October 26th, 2010

[URBAN NOTE] On the regime change in Ward 18

I live in Ward 18, a ward of Toronto in the west-downtown, bordering on midtown, that has just seen the successor of the incumbent turfed, Ana Bailão replacing Adam Giambrone chief of staff Kevin Beaulieu.

"The community has expressed its desire for a change — for someone who will listen to them and work with them," Bailao said over the phone en route to her victory party.

"Now the work begins."

[. . .]

Asked to comment on the outcome, Giambrone paused for several long seconds. "It's going to be a very interesting four years," he said.

"And I guess with time and perspective (people) will be able to judge appropriately the last seven years."

Bailao, who was assistant to former councillor Mario Silva before he moved to federal politics, lost by 1,200 votes when she ran in his place against Giambrone in the 2003 election.

[. . .]

Located just west of the downtown core, Davenport is a small ward with a diverse population, home to Little Portugal, bustling bars and coffee shops, swaths of artists and middle and working-class families.

In the scramble to replace Giambrone, the hottest campaign issue was communication. With massive redevelopment potential in the ward, the people who live there are concerned about having a say in how their neighbourhood is shaped — something many feel Giambrone didn’t give them.

Twelve candidates vying for the seat scrambled to show voters which one of them was most inclusive.

The latest election results as of this posting, available at the NOW Toronto website, suggest that Bailão handily beat Beaulieu, 43.75% of the vote versus 34.23%, 6277 votes versus 4911.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Thanks to Andrew Barton for expressing his heartfelt desire--in bold, no less--that Toronto not elect Ford mayor. This sympathy counts.

  • On a happier note, Derek Flack at blogTO photoblogs some of Toronto's hidden streets.

  • Extraordinary Observation's Rob Pitingolo makes the salient point that biking laws need to be followed by cyclists and enforced by governments.

  • Far Outliers observes how Thai soldiers in the Vietnam War found South Vietnam, with its distinctive religious and cultural traditions, far more foreign than Laos.

  • Geocurrents observes that the Philippines' Subic Bay is now the centre of a Korean community amounting to one hundred thousand in the country.

  • Understanding Society notes that China's hoping to move upwards up the value-added chain as its economy continues to grow.

[URBAN NOTE] On how Ford's election proves Toronto's vibrant (more vibrant) democracy

Whatever people may say about Toronto's election, they can't say it wasn't a triumph of democracy.

Voter turnout in Toronto jumped in the 2010 municipal election that saw Rob Ford ushered in as mayor Tuesday, hitting 53.2 per cent compared to 39 per cent in 2006 and 38 per cent in 2003.

With 99.9 per cent of polls reporting Monday, Ford garnered 47.1 per cent of the vote, compared to 35.6 per cent for former provincial Liberal cabinet minister George Smitherman.

Joe Pantalone, deputy mayor under Mayor David Miller, who didn't run again, trailed with 11.7 per cent.

"This victory is a clear call from the taxpayers," Ford said during his victory speech. "Enough is enough, and that's exactly what we're going to give them. We're gonna respect the taxpayers of the city."

Advanced polling turnout also hit a record this year with more than 77,000 people showing up — almost double over 2006.

Ford didn't win because enough people didn't show up to counter a candidate who took advantage of low voter turn-out. Ford won, rather, because the people who did turn out in larger-than-expected numbers to vote voted disproportionately for him. By a large plurality, Toronto's electorate wanted Ford; certainly, Toronto's electorate got him.

[LINK] "Young, Gay, and Still Married"

Over at the interesting-looking group blog Good Feed ("From the front lines of modern manhood"), writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis follows up on four of the couples he profiled, in a New York Times Magazine article on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

In April of 2008, I wrote a cover story for The New York Times Magazine about the first generation of young married and engaged gay couples in Massachusetts. (All of the couples I profiled were white. In Massachusetts, 91 percent of individuals in same-sex marriages are white—and the vast majority are college-educated and have high medium incomes.)

At the time, I was surprised by the number of emails I received from jaded (and presumably single) gay men promising me that the “naïve” young men I profiled would soon be divorced. Well, it hasn’t happened yet. All of the couples I interviewed are still together, and one of the two young gay men who had already experienced a divorce has chosen to marry again.

Since my piece was published, the number of young gay men getting married in Massachusetts has held steady. In 2008, 218 men under 30 entered into a same-sex marriage. In 2009, 228 did. Young lesbians are about twice as likely to get married as young gay men. Though it’s clear that marriage appeals to some young gay people, the vast majority aren’t seriously considering getting hitched until their 30s or 40s.

Go, read.

[LINK] "Palau Announces Massive Marine Sancutary"

Go Palau! (Thanks to inter Press Service's Stephen Leahy for the story.)

One of Japan's closest allies declared over the weekend that all of its oceans - more than 600,000 square kilometres - would be a sanctuary for whales, dolphins, dugongs, sharks and other species.

"There will be no hunting or harassment of marine mammals and other species in our waters," said the Honourable Harry Fritz, minister of the environment, natural resources and tourism of the Republic of Palau.

"We urge other nations to join our efforts to protect whales, dolphins and other marine animals," Fritz said at a press conference during Oceans Day at the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan.

Japan has long sought to overturn the global ban on commercial whaling and has actively solicited and received Palau's support for many years. Japan is its second largest source of development aid after the United States. Japanese tourists frequent the islands since many people speak some Japanese.

[. . . ]

"Japan remains our very good friend, and we would like to work in harmony to achieve what we both want," said Fritz.

One of the world's smallest nations, with 22,000 people, Palau is an island in the Pacific Ocean, some 800 kms east of the Philippines and 3,200 kms south of Tokyo. Japan occupied Palau after World War I and Japanese immigration was encouraged until World War II when the U.S. occupied the region.

A year ago at the United Nations General Assembly, Palau's President Johnson Toribiong announced that the waters in its economic zone, about the size of France, would be a shark sanctuary. Scientists have said about half of the world's oceanic sharks are at risk of extinction, mainly due to the practice of catching them for their fins.

Palau is also home to at least 11 whale species, including a breeding population of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) that can dive more than three kms deep in search of prey. As many as 30 other whale and dolphin species may also use the rich waters around Palau, Fritz said.

"This sanctuary will promote sustainable whale-watching tourism, already a growing multi-million-dollar global industry, as an economic opportunity for the people of Palau," he said.

[LINK] "On the problems of an Iraqi census"

I've a post up taking a look at the failure of Iraq to hold a census. One observer says it's a good thing, since it'll give Iraq time to consolidate itself before questions on ethnicity and language could tear the country apart, but I wonder how durable a country that makes Iraq.

Go, read.