After more than three years of internal squabbling, scandals, embarrassments and late-night TV appearances, it’s understandable that Queen’s Park might want a bigger role in overseeing the activity of Ontario’s municipal governments. A new accountability bill being proposed by premier Kathleen Wynne would give the province exactly that, by empowering a watchdog.
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Toronto District School Board trustee Sam Sotiropoulos appears to be calling for mass arrests of naked people at an international event commemorating the mass arrests of naked people.
Earlier this week, the trustee for Scarborough-Agincourt stunned many by drafting a motion instructing the school board to ask the city to enforce Canada’s public-nudity laws against participants in the Toronto Pride parade—although, perhaps unbeknownst to him, such laws do not even apply to Pride parades, because of a 2000 Ontario Court of Justice decision. He believes the TDSB should have a say in this because the board has a float in the Pride parade.
Here’s another thing Sotiropoulos doesn’t seem to grasp: the Pride movement is the legacy of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, which are now known as the moment LGBT people finally fought back against years of police oppression. Locally, our moment came in 1981 after the Toronto bathhouse raids, when police rounded up about 300 innocent towel-clad men at four gay saunas. Toronto queers were swift to react: they marched through the streets, right up to the doors of city hall and Queen’s Park. It was a watershed moment for the sexual liberation movement in Canada and the birthplace of Toronto Pride.
That night in 1981, police were attacking nudity, sexual freedom, gay identity and their own homophobic perception of icky gay men having sex. As LGBT people, we have seen these types of attacks for decades, and we know what they really mean.
In the wake of her Oscar win, Lupita Nyong’o is fuelling the rumour mill by hanging out with Toronto rapper K’naan. (Because in Hollywood, if two famous people are spotted together, it means they’re getting married, naturally.) Yesterday, the Daily Mail posted some fuzzy pictures of the pair arm-in-arm in L.A.—and (gasp!) he was holding her Best Supporting Actress Oscar, which Nyong’o won earlier this week for her performance as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. Really, though, all we see is a friendly embrace (so far). Bring in the body language experts.
Wind Mobile, the upstart telco that tried to lure wireless customers with low prices and easy subscription terms, is now worth precisely nothing—at least, according to the latest financial statements of its parent company.
According to the Post, Amsterdam-based VimpelCom, which owns a majority stake in Wind, has written the company’s value down to zero. While this doesn’t mean an immediate end to Wind, it does signal serious pessimism about the wireless company’s future. VimpelCom pulled out of a spectrum auction in January, after its bid to take formal control over Wind was stymied by federal foreign-investment rules. The firm has made no secret of the fact that it wants to leave the Canadian market, but currently the pool of buyers for a company like Wind is very small. It’s expected that Ottawa would prevent the sale of Wind to any of the big-three wireless companies (Telus, Bell, and Rogers), meaning the buyer would probably have to be a domestic investor, or a U.S. telecom.
Wind remains under the control of its Canadian chief executive, Anthony Lacavera, who tells the Post he believes his company’s operations will be “business as usual” for the foreseeable future.
Global real-estate consultancy Knight Frank doesn’t use the phrase “rich people” in its annual report on worldwide wealth distribution; it prefers the politically correct term “ultra-high-net-worth individuals,” or UHNWIs, an acronym as big and unwieldy as the bank accounts of the people it describes. According to the report, Toronto can expect a 23 per cent increase in its supply of these super-wealthy types over the next decade.
The Place: A two-bedroom, three-storey townhouse with distinctive architecture (the exterior of the building, built in the 1970s, resembles a boat sail) in the Beach.
At the beginning of the week, it seemed possible that the Gardiner Expressway’s future could be settled without first dragging the issue through eight months of ad-hoc revision during dozens of mayoral debates. Nope!
On Tuesday, at a meeting of the city’s public works and infrastructure committee, councillors voted to shelve a staff-endorsed plan to tear down the Gardiner’s eastern elevated segment. Rather than commit to that course of action, the committee wants the city to spend a year preparing a new option for the Gardiner—one recommended by First Gulf Corporation, a developer, and endorsed by mayoral candidate Karen Stintz. It calls for most of the Gardiner’s eastern stretch to be left standing, but for a new Don Valley Parkway connection to be built. In theory, this would free up land for development without delaying auto traffic.
But consider this: if any of the five major mayoral candidates makes a specific promise concerning how he or she will deal with the Gardiner, and then wins the election decisively enough that he or she is perceived to have a mandate, whatever that candidate wants done with the expressway could very well prevail over the recommendations of any senior city staffers or outside experts. Once issues are sucked into the campaign vortex, they can come flying out at any angle. Toronto will have to wait and see—although the crumbling elevated highway isn’t going to get any cheaper or easier to deal with in the interim.
For most commuters, the fact that the TTC’s subway trains don’t collide with one another is good enough—no additional explanations are required. Recently, though, the TTC has been shutting down portions of the Yonge-University-Spadina line on weekends so workers can upgrade the signalling systems responsible for the daily no-deaths-or-maimings miracle, leading to some curiosity about the system’s workings. The video above, released yesterday on the TTC’s YouTube channel, goes into quite a bit of detail about how signals prevent trains from crashing into one another, why the signalling systems need to be upgraded and why it’s necessary to shut down subway tunnels to perform those upgrades. Yes, it’s propaganda, but snappy animations and an informative voiceover make it edutainment of the highest order. Enjoy.
Every collector knows there’s nothing quite like a complete set, and Toronto is about to have one: the last of 2014’s crop of major mayoral contenders appears ready to enter the race within the next two weeks.
The Star reports that campaign organizers for Olivia Chow are saying that the Trinity-Spadina MP will file her nomination papers during the week of March 17th, at which point she’ll release a complete platform—something none of her challengers have done—and the election will presumably get underway in earnest. John Laschinger, who helped engineer David Miller’s come-from-behind win during the 2003 election, will be leading Chow’s campaign.
Chow will have plenty of room to maneuver. None of the other major candidates are considered left-leaning, whereas her own progressive cred is unassailable. Her considerable campaign machinery (the Star says she already has senior aides, a volunteer network and a fundraising team on standby) will give her an edge—particularly over Rob Ford, whose campaign staff at the moment seems to consist mainly of his brother. The Star’s sources say Chow’s decision to stay out of the race until this point was a strategic one, intended to give her right-leaning rivals time to start attacking each other, rather than her.
In this edition of The Weekender, comic book buffs gather, a classic ballet comes back and three more things to do in Toronto this weekend.
Comic book nuts in wacky costumes will swarm the city this weekend to participate in workshops, visit exhibitors, chat with celeb guests like Eliza Dushku and Jon Hader and socialize with fellow fans. Mar. 7–Mar. 9. Weekend pass $45. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W., comicontoronto.com
Regular guy and budding Los Angeles socialite Rob Ford appeared at city hall on Wednesday afternoon to make his weekly complaint to the media. The difference this time: his complaint wasn’t about the media, rather it was about a major technology firm’s decision to invest $100 million in Toronto over the course of the next decade.
Why would Rob Ford—the self-professed relentless advocate for business—be quibbling with Cisco Systems’ announcement that it will be locating one of its four new global innovation hubs in Toronto’s South Core? Because nobody bothered to thank him, of course.
“I’m the one that made the environment for these businesses to come here. My administration’s done it,” the mayor told reporters. “We have 150 cranes in the sky. We have the lowest tax rate, that was all my hard work.” Ford was responding to news that deputy mayor Norm Kelly, who has been the functional head of Toronto’s municipal government since Ford was stripped of most of his powers in November, had been invited to Cisco’s announcement on Wednesday in the mayor’s stead.
Jeez, bear. Get it together.
Dear Urban Diplomat: I’m tired of every suburbanite in my office “working from home” when it snows. How do I complain without being a jerk?
I live and work downtown. Many of my co-workers commute from Mississauga and Hamilton. Every time the forecast calls for the tiniest bit of snow, half of them announce they’re going to work from home. It’s annoying that they get a mini-holiday every time there’s a dusting. Is there a way to make things fair without seeming like a jerk?
—Justice Is Snow-blind, Queen West
Slideshow: a preview of “The Forbidden City,” the ROM’s new exhibition of artifacts from China’s imperial palace
As part of the ROM’s centenary, the museum is renewing its Far East focus by bringing in an extensive collection of over 200 artifacts from Beijing’s Palace Museum—some of which have never left China before. Dubbed “The Forbidden City: Inside the court of China’s emperors,” the exhibition documents a strange 500-year period for China, during which only the emperor’s family and servants were allowed inside the walls of the world’s largest imperial palace.
Visitors can expect to be led through representations of various layers of the imperial complex, where they’ll be able to ogle increasingly rare objects, ending with items from the emperor’s personal chamber. There will be an imperial throne from the Qing dynasty, a porcelain cup from the Ming dynasty, and even a golden-fringed robe worn by Puyi, the palace’s final inhabitant and the subject of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1987 film The Last Emperor. Here, a look at some of the artifacts that will be on display as part of the exhibition, which opens on Saturday, March 8.