TORONTO – The city's resources and its ability to raise the necessary funds to develop infrastructures are highly questionable. After all, the city has a cash shortfall of 7 billion dollars.
The mayor talks a good talk. It would be awesome if a mere press conference at Bloor and Yonge would suffice to solve Toronto's traffic conundrum. Unfortunately, infrastructures are built with funds.
Last Tuesday, the mayor discovered a great secret. He stated that without the Province's contribution, the city of Toronto cannot afford new projects. That’s big news?
John Tory knocks at the Province's, door asking it to contribute 40% of the total cost of all projects. Implicitly, he is threatening that Toronto may never fulfill the hope of a subway line extending into Richmond Hill. It remains a dream in the making … maybe … or as the ancient Greeks used to say: it’s "in the mind of Zeus.”
Finance Minister Charles Souza's upcoming new budget may include some spare change for the city of Toronto but, as of recently, the Province is not disposed in the affirmative.
Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, has categorically accused John Tory of playing politics.
No other provincial government has invested more in Toronto's transportation needs as this government has done, claims Del Duca.
His list of projects carries a price tag of 12 million dollars and include the Eglinton LRT (under construction), the UP express from the Pearson Airport to Union Station, funding of the Scarborough Subway and of Tory's Smart Track, along with the purchase of new streetcars.
In the current economic climate, the City will not be able find $7 billion - it would be absurd to raise taxes on properties. Just the very idea of it makes one shiver. 2018 is around the corner. How many voters will rush to the ballot box to support the mayor for having increased their tax load?
Other countries, finance infrastructure programs employing formulae that do not rely as heavily on the Municipality’s input. Rome, for example, is building a new subway line (La Linea C). The national government contributes 70% of the cost, the Lazio Region 5% and the City of Rome 18%.
For the Madrid subway, the central government obtained a long-term loan from Germany that guaranteed to pay their obligations (bonds) in full. Elsewhere, Central governments take on the total cost of construction.
In Canada, the formula tends to split the load equally among the three levels of municipal, provincial and federal government. It puts excessive strain on municipalities because they have restricted revenue streams.
Hard negotiations, with often accentuated political overtones, become the norm.
The Scarborough LRT had been fully funded by the provincial government. It was cast aside by Rob Ford because he wanted the subway instead. John Tory insists with the same crazy idea. If the projected costs of the subway will reach the $5 billion mark, as expected, it may never be built, because for many the cost is not justifiable.
And, under the circumstances, that would be a reasonable outcome.
But reason sometimes takes strange short cuts. In The Betrothed, Alessandro Manzoni famous literary masterpiece, the author recounts the tale of the poor Don Abbondio. Alas, Abbondio, on the way home one day, ran into “I Bravi” (the bullies of the time) who blocked his way. “It is our Right!” the thugs yelled. Don Abbondio thought to himself: "Great locus for Rights to end up”.
John Tory was accused by Minister Del Duca of playing politics. Even if one wishes to absolve him of this sin, something is sure: traffic is getting worse. The Scarborough subway is preventing the realization of other viable projects. The Scarborough LRT, with seven stops, would have been completed in 2019.
Now, as it happens, we don’t have the LRT and the Scarborough subway is turning out to be more and more like a fable, a mere obsession of the mind.
TORONTO - The Scarborough subway is dogma for John Tory mayor and his acolytes. According to the news in recent days it would now seem that the project is in mortal danger.
In 2007, John Tory as Leader of the Conservative Party of Ontario, accused Premier Mc Guinty of not understanding the "real people". As a matter of fact, back then, he organized a tour of the province to meet his "real people".
Even then, he got stuck in another extremely controversial argument: extending public funding to religious schools. The "real people" rejected him during the elections, thus putting an end to his ambitions to become Premier of Ontario.
Today, the “real people” swear that the mayor has put his “faith" in the Scarborough subway. It seems, however, that the mayor has some trouble with math, and potentially with voters.
Let's start with the latter. Scarborough is a large reservoir of votes, and this is an infallible and convincing argument. Without Scarborough’s votes you can’t win. However, three quarters of the city lies outside Scarborough; and those people vote equally well.
The Corriere Canadese, in a recent editorial, pointed out that the West End is regularly ignored. It doesn’t even enter as part of the conversation.
Yet if, after a sleepless, troubled night, perhaps due to a late dinner date, the Mayor would have the unlikely idea to go at dawn and see what happens, so to speak, along Finch West, from Dufferin to the city’s limits, he would realize that many citizens (and these are citizens like everyone else) are waiting for a long awaited bus to get to work.
He would see the bus arriving already crammed with people, take on some passengers, leaving many unhappy others to wait for the next bus ... for hours. But because many of these passengers do not vote, as they do in Scarborough, this will be an unlikely field trip on the part of the mayor.
Last week, however, John Tory held a press conference at the Bloor and Yonge station, a step away from his home, to ask for funds from the Province. He talked about the so-called "relief line" which essentially is a section of subway deemed necessary to connect the Bloor-Danforth line with the center of the city.
During the press conference he literally said that the "relief line” is a 'necessity' because it will provide rapid transport to those who commute to work. At the same time, he said, it will alleviate the pressure on traffic, allowing those who are forced to use the car to go home early and spend more time with the family.
It’s a marvellous idea, and one which the mayor should also extend to the West End citizens who spend hours in the morning to go to work trying to grab a seat on the bus.
These citizens are mostly low-wage workers; many of them earn minimum wage; many are recent immigrants. Someone should discreetly suggest to the mayor that they too are "real people" - and voters. And they too have the right to spend time with their families.
Let’s move on to arithmetic. This is that science that has now become a bit out of fashion and that, when we were students, drove us all mad. That science however, taught us how to do math; add and subtract. Last December, the City of Toronto asked the Federal Government for $13.6 billion to fund infrastructure projects deemed essential.
In the Federal Budget of March, the government allocated $20 billion to be spent in ten years, across Canada.
Toronto has estimated that the city deserves up $5 billion for infrastructures and for the second phase of the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. However, the criteria that this is based upon are not yet clear.
The federal government will verify the figures, but in the meantime it informed the city that the five billion includes the $660 million already promised for the construction of the Scarborough subway.
If we subtract these $660 million, Toronto will have $4 billion-$360 million to build: (1) the "relief line" - which will cost $6.8 billion, (2) The Scarborough subway, which cost $2 billion and that , according to experts, will rise to $5 billion (3) the Eglinton LRT East which will connect the subway to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus ,(4) the line along the lake (waterfront transit and (5 ) The Smart track that John Tory launched before the last election, which included 22 stations on the Go Train rails.
This was the Columbus’ egg used to solve the problem of city traffic. The engineers didn’t buy it and reduced the Smart Track to 4 stations. They also consider it of questionable usefulness 'and feasibility'.
How will the mayor use these numbers to square the circle?
TORONTO - There is a truism that, repeatedly, is forgotten when emotions are displace reason to justify aggression: “the first casualty of war is truth.”
Whose truth? It depends on the objectives and the consequences – cui bono, who profits. History suggests that there is no such thing as “objectivity” in issues of war.
Trump unilaterally decided to bomb a Syrian airfield to kingdom come – or hell, if you prefer. He did not seek Congressional approval, nor did he apparently ask for a “coalition of the willing” from any recognized international body of countries.
The alleged motivation was to punish the Syrian regime for killing civilians with nerve gas. The Civil War has been raging for 5 years, prompting at least 2.5 million refugees, countless deaths and destruction beyond the pale.
Some think that this display of strength and power is a good thing. The Centre for Research on Globalization, based in Montreal Canada, does not count itself among the cheerleaders. Citing studies authored by the UN Committee investigating the proliferation and use of chemical weaponry in the Syrian conflict, Prof. Michel Chassudovsky accuses Washington and the American Media of lying.
He goes on to say that the chemical weapons issue is a “false flag, a pretext and a justification to wage an illegal war of aggression”. He goes on to say that “there is no basis to the Trump accusations that the government of Bashar al Assad was involved in deliberately triggering a chemical weapons attack with a view to killing Syrian civilians”.
A BBC report, while accepting that five years ago the Syrian Army had the weapons and the potential to use them, further acknowledges that Daesh had captured stockpiles of that weaponry. Unlike the Syrian Army and its Russian Allies, Daesh is not even remotely related to international conventions and oversights on its military capacities.
Not surprisingly, Russia has sent some strong messages both condemning the air strike and supporting its client. Things are getting complicated. One hopes Trump’s team has thought through the entire process before there is an escalation of events and they spiral out of control.
The White House took pains to say that this is a “one off” event. So what was the purpose? Already reports counter-claim the impact of the 59 missiles on the functionality of the airport target. The Russians claim only 23 hit their intended targets. Planes are flying in and out.
Trump supporters still cheer this “show of strength”. Europeans give off rather tepid expressions of support. In other words, they won’t criticize … but they will not help. China characterizes the display as “stupid”.
A “professional” critique might even proffer that the “real target” was China. Its President was Trump’s host when the Americans launched the raid. The timing bordered on a veiled threat that China better co-operate on North Korea (and other matters) or the USA would do anything it wants. He wanted to give proof.
He may even have tired of the on-going setbacks in domestic affairs, and wanted to remind everyone that he is still “top dog”.
Trump snarled and bit because he could. The question is, did he and the US increase or restrict their options in so doing? So far, neither he nor his team have not demonstrated an ability to generate confidence in their competence.
Too bad. He is the Western World’s President, for good or for bad..
TORONTO - Fr. Eugenio was born in Santo Stefano di Rogliano (Cosenza, Italy) on December 3rd., 1939
He is a member o the Congregation of the Pious Rural Catechist Workers (commonly known as the Ardorini Missionaries). The congregation was founded by Don Gaetano Mauro who was born in Cuti di Rogliano.
He studied philosophy, theology, humanities and pedagogy and in various renowned institutions, such as the seminary of Capodimonte, the Faculty of Theology San Luigi di Posillipo, the University of Humanities Federico II in Naples and Universities of Toronto and York in Canada.
He taught at the Bianchi Collegiate of Naples and at the “Don Bosco” secondary school in in Montalto Uffugo (Cosenza). He moved to Canada in 1975, and for 20 years served as a guidance councillor at Dante Alighieri Academy in Toronto. His long career as an educator was crowned in 1999 when Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic called him to hold the prestigious office of Episcopal Vicar for Christian Education in the Archdiocese of Toronto encompassing five school boards.
As a pastor in Metropolitan Toronto he preached and ministered to many communities especially in the parishes of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Margaret Mary over the last twelve years.
In 1998 he was able to turn his dream of many years into reality as he inaugurated the Ardorini Village of Woodbridge, which is a religious retreat house, a seminary, and a shrine to the Madonna Della Serra and San Francesco di Paola. The Ardorini Village is a focal point for many groups and not only those of Calabrian origin. Most prominently the Montalto Uffugo Club, the Mangone, Santo Stefano, Pian di Lago, and the Rogliano social Club.
The Seminary has been a hub where many young people have studied and several have become priests.
Social and cultural activities:
• President / Founder of the Confederation of Canadian Calabrians;
• President / Founder of Mangone-Santo Stefano-Piano Lago social Club;
• President / Founder of the Cultural Institute "Brutium" of Toronto.
• Publication of the book: Sertorio Quattromani (Academico Cosentino), Mit Publishers, Cosenza.
Collaborated with and wrote for numerous magazines and newspapers:
• Chiesa 2000,
• Corriere Canadese,
• La Parola,
• Il Samaritano,
• Il Laghetto
• Who’s Who - Toronto 1984 – during the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Toronto
• Federal Government of Canada Silver Medal Award for the 125° anniversary of Canada’ Federation
• Gold medal “Calabresi Illustri nel mondo”, 1995.
TORONTO - Nicola Sparano, Canada’s Dean of Soccer Reporters, earned a standing ovation when he delivered his rather straight-talking synopsis of the state of soccer in Toronto at a gala event to commemorate those who “built soccer” in this city. Mind you, the bulk of those present were of the “glory days” vintage. You know, the days when young men played for the “glory of god and country”.
Days when little money accomplished great results. When employers precipitated themselves to offer part time employment at full time rates to subsidize talent on the field. When clubs like the Polish White Eagles, Serbian White Eagles, Toronto Italia, Roma Club from Niagara Falls, Metros Croatia and others worked to establish what became the Eastern Pro League and its successor North American Soccer League.
It attracted quality talent on the field. Eusebio played with our very own Bob Iarusci and Carmen Marcantonio when Toronto [Metros-Croatia] won the famed NASL Soccer Bowl in 1976.
Roberto Bettega relaunched his career in Toronto. The fans loved him. He reciprocated, making himself available to fans and social clubs when others might have found reason to be elsewhere. He became an ambassador for the game, and Italian fans kept the game alive in Canada.
To be fair, other ethnic groups, like the ones mentioned above (among others) were as assiduous and energetic in their demand for top notch product on the field.
Franz Anton Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia, Pele’ and [again]our own Bob Iarusci gave the New York Cosmos some stellar memories, selling out stadia when the New York Giants and crosstown rivals, the Jets, could not. But American football had TV revenues and superb marketing strategies.
Toronto only had knowledgeable and loyal fans, thanks to people like Tino Baxa, whom Sparano acknowledges as his teacher, and former business partner/broadcaster Emilio Mascia who brought the World Cup Finals to Canada via satellite TV in 1978 and 1982. Heck he “donated” the finals to the CBC because he wanted all Canadians to enjoy the game the World loves.
But Soccer could not shake the image of being an “ethnic sport”, dependant on the support of one ethnic minority or another for its survival. “Appendages”, so to speak, to the main business model – to be cultivated the way that successful Empires of the past, Roman and British, did: divide and exploit.
Still, the game and its fan base are more important than the erstwhile owners and their administrators who lament that the “fan base” may not be as “responsive” as they should be. They prefer “homers” who buy the sweater and drink the cool-aid rather than those who demand quality and class in return for their loyalty.
Italian Canadians, for example, were responsible for securing the funding necessary to build what is now BMO Stadium. In so doing they were able to guarantee the FIFA under-20 Tournament for Canada in 2007 and, with it, validate the TFC franchise.
Without the stadium, the franchise ran the risk of collapsing or triggering an increase in the franchise fee of an additional $10 million – a 40% increase that would jeopardize a Toronto entry in the MLS.
Now that it is up and running, the business model seems to have changed. The Club’s expectation is best characterized by the saying “we’ve built it; it’s their responsibility to come”. True fans, like the ones indicated above, labour under a rather arcane expectation that the Franchise (ownership and players) might actually reach out to the “community”.
Image their surprise at the response by the TFC when the organizers of the Soccer Wall of Fame were told that, No Giovinco would not attend, as per their request. Giovinco for those who don’t know, but might care, is a Star player for the TFC in the MLS – a huge improvement over the much-ballyhood “bloody big deal” refugee from the English Premier League three years ago.
It is his and their right to say yea or nay thanks. In an e-mail (copy of which was obtained by Corriere Canadese) a TFC rep suggested that there was a correlation between the level of support by the Italian community and the negative response.
Injudicious, perhaps. We (read, I personally) called for clarification as to how the marketing department could ascertain the ethnicity of the ticket buyer. They cannot. They were in fact referring to the ability of certain organizations – four, to be specific - to “deliver” anticipated spectators on given “heritage nights”.
I suggested that their network may require some updating, inasmuch as Corriere Canadese and its staff continually connect with about 350 others beyond those four. There are probably an additional equal number in the TFC market base.
Case closed. Or so I thought, until someone from their Communications Department decided to douse a flickering flame with gasoline, suggesting that we were relying on third hand information, that we had no right to the e-mail, that I had not properly identified myself or that we were working on a story.
What arrogance! None of the four groups above are friends of the Corriere Canadese, quite the opposite if truth be told. They are, however, Italian Canadian.
A piece of advice to them: the next time TFC or some other “mainstream” organization comes calling, ask for a deep, deep discount. Their product and class is over-rated and your value under-appreciated.