Gil Penalosa Deciding Not To Run. Toronto Mayoral Vanity Candidates Splitting the Vote.
“A man’s gotta know his limitations.” – Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in Magnum Force (1973)
Last Wednesday, Gil Penalosa, who finished 2nd in last October’s Toronto mayoral election with 98,525 votes, announced he decided not to run in the current June 26th byelection. Instead, Gil has decided to endorse Oliva Chow in hopes of uniting the progressive votes behind her.
Currently, 50 candidates are running to be Toronto’s 66th mayor. Toronto’s next mayor will likely receive less, much less, than 20% of the vote due to the votes being split amongst 50 candidates.
Getting more votes than your opponents is all it takes to win Toronto’s first-past-the-post election. Given the large number of high-profile candidates running, there is no doubt that the winner of the upcoming Toronto byelection will win with much less than half the votes. Hence, a small number of Torontonians will have chosen Toronto’s next mayor, and the majority will be frustrated that their candidate was not elected.
There is a strong possibility that voter turnout will be low. It is most likely that on Tuesday, June 27th, Torontonians will find themselves in the hands of a mayor who, despite only receiving a fraction of the 1.9 million eligible votes, controls an annual budget of $16 billion and has veto power over the city’s councillors.
Our electoral system is indeed in need of a tune-up. However, our electoral system would not be “as broken” if the majority of eligible voters voted, resulting in more decisive elections.
I thought Gil had a good chance of winning if he focused on growing his voter base, who had just voted for him six months ago.
In case you are wondering why I thought Gil had a good chance of winning, it is because the math was in his favour.
- Presume a 40% voter turnout, an increase of 10% over last October’s election. (fingers-crossed) A 40% voter turnout would result in 760,000 votes being cast. (Hopefully, I am wrong, and the voter turnout will be higher than 40%.)
- Last October, Gil received 98,525 votes.
- Nine candidates currently dominate this election. (Ana Bailão, Anthony Furey, Brad Bradford, Giorgio Mammoliti, Josh Matlow, Mark Saunders, Mitzie Hunter, Olivia Chow and Rob Davis). These are the candidates who are getting media attention, showing up in polls, and are likely to be invited to debates.
- Assuming Gil kept his voter base from last October’s election and grew it slightly to over 100,000 votes—a possibility I would have bet on—that would leave 660,000 votes for the rest of the mayoral candidates, 41 of whom, for lack of a better word, are “marginal.”
- If the 41 marginal candidates receive 5,000 votes combined, this will leave 665,000 votes to be divided among the nine currently dominating candidates, which averages 73,889 votes per candidate. Therefore, thanks to Toronto’s first-past-the-post electoral system, with 100,000 votes, Gil would win.
Before you scoff at my presumption that 41 candidates would get only 5,000 combined, look at Toronto’s 2014 election, which had 67 mayoral candidates. Combined, John Tory, Doug Ford and Olivia Chow received 952,264 votes. The remaining 64 candidates received a total of 7,913 votes.
I admit my math is overly simplistic and populated with presumptions; however, I am illustrating two points:
- Vote splitting will be a significant factor in this election. It would have favoured Gil, as it will favour the nine dominating candidates, and
- This election is a good argument for rank-choice voting, a topic no candidate has mentioned thus far.
50 mayoral candidates are counterproductive. Gil makes a valid point that progressive voters need to unite around one candidate and not split the votes in favour of right-leaning candidates. Likewise, right-leaning voters need to unite around one candidate to avoid splitting their votes in favour of left-leaning candidates.
As this election progresses, I am interested to see which candidates will stand out, and which voters will rally around, because they best represent left-leaning or right-leaning political ideologies. Clearly, Olivia Chow represents the left, and Mark Sauders solidly represents the right, though I wonder if Saunders has the political acumen to mobilize the right. I think Ana Bailão has a good chance of doing so.
Should Torontonians choose left and a right champion, and I expect they will, Toronto could experience a vote-splitting scenario similar to that in 2014, especially if a candidate who espouses centralist political values—a position that advocates for social equality and a lessen hierarchies of privilege while opposing proposals that alter the city’s fiscal management and policies that would benefit either the left or the right in a significant way—instead of the divisiveness the mayoral candidates have displayed so far. Toronto needs a charismatic leader capable of bringing Torontonians to a middle-ground consensus, something none of the 50 candidates has demonstrated.
By deciding not to run, Penalosa showed not only class but also showed he is not motivated by vanity. Gil knows you do not need to be elected to make a difference in your community or city. Regardless of your feelings about Gil’s endorsement of Olivia Chow, he did what he felt was in the best interest of this election and Toronto.
Not surprisingly, this election, like all elections, has its share of what I call “vanity candidates.” While a known candidate can be a vanity candidate, vanity candidates are usually unknown candidates with no political experience, nor have they done any preparatory work to be mayor of North America’s 4th most populous city. (e.g., put a team together, establish relationships with potential donors and the media, put together a platform with well-thought-out positions and suggestions costed-out, have established a healthy social media presence)
Viable mayoral candidates have:
- Extensive community experience. (Shows what they care about.), and
- Experience in city hall or holding a visible public office. (Being mayor of a city the size of Toronto is not a ‘learn of the job’ position.)
They also have the big three needed to run a competitive campaign:
- A team
Vanity candidates believe they can simply show up on the scene and get votes, or they just want to see their name on the ballot or say they ran for mayor.
Following up on my earlier comment, “a known candidate can be a vanity candidate,” several people have asked me if I think Olivia Chow is a vanity candidate. I believe she is. I have no doubts that the media, seeking to control this election’s narrative, reporting before Chow had filed her nomination papers on several polls forecasting she would get a good deal of support, greatly influenced her decision to run.
Before running for mayor, Olivia Chow needed to know that she was still loved.
In all fairness, Chow has earned her political dues and is undeniably well-known throughout Toronto. Nevertheless, there is the question of where was Olivia Chow last October. This question—Where were you last October?—should be asked to all nine front-running candidates. Did Chow not feel Toronto needed her last year? Maybe her people told her Torontonians preferred John Tory to her.
Vanity candidates know who they are and have become as much a part of our political life as selfies and cheesy smartphone videos. Vanity candidates with little to offer voters attack their opponents’ platforms and proposals, a strategy that never results in votes. Vote splitting is not a concern for vanity candidates.
Gil Penalosa read the room and decided he would not be another vanity candidate, for which we should applaud him.
Every Torontonian following this byelection knows the elephant in the room: Too many candidates are running!
Many candidates need to drop out. Every candidate claims they care about Toronto’s future; at least, that is what they want Torontonians to believe. If this is true, then now is the time to set aside their respective ego, self-reflect on their chances of winning this byelection, and honestly read the room, as Gil did.
Candidates, especially marginal ones, should take a page from Gil’s playbook and volunteer for a front-running candidate that aligns with their values and vision for Toronto. (A great way to gain experience and visibility.)
Unless the field of mayoral candidates decreases to 10-15 candidates or Torontonians unite around 3-5 candidates, this election will be an election where Toronto’s next mayor will be grossly unrepresentative of the leadership most Torontonians want in city hall.
Friday, May 12th @ 2:00 PM is the deadline for candidates to withdraw their candidacy so their names do not appear on the ballot.
Nick Kossovan, a self-described connoisseur of human psychology, writes about what’s on his mind from Toronto. You can follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram @NKossovan
Manufacturers Blues: Staffing Not a Problem, But their Inadequate.
We have been experiencing staffing problems for some time. Finding skilled workers within the manufacturing sector has been challenging but these past 2 years most difficult, not because there are no workers being interviewed, but because there are many showing up for their interviews and testing. The interviews go well, with their enthusiasm showing. We appreciate that a lot. But when they do their actual testing it’s another story.
Initial Interview usually goes without a hitch.
Testing shows us their capabilities and possible potential should we be willing to train them further.
We test these individuals as welders, sheet metal workers, press brake operators, plastics, and millwork specialists.
The problem we face is threefold. 1st off they have no real experience like they just graduated from welding school. We ask them to weld their name onto a plate, which is easily done if you have the experience. Many burn through the heavy plates or handle the equipment not very well. The secondary problem is their extensive demands from private washrooms, when they are willing to work(not our scheduled period), excessive wages far beyond the average wage. Over time employment is haphazard at best, nonexistent as they refuse. They even want schooling in the trade, while letting it be known that the wage they receive will always limit their loyalty to the firm. A buck or two elsewhere and bye, bye. The third problem is that most want to unionize, and have been told to demand the most up front even though they have not proven themselves worthy of advanced pay. For most private firms unionizing will kill the firm, with excessive costs dragging down any form of profitability. We have 15-25 laborers at a time with the option of doubling that when business gets busy usually in spring-summer-fall.
Strange things that happen are the employees showing up with a six-pack of beer, taking 1-2 hour lunches, and often going to management asking for wage advances even when they have not been with us but for a few weeks. The provincial and federal government agencies who have these individuals trained seem to be the people indoctrinating the workers with unrealistic expectations and demand formulas.
There are many choice employee’s out there, but their wage/salary demands remain extremely high for an industry that is just surviving in North America. The pandemic and people leaving their jobs to become self-employed or simply home bodies until they find that perfect job with a perfect wage have driven up our costs drastically, and all the while we are trying to compete with foreign exporters.
Our Provincial and Federal Governments seem unwilling to assist us in finding excellent experienced employees, instead having people trained in the basics, and relying upon private industry to train these people, who will in a short matter of time leave us and go to someone else who will pay them more. The expense, time, and effort of our firm run at a loss when we train someone, but this gamble pays off occasionally. Our governments are staffed by unionized personnel, who will push unionization onto anyone they come in contact with. Not neutral, or objective, but actual union recruiters and propagandists.
Our firm has looked at moving to friendlier regions down south, but the nationalist within us persists in our Canadian Financial Adventure in Ontario.
The FDA says people are confusing poppers with energy shots, and dying. Experts want proof
It’s not unusual for the packaging of one product to resemble that of another, potentially leading to mix-ups. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned people who drink energy shots to make sure they’re not accidentally chugging a bottle of poppers — or they might end up sick or dead.
“Don’t be fooled. These poppers, often purchased online or in novelty stores, are unapproved products and should not be inhaled or ingested, regardless of how they are packaged, labelled or displayed,” the FDA notes in its online warning shared in recent social media posts.
But those who work in LGBTQ sexual health say the FDA’s warning that people are confusing poppers with energy shots, with sometimes dire consequences, may actually be doing more of a disservice.
Such messaging “borders on inflammatory” and may contribute to the “the stigmatization of the product [and] the stigmatization of the person who’s using poppers,” said Rod Knight, an associate professor at the at Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health, who has also conducted research on poppers.
Poppers are a chemical substance that belongs to a class of drugs known as alkyl nitrates. When they’re inhaled as vapour, from a small liquid-filled bottle wrapped in a colourful plastic label, the user can almost instantly get the short-lasting, light-headed sensation of a head rush, Knight explained.
He explained they also relax the sphincter muscle of the anus, making receptive anal sex more comfortable for some people. Poppers have been popular among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men for decades.
A single mistake can prove fatal. We continue to receive reports of people dying or being severely injured after consuming poppers that resemble, and often mistaken for, popular energy shots. Drinking or inhaling poppers seriously jeopardizes your health. <a href=”https://t.co/fojEcP7J9z”>https://t.co/fojEcP7J9z</a> <a href=”https://t.co/LJlPAnbfOY”>pic.twitter.com/LJlPAnbfOY</a>
Knight acknowledges that there are sometimes side effects, which may include nausea, headaches, reduced blood pressure — alkyl nitrates are vasodilators, meaning they open blood vessels — and even vision issues. But he suggested such side effects “can be remedied through change of usage patterns.”
According to the FDA’s website, they are usually purchased in sex shops or online — often labelled as other products such as leather cleaner or deodorizers — even though the agency recommends against using them. Alkyl nitrates as poppers are unauthorized in Canada and Health Canada has cracked down on the sale of them since 2013, though they’re not necessarily illegal to purchase, possess or consume.
Does the FDA claim pass the sniff test?
Energy shots are flavoured beverages containing some amount of caffeine, and vitamins or other natural substances that purportedly boost your energy, like ginseng or ginkgo biloba. They’re sold in small bottles with colourful plastic labels. They’re commonly found at convenience stores, supermarkets or bought online.
If by some chance you had both products side-by-side and didn’t realize your mistake by the time you peeled off the plastic and cracked open the bottle, the distinct smell of poppers should be a red flag, explained Adam Awad, the communications manager for the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance in Toronto.
“If you’re about to drink a 5-Hour Energy drink [a popular energy shot brand] and it smells like nail polish remover, you know, maybe you should ask yourself some questions before touching it to your lips,” he said.
Awad said he isn’t aware of any cases of people dying from a poppers-related mishap like the FDA described — a claim the agency previously made in 2021 — but he said he “would be very keen to see any evidence that they’ve got or reports on the actual number of cases.”
CBC News reached out to the FDA for data on injuries or death related to the accidental oral ingestion of poppers and an explanation for the social media warning, but did not receive a response.
In 2012, however, the agency stated that it was investigating 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations related to the consumption of 5-Hour Energy drinks.
But if serious or fatal mix-ups with poppers and energy shots are happening, it would certainly be a dangerous situation, said Knight. He said he’s curious to know in what context such a serious mistake might have happened and whether there were other contributing factors to these incidents.
There is also a flip side to poppers, Knight said, that health agencies like the FDA and Health Canada do not mention in their cautionary messaging.
“This drug is being used by gay and queer men for very therapeutic reasons,” Knight said. “[Poppers] can prevent muscle spasm and injury during receptive anal intercourse.”
The Early Edition7:57We discuss what ‘poppers’ are, and the ban of them in Canada
Should Canada ease its restrictions on poppers?
Health Canada states alkyl nitrites can only be used when prescribed by a doctor, but there are currently no approved products sold as poppers. In a statement to CBC News, the agency said “there have been no submissions filed by any company [or] manufacturers for authorization of a popper product.”
Knight said it would be difficult and unlikely for many producers to go through the clinical trials and regulatory processes needed to get approval for prescription use and, even if that did happen, it would only create other barriers to accessing the drug.
“This drug is not really well known among a lot of clinicians, except for those who specialize in sexual health,” he said.
He said the current restriction has done little to prevent people from acquiring poppers one way or another, whether it’s ordering them online, buying them over the border in the U.S. or procuring them by some other means.
He noted a survey from the Community-Based Research Centre that showed only a slight drop in the percentage of people using poppers, after the ban on sales, and had little effect on regular use.
“If this was a drug that was being used among, for example, straight guys at a rate of 30 per cent of straight guys across Canada, there would be a very different approach to how the drug would be treated,” he said.
He believes the restriction has done more harm than good, pushing poppers into a form of “illicit market,” making it unclear what ingredients they may contain because manufacturers aren’t “incentivized” to label their products with accurate health information.
There is also the possibility poppers may be packaged in a way that resembles other products in order to “disguise them” because of the restriction, added Awad, potentially setting up that very mixup scenario.
Why are mosquitoes so bad in 2023?
They’re thirsty bloodsuckers that annoy those who cross into nature, feasting on their salty life source while leaving behind red, itchy bumps.
And this year across Canada, it seems the pesky insects are worse than ever.
Those who’ve wondered about an increase in mosquitoes may be right, according to Laura Ferguson, assistant professor of biology at Acadia University in Nova Scotia.
“It’s definitely been a trend to some extent that people are noticing anecdotally,” she told CTVNews.ca in an interview on Friday. “New Brunswick, in particular, over the last couple of years, has noticed big bursts in mosquito populations, especially in this mid- to late spring.”
Why mosquitoes may be worse than normal in some areas has more than one answer.
WHY MOSQUITOES ARE SO BAD THIS YEAR
Ferguson works with a team to study mosquitoes, understand the different species and track their abundance across North America.
“It’s for a few different reasons why we’re seeing more mosquitoes than we may have at least in the past couple of decades or so,” she said.
The first contributing reason is that there are more species of mosquitoes than in years past.
Different species travel with human goods across the world. They then breed in their new homes, creating populations of specific types of mosquitoes where they’d never existed before.
“Here in Nova Scotia for instance, we didn’t have a (species) a couple of decades ago — it came over from Japan in tire, we think — and it’s just exploded across the province and you can find it anywhere now,” Ferguson said.
Additionally, Ferguson said, warmer winters caused by climate change allow mosquitoes that would die off in the winter to survive and continue reproducing.
Along with being able to survive the milder weather, some types of mosquitoes are able to reproducer faster in warm temperatures because of the type of insect they are. Ferguson says mosquitoes are ectotherms, meaning their regulation of body temperature depends on external sources like the sun.
Precipitation also plays a factor in how well mosquitoes can survive, because they lay eggs in stagnant water.
Ferguson said if it’s a particularly dry spring there may be fewer mosquitoes around, depending on the species. Others lay eggs in the fall, so there would only be a large drop in mosquitoes if the previous year was dry.
Another theory that needs more research, Ferguson said, is the waning effects of the chemical Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), which was used in the past to control insects in crops, but was phased out in the 1970s due to its harm on other species.
Despite this, the chemical can still be found in water and is circulating in ecosystems.
“Those kinds of holdover effects from these really persistent insecticides may have also suppressed mosquito populations for a few decades,” she said. “And now we’re experiencing a bit of this rebound of these populations as these insecticides and their effects start to wear away in the environment.”
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT MOSQUITOES?
Unfortunately, all these factors lead to an increase in mosquitoes, a problem without fast solutions.
“I think for the most part, what we need to do is just figure out the ways to protect ourselves from contact with mosquitoes because they are a part of the ecosystem,” Ferguson said.
“On a regular basis it’s going to be things like hanging out in a screened porch instead of right outside, making sure that you dump standing water anywhere in your yard.”
Using repellents like DEET and some natural oils can help when out in the woods, Ferguson said.
“Wear light colours, long sleeves, those kinds of things to reduce the area of your body that’s exposed to potential bites,” Ferguson said. “That kind of thing is sort of our best bet of that trying to sort of prevent our contact with them as much as possible.”
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