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Canada's largest city has a world-class problem with poverty, and yet we hope that maybe, just maybe, it will go away. Rest assured it's not. Far from an old-school approach to budgeting, we need leadership and new approaches to revenue generation unless we want to be paying for the growing costs of poverty for years to come.
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Differences are what enrich our lives and make Toronto the fabulous, unique, successful city it is. Xenophobia (a fear or hatred of strangers and foreigners) has no place in a city built upon these differences. It threatens the very core of who we as Torontonians are. It is also what motivated the horrific and unacceptable attack in which a woman was beaten and robbed by two young men. They tore off her hijab and told her to "Go back to your country."
This is why council is so important. As a unified body it has immense power to shift the agenda of our city. A mayor should technically be able to unite and determine solid goals for Toronto along with a strong policy agenda designed to solve our toughest of challenges. Unfortunately there hasn't been much unity on council and partisan-politics has stifled much progress. The never ending subway vs. LRT debate creating a rift between the downtown core and the suburbs and a lack of true 'big-picture, visionary thinking' has seriously stalled Toronto's ability to capitalize on its unique potential.
The system is being foiled in the case of the proposed and agreed upon plan to send the Toronto Zoo's three remaining African elephants to an elephant sanctuary in California run by PAWS. To some, it seems a predictable case of the bureaucracy -- i.e.: the zoo people who want the prestige of having elephants -- trying to short circuit or sabotage decisions of those who are their bosses.
David Miller is one of the more well-known people I have taken out for lunch. It is a bit strange when everyone in the restaurant recognizes the person you are lunching with. But I was lucky enough to get him to sit down with me to chat about the "Future of Cities," and the TTC.