I’m interested to know why Jane and Finch got completely ignored by the Provincial Government and the City, after being promised 2 much needed streetcar lines? The 35 Jane and the 36 Finch routes are a source of revenue for the TTC, they are THAT busy. Yet Jane and Finch gets treated as though it’s not worth a subsidy or a capital investment, instead it’s faced with service cuts. Mayor Ford is very clear in two things: he wants to shift the burden of operations onto the shoulders of the working poor, as evidenced by his favouring of user fees over increased taxes, he is also not interested in serving better, those who already use transit, but rather he is interested in making transit an attractive excursion for those who don’t necessarily have to take public transit. Well I’m sorry but this is a clear war on the working poor of the city.
Street-level low floor wide bodied trams are the most accessible and the most reliable form of transit for those who live or work in high density neighbourhoods outside of the downtown core. It is not something we ask of the government, it is something we DEMAND that streetcars run in Jane and Finch, because we’ve earned them it’s been a while now. We keep the TTC afloat and yet we’re treated with less consideration than Vaughan by the City of Toronto.
All that said I want to emphasis that I oppose the idea that transit should be funded at the fare-box (which is actually the case in Jane and Finch). I believe the funding for transit should come MAINLY from subsidy, and that the subsidy should come mainly from a progressive tax, not from the regressive property tax (the working poor pay a far larger portion of their income (not to speak of their nonexistent disposable income) in property taxes than upper middle class families, yet it is only the latter I hear complaining about high property taxes!). So I think it is only realistic that the province should subsidize at least two-thirds of the operating budget for municipal transit, and the federal government should subsidize close to 100% of capital spending on transit in Canada, all through the personal income tax. And for those who will say “Oh no, we cannot take anymore taxes” I say to you, you are paying more if you stick to the status-quo, maybe not to the government but the exorbitant cost of living is a real tax. A basic necessity, like transportation for a working person, is a real tax that has to be paid under the pain of hunger. Middle class Canadians should stop whining about taxes and instead look holistically at their spending to see what it is they cannot take anymore (tuition fees, mortgage interest, car insurance etc…) and stop demanding spending cuts that hurt the poor, and will inevitably hurt them too.
The point of protesting is not to close down the streets at rush hour, it’s an amazing thing to do but that wasn’t the goal of the protest. The goal is not to get pepper sprayed or arrested, look maybe some people enjoy getting pepper sprayed, it makes them feel they’re living on the edge or whatever, but that’s not the point of it. Banging drums and dancing in the streets is not the end goal of a political march, we would much rather be dancing in the streets in celebration than in protest. A protest is not a parade, it’s not a standoff between police and protesters, and a sit in is not a camp. A protest and a march and a rally and a political action, is a tool towards achieving a cause. Yet the news coverage of political actions NEVER, and I almost don’t exaggerate when I say never, but journalists never seem to cover the real story. Even independent media, and especially social media, don’t give a shit about the cause. They’re all like OOH pepper spray, youtube it youtube it! OMG police in riot gear it’s the POLICE STATE!!! look mate, the police state is only a byproduct of the real problems of injustice, I’m not trying to underestimate the problem of police violence, but take the Toronto G20 for example, still today you will read in the papers about court cases, accusations, “scandals” all regarding the treatment of activists and passers-by at the hands of the Police. But why were these activists on the streets in the first place? Were they by any chance protesting environmental degradation, inequality between rich and poor? Between north and south? The criminal and outrageous theft of native land across the globe? Capitalism? War? How come no one gives a shit about the issues?
It’s the same thing with foreign events, like everyone was all on about Egyptians using twitter and txt messaging to topple a dictator! As soon as Mubarak left, western media left. Except Egyptian activists were trying to topple a regime, not a man! They (the liberal media) publish opinion pieces and news items by the dozens when a story breaks of the authorities shutting down facebook, or cellphones in Tunis or Egypt or etc… they don’t realize that these uprisings are MUCH more concerned with SOCIAL JUSTICE, much more concerned with the right and the privilege they’re told to eat and drink, than with their freedom of expression.
Look at the May 1st coverage in Toronto, if I wasn’t already aware of the issues at stake during that day’s political actions, would I have learned anything about them from reading the papers? No! Not because the protesters “didn’t know what they were protesting” oh they know very well, there may be more than one issue (surprise, we have more than one problem in our society today) but those protesting know exactly what they’re protesting, the problem is that it’s not being reported. If I didn’t know beforehand, would I learn what Bill C-31 is, from reading a news item with the headline BILL C-31 SPARKS PROTEST ALL OVER CITY! No! Because they don’t even bother to spell out its official name “Refugee Exclusion Act” let alone the fact that a RACIST law, that prevents genuine refugees from getting official status in Canada, that aims to deport documented and undocumented migrants with little concern to their safety, that that racist law just passed in the House of Commons and is about to get enforced on June 21st.
If you read or watch the news coverage, all you get is the following: Fucking wankers, protesting simultaneously on May Day!? They blocked the streets, but not the highway, PHEW! Oh and thank god there was no violence. A local TV reporter literally said: “there were large numbers BUT it was peaceful” with an emphasis on BUT. Yes it got reported that Barrick Gold had a convention in Toronto, and that local activists were protesting outside, but did anyone report on why Barrick Gold is the incarnation of the devil? You spelled out the full name of the organizer, well listen to what she has to say! No we’re not against Barrick because they’re the largest gold mining company in the world, but because of what that means. Because of the ugly reality that that creates for indigenous populations around the world. Because of all the rape and civil wars, and impoverishment, and theft that this company is implicated in.
Lastly and I hate to be saying this, because I’m always on and on about how we’re not running a PR campaign and we shouldn’t be too worried about how we’re perceived, BUT, the only way we are getting our ideas across is through the banners and the signs, so let’s not “waste” on generic statements like “Strength in unity” or “United we Stand” just be a bit more specific, like the big red NO ONE IS ILLEGAL banner, I know it gets dismissed very easily, but it has a substance to it. You know signs like “They got tax cuts, we got service cuts” or “The Refugee Exclusion Act is a Racist Legislation” or defaced images of Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney, those are great!
Also when activists give an interview to the media, they should at all costs, never say anything generic. Like going on a rant about racist immigration laws, and how immigration policy is not there to “protect the country” but rather to “serve the interests of capital by providing a precarious work force without any rights” and ending it with “finally we want justice. Justice for Immigrants. Justice for Workers. Justice for the 99%” you know what? they’re gonna edit everything out except that last bit, and make you sound like a sound bite from Hillary Fucking Clinton, that’s if you’re lucky, they will more likely edit out only “Justice for the 99%”. Or if you make the mistake of ending your interview about what your organization stands for with “we’ve been doing this for 6 years, and this is the biggest turnout yet” that will be cut out, and followed by a mocking deep male voice from the “studio” saying “it took them 6 years to gather a thousand people around their cause, great job, you gotta give it to them though, they’ve blocked major intersections for 2 hours”. I mean I say this, but there’s no way around it, you can’t help it, if you somehow end up spewing something exclusively radical and to the point, you just won’t be broadcast.
Toronto continues to lead North America in the number of high-rise buildings under construction. Right now Toronto has 185 high-rise buildings under construction. This is more than Mexico City (88) and New York City (80) combined.
Recent construction of downtown high-rise buildings has had little effect on office space vacancy. Office space vacancy has been trending downward for the past two years. The current rate of office space vacancy currently sits at just 5.5% and below 5% downtown along the Yonge Street corridor.
There’s a clip of me sounding like the dickhead that I am.
-Well you have to ask yourself every time the police uses force, whether or not it is justified. So to say that “a protester broke into the police line” yet does that justify beating him to death? No, we will all say no, it doesn’t justify killing someone. [No one was actually killed that night, I was trying to make the point that just as killing a protester is never justified, that we think even punching a protester is not justified either, the moment that starts getting justified and institutionalized, then murder becomes possible. Granted in “isolated” “extreme” and publicly denounced incidents, but it is murder all the same. And this is the reality today, unfortunately]
Journalist: That’s why I’m asking you cause it appears that the guy charged into the police and then was hit multiple times, do you think that violence by the police is justified.
- Violence by the police is NOT justified. No! Because our protest is against their violence, so the least they can do is respect that demand and not repeat what they’ve done yesterday. The only time protests escalate into violence is when Police charge the protesters. It’s NEVER, it’s NEVER the opposite. We don’t have the guts to go up to them and beat them up, THEY do. They have the guts and they have the guns to do it. So it should never be the question of whether it’s WE who charge into their lines, it’s always THEM who charge into our lines.
I am a Tramway proponent myself but not because it’s European, not because it looks good, not because it’s the latest technology (which it isn’t and the conservatives are right on this one: it’s a fucking streetcar, like back in the 1890s) and no not because it’s great for local businesses: I couldn’t give a shit (about the businesses themselves, I do give a shit if it indeed makes a neighbourhood a nicer place to live). But most of all I’m not a Tramway proponent because it costs less than subways.
So there’s a crowd of LRT (Light Rail Transit) supporters who say “hey, we’d love a subway line but we just can’t afford it”. Sorry wrong answer. This is like saying I’m all for war and occupation it just costs too much, or yeah it would be great if we can teach everyone for free but it’s too costly and there isn’t enough space in classes anyway, or yeah it’d be great if we can abolish slavery but who’s gonna do all the work? Okay maybe I’m exaggerating calling these petty liberals: pro-war and pro-slavery. But the point is this: Conservatives from before Thatcher and to this day have succeeded at convincing everyone that every time there’s talk about public policy the talk must start and end with the discussion of the spending budget, notice there’s rarely any talk about government revenues, only government spending. Okay that’s something you should keep in mind when you hear someone say “we don’t have the money for it” forget the money let’s see if it’s a good idea in the first place.
I don’t think the debate should be about what we can afford. The issue here is how can we serve the needs of people better. In many instances LRTs, Streetcars, tramways whatever you wanna call them serve people better than subways. Subways are fast, yes, but the reason for that is that they don’t make local stops. And it’s specifically this issue that results in the vast majority of daily Subway users rely on a different mode of transportation to get to the station (bus, streetcar, bike, car)
Buses are in fact the backbone of transit in Toronto, not Subways, as Ford claims. Streetcar serve the same function as buses only at a higher capacity, a higher efficiency and for a lower cost, but again the cost is the least of my worries. Right now there’s an accessibility issue with streetcars, it’s time we get the new low-floor ones already. But once we get the low-floors they are more accessible, more reliable, and faster (granted they have a right-of-way) than buses. Of course they become less accessible once they are no longer on street level (eg.skytrains, underground, off on a trail or a parkway etc…). The subway is not even an option when you put it like that. To build an underground subway line with local stops within walking distance of everyone’s doorstep, even if you had the money to do it, is still a stupid idea because it kills the whole point of subways: speed. And this is what the Rob Ford crowd don’t get: transit users don’t want faster transit vehicles and line, they want if anything shorter travel times (which is in most cases different from fast vehicles, and has a lot more to do with the efficiency of connections than with travel speeds) but most of all, transit users want more frequent, less crowded, more pleasant rides within a walking distance from their homes and their workplaces/schools. Subways can only deliver this to a tiny minority, streetcars and buses can deliver this to the vast majority of transit users. I’m all for the Subways Ford is proposing, but he’s saying I’ll give you the subways and in return I will cancel other capital projects as well as cut services on existing routes. Not only is he saying that but he’s actually done it already.
But hey that talk about transit users, it’s not like Rob Ford gives a shit about them, what he gives a shit about is developers making huge profits on their condominiums, and to a lesser extent (and this is something a lot of LRT proponents agree with him on) he’s interested in providing transit service that drivers may find convenient every once in a while. I’ve read opinion columns in Toronto newspapers, signed with the authors’ real names and without any shame, saying that “folk don’t care if the fare goes up as long as the service justifies it. For you Mr. Opinion column, transit costs 6 times less than owning and operating a car, but to transit users it costs an arm and a leg. It’s a tax they have to pay under the pain of hunger and death, not a service they choose to use.