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Newsstand: December 30, 2013

It's almost New Year's Eve, the worst time of year to have a cold (because of the kissing). If you do have a cold, though, you're not alone. There should be a support group for us. In the news: former deputy premier George Smitherman's husband has died, Toronto Hydro is closing in on getting power back on across the city, BlackBerry is still (barely) holding in there, Talking Points Memo bestows an honour on Ford, and a holiday ham heist has a happy ending.

matt newsstand raccoon

Christopher Peloso, husband of former deputy premier and Toronto mayoral candidate George Smitherman, has been found dead. Smitherman wrote on Twitter, “We will celebrate his life and we will find comfort somehow in knowing that he has found peace from the depression that has wreaked havoc on his mind.”

Toronto Hydro and Mayor Rob Ford estimate that 3,000 customers are still without power in the GTA. As Toronto Hydro continues to cut down that number, figures are coming in on how much financial damage the ice storm has done to the city. Current estimates place the number at $1 million per day, with a likely total of $8-10 million. Ford wants city council to call a special meeting on January 10 to ask the province for compensation through the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.

Newly instated BlackBerry CEO John Chen has high hopes for the flailing company. It’s been a few years of failures for the former smartphone giant, not least of which was January’s BlackBerry 10 phone line launch. But Chen says he plans to go “back to the roots” of the company. It may be too late, however: the company posted losses of $4.4 billion in the last quarter and on Christmas Eve, co-founder Mike Lazaridis sold $26 million of his shares in the company. Hopefully Chen is the man for the job, because he’s got his work cut out for him.

There’s a lot of insanity and corruption in America, but U.S.-based political news site Talking Points Memo awarded Mayor Ford its Golden Dukes award, “recognizing the year’s best purveyors of public corruption, outlandish behaviour and The Crazy.” Ford tied with failed New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner in the “Best Scandal – Sex and Generalized Carnality” category, and he took top prize in three other categories: best local scandal, the best general scandal, and outstanding achievement in corruption-based chutzpah. Hooray, Toronto!

London, Ont. was the site of a horrific and hilarious Christmastime crime when bandits made off with 180 hams, with a street value of around $20,000. Only 26 of the hams were recovered, but the suspect was also found and will have his day in court.

CORRECTION: December 30, 2013, 9:55 AM This post originally stated that George Smitherman was former deputy mayor, when in fact he served as deputy premier and ran for mayor of Toronto.


  • andrew97

    I think Smitherman was deputy premier, not mayor.

    • TorontoistCopyEditors

      You’re right—and thank you! We’ve made the change.

  • OgtheDim

    How does Rob Ford estimate things like this and how could his estimate possibly be different from Toronto Hydro and thus why should he be included in that sentence?

    • dsmithhfx

      Rob Ford estimates that enough voters will completely forget what an ass he made of himself, the police and everyone else in this city come October 2014. And maybe, if he locks himself in an airtight vault from now until then, that could happen.

      But in reality, he is going to publicly demand Kathleen Wynne — but not his good buddy Jim Flaherty — pay for the city’s losses from the ice storm disaster, or Council find the ever-elusive “efficiencies” to cover it.

      And folks will remember his city-salaried aides passing out Rob Ford fridge magnets in front of an ice-cold TCHC building (the irony surely unintended), while residents shouted “crack addict”.

  • rich1299

    I’m wondering why, if in Ford’s words, the ice storm was “nowhere near an emergency” for Toronto, why he now thinks it rates as a disaster requiring special funding from the province? I would’ve thought for disaster funding the city would’ve had to declare a state of disaster which is quite a bit different from the state of emergency he insisted wasn’t needed.

  • rich1299

    I’m of the opinion there should be a class action lawsuit against
    Toronto Hydro and the city of Toronto for their failure to maintain
    street trees under hydro lines. Those trees and the grassy strips of
    land at the side of the road are city property. In most every other
    Ontario city the local hydro prunes those trees so they don’t take out
    the hydro lines in storms like this one or the last summer one to take
    out power for most of a day. I was very surprised when I first moved to
    Toronto about 20 years ago that hydro lines ran right through the middle
    of trees here. It would be impossible for Toronto Hydro to do the job
    since they only employ two hydro forestry workers. Other Ontario cities
    1/10 or smaller the size of Toronto usually have at least 6 or more
    hydro forestry workers.

    Even if they had maintained these trees there is a good chance power would’ve still been lost for awhile but the damage wouldn’t have been anywhere near as bad as it was and it explains why Toronto was hit so much harder by the same storm that hit cities all over south east Ontario through to New Brunswick. If its done
    regularly it just takes a small bit of pruning every few years since
    all the big branches grow away from the lines, if they fall in a storm they’ll then fall away from the lines. When its not done like in Toronto and the big branches grow over top hydro lines when they fall they’re going to take out the hydro lines no matter what.

    I get its not an issue on major roads or downtown since no large trees grow near street hydro lines or the lines are buried but most of the city isn’t like the major roads or downtown. Its just not practical to bury hydro lines all over the city either though burying a few more feeder lines with every new road re-construction makes sense.