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VIDEO: Comedian Gerry Dee and TELUS set out to prove how friendly Torontonians are—and the results are spectacular

 

It’s an old joke among Canadians: we come from a friendly country, if you don’t include Toronto. Recently, TELUS set out to prove the old axiom wrong.

On Friday, the company released the new Samsung GALAXY S5, which has a handy boosting feature that allows two GALAXY devices to share battery power, helping to solve the oh-so-modern problem of having your smartphone die in the middle of the day. To prove that Torontonians are as helpful as anyone else in the country, TELUS put that other essential piece of technology that sometimes requires a boost—the car—in a local parking lot on a frigid day, and waited to see if people would stop and help out. They enlisted the help of T.O. comedian Gerry Dee and filmed the whole thing. Check it out, above. The results are spectacular.

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Politics

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VIDEO: Jimmy Kimmel makes a cringe-inducing appearance on Rob Ford’s YouTube show

This week, on a very special episode of Ford Nation, Rob and Doug fawn over a late-night comedian who continues to humiliate them on a near-weekly basis.

That’s right: this week’s mayoral YouTube video is the long-awaited Jimmy Kimmel edition. As expected, the L.A.-based comedian Skyped-in his performance (actually, technically speaking, he used Google Hangouts).

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The Informer

Events

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Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of April 11–13

Catch the COC's adaptation of Hercules this weekend. (Image: Michael Cooper)

Catch the COC’s adaptation of Hercules this weekend. (Image: Michael Cooper)

In this edition of The Weekender, a modern reinterpretation of a classic opera, a festival of kids’ movies and three more things to do in Toronto this weekend.

OPERA

Hercules
For the Canadian Opera Company’s adaptation of Handel’s Hercules, American stage director Peter Sellars has pared down the show’s libretto in order to bring it closer, in spirit, to the Sophocles play that inspired it to begin with. Even as the production reaches for its ancient-Greek roots, it also connects with audiences in a contemporary way, by portraying Hercules as a modern U.S. army general suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Apr. 11. $89-$255. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., coc.ca

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Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: Two wine fridges and a great view for just under $3 million

COTWlead

Address:  206 Bloor Street West, Unit 602

Neighbourhood: Annex

Agent: Janice Fox, Hazelton Real Estate Inc.

Price:  $2,795,000

The Place: A sixth floor unit in the newly finished Museum House condominiums at Bloor and Avenue.

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The Informer

Culture

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Breaking: CBC cuts over 600 jobs

cbc logo

CBC News announced today that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will be cutting 657 jobs over the next two years, the result of $130 million in cuts from its budget this year. The cuts also mean that Canada’s national broadcaster will no longer have the resources to compete against private networks for pro sports broadcast rights.

At a town hall meeting with staff today, CBC president and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix attributed the cuts to a $115 million loss in federal funding that came with the 2012 federal budget and a drop in projected revenue resulting from CBC losing Hockey Night in Canada to Rogers. Declining ad revenue and the network’s failure in delivering the coveted 25-54 demographic to advertisers are also responsible.

The network has also announced that they will not be replacing George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. But really, who could ever replace George Stroumboulopoulos? A pre-faded Hot Topic London Calling shirt stuffed with old leaves and jammed inside a used leather jacket? Not in the budget, friends.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Slideshow: how much are TCHC’s stand-alone homes selling for in Riverdale?

(Image: TCHC)

(Image: TCHC)

Right now, and over the course of the next year, Torontonians have the rare opportunity to buy homes directly from the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, the city-owned social-housing provider. Over the past few years, city council has approved sales of 158 of TCHC’s stand-alone properties, the idea being that the proceeds can be used to help pay down the corporation’s estimated $862 million repair backlog.

It may sound somewhat Dickensian—disadvantaged people being turned out onto the streets—but that’s not quite right. TCHC is retaining more than 550 stand-alone properties. Many of the ones being sold weren’t subsidized—they were rented at market rate. Of the 102 homes scheduled to be listed this year, 39 are occupied. The plan is for the people living in them to be relocated in accordance with company policy. TCHC has promised to take “all special needs” into consideration, though it hasn’t yet explained precisely what that means. The corporation’s many mid-rise and high-rise properties aren’t affected.

The sell-off has already kicked up its share of controversy—but just as the sales aren’t totally apocalyptic for social-housing tenants, they’re not exactly a bargain-bin buying opportunity for middle-class gentrifiers. Despite the fact that many of the homes being sold require at least some renovations, they’ve been subject to the same brutal economics that affect all Toronto real estate. Low-rise homes are scarce, and buyers are willing to pay immense sums for them even if they’re not ideal. Bidding on the properties requires the usual amount of speed and skill: most are being listed for two weeks apiece, and TCHC is taking sealed offers. The sales are being staggered to avoid flooding the market, and so a number of properties in prime locations are still waiting to be assigned to brokers.

At the moment, the majority of the buying opportunities are in and around up-and-coming Riverdale, where the former TCHC homes are mostly selling around or above the average sale price for a semi-detached home in the area: $654,000 as of March, according to Toronto Real Estate Board data. (Detached homes average $846,187.)

Click through the gallery for a look at some of the TCHC properties that have recently sold in that area, and what they sold for.

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The Informer

Culture

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See, Hear, Read: April’s six can’t-miss cultural releases

See, Hear, Read: April's six can't-miss cultural releases

Rufus Wainwright chronicles a decade’s worth of drama and debauchery on his new greatest hits album, Vibrate (Images: Foley by Getty Images; Remedy courtesy of Global)

1. Vibrate by Rufus Wainwright

In June 2006, Rufus Wainwright donned silk stockings, a black tuxedo jacket and four-inch heels to recreate Judy Garland’s iconic 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. Liza Minnelli met the gimmick with scathing contempt (“What is he doing?” she scoffed), prompting a deliciously passive-aggressive celebrity feud—Wainwright told the press that Minnelli wasn’t talking to him and made catty barbs at her onstage. Wainwright’s latest track is a sly dig called “Me and Liza,” in which he begs for her ­forgiveness. “Come on, Liza, give me a try,” he croons. It’s the lead single on his new best-of album, Vibrate, which maps the songwriter’s development from waifish tweaker to campy bon vivant and, finally, to domesticated family man—he married Jorn Weisbrodt, Luminato’s handsome German artistic director, and fathered a child with Leonard Cohen’s daughter, Lorca. A deluxe edition features a second disc of bonus material, including a handful of rare live covers—songs by Noël Coward, George Gershwin and Wainwright’s father, Loudon Wainwright III.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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Scientific proof that Toronto would be screwed in the event of a zombie apocalypse

(Image: veggieforg)

(Image: veggieforg)

It’s election season, and everyone is talking about public transit and jobs. Meanwhile, as usual, Toronto’s most pressing problem goes sadly unaddressed. We’re talking, of course, about zombie preparedness.

An alarming new study blog post by University of Alberta engineering graduate Michael Ross argues that, when assessed according to several zombie-survival criteria like obesity, proximity to military bases and gun ownership, Toronto ends up near the bottom of a list of Canadian cities ranked in terms of how well they would withstand an onslaught of the undead. The only municipality to fare worse than us in Ross’s analysis is Windsor. St. John’s, Regina and Edmonton top the list.

Could this be why so many zombie films are shot here? Is it all foreshadowing for our inevitable doom?

Politicians take note: there’s still plenty of time to loosen Canada’s gun laws and institute mandatory cardio sessions in all workplaces. We’ll all be tired and cranky and very well-armed, but at least we’ll be ready.

The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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Presenting: The Ford 2014 Dream Team

"Avengers...coagulate into a fleshy, unelectable mass!"

“Avengers…coagulate into a fleshy, unelectable mass!”

Talk about synergy. Whether out of horrifying obliviousness, or as part of a calculated effort to indulge in self-parody as a political tactic, mayor Rob Ford has welcomed two new members to his campaign team: disgraced Canadian Olympian Ben Johnson (the sprinter caught using steroids following his 1988 gold-medal win in Seoul) and actor Sam Tarasco (best known for playing Sam “The Caveman” Losco on Trailer Park Boys). It’s unclear what role either man will have in Ford’s reelection bid, beyond further discrediting it.

With Ford assembling his crack team, Avengers-style, we thought it’d be fun—and maybe useful—to imagine how his new allies will fit in. We’ve even picked out a few more potential crossover team-ups.

So, we present: Rob Ford’s Washed-Up Avengers.

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The Informer

Politics

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QUOTED: Rob Ford, on a proposal to make Bloor Street pedestrian-only on four summer Sundays

(Image: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

“I can’t support that. We have to have traffic flowing in the city. People want to do their yoga, we have tons of parks. Or whatever the purpose was of closing the streets.”

-Rob Ford, telling reporters his thoughts on Open Streets TO, an initiative to convince city council to close an 10-kilometre stretch of Bloor Street (as well as part of downtown Yonge) on four consecutive Sundays for a massive, free-form street festival. In these types of situations, Ford always comes down on the side of auto traffic (see: “it’s their own fault at the end of the day”), so his total dismissiveness isn’t surprising, but in this case he isn’t the only one confused about the purpose of the closure. The whole idea is kind of high-concept.

The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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Will a scandal-packed year at city hall lure young voters at election time?

(Image: youth: Romer Jed Medina; city hall: Tony Hisgett)

(Image: youth: Romer Jed Medina; city hall: Tony Hisgett)

Toronto’s millennials could be the determining factor in who becomes the city’s next mayor—that is, if they bother to go to the polls. Conventional wisdom has it that Rob Ford’s scandals have more voting-age youngsters talking about local politics than ever before, but there’s some question as to whether that will translate into higher-than-normal election turnout.

Younger voters have historically been more apathetic than their older counterparts, but in recent generations the trend has been getting more severe. In the 1960s, by Elections Canada’s reckoning, about 70 per cent of those who had recently turned 18 would vote in the next election; by 2004 it was closer to 30 per cent.

According to Ilona Dougherty, the president and co-founder of Apathy is Boring, a Montreal-based group aimed at encouraging younger populations to engage in their democratic right, the numbers are particularly dismal at the municipal level. Cities generally don’t track voter ages, but overall voter turnout tends to decrease with each descending level of government.

Dougherty says it’s possible to figure out the approximate percentage of eligible youth voters who visited municipal polls by shaving 20 per cent off a city’s overall figure. Toronto’s last municipal election drew a slightly better-than-normal voter turnout, with 51 per cent of eligible voters casting ballots (compared to fewer than 40 per cent in the past three elections). Using Dougherty’s formula, that means that only about a third of eligible voters under 30 went to the polls when Rob Ford was elected.

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5 things you wanted to ask Jeremy Diamond of Diamond and Diamond Personal Injury Lawyers

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Q. What is the thing that people always get wrong about personal injury law?

Jeremy Diamond: They are always worried about lawyer fees and that they can’t afford a good personal injury lawyer. Most firms like Diamond and Diamond work on a contingency fee basis, so you do not have to worry about payment until settlement. You can get a great lawyer to work on your injury case just because they believe they will be successful.


Q. How did you get started in the field?

Jeremy Diamond: I come from a family of lawyers. Diamond and Diamond was started by my uncles and I am so proud to be the next generation taking it over. I am equally proud to be working with my wife Sandra Zisckind, my brother in law Isaac Zisckind and my cousin Daniel Diamond.

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The Informer

Columns

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Memoir: having a baby was the easiest decision I ever made. Finding the right sperm donor wasn’t quite so simple

Memoir: having a baby was the easiest decision I ever made. Finding the right sperm donor wasn't quite so simple

Five years ago, my partner, Vanessa, and I decided to start a family. I’d always envisioned being a parent, but never imagined I’d carry a child. I considered myself a butch lesbian; getting pregnant—or worse, breastfeeding—didn’t fit with my self-image. When it came time to decide who would carry the baby, Vanessa and I didn’t even have to discuss it.

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Real Estate

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House of the Week: $1.4 million for a west-end semi with a bedroom by a guy who designed the Drake

House of the Week: 26 Delaware Avenue

Address: 26 Delaware Avenue
Neighbourhood: Palmerston-Little Italy
Agent: Philip Thompson, Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage
Price: $1,398,000

The Place: A block from Dufferin Grove Park, this turn-of-the-century semi belongs to Grid editor-in-chief Laas Turnbull and his family.

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The Informer

Business

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Rogers to the CRTC: take pity on us

rogers-logo

Rogers is in hearings with the CRTC today, negotiating for renewals of 17 of its television broadcast licenses. Unsurprisingly, the media corporation is trying to make the case that some regulatory leniency would help put its TV stations on sound financial footing.

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