daily: Thursday, September 12

Crowded classrooms, the future of farmland, and a woman’s voice in politics
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on Sep 12, 2019
Chief Justice of Ontario George Strathy says the Ford government’s decision to cut legal aid funding by 30 per cent will end up costing more money than it saves. (Francis Vachon/CP)



Good morning, Ontario.

Here's what we're following

Top provincial judges criticize cuts to legal aid

Chief Justice of Ontario George Strathy says the Ford government’s decision to cut legal aid funding by 30 per cent will end up costing more money than it saves. “It increases trial times, places greater demands on public services, and ultimately delays and increases the cost of legal proceedings for everyone,” he said during the annual opening of the courts in Toronto, a ceremonial event in which judges often weigh in on issues affecting the justice system. Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve of the Ontario Court of Justice also spoke at the opening, saying the cuts would have “unintended consequences,” such as delaying the early resolution of some cases.

Toronto high school reports classes with as many as 40 students 

In a letter to parents, principal Adam Marshall of Northern Secondary School acknowledged that “there have been a few isolated cases where some classes have reached as high as 40 or more students.” Marshall added that the situation is not uncommon for the first weeks of school and should “normalize” before the end of the month as classes get adjusted. “Each year, we will see cases of classes that are larger than they should be,” Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird told the CBC. “We are hearing isolated cases of some classes that are 40 or more students. Obviously, that’s not normal.” The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, however, says overcrowding will continue due to provincial funding cuts.

Meanwhile, the president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario said the union’s 83,000 members will “conduct a central strike vote” in late September and October.

Law Society of Ontario abolishes statement of principles requirement for lawyers 

The body that governs the province’s legal profession voted 28-20 to eliminate the requirement for lawyers to draft statements acknowledging their obligation to “promote equality, diversity and inclusion.” Adopted three years ago, the policy came under fire by some lawyers who felt that it amounted to compelled speech — being forced to say something even if you don’t agree with it. “The anti-anti-racism lawyers successfully organized to run a slate of candidates in the Law Society elections this past spring, effectively taking over the board,” Canadaland editor Jonathan Goldsbie explains. Board member Julian Falconer, who voted to keep the requirement in place, called it a “sad day” and predicted “this is only the beginning of the dismantling of equity initiatives at the law society.”

Tesla installing electric car ‘superchargers’ in northwestern Ontario

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is establishing vehicle charging stations between Sault Ste. Marie and Kenora as part of the company’s plan for a network of stations from coast to coast. These “superchargers,” however, will only work with Tesla-made cars. While other charging stations are already available in this swath of the province, they do not work as quickly as the Tesla ones will.

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The Agenda: A voice in politics

Politicians’ success depends on their ability to persuade voters that they’re trustworthy and authoritative. But did you know that studies show people tend to equate trustworthiness and authoritativeness with deeper voices? Former Toronto city councillor and 2014 mayoral Karen Stintz learned this personally during her near decade in local politics. She talks to Steve Paikin about her experiences, and what this bias means for participation in politics.

Land Grabbing

With investors looking for places to grow food for export, raise biofuel crops, or simply buy up land for profit, the global demand for land is soaring — and it’s putting the world’s farmland at risk. This documentary provides an inside look at the world of international agribusiness, and its effect on our ability to feed the planet.

Read now

The federal election is here. What will it mean for Ontario?

Canada’s 42nd Parliament has been dissolved and federal party leaders have kicked off their campaigns.’s John Michael McGrath lays the groundwork for what Ontarians should be looking for over the next six weeks — and specifically, how the province will proceed on the issue of the carbon tax. “If Ontario wanted to stop fighting the federal government over the carbon tax (and perhaps repeal its silly and unnecessary law compelling gas stations to put up those stickers), that would open up some possibilities,” he writes. “Ontario could ask the federal government for the billions of dollars in revenue that the carbon tax raises in this province. The Tories could reasonably say that, if people are going to pay one way or another, then the money may as well go to fighting Ontario’s deficit.”

Tonight on TVO

8 p.m. — The Agenda: Affordable senior living through shared housing

Living with roommates isn’t just for university students anymore: seniors such as Pat Dunn are starting to understand the benefits of pooling resources to live comfortably, too. Her Facebook group, Senior Ladies Living Together, connects potential roommates to save on rental costs and alleviate loneliness. Joining her to discuss this trend is Louise Bardswich, part of a group called the Golden Girls of Port Perry, who recently invested in a shared home.

9 p.m. — Seeds of Time

Cary Fowler is on a race against time to protect the future of our food. The agriculture pioneer travels from Rome to Russia and, finally, to a remote island under the Arctic Circle on a journey that may hold the key to saving the one resource we cannot live without: seeds. He’s set out to collect all existing grain types in an enormous seed bank on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. It is not just about the survival of this generation, but of every generation to come.

From the archive

2011 — The other housing market crisis

Lack of affordable housing is not a new issue to Ontarians. In this 2011 Agenda segment, panelists discuss the short- and long-term effects of low-income households not having stable access to shelter. At the time, the waitlist for social housing in the province had grown by almost 10 per cent, with more than 140,000 households looking for assistance. The numbers have increased substantially since then: in some parts of Ontario, the waitlist for subsidized housing is 7 to 10 years.

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