Welcome to The Urban Daddy weblog. Not your typical "Daddy" blog because I am not your typical Daddy. Originating from Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2004. Follow our exploits as we proceed through life with the odds stacked against us. Three of them and two of us.
On November 26th, 2012, The Canadian government announced that it had boosted the limit on its popular Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), by $500.
Beginning next year, the ceiling will be $5,500 a year.
When it introduced the savings vehicle in 2009, the government said the $5,000 limit would move in $500 increments tied to inflation. This is the first year that’s happening.
“An additional $500 in annual TFSA contribution room can have an important impact on the amount of tax-free savings an individual can earn,” the government said.
“Over a 20-year period, an individual can accumulate significantly more in TFSA savings than under the original $5,000 annual contribution limit. For example … a middle-income saver could accumulate about $2,340 more in tax savings on their investments than if the additional investment had been made in a taxable savings vehicle (unregistered account).”
The TFSA has been popular since it was introduced, though recent surveys suggest Canadians still need more education.
The latest survey by Bank of Montreal showed less than 50% of savers are putting in the maximum of $5,000 a year, though 57% say they will go to ceiling within the next five years.
But while 60% of those polled claim to be “knowledgeable” about the savings vehicle, only 44% knew the contribution limit and 37% didn’t know what TFSAs can hold, such as stocks and bonds.
It seems like only yesterday when I was trying to figure out how to gear up for a tax-reporting season with our daughter on the way and unlike our previous two children, I was in no position to take any time off to spend with my family.
Then she arrived.
Now, today, she turned three years old!
Happy birthday Boo!
… and yes, girls are easier… at this age. :)
So, Boo had her birthday party last Thursday because our nanny, Gamay, headed off today for a 7-week vacation back home in the Philippines and we wanted to make sure she was here for Boo’s birthday. Gamay has been with us since Stewie was almost 3-years-old, or around 3 1/2 years and her and Boo are quite the team. Boo tickles her and Gamay has taught Boo how to speak, count and sing in Tagalog. The two of them run upstairs in the mornings only to return 20 minutes later and Boo’s hair is braided and clipped up in a wonderfully different way each time, the teachers and Boo’s school can’t wait to see what style Boo will be sporting each day. LOL.
When asked what she wanted for her birthday, Boo replied, “Hello Kitty cupcakes, cake and green beans”. So easy to buy for. I baked somewhere near 120 medium cupcakes for her party which my wife decorated the day before the event, Teamwork!
The funny thing about having a birthday party for a three-year-old before her birthday, then taking her out for her birthday dinner on her actual birthday is that she thought she had 2 birthdays this year, the party being her birthday and tonight’s dinner out being her “other” birthday.
The only hiccup today was Linus trying to explain to her that she was still 2, until after 11pm because she was born that late at night. She kept checking with us, “Am I still 2?” and the more we tried to explain, the more upset she got. So we gave up and said, “yes, today is your birthday and you are three”.
Having a three-year-old means we finally get to push through some parenting improvements her way, like getting her away from asking us to feed her when she’s lazy, or asking us to take off her shoes every now and then. She’s 3 now. She has been sleeping commando for a couple of month now, but we agreed when she turned 3, she could get out of her bed in the middle of the night if she needed to pee instead of calling for me and waking up the house.
That might result in sleep…
So aside from that, it’s amazing to see what an awesome little girl she has turned in to. Still a much smaller version of my wife, Boo loves to sing, loves the colour pink, her Hello Kitty’s, elephants, unicorns and her brothers. She looks more and more like she’s going to be left-handed like me and I think she’s going to be my only hockey player.
She’s sweet, she’s fun, she’s awesome and she’s 3.
As soon as I heard that a judge had ruled that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was found guilty of violating the Municipal Conflict Of Interest Act and ordered to be removed from office in 14 days, I knew that lefties in Toronto and on Toronto Council were in celebration mode. I also knew that my Facebook page and blog were going to be quite popular with the “I told you so” comments.
I was correct. Not only were there plenty of comments about the situation and questions about what happens next, but thrown in were the regular attacks on Ford for being; fat, boorish, dumb, uncultured, uneducated, balding and ignorant. Whew. Such attacks for a man who was voted in as Mayor or Toronto and was removed over $3100 which he never received but which went to an organization which helps children. I guarantee no-one in Toronto would have ever done this to previous Mayor David Miller. Never.
Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, the man who brought Paul Magder and Clayton Ruby together to bring down Ford in this conflict-of-interest court battle is a labour relations specialist for the association representing Ontario civil servants claims. On his Twitter feed he states that he is a “non-profit exec” and “an advocate for strong communities and accountable government”.
Chaleff-Freudenthaler was a regular fixture around City Hall when David Miller was in power and he was a part of Olivia Chow’s Toronto Youth Cabinet. As a union-employee and given Ford’s anti-union attitudes in Toronto (TTC, garbage collection, employees, etc) it’s no surprise that this played out the way it did.
You can read the entirety of the judge’s decision here.
The decision created an uncertain situation at Toronto City Hall. Next steps will depend on the success of the Ford’s appeal and, if successful, the length of the ensuing court process. If his appeal is not granted or is unsuccessful, Toronto City Council will either call a by-election or name someone as the interim Mayor for the duration of the term. Already posturing for this interim role is the left-wing hope, Adam Vaughan, who speaks very well, rarely raises his voice, asks great questions and is slowly selling out the downtown core that is his ward to developers.
As Mayor, Ford provided the city with much less leadership than many had expected from him, instead finding him caught up in left vs. right politics and picking fights with anyone who dared to question or delay his clear vision on how Toronto should be run. Granted, there were many on council like my own councillor Joe Mihevc who were ready for fighting from the day Ford was named Mayor. With a council stacked with left-wing councillors, and the Toronto Star peeking in his backyard, Ford could do not right and the lefties attacked like never before. Ford is too fat, he didn’t lose enough weight, he was not smart enough, he spent too much time on football, he was too tight with his brother… The list is seemingly endless and the public attacks on Ford were justified again and again by folks in downtown Toronto who Ford called “Commie Pinkos” and they felt that Ford discredited the city by being mayor, something I never understood.
Look at the alternative in the past election, George Smitherman. Fresh off blowing $1 billion dollars of taxpayers money as deputy premier and former Minister of Health, the eHealth fiasco was the tip of the iceberg for the Ontario Liberal Party, yet somehow those in downtown Toronto felt Smitherman would be a better choice that Ford. Maybe they could look past the horrid fiscal mismanagement and lack of apparent leadership but most Torontonians could not. Smitherman as Mayor would mean tax, upon tax, upon tax. Toronto would be bankrupt, but Smitherman would look good, eh?
Personally, I never found Ford to be the Mayor-type. I recall his drunken outburst at a Leafs game quite a while back and I know he’s had some issues both personally and professionally, but Toronto was facing a major cash-crunch, property tax increases of 3% a year were the easy solution for the previous Mayor David Miller and a fiscal conservative was needed to get the books in order. With no other choices, Toronto selected the one who pledged to “respect taxpayers” and Ford was brought to power.
Rough, crude, abrasive and brutish, Ford fought with everyone not because his views were unpopular, but because every decision he made was so heavily scrutinized in the left-leaning media that he was forced to defend each issue which he did a poor job of. It got so out of control that even author Margaret Atwood was brought into the fray when Ford said that he was looking for “gravy” – or areas where he could reduce expenses by closing or selling off assets that the City owned or operated that he felt the City should not be responsible for.
Was it wrong to look at parts of the City where there were libraries very close to each other and suggest that one be closed and the other used instead? Absolutely not, unless you’re a right-wing politician, then you are deemed to be anti-literature and next thing you know there are polls showing that Ms. Atwood would be a better choice for mayor. That public outcry on this issue was embarrassing to the City. The thought that a professional author could run a city was as asinine as suggesting that a councillor could write best-selling novels, yet the downtown Toronto folks lapped it up.
Was it wrong for Ford to contract out garbage pick-up in order to save money? Not at all, and because this has also turned into a major service upgrade, no one complains. How about contracting out the cleaning of TTC buses? Another Ford suggestion which was faced with fire from unions only because they know that if taxpayers knew the TTC paid their unionized workers upwards of $80.00 and hour to clean only 2-buses on their shift, there would be an outcry. Contracting this out may go against the unions but the cost-savings would be huge.
And was Ford wrong to suggest that Toronto needs subways, not LRT’s? Again, no. Toronto wants to be a world-class city but at the current pace and costs we’ll never see coverage of this expanding city in our lifetime. Unionized workers are too expensive and take too long and Toronto cannot afford it, and Ontario blew all their money on stupid decisions not called eHealth but might be related to powerplants and buying elections so they cannot contribute. Things were moving forward until Karen Stintz stepped in the way, drawing the ire of the Ford brothers and forcing on Toronto what they do not want.
It’s been a challenge for Ford, that’s no lie, and he’s played right into the hands of those who don’t want him there. Instead of hiring people to act as buffers he preferred to lead as he always had as a long-serving councillor and that meant some bumps in the road, gaffs, and lots of photo-ops of him with a double chin and naked in a Toronto magazine that I will not mention here.
At the end of the day, no matter who the mayor of Toronto is, the left vs. right conflict has to come to an end. Councillors are supposed to be non-partisan and should be serving their constituents and finding ways to expand transit, reduce gridlock, keep neighbourhoods safe, while preserving the history of the city and not wasting the taxpayers hard-earned money. Our city should not be divided for political purposes between left-wing and right-wing or by downtown vs the suburbs. We are all residents of Toronto and no matter where you live you should be able to receive answers to your questions and see progress in making this city more accessible and not wasting your tax dollars.
As an aside, see what punishment other Canadian Mayors in conflicts of interest situations received, here;
Last weekend we had some friends and their kids over for dinner and a playdate. We ordered Indian Food for the adults from a place around the corner from us, and the kids ate plain noodles and raw veggies. The adults had some quiet time to chat and catch up while the kids played and played.
To start off the adult part of the evening, we gathered around the kitchen island and had to choose between some red wine or a bottle of ready-made Pina Colada – a skinny version. Everyone was eager to try the mixed drink but after a couple sips, it was roundly given the thumbs down for it’s lack of flavour.
The bottle looked great, but it was really disappointing. Now I don’t normally drink, I’ll have a half a glass of red wine or a mixed drink containing Rye here and there but when I’m at home I like to try and create drinks for those who enjoy a good drink here and there. In our house when I was growing up there was a huge bar in the basement which was kind of funny since no one in my house drank and we really didn’t entertain that much and never in the basement. I used to pretend I was a bartender when I made ice cream floats for my friends and family.
But on this night I offered to make up a batch of Mud Slides – which contains Kahlua, coffee liquor, vodka, and cream. If you have never had one, but you love the taste of sugary alcoholic drinks then be careful because not only do these taste like candy but they are REALLY high in calories.
Everyone declined, but I was ready to impress with my ability to follow a recipe and make drinks which tasted more like a dessert than a drink. If I had more time, I would have picked a couple drinks from this article I found online here; http://www.casinotop10.net/Unusual-Cocktails-and-Drinks which has some pretty amazing drinks such as the “Toblerone”, or “Pickleback” or the “Green Donkey Show”.
With drinks like that who wouldn’t be impressed?!?
I recently received this article in my inbox from the kind folks at http://www.nanny.net and it covers a very important topic, how to tell if your nanny loves your child.
I think every first time employer, or an employer currently interviewing for a replacement caregiver should go through this list as it should help you understand when a connection has been made. Having the emotional buy-in from your nanny in addition to the financial buy-in is critical to long-term success of this partnership and a way to keep your stress down.
Sometimes, you need a nanny and the nanny needs a job, and you both compromise and these relationships often end abruptly not because something has gone wrong but over time you both start to come to grips with the fact that it is just a job. It’s easier to let go of those relationships than if there is an emotional buy-in, we all know that. So if you have the time, see if there is a connection and if so and you can make it work do so. Any child would be overjoyed to have that much love and both the employer and the caregiver will have an easier time on a day-to-day basis.