Letters To The Editor

January '23

Election Reform

The boiling frog story is generally offered as a metaphor cautioning people to be aware of even gradual change lest they suffer eventual undesirable consequences.

The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water, which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

Canadians tend to take for granted our democratic institutions and are often slow to defend our democratic rights when they are under attack. The Ford government in Ontario has waged a gradual, persistent assault on agencies that protect the environment and the powers of elected municipalities to decide on local development. An unaccountable minister in Queen’s Park can override municipal bylaws and planning without explanation or recourse to appeal.

Recently, the Progressive Conservative government enacted “strong mayor” legislation that allows a mayor to override the will of the majority of local municipal councillors. The ability to debate, to discuss and to appeal decisions is being lost. Power is being concentrated into fewer and fewer hands and the decisions are being made in secret. This should be a major red flag for the people of Ontario.

Another red flag occurred during the last provincial election when most of the Progressive Conservative party candidates did not participate in the local candidate debates. The sheer number and frequency of no-shows suggests that senior Progressive Conservative party officials green-lit the snub of local voters. Any wilful limitation of public debate during an election is anti-democratic.

Outside the election, it is rare for the ministers in the Progressive Conservative government to be available to the public or the media when a problem occurs. How many times have you heard, “The minister was not available for comment?”

They are rarely seen or heard from during the recent spike in COVID infections, the overloading in admissions to pediatric hospitals, the closures of emergency departments, hospital staffing shortages, the rapid rise in the cost of renting in Ontario (homelessness, in general), the massive rise in the use of food banks, deaths from drug overdoses. The government ministers are mostly there for photo ops but are not available when real problems are raised.

The last provincial election had only 40 per cent of eligible voters turn out. The Progressive Conservative party received about 40 per cent of that 40 per cent of the people that voted. Although this only represents 16 per cent of the eligible voters, the Progressive Conservative party received most of the seats in the legislature and the freedom to act without restraint from public opinion or from other political parties.

This uncontrolled political power has shown its undemocratic nature when the Ford government attempted to remove the right to strike for the education support workers. Since the law was contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (hence, illegal), the Progressive Conservatives used the sledgehammer of the notwithstanding clause to force it through and take away workers’ rights. Only the threat of a general strike of all the labour unions forced the government to back down. This certainly does not bode well for democracy in Ontario when our leaders disrespect the laws of the land.

More recently, the Ford government has disregarded major public opposition and acted against the advice of its own affordable housing advisory committee report not to open Ontario’s Greenbelt to land developers.

Opening the Greenbelt will create more urban sprawl and accelerate the loss of our scarce farmland. Land developers are not the answer to affordable housing — they mostly build houses that make the developers the maximum money. During the provincial election, Premier Ford declared that the Greenbelt was safe from development. Yet, the affordable housing crisis that was ignored during the Progressive Conservatives’ first four years in office suddenly requires Doug Ford to break his promise and give land developers access to the Greenbelt.

Does any of this make any sense? Are we the “frog in the pot of water?” How hot does the water need to be to jump free of the mess that is Doug Ford’s government? It seems democracy in Ontario may depend on it.

David Howell

January '23

Canada must invest in people, education, and development in the 2023 Federal Budget.

In parts of the world that are starting to recuperate from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming federal budget can have a meaningful impact in driving positive change.

As the International Education Day approaches this upcoming January 24th, it is not only critical that Canada keeps its promise on increasing the International Assistance Envelope of the budget by $1.9B. We must call on the Government of Canada to allocate at least 10% of bilateral development assistance in quality education, to ensure the fulfilment of the Charlevoix Declaration, and most importantly, so that girls in developing countries are not left behind.

Constituents have more power in deciding what’s included in the budget than we think. To invest in people, in education, and sustainable development across the globe, we can work together by calling on our Members of Parliament to take meaningful action in the 2023 budget.

Andrea González, MA

May '22

Is cost of living your top election concern?  Voting for climate solutions can help make life affordable

The provincial election is just around the corner, and there are many important issues on the minds of voters – affordable housing, a lack of public transit and food affordability, just to name a few.  But there’s another important issue that voters need to consider, which both causes and is caused by these other issues: climate change.

One of the challenges we face in stopping climate change is how it intersects with so many other aspects of our lives, including where we live, how we get around and what we eat.

For example, a lack of affordable housing and public transit in the city forces people to use greenhouse gas-creating cars to travel to and from work.  And extreme weather events like droughts and floods impact our farmers’ ability to produce food, decreasing food availability and driving up its cost. 

But these issues also provide us with an opportunity!  Steps we can take to reduce our climate impact can also help strengthen communities, through solutions like affordable, eco-friendly housing, widely available public transit and sustainable, locally grown food. 

In its most recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a United Nations body made up of thousands of scientists and other experts – made it clear that individuals, organizations and governments need to take immediate action to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change.

When releasing the report, the Chair of the IPCC stated “The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet.  Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”

Evidence of this can already be seen in Ontario and across Canada.  Wildfires, extreme weather, changing weather patterns and increased flooding are all early signs of what is to come unless action is taken.  Last year, a record-breaking heat wave caused nearly 600 deaths in BC, and a record amount of land was destroyed by forest fire in Ontario.  The science shows that things are only going to get worse, unless we join together and take action.

The good news is that solutions already exist for these problems.  What’s been missing is the political will to put them into practice.  It’s our responsibility to ensure we elect political leaders that will take the action we all need – not just on affordability, but on climate change as well.

How do you know which candidate is the right choice?  The best approach is to ask them.  Go to their website and ask them what they’ll do to stop climate change if they are elected.  Global News has also provided a helpful summary (https://globalnews.ca/news/8790914/ontario-election-2022-promises/) that outlines each party’s commitments and gives a clear picture about what each party’s priorities will be over the next four years.

This election, when you cast your vote, please give thought to our changing climate and to which candidate is committed to stopping it.  Our futures, and our childrens’ futures, truly depend on it.

Mark Simmons


Hello, there, I enjoy reading your newspaper, and learn from it many things that otherwise I would never hear about.

For example, a few months ago I learned from your paper that the historic 1927 house at 1859 Kingston Road suffered a damaging flood in January, which necessitated emptying out of the house and its tenant, Scarborough Arts.  It is located on the south side of Kingston Road, east of Birchcliff and west of Rosetta McLain garden.  There is a bluffside parkette behind it called “Harrison Properties”.  I got the impression from your article that it was expected that the building would be repaired, but I frequently walk in the area, and I never see any sign that any work is being done on the property.  We all know what happens to old houses left empty, so this is very concerning!  I’ve been told by neighbouring residents that it is owned by the City, and I’ve written to the local politicians, with no definitive answers so far.  By the way, there is a similar house immediately west of it, which has obviously been empty for years and is becoming quite dilapidated.

I just wondered if you could give me any updates about it, or if you have any suggestions as to what ordinary citizens can do to ensure that these houses get repaired and preserved.  

Many thanks for any help you can give.


April '22

As unsympathetic as I was to the truckers protest, I was nevertheless annoyed by a number of examples of reporting similar to the photoshopping you reference in this article.  The person “dancing” on the tomb of the unknown soldier, for example, certainly wasn’t dancing in any of the many posted videos I saw.  She was standing on it, stamping her feet a few times while yelling “ Freedom” — and many observers, including myself, mistakenly  thought that tomb was a set of stairs leading to the memorial so perhaps she did, too. But aside from the fact that people in cemeteries regularly walk on graves, one has to wonder how the media would have reacted had this been an anti-war protestor shouting “freedom” in the exact same location.  (The police are in hot pursuit of the woman though they — and there were plenty about — didn’t even bother to reprimand Toronto reporters standing on grave stones to get better shots when I attended a murdered relative’s funeral).  The video of alleged urination on the war memorial that I saw was so vague as to be ridiculous, and most reports ignored the fact that many of the truckers have military backgrounds and actually cleaned up the site and laid flowers.  (Note to Heather Hunter: though I agree with many of your points, some of the truckers have indeed served or have close family members who have served; and while displaying a swastika to say you view government policies as Nazi-like is ridiculous exaggeration and insensitive to say the least, it’s still not the same as displaying one because you are pro-Nazi).

The reporting also ignored the well-educated, triple-vaxxed Jew who took part in the action as well as some Sikhs, preferring to label the action as white racist ( a bit inconvenient that the prime mover was a Métis woman!).  The CBC referred to “at least one Confederate flag” having been seen.  Hmm — so in other words only one such flag was seen.  Truckers, we were told, endangered their children by bringing them along to be used as “human shields”?  But perhaps they thought a cross-Canada trip would be more educational than what’s been provided in our schools for the past two years, or maybe they don’t have nannies to look after their kids while they protest.  And at the same time as we were told to choose the negative interpretation of their actions, a laudatory story appeared (in the Star, if I recall correctly) about a travel writer who took her very young child to Cambodia — amputee capital of the world thanks to all the land mines, she told him.  But I guess it’s okay to endanger your kids if your views are palatable to the chattering classes!  The children, and locals, were exposed to the horrible noise of those horns?  Believe me, I would happily torture anyone making unnecessary noise.  But what about The Taste of the Danforth — or many similar festivals — which subjects thousands of residents in the immediate vicinity to excruciating noise?  So again, noise in support of business and tourism, good; noise from right-wing protestors, evil.

Being on the left of the political spectrum, I had no use for the truckers’ pointless actions.  But I grow weary of too many in the media who want to interpret for me and then tell me how I should  react to that interpretation.  A blatant though admittedly harmless example of this was seen in a recent CTV report about a  Toronto child’s encounter with a coyote. Her little dog, we were told, had bravely acted to save her from the wild beast.  Yet the video clearly showed her dropping the dog’s leash and running in terror as the poor dog also ran for his life.  Neither of them was trying to save the other yet we were, in effect, told not to believe our lying eyes!

It’s this kind of reporting along with the staging of videos and photoshopping that gives Trump et al. the ammunition to yell, “fake, fake, fake”.  And while I’m still on Ukraine’s side, a nagging voice keeps telling me about propaganda in past conflicts.  Like the Kuwaiti infants supposedly torn from their incubators by Iraqi soldiers.  Like the weapons of mass destruction.

Anita Dermer

Love Jim Sanderson’s columns. But I often wonder who comes up with claims about who has the most diverse population or how they measure that diversity. I’m referring to a reference to Scarborough’s being the second most diverse community after Miami. As a former teacher and current literacy volunteer my learners have included immigrants from Tahiti, Malta, Ethiopia and Gambia . This is in addition, of course, to large groups from all over Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, South and Central America, Europe and other African countries like Somalia, Nigeria and Ghana as well as from our many Indigenous nations. Who does Miami have that we’re missing?

Anita Dermer

Hello Anita

The information used is from a fairly detailed history of Scarborough at www.transcanadahighway.com.

Link :  https://transcanadahighway.com/ontario/scarborough/scarborough-history/

To get to the relevant text scroll down the page to the section “After World War 2 Growth” and read:

“According to a United Nations report, Toronto has the second-highest proportion of immigrantsin the world (over half were born outside Canada), after Miami, Florida. Toronto’s however reflect a much more diverse cultural & linguistic mix, with a tranquility and tolerance that is the hallmark of Canadian society. 1 on 6 Scarborough residents is Chinese, 1 in 6 is South Asian, 1 in 10 is black.These immigrants have clustered into vibrant multicultural locales around Scarborough, including a Chinatown in Agincourt, and the major throughfares all feature Caribbean, Chinese and Halal restaurants and shops.”

As you see, the report is credited to the United Nations. Exactly how the findings in it were reached I do not know.

Many thanks Anita for your kind words about my column and for your interest.

Jim Sanderson

February '22

I appreciated the piece by Kevin Rupasinghe on what Vision Zero is, and how it could make Scarborough Streets safer for everyone – drivers included.

One of the shocking statistics in this article was the number of pedestrian deaths on the streets of Scarborough. I did not know that nearly one-half of the people who died on Toronto’s streets died here in Scarborough.

Kevin Rupasinghe writes that Vision Zero advocates “designing roads that keep cars moving at nonfatal speeds.” I have noticed that the speed limit on most of the major roads in Scarborough has been reduced.

This leads me to wonder why the speed limit on Kingston Road, all the way from Highland Creek to the intersection with Midland Ave., is still set at 60 kilometres per hour? Maybe one of your journalists could investigate this anomaly and report their findings to the Bluffs Monitor community, eh? Surely one of the three Councillors who represent citizens living along this fast and busy street knows why it is an outlier when it comes to Vision Zero.

Yours truly; Allan Baker

30 Bournville Drive Scarborough, M1E 1C5

December '21

Congrats to Bluffs Monitor & one of it’s reporters on the ” Kingston Rd Grand Prix “.
I have tiered (sic) writing to Paul Ainslie of the issue on Kingston Rd.
Thanks to Willie Jose
Hopefully residents and mt neighbours, may have some hope for change after this article circulates.

Rob Burridge

November '21


hi ..

in his nov 2021 article he (Willie Jose) states “despite the 60km/h speed limit, etc”.

i speed (not excessively) because when driving on kingston rd or eglinton or lawrence or ellesmere, if you drive the posted speed limit, 

you get every damn red light. how about doing an article on city speed limit/lights not co-ordinated? it would cut down on speeding for 

sure.  i would drive the speed limit if the lights were properly matched to traffic speed.  and ad to that, the times you are driving along 

and come to a red light with no pedestrians or cars crossing or waiting to cross. these are why motorists are pissed and speed.

thanks, bill.    


May '21


On page 2, “War of Words: Opinion”, by Heather Hunter, paragraph three it reads in part: “Dr. De Villa calmly and simply stated, “The more we reduce our distance, the more we reduce transmission”………

Should read: ‘the more we INcrease our transmission’.

Or just what is the accurate quote from Doctor De Villa ?

It seems to me that there is far too much bad or conflicting information in this time of the Covid-19 virus.

Sincerely, Gordon Hogarth

Guildwood Village, Scarborough, Ontario



You are correct.  The accurate quote is ‘Dr. de Villa calmly and simply stated, “The more we reduce our distance, the more we increase transmission”

We apologize  for the error

Sincerely, John Smee, Publisher.

April '21

Dear Bill Blair (MP), Scarborough Southwest, Liberal

I’m calling on you to use your voice in Parliament to ensure Canada acts with the urgent ambition necessary to set us on track to a climate-stable future and a sustainable economy.

Specifically, I urge you to:

– work with parliamentarians from all parties to ensure that Canada’s Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act (Bill C-12) is strengthened and passed before summer. It has been stalled for too long.

– support a strengthened 2030 emissions target of 60 per cent reduction from 2005 levels to align with limiting global heating to 1.5 C.

– encourage implementation of an ambitious, achievable, science-based climate plan that advances intergenerational justice for Indigenous Peoples, workers and communities.

These efforts must be done while upholding Indigenous rights and title. All levels of government must also phase out fossil fuel subsidies, drastically curb coal, oil and gas production and pursue a just and equitable transition to clean energy.

The climate emergency is upon us, but so are the solutions. Let’s set the targets the best available science calls for, establish accountability measures and implement a plan to make sure we hit them.


Wendy Hooker
wendyhooker@rogers.com, M1M 1B9


March '21


As children growing up near Highview Park in Scarborough, we got used to bicycles early on then graduated to local buses, streetcars and subways. The only other regular form of transportation was walking, used daily to attend Birchcliff Heights PS.

So, as it turned out, we were fortunate in the short and long term, getting used to and comfortable with “transit”. We knew how to use it and got used to using it.

We later discovered that the best way to keep roads and highways from getting further congested, with 4% additional use per year is through transit. Transit is pretty much “locked down” in the GTA.

As people move out of Toronto for various reasons, we need to expand the means for people to access all the attributes of the “Big Smoke”. This includes the best such service out there, VIA rail. We need the expansion of routes along the three Ontario lines. The federal government needs to allocate the necessary funding for the return of schedules that were in play prior to 2012. The province needs to allow for the VIA schedules to have priority.

Let’s get on with it!

~  Chris West

Expansion of Active TO

As the weather turns warmer, many folks are looking forward to participating in the great Active TO program, especially along the Danforth. I found it a real pleasure cycling and shopping along this “complete street” last year. It was so vibrant: people were enjoying meals on sidewalk patios and, with the new bike lanes, the roadway felt safe for everyone — walkers, drivers and cyclists alike.

The Danforth Active TO program now terminates at Dawes Road. In 2021, why not extend it into Scarborough? The extension would be popular – a 2020 EKOS poll found 83 per cent of Scarborough residents want the city to do more to protect vulnerable road users, including seniors and kids. More Active TO would mean more road safety and more business for local merchants.

~ Gideon Forman
Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst
The David Suzuki Foundation
102 -179 John Street

February '21

I read the article last month’s Buffs Monitor ‘The Great Oxygenation Event’ by Doug Durno. Very informative, how it took millennia for the Earth’s atmosphere to become oxygenated (21%) enough to support human life. Omitted we exhale 16% oxygen. The upper atmosphere is 21% oxygen but fewer molecules of oxygen per cubic meter. Airplane safety instructions ‘If the cabin looses pressure, please put your oxygen mask on yourself first’. That is because you can’t be as effective assisting others if you have a lack of oxygen. In fact, you could go unconscious, before assisting others if you don’t.

Every child instinctively knows we must breathe or die. Adults once every five seconds, children once every three seconds. What child has not been sick in bed with a respiratory problem “Mommy it’s hard to breathe”. It is alarming to be sure. Ditto, children who’ve been winded, from a sudden blow to the chest or stomach, or after exerting oneself too quickly. Children even play dare games like … ‘how long can you hold your breath’ … answer is, not long.

Million’s of laypersons, in North America, especially recently have been instructed to give chest compressions only … often overlooking the need for rescue breaths. It seems this shift in thinking came about as a result of the unwarranted threat of catching AIDs during the administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Now, unfortunately, chest compressions are the only steps taken to revive those who are found comatose, exhibiting laboured shallow breathing, making gurgling noises and/or turning blue from lack of oxygen.

Fiction as a factual scenario “O my love, my wife, death has sucked the honey of thy breath” … Romeo and Juliet. Juliet took a sleeping potent, she was comatose. When she awoke, she found her love had committed suicide. She then took her own life. It is very important … fact life critical, that we understand the difference between needing assistance with breathing, which rescue breathing is critical, and needing cardio where chest compressions can help. And yes, sometimes breathing is a result of a blockage in the air passageway, so best to check for that as well. But blindly administering chest compressions can actually compromise the patient further, by ignoring the real problem or worse, when chest compressions can complicate the situation further.

Respiratory illnesses (asthma, COPD, …) are on the rise – whether are result of lifestyle or atmospheric pollution. Diabetic comas are also on the rise, typically through bad nutrition and lack of exercise. Opioid and other overdose cases, also on the rise. Similarly, there are many other conditions where rescue breaths should be the priority … not relegated to the dustbin of history. It is time for a return to practices that are truly humane and life saving. The insanity of denying this form of treatment has persistent for too long. Let your local representatives and your public health agencies that you are not happy with this current status quo, lest you and or a loved one, find themselves as the next unfortunate victim of an improper, potentially life altering chest-compressions procedure. Doug mentions high CO2 levels in the atmosphere can have dire consequences ditto our bloodstream, hypercapnia.

Gary Thompson. Toronto,ON.   M1N 1R6