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Your Toronto 2014 Issue Navigator

How the candidates compare on some of the city's biggest issues.

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Newsstand: June 5, 2014

The Blue Jays are currently first in the American League East Division standings with a 36 and 24 record. Meanwhile, Jose Bautista helped a kid in California get a prom date over Twitter the other day. Those two facts are completely unrelated, but still start the morning off on a pleasant note. Providing you are a fan of either baseball or going to prom. In the news: two mayoral debates in one day, John Tory and Olivia Chow think Rob Ford's lobbying efforts are inappropriate, construction companies don’t really like doing business with the City, and free parking thanks to Adam Sandler.

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There must have been a two-for-one deal on political debates in Toronto yesterday, as four of the key mayoral candidates congregated not once but twice for showdowns at both the Toronto French School and Humber College. Lucky us. Most candidates made early strides to distance themselves and their policies from the absent Mayor Rob Ford, with Olivia Chow painting herself as the only person capable of beating him in the upcoming election. John Tory largely stuck to his key platform points, including his SmartTrack rail plan, while Karen Stintz drew jeers from the crowd at Humber College when she criticized Tory for what she characterized as his lack of decision-making skills. She also likened Chow to former mayor David Miller … again. Meanwhile, David Soknacki tried to set himself apart from the pack by once again pledging to tackle problems with the billion-dollar police budget. Public housing was another hot debate topic, with both Chow and Stintz making pledges to improve the state of subsidized housing without providing much concrete detail as to how they would accomplish their respective plans. For the first time Line 9, the Enbridge pipeline through North Toronto, came up during a candidate debate. Chow came out against the pipeline while other candidates gave pledges to ensure community safety.

While both debates were low on head-to-head sparring and lacked the zing of Tim Hudak–style one-liners, they sufficiently kept the campaign trail moving forward. With or without Mayor Ford’s participation, his presence was still felt in the minds of his mayoral rivals as he drew fresh criticism over the emerging scandal about his past lobbying efforts at City Hall on behalf of a commercial printing company that the Ford family business had ties to. “I think it’s an inappropriate mixing of public and private business,” said John Tory, who also thought that it was another reason Mayor Ford should resign. Meanwhile, Olivia Chow called the lobbying efforts a misuse of the mayor’s public office. “It’s not acceptable, not appropriate, and it’s definitely not ethical,” said Chow. Both the mayor and his brother/campaign manager Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) have yet to respond to this latest controversy.

Toronto, you’re a terrible client. That’s the basic takeaway from a private roundtable meeting at City Hall where more than a dozen construction industry representatives shared their thoughts on doing business with the City. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East), chair of the public works and infrastructure committee, hosted the meeting, where he got an earful from construction industry reps, who say that red tape and delays often make contractors charge a premium on bids for city work out of sheer aggravation or forgo submitting bids at all. Clive Thurston, the president of the Ontario General Contractors Association, says that City contracts are plagued by delays, especially when it comes to receiving payments for work. Minnan-Wong said that feedback from the roundtable will move on to city council, where he hopes to push through changes to improve purchasing practices.

Trying to hunt down free parking in Toronto? Usually you would have a better chance finding Polkaroo. Thanks to Adam Sandler and his latest project, though, the impossible has happened. A film shoot taking place on Adelaide Street between Yonge Street and York Street has removed the city’s “no parking” signs in an effort to disguise the area as New York City for the next week. According to the City, this makes parking bylaws in the area unenforceable. FREE PARKING FOR ALL!

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