Posted in Community, news

Helping Support an Alternative to Traditional Left-Wing Media Coverage in Canada: The Rebel


Whether your political views are left-wing, right-wing, mainstream or a mix of all three, it has always puzzled me that Canada’s main news came from left-leaning institutions (and why institutions of higher-learning teach from the left as well – but this is a different issue altogether).

I’m not interested in getting into an argument as to the pro’s and con’s of left vs right, or to have people comment and stereotypically align the right with guns, anti-abortion and anti-immigration policies, much as I would not expect anyone to point fingers at the left for their union-loving, Robin Hood – take from the rich and give to the poor – approach.   There is a lot of every side to appreciate and to admonish.

Heck, in this Canadian election we have a very fiscally conservative approach from the NDP which has many voters confused as to where the parties lie across the political spectrum.

That aside, with the recent embarrassing treatment of SunTV – the CRTC refused to give SunTV a guaranteed spot on basic cable thus denying them the same exposure as provided to news channels operated by the CBC and CTV, and placed the channel very high up in the middle of nowhere making it very difficult to find – Canada is left without an opposing view on news stories of the day.

Heck, the mainstream media has referred to Prime Minister Steven Harper as the “Conservative Leader” and not as the “Prime Minister” regularly though out the Federal Election Campaign.

With the recent successful launch of The Rebel, Ezra Levant has taken the Sun TV staff, added, subtracted and tweaked the group to become an online powerhouse with regular reports posted on YouTube and the Rebel website.  Ezra, whom I know personally, believes in options for Canadians and he is passionate about presenting the news in the same way that folks at the CBC and CTV do on a daily basis.

The Ezra you see on TV is the Ezra who wants to attract viewers, bring attention to the station and do so through controversy.  If The Rebel were allowed to play on the same field as the other media outlets, you would see more of the Ezra who is deeply knowledgeable about all things Canadian, who worries about how Canadians can sustain a healthy, equitable life in Canada and who wants the best Canada possible.

With that, I have chosen to donate to The Rebel crowdfunding campaign to get them set up with a studio so they can begin to compete with stations which receive billions of dollars of Taxpayer money to operate.

I hope that you will share this, or consider supporting regardless of where your political views lie.

After all, its equality that the folks at the Rebel are looking for, for all Canadians, so let’s return the favour and help them get back into the game.

The link to their Crowd Funding page is hyperlinked above and I have included the link below:

http://www.therebel.media/buildthedream?utm_campaign=builddream_rr&utm_medium=email&utm_source=therebel

Posted in Community, Daddy, family, Life, Parenting, Toronto, urbandaddyblog

CBC Canada Writes Feature: The Urban Daddy. Bringing the modern dad to the blogosphere


While away on vacation with the family, this article was posted on the CBC website, under the Canada Writes section. It was written by Jennifer Warren, who is an amazing writer and she took my words, my thoughts and my ramblings and turned them into gold. For that I will always be grateful.

The link to the original article is right here; http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadawrites/2014/08/bringing-the-modern-dad-to-the-blogosphere.html

The article on me, The Urban Daddy, and my business, inTAXicating Tax Services and is below;

“Bringing the Modern Dad to the Blogosphere:

By day, Warren Orlans is a mild-mannered tax consultant, shoehorning in time to be a hands-on dad to his three young children and to helm an impressive backyard vegetable garden. But by night (10 p.m. to 2 a.m., to be exact) he morphs into The Urban Daddy, blogging on everything from why a child whose age is less than your shoe size feels the constant need to correct you to the parenting situation that leads you to eat a nibbled, warm banana.

As part of our Canada Blogs series on great Canadian blogs, we chatted with Warren about handling your private blog going public, falling asleep mid-post and why daddy bloggers may be coming out of the woodwork.

Warren Orlans, aka, The Urban Daddy with children

When and why did you start The Urban Daddy?

I started The Urban Daddy in 2004, just before my first son was born. I wanted to keep a diary of my wife’s pregnancy, what it was like being a father for the first time, and other related, or non-related, events that caught my attention at that time. The blog was kept private for four years until a colleague caught wind of it and it became very public.

I also started writing The Urban Daddy to work on my grammar and punctuation, which were not strong points for me in school. I have come a LONG way from my earlier posts, and the few who followed me from post #1 through post #1,000 have commented on the huge difference in my writing.

You’re a very hands-on dad. What kinds of reactions do you get from people about this? Do you find there’s still some bias towards dads being so involved in parenting?

I am as hands on as I can be because I love being a dad, and I want to spend more time with my kids than my father was able to. I know life can be very short—my dad passed away at the age of 62, so he was at our wedding but did not get to see any of my children. I do not want my children to not have had the opportunity to know me, to learn from me and to be taught some of the wonderful traits that were passed on to my from my mother: respect, consequences of actions, and that others are entitled to their own opinions and sometimes it’s best to listen, smile and not say anything.

I also see many other dads hanging around their kids’ classes, at least in my community. I see it more and more. I don’t judge those who can or cannot be there—we all have choices to make—and I do not feel that there are people judging me for being there as often as I am. Or maybe I just convince myself that anyone judging me must be thinking how successful I am that I have the free time to participate in my kids’ lives so much.


There are a lot of “mommy” blogs out there, but not so many “daddy” blogs. Why do you think this is?

I usually do not mention my blogging because I long felt that I was a “fraud” by blogging standards, being a “daddy blogger.” Early on I was at a gathering with a bunch of friends (all new dads as well) and one father said, “I think people who blog are narcissistic and do so only to brag about themselves.” From that point on, I kept it to myself.

Nowadays, especially after being featured in The Globe and Mail and Canadian Living, I don’t hide anything. It’s what I like to do no matter what anyone thinks.

I do have mothers coming up to me and asking me if I blog, and the reaction from them is usually one of surprise and support. I get a lot of positive feedback from mothers and from involved dads, who by choice or necessity are more involved than dads who leave for work before their kids wake up and who return home after the kids are in bed.

You tell a lot of personal stories about your wife and family. Where do you draw the line in what you do and don’t write about?

When my blog was hidden, I had no boundaries, until one day a colleague at the government asked a very personal question that they would have only known to ask through my blog. From that point on, I treat each and every post as if it were very public and I think about how my kids would feel as adults reading it. Would they want me talking about embarrassing things, or just telling stories and highlighting milestones?

How does your family feel about your blog?

My family likes the blogging—some more than others—because I relay stories about my children that I’ve sometimes forgotten to tell them. I also do not air dirty laundry on my blog, so there are very few posts where I am venting about my family.

I think they are amazed at the attention The Urban Daddy has been getting over the past few years more than anything. I have never seen myself as a writer, and I appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read and comment on posts because there are so many other things they could be doing, but they are reading my ramblings, and I appreciate it.

You have another blog, inTAXicating. What’s the story of this blog?

InTAXicating came to me while I was working in the government and learning about how the Internet would help the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) collect money and educate taxpayers. As I progressed through collections, I was a Resource Officer for five years and that role was very technical, requiring me to understand and interpret the Income Tax Act and Excise Tax Act. In order to get the level of understanding of legislation, I started re-writing the text into “English” and posting that on my blog.

Warren face 2012

 

So you have a day job, two blogs, and three kids. How exactly do you find time for all of this?

I don’t. Having my own business has made blogging as The Urban Daddy very difficult, and I have almost 200 posts sitting in my draft folder, in need of a good review. Prior to that I would generally blog from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and I would schedule my posts to come out during the course of the week. When my first son was born, I was doing my MBA online and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. was my time to work once everyone went to sleep, so I maintained that time as my time to get posts written.

Now I find I have so much work to do for my business that I spend time working on that instead of the blogging. But it changes, and sometimes I get extra time to bang out a post or two.

I’ve started going back to edit old posts, and I’ve found some where I clearly fell asleep in the middle of typing but posted them anyway. It’s a great reminder of my exhaustion back then.

What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?

Do not get discouraged and do not write for others. Write for yourself first and try not to fret when only one or two readers come by your blog in a day, week or month. It takes time to build up a following. Reply to comments, follow other blogs, read them if you have the time and figure out what you want from your blog.

If you want to win awards, get hundreds of thousands of followers and use it to step up to a more prolific role, then stick to a topic or theme and write about it, and it only.

If you want your blog to be a journal to look at as your kids get older or to record things you might need, then write for the love of writing. If more comes of it, just say thank you and continue doing what you love doing.

All images courtesy of Warren Orlans and The Urban Daddy.”

•Check out The Urban Daddy »

Visit inTAXicating Blog

Head over to the CBC Canada Writes Site to discover more great Canadian blogs »  Please.

Posted in Community, family, government, news, politics, Toronto, ttc, urbandaddyblog

How The Eglinton Avenue Re-Development Message Got Lost: It’s NOT About You!


This was a very troubling week for The Urban Daddy and our community.  An apparent sudden decision by the municipal government here in Toronto had thrust our neighbourhood into chaos and as citizens moved into action our efforts to seek the truth were suddenly derailed by the actions of one man – whom I will not mention by name, nor show his picture – who feels his 15 minutes of fame are far more important than the residents and taxpayers in this area.

It all started with a news report on CP24 alerting residents in Toronto that Toronto City Council was going to vote on the narrowing of Eglinton Avenue from Allen Road to Bathurst Street from 5 lanes, to just 2 lanes, so that the sidewalks could be widened, trees and artwork placed on the strip and bike lanes added.

All of this seems very nice, and very practical, and as a resident in Toronto, specifically someone who lives in between those streets and who is already impacted by the Eglinton Crosstown LRT / subway, this information came as quite a shock to me, and apparently to many of my neighbours.

This strip as it currently stands is terrible – construction aside – as a result of many one-way streets, and the absolute lack of traffic on the strip.  At night-time, the street is aglow with “MASSAGE” signs and very few people walk in this area at night because, frankly, there is nothing to walk to.  If the goal was to make this strip feel more “European”, then maybe Toronto City Council might want to think about the 3 months a year in which weather would comply with this drastic transformation.

In addition with St. Clair Avenue already being down to one lane in parts as a result of the transit right-of-way, doing the same to Eglinton Avenue, the next major road north, makes even less sense.  Eglinton is the end of Allen Road, an “expressway” of sorts which helps traffic flow north and south from Wilson Avenue without traffic lights, but with a lot of traffic.  People use Allen Road to head north to the 401 highway, and the delays have always been long and frustrating with or without construction, one could imagine it would only get much worse.

Let me at this point identify that I am pro every method of transportation.  Cars, bikes, walking, public transit are all great.  If I could take public transit everyone in Toronto, I would, where it makes financial sense.  If I could bike safely, I would, and my kids would too.  But we are not there yet, and don’t appear to be for quite a long time, so in the meantime, doing anything to slow down traffic does not make sense at all.  But that is my opinion…

So where is traffic going to go, if it cannot move along Eglinton Avenue, or St. Clair?  Well the side streets, of course.  We are already seeing a huge increase in traffic as a result of the construction, and in front of my house, for example, there is a stop street which very few cars actually stop at, some do not even try, and they fly through without even braking.  The “30km” traffic limit is always ignored, and speed bumps only cause a momentary delay as cars race off after passing them.  Even one-way streets are ignored, and it’s going to get worse.

But what about the kids?

This community, Cedarvale, which lies just north of Forest Hill, has a ton of children, and these children cannot safely walk in this community as it already stands.  Is Toronto city Council’s shortsighted view of the war on cars overlooking or ignoring the impact this re-development will have on the children in the community who are already scared to cross streets because vehicles travel very fast and do not follow the street signs when using Cedarvale as a short-cut to avoid the delays on Eglinton?

It would appear so.

When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford came to speak to the community about this issue, a couple of says after his return from rehab, I met some community members who lived on the other side of Eglinton Avenue in the next phase of this narrowing of Eglinton were just as shocked as I was, and who had put together a traffic study, which can be found right here; (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjP4HWMeieo&feature=youtu.be)

Adding to this frustration is that we learned that the City Planner had approved high density building along this strip with the widening of the laneways behind these buildings (which would require residential houses to be removed) to accommodate the traffic from these buildings.

More construction.

More traffic chaos.

Has the city planner, or city council ever been to these neighbourhoods?  $700K bungalows, and $1.5 million houses are common place in Cedarvale, much higher south and east of here, and a lot of families reside here who are certainly not going to need the extra sidewalk to walk to a massage parlour, a Whole Foods maybe, but clearly no one asked the residents what they want or need.  To look at the map of the area and declare it ripe for additional density of short-sighted.  This is not the right community for that.

Mayor Ford came to speak to us, and his message was lost, because of the actions of man who ran across the street, through frustrated traffic, so he could take off his shirt, pull out signs from his garbage bag and stop the community from hearing the Mayor’s views on this proposal, or to allow us to ask questions of the Mayor about what he knows about this plan.

The media at the event helped even less, but asking questions of the Mayor with disdain, like “How is it that you don’t know about this vote?  Is it not your job to do so?” when members of the community also knew nothing about this proposal, and then by diverting the attention to the few who took off their shirts for their own 15-minutes of fame.

If you watched any of the footage on TV, you probably heard me, and several others yelling for these 3 protestors to “shut up” and “let the Mayor talk” and while we did get a very short moment of quiet from them, it was when the guy yelling “resign” over and over again elbowed the Mayor’s campaign leader in the head while trying to get right behind the Mayor with his sign.

To his credit, the Mayor’s staffers did not respond or get as annoyed as the members of the community did, although, the police stepped in which this protestor yelled “don’t assault me” to the Mayor’s staff after apparently being kicked (I did not see this – I was recording the events) but the police decided to not charge either person, and the protestor was allowed to return and annoy the mayor and the residents.

The result of his actions were that the message of this proposal got lost.  The community were livid, the Mayor frustrated and the only person who got any attention was the guy with the sign, who proceeded to tell his story to everyone and anyone about how the Mayor lied, and how he works in a flexible position where he can follow the Mayor around and yell at him.

I waited after almost everyone left, and listened to his story evolve and change.  It was not about Eglinton Avenue and the residents or about traffic, but about someone who wanted to talk about how his was kicked, and assaulted, and how much support he has.

“Me Me Me”.

But it’s not about him.

It never was about him.

I looked at my video and saw a different unfolding of events which threw some key details of his story into dispute, and I shared that with the media and with the other Mayoral candidates teams so that they can be aware of the true intent of this individual.  He’s taking a very serious situation of an unwell person struggling with an addiction problem, who took the time to enter rehab and is now back trying to do his job, and he made it about him.

At the end of the day, we all lose.

As for the proposal along Eglinton….  I have no idea.

My message to Toronto City Council, Councillor Joe Mihevc, and the guy with the signs who likes to take off his shirt and disrupt important discussions impacting people their families and their community, is this:  It’s not about you.  It’s not about your legacy or your vision.  Leave Eglinton alone.  Don’t force another St. Clair on us because you want to be on TV.

Toronto City Council, don’t waste your time looking to spend money you do not have.  Clean up the area instead.  Fix the sidewalks, make sure the lighting is working, that dogs are on leash near schools, that the intersections are clearly marked and are safe (Ava and Strathern, for example), step up safety in the area and PLEASE, get rid of the raccoons!

Make the area safe and people will use it.

But Leave Eglinton Avenue alone.

And if you have a problem with the Mayor, address it the way everyone else does… At the ballot box.