It's Friday, which is great, but it's still cold as all get-out, which is not great. Apparently, it's about to get colder, too, so get ready for that. A group in town wants the City to extend last call to 4 a.m., protesters rallied for a jailed Canadian journalist, and taxpayers are paying for a mayor's legal woes (and it's not Rob Ford).
A new group called LastCallTO is asking the City to change its “nightlife hours,” or the time businesses have to stop serving alcohol, from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. Many bars and restaurants are allowed to serve until 4 a.m. during special events, notably the Toronto International Film Festival. Reaction from the City’s political establishment seems cool so far: Mayor Rob Ford said he is currently against the proposal because he doesn’t “know the cost of the policing two o’clock in the morning, three o’clock in the morning, four o’clock in the morning”—although police officials say that if the law changes, they will adjust accordingly. With the Toronto Transit Commission unequivocally promising not to extend subway hours, later drinking hours might just make things more inconvenient for anyone whose favourite bar is not within walking distance of their home. If you want to support the movement, head to the group’s website and sign the petition.
Yesterday marked a global day of action for several Al-Jazeera English journalists, including Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, who are currently imprisoned in Egypt. Dozens of protesters gathered in Nathan Phillips Square, and actions took place in over 30 other cities around the world to demand the journalists’ release from jail and denounce the practice of jailing journalists. People carried signs and wore T-shirts declaring that “journalism is not a crime” and showcasing the hashtag “#FreeAJStaff,” which has been used on Twitter as a global rallying cry. The journalists have been accused of belonging to or aiding and abetting a terrorist organization and are said to have spread “false news,” but their imprisonment is widely understood to be politically motivated.
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion will be reimbursed by local taxpayers for money she spent on legal fees during a conflict-of-interest lawsuit in 2013. McCallion voted to extend the transition period for higher development fees, which Mississauga resident Elias Hazineh alleged benefited McCallion’s son to the tune of $11 million. McCallion’s son was at the time pursuing a high-value real estate project, but the project never came to pass. An ally of McCallion brought a motion earlier this month at a regional council meeting to pay back the mayor’s legal expenses, which came to $563,420.58; council voted to reimburse $50,000 of that total. An amendment to the council’s by-law has been proposed to financially protect members found not guilty of conflict-of-interest charges. Hazineh, whose charge against McCallion did not hold up in court and who was ordered to pay the mayor $170,000, called the amendment “bittersweet.” He no longer has to pay the mayor but is upset that taxpayers will now be “stuck with a bill they don’t deserve to be stuck with.”