17 Feb

Dear Patrick Brown

Dear Mr. Brown:

Like many others, I was disturbed by the recent allegations of sexual misconduct made against you. I was equally disturbed by the rush to judgment among the masses. Sadly, it has become all too commonplace in today’s climate.

I will continue to presume your innocence until proven otherwise. It is a presumption we should all enjoy should we find ourselves under the same or similar circumstances that you do. Moreover, I wish you all the best in your efforts to clear your name and punish those who have allegedly defamed you.

But I don’t want you back as the leader of the Ontario PC Party.

Long before those allegations came to light, your performance has left many party members like myself feeling very much betrayed as you turned your back on the key principles you campaigned on in your 2015 leadership bid.

I listened as you attacked rival Christine Elliott for being Liberal-lite, only to watch as you turned the party in that very direction upon becoming leader. You attacked former leader Tim Hudak for announcing his plan for mass civil service job cuts without consultation, yet you surprised us all when you announced your support for a wildly unpopular carbon tax. Furthermore, you whipped your caucus into supporting a provincial equivalent of the hated and divisive M-103 motion introduced by the federal Liberals, a party you had been emulating more than attacking.

More recently, interim leader Vic Fedeli has identified significant “rot” within the party. As the leader for the past two years, this is something you bear ultimate responsibility for.

Now that your name is in the process of being cleared, I can absolutely understand wanting to get your job back. You’ve been scorned and you want to get right back on the horse. But your entry into the leadership race makes it a circus, one in which no one will benefit, least of all you.

I thank you for your efforts in leading the party, including all you have done to attract new members, but for the good of the party and our province, I strongly urge you to withdraw from the race at once. Based solely on your performance, you have not earned the right to continue to lead the party. I would suggest instead focusing your boundless energy, a trait I have come to greatly admire ever since first meeting you here in St. Catharines, on representing your constituents at Queen’s Park and throwing your support behind the new leader as the provincial election grows near.

17 Feb

Observations Around Town

1. Walking down King Street, I blew off a bum who asked me for money in between puffs on his cigarette. He seemed quite peeved when I noted that he had money for smokes, but no money for food. I must have hurt his feelings. I guess I’m just not compassionate enough. Good thing I haven’t signed our mayor’s compassionate city charter.

2. Walking through the Farmer’s Market, one of the vendors offered me a free sample of some foul-smelling goop she was brewing in a stew pot. As they say in Texas, El Paso.

3. Far too many believe these are words to live by …

4. Walking past empty buildings like this, I can’t help but remark how much our mayor likes posing for selfies with new business owners, yet he’s nowhere to be seen when stores close down.

5. Maybe it’s just me, but this looks like a place I’d want to escape from, not escape to:

6. Some off-color scenery in the core area:

7. Needs a little body work …

8. Beer gas?

9. It’s only flat on the bottom …

10. This car wash on Welland Avenue had a longer line than at a Tim Hortons drive thru:

11. Computers with intellectual disabilities?

12. Free to a good home. Slight wear.

 

15 Feb

Touring Welland and Port Colborne

Pictures and observations from yesterday’s tour of Welland and Port Colborne:

1. Believe it or not, you actually have to pay to park in downtown Welland. No disrespect to Welland, but it’s not exactly a high-traffic tourist destination like the Falls or NOTL. Given its relatively out-of-the-way location, they ought to consider paying you to park there.

2. Looking over the list of names inscribed atop the entrance to the Welland courthouse, it struck me that there was a very distinct gender imbalance. No doubt, once they discover it, the Liberals will be out there at once to cover up such a blasphemous public display.

3. Even more political incorrectness on display in downtown Welland with this “Indian Head Massage.” What is this world coming to?

4. Dude on a scooter whose beard is as thick as his gut:

5. Chapters 641 and 642 of “You think they use enough salt in this part of the world?”

6. Other scenes in downtown Welland:

7. Given the surroundings, this bit of graffiti is rather redundant:

8. Call it a hunch, but I think this architect might get a little more scrutiny than the average Joe when he goes over the river:

9. A place for passing children to rest:

10. Sadly, too many did and continue to “vote for evil”:

11. Take advantage of their buy-back “progam”:

12. Goats welcome. Or maybe just one.

13. Icicles on the side of a house:

14. One house that has had at least one visit from the Welland Fire Department:

15. A proud client of Budget Windows and Blinds:

16. Faux fox on a porch:

17. One humble domicile in a particularly bad state of disrepair:

18. If for some reason you need to boil gas …

19. Just dispose of your unwanted bakery products on the street …

20. Scenes from Guerrilla Park:

21. Someone in this house on Netherby Road must be getting nagged a lot and loving it …

22. Just like Niagara Falls, Port Colborne also has a zipline now. Based on the list of rules, I’m guessing their clientele is not quite as upscale as the touristy crowd they draw at the Falls:

23. Other scenes around snowy Sugarloaf Harbor:

24. There was a posted sign indicating a $300 fine for parking in a handicapped spot, yet the fine can be as high as $5,000 if you dare to bring a skateboard to the pavilion. It should be the other way around if you ask me, but who am I to judge the powers that be in Port Colborne?

25. Another $5,000-worthy fine if you ask me …

26. The CSL Welland mired in ice …

27. Do they only catch tiny fish? Or just not very many fish?

28. As I’ve said before, people in this part of the world have no idea what real cold weather is all about. And aren’t they lucky. For the record, it was +4 when I was there.

29. If the church is messy, why don’t they clean it up?

30. Any guesses as to how long that chimney will stay up?

 

07 Feb

Random Thoughts – Patrick Brown, PCPO Leadership, One Naive Kid and More

1. It seems like months have passed since I first heard the shocking news that Patrick Brown was stepping down as the leader of the Ontario PC Party amid allegations of sexual misconduct, but in reality, it’s only been a couple of weeks. How time flies when you’re trying to digest the turbulent and ever-fluid world of politics.

Despite the horrible timing with an election just around the corner, I am relieved to see him gone. During his campaign, he attacked rival Christine Elliott for being a “red Tory,” then himself dragged the party off to the left of the political spectrum, effectively becoming Liberal-lite. He also boasted of how he would consult the membership before making any major policy announcements, specifically quoting the massive job civil service job cuts former leader Tim Hudak proposed during the last election. Then Brown went ahead and dropped a bombshell of his own by announcing he would implement a carbon tax.

That all said, I don’t like how he was removed from his post and, just like what happened with party president Rick Dykstra a week later, it smelled of a setup. As both men fight the allegations made against them, I will continue to presume their innocence until they are proven guilty.

2. Three candidates have emerged as leadership contenders, namely Doug Ford, Christine Elliott and Caroline Mulroney. This party member retains an open mind, but the more I hear about Mulroney, the less I like. In all probability, I will be supporting Ford or Elliott and at this point, I lean more toward to the former than the latter. Elliott would be a safe choice and one I could live with, but what sticks in my craw about her is how she abruptly resigned her seat and left the political arena after losing the 2015 leadership bid to Brown. Perhaps she had other personal reasons, but it had all the earmarkings of a spoiled brat who took his ball and went home after not being allowed to play quarterback. The masses in the caucus who supported her all stayed on and rallied behind Brown and she should have done likewise.

3. The fact that I will be voting in my second Ontario PC leadership election shows once again how much tenure I have acquired in my adopted home. It’s only been three and a half years, but in some respects, it feels like I’ve never lived anywhere else.

4. Despite what he told me personally at City Hall about wanting to get back into the private sector after a second term as mayor, I still get the very strong impression that if the PCs win the upcoming election, the next challenge they will face will come from a rebuilt Ontario Liberal Party led by Walter Sendzik. Just think, in his new position, he could spew his empty rhetoric to even larger audiences of gullible people who would lap up his promises to turn Ontario into a compassionate province like thirsty puppy dogs.

5. I could only shake my head after reading this article that came across my timeline this week in which Patrik Laine of the Mark Chipman Personal Hockey Club extols the virtues of Winnipeg.

As someone who hasn’t watched an NHL game in months, I don’t know much about him. I suppose I could look it up, but I don’t even know if he’s any good. But safe as to say the kid is naive in the extreme. Sure, he’s feeling the love because he’s a government-funded hockey player. And it’s not as though there aren’t many kind, caring people there. Some of them I still count as friends. But as someone who spent nearly five decades in the degenerate capital of the SPRM, the line about “everyone who lives there really cares about each other” couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If he had to live like a regular person, he’d sure be changing his tune in short order. Like after a few bus rides. Or a walk downtown. At any time of day. Listen and feel the hatred and vitriol in the air. And just wait until he gets mugged, stabbed and/or has his house broken into. Even hockey players aren’t exempt. Just ask former Fighting Moose Jason MacDonald, who packed up all his belongings in his car and drove all the way from Charlottetown only to become yet another victim of auto theft when he finally got to Winnipeg. Then he’ll learn just a few of the reasons why Manitoba leads the nation in losing people to interprovincial migration.

5a. I also laughed as Laine talked about his “sick” Wi-Fi. Mine was sick, too. That was because my ISP was the title sponsor of the building he plays half his games in. To borrow a line from a friend and former colleague, my service was up and down more often than a toilet seat. Just before leaving, there was a 20-day period in which my telephone and Internet service were down for 16 of them. Having a stable phone line and reliable Internet service are yet more reasons why I’m so pleased to no longer be living in that part of the world.

03 Feb

Braving the Extreme Cold in the Universe’s Center

Observations and pictures from yesterday’s visit to the Center of the Universe:

1. En route to Fairview Mall, I spotted a cyclist on Geneva Street with no helmet, no light and apparently no brain. Same goes for the cyclist who boarded the GO bus and got off at Beamsville, though at least the cyclist on Geneva had the benefit of street lights. Out on South Service Road at the Ontario Street exit, all the cyclist had for illumination was the light from the full moon.

2. Being a weekday, I was surprised that there were only a handful of people boarding at Fairview Mall, but then again, GO has increased the frequency of buses in the morning and afternoon peak hours.

3. There was a new message on the display inside the GO bus warning passengers, “Get serious about safety. The bus is bigger than you are.” People who need reminding that a double-decker monstrosity is bigger than they are shouldn’t be allowed out on their own.

4. GO has installed a new shelter at the lightly used Beamsville stop, yet they still don’t have one at the much busier stop at Nash and Barton. Sigh. But at least there’s the nearby Wholesale Club.

5. Dear City of Hamilton: There are holes in Kenora Street so big that a bus or a big rig could lose a wheel in. It doesn’t need patching, it needs to be completely repaved. Yesterday. This is not Winnipeg.

6. I watched as a heavyweight got off at Nash and Barton and waddled across the parking lot trying to catch a Barton bus. In a classic Winnipeg Transit moment, the bus took off just as she got to the stop. Not cool, HSR. You’re better than that.

7. Listening to that heavyweight pant and wheeze as she climbed up the stairs after getting on at Grimsby made me wonder why she didn’t stay down below since she was just getting off at Stoney Creek. It’s not like the bus was packed and there were no available seats.

8. I also noticed how that heavyweight came prepared with a heavy parka, yet didn’t bother to zip it up or put up her hood. No doubt she spent the morning complaining about the cold.

9. Recognizing people on the GO bus from past trips including the aforementioned heavyweight and cyclist in Beamsville made me realize just how much tenure I have acquired in this part of the world. Much to our mayor’s chagrin, I’m sure.

10. Just as the case on the return trip, the GO bus driver greeted each passenger upon boarding and thanked us as we got off. It sure beats the F-you treatment in the Old Country.

11. During the relatively uneventful ride on the express train to Union Station, I was seated opposite a middle-aged woman in a surly disposition who obviously did not get enough sleep last night.

12. The Danish Pastry House is one of a number of trendy eateries that have popped up in Union Station recently. Judging from the Tim Hortons-esque line, it seems to be popular.

13. I just missed a train in the subway and had to wait a whole minute for the next one. First world problems.

14. Can you imagine how often an alarm like this would get “misused” if they dared to install such a thing on Winnipeg Transit buses?

15. Obligatory shot aboard the subway:

16. Not long after having to wait that whole minute for the next train, I had to get off at the St. Clair West station since the one I was on was a rush-hour train and as such, was only going as far as Glencairn. I could have also transferred at Eglinton West or Glencairn itself, but as they advised in the announcement, if you wanted to wait indoors, St. Clair West was the best option.

17. Following the hour-long ride mostly underground, I got off at Vaughan Metropolitan Center, the new station which just opened in December as part of the Line 1 extension project.

Adjacent is a parking lot for subway riders as well as this new bus station still under construction as part of a rapidway being built in the middle of Highway 7. When completed, passengers getting off a York Regional Transit bus will be able to go below and catch the #1 line to downtown Toronto. All while Winnipeg is still farting around with Rapid Transit and more concerned about opening up Portage and Main to pedestrians.

18. Before approaching the Vaughan Metropolitan Center, there was an automated announcement saying that it was the terminal station. Not a big oaf behind the wheel bellowing out “TERMINUS” at the top of his lungs as I encountered last April while riding the STO in Gatineau.

19. Within a minute of getting to street level, I was approached by someone asking for directions to a DriveTest center. Sadly, not having been around there before, I couldn’t help the guy other than to point him the way to the subway station.

20. While getting some shots of the 407 ETR from the overpass at Jane Street, a truck from Bison Transport passed by and was soon followed by a truck from Gardewine. As I’ve said before, the SPRM does keep following me around.

20a. Bonus points for those who know where Manitoba’s 407 is. Or was.

21. After supplementing my collection of highway pictures, I walked along the newly constructed sidewalk leading to the Highway 407 station to catch the #1 line back to downtown Toronto.

In the latter shot, note how the sidewalk ends abruptly, forcing passengers to walk across the grass. This mysterious and Manitoba-esque design faux-pas isn’t an issue for an able-bodied person like me, but I can imagine the trouble anyone in a wheelchair or even someone who walks with a cane would have. There wasn’t even a ramp to allow such people to easily get off the sidewalk and onto the street.

22. Unlike the case in Union Station, the gates at this new station were clearly marked as to which one to use with each Presto card reader and there was no turnstile, just a Plexiglas door that opened after tapping.

23. Waiting at the Highway 407 station:

24. En route back to downtown Toronto, there was an announcement that trains were holding at Yorkdale because of a medical emergency. Minutes later, however, it was taken care of and trains were again moving. In the Old Country, police would have taken great pleasure in using such a circumstance to shut the entire service down for the day. Just because they could.

25. Spotted on the train was an ad saying that two of the three signs of mental illness can’t be seen. Oh, but they can. At the ballot box. After all, look how many Liberals still hold public office.

26. Also spotted on the train were two people using their laptops. No one would dare to do such a thing on a Winnipeg Transit bus for fear of it promptly being stolen, smashed and/or used as a toilet.

27. A guy with a Glad bag slung over his shoulder was going up and down the train asking people for spare change in multiple languages including gibberish. No one gave him anything, but I suppose it’s just because Toronto isn’t a compassionate city, another of the empty phrases our mayor continues to spew ad nauseum.

28. I got a pretty good whack on the knee from the excess blubber of a woman who sat down in front of me.

29. At the Osgoode station where I got off, children were collecting for Toronto’s homeless youth. Again, they didn’t get any donors from those of us who piled off the train. Cue the nauseating “compassionate city” lines from our mayor.

30. Even the rat dog vendors weren’t open in this “extreme cold.” Toronto was under an extreme cold warning even though it was only -11 when I left the house. The standard as to what is considered extreme cold certainly differs greatly from the Old Country, where -40 wind chills are par for the course at this time of year.

31. You think they use enough salt in this part of the world?

32. Scenes from the skating rink at Nathan Phillips Square. It’s a wonder it wasn’t closed because of the “extreme cold.”

33. Or just let the law of natural selection run its course …

34. Several doors, including this one, were closed at the Queen Street entrance at the Eaton Center due to the “extreme cold.” It’s OK to laugh.

35. You know, if there really was a fire, I think that not having this fire hose available would be a little more than an “inconvenience.”

36. On the return trip, I noticed a woman who got off at Port Credit wearing leather boots that went way up past her knees. How people walk in such things is beyond me.

37. An older guy who got on at Clarkson bore a striking resemblance to Carl Bugenhagen, the exorcist in the first two Omen movies played by Leo McKern. As far as I know, he wasn’t carrying a box with daggers inside.

38. While waiting at the Burlington GO station for the #12 bus, I laughed as everyone went charging outside at the first sign of a bus only to realize that it wasn’t the Niagara-bound bus they were looking for. The bus’s destination was clearly labeled and plainly visible from inside the station, but you’ve got to look.

39. Among those waiting at the Burlington GO station was a guy with mental-health issues who was serenading the group with his own special brand of melodic ramblings. Though he continued to entertain us from the back of the bus after getting on, thankfully, he seemed to lose interest near Stoney Creek.

40. I remain grateful for GO’s express bus to the Falls that siphons off much of the riff-raff.

41. Being a weekday, I was surprised that most passengers boarding the #12 bus did not pay with Presto.

42. Our GO bus driver was otherwise very good, but an oncoming car he royally cut off pulling out of the Grimsby station had to swerve to avoid a collision.

43. So when there aren’t high winds on the skyway, it’s OK not to drive carefully?

44. As I’ve said before, you think they use enough salt in this part of the world?