Shawn Micallef is the author of Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto, Full Frontal TO, and The Trouble With Brunch: Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure. He’s a weekly columnist at the Toronto Star, a senior editor and co-owner of Spacing and teaches at the University of Toronto. His most recent book, Frontier City: Toronto on the Verge of Greatness, was published in 2017 and he is currently working on a book about tourism.
The first half of the show is standardized (more or less) with each guest talking through these themes.
- Who are you? What do you for a living, how are you connected to SW Ontario?
- You are now in Toronto, you have family in SW Ontario, you travel in the region. From a quasi outsider perspective, what is working, and what is not in SW Ontario?
- From a Toronto perspective, is this region (or any other part of Ontario except for maybe cottage country) on the radar of Toronto?
- Finally, how does your community fit into SW Ontario as a whole?
The second part of the show we dig into more specific discussions.
- You spend a lot of time walking/exploring communities you visit. What are some hidden gems you have found in SW Ontario?
- You have written about the greatness of Toronto and what it could be, I have a counter (maybe controversial) hypothesis – Toronto is the worst part of Ontario.
- It’s lack of leadership – subways, housing, financialization of the city and more etc. have prevented the City tackling big problems and has perpetuated a housing crisis across the province;
- It has gotten so large that it is the only electorally significant region both provincially and federally so parties cater to Toronto to the detriment of policies and issues in other parts of the province.
- It is the hub of media and they do not know or care about stories unless it bleeds outside of their region. The same media has taken over small town media so half the stories on “local news” are coming from the GTA. This feeds into a social/political bubble.
- It is home to a hockey team that damages the mental health of people across this province on an annual basis.
- You have attacked provincial planning policy (both under the Liberals and PCs) for being awful in particular when it comes to Schools, Hospitals and LCBOs. These have arguably led to bad planning decisions at local levels but it has been enabled by a provincial framework.
- If you could wave a policy magic wand, and you could change 1 municipal, provincial or federal policy, what would you change?