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Newsstand: January 6, 2014

It's Monday, the holidays are over, and it's getting cold again. We just can't catch a break. Fortunately you don't need to dig around for the news: the mayoral race coming up this year will be a crowded one indeed, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is looking into having the army help clean up the ice storm's aftermath, a crack-addicted doctor found health and cats, and 61 Torontonians have made it home after being detained in Egypt.

matt newsstand gull

The municipal election is not for another 10 months, but eager beavers are already filing their paperwork and declaring their intentions. Mayor Rob Ford filed his nomination papers on Thursday, Jan. 3, the first day candidates were able to. Since then, the pool of candidates has swelled to 17. Former city councillor David Soknacki is set to be the newest candidate, having stated his plan to file his papers today. While some will almost certainly drop out before the race heats up, it looks like Toronto voters will have their work cut out for them.

The Great Ice Storm of 2013 is behind us, but the cleanup isn’t. It’s expected to take between six and eight weeks and to cost up to $75 million, and Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is apparently considering asking the army to step in and assist with the effort. Confusingly, Kelly both admits his office made “preliminary” calls to officers and claims that he is “not saying ‘call in the army.’” Is he not saying it because he’s already done it? Is he saying “I called in the army”? It’s also rather unclear what use the army, a branch of the military, would be in cleaning up icy broken trees.

Crack cocaine is arguably the least glamorous drug out there, notwithstanding its current mayor-related fame. It’s rare to find a story about anyone but the most down-on-their-luck people crossing paths with crack, even outside its reputation as a staple of inner city America. But John Young was a Toronto doctor when he began using the drug, which was easier to locate than powder cocaine. After a lengthy battle with addiction, Young has worked his way back to sobriety and had his medical license reinstated, and he now uses his past as a way to connect with patients at the Good Shepherd and Fred Victor shelters. As part of his recovery, Young was required to give back to his community. He started a memorial page for a cat that was shot to death, and from there has begun an organization to bring attention to the city’s stray and neglected cats.

A group of 61 Shiite Muslims who had traveled from Canada to Iraq for a holy pilgrimage expected to stay in Cairo during a two-day layover on their return trip, but were barred from leaving the airport. They were barred even from leaving a small section of the airport, though they were provided with food and water and allowed to leave on their departing flight. Neither the group nor Canadian officials seemed to know why the group was detained during its trip, though it may be worth noting that the Egyptian government has taken to harassing Shiites and to publishing anti-Shiite rhetoric, according to a 2013 U.S. Department of State report. Egypt is about 90 per cent Sunni Muslim.

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