Ford, the Press, and the 12th Man

The news business is a business, and businesses have to find ways to make money. Obvious as that may be, I regularly have to remind myself that as honest, intrepid and incorruptible as the members of the City Hall Press Gallery may be, they are, in the summation, agents of competing, for-profit businesses.

And those businesses are, inarguably, having a rough go. Every month we’re told that readership is down, ads are down, jerks on the internet won’t pay, and the end is nigh. All of that is probably true, which is why Rob Ford is, for people in news, especially print news, manna from Heaven. Ford is, without a doubt, the best thing to happen to the news business in Toronto, ever. Ever.

It’s no wonder the press wants to keep Ford in office. The Mayor is a one-man headline-writing machine. Even in the pre-crack days, he was always saying or doing something newsworthy. Remember when the silliest thing Rob did was flip the bird at other drivers? How about the time he was reading documents while plowing down the Gardiner? Oh, the good old days. Of course we know now he was probably either stoned off his ass or drunk as fuck in those incidents, but we were more innocent then. They Mayor was just a dangerous lunatic, not a dangerous drug-addled, drunken lunatic. Simpler times.

Now that we’ve been dropped into the crater of a post-crack world, Ford has gone from being good for the news business to being the news business. Policy? What’s that? Votes at Council? Only important in the context of Rob and/or Doug’s looney position on a given matter. For the last 2 years, at least, the daily schedule at City Hall has broken down, roughly, like this:

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Letter to Q, re: Rape Culture Debate

There are, I think, two things to consider when choosing to air something like today’s Q panel regarding rape culture: first, are we addressing an important issue, or talking around it? Second, will the contrasting ideas that might be presented move the conversation forward? In my view, your debate failed on both counts. Debating the existence of rape culture is a lazy way of being seen to talk about something important without actually having to address its ugly causes and tragic results.

Sexual assault does exist on college campuses, sexual assaults continue to go overwhelmingly unreported, and we, as a culture, freely joke about prison rape, as though it’s somehow justified and thus, less heinous. This is indicative of a culture takes rape seriously only in principle (“Rape is bad!”) but not in practice (“You shouldn’t have dressed like that.”). A show, such as yours, that claims to present progressive content, as any arts program must, should have the good sense to avoid discussing the existence of something they is regularly and tragically proven to exist.

Women aren’t sexually assaulted because they walk through parking lots and men aren’t blameless because they get drunk; rather these are symptoms of a culture that consistent fails to act to protect victims and punish rapists. A national broadcaster should strongly consider the implications of handing over its broad forum to regressive ideas about the cause and prevention of rape, ideas like those presented on your program today by Heather MacDonald.

Your debate failed to directly address an issue of great social importance, and Jian, in his role as moderator, failed to guide the debate away from dangerous generalizations (“If rape culture existed, parents wouldn’t put their kids in school!”) and back toward a meaningful discussion that advanced our understanding of our culture’s shameful disregard for the victims of rape.

However well intentioned you might have been in presenting this piece, the end result was a disservice to women and a discredit to the show.


Joshua Hind

Return of the Action Items

I was in Montreal this past week and I contacted the wonderful people who are now hosting my old radio show, The Friday Morning After, to find out if they wouldn’t mind me sitting in on the show. Well, turns out they not only didn’t mind but wondered if I would do 20 minutes on something. I chose 4 somethings.

Sit back and listen to my very rusty radio delivery. Oh, and find out about the oil sector writing curriculum in Alberta, the feds imposing lifetime gag orders, and a quick chat about electoral sign defacement. That stuff is important too.

Listen to

For more information on the Morning After shows, go to

Build it, jerks!

Thursday’s Globe and Mail will bring another in a recent trend of thin arguments in favour of reasonably debatable development projects, written by Marcus Gee.

In his latest, Gee, who has recently used his column to attack critics of the Bathurst St. Walmart project and the island airport expansion, has turned his sights on anyone who dares ask irritatingly detailed questions about the Mirvish/Gehry project, a set of 3 super-massive towers, complete with a truly Gehry-esque crumple of newspaper at the bottom, proposed for the northeast corner of King and John. The project, which would include an art gallery/tax write-off (something dutifully noted by anyone writing in favour of the project), would, in it’s currently proposed form, require the demolition of a number of heritage buildings, as well as the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Writing with exactly the right level of exasperation, Gee bemoans Toronto’s small-mindedness and nitpicking, the sum of which he describes as “pettifogging”. (One suspects he wrote the entire column just to have a chance to use the word pettifogging, thinking it might make him sound Conrad Black-ish.) Not only does Gee think the City of Toronto is making life too hard for Messrs Mirvish and Gehry, he also tries to convince us that the specific concerns with the project, as raised by Toronto’s planning staff, are frivolous.

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Moving Forward(?)


In the past week, much of the world’s press (and most of America’s comedians) has been, in some way, focused on the movements and machinations of the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. And who can blame them? Taking your eyes off Ford, even for a second, risks missing something huge. But keeping a constant vigil can be a tricky proposition, especially with a loose cannon like Ford; when you’re paying attention, he disappoints, when you’re caught off guard, he drops bombshells. So it was this week when Ford strolled off a public elevator, not through his customary, protected back-door office entrance and, after playing the world’s strangest version of Jeopardy, finally owned up to smoking crack cocaine.

However, later that same day, Ford did a rope-a-dope and called a hotly anticipated press conference wherein he gave the most selfish speech in political history, simultaneously disappointing everyone and surprising no one. On the odd occasion when Ford bothered to mention the city he’s been chaotically destroying for 3 years, it was only in the context of his personal ambitions and desires. He hoped no one would have to go through what he’s gone through; he professed his love for his job; he expressed relief that this embarrassing chapter of his life was coming to an end. As baffling as it was galling, Ford once again proclaimed that he would go on doing the job he’d been elected to do (that he hasn’t really been doing for almost 2 years) and rejected calls for his resignation. Rob Ford, come hell or high water, would stay on as Mayor of Toronto.

I detailed my visceral reaction to the self-serving campaign launch scam that Ford pulled on the people and press of Toronto here.

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You Gotta Blame The Thing Up Here

Rob Ford greets well-wishers. (Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

If you follow Toronto politics closely enough, you might have started October 31st thinking it would be spent skimming hundreds of pages of court documents in a rushed attempt to be the first kid on your block to piece together the possible involvement of Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, in the drug-dealing, violent life of his close associate, Sandro Lisi. How wrong you were.

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Porter Plans…the annotated version.

Sounding like an annoyed parent who’s tired of explaining the virtues of eating vegetable to his snotty kids, Porter posted a “Reality Check” on its site in which it tried to refute the arguments of No Jets TO, the most visible group opposing expansion at the island airport.

I have my own reservations about the expansion. I understand why Porter would want to expand (although I really wish they weren’t being so snarly about it); they’re a business and business want to grow. On the other hand, the city is a public space and the desire of businesses to expand cannot be paramount.

I had a few minutes to spare this afternoon, so I decided to work out some of my feeling about the proposed project by taking Porter’s reality check and marking it up with some thoughts. Some favour No Jets TO and other opponents of the expansion, some favour Porter. Overall I’m most interested in having a real debate about what the airport would mean to the city, both expanded, in its current form, and gone altogether.


Click on the link to view: PorterPlans_Markup

Giambrone, Paikin and responding to responses…

There’s something about Adam Giambrone’s last second run for the NDP nomination in Scarborough-Guildwood that really bothers me. In a post that’s rightfully received a lot of traction on social media, Audra Williams (@audrawilliams) does the heavy lifting of describing why Giambrone’s surprise appearance in Scarborough feels so greasy. Williams spreads a wide net, highlighting Giambrone’s personal failings, his ethnicity (or lack thereof) and the failings of the nomination process. But for me, it’s all about a process that seems at best to have been gamed, and a worst, rigged.

Zach Paikin, a person who fits both the old (money) and new (sex/race) definitions of privilege wasn’t comfortable seeing his Giambrone besmirched in this way and took to the Huffington Post to respond. His response, which I’ll pick apart in this post, is an object study in how not to defend someone.

First, why are we talking about Adam Giambrone at all.

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Letter to the Public Editor (Updated)

To: Kathy English, Public Editor, Toronto Star
From: Joshua Hind
Date: 2013-Jul-05

RE: Toronto Star story, “Toronto car crash at Bay and Lake Shore raises questions about road safety”, originally printed 2013-Jul-04, online version edited 2013-Jul-05

Ms. English,

I write today to call into question the reporting of the Toronto Star and writer Andrew Livingston in the story entitled, “Toronto car crash at Bay and Lake Shore raises questions about road safety”. The story in question not only fails to present the facts about the collision in any great detail, it also gives the reader the false impression that the pedestrians involved in the accident either share the blame for the collision, or were perhaps the cause of it.

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