Paul Ainslie

The Informer

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Rob Ford isn’t invited to this year’s Garrison Ball

(Image: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

The 2013 Garrison Ball was, in a sense, the start of Rob Ford’s real troubles, because it was the source of the first detailed news reports about his substance-abuse issues. The story of the mayor’s bad behaviour broke wide open in the Star after councillor Paul Ainslie came forward to say that he’d been forced to ask an intoxicated Ford to leave the glitzy event, an annual military benefit.

Now the story has a coda: according to the Star, Ford isn’t invited to this year’s Garrison Ball—though John Wright, one of the organizers, says it’s not because of his previous behaviour, or because of his crack scandal. (It’s worth noting, though, that Wright was one of several Garrison Ball organizers who tried to cover the mayor’s tracks by issuing an open letter denying that anyone had asked Ford to leave last year’s event.)

Whatever the case, deputy mayor Norm Kelly will be attending the 2014 ball in Ford’s place.

The Informer

Politics

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POLL: Is Rob Ford being a robo-call bully?

(Images: phone, Frédéric Bisson; Rob Ford, Christopher Dros)

(Images: phone, Frédéric Bisson; Rob Ford, Christopher Drost)

Speeches, radio shows and fridge magnets are no longer enough for Rob Ford, who on Friday found a new way to broadcast his message: the heretofore demonized robo-call. After councillor Paul Ainslie slammed Ford’s cherished Scarborough subway extension at last week’s council meeting, the mayor—via telephone robot—called residents in Ainslie’s Scarborough ward. “It was extremely, extremely unfortunate that your councillor, Paul Ainslie, was the only Scarborough councillor who did not listen to his constituents and voted against the Scarborough subway,” says Ford during the minute-long message. Ainslie called the tactic “political thuggery” and plans to file a complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner. The Toronto Sun’s Mike Strobel called Ainslie “Councillor Cream Puff” and says that he “wimped out.” Ford, meanwhile, remains unrepentant: “That’s my job—to tell taxpayers how their money is being spent. I don’t know what [Ainslie] is so upset about.”

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Should Rob Ford be allowed to make robo-calls aimed at specific councillors?

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The Informer

Politics

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The five weirdest metaphors Toronto city councillors used to describe the Scarborough subway

rob-ford-subway-dream2

(Images: Rob Ford, Christopher Drost; subway, gloom)

After four years, countless political squabbles and at least six competing proposals, Rob Ford’s Scarborough subway dream is finally coming true. The mayor fist-pumped heartily yesterday evening after the crucial vote for a three-stop subway extension to replace the Scarborough SRT. Queen’s Park and Ottawa will contribute $1.48 billion and $660 million, respectively, which leaves Toronto taxpayers on the hook for about $1 billion over the next 30 years (a sum that will be raised by a 1.6-per-cent property tax levy and a development charge hike). Given the bitter, years-long fight over Toronto transit, we weren’t surprised that the debate was heated. We were, however, a little taken aback by the oddly vivid metaphors favoured by several councillors. Below, the day’s five strangest similes.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Hero Burger is going to run the new snack bar at Nathan Phillips Square

After a surprisingly contentious three-hour debate, city council has decided to give Hero Certified Burgers the contract for the new snack bar space in the refurbished Nathan Phillips Square. Some councillors, including Paul Ainslie and Adam Vaughan, argued, reasonably enough, that the “gateway” to City Hall should have something more spectacular than a mere burger franchise, and pushed instead for a partnership with a culinary school. On the other side were mayor Rob Ford and his allies, who argued, also reasonably enough, that councillors shouldn’t meddle in a competitive bid process, which Hero had already won. City Hall has also awarded a contract to caterer Cashew and Clive to operate a concession stand during skating season, and will soon accept bids for a larger café space nearby, which is likely to set off another round of recriminations. After all, the city doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to picking food vendors. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Politics

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Reaction Roundup: city hall insiders respond to allegations that Rob Ford has a drinking problem

The Toronto Star created a city-wide firestorm when its story about Rob Ford’s alleged drinking problem hit newsstands yesterday. The article, which relies on the testimony of several anonymous sources, elicited feverish and contradictory responses from a host of Toronto’s prominent people, including the Star’s editor-in-chief Michael Cooke (who calls it “airtight”) and Ford himself (who says it’s “just lies after lies and lies”). We take up the main points of contention below. 

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The Informer

Politics

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The Toronto Star asks: does Rob Ford have a drinking problem?

(Image: Christopher Drost)

The Toronto Star took aim at Rob Ford once again this morning with a lengthy story alleging that the mayor struggles to control his binge drinking. While the deeply reported article contains plenty of specific details—some bordering on lurid—from current and former staffers, none of them were willing to put their names in print. Below, we round up the story’s biggest claims.

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The Informer

Politics

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Is the Toronto casino dead? Politicos weigh in

The chances of a splashy Toronto casino slimmed significantly yesterday when premier Kathleen Wynne nixed a plan to give the city a better deal (read: larger hosting fees) than any other casino-hosting region. The upshot: the much-ballyhooed $50-to-$100 million a year in cash for Toronto is likely no longer realistic, which several councillors said effectively kills any possibility of a gambling den. However, others—including Rob Ford—aren’t giving up hope. Below, reactions from some of the more opinionated players in the casino debate.

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The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford re-ignites his election campaign at the biggest Ford Fest ever

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Forget TIFF: The biggest party this weekend was Rob Ford’s annual barbecue. No, seriously—Ford Fest attracted more than 6,000 people to his mom Diane Ford’s backyard in Etobicoke, where they lined up for charred meat, listened to councillor Gary Crawford’s cover band and duly gave their names, addresses and phone numbers for “security purposes.” We’ve rounded up the highlights of this year’s event:

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The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford wants to freeze property taxes but even his allies aren’t enthusiastic 

In a letter to the city manager late last week, Rob Ford called for a property tax freeze to begin in 2014—which, conveniently, also happens to be a municipal election year. The letter wasn’t a total surprise, but even the mayor’s allies on council are sounding wishy-washy about the plan. Paul Ainslie told the Toronto Star the tax rate should be set so that city hall can at least cover its costs; David Shiner said he’d love to support a freeze but was worried about cuts to city services; and Peter Milczyn chose his words carefully, saying it “might be a viable thing to do.” Ford hasn’t outlined exactly how he plans to balance the books (a freeze could hinder the city’s ability to pay for already-negotiated salary increases, or wage and service costs that are tied to inflation), so we suspect his 2014 campaign will call for more waste-cutting to keep the budget afloat without raising taxes. After all, the mayor’s latest motto is “I can’t support taxing the taxpayer.” [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford continues to ignore city hall rules; still, his allies steadfastly support him

(Image: Christopher Drost)

In the midst of a heated debate at city hall, important things are sometimes forgotten—like good manners, logic or apparently, whether or not you have a real or perceived conflict of interest in the matter at hand. Last week, city council voted to dismiss the integrity commissioner’s recommendation that Rob Ford repay the lobbyists who donated money to his family’s football foundation, and the Globe and Mail reports, Ford didn’t even bother to declare a conflict of interest before participating in the debate that preceded it.

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The Informer

Politics

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Library board embarrasses Rob Ford, rejecting his call for a 10 per cent cut

(Image: Christopher Drost)

After much speculation and stalling, the library board voted to reject reductions aimed at meeting Rob Ford’s city-wide demand for a 10 per cent budget cut. With Ford’s proposed 2012 budget under heavy scrutiny, and other cuts to city programs (like food for under-served children) already taken off the table, the public rejection by a board the mayor basically hand-picked himself only adds insult to injury. Of course, Ford is no stranger to being thwarted in public, and on the shame scale, we’d put this one somewhere closer to being stiff-armed by the police than running in the face of a 22 Minutes camera crew.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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City hall councillor wants to bring back free food so that he can sit still 

James Pasternak has an idea for making things a little more civil during city council meetings: bring back the snacks. Council voted to eliminate snacks shortly after Rob Ford—hater of gravy, snacks and, worst of all, gravy-smothered snacks—became mayor. (City hall saved 48,000 big ones!) Of course, Pasternak emphasized that no one is talking about “a 50-foot, Las Vegas–style, all-you-can-eat buffet”; the reasonable Pasternak only wants food at full council meetings and believes it should be paid out of councillors’ budgets. Frankly, our faith in government is slightly shaken by the suggestion that elected officials can’t sit still if they aren’t provided food (although Pasternak did suggest that other snack-related benefits include greater focus and harmony). Regardless, Pasternak’s hopes will probably be crushed, due to opposition on both sides of the political aisle. Adam Vaughan thinks all this snack talk amounts to yet another distraction at a time when council is “taking the necessities of life literally away from people.” The Star also notes that Paul Ainslie is avoiding white bread and deli meats. Now that’s principle. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

The Informer

Random Stuff

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Welfare recipients can skip the Money Mart: Toronto to start handing out debit cards instead of cheques

A Money Mart on Yonge Street (Image: Neal Jennings)

News like this is enough to make anyone believe there really might be gravy to be found at city hall. Toronto’s latest to attempt at finding savings embraces a radical new technology from the early 1990s: debit cards. Yes, the city will soon be rolling out plastic rectangles in place of cheques for some recipients of Ontario Works—and saving as much as $2.5 million in the process.

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