full text of which you can find below.

The Loop is Safe

It was somewhat a disturbing situation for me when I noticed that a local events listing site that I've used as both an appreciator and promoter of the arts was now another front for the Bell Media omnivore.
Well good news, because The Loop lives on, granted now rebranded now as The Local Loop. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

City's Thinking About Changes to Outside Water Use Restrictions

Apparently, some of us don't like the restictions placed on outside water use, even if we just came off one of the driest summers on record. At least that's the jist I got from this city press release yesterday announcing staff's intent to illicit public opnion on proposed changed to Guelph's outside water use program and by-law enforcement
Now I don't necessarily think that this is a bad idea. It's always good to re-examine programs and regulations to see if they still meet the standards and requirements of the community they serve. I'd hate to think though that this feedback being solicited is going to be from people who think they should be able to water their perfect front lawns more, or that they should be entitled to wash their cars more often, because there are plenty of those who think they're entitled to break those rules right now as they stand.
Now having said that, the press release points out that over the last several years there have been great strides made in conserving and getting people to re-think their water use, efforts that have yielded solid results to keep Guelph's water use sustainable even as we've grown. But in spite of that, not everyone's been a team player on the whole "watching our water use" idea of enhanced civic responsibility on this issue, which is meant to protect a vital natural resource to the advantage of us all. Just because the more stringent policies of the past have created a situation have prevented the worst case scenario, it doesn't mean that we should let our guard down and not stay the course. At least one hopes that this is the point of view that the people of Guelph might confirm.
Find the full press release below.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Press Release - Guelph Transit Tries Another Band-Aid

It would mean a lot to me if Guelph Transit would stop "fixing" what's not broken, but my expectations with the management of our public transportation system are at an all-time low. Now, the illustrious pinheads that run our bus system have decided that they want to turn 15 minute peak service into 20 minute peak service. Huh?
While I'll admit their rationale is sound, traffic congestion, weather, and construction all have an impact on how easily buses are able to return to Guelph Central Station to make transfers, is the 15-minute peak service really the place in the schedule that this needs to be resolved?
Let me put it this way, if I miss my transfer during the 15-minute schedule, I might have to wait 10 to 15 minutes for the next bus, but if I miss my transfer during the half-hour schedule, I might have to wait as long as half-an-hour for the next bus. It's easier to account for the potential of being 15 minutes late than it is for 30-minutes, plus a 10-minute wait in the rather useless shelters at the station goes by faster than a 25-minute one.
I'm long since past expecting logical solutions to our problems with Guelph Transit, but this is really absurd and it's further proof that the people running it are absolutely clueless, at least in my opinion.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Funeral for Some Media Friends

It was sad news this week when the less than one year young Guelph Review revealed on its website that its taking its leave, and will no longer be covering the Royal City as this Friday's issue. The bold experiment in adding a third regular newspaper to the city's rotation was intriguing and full of possibility, but the paper seemed sadly unable to capitalize on its assumption that there was room in this market for three papers, especially when Guelph already has a daily and a twice-weekly newspaper in circulation.
Then again, maybe some people thought that you can dress up the old Smart Shopper with articles, photos and suduku, but at the end of the day, it's a still a thing that shows up on your doorstep Friday afternoon that doesn't get read. Maybe we'll never know where it all went wrong.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Incomprehension of Rob Ford by the Justice Charles Hackland

Tuesday's loss of the Metro Bowl by his beloved Don Bosco Eagles probably did nothing to help Mayor Rob Ford's mood. In a week when where he was basically fired, and as consequence lost in a legal fog of what happens in the meantime between appeals, stays, by-elections, appointments and other jargon, the man could have used a reason to perk up. But sadly, like a full term for his mayoralty, it was not meant to be.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nothing Changes, Everything Stays the Same

They seemed to happen under the radar, and given the results that may make perfect sense now, but with three by-elections come and gone in Calgary-Centre, Durham and Victoria, the make-up of Parliament remains exactly the same.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ford Removed From Office

It seems it was the worst case scenario for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as a court has decided that he was guilty of conflict of interest charges, and, as consequence, will be removed from office.
"I find that the respondent has failed in his burden to show that his contraventions of the MCIA were the result of a good faith error in judgment," Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland wrote in his decision. As a result, Ford will step down as Mayor of Toronto in 14 days, "recognizing that this decision will necessitate administrative changes in the City of Toronto."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Perfect Football Storm

I don't usually wander into the area of sports, not just on Politico but in any aspect of writing life, but it's been too interesting this week watching the hype around the 100th Grey Cup celebrations.
Now typically in these sports situations, the fans deride the people hoping on the bandwagon, but in the case of the CFL, particularly the Toronto Argos, the more is indeed the merrier. In the busy professional sports arena that is the city of Toronto, the Argos often take a back seat to the Blue Jays, the Leafs, the Raptors, and even the Toronto FC. For Argos fans that's adding insult to injury because not only has their team made it to the playoffs in the last decade, they've also won a championship in the last 10 years too.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday, Bloody Friday

Traditionally, the term "Black Friday" means the point in the year that U.S. retailers start making profit, as in they go from being in the red, into the black. While I suppose technically that's what Black Friday still means, for thousands who work in the retail sector it means dealing with the type of scene one usually needs police or military training to handle. That's part of the reason why thousands of Wal-Mart workers across America are held a walkout in their stores today, thus avoiding all potential stampedes, shootings, and chemical attacks that now seem to accompany, what should be, a pleasant day of shopping.
Concerns were already being raised in the midst of the madness last year, not just because of the escalating violence, which will undoubtedly see some Best Buy in Toledo get nuked in 2015 as people riot over $100 X-Boxes, but because of the instance of these stores having to open at 5, 4, even 3 am on what's supposed to be a holiday weekend. The trend has gotten even worse this year, with stores opening at midnight, meaning employees have to report to work on what's supposed to be a national holiday.
Now one can certainly make an argument that people who work in retail choose that life, and thus they lose the right to complain, but working at a big box store isn't the same as, say, joining the army. And no one as a kid says that they want to be a greeter, or move skids around in a stock room, when they grow up. But even if they did, are they not entitled to the same time off? Even Scrooge gave Cratchet the day off and that's before the ghosts fixed him.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Press Release Details the Budget Fine Line

It's crunch time for the 2013 budget deliberations, but there's still a lot of debating to be done. The city sent a press release updating the situation today.
You can read the press release for yourself, after the jump:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oskee Wee Wee, The CFL Comes to Guelph

It was at one time thought a deal not done, but the announcement today shook both the worlds of Canadian football and the City of Guelph: the Hamilton Tiger Cats will indeed be playing next season at Alumni Stadium at the University of Guelph. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Setting the Table for the Provincial Election

Obviously, when Premier Dalton McGuinty prorogued Parliament and announced his retirement about a month ago, many figured it was only a matter of time until all the people of the province of Ontario would be going to the polls. As a result, it seems there have been a number of moves in our area the in the last week to get our local line-up of candidates from major parties ready to go. And yes, there have been a few surprises.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Escape Hatch - A Robocall Update

It's hard to believe its been almost a year since Pierre Poutine became a national scandal, and by "Pierre Poutine" I mean the somewhat clever nom du plume of the perpetrator(s) of the robocall scandal and not the charming eating establishment in Downtown Guelph.
The investigation, it seems, has reached an impasse. At least from the public perception of it. At last report, as many as five individuals with the Marty Burke campaign in 2011 had accessed a Conservative database of voters from the same I.P. address that M. Poutine used to go about his dirty business. But still, despite the ongoing ambiguity, that doesn't mean that the players in this vicious political game of Clue aren't still making news.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

In Memoriam

 Hopefully this is the last word on the U.S. Election, and appropriately, it's a remembrance reel. From last night's Real Time with Bill Maher, one last chance to remember all the misanthropic, malcontent, and misguided politicians that made the 2012 election season more memorable. Click on play after the jump:

Pierre Poutine Strikes Again?

There were a number of issues with Florida as voting got underway Tuesday morning. There was the mysterious case of Florida Governor Rock Scott's dead set refusal to allow early voting to carry on, there was the case of the ballot machine touch screen that made every vote for Obama count for Romney, and there was an incident eerily familiar to Canadians in at least one Florida county, a case of the robocalls.
From the Tampa Bay Times
"This message is from your Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections," a woman says in the prerecorded call. "The general election is tomorrow. If you want to vote and return your mail ballot, please take it to any ballot dropoff site by 7 p.m. tomorrow. If you decide to vote at your polling place, please bring your mail ballot with you so it can be canceled and you can avoid delays." 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Twitter Breakdown

Donald Trump got a lot of press - and let's face it, that's what we likes best - about his now deleted, explosive and borderline treasonous reaction to Barack Obama's re-election on Tuesday. "He [President Obama] lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in the country," Trump Tweeted as the vote was still being counted before adding, "Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us."
But would you believe that Trump wasn't alone as high profile conservatives tweeting crazy things on election night?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Four More Years, And The Aftermath

Oh, what a night! Tonnes of surprises, and some other things that were not so surprising. On the one hand, Barack Obama, a man that had been written off so many times, beat handily Mitt Romney, a man who has been written off so many times... And although the election, like the campaign, was really close, there were some big winners and losers of the this past U.S. election. Let's break it down.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Simpsons Do Presidential Politics

For nearly 25 years, The Simpsons have been a frequently insightful and irreverent source of political humour, and on the eve of the 2012 Presidential Election they've done it again.
In this new clip, nuclear power plant owner C. Montgomery Burns makes his case for fellow Republican Mitt Romney despite the “47 percent” tape or “the tax returns that Wesley Snipe would call suspicious.” But in the end, the whole thing might come down to an actual sniff test. But let's let Mr. Burns himself explain:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The State of Our City is Strong, Says Mayor

It's that time of year again, time for the state of the city. And undoubtedly, the state of the city, as presented my Mayor Karen Farbridge, is strong. The following is a press release from the City of Guelph, outlining what's contained within the Mayor's address, along with some helpful links to the full text of it and the visual aids that accompany it.
Read more after the jump.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Student Rally for Education Tomorrow

The state of student engagement in activism has been sorely lacking recently, at least in my opinion. Call it blowback from the city's SLAAP suit on the Hanlon Creek protestors, call it apathy, or call it a student population too busy with the reality of being a busy student, but I thought that maybe the protests in Quebec last spring might have roused the sleeping giant in Ontario.
Better late than never, I suppose.
Below, please find a press release regarding a protest led by the Guelph Student Mobilization Committe, who will demonstrate tomorrow about the rising cost of tuition and accessible education in Ontario. Considering that the rate increases being fought in Quebec would see them pay roughly the same amount Ontario students paid 15 years ago, it's honestly a wonder why students weren't out in the street sooner.

City and U of G Wants Business Input

In the mood to do a survey, and help out the U of G and the City of Guelph? Probably not, but hey, why not do it anyway? The City's trying to figure out a better way to do business with business, and they're using the surveying power of the University of Guelph to help them collect your ideas.
Read the full press release below.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Guelph's Storm: 6 Trees, 2 Houses, 1 Car and No Floods

It seems that Guelph weathered (pun intended) the "Frankenstorm" Sandy with relative calm as compared to places like New Jersey and New York City, but he did take a couple of hits. 
The City released an information bulletin this afternoon outlining the damaged caused by Sandy in the Royal City. It's pretty superficial on the surface, but obviously there are some people in town who woke up this morning rather seriously affected. 
As for me, I managed to ride out the worst at work. At least I know what caused that the momentary flutter in the lights around 10 pm now. A little knowledge is a good thing.
Here's the bulletin from the city:

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Different Guelph Storm Altogether

The city has issued an information bulletin to all residents regarding the inevitable nasty weather that's moving towards us. Some basic stuff, but sometimes in these situations, the basics fall by the wayside.
Scroll down to get the lowdown from the City of Guelph staff. And be careful out there.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Trumped Card

He said it was going to a "bombshell" and he said that news organizations like Fox News would want to cover it "big time," but what Donald Trump delivered was yet another instance of his seemingly bottomless capacity for idiocy and self-promotion.
On Monday, Trump called in to "Fox & Friends" and told them that he had a "bombshell" about Barack Obama that he was going to announce on Wednesday. As we all know, Trump is an avowed "birther" that has squandered precious time, money and air on the subject of the President's alleged (and untrue) status as a non-American. So when he went on air Monday morning, even the most Trump-skeptical, Obama-loving, left-crazy liberal were wondering what the real estate mogul and reality TV host might have on the President. 
It turns out he's got nothing. Or rather, he'd like to bribe Obama into self-incriminating. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Disasters in Tweeting

Yesterday, I talked about Danielle Smith's unfortunate tweet suggesting that the tainted beef from the XL plant in Alberta could be cooked and served to the homeless rather than deposited hook, line and sinker into a landfill. But Smith's slip of the tongue looks rather benign next to something the Toronto Sun's Sue-Ann Levy said on Twitter about Barack Obama Monday night.
You know Sue-Ann Levy, she's the Sun columnist that's constantly whiny about how her precious tax dollars are being spent on the homeless and city employees, and people not as lucky as her to sit behind a computer all day and spew her (mostly) misguided opinions. Like this one:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Hope They Serve Beef in Hell

So this was the kind of royal screw up that Twitter was invented to exploit...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Farewell, Linc

It was sad news this weekend when we learned that Lincoln Alexander, former MP and former Lieutenant-Governor, had passed away at the age of 90. Naturally, on an occasion like this, I couldn't help but think of my first brush with Mr. Alexander. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Federal By-Elections Announced

The first big test to the longevity of the Conservative majority will take place late next month with the announcement of three by-elections in three different ridings across Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement today that the ridings of Victoria (British Columbia), Calgary-Centre and Durham (Ontario) will be going to the polls on Monday November 26. 
But Harper won't be the only one tested on November 26, it will also be Thomas Mulcair's first election as NDP/Opposition leader. The question before us today is can Mulcair capitalize on the NDP wave started in 2011, or is the prospect of Trudeau-Mania just too good to refuse? Or maybe Harper's luck will hold, and he'll take all three seats. But how likely is that?

Sona's Talking (For a Change)

It appears that Michael Sona has shirked all national media - newspapers, TV shows and newsreels (that last one might be apocryphal) - in order to clear the air with, of all things, the University of Guelph student paper, The Ontarion.
Now that's not a knock against The Ontarion, it's bred many a fine journalist over the years, myself included. But surely Michael Sona - that is the same Michael Sona that was communications director for the Conservative Marty Burke campaign in last year's Federal Election, a campaign during which Sona guarded his candidate from the local media like one of the 300 Spartans facing down the army of Xerxes - wouldn't go to a local media source to tell his story, right?
Apparently, I was wrong.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Newsweek (In Print) Folds

It came as one of those not so surprising surprises this morning when it was announced that Newsweek, the second biggest news magazine in the U.S., will no longer be printing a physical edition as of the end of the year. After years of tough times for print, times that were especially though for Newsweek, which spent more than a year on the market before being bought by Tina Brown, it seems that this periodical is the latest, and greatest, to fall victim to the digital migration. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

McGuinty and the Parting of the Ways

Dalton McGuinty's resignation as both premier and Liberal leader yesterday was surprising for its timing, if not necessarily for the fact that McGuinty would want to step down after nine years as premier, and nearly 17 as leader.
But McGuinty leaves under a cloud, not just the recent political loss of the by-election in Kitchener, and not just because of the compounding scandals including ORNGE and the power plant cancellation. The news of his resignation came with the news of the proroguing of the Ontario Legislature as well, which, while being a legitimate parliamentary tool, has become under recent minority governments a way to duck and cover till the heat from a controversy dies down. In other words, McGuinty's taking the coward's way out.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

When Controversy's Tapped

When the city cancelled a screening of a documentary called Tapped, seemingly at the behest of Nestle, the mob reaction was understandably upset. In the world of film publicity there's no such thing as bad press and now a movie that sits nestled between The Nature of Existence and Gasland on Netflix is getting the kind of attention that Michael Moore's invested years of self-promotion to get.
The screen of Tapped was to be part of Water Conservation Documentary Nights, a perfectly benign (and almost dull) sounding film series co-sponsored by Wellington Water Watchers and the City of Guelph's Water Services. Tapped was supposed to be the last film in the series screened on September 17, cancelled seven days before it was to be seen after John Challinor, director of corporate affairs at the Aberfoyle-based Nestle Waters Canada, wrote Mayor Karen Farbridge a letter outlining his dismay and disappointment that the city would co-present a film, which, as it turns out, does not cast his company in a good light.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We'll Do It Live!

Do you like listening to the Gang of Four on your radio every Monday morning, but have always wondered what it would be like to be inside the recording booth with us? No, you probably haven't, but that's okay because you're going to get your chance anyway.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Post Game

Well that was painful to watch. Even Barack Obama's political foes had to admit that during last night's presidential debates, the president wasn't playing at par. Will there be a long term impact on the campaign? Has Republican nominee Mitt Romney stopped the slide after weeks of bad press? And just what the hell was that format? Let's break it down.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Real or Meme?

When looking at the MPs that all voted 'yea' to last night's vote on Motion 312, I came across this. 

The 91

Last night in the House of Commons, a miracle happened: sensibility and intelligence won. 
The vote on Motion 312 occurred on the floor of the House yesterday evening and was defeated by a count of 203 to 91. That's a pretty wide margin, but for a vote that could have had permanent and regressive implications for abortion rights in this country, the margin is maybe too close for a lot of progressives in this country. To them, in Canada, where abortion rights have been largely secured for nearly a quarter of a century since the Morgentaler decision, this move is as striking and daring as the decision of politicians in Virginia demanding evasive medical procedures by law for women seeking abortion. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

When is a Joke Not a Joke

I recently posted a city press release announcing that the Mayor would be hosting her own Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative townhall, albeit a phone-in townhall, with a randomly drawn selection of Guelphites.
It's quite the difference from the ones city councillors were hosting at public locations throughout the city, and I jested that maybe the Mayor's staff had security concerns if they've read some of the same stuff I have on the 59 Carden St. blog. Not the actual content written by Scott Tracey and others, but the comments posted by the general public. One such poster, the prolific and engaging Craig Chamberlain, offered this comment about my remarks on the Mayor's safety:
Hoping your comment about security considerations for the phone in, based on 59 Carden St. posts was tongue-in-cheek. Citizens should be able to critical of how things are being run without being vilified, as has been the case, with concerned citizens made out to be scary people. These are citizens, Adam, and they are saying they deserve better.
Well, for the record it was tongue-in-cheek, or at least I thought so. Everything that Craig said there is right: citizens should be critical, citizens do deserve better, and citizens should be able to engage with their elected officials in person. This was always at the heart of my critique of Marty Burke, an elected politician (or one running for election) should be able to be reached by anyone they are (or will be) representing, including people they politically disagree with.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The West Wing Reunites for an Important (and Funny) Message

I don't know anyone that loves politics - left, right, up, down, whatever - that doesn't love The West Wing. It seems that the website Funny or Die feels the same. And in this time of tremendous partisanship is seems fitting that we get another dose of the administration of Jed Bartlett.
The video, part reunion special and part educational video, features such West Wing regulars as Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Bradley Whitford, Martin Sheen, Mary McCormack, Richard Schiff, Melissa Fitzgerald, Joshua Malina, and Lily Tomlin. It also does a pretty good job of copying Aaron Sorkin's signature dialogue patter and includes a little in-joke involved real life judge Bridget Mary McCormac, sister of actress Mary. 
 But enough with the preamble. For the first time since the series was cancelled in 2006, let's tune in now to an all new episode of The West Wing:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mitt Hits the Fan

It was roughly this time in 2008 that the event called "The Great Recession" began rolling. Lehman Brothers, a huge financial services firm, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 15th, 2008, thus beginning a domino effect of big banks and financial firms shuttering their doors, filing for Chapter 11 or announcing that suddenly their huge profits were really huge deficits.
As the world fell (or seemed to), then Republican Presidential candidate John McCain boldly said that he would suspend his campaign in order to return to Washington to work directly on the crisis. However, while he was in Washington, attending meetings on the crisis on all levels, instead of looking like a leader, he looked like he was barely paying attention. By contrast his opponent, then Democratic candidate Barack Obama, said that a president must be able to balance several priorities at once, and in those same meetings, looked attentive, active, asking follow-up questions and making notes; in other words, he looked like a working president. September 2008 is more or less seen as the point in the last election where McCain had officially lost his bid to become President of the United States.
Welcome to September 2012, a point where many, even Republicans, are saying that Mitt Romney lost his presidential bid.
Compounding on a series of gaffs already jamming the political pipeline is this week's release of a tape from a Romney fundraiser in Boca Raton. In it, Romney basically dismisses nearly half the electorate as moochers, beggars and parasites, people so hopelessly attached to the government teat that they'll vote for Obama out of sheer reflex. They can never be convinced to look to alternatives, because they're too busy being a leech to society, riding high on the government hog and not knowing the important American value of pulling yourself up by your boot straps. He also said, to somewhat less fanfare, that he'd be having an easier time if his father had been born an actual Mexican rather than just being born there.
I'd say that Mitt Romney shouldn't give up his day job, but running for president is his day job.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mayor Gets in on Community Well Being Townhalls - With a Twist

I guess these townhalls in regard to the Community Wellbeing Initiative were just too good to pass up, as Mayor Karen Farbridge is putting aside some time to talk to members of the community. There is a difference though. Don't scan the below press release looking for a location. This townhall will be a phone-in.
It seems like a somewhat less than intimate way for the people to be able to interact with the Mayor, but maybe they couldn't find the right size space on such short notice. Or maybe the Mayor's staff read the comments on the 59 Carden St. blog and feel that their might be some kind of security risk. 
I've participated in a conference call-style press conference before, and I have to say that even though it was very well run, there's just something about it that's so impersonal. Combined with the fact that those participating will be randomly selected as opposed to gathering people genuinely invested in discussing the topic at hand, I have to say I'm somewhat dubious about this process.
Regardless, it's nice that the Mayor is reaching out, and I'm sure some of our fellow Guelphites have some words for her. Get all the details in the press release below:
GUELPH, ON, September 19, 2012 – On Tuesday, September 25 at 7 p.m., 10,000 randomly selected residents will get a phone call from Mayor Karen Farbridge inviting them to participate in a one-hour discussion about the quality of life in Guelph.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

To Fordsie, With Love

Not even half way through his mandate and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has enjoyed enough scandal for six mayors.
Just off the top of my head there's his ongoing row with the Toronto Star, which includes his nearly literal row with a Toronto Star reporter last May.
Then there's the bag ban that got passed as a snub to his attempt to repeal the five cent bag fee.
His attempts to bully his agendas on transit and cost cutting.
His brother's seemingly endless flubs, which included last summer's plans for the waterfront that no one but Doug seemed to know about.
Incidents behind the wheel including reading documents while driving 70 kph on the Gardiner, arguing with a transit worker after pulling along side a stopped streetcar and flipping the bird to a family when they called him on texting and driving.
Refusing to attend any Pride Week festivities.
His new year's weight loss campaign that resulted in hardly any weight loss.
Going to the hospital for a bad reaction to something he ate. And then making the Taste of the Danforth the first event he attends after being discharged. 
Calling 911 when accosted by a CBC comedienne and camera crew.
Calling 911 on Christmas Eve because of a domestic disturbance at home. 
And most recently, being brought to trial for violating the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act for using his City Hall stationary to raise over $3,100 for his private football foundation and then failing to recuse himself from a council vote demanding he return the money.
Of course most people would have thought that with the judge in recess trying to decide if Ford purposefully violated the intent of the MCOI Act, which if he did would mean that Ford is officially fired from his job as Toronto's Mayor, that Ford might take a break from shenanigans and keep his head down. And you'd be wrong.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Carts Are Rolling Out

Yes, sports fans. The dreaded day has come. Guelph's new recycling bins are now rolling out to the public for their own personal use. Or at least they will be a week from Monday. 
The city sent out a press release on the subject earlier today. Read it (and weep?) for yourself below.*
(*I say weep because I know there's a lot of resistance out there to the new carts, but they're coming and it's real, and maybe it's time to deal. The date is set, the hall is rented, time to see if we can dance.)
First 15,000 households to receive waste carts starting September 24
Carts to be placed at the curb this November for new automated collection
GUELPH, ON, September 13, 2012 – The delivery of Guelph's first green, blue and grey waste carts to one-third of city neighbourhoods, approximately 15,000 households, starts Monday, September 24.
Homes will receive a food scraps container to keep in the kitchen and three carts: an 80-litre green cart for organics, a blue cart for recyclables and a grey cart for garbage. The carts will be used instead of plastic bags to place household waste at the curb for collection. An information package including a user guide and a 2012 to 2014 waste collection schedule will be delivered inside the green cart.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fife Beats Bludgeon

Catherine Fife's not so surprising surprise victory in Kitchener-Waterloo Thursday night opened a can of "Who-knows-what?" in terms of what's going to happen next in Ontario. It really feels like we're at a kind of crossroads, a Choose Your Own Adventure-like fork in the road that could take us to strange new worlds, somewhere passively dull, or a complete disaster that's as cataclysmic as it is unexpected. But it probably won't be that bad.
Yes, Fife, and by proxy Andrea Horwath and the NDP, do surely deserve praise and kudos for the victory, but how much of it was dissatisfaction with the Liberals, how much of it was the uncertainty of Hudak's leadership of the PCs, and how much of it is blowback from McGuinty's seemingly ill-advised attempt to make Ontario's teachers the villains of our dire financial straits. 
But let's break the results down by party: