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Newsstand: July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day! Even though almost everyone is off work and gearing up to enjoy the holiday splendour of our nation’s 147th birthday, things just keep happening. So, here is the news: the Liberals win in both Toronto federal byelections, reaction to Rob Ford’s mea culpa, the city’s first medical marijuana clinic has opened, and how to properly display a Canadian flag.

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Yesterday was byelection night in Canada, as four federal ridings headed to the polls to elect new representation. Conservatives held onto both Alberta seats—John Barlow took Macleod, and David Yurdiga won Fort McMurray-Athabasca—but the Liberals walked away victorious in both local byelections. Arnold Chan was declared the early winner in Scarborough-Agincourt, which was no great surprise since the riding has been a Liberal stronghold for 25 years. In the end, Trinity-Spandina elected Adam Vaughan to replace New Democrat MP-turned-mayoral-candidate Olivia Chow. While Vaughan secured a hearty 53 per cent of the vote, his closest competition came from NDP rival Joe Cressy, who garnered just 34 per cent. Experts consider the Liberal win in Trinity-Spandina to be the clearest indicator of what may come in the 2015 federal election. A bellwether riding that has flip-flopped back and forth between the NDP and Liberal parties for three decades, when held by the Liberals, they typically formed government.

If you missed Rob Ford’s return to City Hall yesterday, you can get acquainted with the full transcript of his latest apology speech. At a press conference—and we use the term “press conference” loosely—that denied entry to a lengthy list of media outlets including the Grid, Now Magazine, and—ahem—Torontoist, Mayor Ford busted out an 18-minute aria admitting his substance abuse problems, begging for forgiveness for an ambiguous list of wrongdoings, while also trotting out his usual re-election campaign song and dance that claims he has saved taxpayers $80 million dollars. Predictably, the speech met with lukewarm reception from fellow mayoral candidates including Karen Stintz, the only person to whom the mayor specifically apologized in his speech for his “hurtful and degrading remarks.” Stintz rejected the apology, saying, “If the mayor wants to apologize to me, he’s got my number and he can call. It’s a private matter for him to discuss with me directly.” Olivia Chow was quick to point out that Mayor Ford did not issue any specific apology for remarks he allegedly made about ethnic minorities, and said that, whether he was sober or not, his policies had failed Torontonians. John Tory echoed the prevailing sentiment that the canned apology speech fell short on substance, saying, “There are so many questions that are unanswered from the media, from the police and, I think, from the public.”

New government regulations allowing doctors and nurse practitioners to fill prescriptions for cannabis paved the way for Toronto’s first medical marijuana clinic, which opened yesterday on Danforth Avenue. Medical Marijuana Clinics of Canada is a non-referral practice helmed by Dr. Ryan Yermus, a family physician who will prescribe cannabis for patients suffering from medical conditions including HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, depression and fibromyalgia. While the medical visits are covered by OHIP, patients are required to pay a $200 annual safety monitoring fee, which includes patient followup care. Patients won’t have to wait long for a second option in seeking medical marijuana, since another clinic is slated to open on July 14. Cannabinoid Medical Clinic will be a referral-only clinic at the corner of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue East. Neither clinic will dispense cannabis onsite.

Finally, if you are thinking of flying a Canadian flag to show off your more patriotic side today, you might want to brush up on this list of flag-related protocols. While the flag police won’t swoop in and arrest you for flying a red maple leaf improperly, nobody wants you to be the goof who uses your flag as a picnic blanket!

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