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Newsstand: March 14, 2013

Well, that whole papal conclave sure flew by, didn't it? In other news: Ford still says no to new taxes for transit, the city's lobbyists could have a curfew, activists plan to take on police "carding," and thousands attend a memorial for Stompin' Tom.

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Representatives from multiple levels of government smiled for the cameras yesterday at a press conference organized around getting shovels giant, terrifying boring machines in the ground for the Toronto-York Spadina subway extension. Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mayor Rob Ford both spoke to reporters about transit’s future. Wynne once again backed her support for taxes, tolls, and other revenue sources to help pay for transit. Ford stood firmly against any new taxes, because he’s not a huge fan of political suicide. Instead, he alluded to having some other way of financing subways in the city but, as usual, didn’t go into details.

The amount of lobbying going on at City Hall might have boomed in recent years but, like all booms, it could be on its way down. The city’s lobbyist registrar is calling for limits on when lobbyists are allowed to contact councillors. The registrar hasn’t spoken to reporters about the recommendation, but we think it’s safe to say she wants to avoid the perception that lobbyists and politicians get together after hours for booze-soaked games of “Let’s Sell the City Out to Corporate Interests.” Or maybe it’s something else.

In a moral victory for anyone treated unfairly by police, a judge has slammed police officers for unnecessarily beating a man and then trying to cover it up in court. Whether anything substantive comes of it, though, is still up in the air.

Meanwhile, the police practice of stopping individuals to collect information, also known as “carding,” is still going on despite widespread criticism. In response, activists and lawyers frustrated by the lack of action from the City’s police board are looking into creating a smartphone app for people to document their interactions with police. The data could eventually lead to a class action lawsuit, that staple of the American judicial system that, like cherry Coke, never quite caught on here.

In all this political cynicism and papal optimism, it’s easy to forget that Canada lost a great musician and mythmaker recently. Thousands gathered last night to mourn the loss of Stompin’ Tom Connors. At least we know his music is almost certainly going to live on.

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