By The Canadian Press - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto police say no charges will be laid in the case of…
TORONTO – Toronto police say no charges will be laid in the case of a woman whose purse was taken after she jumped to her death at a subway station.
Police say they interviewed the suspect they had been seeking and it became clear she was dealing with mental health issues. She had been seen on security video.
The purse was taken Wednesday morning after it was left on the subway platform by a woman who jumped in front of a train at College station.
She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Police had asked for the public’s help in finding the woman who walked away with the purse.
Const. Victor Kwong says she was co-operative and police have used the contents of the purse to identify the deceased.
No names will be released.
By Emma Teitel - Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 5:15 AM - 0 Comments
Shortly after it was announced in March that Toronto surpassed Chicago in population size—making it the fourth-largest city in North America—a Chicago columnist named Neil Steinberg wrote a piece at my city’s expense. So lame and genteel are Torontonians, he argued, that they can’t even acknowledge success when it seldom comes their way. Steinberg’s dig was in reaction to a Canadian Business article that questioned the veracity of the city’s new-found status (were we really bigger?), but his jibes were levelled mostly at Torontonians themselves—suckers who “sit crouched in slush with their hands locked around their knees, gazing poutingly over the border to the south, paralyzed with envy, disdain and longing. They just wish we cared about them enough so they could have the chance to scorn us. But we don’t and never will.”
This week, Neil Steinberg is eating his words. If the American definition of civic pride is attention paid, Toronto is the proudest city on the continent. If we are, in fact, sitting in slush, gazing longingly at the Statue of Liberty, she is gazing right back. My city has finally achieved the attention it so desperately craves. And doing so was apparently very easy. We didn’t have to become the fourth-largest metropolis in North America, or promote our diverse makeup and lack of crime to make international headlines. All we had to do was elect Rob Ford mayor, and wait.
American gossip website Gawker broke the story last week and the Toronto Star immediately corroborated it: Rob Ford (allegedly) smokes crack. The unapologetically buffoonish right-wing mayor, whose saving grace was his work with at-risk youth, may actually be feeding the drug industry that puts said youth at risk. Gawker editor John Cook, and Toronto Star reporters Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan, claim to have seen the mayor smoking crack in an iPhone video recorded by Ford’s alleged dealers. When neither news organization could, or would, come up with the cash the dealers requested in exchange for the video, Gawker started its own “Crackstarter campaign” (as opposed to Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding website), which has raised over half its goal of $200,000. Rob Ford, damnable mystery that he is, has said nothing about the allegations beyond “ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, Toronto has morphed into a desperate reality-television-show character—the Snooki of the civic universe—the city that delights in all and any outsider attention. Sure, we were upset when Steinberg made fun of our monument to multiculturalism and our love of Tim Hortons in the Chicago Sun-Times, but Rob Ford has elevated us. We are now the butt of something bigger: We are being mocked on The Daily Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Can you imagine the smug, satisfied look on the face of every Toronto urbanite (myself included) who can go home and watch late night TV, knowing they might finally get to laugh at one of their own? Who cares, really, that to most people outside Canada, the word Toronto is at this moment synonymous with crack cocaine? We made the New York Times! And Vanity Fair! And New York Magazine! (For more information, log onto to any Canadian news site, where you can find the complete list of every American who ever thought about us, ever.)
“The collateral damage to the city’s once-vaunted reputation will sting for years to come,” Richard Florida wrote recently in the Globe and Mail. What glass-half-empty thinking. Toronto has, in many ways, never looked better. Civic engagement is at an all-time high. (I heard some teenage boys talking about Rob Ford yesterday on the bus—the first time I have ever heard anyone discuss municipal politics out of sheer pleasure.) Journalism, an industry we all know needs some good news, is thriving under Ford. The salaciousness of his mayoralty may have saved more jobs than his proposed casino would have created.
Alas, not everyone is so optimistic. Some Torontonians are embarrassed by the allegations against Ford, by the bullying in city council, the homophobia against gay pride and the fact that he is literally—let’s face it—a top hat away from being the Penguin from Batman. “We’re the biggest city in Canada,” they say. “We deserve better.”
But everyone thinks they deserve better—no one more so, I suspect, than Rob Ford himself. Given his unusual resilience, I wouldn’t put it past him to stay in power as long as humanly possible, even if the video surfaces and the allegations are impossible to deny. Crazily enough, no law would stand in his way. So, Torontonians—and all Canadians, really: You may as well milk this sideshow for all it’s worth. We don’t have real bike lanes, you can’t buy a bottle of wine at our corner stores, and our mayor is in a crack scandal. But hey, at least we made the New York Times. Congratulations, Toronto, you’re a world-class city.
By Paul Wells - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 2:28 PM - 0 Comments
Ten years ago this month I quit my job. There was a small element of principle about it, although there’s no point exaggerating that. I had gone to work for a newspaper owned by Conrad Black and edited by Ken Whyte. Then Black sold the paper and the new owners fired Whyte. The editor they put in Ken’s place seemed, to me, incapable of running a newspaper properly. So I left the newspaper. It’s how I wound up here. I was unemployed for all of two weeks; it wasn’t a martyrdom.
I’m wondering what’s going through the minds of the people who work for Rob Ford today. The Toronto mayor stands accused by two news organizations of appearing in a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine. He has denied the allegation, or rather, called it “ridiculous,” which I am not sure is the same. The story comes weeks after another asserting that he appeared intoxicated at a military ball. There are previous stories about reckless behaviour on the Toronto mayor’s part.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 10, 2013 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
The prepared text of the NDP leader’s speech to the Economic Club of Canada comes in at 3,397 words. Nineteen of those words are “together.” Here are all of the sentences containing the word.
And thank you to the Economic Club of Canada for this opportunity to talk about how, together, we can build a brighter future for this city and for of all our cities…
Then all of us, business and labour, local, provincial and federal governments, Torontonians from Scarborough to Etobicoke, will have to work together. Because when we work together, when we dream together and when we act together, there’s no stopping this city…
We’ll have to work hard and we’ll have to work together. But together, we can build a future for Toronto, a future for all Canadian cities that will create opportunity and prosperity not just for a few of us but for each and every one of us. A city as great and as complex as Toronto only works when it all works together. That means business, labour and government working together. It means every level of government working together…
The NDP will take action on day one, and together, we will get the job done…
And another area where it is key for all levels of government to work together—especially through the CMHC…
By working together, this extraordinary city can continue to thrive … Together, we can take this city to new heights. Together, we can build a brighter, greener future. And, together, we can put cities and communities like Toronto back at the heart of our national agenda. There’s no clearer case of either the necessity or the opportunity for us to work together than the Toronto Portlands.
To work together and build together.
There were seven uses of “together” in Mr. Mulcair’s speech to the NDP convention last month. Make of this what you will.
By Patricia Treble - Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
He’s been the colonel-in-chief of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment since 1953, so when the RCRs wanted to replace its Colours from 1973, the duke of Edinburgh hopped on a plane for Toronto. On Saturday morning he oversaw the presentation of the new Colours–a ceremonial flag embroidered with the battalion’s battle honours that soldiers used to follow in combat–in front of Queen’s Park, the provincial legislature in Toronto. The Royal Canadian Regiment is the country’s senior infantry regiment. Formed in 1883, it’s been involved in every large conflict since then. The 3rd Battalion is based in Petawawa, Ont.
And given it’s a royal event, the temperamental spring weather was as well behaved as the crowds, with only a nip in the air to remind everyone they were outside, in April, in Canada. Until the sun started generating a bit of heat the only people who looked properly dressed were soldiers who took part in a “military capability” demonstration for the prince and Lieutenant-Governor David Onley. The snipers, who looked a bit like Star Wars Wookies in their camoflague outfits, appeared downright cozy. Yet though they were in full combat gear, surrounded by officers in formal red wool uniforms, the fashion contest was won by Philip, who wore a perfectly tailored blue suit, his medals and a spiffy straw fedora.
By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:17 PM - 0 Comments
When the news first broke that Porter Airlines was about to announce a conditional purchase of 30 of Bombardier’s new C-Series jets, which could be used to service destinations across North America and effectively make Porter Canada’s third national airline, many assumed CEO Robert Deluce intended to fly them out of airports in Montreal or Ottawa—or possibly Toronto’s Pearson. That’s because Porter’s main hub at Toronto’s island airport currently prohibits commercial jet aircraft under a decades-old agreement signed by the City of Toronto, Ottawa and the Toronto Port Authority, which oversees the airport. Plus, the runways at the island are currently too short to comfortably handle the C-Series, designed to compete with the smallest jets made by Boeing and Airbus.
But that’s not the way Deluce does business. He’ s an extremely cagey operator—not unlike the airline’s raccoon mascot—and he knows that going up against Air Canada and WestJet on an equal footing is a recipe for bankruptcy. On the other hand, flying longer-haul routes out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport—to Vancouver, Calgary and Los Angeles, among other places—gives Porter a huge competitive advantage since the island is within spitting distance of Toronto’s downtown (whereas Pearson is about 40 minutes away in Mississauga) and Air Canada’s presence there is strictly limited (Porter controls most of the take-off and landing slots thanks to a sweetheart deal with the port authority), while WestJet doesn’t operate there at all. And, right on cue, Deluce today revealed that he will indeed attempt to have the ban on jets on the island repealed and the runways lengthened.
Opening up the tripartite agreement to accommodate Porter’s expansion promises to spark a vicious political battle. Toronto’s former Mayor David Miller successfully ran for office in 2003 on a campaign that opposed the further development of the airport, arguing that it would negatively impact efforts to redevelop Toronto’s then largely industrial waterfront. Other opponents argued that Deluce wouldn’t be satisfied with a small, regionally-focused operation at the island, and would eventually push for a bigger, more disruptive operation—a fear that turned out to be spot-on. Not surprisingly, then, several city councillors have already spoken out against Deluce’s latest plans.
But here, too, Deluce is making an astute calculation. Unlike Miller, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has made it clear he’s a Porter fan, as have the federal Conservatives. And the port authority has been on Porter’s side since Day 1. Nor does it hurt that Porter is buying from Bombardier, a Canadian company that’s received its fair share of government support in the past. Most importantly, there’s little evidence to suggest Porter’s presence at the island since 2006 has made Toronto’s waterfront a less desirable place. It certainly hasn’t stopped thousands of people from snapping up pricey units in the huge condo towers that have been built within earshot of the airport’s runways. And if those people aren’t worried about planes zipping by their floor-to-ceiling windows, Deluce no doubt reasons, why should anyone else be?
Though speculation about Porter’s future has swirled ever since it shelved its IPO plans in 2011, Deluce’s latest gambit suggests he has a few tricks up his sleeve yet.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Porter Airlines announced plans Wednesday to seek permission to fly Bombardier’s CS100…
TORONTO – Porter Airlines announced plans Wednesday to seek permission to fly Bombardier’s CS100 jets out of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on the city’s waterfront to destinations across North America.
Jets are currently not allowed to fly out of the waterfront airport except under special circumstances under a tripartite agreement between the City of Toronto, federal government and Toronto Port Authority.
However, the airline said it will seek to have the rules changed so that it can fly the jets from the small airport to new destinations such as Vancouver, Los Angeles and Florida that its current fleet of turboprops can’t reach.
Porter said it will also seek permission to extend the main runway at the airport by 168 metres at each end.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 7:44 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – One man is dead and another is in serious but stable condition…
TORONTO – One man is dead and another is in serious but stable condition after a shooting in the parking lot of Toronto’s Yorkdale shopping mall.
Toronto police Det. Rob North told a midnight news conference that shots rang out around 8 p.m. Saturday and that police were looking for five or six suspects.
Police had earlier said that a man and a woman had been shot but corrected that, confirming that both shooting victims were male.
North said the incident began with an altercation between two groups of people.
“The initial confrontation began inside the mall, there were no shots fired inside the mall. The two groups of individuals left the mall and shots were fired outside of the mall,” he said.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 1:47 PM - 0 Comments
‘It’s an outright lie,’ Toronto mayor says
TORONTO – Toronto’s embattled mayor is denying allegations that he showed up drunk for an official function last month, dismissing the latest controversy to plague his mayoralty as “lies after lies and lies.”
An agitated Rob Ford addressed the allegations briefly at a news conference Tuesday honouring boxing champion George Chuvalo, blasting the Toronto newspaper that published them for what he called its “relentless” attacks against him.
“It’s an outright lie,” he said.
“It’s the Toronto Star going after me again and again and again.”
The Star reported Ford was asked to leave a charity gala last month over concerns he was intoxicated.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, March 22, 2013 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto police say a man killed in a fatal shooting appeared to…
TORONTO – Toronto police say a man killed in a fatal shooting appeared to use a female bystander as a human shield after gunshots rang out at a downtown seniors’ residence Thursday night.
Det. Sgt. Terry Browne says “disturbing” security video from the scene shows a female resident who was entering the building at the time becoming trapped in the front vestibule with both the shooter and the victim.
Browne says it looks like the shooting victim was trying to use the woman as a shield during the shooting, during which gunshots shattered a lobby window.
The man who was shot has been identified as Nisan Nirmalendran, 21, of Toronto, whom police say they have had contact with in the past, but did not elaborate.
By Ivor Tossell - Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 3:23 PM - 0 Comments
Sorting through the latest imbroglio involving Toronto’s mayor
We do not know for sure whether the Mayor of Toronto grabbed one of his female opponents’ behinds at a gala function this week, nor whether he suggested that she should have been with him in Florida on account of his wife being gone. Nor do we know if the mayor is being truthful in his categorical refusals.
When allegations like these erupt, knowing things with any certainty is at a premium. The alleged placement of Rob Ford’s fingers on Sarah Thomson’s body are now the kind of thing that radio hosts are parsing through in detail, as if waiting for a Zapruder tape to emerge. It doesn’t seem that one will.
So let’s talk about what we do know.
Here is one thing I know: This kind of thing happens to women in politics. It’s not news; it’s not scandal; it’s more like background radiation, which many of the women in politics I know deal with as a deadening cost of doing business in that environment.
“When I heard what Ford said about the vacation, my very first thought was, ‘I have heard almost that exact kind of statement more times than I can remember,’” a political staffer on Parliament Hill wrote to me today.
“Ass-grabbing, suggestive glances, sexual innuendo, comments about clothing – it’s all treated pretty nonchalantly, both inside the workplace, and also at hybrid social-professional events,” she said. She described an MP who messages her in meetings they attend together, commenting on her appearance and asking to see her outside of work, to her immense discomfort.
Others tell of hands slipped into hands, hands on hips, hands on thighs, fingers in bellies, enquiries about underwear, enquiries about sex lives; and always, a decision between pushing back or letting it slide. The problem isn’t just the garden-variety lechers: It’s the assuredly “nice guys” who keep their hands to themselves but introduce themselves by asking about boyfriends, or insert themselves into women’s personal lives with solicitousness, pestering and favours.
Is harassment worse in politics than in other fields? Maybe not (another former staffer told me she’d had a worse time in finance, for instance). Does it incriminate Rob Ford by association? Not at all. But it’s the world that both he and Sarah Thomson inhabit.
Here’s the second thing we know: How Thomson’s complaint was received. Inevitably, the complainant became the target.
Let’s first say that if Ford has lied to cover his failings too many times to be given any credit, Thomson isn’t beyond skepticism either. She’s presented her share of contradictions. She lamented the media circus while appearing on nearly every radio and television outlet in town. As she herself tells it, she followed up on Ford’s alleged lewdness by acceding to a mind-boggling plan in which her assistant would pose with Ford to see if any groping could be photographed. (I find this so weird and ill-advised as to actually be credible.) She decided to try this case in the court of public opinion, and public opinion has every right to feel conflicted about this.
But this weirdness wasn’t the nub of the attacks on her. To listen to her critics, her sin was going public in the first place. On talk radio, the hosts of the John Oakley and Jim Richards shows were busy wondering why Thomson didn’t go to police and press charges if Ford laid a finger on her, as if they wouldn’t be screaming “overreaction” if she had done just that. Their callers, as always, were grimly edifying.
“How convenient is this? Sarah Thomson is leveraging the social media and mainstream media to draw attention to her women’s publication on International Women’s Day,” said Mark.
“Big girls keep their mouth shut,” said John, another caller.
“Her colloquialism she used towards her own anatomy was pretty lowbrow for a person who’s considered to be some sort of professional in this town,” said Mike, who disapproved of the word “ass.” Later: “I just wonder about some of the people that try to assume office in this city.”
“Listen, what a joke,” said Bernie. “C’mon, we’ve had a couple pops here and there and if he was feeling good and having a good time – which he should because, y’know what? He’s got a lot of responsibility taking care of the city – and he wants to undo his tie, and if he kinda got a little tipsy or whatever you may wanna call it, no problem.”
If a woman takes an assault seriously, said Christie Blatchford, she should call the police. “If you don’t take it seriously, and you’re not mortally wounded, then you shut up and you deal with it privately,” she spat at Jim Richards. “What happened to that?”
“Just to confirm,” said John Tory, when Thomson finally come round to his show, “that you’d be willing to go to any place that’s agreeable to the mayor… and take a lie detector test?”
To recap, then: Sarah Thomson should have let it go because the mayor is entitled to relax, should have reacted immediately, should not have been ambitious, should have dealt with it privately, should have pitched a fit, should have said nothing, should have called police, and above all should not have said “ass.” Clear?
So I will tell you what I know with confidence. Women in politics have to deal with an appalling amount of garbage. Regardless of what Rob Ford did or didn’t do, it’s safe to say that at this moment, another mayor, or senator, or MP, or senior staffer, or riding association president, or student leader, or blithely bellicose volunteer is busy making a young woman squirm. And if that woman does not deal with said garbage in the exact right way—a way so bizarrely proscribed I’m not sure it even exists—then her honesty, motives, ambitions, maturity and gender itself will get called into question.
I am willing to take Sarah Thomson at her word. But Rob Ford, as ever, is not the real problem.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 9:02 AM - 0 Comments
July 18. “N-O.”
September 27. “I have been hearing a lot from a lot of people that are encouraging me to run. Every weekend when I’m in Toronto, I get people coming up to me on the street and trying to encourage me, but I’m not considering a run at this moment. I’m not considering a run now. Will I consider it? We’ll see what happens down the road. We do need better leadership at city hall.”
November 27. “Mr. Ford’s matter is in front of the courts again and I’ll consider what role I might play when the court make its decision and City Council’s deliberation.”
March 6. “I am considering it.”
By Emily Senger - Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 8:38 AM - 0 Comments
Trinity-Spadina MP could challenge Rob Ford
Toronto MP Olivia Chow has, once again, opened the door to the possibility of challenging Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in the city’s next civic election.
The MP, who represents the downtown riding of Trinity-Spadina, made the comments on CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight during an appearance Wednesday with actor Sook-Yin Lee to promote the CBC film Jack, about Chow’s late husband Jack Layton.
The exchange went like this:
Stroumboulopoulos: “Do you foresee a time when you’ll be doing the sequel? And it’s called ‘Olivia: Mayor of Toronto.’ Could you ever see that?” Continue…
By Emily Senger - Friday, March 1, 2013 at 4:41 PM - 0 Comments
36 wiener dogs on a diplomatic mission
France is sleeping with Ukraine. Or, more accurately, France is sleeping on Ukraine. It’s a strangely peaceful alliance, particularly given that the United States is barking orders behind them and, down in the front row, two OPEC countries are taking negotiations a step further as Nigeria mounts Saudi Arabia.
It’s just another day at the Dachshund UN, a performance art installation created by Australian Bennett Miller that uses 36 wiener dogs and their volunteer owners to create a replica of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The work made its Canadian debut in Toronto on Feb. 28, where a crowd of approximately 300 curious spectators gathered in the downtown Harbourfront Centre to marvel at the melee.of Photos
Miller created Dachshund UN as a project for the Melbourne 2010 Next Wave festival, which had the theme of “No risk too great.” The project was a hit with audiences and, since then, Dachshund UN has far exceeded Miller’s expectations, with performances across Australia and internationally and plenty of social media buzz, after each show is over. Miller has an explanation for the success: “It’s the dogs, really, isn’t it?” he says, laughing. “The dogs are very entertaining.”
It’s nearly impossible not to love the dogs. Before the performance, a bearded Vice journalist who has sneaked behind stage to snap some photos of the pooches coos: “Oh, they’re so cute!” as Argentina and Mexico enjoy some pre-show snacks. When the curtain rises, the crowd laughs and applauds. Calls of “Ella, over here Ella!” and “Walter! Walter!” punctuate the buzz of conversation as owners in the audience attempt to get their dogs to perform, or at least look towards the crowd. After 50 minutes, the curtain drops and the audience groans, something that never happens at the conclusion of a real United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
Speaking after the show, Miller says he always hopes an audience will look for a deeper meaning, in addition to enjoying the spectacle. “It’s an attempt to describe both the positive and the negative aspects of the UN,” he says. Miller chose the dachshund for its restricted anatomy, for having “a big heart and short legs,” as he puts it. Dachshunds also have racial diversity. They come in red, black, brown and tan and can have short, medium or long hair. “It reminds people, I think, that we intend to really enjoy difference in animals, but we don’t always enjoy it, or appreciate it across cultures and between each other,” says Miller, who owns a red dachshund named Routh. (Miller’s mom takes care of Routh when her son is on the road.)
While using dogs makes each installation unpredictable, the Toronto installation had one brand-new element; it was the first time in a theatre. The installation was originally designed for an outdoor festival, where spectators come and go as they please and Miller stands in the crowd to observe. At the Toronto shows, Miller stands in the wings and people are forced to sit for 50 minutes. It gives a different feel to the show. “It gave the audience a chance to really study the object and really study the dogs and have it slow down a bit and have them think about it,” Miller says.
With the installation in a seated theatre, it did seem that there should be a bit more, well, theatre. There was no narrative arc, no plot twists or character development, as the UN human rights commission delegates yipped at each other with no ultimate conclusion. On second thought, maybe the change of venue makes the UN recreation even more realistic.
Dachshund UN in part of the Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage and it runs until March 3. Tickets are free, but can be reserved in advance. Miller is also bringing his installation to Montreal for the FTA festival on May 24, 25 and 26. That performance will be outdoors.
By Linda Shearman, The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – An American man has been charged with several offences in connection with…
TORONTO – An American man has been charged with several offences in connection with incidents at the G20 Summit in June 2010, Toronto police said Wednesday.
Quinn McCormic, 25, of Boston, Mass., was arrested on Friday and appeared in a Toronto court Monday to face four charges.
McCormic, an architect, consented to his extradition and was arrested when he arrived at Pearson International Airport, police said.
It’s alleged that McCormic threw an object at the window of a Winners store (at College Street and Yonge Street) and that he also threw an object through a window at a CIBC bank (at College Street and Bay Street.)
They also allege that he threw an object through a window of the Toronto Police Museum (at 40 College Street) and estimate the total damage at more than $125,000.
McCormic is charged with three counts of mischief over $5,000 and disguise with intent.
Dozens of protesters — many wearing disguises — went on a window-smashing rampage through downtown Toronto during the international summit in June 2010. Damage included police vehicles that were vandalized and set on fire during the mayhem.
More than 1,100 people were taken into custody that weekend in one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history, although most were released without charges.
However, more than 40 people have been successfully prosecuted for their parts in the rampage.
Police say suspects in the violence included five Americans who returned across the border after the summit and that with McCormic’s arrest, four have now been apprehended.
Dane Rossman, of Tucson, Ariz., and Richard Morano of Pennsylvania, are in custody pending extradition and Joel Bitar, of New York City, was arrested earlier this month.
Police allege Bitar is the masked man who was seen hitting windows in the financial district with a pick axe, and accuse him of causing about $400,000 in damage.
He faces 26 charges including mischief over $5,000 and assaulting a police officer.
Police say they are seeking a fifth person, Kevin Chianella of Pennsylvania, in connection with 50 Criminal Code offences for damage estimated to be in excess of $300,000.
“I believe these Americans came to Canada specifically for this criminal purpose,” said Det. Sgt. Gary Giroux, who leads the G20 Investigative Team responsible for identifying and prosecuting those who committed crimes at the summit.
Giroux praised United States Marshals and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance.
“The process of preparing the necessary documents can be very time-consuming. They go from the Crown Office here, to the Department of Justice in Ottawa and, then, the American authorities for final approval. But we’re persistent and we will hold people accountable,” he said.
By Ivor Tossell - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:01 PM - 0 Comments
The natural buoyancy of a beleaguered mayor
Yesterday, Rob Ford’s lawyers succeeded in extracting him from the last snafu that threatened to remove him from office. This time, his campaign finances were under scrutiny. It seems Ford’s 2010 mayoral campaign took some liberties with their accounting. For instance, an auditor testified that the campaign took a $77,722.73 loan from Doug Ford Holdings, Ford’s family company, while the law says candidates can only get loans from the bank. It had the family printing firm do up signs and buttons before the campaign started and took its sweet time paying them for it. It counted campaign events as fundraisers, which, you’ll be fascinated to learn, are very different things under Ontario election law.
In other news, a Forum poll of 806 Torontonians showed that the mayor is more popular than he’s been in months, with a 48% approval rating. I’m here to tell you that the age of miracles is not yet ended: Rob Ford’s gift of political anti-gravity has not left him yet.
Yesterday’s session was a tribute to low expectations. Ford and his team faced a three-person committee of venerable lawyers and election officials whose job was, in essence, to decide whether to press charges against him. Had the panel voted against Ford, the case would have been prosecuted before a judge.
For all the apparent contraventions, the auditor reported that Ford’s campaign finances were, on the whole, professionally run and well-documented. On the other hand, Ford’s lawyer, Tom Barlow, offered a lengthy defence that went something like this:
a) Not knowing the difference between personal funds and company funds was a definite oops, but Ford has learned his lesson;
b) The infractions didn’t make a difference in a handily-won vote;
c) It was a big $2-million campaign and mistakes happen. Whaddaya gonna do? [elaborate shrug]
Finally, Barlow looked meaningfully at the judges and summed it all up: “The perfect should not be permitted to be the enemy of the good,” he said. Then: “Nor should the Act be permitted to become an electoral weapon for those who wish to have a second chance.” For all the accounting, it was the classic Ford story: Rob Ford is a hard-working guy who makes a lot of honest mistakes and is victimized by his enemies.
The first member moved to prosecute Ford, but the other two refused. Ford, who had been sitting almost stone-still for hours, got up, shook his lawyers’ hands and hastened for the exit with his brother, pursued by a dozen reporters.
So how is Rob Ford doing in the face of all this? Just fine, by the looks of things. His enemies continue to do their part for him. This financial audit, of course, comes thanks to some of the same antagonists who brought you “Let’s Kick Rob Ford Out for Conflict of Interest.” Depending on who you ask, they’re either citizens bent on doing the hard democratic work of holding politicians to account, or partisans who will stop at nothing to bring down their enemies. (I rather sense they’re both at once.)
And here, Ford’s popularity is rising again, despite everything, or perhaps because of it. A series of legal proceedings, each one harder to explain in a soundbite than the last, has supplied him with all the persecution he needs. In Montreal, they stuff safes so full of cash they can’t be closed. In Toronto, the mayor gets investigated for renting an $840 bus just before filing his nomination papers. Public sentiment mysteriously fails to ignite.
You can take two views about the nature of Rob Ford. One is that he is doomed by his own vices. The other is this: Contrary to all laws of nature, Rob Ford floats.
When negatives refuse to stick to a politician, we typically start talking about Teflon. With Ford, I prefer to think the man has a natural buoyancy. When he is not actively weighing himself down with self-destruction, his support will rise.
The catch with Ford, of course is that the more he tries to govern, the more he self-destructs. So to achieve maximum buoyancy, all he has to do is nothing: Cut ribbons, fulminate on talk radio, lose stunt votes against community spending. The good news for him is that the vaguaries of the mayor’s job description make this entirely workable in practice, and reasonably saleable at the polls.
And if Rob Ford floats, it’s because he lives in an environment where the standards are low. And perhaps this is his greatest political talent: To lower the expectations in whatever contest he enters. Just as he’s redefining the mayor’s job downwards, he’s now managed to pull campaign finance under his spell. Are future campaigns now being told that it’s passable to blunder as the Fords did? Or that it’s okay, only as long as one can act as generally helpless in the face of details as Ford does?
“The perfect should not be permitted to be the enemy of the good,” said Ford’s lawyer. As if we’ve been at risk of approaching either.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 10:41 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A pair of Toronto police officers are being credited for helping save…
TORONTO – A pair of Toronto police officers are being credited for helping save a newborn who had been declared dead.
It happened after the mother went into labour while walking to a hospital on Sunday morning and gave birth on the sidewalk in freezing cold weather.
Paramedics rushed the mother and baby girl to hospital, where the child was declared dead.
Police, who were standing over the baby until the coroner arrived, noticed the sheet covering it’s body move.
They found a pulse and alerted doctors.
The baby is in hospital in stable condition.
By Ivor Tossell - Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:49 PM - 0 Comments
Start by asking how taxpayers are going to pay for it
How do you get 2.7 million people’s heads around the idea of paying for transit? Here’s a start: Nobody say “subways.”
Both the City of Toronto and its provincial overlords are on a mission for 2013: Sell the public on the idea that if they want less gridlock—which is to say, more public transit—then they’re going to have to pay for it with taxes, tolls or levies.
But what the city’s not doing this time around is even more telling. Historically, transit expansion starts with politicians drawing hopeful lines on a map and then trying to find ways to pay for those lines. This has led to decades of transit fiascos as plans got drawn, redrawn, hacked to bits and then finally half-built.
So now, the city is taking a smarter tack: It’s starting with asking how taxpayers are going to pay for transit, while deferring talk about what exactly that money would pay for. It’s counterintuitive—all stick, no carrot—but it makes a great deal of sense.
“What we’re trying to do right now is focus on principles, which is a good place to start,” Jen Keesmaat, Toronto’s new chief-planner told me, as she rolled out “Feeling Congested,” the city’s new consultation. Those principles involve some general talk about priorities, but the nut of the issue is choosing (lucky us) how we’d like to be taxed.
So, despite the protestations of Toronto’s increasingly sidelined mayor, both city and province are making a full-court press to get this through to the general public, in a blitz of live consultations, op-eds and media hits. The city has also put up a website with an online budgeting exercise that’s worth taking a poke at. It assays 14 “revenue tools,” ranging from a sales tax to development charges to parking levies. Among other things, the site hammers at the idea that no single revenue option will be enough; we’ll probably need a combination. And not all revenue tools are created equal: development tools, for instance, yield nowhere near the returns of parking levies.
(Pointedly, some would-be revenue tools the mayor’s office likes to talk up just didn’t make the list. These include vaguely defined “public-private partnerships,” which, for money-losing projects like transit expansion, are more often a method of administering public funds, than of generating them.)
It’s quite a conversation to be having with an electorate that, less than three years ago, voted in Rob Ford on the explicit premise that he’d cut taxes like the Land Transfer Tax and the now-defunct Vehicle Registration Tax. The difference now is the promise of dedicated funding.
“Before, with the LTT, the VRT, it was just another bloody tax,” says Keesmaat. “What we’re doing right now is saying, hold on a minute, what if that tax got you all these transit lines? Then are you willing to pay it? Does that seem worth it to you? That’s very different than kissing your money goodbye and not knowing where it goes.”
But before they start naming all these projects, the city’s bureaucrats want to talk money. It’s a refreshing reversal of the way transit planning has been run for decades, putting politics first and planning second. For the moment, it keeps the unfortunate “subway vs. streetcar” debate at bay. It shouldn’t be complicated: Toronto needs both, but built in the right places for each. Yet there’s no surer way to turn transit planning into a political football, then to start talking about which citizens “deserve” a subway. (“It’s an absurdity to be debating, at a city-wide level, subways versus LRTs,” said Keesmaat.)
The money-first approach is even more meaningful in the long-term. Since the municipality is so limited in the ways it can legally raise money, trying to fund big projects has long meant begging senior levels of government to cough up huge sums.
It hasn’t worked terribly well. In practice, it’s meant waiting for transit-building ambitions to line up with political fortunes. It means waiting for three governments at three levels who are willing to work together, which is like waiting for three gold bars at a slot machine. It also means waiting for the right people to take the right important roles: When the MPP for Vaughan became Ontario’s Minister of Finance, a $2.5-billion subway extension to a scrubby local field managed to become reality.
And then there’s timing. Politicians like legacy projects, but transit schemes take so long to implement that they become ideal targets for cuts when their successors take over. Even if governments survive, their willingness to spend might not. Governments start looking at megaprojects when they want stimulus spending, then lose interest when the economy recovers and the government is left in the red. The result is that we make half-hearted stabs at building transit when the economy tanks, but never keep pace when development’s booming. Toronto’s transit map is dotted with projects that were conceived for bad reasons and cancelled for worse ones.
After all this, the technocracy is fighting back. Shifting transit funding from top-down to bottom-up—cutting a deal straight with the taxpayer—helps depoliticize the process, setting up revenue streams that could survive from one government to the next. Even Ontario opposition leader Tim Hudak, speaking at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, wouldn’t rule out revenue tools, even as he launched once again into how Scarberians deserve subways in order to be “full citizens.”
The irony, of course, is that Rob Ford himself, who wouldn’t talk money, was the one who led us to talk about nothing but. His campaign for subways, subways, subways helped stoke the public appetite for transit expansion, even as he insisted that taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay extra for it. Ford’s rude encounter with reality helped foster a rare consensus that more transit is needed, but that there’s one way to get it built, and it’s not wishful thinking.
“We’re kind of calling that out,” said Keesmaat. “We’re being very clear: There’s no pot of gold. If we want to invest in public transit, we have to find the revenue tools to pay for it. It’s that simple.”
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 2:46 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A Toronto police officer shot in vain at a snowplow that was…
TORONTO – A Toronto police officer shot in vain at a snowplow that was quickly barrelling down on him in the seconds before it mowed him down and left him dying in the snow, court heard Wednesday.
Several people who witnessed the death of Sgt. Ryan Russell, 35, testified at the trial of Richard Kachkar, 46, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and dangerous driving in Russell’s death.
The witnesses described coming upon what they at first thought was a police officer either trying to pull over a snowplow or helping it manoeuvre snowy side streets early in the morning on Jan. 12, 2011.
“It’s only when I hear three gun shots that it first dawns on me that there’s something amiss,” Maurice Lopes testified.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:54 AM - 0 Comments
Why is it Bob Marley Day in Toronto?
Mayor Rob Ford’s proclamation goes a…
Why is it Bob Marley Day in Toronto?
Mayor Rob Ford’s proclamation goes a long way to explain why the city honours Marley’s legacy:
As a world ambassador of reggae music, Bob Marley was seen as the first international superstar to emerge from the developing world. The commanding and unique sound of his music captivated people of all cultures, broke music barriers and helped to introduce reggae music to the world.
To this day, his music continues to be loved by many and is instantly recognized around the world.
Inspired by his many travels, Bob Marley became a champion for human rights and an international ambassador for peace through his music. Music was his vessel to speak out against oppression, poverty, slavery and apartheid and earned him a Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations and the Order of Merit from his native country of Jamaica.
After being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Bob Marley’s influence on the musical and cultural scene was solidified. The impact his humanitarian efforts had throughout the world highlighted the direct relationship between music and advocating for the greater good of mankind.
Now you know.
By Ivor Tossell - Friday, January 25, 2013 at 5:47 PM - 0 Comments
Ivor Tossell on the Toronto mayor’s prospects
We all returned today to the member’s lounge beneath the sweeping dome of city council, where two months earlier, the mayor of Toronto stood, blotchy-faced, broken-voiced, and apologizing. On that day, he had been ordered from office for breaching conflict-of-interest laws – pending an appeal. Rob Ford was in a better mood this morning. At 10:30 a.m., the courts announced he’d won the case on appeal, and that his mayoralty would survive.
Today Rob Ford braced himself behind the same podium and looked, for a moment, like he was about to turn a page. He said he was humbled. He said he’d found support “at every gas station, at every restaurant,” his preferred method of taking the city’s pulse on any given file. Then he explained that he was running the city better than any administration ever has, that “95 per cent of the people out there supported me,” and that he’s going to be mayor for the next six years. It was like listening to a greatest-hits album.
So the fresh start will have to wait. To the undisguised delight of journalists everywhere, we get more Rob Ford. However, despite the fact that he’s still in charge, there’s not much of his mayoralty left but one long campaign.
Today’s appeal win wasn’t exactly a vindication: A three-judge Divisional Court panel let Ford off the hook on a jurisdictional issue, not on any question of whether he was right or wrong. In essence, the court ruled that Toronto’s council didn’t have the authority to ask Ford pay restitution for dubiously-solicited football charity donations, so everything that followed, including Ford speaking and voting not to have to pay, was a nullity.
“Nullity”–just one of the fun new words we’ve learned in this saga–also describes the mayor’s remaining political clout. He’s spent the last two months in a state of limbo, on the heels of a term that was calamitous enough to begin with. Just last week, after a year of deliberations, Ford impulsively voted against his own penny-pinching budget; a loose cannon on council proposed a spur-of-the-moment tax freeze and, like a retriever after a squirrel, Ford couldn’t resist. His budget chief quit in frustration. It would have been a good-news week for him otherwise.
Nor does he have smooth sailing ahead. Clayton Ruby says he’s going to seek leave to appeal this case to the Supreme Court, which seems like a long shot. And, as you’ve no doubt read, some of the same foes who launched the conflict-of-interest case have triggered an audit of Ford election finances, which is due out next week. This, too, could see him removed from office.
It is almost certainly better for the city that Rob Ford didn’t get turfed. The next two years would have been constant calamity–even more so than whatever Ford himself has in store for us next. All the same, regular mayoral races in Toronto last almost a year; the start of the 2014 election season is just 11 months away. Anticipating his possible removal, candidates across the city were assembling teams, hatching plans and bagging bagmen. The prospect of Ford’s ejection revved up the election machine a year early.
The mayor himself is going to have to start campaigning immediately just to assert his own relevance. Ford’s successful appeal is unlikely to give him much of a boost. In Rob Ford’s world of diminished expectations, victory is not self-destructing in one way or the other. But not getting fired is not the same as a renewed mandate.
For a populist, the ideal scenario is to get thrown out by the courts and then reinstated by the people. Ford’s hand actually would have been strengthened had he lost today, so long as he was either reinstated by council, or, more plausibly, returned in a by-election. As it stands, he’s been publicly humiliated, but denied the martyrdom that could have reignited his support.
His ability to lead derives from his public support and his ability to do the hard work of politics. That was never Ford’s strong suit; it can’t be transacted at the gas stations and restaurants of the city, conducted solely with people who come up to him on the street, or want him to pay a housecall.
Which leaves him with the only lever he ever had: Being the voice of Ford Nation, the man chosen by 383,501 as their guy at City Hall. His people, as always, will be with him, the core of support that he can’t be alienated from, and probably can’t grow past. He can rightfully claim to be hounded by foes who’ll stop at nothing to throw him out of office, a fact that hasn’t done any favours for the political climate in the city. But without an election to rally around, there’s not much outlet for that support.
The mayor himself isn’t much interested in changing. When reporters asked what he’d learned from this experience, he said he’d learned how popular he really is. “Even a lot of them said, I didn’t support you last time, but you’ve proved me wrong,” he said.
Rob Ford isn’t changing. The mayor may have kept his job, but there’s nowhere left for him to go but to the people. His opponents are already in motion. The 2014 mayoralty campaign has already begun.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, January 25, 2013 at 1:28 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto’s combative mayor says the legal fight to keep his job has…
TORONTO – Toronto’s combative mayor says the legal fight to keep his job has been a “humbling experience.”
A Divisional Court ruling today overturned a lower court decision that ousted Rob Ford from office for violating conflict of interest laws.
Ford says he has “enormous respect for the judicial system” and he is thankful for the decision.
An earlier court decision ordered Ford turfed from office for taking part in a council vote that he repay $3,150 raised for his private football foundation.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, January 25, 2013 at 5:23 AM - 0 Comments
Court ruling will decide Ford’s future as mayor
TORONTO – It’s a make-or-break day for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
A three-judge Divisional Court panel is set to release its decision this morning on Ford’s challenge of a lower court ruling that ordered him removed from office for a conflict of interest.
Ford’s lawyer had argued the mayor shouldn’t be found guilty because he was an honest politician who made a genuine error in judgment.
His opponents told court that Ford had deliberately flouted conflict-of-interest rules by taking part in a council vote that he repay $3,150 raised for his private football foundation.
If the ruling stands, the city would be tossed into unchartered territory, leaving it up to council to appoint an acting mayor for the balance of Ford’s term or call a byelection at an estimated cost of $7 million.
By Ivor Tossell - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 2:22 PM - 0 Comments
Why the city shouldn’t dump its hopes down a black hole
Try as it might to rid itself of the habit, Toronto the Good hangs in there.
Presently, the city is up to its clerical collar in a debate over whether or not to admit a provincial casino on its valuable central lands. This might seem like a no-brainer to outsiders. Downtown casinos have sprung up in cities across the country without major incident, but it’s still fraught stuff in Toronto: Remember, this is the city that required not one, but two referenda to even allow streetcars to run on Sundays. (The motion passed by a whisker on the second try in 1897; after all, you can use the streetcar to get to church.)
An enormous consultation has been launched. Across the four corners of the megacity, a cavalcade of city staff, politicians, developers and consultants have trouped from gymnasium to hall to foyer, setting up placards full of financial estimates, health-board reports and planning bafflegab. (Here is a map. Now here is a map with colours and arrows!) Senior city staff stood around, fielding questions. Passers-by were directed to round tables to participate in “facilitated discussions” and fill out surveys. Consultants who specialize in consultation were brought in. After a fiasco at the first session, when anti-casino councillors got upset at the lack of a public-speaking component and staged a rebel counter-consultation in another room, an open mic was added. You can also go and do the whole thing online, until the end of this week. If there exists a stray opinion on casinos anywhere within city limits, the city manager’s office wants it captured, fumigated and pinned to a corkboard.