May. 16th, 2017

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Green leaves turned golden #toronto #dundaswest #dundasstreetwest #trees #leaves #green #golden


I took the long way home last evening, taking the subway west of my stop as far as Dundas West and then walking east to home. On my way, still on Dundas West, I came across this tree, with fresh green leaves turned golden by the ambient light. Taking a photograph of this was an obligation for me.
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  • blogTO profiles Robert Burley's lovely new photo book, An Enduring Wilderness: Toronto's Natural Parklands.

  • Border Thinking's Laura Agustín looks at the New Orleans sex trade in the fiction of James Lee Burke.

  • Crooked Timber argues that philosophy majors are uniquely well-suited to being good citizens.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money makes the point that American conservative voters are not monocausal.

  • Steve Munro notes that the TTC can count on delivering unreliable service, thanks in part to its concentration on terminals
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the fables of Syrian writer Osama Alomar.

  • Savage Minds looks at the very serious anthropology of Bronislaw Malinowski.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi announces his upcoming participation in the Robots vs. Fairies anthology.

  • Window on Eurasia argues a Russian annexation of the Donbas would be doable only in the aftermath of a wider Russian war against Ukraine.

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NOW Toronto's Joshua Sherman tells the story of a Jane's Walk organized by Shari Kasman around the parking lots of Dufferin and Dupont.

"Thanks for coming to this beautiful parking lot on this beautiful, sunny day in Toronto.”

Shari Kasman is speaking into a red-and-white megaphone. And it’s not sunny at all. It’s a drizzly May 6 Saturday afternoon outside the Galleria Mall at Dufferin and Dupont.

Kasman, a local artist and author, is starting her latest guided tour, Parking Lots & Parking Spots: Galleria Mall & Beyond. It’s one of nearly 180 that took place last weekend in Toronto as part of the annual Jane’s Walk festival, named for the late urban activist Jane Jacobs.

While other local Jane’s Walks explore the historic aspects of the city, this tour is dedicated to the unglamorous and utilitarian: where Torontonians in a small pocket of the west end park “from the perspective of a non-expert,” Kasman tells NOW ahead of the event, making it clear this tour is no joke.

She may not be a parking authority, but Kasman, who already has two other Galleria-based Jane’s Walks under her belt, has been busy reading up on the subject for the past few weeks.
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Bloomberg's Ken Chipman argues that rent control in Toronto risks shifting real estate development from rental units to condos.

Ontario’s government is set to impose the most sweeping rent controls in a quarter century, linking annual increases to inflation, with a cap of 2.5 percent, on all buildings as it tries to keep costs under control. The measure, meant to protect tenants from price gouging, could end up making it more -- not less -- expensive to rent in North America’s fourth biggest city.

The rules threaten to bring apartment construction to a halt, critics warn. At least one developer said he’s scrapping all rental projects in the pipeline. Others are considering doing the same. This risks worsening the rental-housing shortage and hurting those already priced out of the for-sale housing market, where prices are at a record high even as the troubles at mortgage lender Home Capital Group Inc. threaten to spill into the market.

Lamb Development Corp. had seven apartment buildings in the works in Ontario -- five in downtown Toronto -- before Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the expanded rent control on April 20, part of the province’s 16-point plan to cool scorching home price gains. The proposal calls for a rent cap on all units, not just those built before 1991 as mandated by current law.

“We won’t build these buildings as apartments. We will build condominiums,” said Brad Lamb, Lamb Development’s founder. “If you were to now ask 20 or 30 prominent developers about purpose-built apartments, they will tell you they are no longer viable in Toronto.”
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Toronto Life's Cody Punter shared brief interviews with a view of the people taking part in this month's rent strike in Parkdale.

On May 1, hundreds of people took to the streets of Parkdale to protest rent increases at a handful of apartment towers managed by MetCap, a major landlord in the neighbourhood.

Ontario law normally prevents landlords of pre-1991 buildings from raising rents by more than a low, guideline percentage every 12 months, but MetCap has applied to raise rents higher than the guideline in several of its Parkdale buildings. In response, some tenants are threatening a rent strike, during which they’ll withhold rent payments to MetCap until the company agrees to put a halt to future rent increases and address tenant grievances. We spoke with some MetCap renters in Parkdale to find out how they’re feeling about all this. (MetCap president Brent Merrill didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.)
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Earlier this month, Edward Keenan argued that, whatever his legitimate disputes with the Ontario government, John Tory has to fix social housing.

If you’re the mayor of Toronto, as I’ve written before, sooner or later the province will always screw you. Because it can, and it has its own priorities that are different than yours.

And so sooner or later, if you’re the mayor of Toronto, you have to get into a war of words with the province about it. Because what else can you do?

Mel Lastman said of Mike Harris, “everything he has touched has turned to crap.” David Miller said Dalton McGuinty was being “disgraceful.” Rob Ford was “furious” over a “last-minute blindsiding” from Kathleen Wynne.

And now it’s John Tory’s turn to turn his rhetorical guns on the province and raise hell about their neglect. Tory has hauled out his signature move — holding lots of press conferences in different parts of the city to announce the same thing over and over— to complain about the province stiffing Toronto by not chipping in to repair or build social housing. “Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government had a chance to stand up for Toronto on transit and on housing. Instead, at least on the pages of this budget, they turned their backs,” he said last week, outlining the theme of the week to come.

The man has a point.
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The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr looks at how the new streetcars the TTC is contracting to buy with Alstom with compared with Bombardier's oft-promised ones, and the consequences.

After a protracted dispute with Bombardier about delays to its light rail vehicle order for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx has taken the drastic step of placing an order for cars with another company.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced Friday that Metrolinx, which is the provincial agency in charge of transit planning for the GTHA, has inked a deal to buy 61 vehicles from the French firm Alstom at a cost of $528 million.

The transit agency hasn’t cancelled its $770-million purchase from Bombardier, which as a result of a lawsuit brought by the manufacturer is now tied up in a dispute resolution process. But Del Duca said allowing both purchases to go ahead simultaneously would provide Metrolinx with a backup fleet that guarantees it will have enough vehicles to open the Crosstown line by 2021.

Del Duca called it “a creative and prudent approach to dealing with a less than ideal situation.”

Bombardier maintains that Metrolinx had no need to seek another supplier, and says it will be able to supply all 182 cars the agency ordered in 2010, 76 of which would run on the Crosstown line.
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In The Globe and Mail, Alex Bozikovic looks at what plans for redoing the Bloor street entry of the Royal Ontario Museum mean.

The Crystal is flawed. The Royal Ontario Museum doesn’t want to put it that way, but that is the message of what it calls the “Welcome Project”: Its architectural transformation of a decade ago, which was meant to revive the Toronto institution, doesn’t work as it should.

That message was hidden in a piece of news this week from Canada’s most-visited museum. It plans to reopen the entrance in its 1932 wing, add a new ramp and broader stair, and reconfigure the rotunda inside as a lobby once again.

A small step, but it’s an appetizer for larger plans that include new plazas, an outdoor amphitheatre and renovations to the current lobby.

It’s good news for residents and visitors to Toronto: The region’s most popular and most democratic museum will be a more pleasant place to visit.

And it reflects a new focus for architecture in institutions such as this: not in making showpieces, but on the nuts and bolts of making places that work.
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The National Post's Graeme Hamilton suggests that backlash to loans made to Bombardier by the Canadian and Québec governments has badly hurt a company that was once a prize.

In recognition of the lingering stench left by generous raises recently awarded Bombardier executives, protesters outside the company’s annual general meeting Thursday chose a theme: feces.

There were turd balloon sculptures, turd placards, a turd costume and novelty eyeglasses that made their wearer appear to have a turd on his head. Inside the jet hangar where the meeting was held, the atmosphere was less vulgar, but executives were clearly on the defensive.

The nearly 50-per-cent raises for top Bombardier executives, first made public in March and later deferred in part after a public outcry, were in line with executive compensation at comparable large companies, Jean Monty, chairman of Bombardier’s compensation committee told the meeting. On the large screen behind him, it was spelled out that big paydays are required to “attract the best talent” and “retain talent.”

But try as Bombardier’s management might, they could not polish what has long been considered a jewel of the Quebec economy but is now increasingly an object of scorn.

Karl Moore, an associate professor at McGill University’s business school who attended the shareholder meeting as an observer, said the provincial and federal government investments and loans that pulled the company back from the brink last year have changed public attitudes in the province toward the company.
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The National Post has a feature from Graeme Hamilton noting the controversy associated in Québec with the flag of the Patriote rebels of 1837.

On May 22, as the rest of Canada celebrates Victoria Day, Quebecers will get a day off in honour of les Patriotes, the 19th-century rebels who fought to bring responsible government to what is now Quebec. It’s no surprise that the mostly French-speaking province isn’t terribly keen on paying tribute to a long-dead British monarch, and such Patriote leaders as Louis-Joseph Papineau, Jean-Olivier Chénier and Wolfred Nelson are worthy of celebration. Yet last week, Quebec’s Liberal government angered nationalists by blocking a proposal to have the Patriote flag fly above the legislature in Quebec City.

Q: Who were the Patriotes?

Charles Alexander Smith via Wikipedia
Charles Alexander Smith via Wikipedia"Assemblée des six-comtés", a painting depicting the Assembly of the Six Counties, held in Saint-Charles, Lower Canada on October 23 and October 24, 1837
A: The Patriotes was the name given to Papineau’s Parti canadien and the popular movement he and others inspired to rise up against British colonial rule in 1837-38. “The primarily francophone party, led mainly by members of the liberal professions and small-scale merchants, was widely supported by farmers, day-labourers and craftsmen,” the Canadian Encyclopedia says. They advocated democracy and the right to self-government, but at the same time they were in no hurry to get rid of the seigneurial system. After the rebellion was crushed, many participants were imprisoned, exiled or hung.

Q: What is the Patriote flag?

A: The flag was introduced in 1832 by Papineau’s political party and was carried at political speeches and into battle during the rebellion. It is a simple design consisting of three horizontal bars, green, white and red from top to bottom. The flag was seen by the Montreal aristocracy as a revolutionary symbol, and in 1837 the Montreal Herald wrote urging people to destroy it. Some early versions also featured a beaver, a maple leaf or a maskinonge fish. Today, the flag often has the profile of a musket-toting, toque-wearing, pipe-smoking rebel superimposed in the centre.
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Detail, The Death of General Wolfe (1770)


Early in January, before my trip to Montréal, I went to the Royal Ontario Museum where I saw--among other things--the museum's copy of Benjamin Wolfe's painting The Death of General Wolfe. This famous tableau's depiction of the death of James Wolfe, the commander of the victorious British forces in 1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham that saw the fall of French Canada and the end of New France but who barely lived to see the end of the battle himself, is literally iconic. This moment marks the end of one empire and the expansion of another.

Was the end of New France inevitable? Quite a few fans of alternate history suggest that it was. In perhaps the classic few, the value of France to colonize its North American territories nearly as thoroughly as England (and later the United Kingdom) did theirs ensured that, ultimately, New France would be overwhelmed by the colonists. Some even go so far as to argue that New France was a failing colony, that the failure to expand French colonization much beyond the Saint Lawrence valley demonstrates a fundamental lack of French interest. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham was irrelevant.

I'm not sure that I buy this. Conceivably there could have been more French settlement in New France, perhaps with a bigger push under Louis XIV, but it isn't clear to me that France in America was a failure. New France's economy was built substantially on trade with indigenous peoples and not on (for instance) the plantation colony of many British colonies, making increased French settlement irrelevant at best and potentially harmful at worst. As it was, French Canada was actually a dynamic society, the St. Lawrence valley becoming home of a colonial offshoot of France with outposts stretching far west into the basin of the Great Lakes and, not incidentally, managing to hold off conquest by the British for nearly a century and a half. New France was not nearly as populous as the Thirteen Colonies, but that no more proves that New France was a failure than (say) the fact that Spain's Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata was less populous than Portuguese Brazil means that the Spanish colony was a failure. At most, there was underexploited potential. If French Canada has since largely contracted to the frontiers of modern Québec, it is because successive British administrations have taken care to hem it in.

Had the Battle of the Plains of Abraham gone even slightly differently, there could have been a French victory. The end of the Seven Years War could have seen the French flag continue to fly in Canada. Even if Canada had fallen, that it would be kept by Britain was by no means preordained: Had Britain preferred to keep the valuable French sugar island of Guadeloupe, or had the French government different priorities, Canada might have been restored to France in the peace.

What would this surviving French Canada have been like?

It's certainly possible that a continued French presence in Canada would have helped discourage the Thirteen Colonies from rebelling against the British Empire, especially if it was perceived as a threat. It's not clear to me that this would automatically be the case, especially if New France had been weakened in the conflict, demilitarized and/or territorially diminished. Perhaps, in this timeline, the Americans might revolt against Britain in anger that their interests were neglected in the settlement of the final peace. We might not see a conflict like the War of American Independence, but then again we might. If this war, or another great power Anglo-French war does come about, then France will face the same cascade of dysfunctional public financies than in our history triggered the revolution.

What will become of Canada in all this? I can imagine that it might, or might not, receive more attention from France. I suppose that, if history runs along the lines we are familiar with up to the French Revolution, Canada might be in an interesting position versus the metropole. (A French kingdom in exile?) It is imaginable that a populous French Canada might stay French, especially if the Americans are allies and Britain has interest elsewhere. The case can be made that French Canada could survive, within borders not wildly different from that of modern Canada, into the 19th century.

Here, I'm stymied. It is not easy to imagine the development of French Canada as a French territory for the simple reason that France had no colonies of settlement like (for instance) Britain had Canada. French Algeria eventually became a destination for European immigration, but most of these immigrants came from elsewhere in the western Mediterranean (Spain and Italy particularly) and they arrived in a territory that never stopped being overwhelmingly Arab-Berber and Muslim in nature. New Caledonia, in the South Pacific, also received substantial numbers of settlers relative to the native population, but the absolute numbers were low. There is no close parallel, not in the second French colonial empire, to a colony like Canada, a vast semi-continent with a substantial population mostly descended from French colonists.

I do think France could certainly colonize Canada as thoroughly as Britain later did, especially if France enjoys stability and peace. Franco-Canadian relations were broken by the Conquest and only began to pick up again a century later, as the French became dimly aware that the Canadiens survived. In a timeline where the relationship between France and Canada was never disrupted, Franco-Canadian relations would be far more intense. Trade and investment flows aside, we might see well see substantial amounts of French immigration to a prosperous Canada, and more immigrants coming from outside France, just as in the case of Algeria. The details depend critically on the borders of this Canada and its relationship to its neighbours, but I see no reason why French Canada could not be successful.

Even if--a big if--French history remains largely unchanged up to the mid-19th century, the existence of a large, populous, and growing French Canada will eventually change the French polity rapidly. How will the millions of Canadiens be represented in French political life? A populous American branch of the French empire will have very substantial consequences.

What do you think?

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