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Newsstand: June 11, 2014

Andrea Horwath has shot down the possibility of an NDP-Tory coalition, calling the idea “bullspit.” Get it? It’s a curse word, except it's not really a curse word. Edgy. In the news: A Toronto man is accused of spying in China, the former director of education at the TDSB fights to save his PhD, Toronto moves toward becoming a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants, and the Toronto Reference Library can now print store-quality books.

matt newsstand wateringlawn

Ryan Collins was living a pretty quiet life in China, by his own account. The Torontonian had moved to Shenzhen—a major city in the southern province of Guangdong—where he worked as a freelance computer repairman. It was a good life—until the owner of a software company allegedly asked him to spy on the Canadian government. It can really put a damper on things when that happens. According to Collins, the man asked him “to get into the Canadian government via a software program, paired with hardware which would be used by the Chinese government through this individual and his company to commit espionage in Canada.” Collins was arrested, charged with espionage, and jailed almost immediately after he cut ties to the man he says asked him to spy. He spent eight days in jail, where he says he was beaten, before his family was able to pay approximately C$1,000 to get him free and into a safe house. His family is now raising funds to get him back to Canada safely. It sounds like a story that has all the trappings of a good Hollywood movie, so here’s hoping Collins can at least option the rights to his life story when this is over.

Chris Spence, the disgraced former director of education at the Toronto District School Board, is asking the University of Toronto to drop charges of plagiarism against him. Spence, who resigned from the TDSB after plagiarized passages were discovered in newspaper opinion pieces and blog posts that he penned, has been under investigation by the University of Toronto over the content of his 1996 PhD dissertation. At an upcoming hearing, Spence’s lawyer will argue that the charges against his client should be dismissed because his thesis was run through plagiarism-detecting software without his consent. According to Spence’s lawyer, this technicality violates university policy. Spence plans to produce his original handwritten thesis at the proceedings to show that all his work was properly cited and credited. Handwritten thesis? Yes, children of the digital age, those actually happened once upon a time, when there wasn’t an app for almost everything.

Toronto city council voted 29-8 to adopt some key recommendations that will make it easier for residents with non-immigrant status to access City services without fear of being turned in to border enforcement officials. Recommendations adopted by council yesterday include allowing citizenship information to be collected only when required by federal or provincial law, and exploring the idea of introducing a municipal identification card, while also moving to include immigration status in the City’s human rights and anti-discrimination policy. Councillors including Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) and mayoral candidate Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) sided against the recommendations, with Minnan-Wong saying that the City should not reward illegal immigrants. Supporters of the move to give the estimated 200,000 non-status residents of Toronto easier access to City services argue that those residents support such services through property taxes, income tax, and HST.

The Toronto Reference Library is giving people the chance to unleash their inner Johannes Gutenberg by offering store-quality book printing at its Digital Innovation Hub. The Asquith Press, which cost about $68,000, is a fancy new step in the evolution of self-publishing, giving aspiring scribes the ability to print 10 copies of a 150-page book for $145—less than what most printers charge. The library is offering courses on how to format work properly for printing on the Asquith, which has plexiglass sides that allow people to watch the printing process from start to finish. Sorry—it comes with no promises to turn you into the next Hemingway.


  • Bumbaclot

    Bullspit! Edgy is right. It’s the sorta curse word Ann Landers woulda used. Then she woulda self flaggelated herself with forty lashes from a wet noodle.

    Andrea Horwath should view a couple a my videos on the youtubes if she wants to learn how to swear right.

    • Don River

      Mr. Mayor, are you for or against putting the self-flaggelated on the flagpole at City Hall during your “rehab”?

      • Bumbaclot

        That’s Normie’s call at this time. But you can bet he’ll frig it up royally.

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    Why does everyone keep talking about coalitions? These don’t often happen in Canadian politics. In our system we rarely see two parties sharing the power of government and both parties having cabinet ministers. What we do see is minority Parliaments where a smaller party such as the NDP supports a larger party such as the Liberals. Sometimes they put this in writing such as the Rae-Peterson Accord but it’s still a minority government not a coalition. Really, I don’t think any of the 3 main parties are even considering anything beyond a day to day minority government situation.


      “Coalition” sounds exciting and exotic to the Canadian media where the electoral system is designed to give almost-always majority government. But yes, the arrangement could well be that Party B will support Party A (the largest party) on matters of confidence, but apart from that, well, then Party A is going to have to do some fancy talking and be prepared to give some ground in order to get things done.

      • dsmithhfx

        There’s been a coalition in the UK between the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems for a few years (the first since WWII).

        I don’t think it’s worked out at all well for the lib-dems in terms of popularity.


          It is always a bad idea to go into coalition with a party that wishes for your destruction. The Lib Dems are going to suffer greatly at the next UK general election for being handmaidens to the Conservative wrecking ball. The referendum on overhauling the voting system was a farce, with the Tories hamstringing it from the start, and plenty of Tory money poured into the coffers of the no-we-like-this-screwed-up-system-perfectly-fine-because-we-can-win-under-it side.

      • bobloblawbloblawblah

        It does sound exotic but there have been very few in Canadian history — the Union Government during WW1 comes to mind. This is because we don’t have parliaments where 8 or 12 parties get seats. Coalition talk surfaced back in 2008 after the Federal opposition parties threatened to form one after Harper’s minority government introduced a very ideologically driven mini-budget in the aftermath of the 2008 election. Harper proceeded to demonize the idea of coalitions which actually work in some countries and are an option under our system, just one that is rarely used. Now, the press keep asking Horwath about coalitions when they should be asking her if she’d support a minority Liberal or PC government. The smart answer is “I’ll work with the other parties because that’s what the people of Ontario want…they want us to get to work”. I don’t see any scenario where two of the parties form a government — there’s no reason for this.


          Canada also doesn’t have a variant of proportional representation that a lot of these democracies have, which fosters people voting for who they want to vote for. A variant of PR is compatible with the Westminster parliamentary system, as evidenced by the hybrid FPTP and PR systemt they have had in Scotland for over 15 years.

    • Squintz

      Because in the simplistic binary that our media puts forward, if one party admits to be in favour of a coalition they can run stories for days saying A party is the same as B meaning C needs to win. They don’t actually have to talk about policies that they barely talked about anyways.