Thursday, April 26, 2012

Laugh for a Cause

As some of you might know, I volunteer with a non-profit organization called Students for International Development (SID). I am absolutely committed to seeing SID succeed in achieving its goal of advancing health, education and agricultural innovation in a small community in Kenya.

In an effort to raise funds for the child welfare sector of the organization, I have planned a comedy night fundraiser with Absolute Comedy next week in Toronto. What better way to raise funds and support a good cause than by laughing our tails off together at a comedy club! Come out for a good laugh and help us reach our goals - the children supported by SID will be grateful for your contribution, as the money raised will go to their school tuition, one meal a day, immunizations, health care, uniforms and more.

The details...

Time/Date: Wednesday, May 2nd 2012 at 8:30pm
Location: Absolute Comedy - 2335 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario (Yonge & Eglinton)
Cost: $15 - please let me know in advance - email me for details

As it’s a Wednesday night, the comics are supposed to be real good and the hilarity (as well as beverages) should be flowing.

If you’re interested in learning more about our projects, I have attached a link to SID’s website and attached a short 1-page document outlining some of our achievements over the past few years. If you are unable to attend but would still like to contribute to our projects, you can go to and donate via PayPal or I can connect with you in-person.

Thanks for the support everyone and I hope to see you next week, laughing for a cause!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Election Watch 2011

Election Watch 2011!

Is the Canadian public in the mood for a Federal Election? That remains to be seen from opinion polls but I believe that there is enough evidence online to show true momentum for an election. I'm still collecting evidence but at prima facie, the mood might be ripe for an election.

First, election ads are popping up on all the parties websites and even at local MP level, check out my favourite, a creative endeavour by Omar Alghabra:

But that's not all, you can see the trends on google and twitter for interest in search terms such as "election" and hash tags on twitter "#cdnpoli". All of this may not lead directly to an election call but it certainly demonstrates some sort of critical mass forming that provide evidence of a collective political awakening in the broader Canadian public that's online.

Notice the crazy spikes in March as compared to February.. more to come, stay tuned.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Politics, Idiocy & Rob Ford

‘All politicians are idiots, business leaders are necessarily better’ is an over-the-top statement.

And the idea that a lazy or slow bureaucracy wastes money needs a closer look.

Politicians face far more public scrutiny than any business leader; it’s simply in the job description. Sure, a CEO must answer to shareholders but the CEO is really only accountable to them and not a broader public at large, nor are they denied ridiculous bonuses for great failure (see large banks in the US).

Also, ‘wasted money’ or a ‘lazy/slow’ bureaucracy is tied to increased measures of accountability. Ministers of the Crown are politically responsible for their own decisions and the actions of anyone within their ministry (ie. Ministry of the Environment, Finance, etc.). A majority of wasted money or fiscal scandal occurs within the lower ranks of the department (manager, director, street-level bureaucrat) and yet, quite rightly, the Minister is still accountable to the public at election time. With the public demanding more accountability and ministers fearing for their elect-ability, layers and layers of checks, audits, and sign offs are set in place slowing government work to a halt.

It’s a ‘Catch 22,’ with increased accountability comes increased ‘red-tape’ resulting in the perception of a slow, “lazy” bureaucracy.

Municipalities are not spared the same increased accountability and red tape.

And it’s not like Toronto can spend their way out of a slow bureaucracy (if you even believe it to be true), cities face already constrained budgets and cuts, like Rob Ford proposes (ie. $230 million lost revenue), will only make that problem worse.

Cities really can only collect from property taxes and user/registration fees. Cities depend heavily on the province for money. That’s why I would support a mayor that works well with the province outright.

Talk about “wasted money,” it took 5-years and the closure of many business put out by the installation of streetcar tracks on St. Clair Avenue and Ford wants to get rid of streetcars! That’s a waste.

Even if Rob Ford manages to win the election, he needs the support of council for any of his ideas. One of them is fire half of the council, I’m sure that’ll pass unanimously (*cough*). His agenda will not be well received resulting in legislative gridlock and, in the meantime, the city will rot.

I truly believe that a big part of the anger that Toronto has lies within an ignorance we all have towards the realities facing the public service. Politicians like Ford capitalize on this by applying business standards to government and drilling into the differences. Comparing public organizations by the same set of standards as private ones prevents us from getting most from our public institutions. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sarah Thomson Drops Out, Supports Smitherman

Newsflash: Sarah Thomson drops out of race to support George Smitherman.

This is really no surprise. George Smitherman, according to polls, is a seemingly distant second place trailing Rob Ford. However, if you take voter turnout and those polled who are absolutely certain who they will vote for into consideration, you find that Smitherman is actually a close second place.

Update: The poll that I was referring to shows a tightening of the gap "where it counts: with those committed to voting." 

Ford (28%) & Smitherman (23%) 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thai Censorship

Austrailian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) show "Foreign Correspondent" broadcast feature on the controversial nature of Thai politics and the role of the monarchy. In Thailand, any negative or critical coverage of the King would certainly land any journalist, foreign or domestic, in jail for a very long time. After visiting Thailand, warnings were very explicit especially within travel advisories posted to DFAIT's website..
"It is a criminal offence in Thailand to make any derogatory or insulting comments about the King or other members of the Royal family. Any person making such comments is liable to arrest and prosecution." 
- Laws & Customs, Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade
So, under threat of prosecution and imprisonment, the film was incredibly difficult to produce. In fact, the journalists involved operated "without any involvement of the ABC Bureau in Bangkok or the full knowledge of any Thai national" as it might risk compromising both the story and/or the future of ABC's presence in Thailand.

The video could not be posted to ABC's website, so it was leaked to Wikileaks.

Here is the link: ABC Foreign Correspondent video report on Thailand

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Update: FIFA investigates abuse of DPRK players

Surprising, no. (see my previous post)

FIFA is opening an investigation into the abuse of players from the North Korean World Cup soccer team for their losses in the World Cup tournament. At first glance, it may seem like a ridiculous notion that an international soccer agency would be able to glean any information from the communist country's tight control of it's image and secrets (that include widespread abuse of citizens). North Korea, for many international aid agencies, is a black hole of information on the well-being of it's people. Nevertheless, if FIFA were to uncover anything that might give the organization cause to ban North Korea from playing in future events that would be a moral victory, in some sense. The bigger issue at hand is that any time you exclude or punish the DPRK, you provide ammunition for the ruling party's propaganda machine to further convince it's people that the world is against them.

FIFA opens inquiry into alleged abuse of North Korea's World Cup team (Globe & Mail)

Monday, August 2, 2010

On finding adventure

Life is full of adventures, if you choose to challenge yourself.

Rob Lilwall definitely challenged himself beyond what would normally be considered sane. 
"In September 2004 I began this journey by flying with my bicycle as far away from home as I could think of: to the Far Eastern side of Siberia. My intention was to cycle back to England via the most interesting route I could find. As it turned out, I took a detour to Australia and was on the road for over three years, cycling 30,000 miles through 28 countries, and catching 16 boats to cross the various stretches of water along the way."
He wrote a book about his 3 year journey. Buy @ Amazon.

Here is a video of only one part of his trip: