Archive for the ‘Newmarket-Aurora’ Category


YRT Strike Enters Week Number Ludicrous

I have a confession to make:

I knew nothing about the YRT system. My kids use it to get to school every day and I confess, it never occurred to me that there was something wrong with that system.

Until five weeks ago when the drivers went on strike.

Now I’ve come to realize that, like so many of the systems we trust to keep our society running, once you lift up the corner and peek underneath – there’s something rotten going on.

Even when the strike started my first feeling was, ‘Okay, it’s another strike, they’ll sort it out and everything will be fine.’

And then a week went by, and another week, and another. And then I started to wonder what was really going on. And I started to hear the stories behind the story.

And then I saw this video, a deposition by Lori Rose recorded at Monday’s Newmarket Town Council meeting, and it became much clearer to me what was really happening.

We’ve allowed a system to be created that is funded by public money, where no level of government can be held responsible because the labour has been outsourced and where those most in need of protection are left with none.

It now appears that transit riders dutifully pay their transit fares and that the transit workers earn significantly lower wages than other systems. It leads me to wonder, ‘So, where is the money going?’ Sure, some of the money is for maintenance and for keeping the system running. And some of it is profit. And that’s totally okay. Let’s be clear. I like profit. Private enterprise deserves profit. But how much? And at what cost to social justice. There is a difference between profit and profiteering. And when the workers are forced to bear the burden of the employers greed, something has gone wrong.

Those who use transit most – the students and youth, senior and working families – have been left without their main transportation source. Transit workers have sacrificed their income to fight for their rights, and most of the Region has gone on as if nothing had happened. Something is deeply wrong.

The transit workers are on strike, not because they want outlandish wages, but because they want to START approaching pay parity with other transit workers in the GTA. York Region is one of the wealthiest areas in Canada with a very high standard of living and yet we have some of the lowest paid transit workers in the GTA. Workers with no paid sick days, no pension plan and full-time wages that keep them close to the poverty level in this area. Something is wrong, don’t you think?

The workers are asking for binding, neutral arbitration. I urge the Region and YRT to pressure the bus companies to get back to the table and re-start negotiations.

And I urge you to contact your Regional Councillor and ask for the same.

Posted by Vanessa on December 1st, 2011

Filed under Civil Society, Labour, Newmarket-Aurora, Poverty | Comments Off

Transition More Urgent than Ever

Came across a couple of articles today that, combined with the gas prices we’re seeing at the pumps, has me thinking about the importance of Transition Town and a Green perspective.

Today, the UN issued a report that food prices have reached an all-time high after eight straight months of increases. The basket includes a number of commodities including cereals, dairy and meat. The high prices are attributed to a combination of rising oil prices, declining cereal production and other global changes.

As well, I came across an article talking about the growing political unrest in Saudi Arabia. As one of the key sources of oil for the West, if Saudi oil production becomes unpredictable, or stops during a regime change, oil prices will skyrocket leading to shortages and/or high prices at the pump.

These two issues make it even more important that we begin to focus on our local economies – making them diverse and resilient. Do you have community gardens and orchards? Are you allowed to have small livestock within your Town boundaries? Is there adequate local food/energy/water production? Are there solid community networks to ensure that the most vulnerable don’t fall through the cracks?

The answers for Newmarket and Aurora right now are, sadly, no. We have a lot of work to do to prepare for a changing global situation.

The good news is that, thanks to the hard work of Transition York Region, things are beginning to change. Slowly but surely we are strengthening our community linkages and resilience.

We have to hope that it will be enough.

Posted by Vanessa on March 7th, 2011

Filed under Newmarket-Aurora | 2 Comments »

Becoming a Hyperlocavore

I am so impressed by Liz McLellan’s efforts to build a community of yard-sharers and her website Hyperlocavore. The general idea is that if a locavore focuses on food grown within 100 miles than a hyperlocavore focuses on food grown with 100 yards. I just had to make sure I preserved this link where I could find it.

It is a great initiative and I totally think we should get something like this going in Newmarket and Aurora. Maybe through the York Region Food Network (YRFN) who already takes care of the food bank and community gardens. Or we could, y’know, just do it up grassroots-style.

I’ll be having my groundbreaking garden-planting party sometime in May. Join my Facebook page if you’d like an invite. Until then, stay warm and dream of fresh, local produce with these yummy titles:
The Edible Garden
Food Inc.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Gaia’s Garden: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture
Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly
The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food

Posted by Vanessa on March 23rd, 2010

Filed under books, Canada, Civil Society, environment, Green, Newmarket-Aurora | 1 Comment »

Clean, Green Energy – want a share?

Thanks to Carter for sharing this link with me. Tyler Hamilton at discusses a couple of solar co-ops that are popping up around southern Ontario.

One is Countryside, partnering with ARISE Technologies to start photovoltaic (PV) projects on commercial/industrial rooftops. People who are interested in participating in PV but do not have adequate sites can buy shares in the projects and participate in revenues from the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) feed-in tariff program.

Another, on a much smaller scale is the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist (NUU) congregation in Toronto installing a PV system on their church roof. Again, they are selling shares.

I think I’ve already mentioned that I have a wee crush on Cathy MacLellan, one of the partners of ARISE (she started it with her husband after they graduated from Waterloo). She is also the Green Party of Canada candidate for K/W and a totally inspiring entrepreneur.

I also happen to love the UUs, my church of choice and one I would love to see in Aurora and/or Newmarket. Social justice is one of their core principles, just as it is for the Green Party.

As for the province’s feed-in tariff program – the Liberals almost got it right. If they can overcome their issues with back-end red tape it could be a really great program and encourage small-scale renewable energy projects all over the province – including here at home.

Anybody feel like starting an energy co-op in Newmarket? Count me in.

Posted by Vanessa on March 16th, 2010

Filed under Canada, climate change, environment, GPC, Green, Newmarket-Aurora, Ontario | Comments Off

If democracy doesn’t function, it isn’t the fault of politicians

[Letter number 2 in what will most likely be a series of Letters to the Editor of the Era-Banner that I am not allowed to send because I am a declared candidate for an election that will happen sometime in the future. I wish I had realized that when I declared for the Green Party I would lose my voice at the Era-Banner but such is life. Now I get to make my letters longer. Ha!]

Dear Editor,

Re: Voter turnout low because politicians lie, letter from Mr. L. Rothwell, Feb 11 / Re: If you care about democracy, vote, editorial, Jan 28

With all due respect to Mr. Rothwell I must challenge his hypothesis that when “80 per cent of voters… stay at home. Then, maybe, politicians will get the message.”

While there are a few directions my disagreement could take – including my belief that when 80% of voters stay home we will live in a true oligarchy where only the select few have any say in government and tyranny will reign and Canada will weep. Though, this scenario is fairly close to the mark with respect to municipal elections. Anyways.

That was not the point.

What I really wanted to dispute was Mr. Rothwell’s obvious anger towards ‘politicians’ and his categorization of them as “people who lack integrity and ethics.”

Of course, as a recently declared political candidate I take it a little personally that because of my political choice I suddenly have no integrity nor ethics. I actually consider myself to be a person possessing both integrity and a high ethical standard.

But that is still not the point, though closer to it. The point is – there are no politicians. There are merely people, just like Mr. Rothwell and myself, that have chosen to join in the political process.

Politicians are not usually born. They are made. They are people who have decided to pursue a public life – hopefully in the service of their country and the best interests of the electorate.

Do these people sometimes lose focus and become swayed by the pretty, shiny danglings of lobby groups? Yes.

Do they sometimes pursue power to the exclusion of everything else. Yes.

Do these people sometimes let us down? Yes. Often.

Do we have a democratic crisis in Canada? Yes. I believe we do.

But my point is that sitting at home and whinging about it is not the best use of one’s time.

Stand up. Get engaged. Make your voice count.

And if you can’t find a single political candidate that you can trust – then take the leap and become a candidate. For municipal, provincial, or federal politics quality candidates are desperately needed.

Of course, it would be super-spiffy if you would support me and my bid to be the first Green MP for Newmarket-Aurora, but if you can’t, then get your butt out there and run against me.

I also have an issue with your contention that “the population is a lot more educated these days.” Hardly. When the anti-proroguing rally was being organized most people did not even know that our democracy had been suspended. They didn’t understand what it meant. And they didn’t know why they should care. Some were happy to get the ‘liars’ out of Ottawa for a while. People know far more about what Britney Spears is up to than what our PM is doing showboating in Vancouver.

But that isn’t the politicians fault. If there are issues with our democracy it is because we expect ‘someone else’ to take care of it for us.

We are the change we wish to see. We are the smallest unit of a democratic society. And it is up to us to keep it safe and keep it strong. If we don’t have anyone to vote for then it is up to us to find them – or to become them. That is what I did. And it is what I encourage everyone else to do.

That is why I am so proud of local organizers like Liz, Neale, Nick, Carter and everyone else who helped make the January 23rd rally such a success – and who are now organizing a public meeting in Aurora on February 25.

Holding the Line on Democracy will take a frank look at what is happening in our society and, hopefully, send people away feeling more educated, more empowered, and more motivated to take action to keep our democracy strong.

Mr. Rothwell, I am personally inviting you to join us. It’s kind of fun to be around other people who care as passionately as you obviously do.

Posted by Vanessa on February 14th, 2010

Filed under Canada, Civil Society, Democracy, Newmarket-Aurora, politics | 2 Comments »

Back after a long, educational hiatus

It’s nice to be back. After leaving the blogosphere in 2008 (very long story) it turns out that this is where I belong and with a new education and critical perspective (yes, I do mean it *that* way) I am ready to re-engage with the farce that is Canadian democracy these days.

Oh. And I’m the new Green Party of Canada candidate for Newmarket-Aurora.

So let’s see how much trouble I can get in to before the next election.

Thanks to everyone for showing their faith in nominating me. I’ll be doing my best to make it interesting and not let you down.

Posted by Vanessa on January 19th, 2010

Filed under GPC, Green, Newmarket-Aurora | Comments Off