By Ivor Tossell - Friday, January 4, 2013 - 0 Comments
What the outrageous baseball star has in common with Rob Ford
José Canseco, the best mayor Toronto never had, is a man of many schemes. Just a few days ago, the former steroidal slugger rang in the new year with a public list of resolutions that included “Get elected to a important political office in the U.S. or canada to help all people and governments with there problems (sic)” and bringing an anti-aging drink called “Ponce de Canseco” to market.
In fact, he was square in the middle of convening a meeting of followers of his gonzo Twitter account to discuss the drink, sending out a picture of himself sipping a glass of suspiciously yellow liquid, when political inspiration struck. A political consultant from Milton, Ontario tweeted a suggestion that he run for office in Toronto. Canseco, who clearly understands the value of saying “yes,” appointed the political consultant from Milton as his agent on the spot. Continue…
By Allison Jones - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 1:23 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A public spat between several police agencies in Ontario may soon see…
TORONTO – A public spat between several police agencies in Ontario may soon see a resolution.
Ontario’s police watchdog accuses the Toronto police of impeding an investigation into a beating allegation against one of its officers.
The Special Investigations Unit says the Toronto Police Service refused to hand over a man’s original complaint and said without that document the investigation had to be closed because it couldn’t be fully completed. Continue…
By Ivor Tossell - Friday, December 28, 2012 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
Toronto’s challenges go beyond its unfortunate mayor
Poor Rob Ford, for whom nothing can go right, may not have enjoyed 2012 as much as some. It was a year in which his influence waned, his budget was rewritten, his transit plan was scrapped and the one he tried to kill was revived. It was the year he fired the TTC chief who gave him advice he didn’t like, only to have his control over the agency stripped in retaliation. It was a year in which he accidentally banned plastic bags while trying to make them free, only to have to laboriously un-ban them later. A year in which in which he chased a reporter around a park and staged, then abandoned, a weight-loss challenge, only to fall off his industrial scale and twist his ankle after his very last weigh-in.
It was the year he tried responding to a horrific shooting by proposing that criminals be dumped over city limits, presumably to be told very sternly not to cross Steeles, even just to pick up a Wunderbar at 7/11. It was the year he was caught reading behind the wheel of his SUV on the highway, but still refused to get a driver. It was the year he endured unending flak for repeatedly blowing off work to coach a high-school football team, sometimes with office staff in tow, which was not helped by the time a busload of TTC riders got tipped into the rain so his football team could catch a lift. It was the year his new TTC chief, who he praised up and down the city, asked him to please stop calling. Now, in fairness, let us point towards his record on the city’s labour negotiations, which squeezed concessions from unions without a major strike. But, in the end, his football team lost the championship and he got thrown out of office.
With the remove of year-end retrospect, it’s hard to look at the man without wondering if he’s some kind of lightning rod for cosmic misfortune. Yes, he’s the author of his own misfortune, but what power compelled him to keep on writing? When you refine it down, this is some weapons-grade misfortune. By the end of 2012, nobody would have been surprised if, having wandered away from his job, Ford was found looking plaintively out the window at an Ikea parking lot, dressed in a very large shearling jacket: Ikeamayor.
But as 2013 dawns, Toronto is looking forward to a strangely daunting prospect: The world after Rob Ford. The mayor’s appeal is to be heard on January 4th. If he loses, he’ll likely face an uphill race in a by-election. If Ford is somehow returned, it seems unlikely it will come as a renewed mandate so much as yet another wearying tribulation cleared; if the process transforms Ford into a leader, it would be the biggest surprise of all. One way or the other, the city is going to stay leaderless well into the new year.
It’s all very engrossing in the moment: High office meets low comedy. The results weren’t just zany, but weirdly heartening. The city kept turning. The leadership void was filled with voices who started off partisan but became conciliatory: conservatives who broke ranks, socialists who broke doctrine. While the mayor’s office flooded the market (to say nothing of the airwaves) with partisan blither and made good sense scarce, good sense suddenly became a good worth selling.
It was moderates who put the city’s transit plans back on track, who curtailed a sell-off of public housing stock, who are driving the most promising discussions about alleviating the gridlock that’s choking the city’s citizens and economy alike. The year hardly represented a utopia of governance—a leaderless government, for all its collectivist romance, is liable to be directionless and reactive. But the city settled into something resembling equilibrium: Ford offered, if not leadership, then the unifying effect of a man bent on illustrating What Not To Do.
This can only take the city so far. Events will foist some items onto the agenda one way or the other. Toronto faces huge challenges in the year to come, some of which we’re talking about already, some of which we’re not. The crumbling Gardiner is about to foist a half-billion dollar infrastructure decision on the city. Toronto is going to have to decide whether or not to turn over its downtown core to one sort of mega-casino or another. The subject of paying for transit (read: you, paying for transit through new taxes or tolls) is about to take centre stage.
But just as Rob Ford was not the solution to Toronto’s problems, Toronto’s problem is not Rob Ford. Reactive leadership won’t address the challenges that can’t be solved with infrastructure alone: a city that’s becoming more polarized in income and opportunity, that’s pricing buyers and renters alike out of the market, that’s harder and harder to get around, and that can’t just exile its gunmen to the next town over. This is the challenge for the city’s leadership in 2013: Addressing the shape of the city that’s so big, so full of potential, and at such a critical juncture. Surviving Rob Ford isn’t enough.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 7:07 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – An Ontario judge has dismissed a $6-million defamation lawsuit against Toronto Mayor…
TORONTO – An Ontario judge has dismissed a $6-million defamation lawsuit against Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Ontario Superior Court Justice John Macdonald ruled Thursday that the plaintiff, restaurant owner George Foulidis, failed to meet the “essential aspects” required for a libel claim.
In the 15-page decision, Macdonald wrote that Foulidis did not prove that the comments in question made by Ford were directed at him or that they were defamatory.
“His action fails on this basis and must therefore be dismissed,” wrote the judge.
In a statement, the mayor says the court’s decision is “welcome.”
By Ivor Tossell - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 5:22 PM - 0 Comments
The case for the ranked ballot
There are 2.6 million people in Toronto, and most of them are running for mayor.
Thanks to Mayor Rob Ford’s possible removal from office, the floodgates have opened to rumoured contenders: Councillors like Shelley Caroll, Adam Vaughan, Karen Stintz and even Giorgio Mammoliti, to say nothing of outsiders like Olivia Chow, Kathleen Wynne and John Tory, who is very good at maybe-running for things. The mayor himself loudly declared his candidacy, before disappearing on a pre-Christmas-vacation vacation ten days ago.
“There’s a running joke: there’s so many of them, maybe we should cut to the chase and have a 44-member game of Survivor,” said Carroll, the former budget chief and suburban centre-leftist, who’s one of the few to have actually declared. Meanwhile, at an event last week, Vaughan was busy sardonically handing out buttons he’d made, so that half the room ended up badged “I’m Running For Mayor Too!”
For as long as Rob Ford has been in power, the conversation about the next election has been about how many people will run against him, instead of what they’ll be running on. The man is so polarizing that the question isn’t whether an opponent can draw support from his fervent base, but how his opposition will split their vote.
In this latest poll’s scenarios, for instance, Chow would beat Ford and a range of competitors. Without her in the race though, Ford would beat a range of three- or four-way splits against him. The poll’s results are exasperating in their attempts to puzzle through all the permutations: Chow, Ford, Vaughan, and Carroll; Chow, Ford, Tory, Vaughan and Carroll; Chow, Chow, Chow, eggs and Chow; Ford, Vaughan, eggs, sausage and Chow, and so on.
These are not the makings of a fruitful conversation. Canadians like to grouse about our first-past-the-post elections, but have been reluctant to abandon their simplicity. Four provincial referenda on full-scale reworkings of provincial governments have failed. In Toronto, though, a more manageable change might be in the works.
In Toronto, Dave Meslin, a kinetic, well-known public advocate, has spent the past year lining up support for ranked ballots, a system that could bring election results more in line with what the majority of voters would prefer. Meslin has assembled a roster of city councillors who’ve endorsed his drive, including some of Rob Ford’s staunch conservative allies, who’ve taken both Meslin and and his proposal to their town halls, where the idea seems to have been warmly received. The logistics of preparing for an election has ruled out 2014, but in order to prod the provincial government into rewriting election laws to open the door for 2018, Meslin and his allies hope to see a council vote that will get the ball rolling this coming spring.
It works like this: Instead of voting for one candidate, voters would instead rank the candidates in order of preference. When the votes are counted, if a single candidate has 50% of the first-choice vote, they win. If nobody reaches 50%, then the last-place finisher is dropped from the ballot, and their supporters’ second-choice votes are distributed. The votes are counted again, and the process repeats itself until someone has secured 50% of the vote.
In this way, a broader consensus is needed to get elected; strategic voting becomes a secondary consideration; and candidates have more incentive to be less polarizing. After all, a highly divisive figure makes a good first choice for their supporters, but is unlikely to be a popular second choice. While our current system favours those who can divide their enemies, ranked ballots tilt the playing field towards moderates and coalitions.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about ranked ballots is how unremarkable they are. They’re in widespread use in cities across the United States, including Minneapolis and San Francisco. Brian Tanguay, a professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University, notes that ranked ballots were common in Manitoba until the mid-1950s. The upcoming federal Liberal leadership race will be decided by ranked ballots. Australia has used it nationally for almost a century, and has yet to dissolve.
For all that, the system is hardly a slam-dunk amongst students of electoral reform, who have been discussing the merits of various voting systems for decades. (Among other pontificators, Winston Churchill famously slammed it in 1931 for deciding elections on “the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates” – namely, the last-place finishers. But then, Churchill also called the status quo a provider of “fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation.”) And today, some voting-reform advocates see it as an inadequate half-measure that will hold back progress towards truly proportional representation.
But if it’s a cautions step, then so be it. It’s acheivable. There’s little suggestion that, for all the ranked ballot’s quirks, it’d be a step backwards. It might even whet voters appetites for more ambitious schemes, such as moving to a system of at-large councillors, like in Vancouver. The ranked ballot’s draw to the centre may not appeal to radicals of any stripe, but Toronto—jolted by its ongoing experiment in gonzo mayoring—has acquired a taste for conciliation. Let’s not let the moment pass.
By Allison Jones - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 1:49 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – An amateur web sleuth provided the key to identifying an American navy…
TORONTO – An amateur web sleuth provided the key to identifying an American navy veteran with a degree in linguistics as a mystery woman who turned up at a shelter in Toronto with apparent amnesia, knowing only that her first name was Linda.
Investigators announced Tuesday that she is Linda Hegg, 56, who has schizophrenia and may have suffered a traumatic event that triggered her memory loss.
It’s still not known exactly when Hegg left her assisted living facility in Newark, Del., why she boarded a bus to Canada, how she crossed the border at Fort Erie with an expired U.S. passport, or what she did in the days before she arrived at the shelter. Continue…
By Ivor Tossell - Friday, December 7, 2012 at 7:20 PM - 0 Comments
Ivor Tossell on the case for giving Canada’s largest city a ceremonial head of state
It’s mayor-picking time in Toronto, a season the locals can’t seem to get enough of. Even under non-calamitous circumstances, Toronto’s mayoral campaigns last a whole 10 months, from winter to fall. Now, Torontonians are being treated to a special bonus round of mayor-picking, after their last choice ran into trouble with conflict-of-interest law.
This go-around comes with extra excitement, since it’s still possible that the new mayor could be appointed rather than elected. Technically, council can appoint anyone. They could appoint Rob Ford. They could appoint Rob Ford’s mom. They could try to appoint you. This might be a good time to make that trip to the exact opposite side of the planet you’ve been putting off, just in case.
This week, Ford won a stay of the judgment removing him from office, allowing him to stay mayor until his appeal is heard in early January. This wasn’t unexpected. From here, one of three things could happen: If he wins his appeal (and I’ll spare you the amateur odds-making on this front), he stays mayor. If he loses, council has 60 days in which to either appoint a successor or call a by-election. For now, we wait.
There’s quite a bit of conversation about what kind of mayor the next mayor should be. Should it be a centrist, who, as the Globe’s Marcus Gee suggests, could help stabilize Toronto’s oscillation between doctrinaire left-wingers and off-kilter right-wingers? Downtowner or a suburbanite? Insider or outsider?
And then there’s the unmayor crowd: those who argue, rhetorically or not, that Toronto doesn’t need a mayor at all. As Adam Vaughan, Ford’s downtown nemesis, acidly pointed out this week, the city’s been working without a functional mayor for more than a year.
There’s truth to this. In his mayoral honeymoon, Ford handily won every vote that came to council. But by the fall of 2011, his support fell away amid a flurry of ill-advised initiatives and personal misadventures. Since then, Ford has had neither the political touch to build alliances, nor even the organization to corral his allies’ support. The city has floated on from one fiasco to the next, with its assembly of 44 councillors figuring things out amongst themselves.
For all that, Ford’s incapacity has not proven to be an entirely bad thing. Progressives have seen his worst excesses curbed, his budget cuts tempered, his definition of “waste” brought more in line with most citizens’ view. (Libraries: Not needless waste.) Conservatives still have a council that broadly leans in their direction, and one that’s still willing to put the vice on spending. Ford was still able to impose an aggressive, strike-free settlement on city unions, who may well have recognized that if Ford was willing to let his hidebound intransigence take himself off a cliff, he’d take them, too.
The city is now on the brink of having a more productive conversation about funding transit than it’s had in years: The left and right are both talking about going directly to the taxpayers to fund the expansion that everyone agrees the city needs. The mayor’s attempts to ram through a nonsensical plan—and his subsequent firing of the TTC boss who wouldn’t back it—had a bracing effect. When Ford’s bull-headed partisanship went from difficult to disconcerting, working together gained a certain cachet. If a new mayor is elected who—unlike Ford—actually wields partisanship effectively, a return to the dreary status quo is inevitable.
In Toronto, there’s not a lot of set rules about the mayor’s job description. The law says that the mayor is supposed to lead council, but doesn’t specify how. The law also says that the mayor is supposed to act as the city’s “Chief Executive Officer,” which is an odd title, since it comes with no formal power other than a mandate to further the city’s interests and act as an all-around civic booster—essentially, to act as a ceremonial head of state.
All this being the case, why not just re-appoint Ford? There’s an argument for it, as Thomas Walkom pointed out in the Star. The problem with Ford is that, even as an inert quantity in the mayor’s office, he makes a lousy head of state. He is not stately. One never knows exactly what state he’s in. This is a bad combination for someone who’s in the representation game. It’s hard to argue that Ford is a net positive for the city’s image of itself, or for its stature on the national or world stage.
If turning the city council into a mayorless, Occupy-style collective would prove too much of a stretch (“Mic check!” “Mic check!” “I’ll kick you in the nuts and the face at the same time!”) then why not appoint a mayor on the understanding that his or her job is to serve as a ceremonial leader while the city gets its act together. What’s Adrienne Clarkson doing these days? She knows this turf. She could attend ribbon-cuttings and proclamations. She could lead missions of cultural exchange to the far north, or Barrie. She could do anything she likes, really, as long as it fits in the mayor’s budget and she keeps her nose out of transit policy. Or appoint an athlete, or a poet, or Drake or Don Cherry or some minor member of the royal family. Toronto’s grand experiment in leaderless government is just starting to bear fruit. Why stop now?
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 5:21 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A lawyer for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will be in court today…
TORONTO – A lawyer for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will be in court today seeking a stay of his ouster from office.
The application to put the ruling on hold while he appeals is unopposed.
As a result, Divisional Court is expected essentially to rubber-stamp the request.
Last week, a judge ordered Ford booted for conflict of interest for voting on a matter in which he had a financial interest.
Ford wants the stay until the appeal is sorted out and the citizen who brought the original action has agreed to let that happen.
If the mayor loses the appeal, he has said he will run in a byelection if council chooses to have one.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:04 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – The mayor of the country’s largest city will not have to fight…
TORONTO – The mayor of the country’s largest city will not have to fight to stay in office while he appeals his ouster for violating conflict of interest laws.
Toronto businessman Paul Magder, who persuaded a judge to order Mayor Rob Ford punted from office, agreed Monday to a stay of the decision pending the appeal.
Magder’s lawyer, Clayton Ruby, said they would nevertheless continue the fight to have Ford thrown out of office.
“By breaking the law in such a flagrant manner, Rob Ford has put this city into unnecessary turmoil,” Ruby said in a statement.
“We are agreeing to this stay to give the city of Toronto a measure of stability, something that has been wholly absent during Mr. Ford’s term in office.”
The Divisional Court, which is expected to hear Ford’s appeal early next month, was slated to hear a stay of the judge’s order on Wednesday.
Even though there will be no opposition, Ford’s spokesman, George Christopoulos, said the mayor’s lawyer would nevertheless have to be in court to formally request the stay.
“We hope the stay is granted,” said Christopoulos, who had no further comment because the matter is before the courts.
Last week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland ordered Ford out after finding the mayor violated conflict laws by voting at council on a matter in which he had a financial interest.
“It is difficult to accept an error in judgment defence based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement (concerning his football foundation) and a dismissive and confrontational attitude to the integrity commissioner and the code of conduct,” Hackland said in his ruling.
Hackland did put his decision on hold for 14 days to allow the city to make arrangements to deal with the situation.
The ruling stunned city hall and outraged Ford, who blamed a left-wing conspiracy for his ouster. The mayor immediately said he would run in any byelection if his appeal fails.
Magder said the way Ford and his “proxies” impugned the reputation of the legal system was outrageous.
“One of Ontario’s most respected judges considered in great detail the arguments made on my behalf and that of Mr. Ford before issuing his thoroughly reasoned decision,” Magder said in a statement Monday.
“For Mr. Ford to pretend he is the victim of a ‘left-wing’ political attack is to insult the justice system that is a cornerstone of Canada’s strong and enduring democracy.”
Magder also said he brought the application to protect the city’s municipal government from politicians putting their own interests ahead of the citizens they were elected to serve.
Hackland’s decision also sparked debate about whether Ford could run in a byelection if council — which would have the option of simply appointing an interim mayor — called one should the ouster stand.
On Friday, Hackland issued a clarification to make it clear the mayor could run in a byelection.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 7:33 PM - 0 Comments
Speaking with reporters after QP, the NDP MP explains her current position.
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. I hope the matter gets resolved quickly because it’s important that Toronto get back to work to build a city that’s prosperous and caring.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:40 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto sports fans are getting ready to enjoy a rare treat —…
TORONTO – Toronto sports fans are getting ready to enjoy a rare treat — a championship party in their own backyard.
The Toronto’s Argonauts will parade the Grey Cup through the streets of Canada’s largest city today to celebrate their 35-22 win over the Calgary Stampeders in the 100th edition of the CFL championship game.
The procession will start near Union Station and will proceed up Bay Street to Toronto City Hall, where city officials will declare Tuesday as “Toronto Argonauts Day.”
A fleet of 28 pickup trucks and one convertible will carry quarterback Ricky Ray, running back and Grey Cup MVP Chad Kackert, wide receiver Chad Owens and others along the parade route.
It’s the first championship parade in Toronto since the Argonauts won the Grey Cup in 2004 and will be a shot in the arm for the city’s long-suffering sports fans.
Canada’s largest sports market has also been its most underachieving. Baseball’s Blue Jays have not won a championship since 1993, hockey’s Maple Leafs have been shut out since 1967 and basketball’s Raptors and soccer’s Toronto FC haven’t even come close.
The Argonauts seemed destined to break Toronto’s sports curse since the beginning of the CFL season. They acquired Ray in a blockbuster trade with the Edmonton Eskimos, making it known they were serious about participating in the 100th Grey Cup on their home turf.
The team started to come together late in the season and took that momentum into the playoffs, where they easily handled Edmonton in a East Division semifinal before winning a tight East final over the rival Alouettes in front of a hostile Montreal crowd.
They were never in danger against Calgary in the title game, with Kackert racking up 195 total yards and the defence keeping the Stampeders out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter.
A rowdy sellout crowd of 53,208 took in the game, which bodes well for an Argonauts team that struggled at the gate during the regular season. The team drew just 25,792 to cavernous Rogers Centre for the East semifinal against Edmonton.
By Ivor Tossell - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 7:51 PM - 0 Comments
Ivor Tossell on the mayor who couldn’t stay mayor
At Toronto’s City Hall, surely the most ambiently lunatic building in Canada, a stage was set up to launch the Mayor’s Christmas Toy Drive. Eight small children had been procured to act as “honourary elves,” sitting cross-legged on a carpet at the foot of a Christmas tree, flanked by boxes of mini-trikes and construction cranes. A boxed CFL football sat ominously to one side. The mayor was scheduled to launch the drive at 1 p.m. An enormous crowd of reporters buzzed about. Interest in the mayor’s event had amplified to unusual levels by news that the mayor had just gotten himself fired.
For everyone who’s ever bemoaned the fact that our democracy doesn’t offer a way to recall politicians, witness Rob Ford: the man who couldn’t stay mayor. In a ruling released this morning, a Superior Court justice declared Ford’s seat vacant—a weirdly existential way of putting it—after finding the mayor violated the municipal conflict-of-interest act in a small-stakes, but entirely willful, transgression.
Ford has been in office for two tumultuous years, in which his cost-cutting mandate quickly gave way to a scorched-earth war on the media, a succession of botched policies and a never-ending series of altercations, each more bizarre than the last. Giving the finger to a six-year old; chasing a reporter around a park near his home; helping eject a bus of TTC riders into the rain to get his football team a ride home. Finally, today, the mayor of Toronto was sent back to the voters to ask for his job back. In the end, Rob Ford recalled himself. Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:10 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – The mayor of Canada’s largest city could be kicked out of office…
TORONTO – The mayor of Canada’s largest city could be kicked out of office today if a court ruling doesn’t go in his favour.
A decision in a conflict of interest case against Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is due today at 10 a.m.
If Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland finds Ford guilty, he can order him out of office and ban him from running again for up to seven years.
However, if Hackland finds that Ford committed a conflict of interest without realizing he was doing so or through a simple error in judgment, the mayor would get to keep his job.
Ford is accused of not declaring a conflict of interest when he participated in a council vote to recommend he repay donations that he solicited for his private football foundation using official city letterhead.
The mayor testified at the trial in September and told court he believed he did nothing wrong, while lawyer Clayton Ruby argued Ford acted in bad faith by not familiarizing himself with the city’s conflict of interest rules.
The lawsuit was launched by Toronto resident Paul Magder.
Ford said he didn’t remember receiving or reading a handbook for municipal councillors that outlines when to declare conflict of interest or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which he is accused of breaking.
In 2010, Ford used his staff to help send out donation requests for his football fund and mail them out to donors who had officially lobbied the city government.
The city’s integrity commissioner found Ford’s actions broke the conduct code for councillors and recommended he pay back $3,150 to the donors from his own pocket.
Council adopted the commissioner’s findings and sanction in a resolution Ford voted against — but he never made the repayments, despite several reminders from the commissioner.
Council later voted to overturn the integrity commissioner’s penalty. Ford voted in favour of the motion that would allow him to keep the money.
By Emma Teitel - Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 8:16 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday at noon, I walked into a Boston Pizza in downtown Toronto, in the middle of the Grey Cup street festival. Everyone was watching American college football. One guy yelled at the TV repeatedly. At Ohio state players: “that’s how we do it.” At Michigan players: “Take it b-tch.”
I sat down at the bar next to a man named Greg Weston, a Torontonian who grew up in Kingston. He was wearing a Saskatchewan Roughriders hat. When he was eleven or twelve, he says, his family had a very important house guest. “There used to be a program where families would take players in [on the road], and we hosted a player for a few days,” he says. “Walter Bender. Played for the [Hamilton] Tiger Cats, then was traded to the Rough Riders.” Weston and Bender hung out and ate dinner together every night.
He’s been a Roughriders fan ever since.
And he thinks there’s a specific reason–besides the fact that there were no CFL games on TV that day– why the Canadians in Boston Pizza were a lot more excited about an American college football game on TV than the big-league Canadian one coming up.
“Toronto, we’re a bunch of wannabees,” he says. “We like American football better. I have to say I am not the biggest CFL fan. I’m a die hard NFL fan. We go for what’s bigger and better and when the [Buffalo] Bills come to town we get excited about that. Let’s face it. A lot of people here for the Grey Cup are Stampeders fans.”
He has a point. If you’re in Toronto and you’re not within a three block radius of the Roger’s Centre and you’re not a CFL fan, you might not even know what the Grey Cup is, let alone that it’s taking place in your city. Hockey fan or not, it’s impossible to avoid the Leafs (no matter how much they stink.) Avoiding the Argos is almost effortless.
Steve Sommerfeld is probably as big a Calgary Stampeders fan as they come. He was also in Boston Pizza that day, in full Stamps regalia (jersey and cowboy hat) drinking a pint; though he wasn’t paying much attention to the college game on TV. ”I went to the mall yesterday dressed like this,” says Sommerfeld, “and the guy [at the store counter] says ‘what are you in town for?’ And I say ‘a football game’ and he didn’t know.”
Sommerfeld and his friends say they love Toronto, but acknowledge that other, smaller, cities are probably better suited to host the Grey Cup. And they’d know, as they’ve upheld the same tradition for the past seven years: going to the Cup together and always taking with them, a “lucky football” signed by the entire 2004/05 Stampeders roster. I followed the group of guys–three out of four of whom were in full Stamps gear–out of Boston pizza, where they passed their lucky football back and forth all the way down Front Street, into another bar (also showing American college football.) I don’t really remember what happened next…
This was one of the only quotes I could make out my tape recorder the next morning:
“Nobody worries about pipelines from B.C. We just party.”
On my way here (I am currently at the Grey Cup, in the Roger’s Centre Press box) a lone TTC employee kept yelling “Argos” on my subway car. The refrain? “Shut up.”
Things are different here. We (the Argos) are winning, everybody’s happy (save my Stampeders friends) and if the next two quarters are anything like the first ones, this city will know victory for the first time in forever.
If they’re paying attention that is…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 6:23 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Jason Kenney walked out into the foyer, towards the appointed microphone, perhaps appearing not quite as ashen as he was supposed to look.
“Why are you smiling, Mr. Kenney?” a TV reporter quipped.
“Because it’s lovely outside,” the Immigration Minister responded cheerfully. “And I’m always glad to see you, Bob.”
Then it was time to get very serious.
“I’m very disturbed to see comments that were made by Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau two years ago that have just come to light and completely contradict his criticism of his Liberal colleague Dalton McGuinty’s attack on Alberta and Albertans.”
He meant David, of course.
A generous member of the Conservative staff had just been by to hand out copies of Mr. Trudeau’s remarks—in the original French and helpfully translated into English—but in case anyone was unable to read, Mr. Kenney proceeded to reenact the instantly infamous exchange. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – The lawyer for a businessman suing Toronto’s mayor for defamation is suggesting…
TORONTO – The lawyer for a businessman suing Toronto’s mayor for defamation is suggesting in court that Rob Ford alleged corruption to help himself get elected.
Restaurant owner George Foulidis alleges in a $6-million lawsuit that Ford defamed him when the mayor suggested a leasing deal between Foulidis’s company Tuggs Inc. and the city was corrupt.
Ford told a Toronto newspaper in the middle of his 2010 mayoral campaign that a sole-sourced, untendered, 20-year contract the city gave Tuggs for a restaurant on public land “stinks to high heaven.”
Foulidis’s lawyer, Brian Shiller, is telling court in his closing arguments that Ford jumped on brewing controversy around the Tuggs deal to illustrate his main campaign plank — stopping the so-called gravy train at city hall.
Shiller says Ford didn’t have any concrete evidence of corruption by Foulidis, city councillors or city staff, rather it was about “seeking votes and winning elections.”
The mayor is arguing that he was talking about the company, not Foulidis himself, and that companies can’t be defamed.
By Allison Jones, The Canadian Press - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 1:30 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – The brash, unapologetic style characteristic of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s tenure was…
TORONTO – The brash, unapologetic style characteristic of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s tenure was on display in court Friday as he took the stand in a defamation lawsuit against him, repeating the assertions for which he is being sued.
Restaurant owner George Foulidis is alleging in a $6-million suit that Ford libelled him when the mayor suggested a leasing deal between Foulidis’ company Tuggs Inc. and the city was corrupt.
Toronto city council extended a 20-year lease Foulidis had for his Boardwalk Cafe restaurant on public land in a sole-sourced, untendered contract for another 20 years in the summer of 2010 — the middle of Ford’s ultimately successful campaign to become mayor.
In court, the mayor was on the offensive while defending himself, saying the police should be brought in to investigate the deal.
“The process to me and the sole-sourcing of this doesn’t smell right,” he said. “Whoever’s part of that deal, I’ve always said I want the police to investigate….No one can do anything because of this trial right now.”
Ford also testified that when he suggested the Tuggs deal was corrupt he wasn’t implying illegality, he was suggesting proper processes weren’t followed.
“I can’t pinpoint it, but even to this day people still say the deal stinks to high heaven, but it’s hard to pinpoint and prove, but I’m not the only one saying that,” Ford said. “I’ve never seen a deal like this and it just didn’t add up to me. I still feel that way.”
Foulidis is suing Ford over comments in a Toronto Sun article based on a meeting between Ford and its editorial board. Foulidis alleges that Ford’s comments about the Tuggs deal defamed him because he is the man behind Tuggs and the owner/operator of the Boardwalk Cafe.
“These in-camera meetings, there’s more corruption and skulduggery going on in there than I’ve ever seen in my life,” Ford told the editorial board. “And if Tuggs isn’t then I don’t know what is.”
Shiller asked Ford what he meant by that and appeared to be frustrated by Ford’s vague answers about closed-door meetings and eventually the judge stepped in, telling the mayor that the court would not take its morning break until he answered the question.
“I think the question is quite plain,” said Ontario Superior Court Justice John Macdonald and he repeated the question. “That’s the question Mr. Ford. What’s the answer?”
After a bit more back-and-forth with Shiller, Ford eventually agreed that he was suggesting the Tuggs deal was an example of “corruption and skulduggery.”
“In my view, how it was done and how it was operated, yes,” Ford said.
Ford’s lawyer is arguing that the mayor was talking about Foulidis’ business, Tuggs Inc., and that companies can’t be defamed.
In the editorial board interview, audio of which was played in court Friday, Ford appears to associate a mention of the name Foulidis with Tuggs. The mayor has testified that he didn’t know Foulidis at the time the comments were made, but that he might have heard the name around city hall.
“I don’t know the man, so I would never cast aspersions on someone I don’t know,” Ford testified.
He said while he suspected — and still suspects — something about the deal was not right, any wrongdoing wasn’t necessarily by Foulidis, but perhaps by city councillors or staff. Ford slammed the in-camera meeting about the Tuggs deal, saying he wishes that meeting and all in-camera meetings were public.
“Councillors were running around like crazy,” Ford said. “I’ll never forget it. There was a lot of screaming and yelling…If people would have saw how council was reacting to get this deal through, the average person would have thought there’s something going on, like, why are you freaking out like this? Some of them are losing their mind to get this deal through.”
The mayor has suggested the lawsuit is politically motivated. He noted that other councillors made similar comments about the Tuggs deal and Foulidis did not sue them, nor did he sue the newspaper that published the comments.
The trial is scheduled to conclude Monday with closing arguments.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 5:46 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto’s mayor is expected to take the stand in court today in…
TORONTO – Toronto’s mayor is expected to take the stand in court today in a $6-million defamation lawsuit against him.
Restaurant owner George Foulidis is alleging Rob Ford libelled him when the mayor suggested the restaurant’s leasing deal with the city was corrupt.
Foulidis believes Ford defamed him by telling a Toronto newspaper the deal “stinks to high heaven.”
Toronto city council extended a lease Foulidis had for his Boardwalk Cafe restaurant on public land in a sole-sourced, untendered contract in the summer of 2010 — the middle of Ford’s ultimately successful campaign to become mayor.
Ford’s lawyer is arguing that the mayor was talking about Foulidis’ business, Tuggs Inc., and that companies can’t be defamed.
The mayor has suggested the lawsuit is politically motivated.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
Forum Research finds support for Olivia Chow in Toronto.
In a one-on-one matchup between Ford, who has said repeatedly he intends to seek re-election, and MP Olivia Chow, the federal politician would garner 49 per cent of the vote, while Ford would pick up 34 per cent, the poll suggests.
In June, the last time Forum Research asked respondents about a Chow-Ford matchup, Chow garnered 58 per cent support.
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 14, 2012 at 4:26 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A group in Toronto says it wants to screen a controversial film, that depicts the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a madman.
TORONTO – A group in Toronto says it wants to screen a controversial film, that depicts the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a madman.
Canadian Hindu Advocacy spokesman Ron Banerjee says he doesn’t yet have a location for a screening.
Excerpts from the movie enraged Islamic protesters in Egypt, Libya and Yemen over its portrayal of Muhammad.
Banerjee says they’ll also show snippets from other movies that are offensive to Christians and Hindus.
He calls it a way of fighting intolerance.
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 14, 2012 at 4:19 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A Toronto transit commission worker is dead and a second injured after they were struck by subway train.
TORONTO – A Toronto transit commission worker is dead and a second injured after they were struck by subway train in the city’s north end.
Ambulance officials say the workers were hit by a service train near the Yorkdale station on an elevated portion of the tracks.
Service trains are used to ferry workers and equipment between job sites within the subway network.
As a result of the incident, there will no subway service between the Downsview and St. Clair West stations for the rest of the morning rush hour.
The TTC says shuttle buses will be used to ferry passengers around the area. Overall subway service is likely to be further slowed because of delays getting trains out of the Downsview subway depot.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 2:44 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto’s embattled mayor has only himself to blame for the media firestorm…
TORONTO – Toronto’s embattled mayor has only himself to blame for the media firestorm ignited by his antics, some experts and critics said Wednesday as Rob Ford defended himself against new allegations over his use of city staff.
The polarizing leader of Canada’s most populous city lashed out against officials who questioned the role of his taxpayer-funded city staff in managing his high school football team, the latest in a string of incidents that have thrust the mayor in the hot seat.
According to a Globe and Mail story published Wednesday, Ford used at least two of his employees and their taxpayer-funded cellphones to help administer the summer football teams he founded after taking office.
In a statement, Ford said only a “coward” would criticize his staff, which “works hard every day” for the city’s taxpayers, often putting in more than 40 hours a week.
He added paid work is not the only type of work that contributes to our society, suggesting his staff volunteer their time on the football field.
The mayor’s brother, meanwhile, slammed local news outlets for what he called biased and “lazy” coverage — echoing Ford’s supporters, who have long claimed he is unfairly targeted by the media.
A colourful politician known for his gaffes even before winning the mayor’s seat, Ford’s behaviour in and out of city hall has repeatedly landed him in hot water and even placed his job in jeopardy.
Some political and media experts — as well as at least one city councillor — said Wednesday the mayor has cast himself in the spotlight.
All public figures are under scrutiny and Ford should be no exception, said Peter Graefe, a political science professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.
“I don’t think really that there’s any kind of sign of him getting an extra rough ride,” he said.
“I think it’s more he’s invited the media to ask these questions because in the public space, he’s shown himself really incapable of making the distinction between what was his private interest and what was the public interest.”
Janice Neil, the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journalism Project website, said the very traits that captured voters’ attention are what’s generating media interest.
“He is a colourful character that is bound to attract interest. He’s very different certainly than the last mayor and certainly than people probably expect the mayor to be… so that certainly meets a number of news agendas,” she said.
In some cases, the public has spurred media coverage of the mayor, such as a recent incident in which Ford was photographed reading behind the wheel, she noted.
He later admitted to reading while driving, citing his busy schedule.
So far, Ford’s popularity appears unshaken by the ongoing controversy.
But while he has bounced back from most incidents, there is a chance one case — also linked to football — could have him removed from office.
Wednesday’s allegations came a week after Ford testified in court he was no longer using city resources to benefit his football work.
Ford took the stand in a conflict-of-interest case that alleges he spoke and voted on a matter in which he had a financial interest.
The mayor voted with council in February to dismiss recommendations by the city’s integrity commissioner that he repay funds raised for his football charity using city letterhead and staff.
Ford told the judge he no longer used city resources for football-related purposes.
Coun. Joe Mihevc, who has opposed the mayor on many issues, predicted the latest accusations would spark another complaint to the commissioner.
He said the mayor’s behaviour has made Toronto “the laughingstock across the country.”
“We’re not taking down the mayor, the mayor’s taking himself down,” he said.
By Ben Rabidoux - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 1:39 PM - 0 Comments
August resale and housing starts figures are now out for all three of Canada’s biggest cities, and it’s not a pretty picture.
When the August resale data for Vancouver came out last week, the headline news was that sales had fallen to their second lowest level for the month since 1998. Sales were 30 per cent below what they were in August of last year and 40 per cent lower than the August average of the past 10 years.
But the numbers are even worse than the headline reveals. On paper, August 2008 holds the record as the weakest month of the past 15 years. However, it had two fewer week days than August 2012. If calendar differences are taken into account, last month represents the lowest sales volume of any August in 15 years.
By Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 7:27 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – The fate of Toronto’s controversial mayor now rests in the hands of an Ontario judge.
TORONTO – The fate of Toronto’s controversial mayor now rests in the hands of an Ontario judge.
Lawyers wrapped up their arguments on Thursday in a lawsuit accusing Rob Ford of being embroiled in a conflict of interest.
Justice Charles Hackland told court he would try to reach a verdict in a timely manner.
If found guilty, Ford could be tossed out of the office he’s held for less than two years and barred from running for city council for seven years.
Ford is accused of not declaring a conflict of interest when he gave a speech and participated in a council vote last February to strike down a recommendation that he repay donations he solicited using official city letterhead for his private football foundation.
Ford told court he believed he did nothing wrong based on his own definition of conflict of interest laws, while lawyer Clayton Ruby argued Ford acted in bad faith by not familiarizing himself with the city’s rules on the issue.
Ruby’s arguments focused in part on Ford’s statements from the day before, when he admitted to being unfamiliar with city policies surrounding conflict of interest.
Under cross-examination, Ford said he didn’t remember receiving or reading a handbook for municipal councillors that outlines when to declare conflict of interest or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which he is accused of breaking.
He also admitted he had not attended an orientation meeting when he was first elected city councillor in 2000.
Ruby argued such actions cast a shadow on the mayor’s actions.
Ford could be allowed to keep his job if Hackland ruled he made an honest error of judgment, but Ruby suggested the mayor’s lack of familiarity with conflict of interest policies would effectively quash that argument.
“If true, it is not a good faith error. He is deliberately not doing what any reasonable person would do,” Ruby said.
Ford’s lawyer, Alan Lenczner, argued Ford had every right to speak up on a matter that didn’t involve city business.
That argument was in line with Ford’s own definition of conflict of interest, which he presented during Wednesday’s testimony.
“I believe in my mind, in a conflict of interest, the city benefits and the councillor benefits,” Ford testified on Wednesday.
“It takes two parties to have a conflict. In this case, there was only one party. The city did not benefit.”
Ford admitted that back in 2010, he didn’t think he had violated any rules when he used his staff to help send out donation requests for his football fund and mail them out to donors who had officially lobbied the city government.
But the city’s integrity commissioner, Janet Leiper, had found Ford’s actions broke the conduct code for councillors and recommended he pay back $3,150 to the donors from his own pocket.
Council adopted the commissioner’s findings and sanction in a resolution Ford voted against _ but he never made the repayments, despite several reminders from the commissioner.
The issue was resurrected in February, at which time council voted to overturn the integrity commissioner’s penalty.
Just before the council vote in February, Ford gave a passionate speech about his charity, which buys football equipment for at-risk high school students in Toronto. He also voted in favour of the motion that would allow him to keep the money.
Lenczner argued the integrity commissioner’s original sanction is void because ordering Ford to repay the donations was out of her jurisdiction. The city’s code of conduct says councillors can either be hit with a reprimand or a pay suspension if they commit an integrity violation.
The lawsuit was launched by Toronto resident Paul Magder, who accused Ford of a conflict of interest one month after the vote in question.