wRanter.com

Gentle and not-so-gentle thoughts and musings from a Jewish, progressive, Canadian, inner-suburban, fortysomething, libertarian, recovering perfectionist, quasi-socialist husband, dad, basketball fan, writer and editor with a few opinions.

wRanter.com - Gentle and not-so-gentle thoughts and musings from a Jewish, progressive, Canadian, inner-suburban, fortysomething, libertarian, recovering perfectionist, quasi-socialist husband, dad, basketball fan, writer and editor with a few opinions.
Featured wRants

Preparing for the unlikely

As a new Jewish year begins, renewed U.S.-led peace talks continue between Israel and the Palestinians. Much has been written about the low expectations surrounding these negotiations on both sides. Certainly, Israelis and Jews have good reason to ...

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The next occupants of 24 Sussex?

Why Thomas Mulcair gets it when it comes to Israel

Not surprisingly, Thomas Mulcair won the NDP leadership last month, replacing Saint Jack Layton as the man social democrats hope can rally left-of-centre voters to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives. Here's hoping he's successful, but ...

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Rabbi Lisa Grushcow

Some interesting firsts in Canada's Jewish community

A couple of noteworthy firsts passed with little fanfare this past December that are unusual in Canada's religiously (and increasingly politically) conservative Jewish community. First, Temple Emanu-El Beth Sholom in Montreal named Rabbi Lisa Grushcow to ...

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Adolescents or still young kids?

Sixth graders are too young for middle school

My wife and I knew something was awry when Primo lost his lunch box less than two weeks into the fall term. We were pretty annoyed that we were out $10 in what seemed like record ...

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Thursday the rabbi walked out, or was he pushed?

Being a pulpit rabbi can be a cutthroat business

When Toronto Jews awoke last Saturday morning and collected their Globe and Mail newspapers from their doorsteps (those who still subscribe, that is), they discovered a front-page story detailing how Holy Blossom Temple, the city's ...

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Being mislabelled by educators can make school a misery.

Your December-born kid may not have ADHD. He might just be immature.

A new Canadian study is bolstering an argument I've been making to my kids' teachers and principals for years: children born later in a calendar year are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit ...

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He was burned by this very issue.

The Jewish community should fund its own schools

The fallout from the recent controversy over the creation of gay-straight alliance clubs (GSAs) in Ontario's publicly funded Catholic school system should give pause to those seeking funding – in the name of fairness – ...

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More lessons from Alberta’s surprise election result

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Political junky that I am, I can’t get enough of the analysis being generated in the aftermath of the Alberta election, which saw Premier Alison Redord and the Progressive Conservatives defy virtually all the polls to beat Danielle Smith and her Wildrose Alliance party.

It’s truly a fascinating result that holds lessons for the entire country, a few of which I mused about earlier this week.

Here are some more that have been rattling around my brain.

Joe Clark at wRanter.com

The Chinless Wonder lives.

• Redford, the onetime adviser to former  prime minister and national Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark, won on a socially progressive but fiscally conservative platform, showing that Red Toryism is alive and well in Canada. As Thomas Walkom argued in the Toronto Star, in defining the term made popular by University of Toronto political science professor Gad Horowitz, “Parties that are successful in this country tend to marry fiscal conservatism with social progressivism. They support free markets but don’t make a fetish of them.

“As a result, Red Tories don’t hesitate to intervene in the economy to serve what they define as the public interest. Successive Red Tory governments used the state to build railways and public hydro-electricity networks. One invented the CBC.”

Redford is definitely a conservative in the Red Tory mode. Red Tories still exist. Really, truly.

Continue reading

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A Yom Hashoah tribute to a grandfather

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I know that Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – has come and gone for another year, but I want people to see this video.

It was produced entirely by Matthew Pollock, 13, a Grade 8 student at the Toronto Heschel School (and one of Primo’s best friends) as a tribute to his grandfather, Steven Friedlich, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who died earlier this year.

The powerful piece speaks for itself.

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Of wilted wild roses and elbows to the back of the head

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Alberta, it turns out, isn’t the out and out redneck haven that some of us easterners might have thought it was.

And it looks like Alberta’s Progressive Conservative dynasty will live to fight another day.

Alison Redford at wRanter.com

Still smiling, after dodging a bullet

I was going to write about how Premier Alison Redford and her PCs had won fewer seats in yesterday’s election, and about how she looked to be in a better shape to govern than Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose (a.k.a. the Wildrose Alliance) party, since Redford could likely count on the NDP and Liberals to support what would have been her minority government.

Suprise! The polls were wrong, or at least partly wrong, in predicting a Wildrose government. The newish party won only 17 seats, with 34.3 per cent of the vote, and becomes the official opposition.

The PCs, meanwhile, secured a majority, albeit a smaller one than last time, winning 61 seats with 43.9 per cent of the vote, versus 72 seats with 52.7 per cent of the vote in 2008, although they had only 66 seats when the 2012 campaign started. They also did it without garnering a majority of the popular vote, as they have in the past under former premiers Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein.

So what does this say about Alberta and about Canadian politics more generally? Continue reading

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It looks like Rob Ford will never learn

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When Rob Ford ran for mayor of Toronto in 2010, after other more moderate and polished conservatives declined to throw their hats in the ring, there was a lot of hyperventilation on the part of lefties and progressives.

Rob Ford at wRanter.com

He makes me so proud...

After all, here was a guy who as a city councillor got drunk at a Toronto Maple Leafs game in 2006 and verbally accosted a couple who objected to his behaviour, then was kicked out of the Air Canada Centre. He later lied about being at the game, but confessed when confronted by reporters.

What’s more, in 1999, he was arrested in Miami for driving under the influence and possessing marijuana. He claimed during the mayoral campaign that the whole incident had completely slipped his mind.

He also once called fellow councillor Giorgio Mammoliti – a former NDPer who is now a staunch right-wing council ally – a “Gino Boy,” and he was generally renowned in his 10 years on council for being a fiscally conservative lone wolf who alienated the press and couldn’t work with anyone, left or right.

Since winning the election on a platform of “stopping the gravy train” at City Hall, the penny-pinching Ford has been, well, the same old jerk.

He’s been spotted multiple times driving while talking on his cellphone – a no-no in Ontario – and flipped the bird to some fellow drivers who called him on it.

He refuses to talk to the country’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, saying it published a libellous story during the campaign that alleged he assaulted a high school football player on a team he once coached.

He’s also bungled the transit file so badly with his unwillingness to compromise on his plan to extend the Sheppard subway and his opposition to light rapid transit alternatives that he’s basically lost whatever sway he originally had with city council. That’s a big problem in a municipal political system in which there are no parties and the mayor only gets one vote.

This is far from an exhaustive list of his indiscretions and outright stupidity.

Ford is an embarrassment, to be sure, but when he was elected, my standard line was that he would likely be no worse than the first mayor of the amalgamated city of Toronto, Mel Lastman, a buffoon who served from 1998 to 2003.

Lastman famously called in the army to handle a 1999 snowstorm, and he later welcomed a Hells Angels convention to town, claiming he didn’t know the biker gang was involved in the drug trade. In 2001, he wondered aloud why he would want to go to Mombasa, Kenya, to lobby IOC delegates for a Toronto Olympic bid, saying, “I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me.”

But I have to take it all back. Rob Ford is an idiot who’s much worse than Lastman. Ford is the worst big-city mayor this country has ever seen – at least since I’ve been paying attention – because he just doesn’t learn from his mistakes. Continue reading

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What will replace newspapers?

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Ever since I can remember, I’ve read and loved newspapers.

I got hooked on the comics pages when I was 5 or 6, migrated to sports, and then graduated to the rest of the paper.

Canadian newspapers at wRanter.com

A dying breed?

My parents subscribed to the Toronto Star and the weekly Canadian Jewish News, both of which I used to (and still) read (pardon the pun regarding the latter) religiously.

For about a year when I was a kid of around 11, I wrote a three-page weekly “newspaper” that I called the Local Gazette.

The contents consisted of neighbourhood gossip and sports scores that I cribbed from the Sunday Star. I produced each edition’s three copies by hand using carbon paper. (This was before home computers became affordable and popular.)

My paying customers – at 25 cents an issue – were two neighbours, parents of friends of mine, as well as a teenager who hung around the neighbourhood and was also my one and only “reporter.” To this day I don’t know why he subscribed or why he wanted to be part of my little vanity project.

Later, as an undergraduate, I spent two years reporting for the Excalibur, York University’s main student-run newspaper, bugging administrators and keeping them honest, or at least that’s what I liked to think I was doing. Continue reading

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