Category Archives: Social Media

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

We Play a ‘Trump’ Card with Increasing Regularity – And It’s No Game

By Jay Menard

For all those saying this “Trump” thing isn’t funny anymore, turns out the joke’s on us. After all, Donald Trump is nothing more than a reflection of how we play politics — and if you don’t like what you’re seeing, take a look in the mirror because Trump is just a reflection of how we play the game.

And it’s not too long until we have our own Trump her in the Great White North (and, no, Mr. O’Leary, I’m not ONLY looking at you.) Thanks to hyperpartisanship, a predilection for self-congratulatory confirmation bias, and a Zealous approach to framing arguments based not on merit, but rather on side (right/left/Conservative/Liberal), we’re well on the way to dealing ourselves a similar hand in Canada. Continue reading

Political Disengagement? It Comes Not with a Bang, but with a Wonk

By Jay Menard,

What’s the sound of political disengagement? Wonk wonk.

And, for most political wonks, that suits them just fine because for all the false indignation and professing for greater involvement, for the most part the goal isn’t better government – it’s winning. And no one cares if the country, as a whole, loses.

Wonk wonk is not a sad trombone sound, but it’s truly a sad noise. It’s the simple reality that the overabundance of self-professed and self-involved political wonks aren’t just fostering a negative political atmosphere on-line — they’re actively discouraging the casual political observer from becoming involved and learning more. Continue reading

Get Out and Vote? Only If You’re Willing to Add the Most-Important Word

Get out and vote! It’s a catchy, cute, and simple saying. Unfortunately, it glosses over the incredible responsibility that voting represents — and it omits the most important word: informed.

I generally find that these are a few good rules of thumb:

  • If you’re voting because an infographic says you should — don’t;
  • If you’re voting for a candidate because of something you heard once by someone, somewhere — don’t.
  • And, most importantly, if you’re voting because someone told you to “get out and vote” and you think that’s all there is to it, please stay home.

Continue reading