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Extra, Extra: Christmas Sounds a Lot Like Rob Ford, Toddler Photographers, and What’s Happening to Your Mail?

Every weekday’s end, we collect just about everything you ought to care about or ought not to miss.

  • Last night, Jimmy Kimmel called Rob Ford “the greatest gift any talk show host could ever ask for” and gave us the gift of a musical “12 Days of Ford Christmas.” Unfortunately, what would likely have been the most entertaining clip you’ve ever seen has now mysteriously been made “private” on YouTube, so you won’t be able to watch it after all. So we’ll just post Jimmy Kimmel’s Rob Ford cartoon “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” instead. It’s pretty good, too. And still has the benefit of being seasonally appropriate.
  • The future is here, and it has taken away your mail—or at least your door-to-door mail service. Canada Post announced today that it is going to begin phasing out home postal delivery, meaning that people will soon have to start trooping down to community boxes to collect their letters.
  • Lawren S. Harris is best known as a founding member of the Group of Seven, but Torontonians will get a chance to appreciate his individual body of work when an exhibition of his major pieces from the 1920s and 1930s visits the AGO in 2015.
  • A new Forum Research poll reveals that Rob Ford’s approval rating remains stubbornly stable. The poll found that 42 per cent of respondents continue to insist that Ford is doing a good job—although 81 per cent indicated that they believe allegations about the mayor’s behaviour are true. Which means, if our math is solid, that a whole lot of people think the mayor’s a drug-user and a liar and still think he’s doing just fine.
  • If you want to feel (a) inspired by someone else’s creativity, and (b) outdone as a photographer by a two-year-old, look at these snaps taken by the young Henry, with some help from his photographer nanny.

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  • OgtheDim

    Now that is going to be interesting that whole mail thing. Inner suburbia in most of the country ain’t gonna be happy. And that price increase basically is telling business to stop using the mail.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      They’re phasing it out of urban areas, so the suburbs may still be safe, and small towns and the boonies will continue on as normal.

    • Lavender

      It’s really not gonna go over well. I don’t know what the hell they’re thinking.

      • dsmithhfx

        The direct mail & flyer industries will be none too pleased. Upside: it could hurt decco.

    • vampchick21

      I felt super old when I found myself exclaiming this morning “A dollar for a stamp?????”

  • iSkyscraper

    In my view Canada Post had little choice. USPS in the States has clung to the old ways, with the result that they are completely bankrupt and literally un-usable in urban areas. Using privatized, expensive, reduced-service Canada Post is actually a dream in comparison to living with USPS post offices and delivery services in, say, New York or Chicago despite what it looks like on paper. It’s so bad that Amazon had to build an entire network of community mailboxes (called Amazon Lockers) just to let people avoid using USPS buildings and services. Don’t believe me? Look at Yelp for any PO in any American city.

    How they will figure out sidewalk mailboxes in the densest of urban neighborhoods will be a bit tricky (and they are complete litter and graffiti nuisances), but if CP didn’t take a step like this I don’t think they would exist ten years from now.

    • Squintz

      Canada Post is financial stable and has been profitable for almost 20 years with a couple years as exceptions. Cutting your services is not a way to improve your business, the post office should be growing and diversifying their services not painting themselves into a corner until they are privatized.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Canada Post Corp’s pension plan is $6.5 billion in deficit, and their contribution in 2014 is estimated to be another $1 billion. That doesn’t sound stable to me.

        • Squintz

          The reason behind that and therefore the solutions are far more complicated than what you are implying. Not only has the Conference Board report obscured and exaggerated many of the financial numbers, but it also appears the health and profitability of the Corporation has been undermined by the government and by the executives running it.
          I recommend you read the article I linked to and consider what the effect of contracting out work, cutting services and slowly privatizing aspects of the corporation would have on the corporation and on the workers, hint it wouldn’t have a stabilizing effect. Instead of shirking responsibility and dismantling their business, maybe Canada Post would be more effective if they proactively sought solutions to strengthen themselves and maintain the commitment to their workers and the Canadian public at large.

          • CaligulaJones

            “The reason behind that and therefore the solutions are far more complicated than what you are implying.”

            Nothing complicated about it, its called math, i.e, demographics. Fewer people use mail, older workers cost more. It was “stable” because previous regimes didn’t put enough money into the kitty (pension, pay equity settlement). The bill is now due.

            The head of CUPW reached all the way to the 60s to come up with a Canada Post Bank. Diversifying into unicorn rides would make as much sense.

          • Squintz

            Those numbers are skewed to support their point. Not only that, but the problem with the pension plan has been incredibly low returns from interest on the plans assets and mismanagement as much as the demographics.
            As for your unreasonable dismissal of a postal bank how does it not make sense? There are dozens of countries around the world that provide a similar service from South Korea, to Israel, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Brazil etc. How is that service a unicorn ride? If it is profitable enough for banks and financial institutions to provide crappy service with higher overhead cost and still make a profit how does this not at least warrant some investigation before we start dismantling the entire distribution structure of Canada Post?

          • dsmithhfx

            For-profit banks are doing an excellent job of robbing Canadians. They don’t need any competition, thanks for asking.

          • Squintz

            I guess you didn’t read the article, the purpose of a public post bank is not to rob citizens and provide a valuable service. Thanks for sharing though.

          • dsmithhfx

            Why do I even bother?

          • CaligulaJones

            Keeps my typing skills up to speed, that’s about it for me. I was batting twats like Squintz around on UseNet 20 years ago. Can’t say I’m proud, but it kept me amused.

          • torontothegreat

            So why are for-profit banks so afraid of lifting limitation on Credit Unions?

          • dsmithhfx

            For some, no sarcasm is too obvious ;-)

          • CaligulaJones

            “the problem with the pension plan has been incredibly low returns”

            No shit, Sherlock.

            Just go read “Boom, Bust and Echo”. Foot, et. al, wrote about this 20 years ago. Its math. M-A-T-H. All the left-wing spin won’t make it make sense. 2+2=4 isn’t fascist, you know.

            As for unreasonable, its called “use a fucking credit union and shut up about the banks already”.

          • torontothegreat

            Credit unions are very limited and the cons are trying to limit them even more. The postal bank wouldn’t have these same limitations.


            - Access the stock market to raise capital
            - No restrictive lending limits – personal or business
            - No limitations on investment authority.

            Those are just a few examples of why your comparison is either ignorant or disingenuous.

          • CaligulaJones

            Since we are discussing unicorn rides, who cares?

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Are you saying the Conference Board is misreporting Canada Post’s pension plan numbers? I would think it a matter of public record.

            From the sounds of it, the government is “undermining” the pension plan by not extending them an infinite line of credit (in addition to the billions they already owe or previous credit notes).

            I don’t agree that cutting service and hiking prices is the way to solve this problem, but there is a problem.

          • Squintz

            No I’m saying they’re misrepresenting revenue numbers, skewing shipping numbers and doing their damnedest to undermine a corporation that provides a necessary and valuable public service fairly efficiently. Are we really going to throw in the towel because Canada Post is exposed on their pension plan? That money is a drop in the bucket, the goddamn Harper government misplaces more than that in a year.
            Hell we have thrown 3 bill at GM, 114 bill at the banks, and billions on military hardware and on and on, but please tell me how these pensions are somehow an unaffordable impossible burden.
            And Caligula how about you chill out.
            The banks and the idiots running the ship into the rocks are the problem. If you think putting your money in a credit union and plugging your ears is somehow a solution then you must really not have learned anything in the last 20 years. You admit poor returns are the problem and then direct your explanation to demographics instead of to the mismanagement that lies at the heart of the problem?
            Public pensions and corporations can and are being run effectively, even in the case of Canada Post, despite a few important player’s better efforts.

          • CaligulaJones

            “You admit poor returns are the problem and then direct your explanation
            to demographics instead of to the mismanagement that lies at the heart
            of the problem?”

            The best managers in the fucking universe WON’T GET MORE PEOPLE TO SENT MORE MAIL.

            THAT’S the demographics you moronic dolt.

            The only “out” the defenders of the Crappy Post have is to now somehow get into business. Hey, why not porn and booze? Ciggies?

          • CaligulaJones

            “please tell me how these pensions are somehow an unaffordable impossible burden.”

            Again, demographics. Too few people paying into a plan, too many people taking money out of it.

            And if you think that its not a problem, you aren’t paying attention AT ALL.

            Does the name “Detroit” mean anything to you?

          • Squintz

            The mail volume in the report is a straw man, and has been completely skewed to give an artificially negative outlook. It’s also convenient you ignore any additional services Canada Post could provide to support any lost revenue. What kind of a business advertises they’re failing and have no options despite all the evidence to the contrary. Axe-man Chopra is Harper’s man to put the nails in the coffin of public mail just like he was trying to do in the US before leaving.
            Why are you so mad? There are tons of options besides the single worst option Canada Post is choosing, but apparently discussing those makes me a moronic dolt.
            As for Detroit, funny you should mention that, it’s an even better example of the neoliberal trojan horse being used to gut public services and pensions. Through credit default swaps, irresponsible money management, capital flight, deindustrialization with no economic planning, the exodus to the suburbs (none of which have really been addressed) and corruption in the city’s finances Detroit has found itself in this horrible situation. Much like Canada post, sacrificing workers pensions is the only solution that’s getting any serious consideration despite the fact that we have billions for corporate welfare, industry bailouts and boondoggles.
            For a guy who claims to have been paying attention for the last 20 years, or at least shit talking from the peanut gallery, you would think you would have caught on to these tactics, or at least worked them in to your obsession with the demographic shift.

          • CaligulaJones

            Again, what you call an obsession, I call math, Your like a boy who thinks he should be entitled to fly encountering gravity, and blaming people for it.

            If you don’t believe me, how about Harvard:


            or actuaries:


            That chart on page 9 should scare the hell out of you, presuming you can count past 21 with your clothes off.

            BTW, “capital flight” is another word for “smart money moving to where it is wanted”.

          • Squintz

            I’m not saying the demographic shift won’t pose challenges or require structures to change, but this chicken little, “we are facing an insurmountable problem” let’s give up what has worked for 100 years with no real thought or reform is ridiculous. Also the proposals and policies the state is implementing will actually exacerbate the demographic and inequality crisis that is approaching not solve it, so maybe we should think a little harder about how to solve it.
            BTW smart money moving where it is wanted is hardly accurate. No context on where the money comes from, how it gets concentrated into these systems of “smart money” and how it ends up being extracted and funnelled to the top at the expense of society at large. Cute over simplifications though.

          • CaligulaJones

            Will, that kinda looks like English, but somehow…not.

            “smart money moving where it is wanted is hardly accurate.”

            It is incredibly accurate. Those greedy money grubbing Scrooge McDucks who roll around on the floor don’t tend to invest in things that don’t give their money back. That’s what “capital flight” means.

            The money comes from profit from investments. If I invest in a plank, four pieces of wood and some nails, make a table and sell it for $100, that’s capital. If you say you want $75 of that to pay for someone’s pension or, as you somehow hypocritically would have it “…3 bill at GM, 114 bill at the banks, and billions on military hardware”, I will eventually go somewhere that will take less, or stop making tables. Not worth my time.

            If you can pry your eyes from rabble long enough to READ what I gave you from some unbiased sources, you will know the problem is:

            a) fewer people working as a ratio of people drawing pensions
            b) pensions being invested in the stock market
            c) left-wing governments giving their union backers sweet deals when the money flows in from b)

            As for “chicken littles”, those are the ones who somehow turn “stopping home delivery for the 1/3 of the people who still have it”, to “oh my god, their shutting down Canada Post, we need to start up a bank”.

          • Squintz

            Money in Canada actually comes from a publicly controlled national bank, the people creating profit from that money do not create it or produce anything except complex frauds and extortionist and usurious structures. To claim that capital rightly belongs to those corporations at the expense of everyone else and that whatever they chose to do with it is “smart” is a massive assumption and completely unproven.
            As for the second part, more assertions and assumptions. Nothing is “unbiased” and to pretend that Harvard and the IAA don’t have an agenda while Rabble is somehow some raving bastion of communism is ridiculous. You are either extremely naive or wilfully ignorant. What left wing governments are you talking about? Chretien/Martin, Harper? Obama? Blair? Cameron? I don’t think they could even find the left on a political spectrum, but oh please tell me how left wing governments have contributed to the financial and demographic crisis that renders decent pensions impossible while we pour billions into the “efficient” private sector.
            Finally, you finish with yet another obfuscation, that cutting services and delivery strucutres will be the extent of the reform and that they are not part of a wider plan to undermine and privatize Canada Post and that I’m just over reacting. We have numerous examples of these techniques and policies being used to shuffle public assets into the hands of private interests and destroying the public’s ability to provide valuable services to Canadians that the private sector cannot or will not provide. A post bank was simply one revenue generating solution proposed, and also a valuable service that is not being provided by the wonderful private sector, but again feel free to oversimplify everything into a straw man you can dismiss.
            Also if you’re going to criticize my English at least try to appear semi-literate in your poorly worded insult and in the structure of your a-b-c-b examples.

          • CaligulaJones

            Fuck, you ARE stupid. And wordy. Meth or crack?

            “please tell me how left wing governments have contributed to the financial and demographic crisis that renders decent pensions impossible”

            From the very example I gave you:

            “public pension plan sponsors often face intense
            political pressure to maintain the status quo or to increase public pension plan benefits.

            The pressure to increase public pension benefits becomes greatest during economic booms when government coffers
            are full and public pension plans often appear to be fully funded (or near fully funded) by their assets.

            In the case of Atlanta, Ga.,…the city took votes in 2001 and 2005 to dramatically increase pension benefits for city workers.

            As a result of these votes, Atlanta’s police pension fell from a funding ratio of 95% in 2000 to a ratio of 64% by 2011.The city’s firefighters’ pension fell from a ratio of 92% in 2000 to only 61.4% in 2011.

            Atlanta’s story is not unusual. As a result of the constant political pressure exhorted by public unions, many elected officials have managed to slip in various increases or “sweeteners” to public pension plan benefits outside of the collective bargaining process that normally determines public pension benefits.

            They range from added disability clauses to simple increases in benefit payments.”

            Unless your mental state includes ideas that right-wing governments give unions what they want like an indulgent parent gives a child candy for supper, this would be what Chretien calls “a proof of a proof”.

          • Squintz

            You said left wing governments not me. If you want to say that unions are the most powerful actor in the political arena and are the cause of all of our problems, be my guest but that is the farthest thing from the truth. So let me get this straight, our “left governments” push policy for the unions and the right also push policy for the unions? What are you even talking about? The Democrats (centre right at best) entirely ignored their union base for their corporate overlords for at least the last decade did they not? They have power granted, but nothing compared to the interests of capital.
            Your example is also dated, an exception to the general rule of pension negotiations and cherry picks stats to support the point. Is it going to bring up the fact that union representation in the US has basically collapsed and that many pensions were negotiated away in contracts for new workers? Is it going to change it’s conclusion when Detroit proceeds through bankruptcy court to dispense of their duty to provide pensions they voluntarily agreed to support? Is it going to ignore the fact that the bulk of state funding goes to military, not union pensions?
            I get it, you hate unions and don’t think the pension system is sustainable, but really what is your solution and do you consider any alternatives outside of your narrow ideology?

          • CaligulaJones

            You are as deluded as you are incoherent. Read the actuarial report. Your uneducated ideas of bias beside the point, these are the folks that everyone, from governments to pension plans to, yes, unions, hire to provide them with numbers.

            The samples are recent and broad, including all 50 states and too many cities and municipalities to count. Hardly cherry picking. The other report delves into Europe. Hardly cherry picking. You are whistling past the graveyard.

            Yes, PRIVATE sector unions have lost much power, but we are talking PUBLIC sector unions, i.e., which you and I are on the hook to fund.

            % of Americans in public sector unions (1983): 36.7
            % in private sector (1983): 16.5

            in 2010:

            Public: 36.2
            Private: 6.9

            “public employees at the state and local level have seen an increase in their compensation that outpaces the increase in private sector employee compensation since 1998.

            From 1998 to 2010, the gap between the larger average state/local public employee compensation and the
            average private sector employee compensation grew from $4,681 to $8,390 (an increase of 79%).

            While average state/local employee compensation tapered off a bit between 2009 and 2010 (and private sector compensation grew slightly), for more than a decade state/local employees benefited from more substantial increases in their compensation and saw less of a decline after the financial crisis and economic downturn of 2007 and 2008.”

            No, I don’t have a problem with unions. I have a problem with people who are innumerate.

          • Squintz

            So you don’t think public sector unions have lost much power? The fact that this debate is going the way it is, the concessions that have been forced on many public unions in the last 5 years and Detroit unconstitutionally (state constitution) dispensing of their public pensions would contradict that.
            Your stat from 1998-2010 is the perfect example of a cherry picked figure to favour your point. The stagnation and ensuing collapse of private sector unions and industrial economy can be pointed to as much for a cause of the discrepancy as can the implied massive growth in public sector compensation. When one goes down sharply, the other doesn’t have to rise as much to create a gap does it?
            It’s also convenient the numbers don’t include the last 3 years (possibly unavoidable but does still change how we understand the current conditions). The last three years have been a blood bath for many public sector unions with large layoffs, pay freezes and austerity as the best many can expect. There are exceptions of course (police being an obvious one) but generally the situation is not nearly as rosy as you are trying to make it out to be.

          • CaligulaJones

            The defense rests. My sources go unread, what he does read he doesn’t understand (i.e., the source was the US census, from 1983, not 1998). Somehow he considers 27 years of data “cherry picking”…

          • torontothegreat

            Stop feeding this vile troll.

          • CaligulaJones

            Trolls tend to add a few comments to a post then leave. I provide substantive, balanced sources, which go unread, and have to deal with some who believes rabble is a good source.

            I’ll take the vile, though.

          • torontothegreat

            Trolls tend to add a few comments to a post then leave


            In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally[3][4] or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[5] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[6]

            And that pretty much sums up your comments in this thread. Right down to your own lack of comprehension with words and their meanings (including, but not limited to, the definition of troll)

            You lost all credibility and any expectation of an actual discussion (or the time it takes to read an article) when you launched into a tirade of ad hominem attacks against @disqus_Wlb3VEG1TN:disqus

  • KludgeGrrl

    What is completely disingenuous about this is the way that the media keeps saying that 2/3 of Canadians already use community post boxes. This is just not true. They are lumping in all the folks in apartment buildings who get their mail in the lobby and people who have post boxes along the road, at the end of their driveway (as opposed to at their door).

    There is a huge difference between picking up mail in your lobby or at the end of your driveway and having to go to some “centraly located” depot. Aside from the obvious security issues, where in the world do they imagine that these will fit in Toronto’s downtown? Where will the money to buy the real estate to place these things come from?

    It all seems poorly thought out. So much so that I have to wonder whether this isn’t a plan to scare us so that they can reconsider and decide to keep door service a few days a week.

  • torontothegreat
  • torontothegreat