Get ready for the budget debate! In the news: Mayor Ford is confident about the 2013 budget; looks like a political glass ceiling is about to be broken in Ontario; the TDSB has to pick an interim leader; the skilled-trades union may not get free rent from the school board for much longer; Toronto's city planner continues to speak her mind; and Milos Raonic is through to the next round at the Australian Open.
Toronto’s budget debate is set to start today, with the topics to be discussed including cuts to fire services, what to do with the Gardiner, and road repairs. Ford made the media rounds yesterday in advance of the debate, saying he’d be “shocked” if the budget isn’t approved as is, but some councillors—including Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s West), looking for more money added to student nutrition programs—are still working to make changes.
Ontario is likely to get its first female premier later this month, as candidates Sandra Pupatello and Kathleen Wynne head into the January 25–27 leadership convention for the provincial Liberals leading in delegates. After weekend delegate elections through Liberal riding associations, youth clubs, and university clubs, Pupatello leads the pack with 504 delegates, while Wynne has 463.
Toronto District School Board Deputy Director Donna Quan is running things for now, but trustees debated late Monday night about who should replace former Director of Education Chris Spence—who recently resigned after it was found that he plagarized parts of an opinion piece he wrote for the Toronto Star—as interim director. After hours of debate, the trustees will meet again on Wednesday to continue the discussion. Spence admitted plagiarizing the Star piece, and other writings of his—including his doctoral thesis for the University of Toronto—are currently being investigated as well.
In other TDSB news, Chairman Chris Bolton confirmed to the National Post that the board is covering rent and utilities for the skilled-trades union accused of overbilling the school board for maintenance and repairs—but also said the situation may soon change. “We are no longer willing to give them [the union] the space,” Bolton said about the Maintenance Construction and Skilled Trades Council. “We are having to redefine the landscape.”
In a speech yesterday to the Board of Trade, Toronto’s chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat called council “highly politicized.” “I can tell you, it ain’t a pretty place over there at City Hall some days,” Keesmaat said in her first speech to the board since becoming the city’s planner. The comments follow her already established path of not censoring her thoughts on how the city is run: she’s previously spoken publicly on reopening the environmental assessment of the Gardiner and the need for new taxes.
And Thornhill’s own Milos Raonic, currently ranked 13th in the world, began his Australian Open tournament play yesterday, winning his opening match against Jan Hajek 3–6, 6–1, 6–2, 7–6. Another Canadian player, Jesse Levine, plays Spain’s Tommy Robredo later today.