The Real (Estate) Issue for Injection Site Wasn’t Location or NIMBYism

By Jay Menard

This past week, we saw a lot debate around the preferred location of a safe injection site that revolved around location, city building, convenience, and time, but that failed to address the primary need — that of the users who need support and resources.

Add to that facile Tweets, misinformation, and unrealistic timeframes for pseudo-public participation, and you had an environment that was custom-built to encourage failure.

The debate about a location for the safe injection site shouldn’t have been about NIMBYism. But, in many cases, that’s what it devolved into. For those who are quick to cast aspersions on-line, it’s an easier narrative. It’s also a false one — and the fact of the matter is that location is only at the surface of the challenge.

We need to ensure we look at the facts, not just a map, to deliver the best solution for those who need it most. Continue reading


Accessibility in Elections: Where Were You When Barriers were Built, Maintained?

By Jay Menard

Accessibility is a great buzz word. And having people with disabilities on stage with you or featured on your campaign literature sure makes for a good photo op. But far too often, a commitment to accessibility extends beyond nothing more than tokenism — and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity to develop a plan that addresses everyone’s needs.

Today I had the honour of representing the Accessibility Advisory Committee at the Candidate Information Session for the 2018 Municipal Election. My topic was “Running an Accessible and Engaging Campaign.”

Much of the presentation was prepared in a document called “Count Us In: Removing Barriers to Political Participation,” which focused on how to interact and engage with people with disabilities during campaigning. But I firmly believe the majority of the work needs to be done well before you hit the campaign trail. The presentation focused on the campaign, after the fact, but if you’re going to truly embrace accessibility, that inclusion should be undertaken right from the start when you’re developing your platform.

If you were in this room talking with me, that’s a start. But I’m going to ask another question: “Where were you?” Continue reading

Trying to Influence without Disclosure? That’s Disingenuous, Cowardly Behaviour

By Jay Menard

Even though the official campaign doesn’t start until May 1st, it’s painfully obvious that election — and anti-election — season is in high gear. So do you have your secret message decoder ring on? Because it looks like, once again, we’re going to be faced with people who don’t believe that transparency includes expressing biases or conflicts.

Earlier this week, there was a comment in a Facebook chat, likely noticed by few, but it was so important and indicative of the need we should have for transparency. And it reminded me of an outstanding request, which I’ll talk about shortly.

London councillor Phil Squire called out a commenter during a discussion on the validity of a poll — basically stating that the commenter should disclose that he is working on a campaign. The commenter did identify as supporting a candidate in the future later that day. As we head into both a municipal and provincial election, that type of disclosure is vital.

Continue reading

Lamentations Don’t Pay the Bills – You Get What You’re Willing to Pay For

By Jay Menard,

With yesterday’s announcement of the Postmedia/Torstar swap of 41 newspapers, with the intent of shutting them down, the online world was above with lamentations about the loss of community content, the unfairness of the decision, and allegations of big business and corporate greed ruling the roost.

The thing is, Instead of wringing our collective hands after the fact, maybe we should be more willing to reach into our collective wallets beforehand.

Or, in short, if you want good, community content, pay for it. Continue reading

Celebrating Canada’s 150th with Eyes Wide Open

By Jay Menard

It’s not been perfect getting here. In fact, it’s downright horrible for a lot of people. But I’m still going to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday today — with open eyes and an open heart — because I’m proud of who were are.

And I’m even more hopeful for who we can become.

I’m going to celebrate and I’m not going to ask for forgiveness for doing so. I also completely understand those who choose to denounce the celebrations — and I appreciate and support those reasons.

But I guess I don’t see a celebration of this nature as being a validation of everything that’s come before it. Instead, it’s a benchmark along a much longer path towards securing a better future for everyone. Continue reading

London Fringe — Delirium Expertly Finds Meaning, Connections in Life

By Jay Menard

Martin Dockery’s Delirium, which closed the Fringe Festival last night, is a fast-paced, energetic, and hilarious one-man show that takes topics as diverse as immigration, Burning Man, and Monarch butterflies, and finds the interconnectedness and meaning in between them.

Dockery is a gifted storyteller. Alone, on an empty stage, he spends an hour captivating the audience with three seemingly separate tales. The first deals with his proposal to his partner Vanessa after dealing with immigration at Pearson International Airport in Toronto; the second is the tale of an encounter he had at Burning Man, prompted by a restaurant idea he had at the festival; and the final story is an airplane encounter he had following the death of his beloved dog, prompted by a seat mix-up. Continue reading

London Fringe — A Figgy Pudding that’s a Delight to Consume

By Jay Menard

For many people, a traditional figgy pudding conjures up feelings of warmth, family, and the holidays (not for me, mind you. I’m repulsed by the concept…) But, conceptually at least, Figgy Pudding is an apt title for Jimmy Hogg’s wonderfully warm, funny, and family centred look back at the Christmases of his youth.

For those of us of a certain vintage, the show has added relevance. Whether it’s growing up with New Wave and visions of keyboards dancing through our heads, or an odd fascination with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Hogg’s story brings you right back to a specific time and place in the 80s. And even if you’re not of that generation, there are more than enough relatable moments about family — from playing games with them to drinking stories — that mean that common ground can easily be found. Continue reading