A reporter interviews the husband of a woman (centre, in stripes) who was trampled during the media scrum.
A woman boos Sarah Thomson on her literal high horse.
Men and women who have been in a warzone describe it as long stretches of boredom punctured by short bursts of action. Ford Fest 2014 was hardly Da Nang, but it was slow, it was hot, it was tense, and it was confusing. It was sometimes pitiful and largely absurd. It was a lot of waiting broken up by emotion and violence. It was a whole lot of ordinary people looking for a free burger, undercut by an angry, pushed-to-the-edge faction.
By the end of the night, mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson had ridden in on a bright white steed; people had been shoved, slandered, choked; LGBTQ activists had been goaded, and at least one had been assaulted.
This year’s edition of Rob Ford’s annual booster barbecue—which was not a campaign event, mind you, and there were bylaw enforcement officers present to make sure there were no violations of the fest’s community activity permit—was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Friday, but the mayor was over an hour late. Thousands had lined for a Ford Nation T-shirt. A few hundred more snaked across the park, waiting in front of a canopy tent where Ford was scheduled to do a meet-and-greet. This was old-time populism in action.
About three times a day, a pedestrian and a vehicle collide in our city. This month, three of those collisions resulted in pedestrian deaths. While no policy response can undo the pain any of these tragedies have caused, pedestrian fatalities are on the rise and it’s time we followed the lead of cities taking steps to make taking steps safer. These include New York City, London, and Vancouver, each of which has established a target of zero pedestrian fatalities.
We should as well. About 5 per cent of people walk to work in Toronto. That’s about three times higher than the number who cycle, and it’s rising as city development intensifies. Factor in that at some point in almost everyone’s day they are a pedestrian, and the need to broaden our transport debate to include every mode of transport becomes clearer.
It becomes clearer still when you consider that last year, 40 pedestrians died on our streets, compared to 12 drivers and four cyclists. That’s the most pedestrian fatalities in more than a decade, and this year already eight have been killed.
If a mayoral election were held today, who would you vote for if the
candidates were Rob Ford, Karen Stintz, John Tory, Olivia Chow, and David
Rob Ford: 27%
Karen Stintz: 6%
John Tory: 28%
Olivia Chow: 29%
David Soknacki: 5%
Some other candidate: 1%
Don’t know: 4%
Poll taken: July 21, 2014 Sample size: 1063 Margin of Error: ±3%, 19 times out of 20 Methodology: Interactive voice response telephone survey Conducted by: Forum Research [PDF]
NOTES: 59 per cent of those surveyed believe that Rob Ford should resign, but it seems 27 per cent would still be willing to cast a ballot for him—which places him in a statistical tie with Olivia Chow and John Tory in the mayoral race, according to the latest poll from Forum Research. Although his numbers have not changed substantially since the last Forum poll in early July, which pegged his support at 26 per cent, Olivia Chow’s have dropped from 36 per cent to 29 per cent.
Karen Stintz and David Soknacki—weighing in with 6 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively—are, Forum concludes, “not serious contenders.”
Our new transportation minister, Steven Del Duca (Vaughan), is the antithesis of predecessor Glen Murray—who never met a question without an extensive, ambitious answer (sometimes multiple answers), even if he had to invent government policy on the fly to provide one. Del Duca, by contrast, doesn’t have much of an answer for a whole lot of questions. He is affable, but singularly “on-message.” And that message, hammered home throughout our recent interview with him, is that the time for discussion and debate is over: now we must build. Whatever plan we have—by which he means specifically the plan the Liberals ran on in the recent election (as opposed to the much more robust plan regional transit agency Metrolinx has had on the books for years)—is the one we much proceed with.
We have a certain sympathy for this attitude. If there’s one thing people in Toronto can agree on, it’s that the debates have been endless, and we need to see real, on-the-ground progress. The problem is that the way the Liberals are proceeding commits the provincial government—and Toronto-region transit riders—to a plan that was devised by politicians rather than experts, and one that falls far short of what the experts say we need to be doing.