Daily Archives: August 18, 2009

Women in public life

What obstacles do female politicians still face?
Panel discussion I am part of examines this very topic
(This column originally published April 23 for Town Crier.)

The Honourable Dr. Carolyn Bennett asked me to be part of a panel discussion on women in politics on March 27. 
You may know Bennett as the MP for St. Paul’s, but I use her official titles for a reason. One issue that was raised is the fact that media refer to female politicians by first names such as Belinda (Stronach), Kim (Campbell) or Sheila (Copps). And it’s less likely for a printed article to refer to a male politician by his first name only.
Keynote speaker, Sylvia Bashevkin, the principal of U of T’s University College, has written several books on women in politics. She spoke about instances in the past where female candidates have gone door knocking at dinnertime and when they presents their campaign literature, including a photo of their husband and kids, they have been asked who is feeding her family. 
The panel included another local political rep Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne who, as a lesbian, was told she could not win in North Toronto back when she ran as a school trustee. Of course she has proved them wrong and as education minister also won re-election against a formidable challenger in John Tory, the former Ontario PC leader. 
For my part, I spoke to the 70 or so female students from Northern, Rosedale and other midtown high schools about my experience as a journalist writing about politics. Continue reading

Accessibility for blind in Toronto

Area near CNIB is easy for the vision impared to navigate
But not so much for rest of the city
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally published Aug. 13 for Town Crier.)

Debbie Williams, centre, waits at an intersection until she knows it’s safe to cross. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Debbie Williams is luckier than most visually impaired individuals.
She lives next door to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s headquarters on Baview Ave. just north of Eglinton Ave. East. The sidewalks, businesses, signalized intersections and transit in this area is designed to be more accessible for people who are blind or have reduced vision.
So in some ways this neighbourhood is a model to copy for other communities.
At Bayview and Kilgour Rd. there are audible pedestrian signals at the traffic lights emitting a coo-coo sound to indicate when it’s safe to walk north-south and chirp noises for when pedestrians should cross east-west.
Also, if you keep your hand on the button it will vibrate for people who are deaf and blind so they know when the light is green in their direction.
The city currently has about 257 signalized intersections equipped with audio signals and another 30 will be added this year. Continue reading

Talbot Apartment OMB hearing postponed

The Ontario Municipal Board will now consider Leaside buildings’ fate in Nov.
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally published Aug. 17 for
Town Crier.)

Those wanting a swift conclusion to the long battle over preserving Leaside’s Talbot apartments will likely wait until the new year for a decision.
The Ontario Municipal Board has rescheduled the case from Aug. 24 until Nov. 2.
The municipal government sought the adjournment because during the 39-day strike city planning lawyers were redeployed to other duties and witnesses were walking the picket lines.
OMB member Marc Denhez delivered the oral decision to postpone the case at the end of a July 31 conference call with representatives from all three parties, according to Carol Burtin Fripp, a director with the Leaside Property Owners Association, which is participating in the hearings. 
“It’s given us more time to get our statements together from residents who are participants,” she said following the postponement. Continue reading