Three new pedestrian crossovers proposed for Queen’s Park

Final decision to be made on December 17 by City Council

Three new pedestrian crossovers proposed for Queen’s Park

Students trying to cross Queen’s Park may be able to walk with more security as Toronto’s Transportation Services (TS) has proposed three new pedestrian crossovers at popular jaywalking spots. If the measures receive final approval on December 17 from City Council, construction is estimated to begin during the summer of 2021.

Following consultations, the university proposed crossings at areas around Queen’s Park where pedestrians naturally tend to cross. The points of interest were an area at the north roadway of Queen’s Park on Queen’s Park Crescent East; a point on Queen’s Park Crescent West, south of Hoskin Avenue; and a point on Queen’s Park Crescent West, slightly north of the south leg. The study was conducted in April by the TTC, where it observed pedestrian traffic in those three areas during the busiest eight-hour period of weekdays.

The study found that all but the third noted area of concern justified installing a pedestrian crossover, since they had high pedestrian volume and consistent pedestrian delay. Queen’s Park Crescent West, south of Hoskin Avenue, had the highest amount of pedestrian crossings, with 1,323 crossings in the eight-hour period.

Based on these findings, TS recommended installing crossovers in all areas, despite none of the areas meeting all of the standards for pedestrian crossings, as Queen’s Park has nearby driveways and turning movements, alongside three lanes of one-way traffic on both Queen’s Park Crescent East and West. The areas are also in close proximity to other pedestrian crossovers and driveways.

A 2017 investigation by The Varsity found four major road accidents around Queen’s Park in a 10-year period.

Should City Council give final approval during the December 17 meeting, the time between approval and activation would be around 18 months, according to the city. “Traffic control signal installation could be reasonably expected during the summer of 2021,” wrote a city spokesperson in an email to The Varsity. The cost would be about $360,000, depending on the availability of funding.

A report by TS cited U of T traffic as the main reason for requesting the crossings, to improve connectivity and safety. U of T constitutes a “distinct region of urban parkland in the city’s downtown core,” according to the report, which also cited the Ontario Legislative Building, which is built on Queen’s Park, along with its numerous historical monuments as reasons for the new crossovers.

The crossings at Queen’s Park are part of a larger effort by U of T to make the campus more friendly to pedestrians, according to Christine Burke, Director of Campus & Facilities Planning.

“The university proposed these new crossings and we’re very pleased they are moving forward,” wrote Burke in an email to The Varsity. “From consultations, we learned that these crossings are all natural routes for pedestrians, including people travelling back and forth from the University of St. Michael’s College and Victoria University on the east side of Queen’s Park.”

Campus police issue community alert for robberies at UTSG

U of T community urged to “take precautions”

Campus police issue community alert for robberies at UTSG

Campus police issued a community safety alert today following reports of multiple robberies in and around UTSG.

Queen’s Park, the intersection of College Street and Spadina Avenue, and the intersection of Willcocks Street and Huron Street were noted as particular areas of concern.

Safety recommendations include using the TravelSafer program, in which a special constable or security guard would accompany students at night.

“Please be aware of your surroundings and take precautions when you must walk alone,” reads the statement.

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Campus police can be reached at 416-978-2222.

“You fear what you don’t understand”: prejudice against homelessness around Toronto

On eliminating otherness through empathy

“You fear what you don’t understand”: prejudice against homelessness around Toronto

I was on a casual, brisk walk around Queen’s Park — not through it, not after all of the stories and jokes I’d heard about what happens there after sunset. I was making my way to class with a friend when we saw a man walking toward us. Appearing unwashed, he wore baggy sweatpants and a ragged long sleeve shirt. I immediately felt uneasy as he approached.

He made eye contact with us once he was within a couple of paces, and I quickly side-stepped away from his path and averted my eyes to the opposite side of the street. My friend, who is less inclined to flee in uncomfortable situations, maintained eye contact and allowed the man to approach him.

The question that the man asked my friend was the last thing I was expecting: “Can you tell me how to get to Hart House?” My friend delivered a quick and slightly incoherent response, and we walked away, both sighing a breath of relief.

In that moment, as I thought back to the way my eyes had dropped and my heart raced, I was forced to confront a truth that I’d been unwilling to admit ever since moving to Toronto: I tend to fear those experiencing homelessness. This encounter hasn’t been a unique experience in my life. Whenever I encounter someone who appears to be living on the streets, I feel a strange mix of discomfort, apprehension, and guilt.

A conversation on prejudice

I sat down with Steven Lee, a second-year nursing student at U of T who experienced homelessness from ages 16–19, to discuss this seemingly programmed response of mine. He simply but profoundly said, “You fear what you don’t understand.”

And that’s exactly it. While I can only speak from my own experience, I think it’s safe to assume that many of us do not fear the basic definition of experiencing homelessness; rather, we fear the misinformed connotation that we attach to the idea of homelessness.

The predisposed conclusions that we draw from seeing someone sleeping on a sidewalk — that they must be dirty, experience drug use disorder, or mental illness — hinder us from understanding the reality of the situation.

Homelessness can be anyone who doesn’t have a solid state of living,” said Lee. “Because they have — especially in the more extreme cases — a hard time finding stability in their life, the lack of stability that’s present in their outward appearance scares people.”

However, as we’ve always been told, appearances can be deceiving.

“If you were to look at me, would you assume that I’m homeless?” Lee asked. When I said no, he replied, “but right now I’m dressed the same way as when I was 16 and homeless, or very similarly.”

“The fact is that most people judge homelessness by appearance, but homelessness is much more than that.”

Otherness breeds fear, and a lack of consistent food, shelter, and income is a foreign concept to some of us. In order to break down these barriers, we need to learn how to empathize with those experiencing homelessness. Without empathy, we usually resort to sympathy, a feeling that isn’t always effective to truly understand someone else’s story.

Lee recognizes that in a place like Toronto, there are very particular barriers that block our ability to see past preconceived prejudices.

“When we talk about a culture that highlights privilege in the way our city does, it gets really hard to empathize with a class that you’re not associated with,” Lee remarked.

Addressing housing as a human right

Although it’s difficult, we cannot continue to avert our eyes from the reality of homelessness. As of April 2018, there were 8,715 people experiencing homelessness in Toronto. These numbers are still rising due to economic conditions, the inaccessible housing market, and the influx of refugees and asylum seekers.

When addressing homelessness, many government policies have been discussed and plans have been enacted, but nevertheless the issue persists. Our incomprehension of such an experience has resulted in biased, ineffective public policy and a persistent lack in long-term solutions to the crisis.

One of Toronto’s main efforts to alleviate homelessness is the creation and expansion of shelters, which includes 24-hour respite sites, Out of the Cold programs, and more permanent shelters. However, the underlying issue of all these shelters is that they are short-term solutions to a long-term problem.

“Our city is in a state where homelessness is still on the rise, and if you don’t find these people homes, it’s like putting a bucket underneath a dripping roof,” said Lee.

The municipal government’s focus on providing shelters reflects a larger issue at hand: instead of viewing people experiencing homelessness as capable and intelligent citizens, we view them as charity cases in need of our paternalism. While shelters and donations are by no means an irrelevant contribution, these alone are insufficient to address the core of the issue: a lack of housing.

Leilani Farha, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, stresses the need to view housing as a human right. Farha hopes to change perceptions of housing as an economic good to a social good through her nationwide efforts in “The Shift,” a movement that intends to protect the right to housing and end worldwide homelessness.

“The Right to Adequate housing is a human right according to the United Nations… because of the close relationship between housing and dignity,” Farha wrote to The Varsity. “[It’s] pretty hard to have human dignity when living in homelessness on the streets or doubled or tripled up with friends and family, or when living in housing without running water.”

Instead of increasing shelter space, the government’s priorities should shift to a housing-first approach. Housing first essentially means locating and placing someone in a permanent residence before addressing any mental health, addiction, abuse, or unemployment issues that may have contributed to their current state.

Advocates of this approach argue that once someone is in a home, they will begin to feel more secure, empowered, and capable, allowing every other concern to be approached in a more sustainable manner.

“I don’t feel safe”

In addition to being a short-term solution, shelters are also notorious for stringent rules and unsafe conditions.

“A shelter can’t necessarily guarantee the safety of its residence occupants, mostly due to either… [a lack of] man-power or other factors,” Lee said.

Lee also added that the shelter system is not sustainable for all.

“You’re held by a certain set of rules according to the shelter, which is totally logical because the shelter has to keep in mind and protect people who are interested in helping themselves, to a degree,” said Lee.

Lee points to shelters’ curfews as one example of a rule that can be difficult.

“What generally results is that these homeless individuals… might have a bad day and not meet curfew or something like that,” Lee said. “They have to be discharged and they’re back to being on the street, which is one step back from where they need to be.”

Some people experiencing homelessness even prefer living outside, in self-constructed encampments or on sidewalks, rather than facing the brutal realities of some of the city’s shelters.

Benjamin Boucher told The Globe and Mail of his experience with homelessness. “I have a really difficult time with [shelters]… I don’t feel safe inside.” Instead, he chose to live under the Spadina Avenue overpass because he was “less stressed” and slept more peacefully in his makeshift community.

Unfortunately for Boucher and many other individuals experiencing homelessness, the Toronto City Council sent eviction notices to these tented neighborhoods in January, telling the residents that they had two weeks to clear out. Although on the surface this may seem like a reasonable request, as public areas like highway bypasses and parks are not meant to be residential camp sites, it raises a bigger question about the inherent freedom of those facing homelessness.

Government responsibility

Jeremy Waldron, a New York University professor of law and philosophy, wrote an essay titled “Homelessness and the Issue of Freedom.” In it, he argues that if people are expected to perform certain tasks on their private property and not public property, then those without private property aren’t actually free to perform those “private” actions.

In terms of the highway encampments, people living there resort to performing their “private” actions of sleeping, relaxing, and various other necessities in public spaces. However, when the municipal government interferes and prevents these people from performing these vital functions under the highway, they force them to either break the law, or find another public space that hasn’t been put under these restrictions.

All of this circles back to the original dilemma: shelter spaces may be either unavailable or unlivable, private spaces are inaccessible and unaffordable, and now there are fewer public spaces where one has the freedom to live.

The government has not done its part in addressing this issue. Despite approving the Open Door Affordable Housing Program in 2016, meant to use surplus public land to build affordable housing, few rental homes have actually been completed. In 2018, there were 1,459 homes approved — however, only 69 of those have been finished.

This gap between the plan and the finished product reflects the government’s consistent lack of effective housing-first solutions. Housing is an essential step, but there is also a huge intermediate process between experiencing homelessness and being housed. Rather than keeping people in a perpetual loop of homelessness through short-term shelter solutions, or aiding the lucky few who can access the affordable housing market, the government needs to address all of the in-between steps to ease and support this transition.

In a city and nation that emphasize individual liberty, the government continually oppresses individuals experiencing homelessness by leaving them without an option to lead the same lives as private property owners.

The lack of public pressure is one reason that governments manage to evade addressing homelessness as the human rights crisis that it is. And why don’t we speak out against the injustice of overcrowded shelter systems, restrictive policies of public space, and absence of housing-first programs? We are guided by inherent biases toward the population facing homelessness —biases based on fear instead of fact, and the issue is easier to ignore than to confront.

To combat this fear and ignorance, we should prioritize both personal development and public education on the reality of homelessness, and open ourselves up to empathy.

According to Lee, the major steps that must be taken are to “remove stigma about homeless people, educate people on the advantages of these interventions, and get the personal stories of homeless people out there because you can’t empathize [if] you don’t know.”

Echoing his message, Farha wrote, “It is essential to reframe homelessness as the failure of governments to effectively implement the right to housing and that people living in homelessness are rights holders who have been failed, rather than failures themselves.”

Farha pointed out that housing is necessary for people to exercise other essential human rights, “such as rights to health, education, and employment… and because adequate housing is crucial to the social conditions necessary for human dignity, it is intimately connected to the right to life.”

On an individual scale, we all have the capacity to improve public perception of homelessness by actively fighting our pre-existing stigmas. By volunteering at soup kitchens or shelters, or even by researching the reality of homelessness in our communities, we can make personal strides toward achieving universal housing.

It all starts with a conversation and some open-mindedness — something that I will prioritize the next time someone approaches me with a question at Queen’s Park.

Disclosure: Steven Lee was The Varsity’s 2017–2018 Photo Editor.

In Photos: The Rally for Education

Thousands converged on Queen's Park to protest cuts to education

In Photos: The Rally for Education

“We have a fight on our hands”

Two teachers on what the Rally for Education meant

“We have a fight on our hands”

On April 6, thousands of people crowded the lawns of Queen’s Park. Union flags swung above the crowd while kids dodged through protesters’ legs, dragging cardboard signs behind them.

Jointly organized by five Ontario teachers’ unions, the Rally for Education was held to protest the Ford government’s proposed cuts to education funding. Teachers, students, and concerned citizens shook signs and fists at the Ontario Legislative Building, which loomed over those gathered in its shadow.

Under the government’s new plan, 3,475 full-time teaching positions would disappear, with 1,558 positions this coming school year alone. Doug Ford further plans to increase the average class sizes of both elementary and high schools, as well as introduce mandatory online classes for secondary students. The government also proposed sweeping changes to funding for students with autism, which would drastically reduce their overall support.

Teachers, already underpaid and overworked, are infuriated. But not out of concern for their jobs or their workloads. Overwhelmingly, they’re worried about their students and what these cuts will mean for their quality of education.

To get a better sense of what this means, I asked two Ottawa-based middle school teachers: Lori-Ann Zylstra and Cindy May, who’ve both worked in education for over two decades.

Cindy is my mom, and Lori-Ann is her sister, my aunt. They’re both represented by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and teach in rural schools outside of Ottawa. They woke up at 4:30 am to catch the bus to Toronto for the rally and went back that same afternoon.

Lori-Ann, Cindy, and the author

“I went to the protest today because I felt it was really important to stand and be counted,” Lori-Ann told me. “I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding among the general public simply because they’re not teachers. When people hear 28 kids as a class size, for example, they don’t realize that that’s an average.”

Cindy nodded. “I have huge concerns about the impact of the cuts on the classroom. And what it’s actually going to mean, face to face, day to day with the students,” she added.

Classes are already dangerously large, they explained, and increasing them further will have significant negative effects on students. On rare occasions when a number of students are not in class, Cindy told me, “students who are remaining will almost always say, ‘Wow, this is so nice, we have so much time to talk about things and do things.’”

They’re also concerned about the impact the funding cuts will have on students with autism. “Doug Ford presents it like some new thing that there will be students with autism in the classroom,” Lori-Ann said, but “it is already common for me to have one or more students who are on the autism spectrum in my class.”

 She’s received no special training in how to better teach children with unique needs, but there is usually extra funding to provide specialized support. But “what [Ford] is going to do is take it all away and fund them with the same amount as a kid who isn’t on the spectrum,” she explained. This will transfer sole responsibility of their care to already-overburdened teachers.

While Lori-Ann told me that she wouldn’t mind taking on those responsibilities, she explained that “the problem is that it is already challenging to adequately service the the academic and social and emotional needs in my classroom.”

“The government claims… cuts are about fiscal responsibility,” Cindy continued. “If this is what all these changes and cuts are supposed to be about, then let’s get to the real meaning of that. Let’s address the mental health needs of our students, the social determinants of their health, development needs and so on. What are we doing now to address those?” She shook her head.

Both Cindy and Lori-Ann were also deeply concerned about what mandatory online courses for high school students might mean. “Unless you are a student who is very self-directed with lots of initiative, you aren’t going to succeed in online-only courses,” Lori-Ann explained. Furthermore, “the strong possibility is that there’s going to be private companies administering these courses,” which would effectively “move us toward the two-tier educational system,” she said.

A two-tier educational system would look something like this: children from wealthy families would be sent to high quality private schools, whereas children from poorer families would be effectively ghettoized into lower quality public schools. “And I think this is just Doug Ford’s first step into privatizing education. He’s trying to Americanize it.” Lori-Ann warned. “And we see where that’s gotten the Americans,” Cindy added.

If this worries you, take action. Cindy and Lori-Ann both hoped everyday people would engage critically with the government’s rhetoric and “just ask teachers questions, ask [them] what [they’re] so upset about.” Members of the public are also welcome to join teachers in the #RedForEd campaign, wherein supporters wear red shirts every Friday in solidarity with teachers and education workers. But most importantly, show up! “Anytime that there’s any sort of rally or protest, everyone is welcome,” Lori-Ann smiled.

“This was just the first step, I’m certain, in a series of movements and initiatives that teachers are going to take,” she said.

“In my 25 years of teaching, I’ve never seen anything like [these cuts],” Cindy said. “We have a fight on our hands. And as teachers we need to be prepared to step up and fight for our students education.” We all do.

Ontario universities must slash tuition by 10 per cent, non-needs-based OSAP to be eliminated, government says

Non-essential non-tuition fees no longer mandatory, potentially affecting student unions, Hart House

Ontario universities must slash tuition by 10 per cent, non-needs-based OSAP to be eliminated, government says

In an unexpected move, the provincial government announced sweeping changes to domestic tuition, the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), and student levy fees on January 17. In her press conference, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton repeatedly stated that the government was “putting students first.”

Sweeping changes to OSAP

Fullerton announced changes to the six-month grace period on loans, an expansion of grants to low-income students, and decreases to the number of grants and loans provided to students with a household income of above $50,000 — stating that all Ontario students will still be eligible to apply for OSAP, but that the government will be focusing on helping lower-income students.

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and MPP for Northumberland—Peterborough South David Piccini, who stood behind Fullerton as she announced these changes, spoke to The Varsity on the specifics of the announcement and echoed Fullerton’s sentiments.

According to Piccini, the six-month grace period, which allows students to begin repaying provincial student loans six months after graduation, will remain. However, interest will accrue on the loans immediately after graduation, a change from the former system, which delayed interest until after the six-month period.

Piccini justified this decision by saying that it would align with the process of repaying federal government loans.

The government will also be eliminating the non-needs-based portion of the Ontario Student Grant for recipients of OSAP, according to Fullerton’s press release, giving a larger portion of grants to low-income households.

“We’re restoring trust and accountability. We’re restoring the integrity of the OSAP system so that it’s there for those who need it.”

Tuition cuts

Ontario universities and colleges will have to slash domestic tuition by 10 per cent for the 2019–2020 academic year and freeze it for another year, Fullerton also announced.

“Tuition was never free,” she said.

In response to a question about how universities and colleges will be expected to make up for lost revenue, Fullerton said, “There are different ways they can adapt… They will be able to determine what they need to do.”

Based on the 2017–2018 intake numbers, current tuition fees, and current university-wide operating budget, The Varsity estimates that the proposed 10 per cent cut to domestic tuition would cost the university at least $43 million in income from undergraduates alone.

According to The Varsity’s estimates, the cut would be equivalent to about $10 million less than all OSAP loans awarded to first-year Arts & Science students in 2017.

Currently, most domestic first-year Arts & Science undergraduate student at U of T pays about $6,780 and would see an annual savings of $678, with savings potentially increasing depending on year and program of study.

A student entering deregulated programs, including Rotman Commerce and computer science, paid more than $12,500 this academic year, and may see a minimum saving of $1,250. Engineering students may see a minimum $1,500 reduction from their average $15,000 annual tuition. It is currently unclear whether or not these programs will be affected by the tuition cuts.

Piccini emphasized the benefits of tuition cuts to students, saying that most student unions and groups prioritize rising tuition costs when addressing concerns on postsecondary education.

“I think everyone’s going to benefit from a tuition decrease,” said Piccini. “My phone has been blowing up overnight from constituents and students in my riding who are very excited at the prospect of cheaper tuition.”

Official Opposition Critic for Colleges and Universities MPP Chris Glover told The Varsity that he had consulted with the Canadian Federation of Students after learning of the tuition cuts.

“Students are not going to benefit from this. Students are going to be the losers in this announcement.”

Opting out of student fees

Finally, the provincial government has also announced that most non-tuition student fees will no longer be mandatory. This would apply to “non-essential” groups and services, which appear to range from student handbooks to clubs. The services identified as “essential” by the government include walksafe programs, counselling, athletics, and academic support.

Institutions will be required to create an online opt-out system for non-essential fees. However, the distinction of what falls under “essential” and “non-essential” will apparently be made at the discretion of the institution.

When asked by The Varsity if the government had consulted with universities and students, Fullerton affirmed that it had but did not provide specifics regarding which groups.

“Students are adults and we are treating them as such by giving them the freedom to clearly see where their fees are currently being allocated,” said Fullerton. She added that institutions will adapt, and the government was trying to challenge them to innovate.

Fullerton clarified that it will be “up to the institutions” to decide the “essential categories for student fees and… fees that they will be able to opt out of.”

“There is leeway for the institutions to have a say in that.”

 

However, there is confusion around who has the ultimate say in determining what is “essential” and “non-essential,” as well as how the government would enforce its mandate.

Piccini said that universities will be able to develop these policies “at their discretion.”

“Universities are autonomous, and we’ve outlined a policy to give students choice, and we certainly hope students will be given choice in this.”

However, Piccini also said repeatedly during the interview with The Varsity that “there has to be an opt-out option.” He further added that, while these changes might not mean much to students in “downtown Toronto,” students he has seen struggle with paying for postsecondary education will greatly benefit.

The historic policy decision on mandatory fees could mean that certain student groups will lose a debilitating portion of their funding if students choose to opt out of fees.

The University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) 2017–2018 audited financial statements shows that about 72 per cent of its $2.2 million revenue came from student fees. UTSG students currently pay around $200 per semester to the UTSU, although $171.54 of that is refundable, including the Health and Dental Plan.

Hart House also heavily relies on mandatory fees, as its 2017–2018 budget states that 52 per cent of its $17.7 million revenue comes from students. The typical full-time UTSG undergraduate student pays $86.38 per semester, while full-time UTM and UTSC undergraduate students pay $2.65.

— With files from Kevin Lu and Julie Shi

Chaos erupts at legislature amid protests against Ford government decision to cut size of city council

Protesters arrested, MPPs walk out from heated debate

Chaos erupts at legislature amid protests against Ford government decision to cut size of city council

The Ontario legislature descended into chaos on September 12 after members of the opposition and the public spoke out against Premier Doug Ford’s decision to invoke Section 33 of the Canadian Charter, also known as the notwithstanding clause. This landmark decision comes after a Superior Court ruling struck down Bill 5 on September 10, which would have downsized Toronto City Council from 47 to 25 seats. The invocation of the notwithstanding clause by the government overrules the court decision, and allows Ford to continue with his plan to cut down city council. The provincial government is also appealing the Superior Court ruling.

Ford will be the first Ontario Premier to invoke Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the province’s legislative history. This section of the Charter allows the federal or provincial government to override certain sections of the Charter; in this case, Ford is using it to bypass the court ruling. Most instances of its enactment were in Québec as a form of protest.

Ford made the sudden announcement to use the notwithstanding clause hours after Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba ruled against Bill 5. After he invoked the clause, Ford boasted of “not being shy” to pull such a move.

As a result of this bill, a single city councillor would be representing 120,000 residents in a riding — up from around 70,000–95,000 residents currently. Ford said that by doing this, he will be “saving taxpayer dollars.”

“By invoking the notwithstanding clause, he should expect the people to respond and that the people of Toronto are not going to take their rights being ignored very simply,” said Kate Schneider, a second-year Political Science student who showed up to protest the bill. “They’re not going to just let him override their rights.”

Most protesters were escorted out of the public gallery, and none remained after the first reading. Two protesters were arrested by security, one announcing that she was a “77-and-a-half-year-old woman.”

Members of the opposition criticized the arrest, calling it an attack against democracy.

ANN MARIE ELPA/THE VARSITY

Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP), was especially critical of the premier’s motives, calling his move a vendetta against Toronto City Council and the people of Toronto.

“All this time to get back at, to get revenge on NDP city councillors that he didn’t like — that’s not what a Premier is supposed to do. And then to use this heavy hand, to use the notwithstanding clause to attack people’s charter-protected rights?” said Horwath later in a media scrum. “It’s a black eye on our province. It’s a shame that our premier is such a petty, vindictive human being, whose focus is on himself and his own quest to ‘show those folks in Toronto that he’s the boss of them.’”

Horwath also questioned Ford on why there was no mention of such an initiative in his 2018 provincial election campaign, claiming that he is “tramping over people’s right to override the initiative that he did not have the guts to run on.” She, like many other members of the opposition, were ejected from the chamber for disrupting the reading of the bill by banging on desks, coughing, and yelling words such as “democracy.”

Speaker of the House, Progressive Conservative (PC) MPP, Ted Arnott, Ford, and members of Ford’s cabinet left the chamber abruptly at around 10:50 am, reconvening roughly 20 minutes later.

When asked about the events that took place in the galleries, Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said, “I am fully supportive of our government’s decision to appeal the decision of the Superior Court, which we believe was wrongly decided, and so, we’re appealing that case. And because time is of the essence — there’s an election in the City of Toronto in a few short weeks — we have decided to use a tool that is a available, a legal tool that is available to the legislature.”

“We are using that tool to ensure that… the people of Toronto have rules they need and the clarity that they need for this election.”

Her father, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, was a staunch advocate against the notwithstanding clause. When asked what she would say to her father, she replied, “With respect to my father, his views on the notwithstanding clause have been well documented. He is open to the opportunity to speak to those, and he was opposed to the notwithstanding clause when it was introduced — but he recognizes and said yesterday that it is a legal tool available for democratically-elected legislatures to use.”

Steve Clark, PC MPP for Leeds—Grenville, commented on the decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause, saying that “we came here with the mandate to reduce the cost and size of the government.” Clark said that constitutional experts have indicated that the government is “well within” its rights to invoke the clause.

When asked if six hours was enough time for a thoughtful, measured response to the judge’s decision, Clark responded, “Time is of the essence. We’ve got, on October 22, a municipal election. We need to be able to have some certainty around those 25 ridings and that’s why we’re reintroducing the bill.”

Survival strategies for the Ford era

We need to stick up for each other, whether with our time, words, or money

Survival strategies for the Ford era

As Ontario’s favourite Labels and Tags aristocrat sweeps into office, the future of our sweet settler province is starting to seem a little cloudy. We no longer have a kindly lesbian with a no-nonsense haircut representing us in Queen’s Park and, like, bleeding on stuff or doing whatever it is that female politicians do.

Instead, we elected her very antithesis — and now we need to deal with it. However, unlike white wealthy men stumbling into positions of power, this is easier said than done. Everyday, we’re inundated with a range of international issues that demand and deserve our attention. The fact that many of us get to choose what to care about or pay attention to is an incredible privilege.

Nevertheless, the constant onslaught can be a lot to carry.

Personally, the rotting trust fund club that is global politics smacks me in the sternum whenever I open my phone to a goddamn New York Times push alert. That alone gets tiring.

Now I open CBC — usually the home of classical music and soothing radio personalities — to distressing headlines from my home province, my home cities, my home schools. It’s a stark and startling change. How to cope?

1. Do something about it. If you care about health curriculum rollbacks, email the Education Minister. Thanks to bureaucracy, if there’s an issue, there’s a minister. So make your voice heard. Go to protests — heck, organize a protest. Sit on the lawn of Queen’s Park and just fart loudly for a few hours if it makes you feel better. But don’t sit still and complain. If you’re lucky enough to not be directly impacted by the Ford government’s new policies, care for those who are.

2. Okay, now you’ve done something. Keep doing the thing. Get others to do the thing with you.

3. Alright, you’re really doing the thing. So are your roommates and your mom and your chiropractor. Are you tired? Yes. Okay, I respect that. Go home! Make a big pot of pasta. Cover the pasta in something rich in cholesterol and low in nutrients. And have it with a glass of wine on the side and someone you love in front of you. Talk about something silly. Like farts. Can you tell I have a true weakness for scatalogical humour? Oops.

4. Another nice way to unwind? Queer Eye. Say what you will about the show, but there is something so precious and wholesome about its lovely cast that it makes everything seem a little lighter. Plus, with Jonathan van Ness around, you’re pretty much going to church.

5. Turn off the tech! I tend to roll my eyes at The Olds constantly bemoaning the rise of smartphones and the decline of ‘real, human interaction,’ but sometimes it’s nice to swipe over into airplane mode. You don’t need to dissociate entirely, but give yourself a few hours off the news cycle. The news will go on. Haven’t you heard? CTV never sleeps.

6. Do all the classic self-care ritual junk that has been floating around the internet like single use plastic on our oceans’ surfaces. Will a Korean face mask make Ontario Great Again? No, but it might clean out your pores. And honey, based on how stressed I’ve been lately, those boys are clogged!

7. Oh god, okay, I’m gonna have to hit you with another Wholesome Tidbit — but, exercise. I know, I know, I just mentioned heavy carbs. But balance! Yes, our bodies are just flesh vessels, but sometimes it’s nice to get the blood going. I am the kind of embarrassing person who lip syncs along to my music while on the treadmill and occasionally — okay, often — air drums. I also sometimes upper-body dance, which manifests in a strange abdominal wiggle. Do I get hit on at the gym? Rarely.

8. Sit in the park with someone you love, or could love, or might be falling in love with. Friends or otherwise, INTJ or ENTJ, sometimes we all need a little human connection.

9. I am earnest to a fault and can’t help myself with this one, but don’t lose heart! We’ve got a long road ahead, and speaking out can get tiring. Don’t try to do everything all the time. You’re only human and you only have so many hours in a day.

If you’re lucky enough to be ensconced in privilege and emerge intact from Ford’s rollbacks, congratulations! But that’s no free pass. We need to stick up for each other, whether it’s with our time, words, or money. Just remember to put your own oxygen mask on first, too.