By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 23, 2018
The Eisenberger train rolls on
Fred Eisenberger handily won the so-called “LRT referendum” election to become the city’s first repeat mayor since amalgamation.
But it is still unclear whether his signature project, a controversial $1-billion light rail transit line, will survive the election of a council that remains badly divided over LRT.
The veteran politician, 66, fought off a surprising challenge from Vito Sgro, a behind-the-scenes Liberal organizer who was not well known but ran a well-organized “Stop the Train” campaign hinging on the use of LRT cash for other infrastructure.
Eisenberger told jubilant supporters at his Upper James Street headquarters that there was a “fair number” of votes cast against LRT — “but we got more.”
“I see that as a mandate for us to move forward on LRT,” he said to a huge cheer from supporters squeezed into the room.
The veteran politician, who has served two terms as mayor separated by a defeat, repeatedly rejected the notion that LRT was the defining campaign issue. But Monday night, he told The Spectator “for those who wanted to make it a referendum, well, I consider this a referendum.”
It’s possible the fraught debate helped push up voter turnout in 2018 to an unofficial 38 per cent — not fantastic, but an improvement from last election’s dismal showing of around 34 per cent.
The LRT is backed by an unprecedented coalition of politicians, businesses, developers, education and health institutions, unions and anti-poverty groups.
But that establishment support certainly did not translate into a unified council. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
As with most elections it’s never easy to fully prepare the perfect cartoon for the end result. Less complicated about the 2018 Mayoral election, compared with previous campaigns, was the fact that it was a two person race among a full slate of fringe candidates. Yesterday, I drew up three scenarios, all involving the proposed LRT. Full disclosure, two of the versions were revisions of cartoons drawn for the 2014 municipal vote which never went to print. The one which ran above, dubbed “happy Fred”, was the more celebratory version for Mayor Eisenberger – it was also the last cartoon I created, thinking it was the least likely cartoon to be used. The version I put most effort into was “sad Fred”, showing him asleep at the levers as his train glided off a cliff. If the numbers had been tighter between the Mayor and his main challenger Vito Sgro, I thought sad Fred would work best by reflecting his downplaying of LRT as a major issue in 2018. There was only one Sgro victory version, and as the first, and perhaps only depiction I ever draw of the man, it was the first cartoon I drew yesterday, showing him above the neck, and full-faced. Yesterday morning as people began casting ballots, Vito Sgro was viewed as a very possible candidate to topple Eisenberger and take Hamilton on a future course without LRT. While the project is by no means a for sure thing for this city, with several anti-LRT councillors returning or elected, it’ll take a Mayor with a mandate to champion it among council and the Doug Ford government. It has been more than 10 years since the offer of $1 billion was presented to Hamilton to upgrade its transit system, I think it’s time to get it moving once and for all.
…It has been a loooong conversation on making LRT and enhanced GO Transit a Billion dollar reality in this city. Here’s a gallery of transit cartoons from the past 10 years or so…
Not to mention these from 2010 and before:
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday October 4, 2018
I don’t think I’m the only one to declare that this has got to be the quietest, and indeed, dullest municipal election Hamilton’s had in a long time. As ground is supposed to be broken for a billion dollar LRT system, politicians are waffling in their support, and advocates for & against are huddled in their echo chambers. Mayor Fred Eisenberger claims it’s not even the top issue of the 2018 campaign. With a new unpredictable government in charge at Queen’s Park saying do what you want with the $1B, which the previous gov’t said was only for LRT, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what is coming Hamilton’s way, despite having spent $100 million, and years talking about it. It’s as if people are done talking about it, on either side of the debate, and maybe an election is the wrong time to whip up voter attention, especially when only 35% of them will even bother to cast a ballot.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 19, 2018
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 8, 2018
Scientists urging people to stop dumping aquarium and market fish into Hamilton Harbour
Harbour scientists say they have been finding some strange new creatures in Hamilton Harbour this summer, suggesting people are dumping aquarium and fish market species into the waters.
“We’ve seen some fish that really should not be there and it’s really a sign of people purposefully and irresponsibly and illegally releasing fish into Hamilton Harbour,” said Becky Cudmore, senior science adviser on aquatic invasive species with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Among the findings are four tilapia fish and a type of aquarium catfish. This is on top of an established population of goldfish, the outcome of untold numbers of people emptying their aquarium fish into the bay and Cootes Paradise.
“What we are seeing with goldfish is something we don’t want to see happening with other species,” she said.
She believes the tilapia, a non-native species originally from the Middle East and Africa, were bought at a fish market and then released into the harbour in a misguided effort to save the fish from being eaten.
“It’s not fair to the fish because they are not meant to be in that water,” said Cudmore. She urged people with unwanted aquarium fish to take the fish to pet rescue centres or back to the store where they bought them.
She expects tilapia in the harbour will die out over the winter because the species prefers tropical environments. But some could survive by using warm water effluent from Hamilton steel mills as an overwintering haven.
Tys Theijsmeijer, the head of natural lands for the Royal Botanical Gardens, says as well as adversely affecting native species, introduced species can bring new diseases to the ecosystem. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)