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

Jewish issues at centre of partisan sniping

Jewish issues and candidates made headlines last week and became the subject of some distasteful political rhetoric on the campaign trail. In Alberta, a 21-year-old hijab-wearing university student resigned Aug. 18 as the Liberal candidate in ...

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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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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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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau

Israel shouldn't be a political football or litmus test

Despite public and private appeals to call off the event, the Jewish Defence League (JDL) went ahead with its unfortunate decision to picket a Liberal fundraiser at the Toronto home of pharmaceutical magnate and Jewish ...

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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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Who will be the next big-name Jewish MP?

Last week, we examined four “Jewish” battleground ridings, including two – York Centre in Toronto and Mount Royal in Montreal – where, one way or another, a Jewish candidate is likely to win. This week, ...

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What can we learn from the Eaton Centre shooting?

Brett Lawrie Eaton Centre Twitter photo at wRanter.com

The scene outside the Eaton Centre

It’s a bit of a mug’s game to try to find meaning in the kind of shooting crime that occurred June 2 in a food court at Toronto’s Eaton Centre, in which one man was killed and two other people – including a 13-year-old boy eating dinner with his family who was hit in the head by a stray bullet – were seriously injured.

The details will only come out at trial, so it’s hard to speculate on what exactly happened or why it happened. But reports suggest the shooter and the victim were part of the same gang, and the shooting may have been in retaliation for the victim (and the injured man) having robbed and stabbed the shooter this past winter.

The reports also suggest the two men ran into each other randomly in the mall, so this appears to be partly a crime of opportunity. Nevertheless, their alleged gang affiliations belie police claims that the shooting wasn’t gang-related, presumably because it wasn’t a case of gang-on-gang violence.

The shooting has generated a huge amount of news coverage and a deluge of commentary and analysis.

Torontonians need to take a deep breath and avoid hyperventilating about the incident, but we also need to figure out if anything can be done to avoid similar events in the future. Continue reading

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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 – for their own faith-based schools.

It should, but it probably won’t.

Cardinal Tom Collins at wRanter.com

He stuck out his neck, and his schools could suffer.

The so-called anti-bullying bill, which seeks to end bullying in publicly funded schools, passed in the legislature earlier this week. Catholic leaders – including the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins – had opposed it because it allows students to set up GSAs in schools and requires the schools to permit them, and for them to be named as such if students prefer it.

The whole idea was to provide safe spaces for gay students in schools, in order to prevent bullying and the kind of high-profile suicides that prompted the legislation in the first place. But Catholic leaders said the move amounted to an attack on freedom of religion.

The Liberal government denied Tory opposition charges that it has been using the issue of GSAs to try to open a debate about the $7 billion in annual public funding for Ontario’s Catholic schools.

The claim seems to be borne out by the fact the recent Drummond Report –which went over government operations in minute detail with an eye to finding as many budgetary savings as possible – passed over some rather low-hanging fruit in the form of Catholic schools and their parallel public educational bureaucracy. Some estimates put the annual savings from folding the Catholic system into the public one at a whopping $1 billion annually.

But regardless of whether or not the government intended to pick a fight over Catholic school funding, the war may already have begun: a new poll taken June 4 found that 48 per cent of Ontarians  oppose Catholic school funding, while 43 per cent favour it (eight per cent were unsure). Continue reading

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It looks like Rob Ford will never learn

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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Why I like the CFL, and you should, too

As my beloved Raptors wind down yet another lost season, and with the Leafs mercifully having been put out of their misery a few weeks ago, it’s time to turn my attention to the sports of summer.

Arrrrrgooooooooooos at wRanter.com


Here in Toronto, that means Blue Jays baseball – it’s hard not to get excited about a team that could contend this year – as well as Toronto FC in Major League Soccer and the Argonauts in the Canadian Football League.

I realize that pro sports is mostly a business populated by multi-millionaire players and billionaire owners.

A left-wing Christian that I once profiled felt all pro sports are wastes of time and money, diversions from more important pursuits, and he was probably right.

Intellectually, I can understand this “bread, not circuses” attitude, and I don’t take any pro sport that I follow too seriously (although I did as a kid and as a teenager). But emotionally, I think there’s something fun and collectively healthy about bonding around a local sports team.

At the very least, it gives Torontonians something to talk about beyond the buffoonery of our dumb-as-wood conservative puffball of a mayor and his fumbling of the transit file.

It’s also a bit easier for a lefty like me to get behind smaller-scale teams such as TFC and especially the Argos, the latter being the poor cousin of the local pro sports scene.

Continue reading

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Can Karen Stintz bring us new rapid transit? Let’s hope so

To anyone who has ever sat in Toronto gridlock at rush hour, ready to kill the driver in front of them or hurl themselves out the window of their overcrowded bus, it’s pretty obvious that we need more rapid transit as soon as possible in this city, and the entire region for that matter.

And we’ve needed it “as soon as possible” for the past 15 years.

At the moment, the city’s best chance for new rapid transit infrastructure is a compromise that would see the construction of two light rapid transit lines and a short subway extension, instead of the six lines (or seven, depending on how you count them) promised under a grand proposal put forward by former Toronto mayor David Miller that was killed, sort of, by his successor, Rob Ford.

TTC Subway and RT map at wRanter.com

Toronto's current rapid transit system doesn't cut it.

The compromise, championed by TTC chair and city Councillor Karen Stintz, is not as good as we deserve, but it’s better than nothing and a step in the right direction. We should grab it.

Now, in case you take the view that it’s your god-given right to drive your car, you should consider the obvious: good public transit isn’t some socialist conspiracy. It’s a key component in making great cities function properly.

More people need to be enticed to leave their cars at home, the way they’ve done for years in such rabidly anti-capitalist centres as New York and London (try navigating those places at rush hour in your car). Without good rapid transit, those financial hubs, which are much larger than Toronto, would grind to a halt.

Indeed, according to a 2010 study by the Toronto Board of Trade, commute times in the Greater Toronto Area are worse than in freeway-choked Los Angeles, as well as 18 other major cities around the world.

In short, the need for more transit has become almost a regional emergency, and all we’ve had for 20 or more years is dithering and a lack of political will. The question is what do we need and what can we afford that will serve the largest number of people? Continue reading

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