Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It Worked!

I just got a call from the business licencing bureau. They are issuing our licence today.
Yesterday I decided to do a phone blitz. I called the Mayor's Office, my local Business Improvement Association, two different zoning offices, our real estate agent...and it paid off. Taking "no" for an answer was unacceptable to me and I couldn't get an answer other than, "it's the process." I have to say that dealing with the city has been a pleasure despite the hurdles, everyone was pleasant.

So we hope to be open late next week if we can get all the equipment and orders together. More updates to follow.

I am still in shock that I pulled this off. Again, this is a lesson in not giving up. Keep pushing forward!

(Emilio right now is practicing recipes)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Taking Chances

As many who actually might still be reading our journey on this blog know employment for new immigrants is a difficult thing to obtain. While I am lucky I still have my job with a terrific boss, Emilio has not been as fortunate. Some of my friends here have lost their jobs, and co-workers too. The recession is taking it's toll. Sending out hundreds of applications with no call backs and applying for even menial jobs with no results really affected sweet adorable Emilio.

One cold day in March I was walking home from work stressing over what to do and when I got to my favorite spot (Allan Gardens), it hit me. Instead of looking for job, let's create a job for Emilio. I quickened my pace and came in the door and excitedly threw off my backpack and coat and grabbed my man and kissed him as I usually do, this time with more gusto and explained my revelation to him. What's interesting is he came up with the same revelation too, but said he needed me to come up with it on my own and waited for me to. What's more interesting is we both had the same store concept in mind.

We immediately started planning. In one month we have basically put it all together and are just waiting for bureaucracy to let us open our gelato/ice cream and pastry shop.

The other lesson in this is keep pushing forward and take risks. I have found that opening a small business in Toronto is just as hard as immigrating to Canada. The layers of bullshit is amazing. So take charge Tom has written and called our Business Improvement Association, City Councilor and the Mayor to complain about this process. Hopefully not only to help us open up our dream, but help others not have to wait 6 to 8 weeks for no reason other than paper and pencil pushing.

Below highlights the ridiculous process in my e-mail to the Mayor.

Mayor Miller,

My partner and I are opening a new Gelato/Ice Cream & Pastry business on Parliament Street. Our efforts to open are being held up because of the bureaucracy of the city. In order to obtain a business licence you must sign a lease, we did in early April and on April 7th we applied for a business licence. We submitted all the necessary documents such as incorporation and police background checks. We were told it takes 6 to 8 weeks to obtain zoning permission in order to get the business licence. Our real estate agent and my partner have gone to the zoning office in City Hall to try and fast track our request. The people there are most helpful, we hope they can approve it soon. So far we are still in limbo with equipment and supply orders waiting. Parliament Street is hardly an area needing commercial zoning checked. Perhaps applications need to be fast tracked that are no brainers like ours.

There is something very wrong in the process of obtaining the licence with these harsh long delays. The city requires a signed lease to which we are paying, yet we cannot do any work preparing our business, setting it up, obtaining insurance, having equipment and supplies delivered, or even the hydro upgrade until the zoning approval is received. After zoning and the business licence we will still have to obtain the health department approval. The 6 to 8 weeks is costing us thousands of dollars and loss of income on our new venture and putting us way behind schedule. Something needs to be done to make the process faster and easier for people who want to start a small business in Toronto.

Thank you,
Tom Smeraldo & Emilio Ojeda

My lesson in all this is do whatever it takes to keep your relationship strong. Fighting to stay with Emilio in the US changed me forever for the better. I used to be very passive. That man longer exists.

Wish us luck and come by when we eventually get to open.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tory Immigration Policy

I have been very busy lately, but this post has been lingering in my mind for awhile now. I have seen people praising Tories for tackling the backlog in the immigration que. At face value that seems like a terrific idea. Let's get the system efficient and quicker. It takes a little work, but dig below the service and the ugly conservative monster will always rear it's head.

What the Tories are actually doing to lower the backlog is focus only on the 38 professions list they pulled out of their butts. In doing so they are swiftly denying thousands of applications without a comprehensive review. They are unfairly slashing and burning through applications rather than giving them serious consideration. The point being never trust Tory policies at face value.

Now let's say those 38 professions are truly the most urgently needed, then I wonder why Tories cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. Fast track the 38 most needed and add more immigration agents to do a fair review of all the other applications. Afterall Canada still needs immigrants, not just the Tory approved kind.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Vermont and Iowa Marriage for All

It's nice to see progress being made in my former nation. A day late and a dollar short in my opinion.

The scumbag of the day goes go Albert "Sonny" Audette.

"Opponents of the measure spoke of their respect for its advocates. One, Rep. Albert "Sonny" Audette, D-South Burlington, expressed sadness at having concluded he was required by his church to vote no.
"I am a devout Catholic," Audette said. "My religion at this point would not want me to vote for this. I wish that I could and I hope for the best and I congratulate the people who are trying to get this through."

Mr. Dirtbag, your religion is a choice and you represent all Vermonters in your district not just the beliefs of your Nazi pope. If you really meant you hoped for the best for gay families, then you would not use your ridiculous religion as a weapon against us.

Boycott Jamaica

Boycott Jamaica

This is something I support. The anti gay hysteria in Jamaica is ridiculous and the fact that billions of tourist dollars each year are spent there amazes me. As far as I am concerned it's equal to having a fun filled picnic at Auschwitz.

From Wayne Besen:

"This week, I joined San Francisco organizer Michael Petrelis and Box Turtle Bulletin editor Jim Burroway in launching an international boycott against Jamaica ( While the island appears laid back, gays are under attack.Forget business as usual. Instead, we should stop doing business with a country that is proud of its persecution against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.Our goal is to turn Jamaica into a pariah state, as long as GLBT people live in a state of terror. This means no more subsidizing the anti-gay slaughter by drinking Myers Rum and Red Stripe Beer. It requires skipping that Carnival Cruise to Jamaica -- so your money won't support murder.If Jamaica were anymore homophobic, it would change the name of its signature music, reggae, to "ray-straight." The national song would be, "Wasting the Gays Again in Murderitaville."Why boycott? Because Jamaica is on a downward spiral and suffers from collective cultural dementia on this issue. There is clearly a pathological panic and homo-hysteria that has infected this nation at its core. Consider that the Jamaica Cancer Society has raised concerns that the fear of being labeled gay is causing some Jamaican men to avoid prostate examinations, causing one of the highest prostate cancer rates in the world.The second reason to boycott is because traditional activism has failed. I first read about Jamaica's horrific violence against gay people in a 2004 New York Times editorial, "Hated to Death in Jamaica." In 2006, Time Magazine had an article about the island headlined, "The Most Homophobic Place On Earth."One would think that such chilling headlines would have spurred worldwide action against Jamaica. Instead, the climate has only deteriorated, with a 2008 New York Times article titled, "Attacks Show Easygoing Jamaica Is Dire Place for Gays."A scathing State Department report on Jamaica's treatment of homosexuals reads like a horror novel:
"The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) continued to report human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of homosexuals."Questioned by the BBC, Jamaica's Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that he would not allow gay people to serve in his Cabinet. In March 2009 he added, "We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organizations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalize the laws as it relates to buggery."A third reason for a boycott is because we can have an impact in Jamaica. The tropical island earned $2.1 billion from tourism in 2006, with 1,025,000 arrivals from the United States. Clearly, Jamaica is uniquely vulnerable to economic pressure and thus every effort should be made to push for change.A fourth reason to boycott is that a message needs to be sent throughout the world: "Gay people will no longer sit by passively while our people are brutalized and killed."If we do not stop the hate in the one place we can - Jamaica - it will continue to be open season against gays across the world. There must be consequences for state sanctioned gay bashing. Such countries will not change on their own -- so economic carrots and sticks must be applied.The current, failed strategy is "treadmill diplomacy", where we send off a few letters to embassies and hope things will magically improve. It may feel like we are advancing, but we are really, at best, running in place. This explains why the news headlines about Jamaica's treatment of gay people in 2004, look remarkably like the terrifying ones in 2009. The choice is ours, we can be meek in the face of madness - or we can take action.Finally, Jamaica is an island of self-righteous hypocrites. The Bible is used to rationalize brutality, and vigilante violence is justified with talk of virtues and values. But, the island is quite comfortable with ganja and gratuitous sex for heterosexuals. Jamaica's new motto should be, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" (Unless you're gay).If you are a bar owner, please take Jamaican products out of your establishment. Consider a "rum dump", where Myers' rum is poured down the sewer. If you care about gay people, tell everyone you know about the dismal human rights record of Jamaica. And, if a friend has booked a trip -- express your disapproval and send him or her accurate information.It is truly a crime if you spend another dime in this homophobic hellhole. If you have gay family members, neighbors, coworkers or friends, book a holiday where it is okay to be gay.As for Jamaica, don't play, don't pay, don't stay."