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Newsstand: March 21, 2014

It was a nice couple of months without daily Rob Ford news, wasn't it? But now it seems we're back to the old status quo. Today's news: Ford issues defence against accusation that he orchestrated a jailhouse beating, construction lags behind in rollout of all-day kindergarten, councillors plan to put forward a motion upholding the ban on jets at Toronto Island Airport, and the Star reflects on the winter we just survived.

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Mayor Rob Ford filed a statement of defence in response to a lawsuit alleging that he arranged the jailhouse beating of his sister’s former partner Scott MacIntyre. MacIntyre, who was in jail at the time for uttering a death threat to Ford, alleges he was beaten because he had threatened to expose the mayor’s drug activities. MacIntyre had mentioned a leaked video showing Ford uttering death threats and jumping around erratically as evidence of Ford’s intent to harm MacIntyre. That video was leaked to the Toronto Star, which paid for and then posted it publicly. Ford claimed this week the video showed him imitating professional wrestler Hulk Hogan. It’s been a few months since news stories of this type were near-daily occurrences, but as the mayoral election, which Ford is a part of, heats up, expect to see more. There is no escape.

The provincial government implemented an ambitious plan in 2009 to bring full-day kindergarten to Ontario in a bid to improve graduation rates. Despite the fact that the plan has been slowly rolling out over the last five years, some schools are struggling to meet the upcoming deadline to have fully renovated classrooms that will allow for more play-based learning. That is in part because the plan called for an incremental rollout, with the schools requiring no renovations going first. With just months to go before the fall 2014 deadline, many schools, especially in parts of Toronto, are worried they will still be working on renovations.

A report for the City released Thursday called for talks on the proposed expansion of the Toronto Island Airport, a controversial issue that divides the mayoral candidates as well as many city residents. But several councillors are pushing to remove the question of whether or not to allow jets at the airport by bringing a motion to uphold the ban on jets—a motion that one councillor, Pam McConnell (Ward 28, Toronto Centre), called an “elegant compromise”—to the April 1 city council meeting. Without the motion, the issue of the airport expansion and jets flying in and out of the airport will become an important issue in the upcoming civic election, and many city councillors want to avoid just that. According to Councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale—High Park), who opposes lifting the ban on jets, “The only way this isn’t an election issue is if council says no jets and the TPA goes away.”

The Toronto Star published a gleeful farewell to “the winter that was.”

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