Disco Isn't Dead...


...it just went into hiding, apparently. Thanks to Jordan Cooper for the link.

Ontario Election Predictions

Closing in on the election, I'm standing by the prediction I made after the debates: Liberals 70, PCs 24, NDP 9, though I must point out that I pulled these numbers out of the air, picking a big round one for the Liberals, assuming the NDP couldn't win less than 9, and then subtracting the two from 103. I'm shocked that a number of other pollsters have picked 72-22-9 and 74-20-9 votes. They have their scientific studies to back them up. I just relied on sheer guesswork.

I'm also predicting that Elizabeth Witmer (PC) will buck the Liberal trend and win her seat in Kitchener-Waterloo.

If the Liberals do get 70 seats, I expect Ernie Eves will resign as leader - indeed, I expect that he will resign that night as part of his concession speech. David Petersen (Liberal) did it in 1990, as did Larry Grossman (PC) in 1987. Mind you, both leaders lost not only the election, but their seat in Queen's Park. Eves is in a fairly safe seat, but it's an open question just how long he'll sit there if his grand return to politics is marred by the humiliation of losing to Dalton McGuinty. In fact, this very uncertainty may even be costing him his seat as I write this.

If Eves goes, things get interesting within the Progressive Conservative Party. It will mean another leadership contest, and with the party relegated to opposition for at least four years, candidates won't be pulling their punches. The Red and Blue Tories will be pointing fingers, each blaming the other for losing the election. Witmer would be an obvious candidate for the Reds; if Flaherty survives this election, he will be the Blue Tory to face her.

The resulting battle could split the party. It will certainly decide the direction of Toryism in Ontario for years to come.

I also predict that the Green Party will get 6% of the vote provincewide, and that the voter turnout might just be higher than 1999's abyssmal ratings (58%).

Advice from Erin: Vote!

Erin is a bit of a political junkie. She likes to vote, and can't in Canada because she's not a Canadian citizen, yet. She's a little irked by the people around her who can vote but don't. I guess you don't realize just what you've got until it's gone. Imagine not being able to vote. I suspect that would make you a lot angrier at what goes on in politics, knowing that what little influence you had on the process is gone. Sometimes you might be tempted to believe that all politicians are heartless bastards, but your vote does give you the ability to do your part in throwing the bastards out, and if nothing else, being a part of that wave can be very satisfying indeed.

Quiet Voices

Finally, this is the neatest urban grassroots project I've seen in just about... ever. With a cellphone and a curious mind, you can learn the history of various lesser landmarks in downtown Toronto -- not just big history like William Lyon MacKenzie slept here, but the lesser stories of ordinary individuals living courageous, ordinary lives.

A group of visionary individuals have put up signs on lampposts outside certain houses in and around Kensington Market. The signs simply read "MURMUR" and include a six digit code as well as a phone number you can call. Dial that number, enter the code, and be transferred to a recording talking about some interesting personal facet of that house, not just names and dates but experiences, told in the first person, from the heart. It's a fascinating, low-key way to learn about the fine details of your neighbourhood.

The organizers built this project to celebrate the stories of great old buildings, some of which are being torn down and replaced by what they see as faceless new buildings. What the organizers feel is lost is not just the buildings but the stories they contained. More than architecture, there is a spiritual sense of community they wanted to preserve. As the article states:

"Another thing we talked about," says Sawhney, "was these great old buildings that were being torn down to put up condos or whatever. All of that, those developments, are unfortunate because the buildings that are spiritually full aren't being preserved in their geographic location."

Sawhney makes a strong point. As gentrification tightens its hold on the downtown core of Toronto, these stories, and stories like them, will not resonate in the same way. There is great value in experiencing the presence of a thing while learning about it; this, not the avoidance of classwork, is why field trips are important.

Can this project be applied elsewhere? Of course it could, and it would be an excellent thing to try (the project is already on its way to Vancouver and Montreal). This act of guerilla marketing can only help to build up the social, historical and spiritual sense of community that inner cities have but new subdivisions lack. Indeed, even though this is a project born in the inner city, it would be an ideal thing for the new suburbs to import. A true community is full of stories; projects like Murmur tell them and foster them. These people deserve praise for their efforts.

Visit their website at www.murmurtoronto.ca.

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