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Newsstand: June 17, 2014

Apparently, the 2010 World Cup cost US$7.36-billion in lost productivity. Officially, soccer is bad for the economy. In the news: Some Tories were caught off guard by Tim Hudak’s pledge to cut public sector jobs, the TTC fails in accessibility, new city council members, and a fresh way to find out what data telecom providers collect and share.

matt newsstand gull

It turns out that pledging to cut 100,000 public sector jobs isn’t only a great way to lose an election, but it is also a really effective method for dividing internal ranks of a political party. Cracks are beginning among Ontario Progressive Conservatives following a humiliating defeat in last week’s provincial election, as several Tories blamed soon-to-be-former party leader Tim Hudak’s pledge to nix 100,000 public sector jobs for handing a majority government to Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, some party members said they were caught off guard by Hudak’s plan, claiming that neither the PC caucus nor candidates were consulted before the pledge was announced publicly. Since everyone is a critic when a platform promise doesn’t go over as well as it was supposed to, some members of the party have called for Hudak to step down immediately. However, after a marathon caucus meeting yesterday, Hudak maintained that he will stay put until he hands off leadership to a newly-minted party leader.

The Toronto Transit Commission says that a $240-million capital shortfall means that it will not be able to meet a 2025 deadline to make all subway stations accessible for disabled persons. Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the TTC must make all transit systems fully accessible by 2025. They’ve done it for buses and streetcars, but retrofitting 37 of the TTC’s 69 subway stations means the TTC will need more money from the province, according to TTC chair Maria Augimeri. Projected construction costs ranged from $1 million to $17 million, and the project was meant to be completed between 2018 and 2023, but it already seems unlikely that these deadlines will be met if no additional transit funding is secured from upper levels of government, which has transit mobility advocates understandably upset. “There is no reason why TTC shouldn’t be able to ensure that all of its subway stations are accessible to people with disabilities,” said David Lepofsky. “TTC publicly announced at public forums for riders with disabilities that they would have those stations accessible by 2025, so why are they short now?”

With the recent departures of both Adam Vaughan and Peter Milczyn from city council, two new fresh faces are needed to represent Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore and Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina. City council will hold a special meeting on July 7 to appoint two qualified electors to the posts. Let’s face it, though, a Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock tournament to choose the interim councillors would be infinitely more interesting.

A new tool developed by some of Canada’s top privacy experts can help people find out what data about them their telecom provider is collecting and sharing with third parties, including the government. “Access My Info” is a web-based tool that helps create a formal letter requesting a disclosure of privacy practices that telecom companies are legally required to respond to within 30 days. Timely, considering that in April, Canada’s privacy commissioner revealed that the federal government asks telecom providers for private customer information approximately 1.2 million times per year, with companies complying in at least 784,756 of these requests. Your homeboy Orwell was not joking, Big Brother is watching you.

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