A curmudgeonly look at the current state of political leadership, and other matters…
Took the second longest vacation of my life in August, almost 3 weeks. The longest was my honeymoon, which in some respects still isn’t over.
Went to Scotland and Northern Ireland. Played some golf, visited friends, did touristy stuff like seeing Sterling castle, visiting the site of the battle of Culloden (Bonnie Prince Charlie was a dreadful leader and didn’t have a chance) doing a bus tour of Glasgow, partying with friends, dealing with a mild bout of food poisoning (my fault, eating improperly stored leftovers). Met some incredibly nice people along the way.
Since my return I’ve been catching up on phone messages, emails and regular mail and reading a two-foot high pile of collected newspapers while trying to overcome the residual effects of jet lag. Great trip but still glad to be home.
Brief thoughts on what I’ve been reading in the papers since my return include: US President Donald Trump is continuing to make an ass of himself, alienating his best friends and his country’s closest allies while seemingly plummeting hell-bent on the road to impeachment. (On the other side of the coin, I’m not sure Hillary would have been much better! I’m glad I didn’t have to make the dreadful choice between them.) Our PM Justin Trudeau is continuing to make a hash of the NAFTA negotiations and is still screwing Canadian provinces and cities on paying for the services needed by the ongoing flood of border jumping “asylum seekers.” And he dismisses anyone who disagrees with his policy on these “refugees” as “racist.” He’s gone beyond embarrassing.
As an aside, one of the great lies promoted by left-wing types is that Canada has always been open and welcoming to immigration. Hogwash. Just ask the Chinese who built our railways but had to pay head taxes to come here, and no Chinese women allowed, or Ukranians, or the Irish, or various other religious minorities, or Japanese with their property confiscated and then herded into concentration camps during WW2, or German Jews trying to come to Canada to escape Hitler and his thugs (“None are too many,” stated one Federal Cabinet Minister at the time). The list goes on and on. Those who tell you how open Canada has been are either flat out liars or unforgivably ignorant.
The usual suspect Toronto City Councillors accustomed to riding the taxpayer gravy train have decided to ignore their own legal and election staff advice and will sue to overturn the shrinking of council from 47 seats to 25. My thoughts: they should quit whining and actively seek gainful employment. Maybe they could become taxi drivers, or sign up with Uber and Lyft and get a solid dose of street reality for a change. Also, from everything I’ve read on the matter, the province has every legal right to shrink council. So our present council, once again, is merrily wasting your tax dollars on a futile exercise in trying to save their gold-plated political futures. I’ve said this before and truly believe it: Every time I walk into Toronto City Hall I feel brain cells drain away.
About Uber, apparently the money-losing company is going to focus more on new auto technologies and new services and less on its ride-hailing arm. As well, reportedly the company has come to a settlement with 56 of its workers who launched a class action lawsuit against the company. They’ll share $1.9 million (US), getting about $11,000 each, on average. Seems to me Uber got off the hook cheaply.
Meanwhile, a number of cities (eg. Kingston, Ontario and New York City and others) have apparently come out of their regulatory comas and are starting to impose limits on the numbers of these ride-hailing cars that will be allowed to operate. The numbers of suicides of destitute taxi and livery vehicle plate owners in New York City alone is becoming even more obscene (six so far). Maybe, just maybe, these cities are reluctantly coming to the conclusion that open-entry into the taxi market is not such a great idea after all. (Duh!) Australia and the province of Quebec are actively at least considering compensating taxi plate holders for their business losses.
The upcoming City review of the taxi industry will willfully ignore the deepening plight of Toronto’s licensed taxi drivers and plate owners, despite the schedule of meetings and topics now on the City’s web site. It will ignore increasing jurisprudence stating these ride-hailing services are simply another form of taxis and can be regulated as such, and will continue to ignore what reasonably intelligent people in other cities have come to understand – that open-entry is a really stupid thing to do. I say this based on experience from the most recent review where industry concerns were ignored. The City is going through this process so it can say it did consult with the industry as it is legally obliged to do. Consulting, however, does not mean either listening to or dealing constructively with your problems.
I wonder how shares in Rogers are doing, seeing Rogers is reportedly a serious investor in Uber in Toronto. Mayor John Tory once was a senior executive at Rogers. I simply don’t know if he divested himself of any holdings he may have had in that company when he became Mayor, or if his personal assets are being held in a blind trust while he is in office, or if any in his family are direct or indirect Uber stakeholders. I’m aware the City’s Integrity Commissioner has examined this situation and has given the Mayor an “all clear.”
Finally this month, to nobody’s surprise, the King Street Pilot Project has been reviewed and declared a success. I guess the thousands of tickets (new revenue!) handed out to hapless drivers lost in the new rules and maze that is now King St. played no part in the declaration of success. Nope. Not a chance of that happening.
So, welcome back to Toronto JD. It is a city that never disappoints this aging curmudgeon.