Black Friday has come to Canada. While people are generally the worst, people hunting for 7 a.m. door crasher sales at big box stores are beyond the worst. Shop local, if only to preserve your sanity. In the news: Apparently Rob Ford is a newsmaker, Toronto will host a Pride House for the Sochi Olympics even if the Sochi Olympics won't host one, a Toronto school is the model for success of Ontario's full-day kindergarten program, a woman is denied entry into the US because of clinical depression, and —sing it with me!— weekend road closures.
Maclean’s has announced its “Newsmaker of the Year” is none other than Mayor Rob Ford. “In a year of some great successes and heroics—and some great, roiling scandals—he was impossible to ignore,” says the editor of Maclean’s, Mark Stevenson. Well, it doesn’t mean we can’t stop trying to ignore him.
You know what shouldn’t be ignored, though? How wonderful this city can often be. Case in point, Toronto is set to host it own Pride House during 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The Olympic Pride House began at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010 as a safe place and resource centre for members of the LGBT community who were participating in or attending the Games as spectators. It continued at the Summer Olympics in London last year, but Russian officials denied an application for a Pride House to take place at the Games in Sochi, no doubt due to the horrific anti-gay climate that currently exists in the country. Well, Toronto ain’t havin’ any of that. While details are still being worked out, the Toronto Pride House hopes to bring awareness to the plight of the LGBT community in Russia, while celebrating the Games by hosting Olympic broadcast viewings and activities. It is also been confirmed that Toronto will host a Pride House during the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan American Games. Nicely done, Toronto!
Warning: People who dislike children might want to skip ahead to the next paragraph. If you’re still reading: a north Toronto school is being touted as a fine example of the benefits that all-day kindergarten has on child development. The Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy is one of the largest all-day kindergarten schools in North America with 640 students, and is regarded as one of the best case studies at how early childhood education influences learning —both in the classroom and at home. While a recent study by an associate professor at the University of Manitoba says there is no direct evidence that children who attend all-day kindergarten programs perform better at school than their peers who do not, Ontario-based researchers at Queen’s and McMaster beg to differ. They tracked 700 children and found that children enrolled in the province’s all-day kindergarten programs were better prepared for entrance into grade one. Parents at Fraser Mustard see a difference in their children, saying many come home with an increased interest in reading.
Two feel-good headlines back to back, it’s almost too good to be true, right? Well, brace yourself for something truly disturbing. On Monday, a woman was denied entry into the United States at Pearson Airport after U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent cited information from her private medical history. Ellen Richardson, who is a paraplegic, was on her way to New York City to embark on a Caribbean cruise set up by the March of Dimes when she was told that, due to a 2012 hospitalization for clinical depression, she would not be granted entry into the United States until she received an assessment from a doctor approved by the Department Homeland Security. So, realistically, what is worse about this picture? Do we get enraged about the treatment of mental health issues before or after we collectively gasp that our “private” medical records are potentially fair game for Homeland Security? Big Brother is probably watching us, so we should all just shut up now.
Finally, parting is such sweet sorrow, but alas here is one tiny gift until we meet again tomorrow. Here is a laundry list of road and public transit closures that will make your weekend super terrific. Worth noting: The Cavalcade of Lights takes place this Saturday, and as result Bay Street—from Dundas Street West to Queen Street West—will be closed in both directions between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.