Slogans for "the people"

I live in a Canadian province where the head of state likes to communicate with the public through the use of slogans and catch phrases. Doug Ford is the Premier of Ontario, and since winning the last provincial election as the leader of the Conservative Party in 2018, he has applied his personal leadership style to governing our Province.

During the election campaign, we heard terms such as “Ford Nation” and government “for the people.” The Ford family owns a company that produces decals, which are well-suited for advertising with punchy graphics and messages written in ten words or fewer. But how can this simplistic approach be applied to government operations in a parliamentary system?

The Conservatives are climate change deniers, and campaigned with the promise to cancel all provincial green energy initiatives. One example was to overturn the carbon tax that had been implemented by the previous Liberal government. Upon hearing that the Federal Government (also Liberals) would impose their own carbon tax on Ontario residents, to replace the cancelled provincial program, the Conservatives responded with a sticker campaign. All gas stations are required to display stickers on their gas pumps that outline the carbon tax costs.

There have been many problems with the stickers – on several levels – but the major problem is that they only tell half of the story. There is no mention of the carbon tax rebates that Ontario residents are receiving from the federal program.

Premier Ford has applied his sticker slogan mentality to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Many bills that the government has tabled in the legislature bear a slogan. For example, rather than just being Bill 115, this piece of legislation was named the “Bringing Choice and Fairness to the People Act .”

Based on the gas station sticker fiasco, one can’t help but ask “which people?” and who judges what is “fair,” and wonder what is really contained in the fine print.

In response, I have undertaken a personal project to create stickers with the names of all of the acts that were passed in the Ontario Legislature and received royal assent in 2019. On a basic level, I have used this as an opportunity to “brush up” on my brush lettering skills. I calligraphed each title using a brush pen, and then I traced over the lettering with a pencil. The final touches were applied in Photoshop, including the use of gradient maps to produce some catchy colour combinations for each slogan.

On a more substantive level, I feel like I am living in a banana republic, where the government is serving up superficial slogans and platitudes to disguise their hidden agenda.

The following images are my first batch of stickers for the past year. With more time and research, I would be tempted to add a “warning” message at the bottom of each sticker, to identify some of the potential outcomes. This would likely need to be in very fine print to fit it all in.

“C” Words

It has been a long period of several months since I last posted on my blog. So now I am trying to find a way to get unstuck and move forward.

My blog is primarily about my photography, so I reviewed some of my Flickr images, where I found a theme for this post. On a recent visit to Dundas Square in downtown Toronto, I created two images with single word titles – both of them starting with the letter “C”. In my search, I found a few more “C” images, and here they are.


Guardians at the Gates

While located 1000’s of kilometres apart, and hundreds of years different in age, the following two sculptures have much in common.

The village of Saint Jean Pied de Port is located at the base of the Pyrenees in south-western France. It is one of the departure points for walkers and pilgrims on the St. James Way of the Camino de Santiago, before they cross the border into Spain.

A sculpture of a shepherd, carrying a staff and caring for a lamb, is perched above the Porte d’Espagne in Saint Jean Pied de Port. The shepherd of Saint Jean Pied de Port is a symbol of caring and guidance, protecting all of the pilgrims who pass under the gate at the commencement of their journey.

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the shepherd of Saint Jean Pied de Port

Ryerson University is a post-secondary institution which has a large campus in the heart of downtown Toronto, Canada. Kerr Hall is one of the primary buildings on the campus, and it was constructed in the form of a square, enclosing an open green space in the centre (the Quad). There are two portals that open onto the streets at the north and south ends. Above the south entry gate, there is a statue of an ice hockey goalie.

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the goalie of Ryerson

The goalie of Ryerson can be viewed as the protector of all those who pass through the gate to enter the campus. I am sure that only in Canada would this metaphor of a goalie as a guardian be accepted and understood. A shepherd with his staff can be universally understood – at least within the Christian ethos – to be a guardian. But a goalie with his hockey stick is a truly Canadian phenomenon. Of course, for some Canadians, hockey is a religion, so it goes without saying that the symbolism of a goalie is well understood.

It would be interesting to see more examples of guardians like these from other parts of the world. If any readers have some images or suggestions, please respond.

Festive Windows

It’s not that easy to find festive window displays in downtown Toronto during this year’s Christmas season. One go-to is the Hudson’s Bay store on Queen Street West, which features a few windows sponsored by the American toy brand FAO Schwarz. This is the first appearance of FAO Schwarz in Canada, as it has opened up pop-up spaces in Hudson’s Bay stores across Canada. Their windows are elaborate displays, but both the displays and the pop-ups are not expected to stay for long.

The city skyline window is a conglomeration of Toronto facades – some more recognizable than others – plus some vintage streetcars circling on a track. Maybe some long-term residents of Toronto are able to identify all of the buildings.

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FAO Schwarz – city skyline

The second window is a classic display of large-scale toys – a great place for window watchers young and old.

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FAO Schwarz – toy display

A second type of festive display is located in the windows of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front Street. There are a number of panels, each one created by a local artist as his/her interpretation of the holiday season. This display is rooted in celebration, diversity and community, and reflects the multiculturalism of Toronto. Each piece is being auctioned by public bid, with the proceeds to be donated to Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank.

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‘Une Connection’ by Gabrielle Lasporte

northern lights
‘Northern Light’ by Patrick Hunter

good tidings
‘Good Tidings’ by Vivian Rosas

chinese lion
‘Chinese Lion, Burning Bright’ by Dylan Glynn


On Friday, April 6, a tragic traffic accident took the lives of 15 people on a highway in northern Saskatchewan. All of the victims were players, staff and assistants from the Humboldt Broncos Junior Hockey team, riding the team bus to a playoff hockey game in the Centennial Arena in Nipawin.

Playing ice hockey is a popular activity for children and young adults growing up in Canada. Many dreams have started on local ice rinks, and these young hockey players were pursuing their dreams and aspirations.

It is hard to comprehend such a loss of life in this magnitude, and at this young stage in life. It leaves one feeling empty inside.

This photo is in memory of all of those who lost their lives, those who were injured, and those who were otherwise impacted by this event.


How Has Our World Changed?

This week I attended a presentation at my grand daughter’s school in Canberra, Australia. Her Grade 1 class was asked to create a museum to display an old item from home and explain how it was used.

Technology was a major topic for display, and telephones were the most frequently displayed items. These included several analog phones, and even one early cellular phone. In Jacob’s family, “my daddy used this telephone to call people and some of his friends about 20 years ago.”


Abby displayed an old camera that belonged to her father. As she explains, it “took a picture you couldn’t see on the screen,” and you had to “wait ages” to get the prints back.


Marlie chose a VHS cassette player that her parents used about 30 years ago. “Today we use Netflix, Foxtel and DVD’s” to watch the same programs.


Going back further in time, Amelia displayed an RCA transistor radio that was purchased 60 years ago. Interestingly, she included some comments on the relative cost of technology in the 1950’s, noting that the price of the radio was equivalent to about 3 weeks of salary.


Other students chose items that reflected their cultural history. Ryan displayed a photo of Buddha who “used to be a real person, but now he is dead.”


This was an educational “window” into the minds of six year olds. They are already developing an appreciation of the past and anticipating what the future may bring.