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Reporters probe possible mob ties to Toronto’s construction industry

What is this, Montreal? An investigation published jointly by the Star and the CBC last night suggests that organized crime has, at the very least, a fingerhold on Toronto’s construction industry.

The story’s main character is Cosimo Commisso, a man who was convicted of a number of crimes in the 1980s, including conspiracy to commit murder, and whom the Star and the CBC say police continue to suspect of being a major figure in “traditional organized crime.” Evidence uncovered by the reporters who investigated the story suggests that Commisso is a key figure in a small local company called Construction Labour Force. CLF is a labour supplier that two years ago entered into an unusual collective agreement with LiUNA, a major construction workers’ union with a big Toronto local.

The details are fascinating and well worth reading in full, but they boil down to this: nobody—not even Canadian Labour Force’s spokespeople—can explain why the union would want to get cozy with a private labour-supply company. Also, Commisso denies being in control of the company even though some documents describe him as its contact person, and despite the fact that his nephew and brother are both involved.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions. For the time being, though, just go read the piece.

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The police officer charged with Sammy Yatim’s murder is back at work

(Image: William Mewes)

(Image: William Mewes)

With his preliminary hearing underway, constable James Forcillo, the police officer charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, is back in headlines. And, according to the Toronto Sun, he’s also back on the job. A police spokesperson told the paper that Forcillo has been doing non-uniformed desk duty at police headquarters since Februrary, and that he was reinstated at the discretion of police chief Bill Blair. Forcillo’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, has said that new information in the case led to the officer being allowed to return to work (the court case is currently under a publication ban, so there’s literally no saying what that new information may be). Forcillo was suspended with pay after the shooting.

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Rob Ford may not be charged, but he could still be forced to testify

(Image: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

The CBC points out an interesting footnote to yesterday’s news that the police investigation into Rob Ford has stalled: even though it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the mayor will be charged with any crimes (though it’s worth noting that Toronto Police say they’re still on the case), he could be forced to testify under oath when his friend Sandro Lisi goes to court in late 2014.

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The Toronto Police investigation into Rob Ford hits a snag, as the OPP steps back

(Image: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Last week, rumours began circulating that Rob Ford’s arrest was imminent. The front page of today’s Star describes one reason that was never true: the Ontario Provincial Police, who were called in to oversee the Toronto Police investigation into the mayor’s activities last month, have reduced their role in the case after a disagreement with Toronto detectives.

And disagreements don’t get more fundamental than this. According to the Star, the OPP takes issue with a central assumption of entire Toronto Police investigation: that the mayor or his associates used extortion in an attempt to recover the crack video. The Star’s sources say OPP detective Chris Nicholas, who was assigned to oversee the probe, believes Ford was actually a victim of extortion, not the perpetrator.

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Q&A: Mike Arntfield, host of the new Toronto-based reality series To Catch a Killer

The cop, university professor and TV personality has an urgent message: beware the internet

Q&A: Mike Arntfield, the host of the new Toronto-base reality series To Catch a Killer

As a cop who chases online predators, you have a window into the unsettling world of cyberbullying.
I do. Almost as disturbing as the cyberbullying itself is the police’s inability to do much about it. We lack appropriate legislation, responsiveness from Internet providers and departmental support to allot the time required to investigate properly. Plus, research shows that in the vast majority of cases, victims don’t file reports.

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A Markham family was basically burgled, legally, by police

(Image: William Mewes)

(Image: William Mewes)

It’s a story that seems ripped from a Canadian Real Estate Association commercial, but, according to the Star, it’s completely true. A Markham family came home to find their house apparently burglarized, with all their electronic devices gone. They called 911, only to be told by the police, “Actually, it was us.”

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Surprising nobody, prison officials deny plotting a jailhouse beatdown with Rob Ford

(Image: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Rob Ford’s mayoralty has given the world plenty of unforgettable headlines, and this one ranks with the best of them: “Prison officials deny plotting with Rob Ford in jail attack,” says the Star. There you have it: Toronto politics have arrived at a point where it’s necessary for the Ministry of Correctional Services to deny, specifically, having helped the mayor of Toronto brutally maim an enemy—because right now, in this city, almost anything is possible.

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Ashley Madison’s legal dispute with a Toronto woman gets even more complicated

ashley-madison

What could possibly go wrong at the offices of a website that exists entirely to enable extramarital affairs? Well, this, at least: Doriana Silva, the ex-Ashley Madison employee who brought a lawsuit against the site late last year, is now being countersued by its Toronto-based parent company, Avid Life Media.

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UPDATED: Newly released Project Brazen 2 documents say Ford declined a chance to watch the crack video

(Image: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Media lawyers were in court this morning arguing for the release of yet another batch of search warrant documents related to Project Brazen 2, the ongoing police investigation into Rob Ford. And we all know what that means: more crack-video news.

Today’s release, as ordered by justice Ian Nordheimer, was relatively minor (lawyers working for various media organizations—not including Toronto Life—are still in the process of trying to get more made public), but it does contain one particularly interesting detail. According to the Star, these documents say Toronto Police offered Ford a chance to watch the crack video provided he didn’t discuss it afterward, and that the mayor declined.

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Rob Ford’s friend Sandro Lisi may be an even bigger jerk than previously assumed

Toronto Police surveillance images of Rob Ford meeting secretly with Sandro Lisi. (Image: Toronto Police)

Toronto Police surveillance images of Rob Ford meeting secretly with Sandro Lisi. (Image: Toronto Police)

What little we already knew about Rob Ford’s friend Sandro Lisi wasn’t particularly flattering: late last year he was charged with drug trafficking and extortion after a months-long police probe into his many secret meetings with the mayor, and before that he was convicted of threatening to kill a woman.

The Star’s new investigation into Lisi’s many legal scrapes makes at least two things clear: one, these latest incidents weren’t isolated ones, and two, Lisi is not the sort of person you want to get into a car accident with or perturb in any way. Here’s what the mayor’s good friend—a man Ford has described as “straight as an arrow”—has been up to over the course of the past 15 years or so.

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The Ikea monkey saga is over; he’s free to frolic with other monkeys forever and ever

(Image: @broniewyn/Twitter)

(Image: @broniewyn/Twitter)

Whenever you eat a Swedish meatball or buy a piece of affordable flat-pack furniture, think of Darwin, better known as Ikea monkey, swinging from the lush tree limbs of Sunderland, Ontario and be glad. Never again will he be forced to don a shearling coat and wander North York’s asphalt wastes.

Earlier today, Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary issued a press release saying that Yasmin Nakhuda, Darwin’s one-time owner, is no longer pursuing an appeal of her failed attempt to persuade the courts to return the monkey to her custody. Darwin has been living at Story Book Farm since December 2012, when Nakhuda surrendered him to Toronto Animal Services after he was spotted wandering in the parking lot of the North York Ikea.

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A play-by-play of the escalating Ford-family feud with police chief Bill Blair

(Images: Blair: Courtesy of the Toronto Police Service; Fords: Christopher Drost)

(Images: Blair: Courtesy of the Toronto Police Service; Fords: Christopher Drost)

While it’s somewhat understandable that Doug and Rob Ford would be unhappy with the Toronto Police Service’s ongoing investigation into the mayor’s activities, this week’s escalating hostilities between the brothers and police chief Bill Blair are completely baffling. Demonizing enemies is chapter one in the Ford-family crisis-management playbook, but fighting with Blair gives the appearance of an effort to undermine the rule of law, which is something most politicians would avoid.

How bad is it? This is a direct quote from a press conference Rob Ford held earlier this afternoon:

If he’s going to arrest me, arrest me. I have done nothing wrong. And he’s wasted millions of dollars. I want him to come clean and say, how much money did it cost the taxpayers? For surveillance on me and planes that he had to rent. That is absolutely game-playing, it’s politics. And I am not apologizing.

Here’s how things got to this point.

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UPDATED: Doug Ford gets police chief Bill Blair investigated for misconduct

(Image: Ford: Christopher Drost; Blair: Courtesy of the Toronto Police Service)

(Image: Ford: Christopher Drost; Blair: Courtesy of the Toronto Police Service)

Doug Ford has frequently alleged that his brother Rob’s troubles are the result of a conspiracy against the Ford family. His statements are usually interpreted as attempts to deflect blame for the mayor’s lapses of judgment onto adversaries in the media and in the justice system, and so we can only assume that councillor Ford is pretty pleased with himself for getting one of his complaints taken seriously.

Doug has repeatedly suggested that the Toronto police investigation into the crack video and other evidence of the mayor’s odd behaviour is politically motivated—the result of a secret vendetta being nursed by chief Bill Blair. There’s no evidence to suggest that this is actually the case. Among Doug’s non-sequiturs about Blair’s supposed hidden agenda, though, was one arguably legitimate complaint: during a November news conference, Doug accused Blair of having gone on a fishing trip with Andrew Pringle, a member of the police board. According to the National Post, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, a police watchdog, is now investigating that allegation of misconduct.

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TekSavvy will turn over the names of 2,000 alleged movie pirates

(Image: Pirate flag: Chris Evans)

(Image: Pirate flag: Chris Evans)

In a blow to internet freeloaders nationwide, a federal court decision released on Thursday compels TekSavvy, the Ontario-based discount broadband provider, to disclose the names of about 2,000 customers who are accused of having illegally downloaded movies. The case was initiated by Voltage Pictures, a U.S. production company with stakes in many movies, including 2010 Oscar winner The Hurt Locker.

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Toronto police have GPS data for Rob Ford’s car and are seeking more mayor-related warrants

(Image: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Rob Ford‘s crack scandal may be a book now, but the material for a Crazy Town sequel is already in the works. The Toronto Star reports that the police are still seeking search warrants as part of their ongoing probe of the mayor. The cops are after cellphone records, but you know what they’re not after? GPS records for the OnStar device in Ford’s personal Escalade. That’s because, according to the Star‘s sources, investigators are already hard at work excavating that particular goldmine of locational data. We have no way of knowing what’s being done, but it’s easy to imagine the GPS information being used to put together a map of the mayor’s movements over many months.

Ford says we should read nothing into this. “I will just give [police] my cellphone,” he told the Sun. “They can take it.” The Star says its lawyers are already working to get the warrant documents unsealed, so there’s a very good possibility the public will know more in a few months.

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