Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 15, 2023
Avril Lavigne confronts topless protestor at Junos
Young Doug Ford: The Series
A wildly unpredictable Juno Awards unfolded on Monday as a topless protester charged the stage, leading to some feisty words from Avril Lavigne, while an absent the Weeknd emerged as the top winner this year.
With a few twists and turns, Canada’s biggest celebration of music did away with its typically tame proceedings shortly after the broadcast got under way. Lavigne was interrupted by a topless woman who leapt on the stage wearing pasties with paint on her that read “land back” and “save the green belt,” a reference to Ontario’s decision last fall to open a protected area of land for housing.
The pop-punk princess appeared blindsided by the crasher and proceeded to swear at her, demanding she get off the stage. The person was quickly escorted away by security.
Unfazed, Lavigne moved on to introduce a performance by Punjabi-Canadian singer and rapper AP Dhillon.
She returned later to accept this year’s fan choice award with a few choice words and another expletive.
The unexpected moment set the tone for an energetic Junos that saw the Weeknd’s smash hit Dawn FM earn him album of the year, adding to four wins he scored at a Saturday industry event, including artist and single of the year for Sacrifice. (The Globe and Mail)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday February 23, 2023
Doug Ford and the $150 stag and doe
Young Doug Ford: The Series
You never have to worry much about subtlety when it comes to Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
Nuance isn’t in the family genes. When Ford’s brother Rob was Toronto’s mayor, their shared plan for the city’s portlands — a huge waterfront area just east of downtown that’s just yearning for smart development — included a giant shopping mall and the world’s biggest Ferris wheel, for which they were much mocked by the higher orders of city sophisticates.
July 28, 2018
It didn’t faze Ford, who’s never wasted much time worrying about sophisticates in any case. His lack of artifice was evident when he became premier and made one of his first acts a surprise move to whack Toronto’s city council down to size, chopping it by almost half and thus — by his reckoning — freeing taxpayers of a lot of expensive timewasters. When it came to name a new head to the provincial police force, Ford plumped for a family pal, who later withdrew over the ensuing uproar. When he sought to prevent a confrontation with teachers over a new contract he threatened to invoke the notwithstanding clause, thereby provoking an even bigger confrontation than he’d been trying to avoid.
May 29, 2020
It’s a trait that doesn’t always work to his disfavour. The obvious sincerity of his performance during the COVID pandemic did much to counter the poor impression he’d made and helped him to easily win a second mandate. Since then he’s reverted to form, publicly urging John Tory to hang on as mayor after he’d admitted to an extramarital affair, loudly warning the city would be “toast” if voters replaced Tory with “a lefty.”
That’s Ford being Ford. Torontonians may have come to recognize that fact; it remains to be seen how far they’re willing to go in accepting it.
At the moment the premier is caught in a very Ford-like situation he utterly fails to understand. Prior to the wedding of one of his four daughters last summer a stag and doe party was organized to help pay the bills, with tickets priced at $150. Questions arose when it became known that a number of developers had attended, given that a few months later the province announced it was freeing up several chunks of land for development in a protected greenbelt around the city, some of which had been purchased by builders after Ford came to power in 2018. At least one of those developers, according to the Toronto Star, was at the wedding fundraiser.
The premier sees questions about the issue entirely as an unwarranted attack on his family.
February 16, 2023
“It’s absolutely ridiculous. About a $150 stag? You’ve got to be kidding me,” he groused during one heated round of reporter questioning.
“This is the first time in Canadian history you go after any premier’s family, which there used to be an unwritten rule (that) you don’t do that, go after any mayor’s family, any prime minister, but, I guess, when it comes to us there’s different rules.”
It’s highly doubtful this is really the first time journalistic questioning has strayed into a politician’s family life, but you can see Ford’s point. Why are people picking on his daughter over a matter she has nothing to do with?
“No one can influence the Fords,” he’s insisted repeatedly, noting the family’s practise of opening their doors to large throngs of people on a regular basis, with everyone welcome.
March 22, 2019
Money raised at the stag and doe, he says, was handled by “the boys.” That apparently refers to the friends of the groom, a police officer. Ford is big on the cops. “There’s no secret I absolutely love our police officers,” Ford said earlier in his years as premier when he was criticized for naming a Toronto cop to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. “I’m proud to say that three out of my four daughters are with police officers, so there’s my bias right there as well,” he said at the time.
His remarks happened to coincide with the announcement of $20.5 million to fight gang violence in a suburban Toronto community. The fact that the appointee was an open fan of the premier and hadn’t applied for the post, and came at a time the commission was looking into a case involving the Toronto police, would have struck him as immaterial. The guy was “top notch.” What’s anything else got to do with it?
Ford sent the matter of the stag and doe to Ontario’s integrity commissioner and was cleared. The premier had no knowledge of any gifts the couple received and “there was no discussion of government business” at the event, the commissioner ruled. Yes, there were developers invited, but they were family friends.
March 8, 2019
Combining the personal with the political is a Ford trait. It’s part of his appeal to the people who are happy to vote for him. It works both ways, though: If your personal friends are heavy with cops and developers, people are going to ask questions if cops and developers seem to be doing particularly well from your government.
There are legitimate questions being asked about how a few companies came to buy specific pockets of property that were removed from Greenbelt protection. Answering those questions would help preclude the sort of suspicion that leads to intrusive questions about who attended a stag and doe. (The National Post)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday February 16, 2023
Ford won’t say who sent invites to daughter’s $150 stag-and-doe event
January 28, 2023
Ontario Premier Doug Ford did not divulge details of who sent invitations – including to developers – for his daughter’s $150-a-ticket stag-and-doe party last summer, saying only “the boys” took care of the money that was raised.
His office later said “the boys” was a reference to the premier’s son-in-law and the man’s friends.
The integrity commissioner has cleared Ford over the stag and doe, which is typically a fundraiser for a couple before they get married.
Ford bristled at journalists’ questions Wednesday about the pre-wedding event that had an unknown number of developers in attendance.
January 17, 2023
“In my opinion, it’s absolutely ridiculous about a $150 stag, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Ford said Friday at a funding announcement for auto parts maker Magna in Brampton, Ont.
Based on information provided by Ford, the integrity commissioner said the premier had no knowledge of gifts given to his daughter and son-in-law. The commissioner said there was no discussion of government business at the event, but confirmed developers who are longtime friends of the Ford family were there.
When asked how much money was raised at the stag and doe from developers and who the money went to, Ford said “the boys took care of that.”
The premier said he and his family know “tens of thousands of people.”
December 10, 2022
“No one can influence the Fords,” the premier said.
Several months after the stag and doe, the province announced it was opening up the protected Greenbelt to build 50,000 homes as part of its plan to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years.
Ontario’s integrity commissioner and auditor general are conducting separate investigations into the government’s decision to open the Greenbelt to development – both Ford and Housing Minister Steve Clark have denied any wrongdoing. (CBC)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro …
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 3, 2023
Federal Environment Minister might intervene in Ontario’s Greenbelt development plan
October 28, 2021
Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says he might try to stop some of the development that could result from Ontario’s plans to allow housing on once-protected Greenbelt lands, warning that the province’s move defies efforts to prepare for climate change.
The Minister made the remarks at a news conference in Toronto on Thursday, while responding to questions from the environment-focused online publication The Narwhal.
Mr. Guilbeault was taking aim at Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s move last month to remove 3,000 hectares from the Greenbelt – an 800,000-hectare protected area of farmland and countryside that arcs around the Greater Toronto Area – to allow developers to build 50,000 homes. The plan would also add 3,800 hectares elsewhere to the protected area. Mr. Ford had previously promised that he would not open the Greenbelt to development.
Mr. Guilbeault did not detail specifically what he is considering doing, but he said Ontario’s plan “flies in the face of everything we’re trying to do in terms of being better prepared for the impacts of climate change.”
The Narwhal says the Minister warned that the federal government “will be looking at the potential use of federal tools to stop some of these projects.”
November 9, 2022
Mr. Guilbeault suggested he could use federal species-at-risk legislation if any proposed development threatened the survival of vulnerable animal populations. The federal government did this in 2016, when it blocked a housing development in a Montreal suburb over concerns about western chorus frog habitat.
“You can imagine that if similar projects were to be proposed on lands that were part of the Greenbelt, then I have a legislative obligation to intervene,” Mr. Guilbeault said, according to the Narwhal.
He also mentioned Ottawa’s Impact Assessment Act, which is already being used to scrutinize Mr. Ford’s Highway 413, a proposed expressway that would carve through Greenbelt land.
The sharp federal criticism of the Ontario Premier emerged just days before a Feb. 7 meeting between Canada’s premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hash out a health care funding deal.
January 12, 2023
Mr. Guilbeault was speaking at an event marking $8-million in federal funding for nature conservation projects. He also had harsh words for the Ontario government’s plans to restrict the powers of the province’s local conservation authorities to intervene in ecologically sensitive development plans. He called the legislation “terrible” and said he was “saddened and shocked” by the changes.
Last month, Parks Canada said the opening of Greenbelt lands close to the Rouge National Urban Park, on the eastern flank of Toronto, could cause “irreversible harm” to the park’s wildlife and ecosystems. (The Globe & Mail)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday January 28, 2023
Developers who bought Ontario Greenbelt land linked to Ford government
Since Ontario Premier Doug Ford was first elected four years ago, developers have paid tens of millions of dollars for a number of properties that include protected lands the province is now proposing to carve out of the Greenbelt.
Among those properties is a substantial piece of land lying largely in the Greenbelt that sold for $80-million in September, just weeks before the government revealed its new plan.
During the 2018 election campaign, Mr. Ford promised not to touch the Greenbelt – a vast arc of farmland, forests and wetlands across Southern Ontario. The pledge followed public uproar over a video that showed him saying he would allow housing development on a “big chunk” of the protected area. Again, in late 2020, he made a similar promise.
May 3, 2018
The Ford government reversed itself in November, announcing plans to remove 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt for the construction of at least 50,000 new homes. At the same time, land elsewhere would be added to the Greenbelt that, the government says, would result in a net increase of 2,000 acres.
The proposal to open up the Greenbelt to development has sparked protest from environmentalists, agriculture advocates and land-use experts, who argue that swapping one piece for another may be ineffective, because land has different environmental values, and that this also paves the way for other developers to push for their properties to be removed from the Greenbelt.
The proposed carve-outs of 15 areas of land include at least nine properties that were bought by developers for $10-million or more – transactions that topped $300-million in total – since the Progressive Conservatives took office in 2018, property records show.
November 23, 2022
At least four developers who bought the properties the government is now proposing to remove from the Greenbelt have either donated to the PC Party, hired conservative lobbyists, or both.
The government defended the decision to open up parcels of Greenbelt land to development but did not address questions related to the developers.
Among the sales in the Greenbelt parcels up for potential development, the most recent occurred in mid-September, about six weeks before the government’s announcement.
On Sept. 15, a company controlled by developer Michael Rice bought the 280-hectare property in the Township of King for $80-million. The real estate agent who sold the property promoted it as a “prime land-banking opportunity,” referring to the practice of holding undeveloped land for future opportunities.
The property had previously traded hands in 2000 – before the Greenbelt protections were put in place – for about $9.3-million.
October 27, 2011
Mr. Rice’s development company, Rice Group, hired Frank Klees, a former Ontario PC cabinet minister, between 2019-20 to lobby the government “on the economic development opportunities represented by a number of the client’s emerging projects,” the lobbyist registry says. The contract predated Mr. Rice’s purchase of the land in King Township. Mr. Klees did not return an e-mail seeking comment.
In addition, provincial records also show that a person with the name Michael Rice has donated more than $10,500 to the PC Party since 2018. This individual also donated money to the Liberals in 2018. As well, three donors with the same names as Rice Group executives have given the PC Party thousands of dollars since 2018.