TVOntario and I


The case for Howard Hampton will be posted tomorrow night, so thanks in advance for your patience.

It seems that I’ve had a rush of contacts with TVOntario of late. Over and above the work I’ve been doing for the Campaign Tales website, I’ve been asked to sit with a panel of experts on TVOntario’s The Agenda in order to provide commentary from a public transportation angle as the results come in. I’ve been asked thanks to my work on Transit Toronto, so I’ll be sure to plug that website as often as they’ll let me (which probably will only be once). I’ll be in attendance from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Election Night, so look for me.

I’m also pleased to announce that my longest and possibly most politically sensitive post is now up on the Campaign Tales website. It started out as a shorter piece for the TVO-backed website on the proposed 400-series style highway between Cambridge and Brantford, but transformed into a piece for this blog after I had difficulty getting in touch with the candidates and allowed my own personal politics enter into the writing. But then my editor told me to submit it to the Campaign Tales website anyway, in order to spice things up a bit. The only changes they made were a few paragraphs to try and initiate discussion, and a general trimming of the piece. Park one can be found here, followed by part two here.

If you have a moment, please drop over and comment. I’m sure the folks at TVO would love your input.

Conservative Telemarketing

It’s well and good that the Conservative candidate for Kitchener Centre, Matt Stanson, wants to show that he listens to the electorate. Good on him for showing his independence in announcing that if John Tory’s proposed extension of public funding for religious-run schools comes to a vote, he’d vote against it. However, the manner with which he let the public know leaves a lot to be desired: he used an automatic telemessage.

You know the one: it’s what telemarketers use to interrupt your dinner when they don’t even have the courage to put a human being at the other end of the line to handle people upset that you’ve called them while they were eating, or having a bath, or anything else that comes up as preferable to talking to a telemarketer. It is the cliché of the futile salesman. I can’t say that I was impressed to get that call, and my father got that call twice. He’s ticked.

I’m forced to wonder at how many voters Matt Stanson has alienated by using this marketing technique to show that he is actually listening to voters. Because a recorded voice doesn’t.

(Update: Sunday at 1:23 p.m.): Spoke too soon. I received the second phone call with the exact same message as the first. Very poor, guys, Very poor!

A Good Day

Today was a good day. We took the Waterloo Central Railway up to St. Jacobs and gave Vivian quite a treat. Vivian and I got our first taste of steam.

So to speak.

I profiled the Waterloo Central Railway as part of a lengthy article I’d recently written up for Business Edge. It’s always a pleasure to talk to individuals who are passionate about their line of work, and the president of the railway, Roy Broadbear, told me that the Waterloo Central Railway would be operating steam trains for the Oktoberfest festival. Well, I wasn’t going to pass that up.

We arrived just before the 2 p.m. departure from Uptown Waterloo to learn that the steam engine wouldn’t be operating due to mechanical problems. However, the folks did manage to put on a show, running the steam engine back and forth alongside the train (pulled by a diesel), much to the delight of the kids and just about everybody else in the audience. And, besides, when you’re riding on the train, you don’t often get such a good view of the engine, so Vivian was hardly disappointed when we travelled north through a thunderstorm to the village of St. Jacobs.

From there, we walked through busy crowds enjoying one of the hottest October weekends on record. We feasted on fresh cut fries, visited a country toystore, and meandered back to the train in time for its last departure back to Waterloo.

This is the second time that a tourist railroad is operating on this line. Back in the late 1990s, a private operation made a go of it, but couldn’t make enough money to make it work. The Waterloo Central Railway looks like it’s going to succeed, however, as it’s a non-profit operation, and it’s been given the line and the station building (that the private railway built) for cheap. The operation is more about rebuilding vintage equipment than it is about making money, and Waterloo is blessed to have these guys showing off their craft to a rapt audience. I expect this operation is far more likely to succeed, and I’m looking forward to the opening season of next year when, possibly, steam trains will be taking people up to Elmira for their Maple Syrup Festival.

Here are some more shots from that day.


This is your brain on beer. Any questions?


The steam engine passes while the Oktoberfest mascot looks on.


Vivian watches the scenery very studiously.


The train arrives in St. Jacobs for our return journey.

And now for something completely different…

Not Your Average Day in Training

In which our intrepid recruits learn that the stuff they use to blow open doors makes a really loud noise.

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