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Best before date?

The unfortunate story of Nancy Elgie, the York Region school board trustee who used a disgusting racial epithet when speaking to a parent, underlines the need for an age limit on elected officials.

Elgie, 82, has claimed her outburst was a result of a head injury. In that case, I’m sure we all feel sorry for her in light of that injury. But it doesn’t excuse her.

Asked about the situation.Premier Kathleen Wynne used her words very carefully recently, saying Elgie needed to “search her conscience.” You’ll have a tough time finding any politician calling for the resignation of another politician. After all, if you force Elgie to resign over this, it begs the question why Wynne wouldn’t resign over the scandals her government’s mired in.

Elgie may well need her trustee job, to pay the bills. That isn’t the point. Public office shouldn’t be regarded as a pension supplement – and I’ve seen far too many octogenarian politicians use it as just that.


Sic transit gloria

There’s a lovely ticket collector at Victoria Park subway station who always makes me smile.

When I ask for 10 seniors tickets, he winks and pushes them across the counter.

“For your mom, are they?” he laughs.

Ah, yes. My morning chuckle.

But what the heck is going on at the TTC? First they change the names of subway lines to numbers. So the Bloor-Danforth line is “Line 2” and the Yonge-University line is Line One. They’re also starting to colour-code the lines on the TTC map, which is fair enough. Once we start adding the new LRT lines, the map will become complex.

But for pity’s sake, why are they taking away the line names that actually indicate something about where the trains are going? Other cities around the world give their subway lines names that become part of the city’s historic tapestry. Think of London, with its historic Piccadilly line, commemorative Jubilee and Victoria lines and directional Northern line.

Now they’re changing the way the numbers on streetcars and buses are expressed. The 501 Queen car was always pronounced 5-oh-1. Now, according to the automated voice on the streetcars, it’s five hundred and one. Really? When the recorded voice on the streetcar calls the vehicle a name the passengers on it don’t recognize, you wonder where they made the recording. Mars? Or is it from Uranus?

Times Change

It’s been 50 years since I first started working for a newspaper. I’ve seen a lot of changes.

We’ve gone from moveable type to Twitter. Newspapers were once laid out on the “stone” in the composing room and stories were set in metal type. You had to be able to read upside down and backwards to proofread.

You had three editions and perhaps a couple of replates throughout the day. Now with the Internet, stories are updated at any time throughout the day.

TV has changed as well. I was still in England as a child when JFK was shot in Dallas. The BBC didn’t know how to cover it. In the pre-satellite days of television, there was no footage until they could fly it over the Atlantic. We knew he was dead, but we had no details.

As I recall, the BBC put up a test card because I think they found it inappropriate to continue with their regular programming.There were news updates throughout the evening, but details were sketchy and we sat staring at a mostly static screen, wondering what was happening.

Now major news is covered wall-to-wall, 24/7 with sat trucks beaming every detail instantly around the world.

On reflection, I think too much information is better than too little.


The real school bus problem

Why are all these school bus problems suddenly cropping up? No drivers. Autistic kids left at the side of the road. Whatever happened to the day when the person driving was someone who’d been doing the job for years and the company was local and had been business and served the community for years.

Then the Liberal government decided to go to competitive bidding. The contracts went to the lowest bidders – i.e. the school bus company that paid the least to their drivers. That resulted in the contracts for busing in the hands of one or two multinational corporations.

School bus companies in small towns that had been in business for years shut their doors. I think that’s a terrible shame. Those drivers took pride in their work. They knew their kids. The knew the ones who needed a bit of extra help and whose parents were who.

Yes, it meant lower costs. For now. The big companies were able to eat the losses for a while. But I wonder how long it will be before they hike their rate and we’re left with the worst of all worlds.


to be or not to be?

I love the Cineplex livestreams of great theatre from London. Just saw Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch. it was amazing. He takes Hamlet to a whole new level. The entire cast was great – especially Gertrude (Anastasia Hille).

It is an amazing production that stays faithful to Shakespeare while still opening up whole new perspectives on it. Cumberbatch reportedly was nervous about his role in the play, as he felt expectations were too high. Trust me, he had no need to worry. Superb performances all round. 

latin thought of the day

  •  atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. – Tacitus

They made a desert and called it peace

Mr. Holmes, I presume

Caught Mr. Holmes  recently. Just when you thought there was no new twist on Sherlock Holmes, along comes Ian McKellen  and Laura Linney with a wonderful new take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective.

If there is any justice in Hollywood, both will get Oscar nominations for their performances.

McKellen portrays Holmes in many ages – a remarkable feat. Lovely story and some great performances.

Give yourself a treat this weekend. Go see it!