Wednesday, May 18, 2016



I have never understood the fuss over the census.
It is a valuable source of information for me as a journalist. I didn't feel it violated any confidentiality deal with the government which routinely shreds our publicity.anyway.
I was a census taker back when they went door to door, and rather enjoyed it.
As a compassionate conservative, or so I like to think, I thought the Conservative objections to the census were dumb.
And, finally, I actually changed a major question on the census and was credited as a newspaper editor for doing so by StatsCan after I threatened through Sun editorials and my columns to drag them through every court in the land, including the one of public opinion.
As a result of my lobbying, backed by Doug Fisher, the respected dean of the Ottawa press gallery, we are allowed to call ourselves Canadians and not forced under threat of fine to declare that we came from English and Dutch stock when our grandparents had left there nearly a century ago.
I found out as a young reporter trying to save enough for my marriage that the bureaucracy would be ecstatic to use me in controversial areas like Rosedale where residents were used to complaining about everything. They figured I could handle the hassles diplomatically and reduce the number of beefs to important pols.
It was a unique experience. I remember the Toronto General nurse who had to answer the questions of the long form which she almost did while standing nude before me.
Believe me, I was not about to torpedo my wedding which was five weeks away by taking the bait if that was what it was other than a demonstration of how much she hated men.
I sensed trouble even before she refused to answer the income question. Later I phoned a supervisor at the hospital and got the general salary range for such a nurse.
Only a few doors away from that lovely home turned cramped boarding house, the long form had to be answered by Mrs. Walter Gordon, a legendary finance minister worshipped by the Toronto Star.
There were no problems because I had told her that my brother-in-law lived across from their country estate and that her husband had been thrilled to his Canadian soul to have the local farmer run a trapping line on his property.
As I recall, the top income category was around $34,000, a considerable sum to me because I was making less than $5,200 annually.
But Mrs. Gordon waved a gentle hand in the air when I asked if her husband made more than $34,000 a year and said "I should hope so."
Rosedale was filled with such contradictions -  noted politicians and bank presidents and architects in their huge homes vs. roomers in converted mansions just scraping by.
I found as a columnist that the census figures for a riding were invaluable in figuring out election results. And there were surprises hidden everywhere like mines in a turnip field.
I found in my riding of Etobicoke Lakeshore a half century ago that there were a number of homes not connected to sewers, that there were homes without furnaces, that a WASP looking street actually was occupied with first generation immigrants.
So the usefulness of the census in predicting the appeal of various political pitches made me a great supporter, except for that insistence that it was against the law to count yourself Canadian when it came to ethnic origin.
Since my father had come here in 1879 and my mother in 1905, I felt myself Canadian and not Dutch-English and resented the bureaucracy's insistence that Canadian was not a valid ethnicity even though Canada was older than half the countries of the world.
My father in the 1930s as a Tory power in Toronto introduced a young lawyer named John Diefenbaker to a former mayor and predicted Dief really would be Canada's PM.
I didn't much like this spitting quivering PM when I covered him but I thought he was wonderful for trying to pry the hyphen out of Canadianism.
To hell with French-Canadians and German-Canadians and even African-Canadians (which activists tried to use in the Maritimes and got shot down.) Wouldn't we have better relations with natives if we called them Canadians and not native Canadians?
When I got the letter about filling out the short form information on the Interenet,  I responded immediately to discover that once again the feds screwed up a simple task.
All the info I seemed to get when I went to the site defended the process and asked for census workers. But I perservered, and I hope the info is used properly, and not just by ethnic groups claiming that their minority needs more money to celebrate its roots.
Dief the Chief was right. The sooner people identify and act like Canadians instead of using our great country as a hidey hole from the storm before they move on, the better for them and us.

Thursday, May 5, 2016



The little car driven by the official ghoul handing out parking tickets circles endlessly like a bumblebee around a clutch of flowers.
He parks on sidewalks, up against hydrants, and on corners while he gouges the unfortunate motorists besides St. Joseph's Hospital who decided they couldn't afford the exorbitant parking garage costs and were trying their luck along the curb.
These were people limping to clinics with the help of relatives, even using walkers and wheelchairs, not people who could walk blocks in order to wait and wait and wait until a doctor sees them.
I was parked legally while Mary made a regular visit to a hospital outpatient clinic. I was in the car watching as the same ghoul circled endlessly, drawn to the honey pot of congested parking around the hospital, copying what real cops do when they set  their radar traps where they will be able to capture the motorist who doesn't realize the speed has just changed.
Officially, the Toronto parking enforcement officer is contributing to the "safety and security" of Torontonians. Which is a laugh! What these "officers" are doing is raising money for  councillors to waste by targeting the most vulnerable among us, those who through circumstance or health have to park longer or in a cramped area.
I have often watched the ghouls at work around St. Joes, one of the city's worst hospital, as I can testify to after two months of their ruinous care, and other hospitals.
This is not a defence of motorists who block hydrants or traffic or driveways. I understand that they are a problem. I seldom get tickets. But when I received a $60 ticket three minutes before the parking was legal a couple of years ago, I also understood the malevolent brutality of stupid enforcement. The constable I complained to agreed with me, not the jerk enforcer who infests the area around the Royal York subway station.
I have written columns or blogs about hospital parking charges, and about enforcement around hospitals. One blog was Mystery Rules From Fishing To Parking on Nov. 7, 2014. Another was Hospital Parking Robbery on Feb. 18, 2014. Then there was one way back on Dec. 3, 2011 because not much changes even though everyone from the Canadian Medical Association to medicrats at Queen's Park have agreed that high hospital parking fees and harassing parking policies around hospitals are a major problem in health care.
Councillors with their anti-car policies on everything from parking to signage have never understood that the TTC is not the better way for many hospital visits. Just try taking a bus to an appendectomy.
Patients cut short their visit to specialists. Relatives reduce visits to patients. The whole dismal issue casts a pall over the operation of the big hospitals which act like besieged castles when they should be oasis of calm care. Over all visits hangs the spectre of the ticking clock, the circling parking buzzards.
We have tolerated too much crap from our overpaid Toronto police force. Yes, I call it a force because it is not the "service" that it wants to be called when it takes a billion bucks out of the city treasury.
What we don't need from the top cops who talk about change for the better while stalling for the worse is a lot of nonsense where the ghouls at the bottom of their enforcement system deliberately target hospital areas because they know that there people desperate  to see the specialist about the pain in their gut are not always able to find parking where they don't have to obtain a second mortgage to finance.
Knock it off! Pretend the city has a heart and that the bureaucrats don't just pretend to help those to whom a parking ticket is another pain in their gut.