TVO.org daily: Wednesday, April 10

Why the autism debate in Ontario is so complicated, budget countdown, and a polarized America
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on April 10, 2019
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The federal government is considering regulating social media. (iStock.com/alexsl)

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Good morning, Ontario.

Here's what we're following today

Ottawa contemplates crackdown on social-media election meddling

The federal government says it’s seriously considering regulating social media companies, noting that self-regulation is “not yielding results” in reducing the use of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to undermine elections and spread hatred against minorities. The same day that news of this plan broke, Facebook announced it was banning six Canadian people and groups involved in “organized hate.” Those banned include far-right political commentator Faith Goldy, the Canadian Nationalist Front, and Aryan Strikeforce.

Not everyone on board with Tories’ gas pump ‘sticker shock’

The provincial government’s plan to put stickers on gas pumps detailing how much the carbon tax will add to fuel costs is not sitting well with everybody. Legal expert Emmett Macfarlane isn’t sure the stickers are constitutional, since forcing fuel companies to display a partisan message would violate their freedom of expression. The Globe and Mail’s Adam Radwanski points out that people inclined to cheer the proposed stickers would probably find it inappropriate if British Columbia also forced private businesses there to display anti-pipeline messaging. Meanwhile, the Toronto Star’s Martin Regg Cohn reminds folks that Ontario taxes on fuel actually take a bigger bite than the carbon tax and other federal gas levies.

Toronto mayor in the dark about province’s GTA transit plans

With the provincial government set to reveal its GTA transit plan today, the Toronto Star reports that Toronto Mayor John Tory has still not been told key details about the plan, including any changes to projects already underway and how much of the plan’s expected $30 billion price tag the city will be expected to cover. Tory says that even though he hasn’t been let in on the province’s plans, he’s confident the Conservative government will refer its ideas to the city for discussion before finalizing any transit projects.

What we're tracking

It’s almost budget time! The Agenda producers, TVO.org reporters, and Steve Paikin will be spending all day at Queen's Park tomorrow looking over the Progressive Conservative government’s 2019-20 budget, its first since its election last summer.

“It’s a document in which they’re proposing to spend $140 billion. This is going to be where they’re going to tell us what the government’s priorities are for the next four years,” says politics reporter John Michael McGrath (above), shown in his element in last year’s budget lockup. “And the dirty secret is that the PCs don’t have much time to get the real work done before they have to start running for re-election.”

Expect in-depth coverage on the budget tomorrow and throughout the next week. 

Watch now

Metamorphosis

This documentary begins with footage of a caterpillar’s awe-inspiring transformation into a butterfly. It’s a powerful image to set against what comes next: an eye-opening account of the ways in which climate change is devastating the Earth’s biosphere. Scientists, climate activists, and artists explore ecological transformation and speculate on how species and humanity will be affected. 

The Agenda: Fixing American politics



How can a polarized America find consensus? That’s the question cognitive scientist and U.S. expat Dan Meegan ponders in his book, America the Fair: Using Brain Science to Create a More Just Nation. He argues that fairness and equality — two things he believes are missing in today’s society — are the salve to transform U.S. politics and bridge the deep divide in the country’s population. 

Read now

What makes the autism debate in Ontario so complicated

puzzle pieced

Earlier this year, the Progressive Conservatives announced changes to autism funding that angered parents across Ontario, forcing the government to backtrack on some of its plans. The previous Liberal government also had its fair share of criticism over its own autism plan announced back in 2016. Providing funded support for autism services is clearly a challenging public policy issue for provincial government, writes journalist Matt Gurney, but it’s not one that most Ontarians could be expected to understand. In the first of TVO.org’s three-part series on autism, Gurney looks at autism spectrum disorder and how it’s diagnosed. 


Tonight on TVO

8 p.m. — The Agenda: Achieving Ontario’s accessibility goals

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is only six years away from its 2025 deadline to drastically reduce the public barriers that people with disabilities face every day. But a new report released last month by former lieutenant-governor David Onley says those goals are nowhere near being met. Tonight, Steve Paikin talks to Onley and disability advocate Yvonne Felix about how to achieve accessibility targets. 


10 p.m. — Colour: The Spectrum of Science

Colours may be some of the first things a child learns to name, but colours and how they’re composed are far more complex than they appear. In this series, physicist Helen Czerski explores what colour is, and how it has shaped the Earth and some of the species that inhabit it. This first episode focuses on five colours that tell the story of the planet itself: the vivid blue and red ochre that make up earth, the brilliant gold that appears on the planet defying all explanation, and the combination of salt and water that creates what we know as white. 


 From the archive

1992: Voice vs. cultural appropriation


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Debates about what constitutes cultural appropriation might sound like a topical conversation, but this is a question artist and writers have been thinking (and arguing) about for decades. This Imprint panel zeroes in on a 1988 controversy at a Toronto publishing house called The Women’s Press. At issue was a fiction anthology that included stories by white authors that were written in the voices of people of colour. The external criticism — and internal argument over whether to go ahead with publishing the anthology — threatened to tear the publishing house apart. 



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