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Newsstand: December 13, 2013

It's Friday the 13th. Happy birthday, Mom! In the news: Doug Ford apologizes for throwing his money around, Dean Blundell gets suspended, police can now collect better data for cyclists who don't like getting hit by doors, a panel wants to raise taxes to pay for public transit, and a polar bear cub update.

matt newsstand bikelane

Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) and his recent holly jolly holiday trip to hand out $20 bills at a Toronto Community Housing complex drew more than a fair share of raised eyebrows. Whether you call it a vote-buying tactic or just plain uncouth, Councillor Ford wants you to know that he’s sorry. “If I offended anyone, I apologize. I’m just trying to do some good for people,” Ford told CBC News. Well, now, Doug Ford apologized for something. It’s a Christmas miracle.

Christmas miracles also came a little early this year for anyone who likes good taste and dislikes icky radio shows. Yes, the Dean Blundell Show, the flagship morning radio program for 102.1 the Edge, has been suspended from air pending a review of homophobic comments made pertaining to a court case involving sex assaults—a court case that producer and on-air personality Derek Welsman was the jury foreman of at the time. Welsman hasn’t talked about the incident publicly yet, but Blundell took to the radio station’s website to post a heartfelt completely disingenuous apology. Well, looks like that doesn’t cut it for Corus Entertainment higher-ups. The station’s parent company issued a statement suspending Blundell’s show pending an internal review of the matter.

Unfortunately, Toronto Police cannot make it a Christmas miracle three-peat this morning by magically declaring to cyclists that they’ll never get hit by the opening door of a parked car again. However, they have at least set in place a revised incident reporting system that will yield better and more easily accessible data on “dooring” incidents in the city. According to police, it was as simple as adding a new category to reports that allows police to mark a traffic incident as a “dooring”, thus making it easy to track the number and location of incidents. Cycle Toronto supports the change, saying that this data is the first step toward taking action to reduce dooring in the city.

If only it were so simple to come up with a way to fund public transportation, because yesterday’s recommendations by a provincial panel are not going over exceptionally well. Anne Golden, chair of the Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel, says the group recommends a hike in gas tax by up to 10 cents a litre to generate billions of dollars to put toward public transit within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Golden also outlined another scenario in which the gas tax hike could be capped at 5 cents if the HST were to come up by 0.5 per cent. The Liberal government has not decided whether a tax hike is up for discussion, but the mere suggestion drew ire from both Progressive Conservatives and NDP leaderships. Locally, TTC chair Councillor Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) supports the report, saying, “People understand the cost of congestion, and they want us to get moving, and they want us to get building.” Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly suggested that the federal government should be willing to make more of an investment in public transit. Use your skills of clairvoyance to predict what Doug Ford’s reaction was.

Finally, the Toronto Zoo has some cute and cuddly news to end on this morning. It says that the sole surviving polar bear cub born in a litter of three last month is getting stronger a month after he was removed from his mother. The zoo says he eats a special formula seven times a day, and is beginning to reach milestones such as crawling and rolling over.


  • James D Paterson

    I’m okay with the gas hike as long as it applies ONLY to stations in the GTA, or GTHA, or whatever they’re choosing to call it now. It makes zero sense for someone in the middle of nowhere to pay extra taxes to go to a system they do not use.

    • HotDang

      Okay, but when do the people of Toronto get their taxes lowered so we stop paying for roads and services in the rural parts of the province?

      • James D Paterson

        Roads and such benefit everyone from here to Cornwall to up north and the rest of the province.
        A transit proposal that is SPECIFICALLY for the GTA benefits the (are you ready for it?) GTA.

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          Not quite. Taking GTA residents and employees off highways and putting them on mass transit would benefit drivers and industries outside the region by reducing drive times within it. Reducing commute times would make the GTA region more attractive and productive, which would generate additional revenue for the entire province.

        • Talbot

          Most everything that you buy in your stores flows through warehouses and sorting stations in the GTA. Those bananas you had for breakfast were delivered by truck on GTA roads to your local store. If GTA roads are continually congested the whole system is screwed up and your bananas are likely to raise in price. Everything is connected. Society is team work, dude, play along.

        • Testu

          What good does snow removal or road maintenance in Moosonee do me, as a resident of Toronto?

          And yet I pay for it through my taxes, just as the residents of Moosonee pay for part of our transit network through theirs.

    • Testu

      That’s how provincial taxes work and it’s part of the reason we have a province rather than just a bunch unassociated municipalities.

      Provincial taxes pay for more than just what you use on your specific little patch of dirt.

    • Sean_Marshall

      Unless the money raised elsewhere was used for local transit (and road) projects – there are big LRT projects in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa that could be funded this way. London, Ontario wants to build a BRT system. In rural areas, road projects make sense. The key is doing this fairly.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    What’s the difference between buying a vote with cash or buying it with a gift card? Doug seems oblivious (as usual) that what he was doing was unethical – he’s sorry if he offended anyone, not sorry he did anything wrong.

    • dsmithhfx

      For <$250, Doug got himself in the news handing out $20 bills to poor folks. That only a dozen or so actually got the $20 bills doesn’t even matter.

      • rich1299

        The sad thing is those relatively few $20s will likely make a huge if temporary difference for at least some of those who got them (I’ve been there myself, once found a $20 bill when searching for dropped change, it made my week) but for Doug Ford it was like handing out small change in his effort to change his image from thug and bully to nice guy.