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Newsstand: April 23, 2014

So, what did you do to mark Earth Day, yesterday? Nothing? Not even a Happy Earth Day card for your favourite tree? In the news: John Tory wants to be the man who planted trees, a recent study about aboriginal mortality rates in Toronto was misrepresented in the media, a woman finds a snake in her bathroom and wonders how it got there, and Flashdance—yes, that Flashdance—was inspired by Toronto and Hamilton.

matt newsstand wateringlawn

John Tory wants you to know that, like the Lorax, he speaks for trees. Yesterday, the mayoral candidate planted a red oak at the Evergreen Brickworks to mark Earth Day. He announced plans to plant 3.8 million trees in Toronto, if elected. In an effort to thwart the Once-lers of the world, Tory pledged to plant 380,000 trees over the next 10 years in order to maintain the city’s tree canopy. While the current municipal budget only allows for planting 120,000 trees per year, Tory says not to worry! He can find that extra money in a hurry. By collecting dollars from partners near and far, it will not be hard to plant more trees wherever you are! All Dr. Seuss rhyming aside, Tory plans to coordinate funding with Toronto parks, Evergreen Brickworks and Trees Foundation, and private-sector donations. Sadly, no Bar-ba-loots come with this deal.

Recent news reports about a study that claims the life expectancy of aboriginal people in Toronto is 37 have been inaccurate, according to the doctor who authored the study. Dr. Chandrakant Shah studied the deaths of 109 aboriginal people in the city between 2010 and 2012, and did find that in those deaths the average age was 37. However, he says this statistic does not reflect all aboriginal people in Toronto. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians who report having aboriginal ancestry do have a shorter life expectancy by three to seven years, but Dr. Shah says that Statistics Canada’s findings are unreliable because they depend on long form census data alone, and many aboriginal people do not participate in the census. Dr. Shah’s report was based on records kept by Anishnawbe Health Toronto and three other social service agencies, and has also been perceived as being a study about homeless people, which he says is also untrue.

A woman in Toronto’s east end encountered what is likely a ball python in the bathroom of her apartment early Tuesday morning. If she owned a python this would have been normal. But she does not own a python. Police say the snake may have come into her bathroom via the building’s drainage system, or through the wall of another apartment unit. Yikes.

Tom Hedley, the screenwriter of the ’80s box office hit Flashdance, says that he drew inspiration for the film at Gimlets Bar in Toronto, and Stelco steel company in Hamilton. The film—in which Jennifer Beals plays a welder-by-day who dreams of going to dance school—was inspired by real women Hedley knew who were apprentice pipe fitters at Stelco. Because entertainment industry types can never leave well enough alone, Flashdance, the musical, is set to hit the stage at Ed Mirvish Theatre for a limited run, from May 27 to June 8. Cue the bucket of water.

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