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Newsstand: April 9, 2014

Wednesday—the day that we all feel like packing it in and calling it a week. Keep pushing forward. We can make it. In the news: changes are in store for Toronto liquor licences, a vague draft policy on carding needs more work, Rob Ford has some new muscle on his re-election campaign team, and the Leafs are not playoff-bound.

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It seems like the streets of Toronto are becoming the Wild West of liquor sales, since The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has forced the hand of change in the city by informing municipal officials that it will no longer enforce the conditions that are currently attached to liquor licences in Toronto. It will be now up to municipal inspectors to police all issues not covered under the provincial Liquor Licence Act, including service to minors, overcrowding, and after-hours service. It was a surprise policy change that City officials were made aware of on March 14, and it lead city council to pass a motion on April 1 that makes future liquor licence applications more arduous. Now all applications will go through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Safe Bars program, and applicants must get a letter of support from the local MPP. Where these conditions are not met, the application will go to a hearing for further deliberation. The more stringent licence application process is now a must, says Councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale—High Park), due to the fact that the province will no longer enforce the conditions that the City placed on all previously issued licences in an attempt to keep venues in compliance. Local critics of the provincial changes say that they will lead to problems, since Toronto inspectors can only enforce City bylaws, which carry fairly light penalties.

While the first draft policy on the controversial practice of carding represents a step in the right direction, the Ontario Human Rights Commission says it does not resolve human rights concerns. In a public meeting on Tuesday night, Barbara Hall of the Commission told members of the Toronto Police Services Board that until the policy document is declared legal by either the courts or a human rights tribunal, all carding should be stopped. The draft policy will not stop carding as the Toronto Police chief writes new procedures; instead, it allows for carding for the “purpose of ensuring public safety.” This, says detractors, is too vague of a statement. Lawyer Frank Addario—who helped create the draft policy—says, “We have agreed to make the policy pivot on a definition of public safety purpose. The practical effect of the policy is only as good as the definition of public safety purpose.” The board is currently working toward providing a draft definition that will clarify what constitutes public safety, and board chair Alok Mukherjee says the policy may change before it goes to vote on April 24.

In news that is too strange not to mention, yesterday Mayor Rob Ford introduced two new faces to his re-election campaign. Who, you ask, has joined his illustrious team? Disgraced Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson, and Trailer Park Boys actor Sam Tarasco. At this point, every day is a brand new gift to Jimmy Kimmel.

Finally, we are all trapped in a glass case of emotion this morning, since the Toronto Maple Leafs have—once again—been ousted from playoff contention after losing 3-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning last night. Single tear.

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