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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Can any mayoral candidate really tame the police budget?

THE IDEA

In early August, before he called it quits on his doomed, largely self-funded bid for the mayoralty, David Soknacki awed more than a few Torontonians—including us—when he promised to cut waste in the city’s annual $1-billion police budget. If elected, he said, he would lead a process to reduce that amount by about $65 million, and all without affecting the number of officers on Toronto’s streets. The savings would then be reinvested in transit, infrastructure and other services. “If we can fix the police budget, we can fix Toronto’s budget,” he said at a press conference. “And if we can fix Toronto’s budget, we can afford to build the city we want.” Even with Soknacki out of the race, this remains one of the year’s more compelling policy proposals, because police funding is overdue for some kind of review. (It consumes more property tax dollars than any other city service.) For the moment, though, the idea seems to have fallen out of favour. None of the other candidates have shown much willingness to take on the Toronto Police Association, whose members are a force to be reckoned with during municipal campaigns.

election-idea-evaluator-light-green-smallWOULD IT WORK?

At the very least, the timing would be good. With the end of the current electoral cycle, the terms of four Toronto Police Services Board members—including councillors Mike Del Grande, Michael Thompson and Frances Nunziata—will end. Whoever is elected mayor will be entitled to one of those spots. (Rob Ford opted to appoint Del Grande in his stead.) Around the same time, the board will be negotiating a new contract with the Toronto Police Association, giving the mayor an opportunity to propose and potentially implement cost-cutting changes.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Yet another poll puts John Tory way out in front

A new poll conducted by Ipsos Reid for Global News tells a much different story than the ones done late last week, in the immediate aftermath of Rob Ford’s withdrawal from the mayoral race. Unlike those two earlier polls, which disagreed on Doug Ford’s standing (one gave him second place, while the other put him a distant third), this latest one seems consistent with what we were seeing prior to Friday’s shakeup. Doug’s vote percentage, in this online poll of 586 Torontonians, is close to what Rob was getting in the weeks leading up to his health crisis. If it’s true that voters consider the two brothers to be virtually interchangeable, then this kind of similarity in poll results would make sense. There’s one way in which this poll agrees with all other recent polls, though: it gives John Tory a commanding lead. If he hadn’t already cemented his frontrunner status, he certainly has now.

The Informer

Culture

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Shticks and Giggles: a laugh-lover’s guide to the city’s explosive comedy scene

Shticks and Giggles

Comedy Bar at Bloor and Ossington is the city’s undisputed hub of hilarity.

Toronto’s JFL42 comedy fest returns this month for its third annual 10-day laugh riot. For the uninitiated, the “JFL” part stands for Just for Laughs, and the “42” refers to the number of acts on the lineup, which this year includes Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Seth Meyers and a handful of local comedians. If, like most of us, you require comic relief all year round, this is a great moment to live in Toronto: the city’s indigenous comedy scene has flourished of late. We’re currently flush with neurotic kibitzers, daffy sketch troupes and enough nostalgically divey comedy clubs to fill an entire season of Louie. Here, a guide to navigating all the funny.

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The Informer

Stat

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A TDSB trustee billed taxpayers for a tour of Israel, for some reason

$3,765

—The amount of Toronto District School Board money trustee Gerri Gershon spent on a tour of Israel, according to an internal audit of this and other questionable trustee expense claims obtained by the Star. Gershon told the Star that the junket was intended to promote interfaith relations, and that she “tweeted the entire trip.”

The Informer

Quoted

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Andray Domise: “Ward 2 is not a consolation prize”

“Ward 2 is not a consolation prize.”

—Ward 2 city council candidate Andray Domise, speaking to the Star about Rob Ford’s decision to drop out of the mayoral race and run in Ward 2, instead. In a statement released to the media, Ford said the move was prompted by his recent tumour diagnosis. (He’ll be a heavy favourite in the race even—and maybe especially—if he has to campaign from a hospital bed.) This is not the first quotable thing Domise has had to say about his Ford-family rivals. Our interview with him is here.

The Informer

Events

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Check out North America’s first museum of Islamic art

(Image: Gary Otte)

(Image: Gary Otte)

It’s rare that Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau meet in a place where they aren’t the most important people in the room. But on September 12, at the opening ceremony for North America’s first museum of Islamic art, the spotlight was on the Aga Khan, the museum’s namesake and the spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims. A Swiss-born multimillionaire philanthropist, Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan IV funded the new $300-million, 6.8-hectare complex that houses the museum and neighbouring Ismaili Centre. Surrounded by an expansive garden, the building—an ultra-modern structure infused with designs from traditional Islamic architecture—houses a permanent collection of more than 1,000 portraits, textiles, miniatures, texts, instruments and other Islamic artifacts representing a wide range of styles, eras and regions. “In Search of the Artist,” a collection of signed paintings and drawings, and “The Garden of Ideas,” an exhibition of contemporary art from Pakistan, will also be on display when the museum opens its doors to the public on Sept. 18. How did all of this end up in Toronto? An honorary Canadian citizen, the Aga Khan thinks the city is a hub of tolerance and mutual understanding. Prove him right by making the trip to Eglinton East and Don Mills. (For those who swear they never go north of Bloor, the museum won’t be the only new thing to see.)

Thurs. Sept. 18. $15–$20. Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., agakhanmuseum.org.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Doug Ford enters the mayoral race in second place, maybe


There are a few things about this latest Forum Research poll, released on Friday, that are a little suspect. For one, another poll, conducted by a lesser-known agency, shows Doug Ford at just 16 per cent, with John Tory at 45. That’s a disparity way outside any margin of error. Another possible source of trouble: both polls were done just hours after Rob Ford withdrew and Doug announced his candidacy, while the entire city was still reeling from the news. And both, of course, are subject to the usual pitfalls of any political polling. The only thing everyone seems to agree on? This is now officially Tory’s opportunity to win an election, for a change. If he becomes the consensus anti-Ford candidate, he may just be able to pull it off.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the $2.2-million Lawrence Manor home that proves the value of a cul-de-sac

toronto-sale-of-the-week-220-roe-avenue-intro

Address: 220 Roe Avenue
Neighbourhood: Lawrence Manor
Agent: Robert Greenberg and Adam David Weiner, Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage

The Property: This brand-new, four-bedroom Lawrence Manor house has a large, open-concept interior, complete with glass-walled living and dining rooms. Its location at the far end of a cul-de-sac eases the drawbacks of living just off busy Avenue Road.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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What the hell just happened?! A blow-by-blow of the Rob Ford mayoralty’s craziest morning yet

20140912fordmayor

Some of the candidates officially running for mayor as of 2 p.m. today. Out: Rob Ford. In: Doug.

At the start of the day, there were two Fords running for two different municipal offices. Now, after a frantic few hours of some of the most dramatic paperwork action city hall has ever seen, there are three Fords on various ballots, and none of them are running for what they used to be running for. Somehow, during all of this, almost as an afterthought, Rob Ford‘s unbelievable fiasco of a mayoralty gained a definite expiration date.

How did all of this happen? Here, our attempt to put the day’s baffling series of events in chronological order.

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The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford has withdrawn from the mayoral race so Doug can run in his place

now-what-newRob Ford has withdrawn from the mayoral race following this week’s tumour diagnosis, according to multiple reports from city hall. Because, apparently, no mayoral election can proceed without a Ford on the ballot, the mayor’s brother has stepped into the breach: Doug Ford is currently in the process of registering to run. If he’s able to get his paperwork through city hall’s elections office before the 2 p.m. registration deadline [UPDATE: he did], he’ll be the only Ford on the ballot come October. (They won’t even need to make new lawn signs, though election finance law may complicate the process of transferring those and other resources from one campaign to the other.) Also, curiously, Michael Ford, Rob and Doug’s 20-year-old nephew, has withdrawn from the city council race in Ward 2, where he was polling well ahead of his nearest competitor. Ward 2 was Rob Ford’s council seat before he ran for mayor, and there’s speculation that he may register to run in Michael’s place. [UPDATE: Rob Ford has officially registered to run in Ward 2.] It’s a race the mayor could certainly win, even if medical issues kept him away from debates and doorsteps.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $600,000 to live in a former bread factory near Trinity Bellwoods Park

toronto-condo-of-the-week-183-dovercourt-road-intro

Address: 183 Dovercourt Road, Unit 212
Neighbourhood: Trinity-Bellwoods
Agents: Angela Balan, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Brokerage
Price: $599,000

The Place: A two-bedroom hard loft on a quiet corner near Queen and Ossington.

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The Informer

People

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Q&A: Darrell Bricker, the Toronto guy who knows everything about election polling

(Image: Claire Foster)

(Image: Claire Foster)

Polls don’t just measure political campaigns; as wonky as they sometimes are, they can actually shape outcomes. The latest example? David Soknacki’s exit from the mayoral race following a disappointing showing in a survey by Forum Research. Even as the candidates base major decisions on polls, though, many of us don’t really understand how they’re conducted, or what the results mean. We sat down with Darrell Bricker—who is the Toronto-based CEO of the public-affairs branch of Ipsos, one of the top market-research firms in the world—to talk about the nature of polling, and how to tell the good polls from the bad.

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The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford has a tumour

now-what-newThe Humber River Hospital announced via press release Wednesday evening that Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a tumour after “at least three months” of persistent abdominal pain. The Star reports that doctors have yet to determine what kind of tumour the mayor has. It could be cancer, or it could be something else. All we know at the moment is that the lump is “not small.” At a press conference on Wednesday evening, in response to questions about the fate of the mayor’s reelection campaign, Doug Ford would say only that his brother is “in good spirits.”

The Informer

Politics

1 Comment

Mark Towhey, Rob Ford’s former chief of staff, is writing a tell-all

now-what-newMark Towhey was Rob Ford’s chief of staff from 2012 until about a week after the start of the crack scandal, in May 2013, and his firing is already the stuff of legend. Ford reportedly dismissed his once-trusted lieutenant after Towhey advised the mayor to get help for his obvious substance problems—advice that wasn’t ultimately heeded until far too late. Now, it seems Towhey is writing a tell-all memoir of his time spent working for the mayor, beginning with the 2010 municipal election. The Star reports that the book will be released a few days before this year’s election, on October 21. Anyone hoping for damning new details may be disappointed, though. The publisher’s description says that the book “is not the account of a man eager to get revenge.”

The Informer

Real Estate

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House of the Week: $1.4 million for a contemporary new-build in Old East York

toronto-house-of-the-week-17-machockie-road-intro

Address: 17 Machockie Road
Neighbourhood: Old East York
Agent: Ricky Ristic, Royal Lepage Signature Realty, Brokerage
Price: $1,379,000

The Place: Steps from Taylor Creek Park, this contemporary new-build is in the older part of East York.

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