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Newsstand: April 18, 2014

Ah, Easter weekend. A wonderful time for Christians to celebrate Jesus, and non-Christians to celebrate that Jesus gives them extra time off work. In the news: Olivia Chow releases anti-Ford attack ad, expect more city blackouts in the future, and get ready for an early summer election (maybe).

matt newsstand carsandflags

A new anti-Rob Ford ad from Olivia Chow’s mayoral campaign takes aim at one of Ford’s key campaign promises: to “call people back,” or to be in contact with citizens and attend to their problems himself. It’s a neat way to get into contact with the people and, possibly, to avoid doing the work mayors are usually expected to do, much of which takes place at City Hall. But if he’s not actually returning calls, as the woman in Chow’s ad claims, then there’s really not much he is doing. Ford’s brother Doug said the ad was ridiculous, but the Chow campaign maintains that the woman is a real citizen who came to them with her story of reaching out to the mayor 20 times and never hearing back.

Aging infrastructure and a lack of political will to commit resources to the problem mean there will likely be more blackouts in Toronto’s future, a recent Toronto Star article reports. In the last year alone, three major blackouts have affected large swaths of the city: during a rainstorm, over 300,000 Toronto Hydro customers were affected last July; in December and early January about the same number were left without power and heat, in some cases for weeks, after a particularly serious ice storm; and on Tuesday, 120,000 households were plunged into darkness with no immediately discernible cause. It happened that a high-voltage transmission line short-circuited after contacting a hydro pole, which City figures including councillor Josh Colle (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence) say shows the urgency of updating the city’s power infrastructure. Given that we likely have more extreme weather in store for us than we’ve experienced in the past (thanks, global warming; thanks, oilsands) the city’s power infrastructure could pose a major problem.

If the provincial NDP’s secretive training camps are anything to go by, Ontario may be in for an election come May. The party held a two-day training camp lest the May 1 budget fail to garner a majority vote. This is an odd way to look at a vote that the NDP is a part of (meaning they know, to some extent, whether or not it will pass, and the wishy-washy language is probably just a cover). If it does happen, the NDP’s strategy will lean heavily on tactics used by Barack Obama’s two successful campaigns for the U.S. presidency. Marshall Ganz, Harvard University lecturer and key Obama political theorist, put forth ideas on political organizing that helped Obama win and that the NDP hopes will help them win if there’s an election. Expect the budget vote to come no later than May 29, meaning there would be a June 26 election.

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