Monthly Archives: October 2014

Many Thanks To All

First, I want to thank my wife and daughter for their support over the course of my campaign. Sharing my vision really helped me see it through until the end and the credit for that accomplishment goes to them.

Next, I’d like to thank all of those who supported my campaign, read my blog posts, tweeted, retweeted and favourited my messages of hope, criticism and jokes (yes, I did try to be funny now and then). I also extend major ‘thank yous’ to everyone who emailed, spoke words of encouragement, voted and congratulated me for having the courage to run for public office. I’ve gotten to know some very nice people especially the good folks in the Old East Village. I’d like to give a shout out to them. Even though I didn’t become city councillor, I have won (actually we all have won) the satisfaction of knowing that the incumbent Steven Orser (the dark cloud over Ward 4) will no longer get to embarrass our ward or city as Ward 4’s incumbent any time soon.

As I have stated from the beginning, there was a new dynamic in this election not seen before, and it was triggered by the scandalous trial and antics of former mayor, Joe Fontana. The name recognition of the incumbents that has always predicted the outcome of London’s municipal election just didn’t quite work this time, except for 3 people: Usher, Hubert and Armstrong. It even baffled the political analysts who always seem to think they know how voters will react. But I was impressed that Londoners moved forward on electing a new council because the finally said, “enough!” We all pulled through and hopefully this chapter of city council’s dysfunction is long behind us.

With 11 new faces, a historic event for London, we’ve put ourselves back on the map, so to speak. There will be learning curves for the new councilors and some mistakes, hopefully not too costly, but we took a risk for change – a much needed risk for change. We’ve broken out of our ‘mold’ and into uncharted territory by taking a leap of faith. So I’ll watch with baited breath how this new council will function.

I’ve heard the skeptic’s point of view and I would be remiss as a former candidate if I didn’t say that I have some concerns about the Premier Kathleen Wynn/Jesse Helmer connection but, time will tell. After all I did challenge him on his “fair tax” plan, which I hope never comes to fruition. That said, Mr. Helmer’s no Orser, so we have someone who is willing to make a difference and can effect change.

As for my plans, I will go to work like I always have but be a lot more active in the community when I can. I’ll likely spend more time in the gallery during council meetings and stay abreast of the current issues. I’ll tweet and blog post when I can. After this run, it seems like I’ve been bitten by the local political bug although I’ve followed things on the federal level. Aristotle did say, “Man is a political animal”.  Someone suggested I should run for a federal seat. I’m honoured for the suggestion but for now, I’ll keep it on the back burner.

Some of my initiatives I’d like Mr. Helmer to address, if possible: the food trucks, transitional psychological support services for Canadian vets, etc. That said, I think Mr. Helmer’s work is cut out for him because Mr. Orser left this Ward in state of ‘limbo’, in my opinion.

One last thing, for the 8 years of ineptitude, nonsensical bombast, wasteful spending and community neglect we all got from Stephen Orser, here’s my farewell message to him. When you watch the video you’ll get the point. Thank you all and all the best.

I Did It My Way…

I wanted to thank my dear wife and wonderful daughter for all the love and support through the campaign.

This will be the last post before we find out the results.

Thank G-d, I did this campaign my way, but I could NEVER have done it without my family.

The Final Countdown

I can’t believe this moment has finally arrived…

I’ve been to London’s Convention Centre for a whole bunch of different events, but I’ve never had my name up on the big screen; this is all pretty surreal.

And yet, at the same time, it really makes sense: why wouldn’t I try to better our collective home and my family’s future by trying to effect change at the political level?

I’m simultaneously feeling like an exuberant kid on his way to the circus and a defense lawyer who is going to have to break the bad news of the judge’s rejection of his client’s final plea…

I wanted to thank EVERYONE who’s been instrumental in keeping the conversation going about how we can improve Ward 4, whether we disagree or not; you’re all rock stars to me!


 

Vote For Vision

With election day upon us, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the brilliance of the sun is being obscured by seemingly dense grey clouds.

Please indulge me as I take the liberty of reading a political message out of today’s weather: it’s up to us to illuminate the future of Ward 4.

And that future begins today!

The first step in revealing what our ward truly has to offer is by casting your vote in favour of a new vision, not the stagnant stare of our soon-to-be retired incumbent, Stephen Orser.

Truth be told, I just had a ball voting for myself – I’m not going to feign humility; I do believe I’m the most qualified candidate for the job.

Let your voting fingers do the talking...

Let your voting fingers do the talking…

I know there are many individuals within the ward who feel Jesse Helmer deserves the seat on city council, and I understand why they feel the way they do.

Jesse is obviously committed to improving the condition of the ward and raising the standard of living for its residents. I just don’t agree with some of the ways he hopes to achieve those goals and a political allegiance which may interfere with the decisions he will make for the ward and our municipality.

I have spoken a lot about what distinguishes me from the other candidates, whether in terms of integrity, business acumen, concern for community and the ability to express what I think while still respectfully hearing what the other side has to say.

This last point is really important, as the time has come to clear out the cobwebs of acrimony from city hall and get people working together for the common good.

Providing me with a chance is providing the ward with new, unforeseen opportunities that will extend not only to bigwig developers, but to our at-risk-youth who have so much potential which just needs to be nurtured.

It’s been eight long years of living under the so-called leadership of our incumbent, Stephen Orser, and now it’s our chance to dispel those seemingly dense grey clouds and change the misguided direction our ward has been headed in.

Turn your vote into the vision of tomorrow!

Thank you,

Paul

Wear your button loud and proud!

I’ve really been enjoying meeting new people, hearing new ideas and receiving a lot of support from perfect strangers around Ward 4 and all over the city.

A big thanks goes out to everyone who’s been volunteering their time and putting in major efforts to help improve our ward and help it reach its full potential.

Sunday is the last full free day before the election and I’m always happy to add people to the team.

Please let me know if you’d like to help out with canvassing while wearing this nifty little button. Or if you’d just like a button as is : )

photo 3 (1)

Looking forward to seeing everybody out on the street, in the cafes and around our Forest City.

– Paul

 

Put Your Money Where Your Books Are

There’s one place in the world where I feel simultaneously humbled and empowered: the library.

Our public library system is an essential element of our social, academic and economic systems. Our libraries enrich London and bring cohesion to communities and neighbourhoods by bringing people together under the banner of improving one’s lot in life, whether through study, job searches or community and cultural events.

I feel it is essential for the healthy development of our city that more support go toward the public library system and I support funding our collective base of knowledge.

And when it comes to choosing between raising police and fire department budgets over providing more funding for libraries, I choose our libraries.

As essential as these services are, they lack certain criteria which the libraries have, but I will get back to that later in the post – I know we’re all thinking about how much this all costs taxpayers, so let’s get to that point.

In 2013, the City of London spent more than $18 million dollars on its library system. I think it’s well worth it when we consider taxpayers’ return on investment.

Yes, the library taketh, but the library giveth away.

The library pays its dividends by helping people access vital information via hardcopy, e-books and other formats such as workshops.

These resources – and librarians, let’s not forget the librarians – play an instrumental role in helping people with job searches, the chance at graduating and settling into a new city or country among other opportunities the library affords, such as basic literacy.

Although I may not be a fan of the Liberals, I do commend the provincial government for its plan to invest more money in Ontario’s public libraries. This will improve access to digital services which can encourage skills development, continual learning and innovation, which is really what it’s all about.

The London Public Library’s 2014-2017 Strategic Plan really captures a lot of what makes the library special. I’m glad – and one could say relieved – to see how our library is gearing up to tackle the challenges of improved technology by looking to provide better WiFi access, more power outlets for devices and more quiet and social spaces which help raise connectivity in the “traditional” sense as well – yes, I am a traditionalist, can’t hide it ; P

When I think about some of the reasons I prefer increased library funding over police/fire department funding, the story of Yale University Professor Carlos Eire comes to mind.

In Professor Eire’s own words:

Public libraries saved my life and made me who I am. The first one was a shabby little branch of the Miami Public Library, on Northwest Seventh Street, not too far from the Orange Bowl site. It was 1963, and those who lived in that neighborhood were poor. That library no longer exists, but I remember every detail of its interior, especially its shelves and treasure trove of books. It was a few blocks from the group home for juvenile delinquents where I’d been dumped by social workers, and it offered me refuge from constant abuse by my house parents and from the pressure to join a gang. Above all, that little library opened up many other worlds, including that of the past. It was at that rinky-dink outpost of culture and learning, sparsely stocked with tattered books, where I spent nearly every evening in 1963, that I decided to become a historian.

The experience that I had there made a huge difference, not just for me, but for the thousands of students I have taught over the past 40 years and the countless readers reached by my own books. That humble library taught me to seek similar portals elsewhere. Ever since, I’ve spent my life in libraries and archives all over America and Europe — including some of the very best in the world — mining their treasures.

Without that throw-away little branch library in Miami, I shudder to think what might have become of me, a fatherless and motherless young Cuban refugee sent to the United States as a part of the Operation Pedro Pan exodus. I shudder to think what could happen today to those who depend on public libraries as escapes from the desolation of their lives in Miami and elsewhere, and especially those young minds and readers whose entire lives are still ahead of them.

Instead of funneling more money to the Police, why not work at preventing anti-social behaviour by providing a safe haven for at-risk-youth like Carlos Eire had been?

Reading is fundamental to a healthy life and our library system is a fundamental part of London’s social equation. When you read you become enlightened; when one is enlightened they behave in an enlightened fashion.

As a teen, I once had a summer job at a local library and found it very enriching to read when not busy with patrons. It helped set things in motion for me and got me to where I am today.

I do have to admit that I lied at the beginning of the post: there is another place where I feel simultaneously humbled and empowered – the synagogue. But that’s a whole other story…

Here’s to enjoying a good book, and appreciating the role our library plays in the life of our city!

– Paul

Too Close For Comfort

Never apologise for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologise for the truth. 
― Edmund Burke

My heart and prayers go out to the families of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. As Canadian soldiers, these two men stood on guard for our country and are therefore everyone’s son, brother and friend.

Prime Minister Harper has rightfully referred to the attackers as terrorists, and has mentioned how the first terrorist was definitely “ISIL-inspired” even though much of our cowardly and confused media, such as the CBC, won’t use the “T” word.

When people come to kill you in the name of Allah, but you still can’t bring yourself to discuss Islamic terrorism, you have a mental problem, and you’re putting people’s lives in danger with your militant brand of politically correct multiculturalism.

I sat through over an hour and a half of CBC “news” last night and the word Muslim was not mentioned once, even though our Parliament Hill jihadist converted to Islam, was a member of the Masjid Al Salaam Mosque – he is reported to have had a tumultuous relationship with Muslim leaders in Vancouver and Burnaby – and had been active with ISIS through social media.

Who are you trying to protect, oh prophets of post-colonial politeness?

Whether you mean to or not, you’re creating cover for the fascistic philosophy of radical Islam, which is sprouting like a cancer from within our country, and many other western democratic nations.

With all of its faults, I am however, aware of how this credo has sponsored much diversity. After all, it’s led to the formation of such diverse groups as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS, etc. – diversity really works when arch enemies such as Sunnis and Shias who kill each other at funerals can agree on destroying the West, meaning us…

Expunging the word terror from your headlines, and the word Muslim from your report is a blatant obfuscation of the painful truth: that not only our values face the muzzle of a gun (and much worse) but our very physical existence is being threatened by a fascistic ideology that contains much more firepower and brutality than the blood-soaked hands of two “individuals” – using that word as if to say that these heinous acts are not part of a greater network of sickness and terror.

The myth of the lone wolf

We’re past the point of niceties now; we are literally under attack by the Islamic State.

Yes, the Islamic State itself – not ISIS wannabes, or a couple of meshugenahs.

ISIS central command lies right before you. Its boot camp, full of mental obstacle courses which train the devotee to embrace martyrdom exist in a constant state of dynamism on Twitter and YouTube.

Social Media is the purview of all, not only the persecuted, but also the persecutors, even though many people like to believe in the fantasy of freedom that a hashtag may bring to those in Hong Kong or Iran.

If one follows through on ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad Adnani’s command to kill as many Canadians as possible, he or she becomes an ISIS operative and is quickly on the road to advancing rank to that of a shahid.

If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.

– Abu Mohammad Adnani, September 22, 2014

A pernicious message and foreboding question have been delivered by the world community of Islamic terrorists with yesterday’s flagrant attack on our nation’s capital: “We are ready for you, Canada. Are you ready for us?”

With the Toronto 18, and many other thwarted attacks from Germany to Times Square, even our own city has not been spared this infectious disease which it exported to North Africa; unfortunately, some Londoners are still too uncomfortable to even acknowledge that it exists.

Liberal Party leader, Justin Trudeau, a few weeks ago in Parliament criticized PM Harper for getting involved with the coalition to fight ISIS in Iraq. I personally supported the move because as Sir Edmund Burke once stated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Similarly, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

I think the first thing that needs to happen is a reality check. And that reality check needs to begin with our federal police service, the RCMP.

The RCMP stated today that the Parliament Hill killer “was an individual who may have had extremist beliefs”. Right… So people with moderate views desperately want to travel to Syria, which the RCMP acknowledged about Zehaf-Bibeau a couple of sentences later. And if killing a solider in front of the National War Memorial isn’t definitely extreme, then what is?

And why only say “extremist” when it’s about Islamic extremism specifically. Environmental activist extremists don’t shoot people down at their seat of government or kill soldiers with their cars.

Why the reticence? Why fear mentioning what’s really going on here?