"Send in the clowns
Don't bother they are here."
Stephen Sondheim from the 1973 musical 'A Little Night Music'
As a transit rider and taxpayer in Toronto, I write of our right to moral outrage. The events since the October 25 municipal election have left me reeling -- from the Ringling Brothers pomp and circumstance of Don Cherry's inauguration of Rob Ford as mayor of our once progressive city, to the new regime's attempted transit fee hike and service cuts, and to the higher personal income tax garnered to subsidize corporate tax cuts, our political arena has become a three-ring circus.
People living in vigorous cultures typically treasure those cultures and resist any threat to them. How and why can a people so totally discard a formerly vital culture that it becomes literally lost?
- Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead, 2004
Toronto has been divided and conquered, its downtown core sold for $60, the cost of the vehicle registration tax, for the right of those in the subdivisions to drive downtown with impunity. Good bye road tolls and bicycle lanes.
A new political party, which won office in Montréal's Plateau Mont-Royal borough last November, has begun to widen sidewalks, add bike paths and close some streets to traffic.
By doing so, critics have accused them of engaging in class warfare.
In a much discussed La Presse opinion piece, Luc Chartrand denigrated the "supposedly enlightened urban planning" measures as "nothing but a strategy by the wealthy to grab territory in a centrally located district... to the detriment of the general interest of the City."
This is just one more example of the Big Lie. Call black white, say war is peace, claim the media is leftwing and argue urban space dominated by cars is good for poor and working-class people.
Every year at Toronto's Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, I get blown away by one film -- usually a documentary that hasn't gotten much attention and when I watch it, it's like being under a spell.
Such is the case this time with A Different Path -- an inventive and illuminating documentary made by American artist and musician Monteith McCollum. I don't have enough adjectives to describe the immersive, mesmerizing and magical ride the director brings you on in highlighting the efforts of activists in four locales, challenging our car-centric culture.