Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Toronto Needs More Subways, Not More Boondoggles

There's a proposal before Toronto City Council to make a part of King Street more friendly to mass transit, pedestrians and cyclists. Okay, everyone who's ever been on King St., especially during rush hour, knows what a mess it is. Well now our incompetent politicians are going to make a bigger mess by taking away lanes that cars use, forcing drivers to use other nearby streets that are already bumper-to-bumper most of the time. What our leaders should be doing is building subway lines downtown so that traffic doesn't have to idle constantly behind those annoying streetcars.

But of course, who's going to find the money for that? Certainly not the folks who run this city now. They're too busy enriching their friends in the various special interest groups with what little money is available. Hell, even if there was money for new subways, our leaders would squander it as they always have. Just look at the red ink flowing from the subway extension to York University, or the price for the extension to Scarborough that keeps going up and up. Not to mention the fact that these extensions are going to add even more riders to our already overcrowded subways. And it's not like the stiffs who run the show in Toronto haven't had the chance to build new subway lines downtown before. Instead, they built the boondoggle we now call the Sheppard subway. You know, the subway to nowhere. Never mind the fact that there are more people that ride the streetcars on King St. than ride the Sheppard stub-way.

To make a long story short, the folks responsible for governing this city made bad choices and continue to make bad choices. When is it going to end? 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Line 2 TTC Riders Deserve Respect

Toronto City Council intends to spend another $80 million more on transit in the upcoming budget. In a column published by the Toronto Sun yesterday, Mayor John Tory specifically mentioned signal upgrades on the Line 1 subway, among other things (see: Keeping our city on the move). Indeed, the Yonge-University-Spadina line seems to be getting all of the attention these days. Folks on that subway line get to ride new, modern trains and will soon be reaping the benefits of automatic train control and trains running closer together.

In contrast, folks on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) still have to make do with old, klunky trains and are not going to see significant service improvements any time soon. Most people on Line 2 would probably settle for working air conditioning on trains so that they don't have to go through another summer of the hot subway, never mind yearning for fancy new trains or automatic train control. It's time for the mayor and City Council to start showing riders on Line 2 some respect.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Electoral Reform in Canada is Wishful Thinking

Supporters of electoral reform held a day of action yesterday to protest Justin Trudeau's decision to scrap plans to change the way we vote in federal elections. First off, everyone should have known that junior was lying when he said that the 2015 vote would be the last one that would be held under the first-past-the-post system. After all, no one here in Canada lies better than a Liberal, or should I say, a Lie-beral.

Second, demonstrating against Trudeau the younger is futile, because neither he nor the rest of the cronies in his party will listen. They don't have to listen, because they have a majority government, which gives them 100% of the power when they just got under 40% of the votes in the last election. And no, they won't have to listen when the next election comes around either. You know why? Because the other parties won't produce a leader that can overcome Justin Trudeau's ability to woo gullible voters with selfies and speeches that are high on charisma and low on substance. Hence, junior will most likely be re-elected with another fake majority government.

Third and lastly, if proponents of electoral reform knew enough about Canadian history, they would know that this country has been resisting any change to its politics since before Confederation. It's no coincidence that the same two parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, have always been the ones holding the reigns of power. Do you really think that change will happen if you just substitute one group of elites with another? No, of course not. Furthermore, you can't expect these elites to do away with an electoral system that has served them so well throughout this country's history.

I think it is very unlikely that Canada will move away from its first-past-the-post electoral system. It's probably wishful thinking, just like an elected senate, an end to excessive party discipline and any other change Canadians would like to see made to this country's politics. Nevertheless, I will continue to advocate for these things, because sometimes dreams and wishes can come true.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

International Community Cannot Stop Jews From Reclaiming Their Birthright

Israel's usual detractors are now complaining about the so-called Regulation Bill, just passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament (see: UN Secretary-General denounces Regulation Bill, European Union adds to condemnation of Regulation Bill. The bill gives legal status to homes built in Judea and Samaria (aka, the West Bank). Israel-haters around the world would rather throw Jews out of their homes simply because they are Jews living in their Biblical, ancestral homeland. It doesn't matter to Israel's critics that the Palestinian owners of land on which some of the aforementioned homes will be given compensation ABOVE market value. Hell, even if Israel offered the Palestinians compensation at 1000% of the value of their properties, the world would still condemn us. The international community condemns anything Israel does that doesn't involve dispossessing Jews from their homes and their birthright.

No one in the international community made even a peep when Jews fled or were forced from their properties in the Arab world with NO compensation at all. And to this day, NOT ONE U.N. resolution has been passed demanding compensation or restitution for lost or stolen Jewish property in North Africa and the Middle East. Hell, the compensation that the Palestinians will be getting for their properties under the Regulations Bill is probably better than what your average big city, like my home city of Toronto, gives whenever it needs to expropriate land to build things like highways and public mass transit.

So let the U.N., the E.U. and the rest of Israel's critics whine all they want, because we the Jewish people have returned to our motherland and we're not leaving it again, EVER!

The Ideal Israeli

I am very proud of my Israeli heritage. Nevertheless, I would never pretend to present myself as an example of what I think constitutes an ideal Israeli.  For one thing, I don't even live in Israel. I honestly would like to, but my whole life is here in Canada and I can't take it with me to live somewhere else, even if that somewhere else is my ancestral homeland.

It would also be hypocritical of me to present myself as an ideal Israeli since I write in English and do not consider myself to be fluent in Hebrew, though I'm confident saying that I speak Hebrew better than most people who weren't born in Israel and/or never lived there for an extended period of time. My name is clearly not Hebrew, though like most Jews, I do have a Hebrew first name that I like to use whenever I'm in Israel. In short, I am not what I would call an ideal Israeli. So what is an ideal Israeli?

An Ideal Israeli Stays True to His or Her Semitic Roots:

I believe that the true identity of Israel lies not simply in being the homeland of the Jewish people, but also a Hebrew, Semitic state. The Jewish people are a Semitic people. We are not European or Western inasmuch as the rest of the world likes to think of us as being so. Yes, many of us, particularly Jews of European origin or Ashkenazim, do not look like Semites, but this of course is largely because of a historical injustice, namely the dispossession of the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland. When the Zionist movement began, we not only started building a Jewish state after two thousand years, but we also started taking back our heritage. Above all, we managed to restore Hebrew and make it a modern language to use in everyday life. There is now a thriving Hebrew culture, in contrast to just over a century ago when Hebrew was almost exclusively a language of prayer. No one can be called an ideal Israeli unless he or she has a mastery of the Hebrew language.

What bothers me, though, is that many Jews living in Israel are still holding on to too many non-Semitic cultural practices of our two thousand year exile. For example, although many if not most Israeli Jews have a Hebrew name, or at least a Semitic one, there are still some, including prominent Israeli leaders, who continue to have names like Rubenstein and Silverman. These are names that belong in the Diaspora, NOT in Israel! The same goes for Yiddish and other Diaspora Jewish languages. Many of Zionism's founding fathers viewed Yiddish as a corrupt jargon and so do I. May it be banished from Israel as a conversational language forever! We use it in Israel as part of our slang and that's as far as it should go. And as we relegate Yiddish to the dustbin of history, we should also discourage other antisemitic, anti-Zionist forms of Jewish culture in Israel, such as Klezmer music and that ridiculous-looking, medieval Polish garb that many Haredim wear. My opinion is simply this: If you want to live as if the Jews never left the shtetls and the ghettos of Europe, speak Yiddish and wear those big, black coats and black hats, then please, don't do it in Israel. To make a long story short, Diaspora Jewish culture belongs in the Diaspora, not in Israel, because Israel is where Jews go to be Yehudim, not Yids.  

Canadian Consumers Win With Superbowl Commercials

The bigwigs at Bell Media are whining like babies because for the first time, Canadians were allowed to see the always highly-anticipated American Superbowl commercials. For once, the CRTC listened to Canadian consumers instead of this country's corporate fat cats and Can-con lobby. Canadian consumers have said loud and clear for years that they wanted to see the Superbowl commercials and not have to watch the crappy, boring Canadian ads. So let Bell whine and complain all they want. This time, Canadian consumers have won the day!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

No New Canada Under Justin Trudeau

I hate to say I told you so. Prime Minister Selfie just confirmed it today. He will not change Canada's unfair and undemocratic electoral system. The Toronto Star, from which this article comes, proudly proclaimed, "It's a New Canada," on their front page after Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won the last federal election with less than 40% of the vote. After all, the Star led the cheerleading section for Trudeau the younger along with the CBC during the 2015 election campaign. What a bunch of crap!

This latest flip-flop by the former drama teacher turned prime minister proves once and for all that there is no new Canada, nor will there ever be a new Canada under Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. There will just be the same old Canada that there is every time the Liberals are in power. Once again, the Liberals have fooled Canadians into believing that they are true harbingers of change, when in fact all they do once they get into power is bring back the same old policies that the Tories get rid of every time they're in power.

Now I already hear the folks who support our fraud of a prime minister saying something like, "Would you rather live down south where President Trump rules the roost?" Isn't it interesting how the first thing supporters of the status quo will tell you is that it's worse somewhere else. You know why? Because they don't want you to believe that there can be something or someone better. But I say that surely we the Canadian people can find a leader that has more substance than just a famous name and policy ideas he stole from someone else's playbook. I sincerely hope we find that leader before the next election comes around.