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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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With three days to go, a new poll gives John Tory a decisive lead

This Ipsos Reid poll, conducted on behalf of Global News, is an important one. Not only does it come just three days before the municipal election, but it also generally agrees with the most recent Forum Research poll. So, that’s two polls from two different pollsters, conducted within days of each other and showing pretty much the same result: John Tory a dozen or so points ahead of Doug Ford, and Olivia Chow still trailing behind. This poll differs from the Forum poll in a few ways, though: it was conducted over a number of days, rather than just one, and it included both phone and online responses, whereas Forum election polls always rely on robocalls. Also, Global doesn’t say whether or not these results are among decided voters only. If they are, then everyone’s percentages are likely slightly higher than they would otherwise be. Regardless, the trend is clear: Tory is looking strong.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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If John Tory is elected, will he really be able to build SmartTrack?

THE IDEA

Since he unveiled it in late May, SmartTrack has been the centrepiece of John Tory’s One Toronto transit plan. Consisting of 22 stops (including five TTC interchanges) over 53 kilometres, the line would cut a loosely U-shaped curve through Toronto, starting near the airport in the west and dipping down through Union Station before heading northeast into Markham. Running largely on electrified GO Transit tracks, the new line would, Tory claims, serve 200,000 riders daily. He says the project will cost about $8-billion and will be operational by 2021, with the city’s one-third share of the funding coming from tax increment financing (also known as TIF)—which is basically a way of borrowing against future property-tax growth. Tory has also promised to start construction on the Scarborough subway immediately and provide express bus service along a few select routes.

election-idea-evaluator-middle-smallIF TORY IS ELECTED, WILL IT HAPPEN?

Because SmartTrack relies so heavily on existing GO Transit infrastructure, Tory will first have to get Metrolinx on his side. That might be harder than it sounds, according to transit advocate and writer Steve Munro. There are legitimate questions to be asked about whether SmartTrack’s extra trains could coexist with Metrolinx’s own plans for regional express rail. There’s also reason to be concerned about whether the extra stations are actually desired or even physically possible (smaller trains wouldn’t hit Tory’s ridership promises, but larger trains would require larger stations). “There’s going to be a reckoning fairly soon,” Munro says. “If Tory is elected, some bright spark at the December 11 Metrolinx board meeting is going to ask how SmartTrack fits with their [regional express rail]. At that point, we can no longer pretend that Tory’s plan is simply a doodle on a piece of paper that we don’t have to worry about.”

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The Informer

Events

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Spend an evening with a legendary literary agent who goes by “the jackal”

(Image: courtesy of the International Festival of Authors)

(Image: courtesy of the International Festival of Authors)

Seventies party boy turned all-powerful literary agent Andrew Wylie is perhaps the most despised and admired player in international book publishing. On Monday, Torontonians will have an opportunity to take his measure when he gives a free keynote speech as part of the this year’s International Festival of Authors. Known by insiders as “the jackal,” Wylie’s reputation for ruthlessly poaching clients is nearly as famous as the six-figure deals he negotiates for his lucrative list of authors, who famously include Martin Amis, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Diane von Furstenberg, Al Gore and Bob Dylan. (Even his deceased clients are impressive: Wylie manages literary estates for Hunter S. Thompson, Allen Ginsberg, Vladimir Nabokov, Susan Sontag and old pals Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.) An outspoken critic of mass-market fiction, his open disdain for Amazon’s “megalomaniac” business strategy and the “Walmartizing” of bookselling makes this talk an event not to miss. Follwing Wylie’s keynote, he’ll sit for a short interview with CBC’s Carol Off.

Mon. Oct. 27, FREE. Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, ifoa.org

The Informer

Stat

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Most Torontonians agree that this city is “world class,” apparently

85%

—The percentage of Torontonians who agree that their home city is “world class,” according to a poll conducted by Ipsos Reid for Global News. Does this mean we can all stop pretending we want to build a bunch of subways that practically nobody will ride?

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

5 Comments

Ten fact-checked statements from Thursday’s mayoral debate

(Image: CityNews/Screenshot)

(Image: CityNews/Screenshot)

Candidates John Tory, Doug Ford and Olivia Chow made a lot of claims during Thursday night’s debate on CityTV, the last one of this mayoral campaign. Here, writer and comedian Jeremy Woodcock takes a hard-hitting look at some of these dubious statements, to see if they stand up to close examination.

STATEMENT: “We’re going to begin with opening statements.” – Moderator

FACT-CHECK: They did. It’s actually the only way you can begin.

VERDICT: TRUE

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $1.2 million for an unpretentious Yorkville penthouse

toronto-condo-of-the-week-21-scollard-street-intro

Address: 21 Scollard Street
Neighbourhood: Yorkville
Agent: Robert Archambault, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Brokerage
Price: $1,229,000

The Place: A 1,248 square foot penthouse in one of Yorkville’s smaller condo buildings. There are two bedrooms, a balcony, two parking spaces and an open-concept living and dining area.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Doug Ford has had more illegal campaign signs removed than any other candidate

doug-ford-now-whatDoug Ford, true to family tradition, appears to be having trouble following Toronto’s strict election laws. The Star reports that city bylaw officers have removed 336 “Ford for Mayor” lawn signs that had been placed illegally. (There are very specific restrictions on where election signs can be put.) Olivia Chow and John Tory have had only 25 and 21 signs removed, respectively. Ford’s spokesperson claims that the illegal signs are being placed, for the most part, by overenthusiastic supporters who aren’t officially involved with the campaign, which may or may not be true. But the problems with Ford’s ground game don’t end there: according to Now Magazine, some of his lawn signs are being installed by alleged drug dealer and extortionist Sandro Lisi.

The Informer

Stat

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John Tory is apparently the 2014 election’s fundraising king

$2,185,000

—The amount of money John Tory’s mayoral campaign claims to have raised from donors, according to the Post. That’s in contrast to Olivia Chow’s total, which her campaign pegged at $1,759,622 as of Tuesday afternoon. Doug Ford’s donor situation remains a mystery. (When asked about it by a Star reporter, he reportedly responded by calling her a “bitch.”) Both Ford and Tory have indicated that they will release detailed donor information before election day, like Chow already has. Neither has done so yet.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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If Olivia Chow is elected, will she really be able to make her transit plan a reality?

THE IDEA

Unlike the single-idea transit plans of the other leading mayoral candidates—John Tory’s SmartTrack and Doug Ford’s “subways, subways, subways”—Olivia Chow’s transit platform is a patchwork of different proposals. To address immediate issues, she has promised to devote $15 million to increasing bus service and another $184 million to an expanded fleet of buses and a new garage, to be paid for by adding a new bracket to the land transfer tax. She has also pledged to build provincially funded light rail along Finch Avenue West and Sheppard Avenue East, and also to turn the planned Scarborough subway extension back into a light-rail line, freeing up additional funds. Her long-term goal is to build the downtown relief line—or at least set it in motion with engineering studies—to take pressure off existing subway lines.

election-idea-evaluator-light-green-smallIF CHOW IS ELECTED, WILL IT HAPPEN?

Each of Chow’s ideas comes with its own set of obstacles. Critics generally consider the $15 million she has pledged to improve bus service to be realistic. She could find the money; the problem is that it wouldn’t be enough. “The political challenge is to have the guts to give priority to transit on the streets and to convince people that everyone will be better off if we do that,” says Eric Miller, a transit expert and University of Toronto engineering professor. Miller and others contend that, if elected, Chow will have to be firm with the TTC if she intends to see more buses on city streets within a reasonable timeframe. She would probably have to fork over more money to lease a parking lot or facility until the TTC could finish building that new bus garage, otherwise the extra vehicles would have nowhere to go.

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The Informer

People

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Toronto’s subway cat has a story both adorable and sad

(Image: Christopher Bateman)

(Image: Chris Bateman)

Leslie Noel is the kind of guy who stands out on the subway. Not because of what he wears or what he does, but because he’s invariably traveling with a fluffy ginger tabby cat called McLovin’.

The cat, named for the hapless, fake-ID-wielding Superbad character, is an underground Toronto legend and a big deal on social media. Regular subway riders know him as the “subway cat,” whose protective owner is always close.

McLovin’ attracts so much attention because, by feline standards, he’s almost preternaturally calm. Crowded spaces don’t seem to phase him. Mostly without incident, Noel takes him on transit, into stores (he rides in shopping carts) and even to Yonge-Dundas Square, where the cat’s tiny-sized sweaters, of which he has a wardrobe of 30, make him a magnet for spare change from passers-by. As we talked, on an overcast day at Yonge-Dundas, the cat sat patiently on his owner’s lap, eyeing pigeons. He (that is, McLovin’) was wearing a red-and-blue knit hoodie with a number seven on the back, accented with a velcro tie.

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The Informer

Events

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Discover Afghanistan through the lens of Larry Towell

Kunar Valley, Afghanistan, 2010. (Image: © Larry Towell/Magnum Photos)

Kunar Valley, Afghanistan, 2010. (Image: © Larry Towell/Magnum Photos)

Two decades ago, photographer Larry Towell became the first Canadian member of Magnum Photos, the world’s most prestigious photography agency. A quick glance at his work reveals why: in hundreds of award-winning exhibitions worldwide, the rural Ontarian has tirelessly documented those left dispossessed in the wake of conflict. Shooting almost exclusively on film, he has captured everything from Vietnam War veterans and Alaskan oil spills to Israeli-Palestinian tensions and Independence Square revolutionaries in Kiev. From 2008 to 2011, he trained his lens on Afghanistan, the setting and namesake of his latest book. The 192-page tome—and its accompanying exhibition, which runs until November 22 at the Stephen Bulger Gallery—depicts people and places that, for 30 years, have grappled with war. “It’s mostly experiential,” Towell told J-Source earlier this year. “But it’s also analysis of this disastrous war, through my eyes, which I’m sure I’ll be drawn and quartered for.”

Sat. Oct. 25 until Nov. 22.; artist talk and book launch on Nov. 1. FREE. Stephen Bulger Gallery, 1026 Queen St. W., 416-504-0575, bulgergallery.com.

The Informer

Politics

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Doug Ford on Star reporter Jennifer Pagliaro: “I can’t stand that little bitch”

doug-ford-now-whatOn Wednesday night, after a mayoral debate hosted by CTV, Doug Ford briefly shed his new nice-guy persona to share a candid thought about one of the Star’s city hall reporters. According to the Star, the incident happened following a post-debate scrum where reporter Jennifer Pagliaro had asked Ford a number of uncomfortable questions about his campaign donors and his brother’s behaviour. As Ford walked away, several photographers and a CTV producer overheard him muttering, “I can’t stand that little bitch.” Pagliaro isn’t the first reporter to be publicly disparaged by Doug Ford, but it’s rare that the candidate’s diction reaches such heights of sexism and profanity. (And this from a guy who is trying to convince voters that he’s a straight-laced family man.) Ford, for his part, denies that he was talking about Pagliaro.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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If Doug Ford is elected, will he actually be able to build all those subways?

THE IDEA

If Doug Ford’s transit plan has one thing going for it, it’s simplicity. He wants to do one thing, and one thing only: build subways. In the first phase of his Toronto Subway Expansion Plan, a scheme originally advanced by his brother, he proposes not only following through with the Scarborough subway, but also building a Sheppard extension connecting Don Mills to McCowan, a downtown relief line from Queen to Pape, and a Finch West line, to Humber College. He also wants to bury the rest of the Eglinton Crosstown (or however you spell it). Then, in the second phase of the plan, he says he’ll extend the Sheppard line west to Downsview, lengthen the relief line on both ends, burrow the Eglinton line farther west of Mount Dennis and connect Kipling to Humber College with a north-south line. Altogether, the plan would create 32 new kilometres of subway. Ford claims the price tag for the first phase would be $9 billion—an amount he says he’ll raise using a series of measures that would include reallocating existing LRT funding (and, in the process, cancelling approved LRT lines), forging public-private partnerships, instituting development charges, using tax increment financing and selling air rights above stations.

election-idea-evaluator-red-smallIF FORD IS ELECTED, WILL IT HAPPEN?

As a map, Ford’s plan is far superior to any other transit platform. “From a point of view of coverage, he’s got a big network that covers the whole city,” says transit advocate and writer Steve Munro. “The problem is there’s no way we can afford to build the damn thing.”

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The Informer

Real Estate

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House of the Week: $5.85 million to live in a castle in Rosedale

toronto-house-of-the-week-119-glen-road-intro

Address: 119 Glen Road
Neighbourhood: Rosedale-Moore Park
Agent: James Strathy Warren, Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage
Price: $5,850,000

The Place: A castle, grand even among stately Rosedale homes, on Glen Road.

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The Informer

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Several shootings reported in Ottawa; here’s who to follow

Parliament Hill is locked down right now as Ottawa police respond to several shootings in and around Canada’s legislative heart: one at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, another in Centre Block itself and a third at the nearby Rideau Centre shopping mall [UPDATE: Police now say that there was no shooting at Rideau Centre]. According to the CBC, one shooter is dead, while at least one other is believed to be at large in the city. A soldier who was guarding the war memorial is reportedly injured, and there are reports of at least one other injury. Currently, the best sources for breaking information online are the Globe and the CBC. Twitter is also flooded with information, the best of which is coming from reporters on the ground: the Globe’s Josh Wingrove and the CBC’s Giacomo Panico are especially worthwhile follows for anyone in search of up-to-the-minute details.

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