Cartoons are posted below but the most recent one is at least one week late.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday May 23, 2020
Should Hamilton taxpayers ride to the rescue of SoBi bike share network?
Thousands of people have signed a petition calling on the city to save Hamilton’s imperiled bike share network — but councillors are divided over whether local taxpayers should ride to the rescue.
The Uber-owned operator of SoBi Hamilton shocked the city Friday by announcing it will shut down local bike share operations June 1 because of pandemic challenges, despite a recent contract renewal.
The two-wheeled emergency hit just as the city prepares to unveil a pandemic “mobility plan” expected to highlight cycling as a safe, affordable alternative as Hamilton emerges from COVID-19 lockdown.
Some council members have already vowed to fight to preserve the program. “We’re going to find a way,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger during a COVID-19 news conference.
“We WILL find a way to keep our bike share program operating,” added Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann on Twitter in response to resident questions. “It is too critical a link in our transportation network.”
But not everyone believes that support should extend to a municipal takeover or public subsidy.
Planning general manager Jason Thorne said Wednesday SoBi Hamilton did not make a profit and bike share models in other cities commonly rely on subsidies. It could cost $700,000 a year for the city or another operator to run the system.
“I’m not on for taxpayer money being used,” said Flamborough Coun. Judi Partridge. “It is successful, it has been great, people have been riding more and it’s healthy for our city — but is it sustainable?”
Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla and Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead also both argued public money should be “off the table” when it comes to bike share rescue efforts. Merulla emphasized the city faces a $60-million-plus pandemic deficit and the economy is in “depression mode.”
He said cash-strapped Hamilton cannot afford to spend on a bike share program that is “not a city-wide network” and any solution should come from a private or nonprofit venture. While the city has explored expansion opportunities for SoBi, the current service area is mostly limited to Dundas and the lower city up until Ottawa Street.
A survey of 420 SoBi members by CivicPlan suggests many live in the service area — but others are scattered throughout the city including on the Mountain, in Glanbrook and Stoney Creek. About 40 per cent reported using SoBi to commute to work, including using the bikes to connect to GO Transit or the local bus service.
A cycling equity program, the Everybody Rides Initiative, also provides subsidized SoBi passes to 500 low-income residents. Social service providers like shelters also have group passes available to help clients get around. (Hamilton Spectator)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday May 22, 2020
We can’t give in to ‘quarantine fatigue’
If you’re driving in the dark down a rough, mountain road, you’d be wise to ease your foot off the accelerator.
Your limited vision, not knowing what’s around the corner and the risk of making a fatal wrong turn will be enough to convince you the best way forward is to go slow.
And that should be the motto for every Canadian as the country begins to emerge from the prison of its two-month, COVID-19 lockdown.
It won’t be easy. This is the third day since Ontario allowed stores, parks, campgrounds, golf courses, marinas and construction sites to reopen. Prince Edward Island is preparing to welcome its returning summer residents. In many parts of Quebec, children are back learning in their elementary schools while limited outdoor gatherings are legal again.
We can already taste some of the freedoms we took for granted, but have been denied since mid-March. And we yearn for more.
We’re tired of staying alone in our homes and apart when we’re out. We can’t wait to return to our favourite coffee shop or hug an old friend. As for those of us rendered jobless by COVID-19, the day we can get back to work and start paying our bills again can’t come soon enough.
Besides all this, the heartening progress that’s been made — including the flattening of the curve in new COVID-19 cases — will make a lot of us think we’ve got this battle won. That conclusion is grossly premature.
According to Dr. Theresa Tam, the nation’s chief public health officer, we’re experiencing “quarantine fatigue.” But we have to resist it, limit our expectations and keep taking all the safety precautions that once seemed extraordinary but are now simply ordinary.
“This is quite a difficult period … one of the most difficult periods of time where people have been observing this public health advice,” Dr. Tam said Thursday. “And now, some things are easing up, and there is this exuberance of maybe getting out there. (It) means that people may forget to do all the core public health measures.”
Canadians can’t let this happen. We have to realize it’s not an accident that this country is managing to wrestle the pandemic to the mat. This positive turn of events has been made possible only because of the patience and self-sacrifice demonstrated by the vast majority of Canadians.
Thanks to their efforts, Canada has avoided the devastation wreaked by COVID-19 in countries such as the United States, where 95,000 people have died from it, or the United Kingdom and Italy. COVID-19 has killed more than 35,000 in both places.
Of course, it’s been horrible in Canada. The death toll hit 6,145 Thursday and there are still hundreds of people suffering from COVID-19 in hospital intensive care units. But we have averted the worst-cases scenarios in which federal government scientists warned 350,000 Canadians could perish from COVID-19.
So now we have to walk toward the new normal before we run for it. Lack of discipline could result in a devastating second wave of COVID-19 that would force another lockdown and make two months of unprecedented effort seem wasted.
We need to keep abreast with what’s been reopened and what’s still off limits. If we’re not already wearing a face-mask when we can’t physical distance, we should start. We need to keep washing our hands until they’re red, and veering off sidewalks to stay two metres from another pedestrian.
And we shouldn’t need a flashing, yellow light to persuade us to go slow. (Hamilton Spectator)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday May 16, 2020
Ontario Premier Doug Ford reveals his ‘famous’ cherry cheesecake recipe
Ontario Premier Doug Ford got his hand mixer out, put on some bright blue gloves and revealed his “famous” cherry cheesecake recipe in a video released on Friday morning.
“If I wasn’t premier, I’d open up a cheesecake factory,” the premier says at one point in the two-and-a-half-minute-long video dubbed “Cooking with Doug.”
Ford said he learned the recipe “years ago” from his mother, who learned it from her sister.
“When I was 10 years old I just had it kind of memorized,” he said with all of the ingredients laid out in front of him on a kitchen counter.
While making the recipe on camera wearing a “We’re all in this together” T-shirt, the premier says this is one of many “fun things you can do while you keep yourself isolated” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Stay safe, stay healthy,” he added.
The release of the premier’s “famous cheesecake recipe” comes after he boasted about it on Twitter and even during an official COVID-19 news conference held at Queen’s Park earlier in the week.
“I make the best cherry cheesecake ever,” he told reporters on Monday. “I do it from scratch. No recipe, I got it down pat.”
“You can tell I’ve eaten one too many cheesecakes. That’s my problem.”
Ford released a trailer for the recipe on Thursday night before publishing the full video the next morning.
The full video ends by the premier saying, “I haven’t had one of these in years. I haven’t made one in years, but I got to tell you I haven’t lost the touch.” (CTV)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday May 15, 2020
CFL could lose $100 million if season lost
The CFL commissioner says that a repayable loan would be among the possibilities within the league’s request to the federal government for up to $150 million in financial assistance.
“The one point that hasn’t come out so far is that we’ve said to the government we’re prepared to be creative, and consider all options to be on the table, ” Randy Ambrosie told The Spectator on Wednesday morning. “Ultimately, we just want to find a way to get through this crisis together and we’re prepared to talk to the government about anything.”
Tuesday night, Ambrosie told Dan Ralph of The Canadian Press that in the request the league’s accountability to taxpayers would include, “community programs, tourism promotion, the Grey Cup, our digital channels.” But a loan was not specificially mentioned.
Those are positive things the CFL already does and Ambrosie did not mention then the prospect of any kind of loan. But, on Wednesday, he said a loan would be among the things that the CFL would be willing to discuss with the federal government.
The CFL financial proposal to the government is three-tiered: $30 million to manage the impact the pandemic has already had on CFL business; further assistance if there’s a shortened regular season; and up to another $120 million should the league have to collapse its entire season.
Ambrosie reiterated Wednesday that if the CFL cannot play at all in 2020 it might imperil the league’s future because the cumulative loss “could be $100-plus million. Those are actual P &L (profit and loss statement) losses.”
There has been understandable negative reaction to the questionable optics of what appeared to be a straight bailout to a league in which six of the nine teams are privately-owned, including Bob Young’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Ambrosie said he understands that sentiment.
“We are not tone-deaf to the realities of all this but we also know that this crisis will end and Canadians will need to get back to things which bring joy and passion to life,” Ambrosie said. “Sports is part of that and the CFL is a really big part. It’s not appropriate to just hope that this crisis passes: somebody famously said that hope is not a plan.
It has long been the opinion in this space that while the CFL must always operate as a sustainable business and league, it is, and has been first and foremost a cultural institution. The failure to grasp that — at various times in the past even some franchise owners themselves have done that — is to misunderstand its role in this country, and the unifying place of the 111-year-old Grey Cup game, which is much older than the formal league itself.
The CFL seems to welcome a broader discussion on whether it is indeed a necessary cultural institution, differentiated from the NHL, NBA and MLB, leagues with headquarters and most of their teams in the U.S. Ambrosie feels its history, consistent local-employment factor, and the historic durability and surging financial impact of the Grey Cup festival arguably separate it from other domestic leagues as well.
“We are so different than every other sports league on the planet,” Ambrosie told The Spectator. “And what we do in our communities really matters. The tone we’ve set for generations and generations has been so consistent with Canadian values. We are more than a sports league.” (Steve Milton – Hamilton Spectator)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 14, 2020
‘Social bubbles’ allow you to see friends as coronavirus lockdowns ease — but they might not work
As more countries look to lift their coronavirus lockdowns, “social bubbles” have been floated as an idea of how to ease restrictions, but experts say they could be difficult to put into practice.
A social bubble entails allowing people to form a group with a select number of people they are allowed to see socially outside their own household.
They have been put forward as a way to continue containing the spread of Covid-19, which has infected more than 3.6 million people worldwide and killed over 257,000, according to the latest figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
New Zealand — which has been heralded as an example for bringing its coronavirus cases down to zero — has already implemented social bubbles. It lifted certain lockdown restrictions last week and allowed people to expand their bubbles to contact with close family outside their own households.
Meanwhile, Belgium is reportedly considering allowing people to socialize with a group of up to 10 people. It currently allows people to meet up with two others outside their household, so long they are outside and keep a distance from each other.
William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said social bubbles were “certainly a component of how, once the initial outbreak is under control, measures could be refined.”
However, he added that “as the size of the cluster grows, the probability that one of its members could become infected obviously increases.”
Mike Tildesley, an associate professor who specializes in infectious disease control at the University of Warwick, said that while “in principle, it’s a really sensible strategy,” practically it would be difficult to implement.
He also said that narrowing down a list of friends — and ensuring that those friends also have the same list — sounded like a “social nightmare.”
“You could envisage this situation where you name a group of friends, they name a group of friends that includes you, but it has some people that aren’t included on your list and all you’ve got is some sort of porous process that (the coronavirus) filters through the population more slowly that it did before,” Tildesley added. (CNBC)