WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, August 29

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • Etobicoke Centre councillor Glora Lindsay Luby announced she will not be seeking re-election, surprising council in a farewell speech on Thursday. Luby was frequently at odds with Mayor Rob Ford, who called her a “waste of skin” in 2005, and was one of the early voices calling for Mayor Ford’s resignation after his crack-cocaine scandal.
  • Canada’s premiers and aboriginal leaders are calling on the federal government to have key ministers meet with them for a roundtable discussion on the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, after Prime Minister Stephen Harper ruled out a national public inquiry last week. Michèle Audette, the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, welcomed calls for the roundtable as a first step in “a new chapter.”
  • After new data was released by a coalition of community activists and social agencies revealing that child poverty in Toronto has reached “epidemic” levels with 29 per cent of children — almost 149,000 — living in low-income families, three mayoral candidates spoke out on plans to combat child poverty, at a forum organized by local advocacy groups.
  • After the integrity commissioner found that Toronto City Councillor Maria Augimeri violated the code of conduct by calling political rival Gus Cusimano a “criminale,” Mayor Rob Ford expressed outrage that Torontonians would be footing the $5,000 bill to cover the cost of processing the complaint.
  • Playboy Magazine published a flow-chart that asks the question: when it is appropriate to catcall a woman in public? (Their answer: when she has consented the catcalling beforehand, or when she is literally a cat.)

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, August 22

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • City councillor Karen Stintz has dropped out of the Toronto mayoral race, citing low poll numbers and insufficient campaign funds. At a press conference at city hall on Thursday, Stintz admitted that she was “disappointed that my visions and ideas did not gain the traction I had hoped,” and indicated that she will be leaving politics permanently.
  •  Warren Kinsella, a senior advisor on Olivia Chow’s mayoral campaign, was in hot water this week over comments he madeabout candidate John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan. Kinsella dubbed the plan as “Segregation Track” on Twitter Tuesday, pointing to the way it avoids two neighbourhoods with sizable black populations. “I unreservedly and genuinely express apologies for hurting your feelings,” wrote Kinsella in a blog post addressed to Tory.
  •  Stephen Harper has ruled out a national inquiry into missing and aboriginal women, despite persistent requests after the murder of 15 year-old Tina Fontaine. “We should not view this as sociological phenomenon,” the PM told a news conferenceThursday. “We should view it as crime.” Aboriginal women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, but account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.
  • A New Democrat MP has quit the caucus over what she felt was an excessively pro-Israel stance on the current conflict in Gaza. Sana Hassainia, who represents the Montreal-area riding of Vercheres-Les Patriotes, was specifically critical of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in a blog post that appeared online Wednesday. Party members have responded by suggesting that Hassainia was simply looking for an excuse to cover up her poor attendance; so far this year, Hassainia has the worst voting record of all MPs, showing up for only 8.7 per cent of votes in the House of Commons.


WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, August 15th

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • A new report from U of T’s Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance brings to light Toronto’s infrastructure funding shortfall, stating that $2.5 billion will be needed by 2020 to maintain existing assets.
  • Police Chief Bill Blair dropped threats of a lawsuit after accepting Councillor Doug Ford’s apology for accusing police of leaking a story to the Toronto Star that police were preparing to subpoena Mayor Rob Ford to testify as a witness in the extortion case against friend Alexander Lisi.
  • Maytree Foundation president Ratna Omidvar distinguished the Live-in Caregiver program from other Temporary Foreign Worker Programs, and called for the government to focus on strengthening it instead of scrapping it, arguing that live-in caregivers do not fill a temporary gap, but rather meet a long-term labour need.
  • Star columnist Judith Timson called Alison Redford’s departure from politics a “Disappointment to Women,” and asked whether the Alberta Premier was held to a different standard.
  • Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci released a report on how Toronto police should deal with people in crisis, outlining 84 recommendations. Here are six.
  • After the recent shifts in the mayoral polls, The Star addressed questions about the polling process and its reliability.

WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, August 8

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • The Metro’s Matt Elliot has updated his colour-coded scorecard on Toronto city councillors’ voting records. Though the gist of the scorecard is to to illustrate which councillors vote more or less consistently with the mayor, it’s also a helpful overview of recent council issues.
  • Following a court hearing this week, two class-action lawsuits will move forward concerning the mistreatment of detainees during the Toronto G20.
  • A new pilot program aims to deliver health care services to Torontonians in multiple languages.
  • Brampton residents were appalled to find anti-immigration flyers in their mailboxes this week targeting the town’s Sikh community. The police are investigating but the flyers likely do not qualify as hate speech. 
  • The Conservatives have been criticized for for appointing Dennis Savoie as the Canadian envoy to Vatican City, because of Savoie’s controversial comments about abortion, in which he compared abortion to the 9/11 tragedy. Despite the NDP’s request to withdraw the appointment, the Conservatives maintain that Savoie is entitled to his personal beliefs and promise not to open the abortion debate.

WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, August 1

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • Toronto City Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon has become the target of an animated “spanking” game on a website belonging to rival candidate/ pick-up artist James Sears. As McMahon told Metro News, she’s “disgusted at his attempt to bring public service and the office of a councillor down into the gutter” but has decided not to take further action at this time
  • This week, the Toronto Star Big Ideas series discussed the need for a national affordable childcare strategy 
  • The Harper government felt the wrath of social media after it was discovered that the Therese Casgrain volunteer award, named for the prominent Quebecois feminist, has been re-named for the PM himself
  • On a similar note, Toronto Star writer Bob Hepburn urges us to recognize the legacy of Margaret Campbell – a Toronto politician, women’s rights advocate, and lawyer who almost became the city’s first female mayor in 1969!
  • Our crowdfunding campaign to build the Position Primer, a new online voter information tool, hit its goal. NO BIG DEAL. Any additional funds raised will beef up our marketing and outreach to ensure as many Torontonians as possible use the Position Primer, so we are still accepting funds until August 22. Donate now!

WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, July 25

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • Earlier this week, the City of Toronto called off plans to allow disabled citizens to vote online or by phone in the 2014 election, citing a lack of time to build and test the system. Council voted 29-1 to approve the cancellation, but did give preliminary authorization for online and phone voting by all voters, disabled and non-disabled, in future elections.
  • Bylaw enforcement officers will be at the controversial Ford Fest this Friday, ready to stop Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Doug Ford from engaging in any politically motivated activities in the city-owned Thomson Memorial Park. More than 100 Torontonians have complained to city ombudsman Fiona Crean, and at least another 100 directly to city hall since the uproar over the Fords’ annual barbeque began.
  • The Toronto mayoral race continues to heat up, with a recent Forum Research survey indicating a statistical three-way tie between the top candidates. Olivia Chow had the support of 29 per cent of survey respondents, John Tory boasted 28 per cent, while Rob Ford’s approval held steady 27 per cent. Karen Stintz and David Soknacki lag behind with 6 and 5 per cent, respectively.
  • Vancouver Parks Board candidate Trish Kelly has been forced to abandon her campaign following the emergence of an online video she filmed about masturbation eight years ago, and in doing so has opened up a debate surrounding the significance of political candidates’ online activities. “There will always be some boundaries of what we’ll accept in terms of someone who wants to take a leadership role,” says Kelly. “But we need to have those conversations.” Had Kelly won, she would have been the first aboriginal member of Vancouver’s Park Board.
  • Research and policy institute Guttmacher has challenged the recent US Supreme Court decision surrounding birth control – which allows employers to opt-out of paying for health insurance for contraceptive coverage – by providing a comprehensive list of studies that  find that in addition to the health benefits for women and families, all contraceptive methods save insurers money.
  • Saudi women will be allowed to vote and stand as candidates in the upcoming municipal council elections expected to take place next year. Women were not allowed to participate in the 2011 elections. While female candidates will now have the rights to address their voters in a manner similar to their male competitors, gender segregation in the polling centers will still be enforced.


We interrupt our regularly scheduled Ask Your Candidate series because we can’t keep this exciting news under wraps anymore…



Help us empower Toronto voters with the Position Primer!

Today, we are launching a crowdfunding campaign to build the Position Primer, an easy-to-use website that will help Torontonians make informed decisions in the upcoming City Council race. We’re really excited about it!

Toronto voters who visit the Position Primer need only enter their postal codes to access a ward-specific chart that details their Council candidates’ stances on city-wide issues such as transportation, childcare and affordable housing, as well as major concerns that are unique to each ward. Learn more by visiting our crowdfunding page.

By simplifying the decision-making process, Women in Toronto Politics founder Steph Guthrie believes this tool will encourage more Torontonians to get out the vote. Guthrie also argues that the Position Primer “will provide equitable opportunity for all candidates to share their campaign platforms with a wider audience, regardless of the resources at their disposal.”

The Position Primer has already accrued impressive endorsements from supporters like Alison Loat, co-founder of non-partisan democracy think-tank Samara Canada. Loat says the Position Primer will “provide Toronto voters with the trusted, impartial information they need to feel confident about exercising their democratic voice.”

Funds raised from the crowdfunding campaign will support the design, development and promotion of the Position Primer, ensuring that it is user-friendly and reaches as many voters as possible.

Women in Toronto Politics hosts a launch party for the Position Primer crowdfunding campaign on July 29th from 7:00-9:00pm at the Monarch Tavern. We hope to see you there. And in the meantime, please check out the campaign and spread the word!