TORONTO’s eighth annual CAR FREE DAY was held 10 years ago today, on September 22, 2008.
This photo was shot on a stretch of Yonge Street devoid of motor vehicles — just south of the centre of the day’s festivities at Yonge/Dundas Square — by renowned Canadian photojournalist, Lucas Oleniuk, and appeared the following day in the TORONTO STAR.
At the time, I was running federally to represent Toronto’s west-end downtown riding of Davenport.
The intended Green Party of Canada candidate in our neighbourhood had pulled out of the race a couple weeks before the campaign was to begin, and the enviro-friendly fringe party had issued an online plea for a replacement.
Despite the understanding that we had no chance of winning the seat, I volunteered to run as part of keeping a personal promise to do “anything and everything ethical/legal” to deny then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party a majority government in Ottawa.
With then-veteran Green Party of Ontario leader, Frank de Jong as my campaign manager, we used my lifelong avowed aversion to unnecessary motor vehicle use*, along with the local name recognition one had garnered ten years earlier from a globally-reported, unanimous federal appeals court victory — which had forced an auto-addled mainstream bureaucracy to recognize foot and bicycle messengers as viable vehicles for the sustainable urban delivery of documents and small-load freight — to garner more than 10% of the vote in Davenport.
Much of that support was also tied to the high visibility GPC leader Elizabeth May attracted with her successful fight to be included in the nationally televised debates. Ms. May would lose her race in 2008, but would go on to become the first nationally elected Canadian Green Party member, in 2011.
I mention all of this a decade later to emphasize the irresponsible reversal in thinking on display, in what passes for Ontario today.
2,300,000 of our fellow citizens recently sold their souls — and their children’s future — for a promise of cheaper gas for their ever-larger motor vehicles.
With so many buying into the backward web of lies spun by Doug Ford and his oxymoronically named Progressive Conservative cult, they exposed a dark fount of deplorably selfish ignorance, that while apparently always having been there, now finds damaging release with the rise of so bellicose a populist champion.
We see the same phenomenon, but with even more risk of global peril, south of our border.
On the bright side, however, 3,400,000 Ontarians — a majority of whom reside within Ontario’s largest urban enclaves — voted against those who now hold our province hostage.
With recent related events surrounding the current manipulation of Toronto’s municipal election already focusing attention on the very real threat such poses to our nation’s democratic ideals, it is hoped that all engaged local citizens will work together to oust every municipal candidate with direct ties to wanna-be Despot Doug’s Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, from the 25-seat Toronto City Council.
Many of these incumbent hometown turncoats are easy to spot as they showed up at a Queen’s Park photo-op in vocal support of the ongoing provincial assault on our democratic rights. But it is their corrupt partisan activity on council — some over decades — that speaks even louder.
If we responsible Torontonians allow them to return to municipal positions of power, we afford yet another foothold from which the currently elected provincial tyrant might attack us where we choose to live, and work, and raise our families.
Please vote wisely dear TORONTO, 2018.
* Despite more than half-a-century of age eligibility, I have never even applied for a driver’s license, let alone added to Toronto’s pollution/congestion crises by driving a motor vehicle in our hometown.
At this point in my life, it doesn’t look like that almost 53-year non-driving vow will ever be broken.
And while one doesn’t expect anyone to match my zeal, I just put it out there to let folks know that it is indeed possible for every day to be CAR FREE DAY. OXO