Category Archives: Politics

A Letter to Council: Great Cities Have Great Transit; But Not Necessarily this BRT

By Jay Ménard,

Tonight and tomorrow, our elected representatives will discuss the future of the BRT proposal. As I had a few hours to kill waiting in a hospital today, I wrote one final letter to all of them for consideration and sent it to them earlier.

I present it to you below.

“Dear councillors,

This BRT issue presents an interesting challenge for many of you. I encourage you to vote to send this proposal back to the drawing board. And I’d like to support my argument by starting by quoting one statement — and ask you to read on carefully.

‘Great cities have great transit.’ Continue reading

BRT: Who Do You Trust?

By Jay Ménard,

In the original Batman movie (no, not the Adam West, Batusi-infused one, but the 1980s reboot with the awesome Prince soundtrack), Jack Nicholson’s Joker asks, “And now folks, it’s time for who do you trust?

Now, sure the Joker was just trying to lull the citizens of Gotham into a false sense of security so he could kill them; and you could argue that Batman is a winged vigilante operating on the fringes of the law for the common good — with the tacit support of a police chief dealing with a corrupt crew. Both representing the classic ends-justifying-the-means behaviour. And that attitude certainly looks familiar in London.

When it comes to trust, the devil is in the details. And both sides of the BRT debate have been acting in less than scrupulous — and completely untrustworthy — ways.

Hubba, hubba, hubba. Money, money, money. Who do you trust? Continue reading

The BRT Crash: How We Got There and How We Drive Forward

By Jay Ménard,

When you draw lines in the sand, you create a front upon which battles must be fought.

That’s what we saw last night at the BRT public participation meeting, held at the Budweiser Gardens. It’s clear that people aren’t listening — or, I should say, they’re selectively listening. And the result is a polarization of debate.

Of course, that’s what you get when you argue for or against a “vision.”

I’m pro transit; anti BRT as it’s presented. It doesn’t mean that I’m not progressive, that I hate London, or that I’m stuck in my ways. It means I don’t think this particular BRT proposal is the right one and I would like to actually explore alternatives.

Actual exploration. Not lip service. Not a dog-and-pony show to check off the ol’ engagement box or validate a mandate. A true, proper engagement strategy that is inclusive.

Continue reading

Solutions for Polarized London’s Transit Debacle? A Drawing Board and Inclusive Listening Skills

By Jay Ménard,

How do we solve London’s current rapid transit debacle? The debate is so polarized that the process has been poisoned. So perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start where we should have — listening to people’s needs.

All people, not just selected voices.

I’ve been content to discuss this matter behind the scenes, reaching out to councillors and sharing my thoughts. But I really can’t hold my tongue as the on-line and print discussion has turned to the hypocrisy of allegdly rich Londoners posting DownShift signs on their lawn.

People of privilege arguing about which people of privilege are allowed to speak about transit would be funny if it wasn’t sad. Continue reading

Ranked Ballots Not Even Top Reason Why People Aren’t Voting

Ranked ballots — it’s easy as counting 1-2-3, right? But voting is so much more than that — and focusing on the symptom, rather than the disease, is not going to solve a much larger problem of voter disenfranchisement.

London’s council is discussing ramming through electoral changes to a ranked-ballot system in time for the next election. Yesterday, Dave Meslin — an advocate for ranked ballots, was on the Devon Peacock show promoting ranked ballots. In his oversimplification of the issue, he stated, “the suggestion that people won’t know how to count to three is actually quite offensive and patronizing to the residents who live in London. I’m quite confident they’ll figure it out.”

What’s insulting is the insinuation that voting is that simple. It isn’t. It’s hard. The act of voting itself is simple, yes. But the act of casting an informed ballot is much more difficult and requires much more of an investment.

Unfortunately, voters have historically not seen a return on that investment — and until that changes, any adjustments to the voting protocol is just putting lipstick on a pig.

Continue reading

A Cautionary Tale of “Right” and Wrong

By Jay Menard,

Accusations of racism, hypocritical criticisms for behaviour recently perpetuated by the other side, and admonishments by the most tone deaf for people not listening. The divide between us continues to grow.

So maybe it’s time for a story…

After all, I opined about how we often play our own “Trump” card in Canada way back in March. And things aren’t getting any better, so the probability of our Canadian version of Trump emerging is rapidly moving from being an “if” to a “when.”

And now, the story… Continue reading

Left Behind – Selective Inclusivity Helped Trump’s Rise

By Jay Menard,

The U.S. election proved what can go horribly wrong when we only pay lip service to the ideals of inclusion.

The worst type of exclusionary politics isn’t practiced by those who are overt in their exclusion — the racists, the bigots, etc. — but rather it’s practiced by those who profess to be inclusive, yet exclude all of those whose views don’t march in lockstep with the groupthink.

And last night’s election results were merely a reflection of that frustration.

My social feeds tend to lean fairly heavily to the left. And the statements I read last night were telling:

“What is going on?”

“This can’t be real…”

“What are they thinking.”

The “they” part of that statement is the problem. And it’s one that plagues the so-called progressive, left-leaning members of our society. Inclusion isn’t about us and them. It’s about all of us. Continue reading