So, we’re off to the polls again, Thursday, June 12, to be exact. The provincial election call wasn’t a surprise per se, with threats from the NDP and the Conservatives to topple the supposedly corrupt and entitled Liberals by not supporting the party’s latest budget. But that it was the Liberals that called the election was a bit of a surprise.
The most publicized piece of that ill-fated budget was the study into a high-speed rail link between London and Toronto. Will it now become part of the Liberals’ election platform? According to CTV News, the trains would travel at 320km/h, with 28 daily trains. Londoners could get to Pearson International Airport in just under an hour, and to downtown Toronto in 71 minutes.
It wouldn’t be perfect; a preliminary map circulated online showed the route running achingly close to St. Marys but with only a sole stop in Kitchener-Waterloo. But it would be a start, at least. What a carrot for voters in our province’s extreme southwest, who are addled by gridlock and slow-moving — as well as increasingly non-existent — passenger train service!
Considering that Ontario is turning into a “have not” province, we need big ideas — and bigger people — to captivate voters and come to terms with our post-industrial economy. Perhaps I’m jaded, but politics these days seem more about reaction, volume and toeing the party line than actually attempting to improve our collective lot.
I feel that the important ideas that could improve said lot — such as our region’s need for high speed rail, something I wrote about in one of my first columns — will be lost in the next five weeks of rampant electioneering. Even watching the three party leaders on mute while working out at the gym last week was an exercise in acquiescence to “more of the same” come June 13; if not the same caricatures, then at least the same approach.
“More of the same” also defines that other big story last week, that of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s decision to put his re-election campaign on hold to go to rehab for his apparent alcohol addiction. Why now, instead of when the story first broke, almost a year ago, of his use of more salacious substances? Pundits have oft commented on Ford’s Teflon-esque ability to shrug off bad press, but the revelation that there are two new recordings — one from Conservative stalwart The Toronto Sun, no less — makes getting out of Dodge a more attractive idea.
Ford will be in rehab for 30 days; will he return a changed man? More humble, more sober… and more beloved by his seemingly unshakable voter base? We haven’t heard much about the incriminating recordings since Ford left the building, but these videos take time to see the light of day — say, about a month or so. Perhaps Mr. Ford’s homecoming won’t be as hospitable as he desires and we can all move on from this sideshow of shame come Oct. 28.
Now, on a happier note, it’s Mother’s Day this weekend. Charlotte’s taken to calling it “St. Mother’s Day,” which is preternaturally apt and brings a smile to my face whenever she says it; the girl makes a good point! I hope all mothers and mother figures have a wonderful, deserving day.
Here’s a scrumptious-sounding salad for moms to suggest to families who may find themselves in charge of Sunday’s meal.
Avocado Fattoush with Mint Vinaigrette
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp. chopped shallot or 1/2 small garlic clove
1/2 cup grapeseed or extra-virgin olive oil
8- 10 fresh mint leaves
1 pita bread, preferably slightly stale
2 mini seedless cucumbers, chilled
1 avocado, ripe but firm, chilled
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large handfuls arugula
2 large handfuls watercress (or spinach)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 tsp. sumac
Vinaigrette: In a blender, combine the lemon juice, mustard, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and shallots or garlic. Blend until smooth. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil and blend until emulsified. Add mint leaves and blend very briefly. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to one day.
Salad: Separate the two layers of pita. Toast in oven until crunchy, let cool, then break into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise, then crosswise into slices 1/4-inch thick. Peel and pit avocado and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine cucumber and avocado in a salad bowl. Add the mint, parsley, arugula and watercress.
Pour in about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and toss gently. Add more dressing and salt as needed (save unused dressing). Add feta, sumac and bread.