The details aren’t totally clear, but the Sun reports that William Byers, a 60-year-old Rob Ford campaign volunteer, has been charged with one count each of assault, mischief and theft after a scuffle with a guy in an oversized rubber Ford mask at Ford’s Scarborough campaign office on Wednesday afternoon. The masked man, Paul Benoit of Oakville, evidently walked into the office holding a camera. In a video presumably captured by that camera, he can be heard saying: “So, now it’s time to have some real fun. We’re going to walk into Rob Ford’s office, and, uh, we’re just going to see what everyone has to say about voting for ‘me.’” The shit-disturbing experiment ends all of ten seconds later when a campaign worker (presumably Byers) physically hauls Benoit back out the door. At the end of the clip, the camera seems to hit pavement.
For the third time since becoming mayor, Rob Ford may be forced to give testimony in court. He wouldn’t be talking about anything as tame as conflict of interest or libel this time around, though. The Star reports that Toronto Police are getting ready to subpoena the mayor in his friend Sandro Lisi’s extortion case. If Ford is made to testify in court against Lisi, he may have to answer questions about Lisi’s alleged attempts to recover the crack video in the days after its existence became known to the public. Court testimony is given under oath, so any lies would be perjury. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 2, several months after election day.
Almost a year to the day after the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, a long-awaited report on police encounters with mentally disturbed people is finally available for public consumption. The 400-page document was prepared at the request of police chief Bill Blair by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci in the aftermath of the tragedy. While it doesn’t deal specifically with Yatim, it does contain 84 recommendations intended to make the Toronto Police Service better at dealing with people like him, who seem to be suffering from some kind of extreme mental or emotional distress when they come into contact with cops. (Yatim, remember, is believed to have been intimidating fellow streetcar passengers with a knife before police got involved.)
There are a number of seemingly useful ideas among the recommendations, including a proposal to arm some front-line police officers with tasers on a trial basis, to give them a new alternative to lethal force. (It’s an idea that has been floated several times already.) The report also calls for the creation of a mental-health oversight committee that would consist of police officials and representatives from healthcare organizations and psychiatric facilities. Ultimately, though, the greatest idea to come out of the whole exercise is probably best summed up by Iacobucci’s statement at today’s press conference, quoted in the Star: “The premise of the report is the target should be zero deaths when police interact with a member of the public,” he said. “No fatalities” would be a fairly low bar to success for most organizations, but in the case of TPS, we’ll take it.
For three years, Ian Borbely told everyone that his girlfriend, Samantha Collins, had abandoned him and their young son. Then a cottager found a mysterious crate hidden beneath his floorboards
Samantha Collins met Ian Borbely at a mutual friend’s party in 2003. They came from different worlds. She was 25 and striking, with long black hair and fair skin. She’d been raised by a single mom in Mississauga and never knew her father. She got pregnant in high school, dropped out and gave up custody of her baby. After that, she started selling drugs and working as a stripper at a club near Pearson to earn a living. Borbely was three years older, a bodybuilder from Bracebridge, the son of doting middle-class parents. His friends describe him as a gentle teddy bear—the nicest guy in the room. He’d moved to Toronto to work as a personal trainer, taking a fence-building gig on the side. He was attracted to Collins, and after that first hookup he invited her to move into his place.
As far as we know, Rob Ford has never cooperated with Project Brazen 2, the Toronto Police–led criminal probe into his activities, but it seems as though his sister Kathy doesn’t feel the same reticence. The Sun reports that she spoke to police investigators following the Globe and Gawker stories about the second crack video, which is believed to have been filmed in her basement. The Sun’s sources say Kathy didn’t incriminate her brother, and it’s unknown what significance her involvement will ultimately have for the case.
Let this be a lesson to all library-goers: keep your phallic vegetables to yourself. Here’s a mugshot of the alleged perp, from the Toronto Police Service website:
—Percentage of respondents to a Department of Justice online survey who answered “no” when asked whether selling sexual services should be a criminal offense in Canada, according to CTV News. Oddly, 56 per cent of respondents thought buying sex should be illegal.
A judge settled a dog-poop dispute between two Forest Hill couples in the most sarcastic way possible
Only in Forest Hill could a dispute over dog poop escalate into a lawsuit. Fortunately for all of us, Justice E.M. Morgan, who was recently forced to spend precious time adjudicating just such a case, turns out to have been the perfect person for the job. His written judgment, released online yesterday, takes what may be the pettiest local legal dispute of the year and smacks down everyone involved in a way that is both devastatingly sarcastic and completely dignified. Wealthy people of Toronto, take note: this is what happens when you actually make good on a threat to sic your lawyer on a neighbour who annoys you.
Here’s an excerpt from a December 1993 Globe and Mail article about the excesses of paid-duty policing—a kind of official rent-a-cop service offered by the Toronto Police Service, for which off-duty police officers are paid an hourly wage to stand guard over private and public functions and construction projects:
Police officers in Metropolitan Toronto received almost $9-million in addition to their regular salaries last year by renting their services to private clients.
A long-established practice known as paid duties permits off-duty constables to boost their incomes—in some cases to as high as $80,000 or $90,000—by directing traffic, acting as security guards or escorting funeral processions.
And here’s the Toronto Star on Sunday:
Last year, 3,047 off-duty cops earned $26.1 million for performing 51,526 jobs ranging from “traffic control” on construction sites to providing security for community events. That’s an increase from 2009 when 3,700 officers picked up 40,919 freelance assignments for a total bill of $24.2 million.
Paid-duty assignments originate from a wide variety of sources, including private organizations, construction companies, utilities and special event organizers, along with city agencies such as Toronto Hydro, the TTC and some city divisions.
So, that’s progress, of a sort. In two decades, Toronto has gone from being outraged over $9 million in payments to off-duty cops, to being outraged about $26 million in payments to off-duty cops.
Don’t panic, Liberty Villagers, Parkdalians and Corktownspeople, but listen carefully: your parts of the city are home to above-average concentrations of sex offenders.
For that delightful piece of information, thank Global News, which spent six years battling the provincial government in court in order to get this information released. A map prepared by the news outlet and released on its website earlier today helpfully colour-codes all of Ontario’s postal codes according to the number of registered sex offenders living in each of them, per 100,000 residents.
John Greyson is the quintessential loud-and-proud gay activist—earnest, ardent and perpetually revved up about one cause or another. On a trip to Cairo last year, after being arrested, beaten and thrown into a fetid cell with 37 other men, his subversive background became a serious liability. Fifty days inside Tora Prison
Before he travelled to Egypt last summer, John Greyson had been arrested twice in his life. The first time was in 1983, when he happened to walk perilously close to a bathhouse that was the subject of a police stakeout. The second time was a few years later, at an Eaton Centre “kiss-in” held by the LGBT activist organization Queer Nation. On both occasions, he was held only briefly and was never charged with anything—men making out with men in public, to the chagrin of the cops, was not a criminal offence.
“Thank you and I am very, very sorry.”
-Kathy Ford, apologizing on Monday to Justice of the Peace Diane McAleer after arriving hours late to court. According to the Star, Kathy was convicted two years ago of stealing “a quantity of toothbrushes” from a Zellers and ordered to do 25 hours of community service. Monday’s hearing was related to her failure to provide of proof of having done those hours. In February, she actually did miss a court date, and was arrested and released on $500 bail. Creative day-planning must run in the family.
I grew up in the Vineways, a townhouse in Willowdale populated largely by immigrant and working-class families. It was a low-income housing development, with walls so thin you knew what your neighbours were having for dinner—but it was home. The Vineways was one of several projects in the area, all with similar names (the Willoways, the Briarways, the Fernways). It always seemed funny to me that every complex nearby had the suffix “way,” as if we were going somewhere.
It’s organized-crime week in Toronto, apparently. On Thursday, the same day reports of possible mob infiltration into Toronto’s construction industry surfaced in the press, a man was shot and killed outside the Regina Café in Woodbridge. Today, the papers are reporting that the dead man is Carmine Verduci, an alleged mobster with ties to the ‘Ndrangheta, an Italian crime organization with international reach.
The National Post interviewed Verduci in 2011, after Italian authorities put out a warrant for his arrest. The paper’s description of that interview today is incredible: